Monday, November 19, 2018

Blood Bowl: Princess Owayanna Tournament Report- Humans vs. Skaven

Lord Summervale: Welcome Ladies, Gentleman, and other assorted gribblies to Cabalvision IV's coverage of the semi-final match-up in the Princess Owayanna Bottled Healing Spring Waters Tournament. Today is a semi-final battle between the Human Nottingham Nobles and the Skaven Rat Packers.

The Nottingham Nobles are coming off a convincing win againstthe Khemri Forever Jackals led by their team captain, Rick Priestley. Meanwhile, Da' Rat Packers and their high-powered triple Gutter Runner offense defeatedthe Ork Skulsmash Reeverz in a close run match.

Today, I am joined by my colleague Mad Johan. Mad Johan, what do you think the keys are for today's match-up?

Mad Johan: Both of these teams have demonstrated their will to win and the ability to score touch downs. It is going to come down to who can put the most points on the board. For the Nobles, look for the key connection between Rick Priestley and Gav Thorpe. Meanwhile, on the Rat Packer side of the ball Favre Da Cheese-monger is going to be looking to Sneaky as his go-to receiver down the field. Both teams can score early and often.

Lord Summervale: Da' Rat Packers only Blitzer Bashy is out with a broken arm. How do you think this will impact the game?

Mad Johan: Da Rat Packers relied on Bashy to lead the effort to make a hole in the opposing sides line. With him out, it will be tougher for the Gutter-Runners to break out into the back field of the Nobles.

I went to talk with Jervis Johnson, or as I like to call him J.J.; about the Noble's strategy for the game. Here is what he had to say....

Jervis Johnson: We always had a bit of the physical edge against these guys, but so did the Skulsmash Reeverz, and they ended up losing. You can't just rely on your strength, you need to neutralize their threats early...

Mad Johan: … Of course, he is exactly right. The key will be if they can hit and take out those Gutter-Runners before they can become a nuisance. You know what I say, if half the enemy team is in the dug-out it will hard for them to score points. J.J. Also had this to say about his team captain....

Jervis Johnson: …. these Skaven teams can get into the back field and harass your thrower pretty quickly if you aren't careful. However, I have been teaching Rick a few things and I think they will find him a bit tougher to take down than they expect....

Mad Johan: …. my sources tell me that Priestley has been training hard with the Blitzers coach to get tougher.

Lord Summervale: So, it sounds like you think the Nobles might have the edge?

Mad Johan: Well, talking about taking out Gutter-runners is a lot easier than actually taking them out. I talked to Sneaky about their high-powered offense and he had these comments.....

Sneaky: <Squeak, squeak, Sqeeeeeeeak, Squeak.>

Lord Summervale: Wow. He sounds pretty confident to call out the Nobles defenders like that.

Mad Johan: Indeed, Favre and his team seem to think the difference will be in dodging past opposing lineman and blockers and then using speed to rocket into the back field. That has worked well for them in the past.... but this isn't the qualifiers anymore. There is a lot more at stake.

Lord Summervale: Indeed. The two captains have gone to the center of the beautiful Citadel arena for the coin toss. Favre and Da Rat Packers have won the toss and are electing to receive the kick-off first.

Mad Johan: They used this strategy last game against the Orks, and it paid off with an early score. That left the Orks on the back foot the rest of the match.

Lord Summervale: With that, both teams take their positions and get ready to play some Blood Bowl!

Rick Priestley is in the dug-out, while Andy chamber tries to pin the Skaven deep in the backfield with a solid kick. Favre goes over and retrieve it. The Rat Packers had stacked the line while the Nobles tried to defend in depth.

Mad Johan: A big hit by Pincher leads the way as the Rat Packers blast through the line of scrimmage and penetrate into the secondary.

Lord Summervale: Jervis Johnson moves up to fill the gap along with Andy Chambers.

Mad Johan: It's not enough as Nipper puts a punishing hit on J.J.!

Lord Summervale: Right, and Pak has done the same on the near side. Oh no, Sneaky and Squeaky, two Gutter Runners have gotten into the Nobles back field. However, a big mid-field collision sends Fodder off the field K.O.ed.

Mad Johan: Mat Ward the Blitzer sees his chance to off a Gutter-runner and takes it. It pummels him into the ground, but fails to take Squeaky out of the game.

Lord Summervale: Krunch! Another big mid-field collision sends Andy Chambers tot eh dug-out knocked-out.

Favre and Pak work together and send Paul Sawyer to the ground. This opens up a lane. Sneaky puts on some moves and dodges away from and around Mat Ward. Favre dumps him the ball, and the Gutter Runner turns up field and turns on the speed.

Mad Johan: Those were some amazing moves by Sneaky. Just like I said, Favre was looking to dump it to him for a scoring connection and they did.

Lord Summervale: Da Rat Packers Touchdown!

Despite being down by one, as Rick Priestley takes the field, the crowd here at Citadel Field are starting to chant.

Mad Johan: As a player, that is such a great feeling!

Lord Summervale: Boom! There is a short kick. Rick Priestley retrieves the ball just behind the line. The Nobles linemen go to work. A big hit up front by Adrian Wood lets Gav Thorpe into the flat.

