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John Paul Messerly
Shadow War Armageddon has been taking up all my time lately. I'm building a new killteam based on some alternate tau minis (even though I know the tau can't compete in SWA). I also got swept up in making terrain... terrain is so important to how the game plays and this game makes better use of terrain than any mini's game I've played in ages.
This is my first pass at painting up the official SWA terrain.
This is my new tau killteam starting roster. I know they aren't competitive but I've been waiting for an excuse to paint and play with these miniatures ... and this is it!
I've also always wanted to build a tau mecha. My dream has always been to build one in the style of the Titanfall 1 cover art... so this is me trying to make that dream happen. I might go back and rip the right leg off to repose it later (it should be more forward to support the weight) or I may just leave it. The plan is to use this as terrain in SWA... an abandoned refueling station.
The downside of all this Shadow Warfare is that Test of Honour hasn't been getting any love. The Sun seems to have set on this game. I hope that interest will build once they are able to get more stock out to retailers but at this point it has no traction in my local community.
I usually play shadow wars at my local game store but last week I finally got in a game at work. The hope is to get a group playing at lunch. Our Hero Quest team at work is almost done with the campaign... so maybe some of them would be interested in shadow wars. No Bloodbowl this week! I need to track down the contact info of the new players in my league... so far I've been lazy and just played against the guys I already know.
It's strange to think that everything I'm playing these days is GW based but they are really killing it right now. To think that 2 years ago i had completely written them off.
John Paul Messerly
This was a great week for gaming. A few weeks ago I decided to stop complaining about and daydreaming about my gaming life and do everything I could to improve it. Earlier this year I joined a local Bloodbowl league and finished my first full season but besides that my gaming life was rather sad... I spent far to much time daydreaming about gaming or playing boardgames I didn't enjoy.
What changed: I forced myself to...
1. Join another local gaming group. I hate Facebook and swore I would never be part of the it but to my horror I found that that was how my local Shadow War Armageddon group coordinated games. So I decided to get out of my comfort zone and learn to use Facebook.
2. Start a weekly gaming group at work to play co op games. I gave them the choice between Warhammer Quest, imperial assault, and kingdom Death. They chose Warhammer Quest and I've really enjoyed running the game. Before this our gaming group at work would only meet once a month and we were limited in our choice of games each week based on how many people showed up.
3. Joined a play by forum RPG game here on BGG. At first the pace was excruciating but once I got used to it I found I prefered it. This format really gives you time to think about your characters personality and motivations. You get much richer dialogue from players this way... though conversations are somewhat disjointed because of timing issues.
Here's my week in gaming.
Work gaming group- this week was our open gaming night (instead of Warhammer Quest) and we played 2 games of Secret Hitler. This was 'ok' but not great. It still felt too much like Avalon and the Resistance for me. I prefer hidden role games that are either super short (one night), have you performing meaningful actions (room 25), or have simple but unique systems (2 rooms and a boom).
Shadow War Armageddon- Wow finally an enjoyable game.
In previous games we only had buildings and no scatter terrain so this game I brought in a bunch of vehicles and barricades to help fill out the space and make it possible to move from cover to cover. This really made the game!
Played Tau tonight and it was a decent matchup. 5v5. Neither of us had any super powerful characters and it was really tense. My guys got ambushed at their base camp but held out until our patrol returned and ambushed the attackers. My wookie did a great job of breaking through the enemies flank and even ripped the head off one of the Tau to keep as a trophie.
My opponent had a similar mindset and really got into the storytelling aspect of the game. Now I'm finally hyped for this game. Interesting storytelling, low model count, and plays in less than an hour.
Most of my team was still out of action with wounds so I used all my resources to hire a band of space pirates (cultists) to draw some fire for my marines. They did a great job of this and one of them (the wookie) even got my first confirmed kill.
Bloodbowl- Orcs vs goblins- 2/1 win
This was a hard fought game. I've never played against goblins before and had a hard time dealing with two trolls and the special weapons. I finally learned the hard lesson that you must target the special weapons early. I got hit by the fanatic at least 7 times and the bomber at least 6 before I figured this out.
