GARPA 14 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

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by Dan Pinkham and Lloyd Sabin

Spring is almost in the air and another edition of GARPA is hot off the virtual presses.

With all the madness swirling around the month of March (see what we did there?) what better way to settle down then by backing some great crowd sourced projects? But wait there’s more! Leave comments and feedback in the forums and you can help inflate our egos knowing people actually read the column. Shamefully pandering, probably, but it’s what we don’t get paid for.


Board Games

Dungeon Roll – A Dicey Dungeon Delve by Michael Mindes

$126,913 of a $15,000 goal funding ending March 20thdr

Treasure. Who doesn’t like a bit of it? We here at GARPA certainly do and one sure fire way to know that a treasure is worth it is if it is guarded by a dragon. Who wants a treasure that is protected by anything less? In Dungeon Roll this is exactly the premise. There is a treasure guarded by a “vicious dragon.” To get said treasure you must slay that dragon and the slaying is all done via rolling dice…special dungeon dice, of course.

You are a hero and using the specially designed dice you roll up your companions. These range from fighters and thieves all the way up to mages and clerics. Then it is time to “press-your-luck” and fight your way through dungeons killing monsters and ultimately dragons while collecting treasures and drinking potions. Each of the party members can deal with the varying threats and perform certain actions, but you’ll need everyone to kill the dragon.

All of this action is done using two pools of custom dice, a dungeon set and a party set. What started as a simple dice game grew into a fantasy-dungeon-quest-push-your-luck game, with sweet loot! And with so many stretch goals being met this game continues to grow. To see what all the fuss is about check out their Kickstarter page.



Torn Armor by Natalya Alyssa Faden

$18,271 of a $50,000 goal funding ending April 4th

tornTorn Armor is set, conveniently enough, in the fantasy world of Torn and is a squad-based skirmish boardgame. It is also a miniatures game that is played on a board, making it a board game but played with miniatures. You get the picture. I believe this is what the kids are calling a hybrid game. The game comes with 39 detailed miniatures, color rule and scenario book, four double sided battle boards, terrain cards, a number of magic and spell cards, and dice. Needless to say it has everything you need to play right out of the box. As with other hybrid games, the miniatures come unpainted so that the enterprising player can customize the look of the figures to their heart’s content.

The backstory of Torn Armor goes like this. The world of Torn is being invaded by the Spartan-like “Sisk” who will stop at nothing to destroy the creatures who reside in Torn. These creatures are an amalgamation of anthropomorphic beings, including a cat, mouse, monkey, rhino etc. All of them are decked out in war gear and prepared to defend their homeland. Opposing them are the above mentioned Sisk, who field some sweet units of their own including a war golem that comes in at 60mm on the game board. Not sure how the smaller creatures of Torn will be handling him.

Gameplay is intended to be quick and deadly. The project’s Kickstarter page promises “10 minute set-up time, 30 minute whirlwind action across playing areas the size of a coffee table.” That is not to say you can’t set up much bigger battles but the core game was designed for the smaller skirmish size battles. On Torn Armor’s project page they have a lot of great concept art and two gameplay videos to show off the project. They also include links to descriptions of the Torn universe and a copy of the play test rules.


Rebel Raiders on the High Seas by GMT Games

Status: Made the Cut – Orders to Date: 569rr

Covering an oft neglected but very interesting aspect of the American Civil War, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas covers naval conflict at sea and on America’s rivers. The game is strategic battle between the North and South that is, “more of a representation than a detailed simulation of that conflict, the game is intensely engaging, highly interactive and moves along quickly, with players constantly responding and reacting to their opponent’s moves.”

Playing as the Confederates one must wisely use their raiders and blockade runners to gather valuable war supplies while trying to inflict damage and economic loss on the North. However, beyond naval warfare the player must also construct and improve forts, build gunboats and ironclads, and defend its cities and honor.

Playing as the Union one must concentrate on securing the chokehold of a blockade along the southern coast. With the blockade secure the player then must look to capture ports, forts, and cities through combined naval and amphibious assaults.

This game brings out one of the important questions of the Civil War: “can the South, with limited means, hold off the industrial might of the North as represented by its ever growing resources long enough to secure independence?” Each side is faced with many challenges that the player can respond to with varying strategies which provide great replayability.

The game comes with a simplistic but artfully done map, rule book, eight d6, deck of strategic cards, various playing pieces, and almost 300 counters. Although the game includes cards, it is not a card-driven game by any means. The cards only enhance the game adding varying strategies and tactics. The rules also include “a menu of elective rules to provide each side with a variety of “what if” options to further vary play.” So if you have what it takes to step into the shoes of the likes of Farragut or Porter, or want to take command of the Monitor or Merrimack head on over to GMT and check out the game.


Hearts and Minds Reprint by Grant Wylie and Worthington Games

$6,555 of a $12,000 goal funding ending April 6th

hmOriginally published in 2010, Hearts and Minds is a card-driven game that covers the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Gameplay takes 3-6 hours and uses area movement mechanics. While combat is an important and included element in the game, the main focus is on political influence in the South Vietnamese provinces. The game draws from major events of that period to reproduce the intense struggle taking place on the ground and in the halls of the world’s governments.