Mad Johan: I am guessing that is where Priestley will look to throw.

Lord Summervale: Favre moves up and hits the lead blocker for Thorpe out of the way with Squeaky's help. The rest of the Gutter-runners move up to contain him.

Mad Johan: Another big collision on the far side of the field sends Nigle Stillman to the Dug-out! I expected a more finesse game than we have seen so far!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! Jervis Johnson puts a big hit on Favre the Cheesemonger and clears a path. Rick dumps a pass to his outlet receiver Alessio Cavatorre who takes the ball up the middle. It doesn't look like anyone can stop him!

Mad Johan: Not so fast, Squish-Squish is coming streaking from an uncovered position, but Cavatorre manages to stiff arm him away!

Lord Summervale: Alessio dodges away and goes in for the score! That means we are all tied up!

Mad Johan: Wow, I knew this was going to be a high scoring game, but this looks like it is going to be a shoot-out!

Lord Summervale: It looks like the Nobles plan on flooding the line of scrimmage to get penetration and come off the edges. The Skaven are still short handed as one of their lineman is still unconscious. They are going with a weak near side set-up.

Boom! Another strong kick by Chambers puts the ball in the near side corner by the end zone. That is going to be tough for the Skaven.

Mad Johan: Don't under-estimate their speed.

Lord Summervale: The Skaven try to push back the far side and are making progress, but a mis-step by Nipper sends him to the dug-out! Mat Ward comes up the weak near side and takes shot at Squeaky who manages to stumble away from the block.

Favre is drifting to the far side, as Sneaky tries to get around the near side edge, and Pokey gets set-up to try to break across the line of scrimmage. The Nobles are sensing blood and moving in for a sack.

Mad Johan: J.J. Snakes through the line and manages to come to grips with the Gutter Runner Pokey and send him to the turf!

Lord Summervale: Time is running short for the first half, but Favre has run across mid-field. Pokey was sprung by a strong block from Bucktooth on Jervis Johnson. They are both streaking down field. Favre tries to dump it to the Gutter-Runner, but he fumbles it!

Mad Johan: Rick sees his chance and zones in on Pokey and sends him to the dug-out with a K.O.! What a big hit by the Noble's team captain!

Lord Summervale: Mat Ward takes a shot at Squeaky again, but fails to connect in a meaningful way.
There is the half time buzzer! The score is tied 1-1. This is still anyone's game! Now, enjoy a few words from our sponsors as we send you back to the Cabalvision IV halftime report!

** ** ** ** **

Lord Summervale: Welcome back. Now you have all the updates from around the Olde World. This is the second half of the semi-final match-up in the Princess Owayanna Bottled Healing Spring Water tournament. The Nottingham Nobles are tied with the Skaven Rat Packers 1 to 1.

Mad Johan: Right now, Favre is probably questioning his coin toss choices now as they are kicking to the Nobles to start the second half. Let's see if the short handed Skaven defense can stop the rampaging Noble line.

Lord Summervale: Indeed! It looks like the Nobles are skipping the subtlety and just plan on using a Human wall to smash the smaller Skaven out of the way. Team Captain Rick Preistley is back to receive the kick-off, flanked by his two catchers.

The fans get a bit rowdy up in the stands. Skaven and Human fans are known to not like each other, but this is taking it to another level! It looks like the clock is running as the teams cheer their fans on for a change. Eventually Ogre security steps in and restores order.

Mad Johan: A few fans are going to regret their choices tomorrow!

Lord Summervale: Boom! The kick is up! Priestley goes and retrieves the ball on the near side. The Human line starts pushing their way past the Skaven. On the far side, Jervis Johnson blasts Nipper off the field and into the dug-out, opening up a lane.

Mad Johan: Space McQuirk follows J.J.'s lead and sends his rat to the dug-out too! The Rat Packers won't have much of a defense left!

Lord Summervale: The Nobles let Jervis Johnson lead their drive as he knocks Favre out of the way. He is followed by Gav Thorpe in the flat. Rick steps up in the pocket to throw, but he fumbles the ball instead.

Mad Johan: That was odd, but it looks like the Skaven are in no position to recover it.

Lord Summervale: Oh? Sneaky dodges around the line and manages to scoop it up! His fellow Gutter-runner Squeaky manages to follow and break out. Sneaky dumps the ball to him, and they try to stretch the Nobles back field.

Mad Johan: That is why you need to take those Gutter-runners out of the game early!

Lord Summervale: Squeaky did not run far enough as Rick Priestley manages to chase him down and knock him over. The ball pops loose again! Gav Thorpe drops back and scoops it up.

Mad Johan: A big collision at mid-field causes Paul Sawyer to leave the game unconscious.

Lord Summervale: Bucktooth dashes ahead and smashes Gav to the turf. The ball again is loose. This time, Sneaky dodges over to the ball and scoops it up. Sneaky breaks away from Rick and stumbles into the end zone. Sneaky tosses it to Squeaky for a touchdown.

Mad Johan: Favre better look out or Sneaky is going to be taking his job!

Lord Summervale: The Human fans fell silent after that Skaven touchdown. I don't think they expected that to happen!