My orcs throwers really shined with 4 completions this game and two of my blitzer each got a casualty and touchdown. Now I have both the goblin tossing play and the hail marry pass play thanks to a thrower skilling up. My only black orc got injured early in the game but it was so minor that he won't even miss his next game.
I regret that I forgot to snap some pictures of the game. There were some epic moments with bombs, fanatics, and chainsaws and one of his goblins intercepted an epic pass. It was one of those plays were I had to make several impossible rolls to even make it possible... then I decided not to do the 'go for it' to clear the angle for the pass (forgetting about the interception roll) only to have the perfect pass brought down by a goblin! I definitely learned a new respect for goblin players today.
John Paul Messerly
Blood bowl is one of my favorite games of all time and one of the few games I've never tired of. I played my first game of the new season in my local league yesterday...
... and lost.
Bloodbowl game 1: orcs vs vampires
First half was a bloodbath with more than half the vampire team taken off the field with injuries. Near the end of the half I blackmailed one of the opponents players into helping me. He tripped up the vampire running the ball and the ball bounced free. A goblin stole the ball and ran up next to the troll... the troll chucked the goblin down the field to land next to a orc blitzer. Seconds later a vampire slammed into the brave goblin but the vampire also went down hard and the ball tumbled out to land next to the orc blitzer who picked it up and ran for the touchdown with seconds remaining in the first half.
Second half starts with a bang as the troll knocked himself out leaving a gaping hole in my defensive line... with nothing but a goblin between the vampires, the ball, and my end zone.. the vampires easily scored.
As my orc team received the kick it began to snow and quickly turned into a blizzard. A vampire broke through my line and threatened my ball carrier. A failed pass from my thrower resulted in a vampire moments from scoring. I risked a desperate tackle with a thrower and committed my entire team to go all out on the attack. Everyone but a single thrower and goblin rushed downfield to protect the ball carrier... who was still on my half (timing and tactics are not what the orcs do well). The ball carrier stepped up to hand off the ball to a goblin who was supposed to race downfield into the protective wall of giant orcs. He dropped the ball and the vampires scored again.
I picked a goblin heavy orc team because I wanted a challenge. I want to turn them into a passing team.
Shadow War - do I like this game... warts and all?
While Bloodbowl is my favorite miniature game of all times games like necromunda and gorka morka come close. If you don't live under a rock you probably heard that GW basically re released those old rules in a new game called Shadow War: Armageddon. After spending weeks daydreaming about this game I got to play a few games this weekend. So here's some of my ramblings on the subject...
Wow this game is unbalanced. I love necromunda and gorka morka and all those great skirmish games but this is just insanity. I don't really know who this game is for... with no balancing mechanism it's only going to scare off new players.
I played the mission where you are supposed to sneak up on the opponent but because of the alignment of terrain there was no way to approach that didn't leave me exposed. I instantly got killed by psychic abilities and heavy weapons that auto kill you if you go down (so any injury result Of 2+). When you only have 3 people on your killteam because everyone else is still recovering from the last beat down it's not fun.
-Post combat injuries are too likely to make you miss next game.
-There are too many broken combo's to min/max...
I will give the game another try but even the randomness of the missions isn't as fun as expected. I'm beginning to wish I would have just passed on this one. So far it seems to lack all the narative richness of those other games.
So far I'm thinking it's time to just pull back and only focus on Warhammer Quest and BloodBowl! Do I really need any other games as long as I have Blood bowl. There is a reason why this is the only game I've never gotten tired of playing!
Update: after thinking about this more I think I'm a little off base. Bloodbowl is one of my favorite games yet it can be very brutal and unfair. It also really doesn't force a story on you. I naturally start to tell my own story to explain and deal with the crazy swings of fate that are just part of the game. So in many ways Shadow Wars is similar but SW completely lacks any balancing factors. You can loose half your team and still have a decent next game in BB because you get free temporary replacements.