The game contains 80 cards, tokens representing the different forces involved, as well as a number of gameplay mechanic tokens to help keep track of the action on the board. The biggest complaint of the original printing of this game was the size of the board. With all the tokens that could accumulate on the map movement was tight and untidy. The reprint of Hearts and Minds on Kickstarter promises to fix this by moving from a board that was 11 inches by 25 inches to the new and improved board which is now 22 inches by 34 inches. This will surely help alleviate the cramped conditions in the game. One of the stretch rewards for the project is for this board to be mounted for the player. In addition to the reprint, all cards, playing pieces and tokens will receive a graphical overhaul along with updated rules.

For more information check out the project’s Kickstarter page. On this page you can see all the stretch goals and rewards for those who pledge. Also there are several well done videos reviewing the game for those of us who have not had the privilege to see it in person.


PC Games

Civitas by Brandon Smith

$99,354 raised of $250,000 goal, funding ends Monday, April 1, 11:44pm EDT

As Maxis and EA continue to get raked over the virtual coals for their DRM scheme of the newest SimCity, PC game makers with a love of urban design are already trying to turn Maxis’ lemons into their own lemonade.

One of the first points readers will see on Civitas’ Kickstarter page is that this new city creation game will be civitasDRM free. Civitas will also be playable in both a single-player mode and between players competitively. Game creator Brandon Smith makes it clear that his game will see players not only build up cities, but develop entire regions. These big regions could conceivably include multiple cities, and will not only be possible in Civitas but encouraged.

The features which players will use to build their cities will include terraforming, zoning, building, and management. Civitas is designed to be moddable and open-ended, so if you fantasize about building a better Victorian London or a sprawling Renaissance Prague or a dangerous Revolutionary Paris…conceivably, eventually…players will be able to do that. A full range of open editing tools will be included in Civitas from the start. Weather, disasters (both natural and not), and a day/night cycle will also be incorporated into Civitas at launch.

The real draw of Civitas is that players will not be locked into one type or era for building. I personally have been waiting for a game like this forever. Sure, players can build a modern European, Asian, or American city with the designs and building models that come with the game, but the real meat here is in its modding potential and editors. I am hoping to finally be able to build that steampunk gaslamp model of Manhattan that I have always dreamed about!


Net Gain by Level Zero Games

$21,266 raised of $16,000 goal, funding ends on Sunday, March 31 at 1:05am EDT.

The main thrust of Net Gain is simple: screw the other guy before he screws you.

ngIn Net Gain the player takes the role of a corporate broker, hired by a giant conglomerate to make sure the company stays in the lead by taking more markets, sabotaging competitors, and above all, continuing to expand around the globe.

Net Gain takes place in the near future. The entity that the player works for is made up of lesser parts including labs, factories, and offices that create ‘assets.’ Assets are all-encompassing. They can be new tools like computers or computer programs, advertising campaigns, highly skilled company employees, contracts…basically almost anything in the world that is worth any serious sum of money. Think of your employer as a far-reaching kingdom with its tentacles wrapped around a host of vital resources. Think of yourself as knight in the service of the kingdom making sure that the grip of those tentacles never gets slack.

In Net Gain, advancement comes as the player’s corporate broker avatar advances by completing missions. Each mission will contain plots, unique problems that can be solved in more than one way. Think blackmail, espionage, and theft…you just have to win, not play fair.

To help, the corporate broker has a small collection of operatives working for him, each with their own talents available to you for success. Operatives don’t have to work covertly, if they are put in a compromising situation they can fight their way out. These operatives make up your squad that can be controlled directly. They can be hackers, soldiers, spies, or have a combination of specialties. It is up to the player how each operative is used.

A lot more detail on Net Gain’s world is available on their Kickstarter site. If you like sneaking around Blade-Runneresque dystopias causing mayhem and leaving piles of smoking wreckage in your wake while making lots of money…Net Gain may have a deal for you.


Homeworld Touch/Homeworld 3 by teamPixel LLC

$30,113 raised of $50,000 goal, funding ends Tuesday, March 26 at 12:59am

You may have heard of the Homeworld franchise somewhere along the way. You know, the sci-fi RTS series juggernaut thought by many to have changed the world of computer games and science fiction forever? Yeah that one. Well I have good news for you: you may not have to worry about Homeworld being compatible on your fancy new Windows 8 rig because teamPixel is taking it upon themselves to develop both an Android-based version of Homeworld as well as…Homeworld 3! [insert proper amount of fainting and applause here]

homeIn simple terms, teamPixel is hoping this Kickstarter fundraiser can net them enough money to purchase the Homeworld license from the smoldering ruins of the THQ bankruptcy. An additional part of the possible deal is to get the older Homeworld titles up and available on both Steam and (Good Old

The Homeworld Touch project combines the original Homeworld game with modern Unity and Unreal engine technology. The results as reported by teamPixel appear to be excellent and the use of touch tech a natural evolution. It may be a good example of an older game meshing fantastically with new graphics and technology for the benefit of sci-fi gamers everywhere. If the Homeworld Touch project goes to launch, teamPixel will then use that new edition of Homeworld to begin work on Homeworld 3!

A stretch goal worth mentioning is Homeworld: Remastered for PC/Mac/iOS/Android. If the project earns $100,000, then teamPixel will give the original Homeworld a new graphical makeover, similar to the one being offered for Age of Empires II on Steam next month.

The developers are also calling on all Homeworld fans and modders to really inject the franchise with as many ideas as possible. And we all know how many ideas have been brewing in the depths of the collective hive-mind of the fans over the last decade. Homeworld already holds a place in many gamers’ hearts, and teamPixel looks to be poised to launch the series into an exciting, modern new direction.


And with that, this edition of GARPA, like all things awesome, must come to an end. See you in two weeks!


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