Mad Johan: It all stemmed from a bumbled pass by Rick behind his own line of scrimmage. Tough break.

Lord Summervale: As both sides line up for the kick, the fans are starting to get unruly again. This time, it doesn't look like Ogre security can hold them back!

Mad Johan: A Pitch invasion! During a semi-final match like this! They should be ashamed.

Lord Summervale: The fans are surging across the field and Ogre security is having a terrible time trying to gather them up and herd them off. I have lost track of the players in the mess, and it is clear the Human and Skaven fans are fighting fiercely with each other.

Mad Johan: The inhumanity of it all!

Lord Summervale: As the Ogres forcibly eject fans, it is clear that many players were caught up in the melee. Almost all of the human players are down! However, some key Skaven players are down too!

Mad Johan: The refs just whistled play to begin, but most of the players are still down!

Lord Summervale: Boom! The kick is up. It is a short kick, and Rick scrambles to retrieve it. He is not going to get much help out there as the only Noble left standing is him and Adrian Wood!

The Skaven swarm Rick with warm bodies and toss him to the ground. The ball flies up and is pulled in by Pincher. Adrian hits him in the back, but the linerat manages to hand it off to Sneaky. He easily dodges past a flailing Priestley and runs it into the endzone for another Skaven score!

Mad Johan: I can't help but think some Skaven shenanigans were behind that pitch invasion! It allowed them to take a commanding lead late in the game!

Lord Summervale: Perhaps. The fans have been pretty rowdy all day. However, now Citadel arena is quiet. Maybe as the home team is down by two late in the day; or because the Ogre security force kicked out half the crowd. It is hard to tell.

Mad Johan: As this Noble team lines up, you can tell they are still a bit stunned at this turn of events.

Lord Summervale: Boom! The kick is up and it is very, very high. This should let Rick easily grab it.  Which he does, but it is deep in the Nobles' zone. The line starts to push forward.

Mad Johan: Warwick Kinrade still has some fire in him, as he sends a Skaven to the dug-out!

Lord Summervale: Rick Priestley dumps off a quick pass to Alessio who moves up behind the line.

The Nobles jab and push to the Skaven secondary, but it will be too little too late. There is not enough time and the clock brings the game to a close. The Nottingham Nobles have been eliminated from the tournament by Da Rat Packers in a score of 3 to 1.

Mad Johan: What a daft second half! According to our sideline Grot, there are no serious injuries from this match. However, it was surprisingly hard hitting.

Lord Summervale: Indeed. Despite the loss, who do you think the MVP was for the Nobles?

Mad Johan: It is a tough call, but I think Adrian Wood did a good job being where he needed to be and standing tall, J.J. of course, and then Rick. However, the late fumble on a blown pass makes me question if he should be the MVP. Despite the fumble, he kept his team in the game. I think Rick has to be the Noble's MVP!

Lord Summervale: Interesting choice? I am sure you will hear about it on the after match fan line! How about for the victorious Rat Packers?

Mad Johan: Bucktooth was a big presence and had some key blocks late in the game that allowed or made scoring drives possible. Sneaky of course has to be a candidate considering he had more completions than the thrower and was all over the field. Lastly, his buddy Squeaky turned a Nobles possession into a Skaven scoring drive that really stuck the boot in. However, the MVP for this game is going to be..... Squeaky.

Lord Summervale: Well, there you have it folks. The Skaven Rat Packers have defeated the Nottingham Nobles. The Rat Packers will move onto the finals to face the winner of the Rock-N-Rollers and Chaos Goat Herders game that will be played later this week.

Until then, this is Lord Summervale and Mad Johan signing off of Cabalvision IV from Nottingham's Citadel Arena! Bye-bye!

Monday, November 12, 2018

On the Painting Desk: Nano-Metal Figs Superheroes

A player of war games should never let things like lack of miniatures get in the way of gaming. I am not averse to using paper templates, proxies, and toys in order to get a game in. I think some genres are especially suited to this approach. I have made it no secret that I think the Super-hero genre is ripe for using toys, especially in 2018 when super-heroes are all the rage. There are plenty of low-cost toys out there that can be used with minimal repainting. These can be used with games like the Batman/DC Miniature games, the defunct Marvel Miniature games, Super System, and more.

One thing I like about the Super-hero genre of wargames is the ability to do some light Role-play as you play. You can have your heroes or villains spout one liners, act heroically, or perform despicable deeds. It is all part of the fun! The fact that you can start into them so cheaply is just a bonus to me.

To this end, I have been working my small collection of Nano-Metal figures. I bought 3 5 packs for about $15 at a local large retailer. That averages out to about a $1 per figure. I then give them the barest of re-paints and a wash. Just like that, my own Super-heroes are made at about the 32-36mm scale. Conveniently, about the scale may skirmish war games are going. When you look at my efforts it will probably be very easy to tell who was who originally.

I have two main groups. The first is the Union of Semi-Professional Heroes and the second is the villainous Black Hearts. I will be using these guys with the SuperSystem 4th Edition rules. I have used these rules a couple oftimes, and enjoyed them.

