Old School Tactical from Flying Pig Games

Origins 2014 – Saturday

Jim Zabek continues his quest for the bottomless bag of gold with which to attempt to fill a bottomless bag of games.  As long as it’s not Jim that’s bottomless…

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What’s that sound? That’s the sound of my wallet screaming as I attempt to coax a few more dollars out of it and buy another game. Yes, today was painful. But the end is nigh – I can feel it.

The morning kicked off like any other, I wandered into the exhibitor hall just a few minutes early. Stopping by Crystal Caste I had to ogle the dice they had there. Several years ago I bought a set of RPG dice from them made of lapis. They were great dice. Unfortunately I lost them in my last move and have missed them ever since. Today is the day to rectify the situation, and if we escape from a chronological reporting of events for a moment, I ended up purchasing a replacement set in the afternoon. Not cheap, but oh-so-worth it.

As long as we’re breaking from chronology, my last purchase of the day turned out to be a game I didn’t think was on retail shelves yet: Galaxy Defenders. If that name sounds familiar, it should – readers may recall from as far back as yesterday I was getting a demo from Ares Games about it and their retail shipment was still stuck in customs (one of several companies at Origins having problems with customs apparently).

I only saw one copy of the game on the shelf and I pounced. I would have bought it from Ares if they’d had a copy. Now I get one anyway.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Whenever I fly to a convention I make sure I pack an extra suitcase (preferably soft-sided to fit in my existing case). It never fails that I depart a con with more stuff (read: “games”) than I arrived with. However, for this con I drove. And correspondingly didn’t bring a suitcase since I won’t be checking any bags. But…it never hurts to have a carrying container to move the extra loot with. How could I have forgotten this basic rule?

Anyway, let’s get back to the games.

If space is a consideration then Proving Ground Games may have a solution. They have a game called Fields of Fire which provides miniatures rules for modern warfare. Set roughly in the mid-1980s, this is a light rule set that incorporates combined arms conflict. The scale is GHQ’s Microarmor, which means minis are small and cheap. The units are individual tanks, and squad-level infantry. This is exactly my style of game and after ten minutes of demo I was sold on the game. Loved it. Even better? They are working on some rules for World War II. The alpha of which is available for the first time at Origins. The release day is anticipated to be next year – hopefully at Origins.

Gameplay itself is simple. When shooting at an opposing unit you measure the distance. Distances are broken into groups of five inches. A table is consulted which cross references the type of unit shooting and the target being shot at. Two numbers are provide: to hit, and to damage. You roll the appropriate number of dice for the number of units shooting. Any numbers at or below the to-hit then get rolled again to see if they actually penetrate. A d10 is used; typical numbers might look like a 8/3 where it takes an 8 or less to hit and a 3 or less to damage. I’ve gotta say this is perhaps the lightest set of rules I’ve seen, but it works.

 

Marines versus Soviets on the German plains.

Marines versus Soviets on the German plains.

 

An ATGM streaks from toward my armor.

An ATGM streaks from toward my armor.

 

Dave Mattingly from BlackWyrm seems to have several projects going on, but the one that caught my eye was his erasable playing mats. Laid out on rollable, foldable plastic mats, these vinyl maps can be marked on and then erased. I didn’t catch whether they were dry-erase or wet-erase, but the bottom line is he’s got some cool stuff. Currently he has a sci-fi spaceship, with another in the works, along with a ship and a dungeon. For players seeking a full-color map scaled approximately into one inch squares, this is something to keep an eye on.

 

BlackWyrm’s big starship map.

BlackWyrm’s big starship map.

 

Conventions are the only place where it won’t be surprising to find a couple of wizards and a mermaid in casual conversation.

Conventions are the only place where it won’t be surprising to find a couple of wizards and a mermaid in casual conversation.

Another interesting game in development comes from WizKids. No, it’s not a wargame, but it is combat oriented. Anyone familiar with their game Star Trek Attack Wing will recognize their latest offering: D7D Attack Wing. The game will offer both flying creatures as well as ground-based creatures and these will range from dragons to elves to monsters. Only the dragons were on display at Origins, but for guys seeking a light rules fantasy skirmish game, this is got my attention.

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Yes, Another Zombie Game

Without question, my gaming group and I enjoy a good zombie game. So when the folks at Greenbrier Games offered to demo Zpocalypse to me I readily accepted. What sets Zpocalypse apart from so many other games is the focus: combat is just the first phase of the game. Gathering resources and preparing for the onslaught of zombies is as much of a part of the game as anything else. The game is played by days, and players can play for one, two, or even three days. Spoiler alert: the game never ends well. There is a high probability that the party will perish before the game is over, and the game gets tougher the longer it goes on. The theory being that as the days unfold the survivors are wearing down, becoming more and more fatigued. Another aspect of the game is an RPG leveling-up aspect. For every five zombies killed the player gains enough experience to improve a skill – either melee or shooting. I really liked the mechanics of the game and could see my gaming group loving it, so I bought a copy.

Another game Greenbrier had that caught my eye was one that we covered in a GARPA column last fall. Ninja Dice is a fast little dice game where each player takes on the role of a ninja. They start by rolling four dice to see what their target has in it. Typical results are guards, people, and locks. They then roll a different set of dice to attempt to come up with a result to get around each obstacle: lockpicks for locks, shuriken for people and guards, stealth for sneaking past the same, and a wild card allowing for any result. Opposing players get to participate by rolling their own die, which sometimes attacks the player, allowing them to steal a coin from their loot pile. At other times they can place a die which, if there are enough of them trigger the alarm. Meanwhile the active ninja can either take the points they have earned, or re-roll some dice that weren’t useful in the hope of getting all the way through the guards, people, and locks. Compounding all this is the fact that some of the dice only work in a specific direction. So even though a player might roll an arrow to allow them to steal a coin from the other player, if that die isn’t oriented toward the target player, they get nothing. Ninja Dice is yet another good, fast game that makes for filler material between bigger games. I liked it so much, I bought it, too.

Zpocalypse unfolding.

Zpocalypse unfolding.

Believe it or not, that filled the better part of my day. It’s amazing how fast time flies at these conventions. It never seems long enough, and yet at the end I’m exhausted. They are serious fun, but sometimes having that much fun takes work. I can’t wait to see what Sunday brings.


Talk about Origins here >>

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