The one good thing I can say about the game is that it has me converting and painting old mini's that have been collecting dust for ages. Old armies are being pulled out, dusted off, and marched off to war. I'm also meeting a new group of gamers I wouldn't normally interact with.
Thoughts on balance - underbog boost
- Give the underdog a free special operative.
- Give the underdog training wheels (their characters cant die or be forced to miss next game).
This raises the question of how to know if a matchup is so unbalanced that these boosts are needed?
- track team value. Yuck this is tedious and dull but is also very accurate.
- track games played. If one player has played far less games then the opponent then they might need a boost.
- calculate team value based on starting value plus games played. Each team starts with 1000pts and earns 200pts per game. Under this system a new team would have a value of 1000pts and a team with 3 games would be worth 1600pts. This isn't perfect but it's easy and it's a good start.
Spending boost points:
100pts - give a character a protective blessing (that character may add +/- 1 to post game recovery roll)
500pts- call in a special operative
500pts - draw a card from the psychic powers or tactics deck
Do I like this game?
I like the idea of the game and it's potential but have yet to actually enjoy the play experience. After playing elegant and simple rule sets like Test of Honour or even Warhammer Quest Hammerhal... I'm a little disappointed. For now I'll continue playing because it has a local scene and it's encouraging me to paint. Hopefully I will find the point where it comes alive and I'm able to enjoy the stories it creates.
John Paul Messerly
What comes to mind when you think of the grimdark future filled with kill teams... beautiful idealic gardens and ponds filled with brightly colored Koi.
This weekend I finally gave in to the new temptation that is Shadow War: Armageddon. Why... because like everyone else I have tons of old mini's lying around that I'd like to have a reason to use again. Necromunda and Gorka Morka were two of my favorite games so this seems perfect. I've been playing a lot of miniature agnostic games in an attempt to get those minis to the table but now I have a mainstream skirmish game that does the same thing.
The truth is that I was ready to ignore this game but for some reason my Bloodbowl league is strangely quiet... the new season has officially started yet I haven't received any info about who is in each division or how to contact anyone to set up games. So I have an opening in my gaming schedule that needs to be filled!
The Koi pond is part of my latest purchase for Test of Honour. I'm super excited about this new game mat... it really brings the game alive! Unfortunately I'm still looking for a local group interested in playing the game.
My Hero Quest Hammerhal group is still going strong and I hope to throw some interesting twists at them tomorrow night. Their main NPC may die right before their eyes. I also think that Shadow Wars might be a nice light game to play at lunch (if played on an imperial assault play mat to keep the sessions small and quick).
John Paul Messerly
I'm testing some ideas for adding ninjas to Test of Honour. The ideas is not to make then troops you can add to your forces but to simply have a mission in which one side controls a group of ninja during an assassination attempt (instead of controlling his usual forces). This represents your lord hiring assassins to kill your opponents lord.
This mission is inspired by a mission in the Osprey Ronin rules set. I've reworked it to work with the TOH rules and stats and shortened the length of the mission to make it more tense.
Attacker gets 1 ninja master and 4 ninja assassins.
Defender gets 18 pts to build his forces.
Attacker has 6 turns to kill the defenders Leader before more guards arrive to overwhelm the attackers.
Deployment - attacker sets up the defenders units anywhere within 12 of the center of the board. Defender placed all his units anywhere on the board But they cant be closer than 9 of a defender unit. Defender can then move half his units 6. Finally the attacker can redeploy 2 of his models anywhere on the table.
Ninja units - these have no points cost because they can't be used in other missions.
NINJA ASSASSIN 4 5 4 4 5 1 - commoner
Shuriken - thrown weapon
Shinobigatana - short sword
NINJA MASTER 5 6 5 5 5 3 - samurai (starts with 'dangerous reputation' card)
Kusari gama - (weapon bonus - twin sword) before rolling to strike declare if you intend to damage or entangle the opponent. If an entangle strike isn't evaded then the target cannot attack or defend for the rest of the turn (remove their unused activation tokens).