The Union is composed of amateur, free-lance super-heroes who are not aligned to any government, corporation, or organization. However, each member has dedicated themselves to helping uphold peace, justice, and the law. The Union was founded by The Riverine after he split ways with United States government over his role during the Vietnam War. The Union has been an active organization since 1968. Typically, a the more senior members act as role-models and mentors for younger heroes to help them learn to live as a Super-hero in the modern world. Each member pays monthly dues and agrees to help their fellow members. One of the main benefits is their group health plans, liability coverage, and retirement packages. Afterall, unless you are artificially kept young by an ageless, mystical artifact like the Riverine, you want to retire eventually.

Here you can see the latest roster of the Union.

From front to back, left to right is Mr. Amazing, The Riverine, and Red Streak. The next row left to right is The Duelist, Rampart, and Safeguard. The back row from left to right is The Shark, Oni, Hotness, and Kata.

Mr. Amazing- Mr. Stupendous Archetype
The Riverine- The Shield Slinger Archetype
Red Streak- Speed Demon Archetype
Duelist- Terrible, Swift Sword Archetype
Rampart- Immovable Object Archetype
Safeguard- The Guardian Archetype
Shark- He Just Won't Stay Down Archetype
Oni- Unstoppable Force Archetype
Hotness- Death from Above Archetype
Kata- Lucky Striker Archetype

The Black Hearts are a mercenary bunch of powered individuals. Each has their own nefarious goals and objectives, but they are united in a common understanding that they can not stand alone against heroic groups like the Union. There best chances is to band together in their own evil, yet enlightened self-interests. The individual members of the Black Guards often dislike or even despise each other but they are willing to work together for mutual gain and profit. Many of the Black Hearts members simply want to get paid, while others have more far reaching and grander schemes. However, unlike the Union; the Black Hearts are not afraid to get their hands dirty and cause collateral damage for their cause. Of course, their cause is determined by the highest bidder.

In the front row, left to right is the Nihilist, Black-out, Troll. The second row is Sock Puppet, Metal Head, Brainstorm, and Vampyre. The last row from left to right is Buzzard, Titan, and Cayman.

Nihilist- Empath Archetype
Black-out- Machine Gun puncher Archetype
Troll- Fate's Gunner Archetype
Sock Puppet- Dominator Archetype
Metal Head- Immovable Object Archetype
Brainstorm- Brain Burner Archetype
Vampyre- He Just Won't Stay Down Archetype
Buzzard- Death from Above Archetype
Titan- Mr. Stupendous Archetype
Cayman- Unstoppable Force Archetype

Each character has there own back simple back story, origin, and motivations. However, I will introduce those more in any future battle reports I use these guys in, like I introduced Safeguard and Buzzard in the Smuggler's Run!battle report.

You can look forward to seeing these guys as we finish off 2018 and move in 2019.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Review: The Walking Dead- All Out War- Solo Starter Set

I had heard some positive buzz about the Walking Dead: All Out War from Mantic and Skybound. One day I was at my FLGS, and I saw a copy of the game labeled as a Solo Starter Set. I had never really done too much Zombie gaming, except for a board game called Last Night on Planet Earth. I had a lot of fun with it. So, I impulse bought this set to give the game a try. I wanted to do more with Zombie gaming in the future with either Last Days or Dracula's America from Osprey anyway, so why not give this a go to compare.  After all 'tis the season!

You can see the first scenario set-up and ready to play. The game came with a short and simple instruction manual with three scenarios in it. It had everything you needed to play such as counters, spinners, ruler, and a few figures that I painted up in a night. The game had 5 walkers (Zeds, Zombies, Zs, Undead, corpses, C.H.U.D.'s, etc) and one hero figure. The material they made these guys with definitely needs a good wash and undercoat to accept paint. Thankfully, the Zombie genre practically begs for messier paint jobs.

Things I Liked
The mechanics are pretty simple. Children will be able to play this game and anyone not familiar with how to play a war game. All the rules fit in a 14 page book, with scenarios. In addition, the cards you draw and use explain what the items or card does. Very easy.

I also like that the threat rating increases as you do things that make noise such as fighting, running, or shooting a gun. As the Threat rating increases you are reducing the amount of time you have to complete mission objectives, but also increasing the odds of more Walkers appearing or Walker attacks. In addition, as the Threat goes up, some models with weaker nerve might start to panic or act in ways the player does not fully wish based on the results of a die roll.

Finally, I like that the game can be played solo versus the game, or against an opposing gang of survivors. Not many games have a solo play mode and as a gamer in a rural part of the world sometimes you need games to play solo.

Since this solo version only has 1 hero, it is tough to get into some of the more aggressive actions like baiting zombies to attack opponents, out maneuvering them, or doing much tactically against them. However, just reading the rules, it is clear you can use the zombies AI to your advantage if you act carefully.

Things I Do Not Like
Since this is a solo starter set, it would have been nice if this would have come with a fold-out mat to play on like the main core box. A solo starter player probably doesn't have the nice drop cloth or terrain I have available. Instead, they would be playing on a bare table with counters. Not visually appealing.

Custom dice! I hate them. What happens when I invariably lose them and they have stopped making this game? The game is no longer walking dead, it is just dead. At least they gave me enough dice to play the full game.

