Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gamer Perspective -- March 11

Hopefully.... maybe just maybe.... perhaps.... Those are the types of words & phrases that pop into my head when I want to blog, game, paint miniatures, or start reading a new book that's been sitting on my nightstand for 3 months, but I just don't make the time for it. I've been in Hopefully-Maybe-Perhaps mode for awhile now. And dammit, I need to break out of that mode!

So apologies to all those blog readers who were about to give up on me because I've been practically AWOL the past few months. I'm still kicking.

Anyway... Enough personal crap. What's been going on in my gaming life?

Sword of Severnia

I've briefly mentioned this before, but I'm currently developing a fantasy miniatures wargame called Sword of Severnia. I've been working on this game for just over 3 years; pretty much full-time the past 2 years. Things are coming along quite nicely, especially over the past six-to-eight months, and I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With persistence and one final big push of work, I'm hopeful that I'll get this darn game published in the later-half of 2009. Join me in crossing your fingers and toes!

Late last-year, my miniatures wargaming group and chief playtesters (known as the Sultans of Severnia) began joining me in a monthly Sultans Game Day held at my house. We've enjoyed several really fun get-togethers and have been playing Sword of Severnia (SoS) exclusively these past few months. Over that time, a menagerie of fantasy races and cultures have been battling it out for tabletop supremacy and we've really gotten to dive down deep into the underlying SoS game system. After numerous rule changes and system tweaks, I'm finally starting to feel satisfied with the wargame design. The game is certainly fun and challenging, encourages the use of smart tactics, includes some neat elements of surprise and tension, and is tremendously customizable and replayable. And I'm finally starting to get the typical playtime pared down to my goal of 3 hours.

The Sultans meet this Sunday for our next set of battles, and I'll keep you posted on how that goes. I'm hoping that we finally hit the point of saying "okay, the rules are looking tight, it's time for Sevy to start hammering away at the WarBuilder software."

WarBuilder is a desktop software application for the PC that works hand-in-hand with the Sword of Severnia tabletop wargame system. It enables wargamers to create customized regiments (units) and characters (leaders, heroes, magicians, specialists), generate army point and victory point values for them, and print stat-cards listing the critical game statistics and special rules for your troops. In essence, there's no need to buy supplemental "army books" for this wargame or build rosters by hand; all your army building and organization is done via the WarBuilder software. It will even create printed cheatsheets that include the specific spells and special abilities that apply to your army, so you won't have to constantly reference the rulebook during play.

I've already designed a good chunk of the WarBuilder database and have programmed one major function, so at least that's a good start. Once the rules stabilize to a safe point, I'll resume design/programming on the core Troop Builder and Character Builder program functions.

Cold Wars

This weekend is the Cold Wars miniature wargaming convention in Lancaster, PA. With the terrible economic situation which has hit many folks in America quite hard (including my family), I almost decided to skip this year's convention. But it looks like I'll be heading down to the con on Friday with one of my buddies for a day of wargaming fun. It's always a blast.

I'm certainly going to curtail my spending this time, to about 1/3 to 1/4 of my usual amount -- sorry vendors! Unfortunately, paying the bills is more important than buying hordes of model soldiers right now. Plus, I haven't painted a single figure since my last model shopping spree in November at Fall In. So my new Eureka frog warriors, Beowulf barbarians, West Wind mummies, WarGods gator-men, and Front Rank foot knights remain the shiny color of tin. Not to mention I've got a whole slew of Gnome Wars arquebusiers and halberdiers to paint, and need to get off my butt and finish the paint-jobs on some trolls I started awhile ago.

My goal was to paint a LOT more this year, and so far, I've failed miserably on that accord. Once April rolls around and the crazy preseason baseball crush is over, my "fun schedule" frees up somewhat and provides me with more time to paint. And now that we've got regular games of Sword of Severnia going on, I'm more eager than ever to get some new troops to the table. So Hopefully-Maybe-Perhaps.....

My buying focus at this Cold Wars will be painted figures. Since my budget is quite limited, I probably won't end up with all that much stuff. I refuse to buy complete crap, and nicely painted minis usually aren't cheap, so I need to be very particular with my purchases. Here's hoping for some great finds in the Flea Market!

I'm kinda torn of just what to buy. A typical Sword of Severnia army is around 60-75 figures (12 units plus characters), so that's small enough to build several armies. I've already got enough figs to field about 4 or 5 different armies (goblins/trolls, arthurian-style knights, undead, elves, and dwarves/gnomes). I'm also trying to round out a decent swamp-army (reptilians, gator-men, dinosaurs, frog-men), a Krone barbarian force (vikings, valkyries, ice trolls, yeti, giants), and a mythic Jartan force (hoplites, centaurs, minotaurs, greek monsters). I'm also keen on building up a Broog army (beastmen, dogmen, deermen, anubis warriors, wulfen). And more than anything, I'd like to beef up my cavalry in just about every force. I guess my problem is that I love everything, and just can't choose 1 or 2 favorite armies. They're all good!

Anyway... maybe Kev and I will snap some good pictures at Cold Wars and be able to share them with the blog readers sometime soon. Stay tuned.

Board Game Roundup

It has been a fairly quiet few months for me in the boardgame world. My good friend Wally and I got to play a game of Wizard Kings in late-December. It was great fun and truth be told, I'm itching to play it again.

For those of you not familiar with the game, Wizard Kings is a strategic level fantasy wargame played on geomorphic maps which can be assembled in a wide variety of ways. Like most of the wargames designed by Columbia Games, your troops are represented by wooden blocks with colored stickers attached to one side which show the type of unit and it's corresponding attack, movement, and strength stats. These blocks are nice & chunky, visually appealing, easy to use, and simulate fog-of-war superbly.

What sets Wizard Kings apart from most of the other block wargames is it's interesting variety of troops and maps, which provide for truly awesome replayability. Many people describe this game as a "kit style" wargame, where you can customize your armies to some degree, build a huge variety of battle-maps to fight on, and design your own wargame scenarios. I absolutely love games like that (I'm a miniature wargamer after all, where creativity is king). As much as I really like a historical wargame like Hammer of the Scots, it's not a game I can see playing 30 times without getting bored with it. Conversely, with 7 different armies, a nice variety of maps with interesting terrain effects, support for multi-player games as well as 2-player, and the ability to design your own battle scenarios, Wizard Kings is a game with lots of staying power.

Other than WK, I haven't been playing any boardgames of late. Hopefully, we'll start up some regular weekend boardgame sessions this Spring. This always seems to be the time when people free up and shake-off the winter doldrums. There are definitely some great games in my collection that I'm eager to revisit, and some new-to-me games that I'm hoping will hit the table soon (such as El Grande, Aladdin's Dragons, Prophecy, Wallenstein, Last Night on Earth, Downfall of Pompeii, Hannibal, and Big City). I've also got my eyes on a few new or upcoming releases that are must-buys: Age of Conan, Small World, and the new edition of Cosmic Encounter by FFG.

So that's the scoop for now. Hopefully-Maybe-Perhaps... I can start blogging more frequently! Perhaps I just need more encouragement? Or maybe a swift kick in the nads? Option #1 sure sounds better!

Peace and pray for Spring to arrive soon!

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