Special rules for all ninja-
Sprint - when you make a run or charge action you may make an agility roll. Move one extra inch for each sword result roll. Fumble = fall down at end of move.
Acrobatics - ignore all terrain effects.
John Paul Messerly
Lots of stuff on my painting table these days.
I'm running a Warhammer Quest Hammerhal campaign at work, gearing up for my second season of my local Bloodbowl league, and getting caught up in 2 new games... Test of Honour and Rumbleslam.
Here's a little taste of what I've been working on...
Mork's Metal Mania.
A heavy metal themed Orc team focused more on passing and running then punching... so speed metal.
Last seasons team:
a quick visit to Japan
I spend the holidays with my inlaws in Shizuoka Japan every year. I've grown to really love the Japanese countryside so when I was that Warlord was releasing a new skirmish game set in Japan I decided to pick it up... mainly because I'm excited about the terrain potential! Here are some of my first attempts at building/converting/buying terrain for Test of Honour.
Most of this is still unpainted or just a base coat put I'm excited about the potential...
Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:00 pm
John Paul Messerly
I created this blog to share my development process as I created my own game company... Future God Games. Well that era is over and I shut down the company last year. I have no regrets because I learned a lot from the process. I've been avoiding this blog because I didn't have any development progress to share.
This is officially the end of this blogs focus on development. I've decided to keep the blog and simply use it to share key gaming moments in my life and painting/hobby projects I'm working on.
What I learned from making my own games:
1. I love developing games but not publishing or promoting them
2. My tastes are extremely niche and nothing I design will ever be a mainstream success.
3. I enjoy working with other designers and appreciate seeing their unique approaches but I'm usually saddened by seeing the changes they have to make to their games to get published.
4. My passion for games is creative/academic (I love experementing with ideas) not financial.
5. I felt like I needed to publish my own games because the industry had become formulaic in what they decided to publish. This is no longer true thanks to kickstarter and the Japanese mini games trend.
I've played boardgames my whole life and was always impressed with the crazy 'out there' ideas that got published when I was growing up. I don't know if that every really changed but for many years I found that what was being produced didn't match what I wanted and there was no sign of the industry changing. Kickstarter is both a blessing and a curse. It is the reason I no longer have the same drive to make games... because the types of games I want are actually being made.
These are a few of the amazing games I would probably never have experienced if not for kickstarter:
Kingdom Death monster
Lagoon land of druids
Xia legends of a drift system
Myth / Recon
Yashima legends of the kami masters
Rise of the Kage
John Paul Messerly
I didn't really want to do a top 10 list for 2016 because there are already too many of them but I do find that I like looking back at what I was playing each year and how I felt about those games. This makes it very easy to see trends and be reminded of how much garbage I buy each year...
So this year I've looked for a better way to rate games. Instead of giving them a number of stars I've rated them based on categories of future play. The BGG rating system is supposed to represent how likely you are to want to play a game but I find most people use it to rate how much they respect the design or how hyped they are so using that rating system the way it is meant to be used is confusing. This system is a modified version of the BBG rating that doesn't rely on numbers at all. I've also only really commented on the games I'm unhappy with letting the games I love speak for themselves.
Will never play again
Battledexx - looked like a great concept but the rules for how all the powers interact made it far too difficult to learn or teach. It also never resulted in the interesting decisions all those unique powers promised to provide.
Japanese: the game - more of a teaching tool than a game and not really fun or challenging. I think this could make a great educational app... the core concept is strong and the card UI is great.
Star Trek frontiers - yuck. Wizkids have the worst rulebook in the industry. I should have loved this but after spending 2 days learning the rules I just found the whole thing clunky.
TMNT heroclix - wizkids horrible rulebook and dials with numbers far too small to read. How has heroclix been so successful? I bought this for the miniatures and decided to give it a try but yuck. I like the idea of abilities changing as you take damage but everything else about the rules are just horrible.