The game uses named characters with set stats. I prefer games where I can make my own mooks to go die fighting zombies. However, it is a licensed product so you need the names or why bother licensing the product? Since I am an out of touch misanthrope who is one bad day away from being a member o the walking dead, these named characters have no connection to me on any level.

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game does not seem to have any campaign system, at least in the starter solo set. Perhaps in other expansions or waves it does but not that I am aware of. This is a big turn-off for me. So, in my first mission I get a knife, but by scenario two I have lost it somehow? Lame.

Unarmed characters are very vulnerable, and tactically it seems pretty hard to out maneuver the zombies in the limited play space the game provides. Perhaps this is remedied somewhat in the Core Set. I can see how team tactics could really help you in this game, but based on what I played it is hard to tell. It seems like you WILL have to fight your way through Zombies no matter what you really do. The question seems to be who, when, and what else is going on.

The main objective is to pick up loot boxes. Even versus other survivors I can see how that would get boring fast. Look at Frostgrave as a good example of how they had to diversify the game to avoid repetitive game play. Again, this maybe avoided in the Core Set and supplements, but it is a big problem I see after playing the Solo Starter.

Well, I don't really see myself getting a bunch more stuff for this game UNLESS I plan on using it with other Zombie games I found more interesting. I actually preferred the games Last Night on Earth that I have played in the past because searching was more fun, it had more scenarios, and the archetypes allowed more lite RPG as we brought the characters we wanted to the board.

The only other reason I would get some more expansions or stuff would be to be able to take it to play with the family at Holiday time. This is a pretty easy game for non-gamers to grasp and have fun with. I could see each family member controlling a survivor or small group of survivors on a slightly larger board where they could decide how much they wanted to work together or not. The rules and mechanics are simple enough to learn and play a few escalating narrative style games.

This is not a true war game, and it is not a true board game. It is more of a “Dudes on a Table” game. It borrows some conventions from both genres of board games and war games but isn't that great at either of them. I feel the replay-ability is low and the tactical choices a bit monotonous. There really are not enough choices that your survivor needs to make or that matter for this game to interesting enough to play more than a handful of times.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Wargame Design: Thinking Through Activation for your Game

Welcome as we progress through the process of creating Only the Strong Survive; a game of dinosaur combat.  In previous posts we have discussed how to flesh out the conceptof your game, build design goals, and use these to flesh out your 4Ms to create a skeleton of a game.  At this stage you have a very good concept of what you are trying to accomplish and how you intend to do it.  You could start doing some rudimentary play tests of the game system to see how it hangs together. 

We have not discussed a key element.  This element is possibly the most important component to creating tactical game play.  If the 4Ms are the skeleton of your game, this element is the muscle and sinew.  It holds the component pieces together as a whole.  It is the last element needed to create a playable game.  I also find it to be the most compelling feature of many game systems.  What is this sacred ingredient?  It is the Turn Sequence.  How and when models can act in relationship to each other. 
$10 at Wal-mart got me these and many more for testing

There are as many ways to handle activation as there are games to play.  Below are some basic ideas to get you started on the path of thinking about this mechanic:

1.       I-GO-U-GO- Basically, both players take turns and do all actions with their entire force.  One player does all their actions, and then the other player does all of their actions.  There are many famous games with this structure.  Contrary to popular belief, this method is not inherently wrong.  Like all mechanics there are advantages and disadvantages to this method. 
a.       Advantages- Easy to understand, simplicity
b.       Disadvantages- Can have down time, Opponent has few counters
c.       Examples: Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy Battle

2.       Alternating Activations- In this method, a model/unit is activated by a player, it completes its action, and then the opponent gets to do the same with their model/unit.  Play alternates back and forth until all models have been activated.
a.       Advantages- Players exchange play frequently to stay in the game 
b.       Disadvantages- Forces act disjointedly, react “in the moment”
c.       Examples: Dystopian Wars

3.       Activations by Phase- One player has all of their units/models perform one of their available actions such as move.  Once complete, the opposing player can then have all of his models/units complete the same action.  Once complete, the first player can then have all of his models/units perform the next action. 
a.       Advantages- Play goes back and forth, Units can coordinate actions
b.       Disadvantages- Can have downtime, Opponent can have limited response

4.       Activation Order- At some point, an order of who can activate when is established and then followed in a linear way.  For example, all units of a certain type can activate, then of another type can activate, and then a third type, until all units have performed an activation.  The order can be set in advance or fluid and changing, but there is a clear order of activation.
a.       Advantages- Used to differentiate unit/models, Play typically moves between players
b.       Disadvantages- Establishing or recalling proper order
c.       Examples: Dux Bellorum, The Games: Blood andSpectacle

5.       Act/React- A player can choose to activate or use a model/unit.  However, if certain criteria are met then the opponent player can try to activate or use one of their own models/units as a ‘reaction’ to what the acting player is doing.       
a.       Advantages- Leads to dynamic game play
b.       Disadvantages- Complex, mechanic heavy, not intuitive
c.       Examples: Infinity, Rogue Stars, Force-on-Force

6.       Push-Your-Luck- A model/unit that is active can continue to do stuff until they fail.  Then activation moves to a different model/unit OR the opponent can start activating their models/units. 
a.       Advantages- Forces player decision, Create friction
b.       Disadvantages- Artificial outcomes
c.       Examples: Blood Bowl, Black Powder

The above is just a flavor of the general styles out there.  In addition, there can be multiple small variations to the specific mechanic or combinations.  For example, the main mechanic maybe I-GO-U-GO with an Overwatch mechanic that allows an Act/React system to come into play, or a resource that is spent in order to interrupt.  Again, this is where research and being familiar with a wide variety of game systems and mechanics comes in handy.  You can see exactly how other designers have tackled similar challenges to the ones you are facing.

As you consider the activation method or turn sequence for your game, it is a good idea to refer back to your Design Goals.  In the case of our dinosaur fighting game, Only the Strong Survive; they were:

1.                   Interesting battles between Dinosaurs 1-on-1 or in very small groups.
2.                   Gameplay that flows quickly and easily between players
3.                   Lots of decision making for the player
4.                   Clear differentiators between Dino types
5.                   Scale and model agnostic
6.                   Combat that flows freely, not locking you in
7.                   Positioning is key

Reading the design goals, I can immediately eliminate some of the options from our list.  Activation by Phase and I-GO-U-GO do not seem to be a good fit.  However, I-Go-U-Go could work with small model count games; I am going to steer away from it for now.  Those typically have some longer wait times as players complete their phases.  My design goals specifically call out quickly flowing game play and free flowing combat. 

Alternating Activation and Activation Order seem like they could work fine.  However, I also want to force decisions on the player.  The key decision in these activation methods is simply who to activate when.  If it is a 1-on-1 fight, there will be no decision making using these methods.  On the other hand, how they fit into an activation method is a good way to distinguish between dino types.  However, I am going to eliminate those from our final list as well.  The positives do not outweigh the negatives right now.

This leaves us with Act/React and Push-Your-Luck.  I have successfully used Push-Your-Luck mechanics before in Combat! Starring Vic Murrow.  It allows for models to differentiate themselves and potentially “chain” there efforts together, but a successful chain could disenfranchise an opponent’s ability to act.  I have also seen Push-Your-Luck mechanics lead to some bizarre outcomes in games like Black Powder, Hail Ceasar, and Lion Rampant that have been off-putting to some reviewers and players. 

When I take a closer look at Act/React in games like Arena Rex it seems like a strong fit.  Arena Rex is also a model-vs-model (or small group) melee fight.  There, certain actions allow clearly defined reactions, and different fighters can have unique reactions for differentiation.  This seems to fit what I am trying to accomplish pretty closely.  On the other hand, in games like Infinity or Rogue Stars I have seen it lead to one model doing all the heavy lifting while the rest of the team just sits and cheers the biggest, baddest model on. 

After reviewing my design goals and the skeleton of the game I have put together so far, I have decided on trying to build some sort of Act/React system.  Obviously, I will need to build in some sort of limiting factors so players will need to “manage” their dinosaurs and their ability to react.  The exact nature of this mechanic is not clear yet, but it could simply be a dice pool that reduces as they use it, and a success indicates they can react and no successes indicate they can not.  Then the number of successes could dictate the list of available reactions.  The more successes the more aggressive the reaction?   These reactions could also vary by dinosaur with more nimble and reactive dinos able to do more aggressive reactions, while bigger, slower dinos might need more successes to do something less aggressive.

Now, with the skeleton and muscles of the basic game in place, it is time to move onto the next steps. With the basic elements in mind, you need to start putting together some basic profiles for the units in your game. You can’t build a unit profile, until you have an idea of how the game is going to work. If you go back and review the post on fleshing out the 4Ms and combine it with this post, you can see a shadow of the profiles being created. Next time, we will look at the process of building two Dinosaur profiles for Only the Strong Survive based on the core mechanics we have discussed here.      

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blood Bowl: Princess Owayanna Tournament Report- Skaven vs Chaos

Lord Summervale: Welcome, ladies, gentleman, and gribblies from across the Olde World to today's Cabalvision IV coverage of the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Tournament qualifying round. We are deep in the Chaos Wastes as the Chaos Goat Herders take on the Skaven Cheez-Ballerz to advance to the semi-final round of the tournament.

Mad Johan: Both of these teams are new to the Deep North League- Southern Regional Conference. However, in Pre-season play the Goat Herders seemed like you standard Chaos psychopaths who preferred to smash face first and then let the scoring work itself out.

Lord Summervale: They played a pretty tough, bashy team in the Forever Jackals, but seemed to handle the undead players from Khemri with ease.

Mad Johan: Today's opponent is a very different style of play. As a skaven team they are fast and sneaky. However, they aren't afraid to play a little rough with a pair of Stormvermin blitzers. We have seen the Cheez-Ballerz not shy away from running it up the gut, and be successful at it.

Lord Summervale: The Cheez-baller captain King Chedda' has taken to the field to a chorus of boos and encouraging squeaks. Meanwhile, from the other dug-out comes the Goat Herders' captain Asquith Kneecapper.

The two teams exchange the customary pre-game handshake, but King Chedda' looks a little worse for wear after a vigorous shaking by Asquith. The ref flips the coin, and the Skaven win the toss. King Chedda' elects to receive the kick-off to try to put some points on the board.