Dungeon Saga: dwarf kings quest - a co-op where the activation rules and super narrow corridor make it impossible to coordinate your actions so only the guy in the front of the narrow corridor can do anything! No character advancement because each scenario is preset... it's Conan with worse components and no push your luck multiple activation system.
Might play again just to be polite
Spyfall - hidden info bluffing games were a huge hit with our gaming group but I prefer ones where you are in character (room 25) this is just too abstract and random.
Anomia - this one was so unmemorable I had to do some research to even remember what it was. I barely remember being forced to think up names if things from different categories and not finding that fun.
Witness - cool idea but very cold and abstract. Didn't feel like we were cooperating or competing... it just doesn't feel like it knows what it wants to be.
Quadropolis - some interesting decisions but no excitement or passion... maybe it's too much to expect a game about city planning to be thrilling but it felt like uninspired unchallenging work. I won't spend my professional time doing that kind of work... why would I want to spend my leisure time doing the same?
Love the idea but not the reality
Human interface nakamura tower - the theme and components are great but the rules just don't work. I plan on trying the game again when they update the rulebook but it will need a lot of work to make it into a great game.
Jim Henson's labyrinth: the boardgame - miniatures are great and there are some great thematic moments but not deep enough for serious gamers. I wish what they released had just been the intro rules and the game came with a more advanced version!
Grimslingers - This was actually fun but very difficult to learn and in the end it didn't live up to the hype. The world is so rich and so full of personality. The game needs more quests, more encounters, and more interesting opponents (that you run interact multiple times). I want to explore this world more but it needs a richer and a more meaningful personal ending to the stories. This may be asking too much for a small card game but the game has so much promise...
Would like to give another try
Mansions of madness: 2nd edition - not a game I want to own but I want to try again. Every time we play we have new players and have to keep replaying the first scenario?!
Warhammer quest silver tower - I've enjoyed this solo and my gaming group enjoyed it co-op. I really like it and would like to finish a campaign. My only concern is that when they release new content they will do it with a totally new mechanic instead of making it a connected game system.
Dungeon solitaire: labyrinth of souls - I really liked the base game but the other versions become to hard to keep track of what all the cards do. Why make a custom card deck for this and not add he rules to the cards. It's too much work to figure out all the custom rules for the cards. I would play again if I could get my hands on custom cards with all the rules.
Mercs recon - I really like this game but the setup time and game length means it doesn't get played often. Need to fix this for 2017.
Myth: journeyman - I played most of Shores of Kanis and really liked it. I will probably wait till the second wave arrives before digging deeper.
Thornwatch - we playtested the PNP edition and really liked it. It's become a challenge to keep up with all their constant cGanges to the PNP components so I will wait till the final release before playing more. Super excited... though I'm hope they find ways to add more RPG elements... even if just background and conversations for NPC's.
Deathwatch: overkill - didn't like this when it came out. I like the mechanics and hidden info but it just wasn't what I expected or wanted so I reacted badly to it. Now that I've had time to accept it for what it is I'd like to give it another try.
I love this game but...
Project elite - this is always a hit but something is missing. The theme is vague, I don't like the characters, and the equipment card rules are confusing. I hope another company takes this idea and does it better!
Dragon tides - a great action game with some of my favorite mechanics but the kickstarter failed to deliver to many backers and the second wave never happened. This is a great game that seems to have no future! The only hope is that another publisher picks it up but with the way the way the industry works someone would be more likely to just copy the mechanics than buy out the franchise.
Song of Arthur and Merlin - this was one of my favorite games of the year but it's been replaced by Rogue Stars for small skirmish and Saga for larger skirmish.
Tanks: panther vs Sherman - I really enjoyed this game but so far my gaming group has shown no interest. I would love to play more of this but there seems to be no scene for it and it doesn't play well solo so it may be dead.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar - The changes to that old bloated system are great and much needed. The constant releases keep the world alive and interesting but for skirmishes I'd rather play SAGA and for my fantasy fix I prefer Silver Tower.
Played it. Enjoyed it. done with it.