Mad Johan: We saw a similar tactic from the other Skaven team in the tournament, Da' RatPackers. The strategy worked for them as they scored early and advanced to the semi-finals in a nail biter over the Ork Skulsmash reeverz.

Lord Summervale: The two teams line up for the kick. The Cheez-Ballerz have both Gutter Runnerz on the field and their back-up thrower Mild Chedda' is in the dug-out. The Goat Herders have a beastman runner, Payne ready in reserves.

Mad Johan: Unsurprisingly, the Cheez-Ballerz have the minimum number of players on the line. Both of their Blitzers are on the near side of the field. Meanwhile, the Goat Herders have stacked the line leaving only Todd Organgrinder and Gore back as safeties.

Lord Summervale: The kick is up..... Boom! King Chedda' scampers over and picks-up the ball. The line rats let out a squeal and put their backs into. They manage to push the line of scrimmage back, while the Blitzers bust a hole on the flanks. The Gutter Runners dash through the gap and make for the back field.

Mad Johan: You do not want those Gutter Runners loose in your back field. Now's the time to try and take them out!

Lord Summervale: Indeed, Gore comes up from his safety position and blitzes the lead Gutter Runner, but can not make solid contact with the slippery rat. Meanwhile, Winston Azhander lumbers through the line of scrimmage and towards King Chedda'

Mad Johan: He will never get there in time to stop the pass.

Lord Summervale: Meanwhile, the far side defenders have dropped back from the line to act as a deep defense.

Mad Johan: That really opens the field up for this little blighters.

Lord Summervale: King Chedda' steps up into the pocket created by his blitzers and dumps a quick pass to Rotten Rochefort who turns up field and turns on the speed.

Mad Johan: No one can catch him....

Lord Summervale: …. and just like that the Skaven have scored their first touch down. Wow, that was fast.

Both teams head back to the line and set-up for the kick. This time, the Goat Herders are going to get the ball. They look like they are ready to form a quick cage around the runner Grafitti. This time, the Skaven are playing deep, with the sides relatively clean.

Boom! There is the kick!

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders need to play ball control after seeing how fast the Cheez-ballerz scored.

Lord Summervale: Grafitti gets the ball and starts heading to the far side of the field. The Chaos cage quickly forms around him as they press to the line. The Goat Herders start pushing the Skaven back.

Mad Johan: A terrific block by Arson sends Swanky Swiss to the dug-out K.O.ed. Winston Azhander also pummels his man....err....rat.

Lord Summervale: The speedy Skaven blitzers close in on the Chaos cage. But, the leading chaos warriors are ready for them.

Mad Johan: Woah! Winston Azhander smashes through another rat at the line. He is a one man scrimmage line. Gore stuns his foe, and Murder sends Mild Chedda' to the K.O. Box too.

Lord Summervale: Not to be outdone, the Munster of the Midway and Horrible Havarti team-up to send Todd Organgrinder to the K.O. Box too. The cage is collapsing.

However, Grafitti steps up in the collapsing pocket and proves skaven are not the only ones who can throw! He tosses it to Hack in the back field who brings it down, tucks it and runs in for a touchdown!

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders were able to get penetration all across the Cheez-ballerz line and get runners behind the line of scrimmage. That touchdown was due to line play as much as passing.

Lord Summervale: The two teams line-up for the kick-off. This looks like it is going to be a shoot out. The Skaven set-up to try and overwhelm the far side of the Goat Herd line. Boom! The kick is up, and as it is up, the Goat Herders quickly re-arrange to foil the Skaven's plan.

Mad Johan: Perfect defense!

Lord Summervale: Maybe not. The Cheez-Ballerz manage to get some penetration at the line. King Chedda' collects the ball and begins to head up field. His Gutter Runners make for the gaps with a lineman blocker leading the way.

Mad Johan: That's smart play to protect his offensive weapons.

Lord Summervale: The Chaos team quickly responds and starts to seal off any gaps with brutal efficiency. Winston Azhander manages to penetrate into the back of the Cheez-Baller line and get in King Chedda's face.

Stinky Limburger gets into the backfield, and King Chedda' tries to air it out to him. It is a difficult throw, and Winston Azhander knocks it down loose on the Skaven side of the line.

Mad Johan: Azhander is a strong contender for MVP right now!

Lord Summervale: The Goat Herder line play is taking a toll as Brisbane Skullthumper takes Catastrophe Colby off the field and Winston Azhander does the same to King Chedda'! The bestaman Payne picks up the ball and starts heading for the endzone, but a pair of Cheez-ballerz manage to get back to try and slow him down.

Mad Johan: Finally, Murder manages to get his hands around the scrawny neck of Rotten Rochefort and take him out of the game. You have to eliminate the Gutter Runners as soon as possible.

Lord Summervale: The rest of the Cheez-ballerz seem to realize that the effort is lost and try to dodge away from the rampaging Chaos team. As the half winds down to a close, Murder runs it into the end zone for a Chaos Touchdown! That puts the Chaos Goat Herders up 2-1 at the half.

Mad Johan: 5 Cheez-Ballerz are out in the dug-out. You know what I say Summervale. If more than a quarter of your team is in the dug-out, you will have a hard time winning.