Shephy - cut fast little solo game that I've really enjoyed. It's good but not enough depth or interest to keep me coming back.
No thanks - this is our go to filler game while waiting for players to show up but I don't really enjoy it any more... it's become a rather soulless endeavor.
Zombicide: Black Plague - I really enjoyed the scoobie door style chaos chess but after a few games the newness is gone and every mission feels the same.
Deep space D6 - fast dice placement solo survival game. Interesting to learn but nothing to keep me coming back for more.
W1815 - simple and elegant system but not much replay value.
Playing now. Hope it keeps my interest
Thunderbolt Apache leader (1991)
Pub battles: brandywine
Karen and the pirate island
Amazing game - give me more!
The walking dead: all out war
Kingdom Death: monster
Room 25: season 2 (will get replaced by new edition)
John Paul Messerly
The goal of this mod was to try and get close air support missions back into TAL (Thunderbolt Apache Leader). The original version had friendly battalions that showed up on the sector map but never on the tactical/mission map.
The initial idea here was to try mixing systems from TAL and Tiger Leader to get CAS missions working on the tactical map. Above you can see a friendly infantry squad about to be overrun by enemy ground and air forces.
TAL already has the concept of troop movement and has a simple AI system in the 'enemies going to cover' chart. To keep the system simple I'm working with a modified version of the chart that decides how aggressively the AI focus on the secondary target vs the CAS aircraft.
AI damage vs allied ground forces-
For this I'm using the damage markers from Tiger Leader. One of the interesting ideas is to have the effectiveness of the communication between ground and air units suffer as the ground units come under fire...
Stress added to ground units and commander KIA results greatly reduce their ability to coordinate attacks.
Exposed results will keep the ground forces from making use of terrain and building defenses while casualty or mowed down results result in the destruction of the unit.
Before the close support aircraft arrive on the scene the friendly squad comes under fire from enemy attack helicopters. In this initial attack the commander is killed and the squad is suppressed. At the same time the largest enemy battalion gets alerted to our aircraft in the area and scramble for cover in the hills.
Moments later Rock and Rebel appear on the horizon and open fire. A sidewinder from Rock's apache takes out the enemy chopper while Rebels A10 takes out the biggest threats... the SAM and tank units.
The enemy commander ordered his forces to advance and they moved into position to assault the fort. The friendly ground forces take an exposed and stressed result. They now no longer get the effects of being in the fort and now CAS pilots have another negative modifier when coordinating with the ground forces. The enemy commander and his ground forces open fire on our aircraft... but don't do any major damage to either.
Rock takes out the enemy command and infantry in the eastern valley and Rebel opens up on the infantry assaulting from the south. As the dust from Rebel's rocket attack clears he sees a surviving enemy squad overwhelm the friendlies below.
Target priority for enemies - this seems to be a key element. When do they focus on the secondary target and when do they focus on the aircraft. In order to give the CAS pilots a chance to distract the enemy it feels like they need to always be priority. So by simply flying by the enemy they can draw fire from the ground forces.
In this test game I made a special defensive rule for the fort but it didn't work well... instead I should have just treated the unit there as with the normal ridge cover rules.
New fort rule - treated as in cover (can only be attacked from same hex) plus yellow attacks are weaker... for each yellow attack draw 2 chits and defender picks 1 result.
Using the cover rules to make the enemy get close to attack ground forces should make for a more dramatic CAS fight. When friendly and enemy units are in the same hex then friendly fire is likely. This is where the negative modifiers from stressed or confused ground forces come into play. Attacks on enemies in the same hex as friendly ground units are modified ( 1 for each stress, 1 if commander is wounded or dead) so the pilots are more likely to miss the target and make devastating mistakes.
I will need to test how far I want to take this... do all misses automatically hit friendlies or do you simple make an attack roll against a friendly for each missed attack.
This was fun and really didn't add a lot of complexity. I felt like there was more at stake than usual. It could be interesting to see how ground units recover from wounds and stress over time.
Next time I want to try a helicopter insertion mission.
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