Lord Summervale: Indeed, let's see if the Cheez-ballerz can turn it around in the second half. Now, we will send you back to the Cabalvision IV studios for a half-time report and a word from our sponsors.

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Lord Summervale: Welcome back to live coverage of this qualifying match between the Chaos Goat Herders and the Skaven Cheez-Ballerz for the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Cup. The Goat Herders have the lead 2 -1 thanks to punishing play led by Winston Azhander and the Beastman Murder.

Mad Johan: The rate those two were going, they were planning on taking out the entire Cheez-Baller line up!

Lord Summervale: Indeed! It looks like Mild Chedda and another line rat have recovered enough to return to the game. On the Goat Herder side Todd Organgrinder is still out. The two teams line up for the kick-off as the Chaos team gets ready to receive.

Mad Johan: Based on how the two teams lined up, it looks like the Goat Herders plan on pounding it right up the center of the Skaven team. The Chaos team needs to maintain control of the ball through the second half as we know those Skaven can score faster than food through a goose.

Lord Summervale: Boom! The kick is up! Asquith Kneecapper puts Stinky Limburger right back into the K.O. Dug-out right off the line.

Mad Johan: I guess he wasn't quite ready to get back on the field yet.

Lord Summervale: Grafitti grabs the ball and starts heading towards the line. Mild Chedda' manages to sneak through the line of scrimmage. He and Catastrophe Colby rush Grafitti and smash him to the ground and send the ball loose deep in the Chaos backfield! However, it pops up and Arson the Beastman comes up with it for now.

Murder drops back and smashes Catastrophe Colby to the ground and sends him to the K.O. Box!

Mad Johan: At this rate, the Cheez-ballerz won't even have a team left by the end of the game.

Lord Summervale: Arson has plenty of room to run as there are very few Cheez-ballerz left to stop him. Mild Chedda' is doing all the work as he dodges away from Murder and chases down Arson, but he can't quite take him down.

Mad Johan: A big collision on the far side of the field between the Munster of the Midway and Payne, sends Payne off the field. A bit of payback for the Cheez-Ballerz!

Lord Summervale: The beastman Malice knocks Horrible Havarti away, leaving the path to the end zone clear for Arson. Which he hoofs it in for the score!

Mad Johan: That took up about half the time left on the clock. With what the Cheez-ballerz have left on the field, I doubt they can pull off the tie much less a win.

Lord Summervale: It will be tough for sure. However, it looks like King Chedda', Feta Fiend, and Stinky Limburger are back on the field. Payne is coming back out for the kick-off too.

Mad Johan: The Goat Herders are going with a double deep line across the board to try and keep the Cheez-ballerz out of the back field.

Lord Summervale: The Cheez-Ballerz are missing Rotten Rocheforte right now as they line up.

Here's the kick! Boom! The skaven get a jump on the play due to a quick snap. Horrible Havarti snags the kick from the air and gets ready to run.

Pepper Jack and Feta Fiend spring the near side open and Horrible Havarti dashes along the sideline. Here comes Violence the Beastman from the safety position, he has zeroed in on Horrible Havarti. He easily pushes the speedy Gutter Runner towards the crowd, but does not knock him down!

Horrible Havarti tries to dodge by Violence, but the beastman manages to trip him up and the ball goes loose.

Mad Johan: It looks like that is that for the Cheez-ballerz hopes in the tournament.

Lord Summervale: Violence fails to pick-up the ball. The Cheez-ballerz try to scramble and push their way through the line of scrimmage to get the ball, but will not make it. Horrible Havarti reaches for it, but Violence keeps him back.

The clock winds down to the end, and no one has possession of the ball as the two teams jostle and push each other. It takes a few moments for the teams to realize the game is over. The Skaven slink back to their dug-out, while the Chaos fans begin to roar their frenzied chants to their dark gods.

Mad Johan: The Chaos fans got their gate admissions worth today! The Chaos Goat herders advance to the Semi-final round to face the Dwarf Rock-N-Rollers.

Lord Summervale: Our sideline grots are reporting that Rotten Rochefort is badly hurt, but the Clan Skyre and Clan Moulder physician team assures me that he will be ready to play in their next game no matter what.

Mad Johan: Good to hear I guess. Today's MVP for the Cheez-Ballerz is Stinky Limburger. He was taken out by K.O. Twice, but still someone found a way to get back into the game and help his depleted team. The game ended with him still playing! That is the kind of tenacity a team like the Cheez-Ballerz needs.

For the Goat Herderz, it was a tougher call. For the first half, Winston Azhander was a one warrior army! However, he was much quieter in the second half of the game. Meanwhile, our MVP managed to score 1 Touch Down and by my count 3 Casualties. The Chaos MVP is the beastman Murder!

Lord Summervale: Well, that wraps up today's qualifying match for the Princess Owayanna Healing Bottled Water Cup between the Skaven Cheez-ballerz and the Chaos Goat Herders. The Goat Herders move to the next round with a 3-1 victory over their opponents.

Thanks to Guillotine Razors, the best a human can get; for their additional support for this program. We now return you to the Cabalvision IV studios. See you for the Semi-finals!