GARPA 22 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

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Authors: Dan Pinkham and Jim Zabek

The boys here at GARPA took some time this week to celebrate 4th of July here in the US. Even with all the remembrances, parades, cookouts, and fireworks we are able to bring you an abbreviated version of GARPA (though LongBlade has managed to sneak in a couple of contributions of his own). Join us in two weeks when we are back with the full column.


Battle Merchants by Minion Games

$5,250 of a $30,000 goal funding ending August 5th

GARPA 22 Battle MerchantsWe all love a good game set in a fantasy world, the good races of dwarves, elves etc. fighting the orcs, goblins, and other evil creatures.  While this theme has been presented in many different ways it is usually entertaining and we can’t seem to get enough of it.  However, when a game comes along that takes these fantasy themes and incorporates them in a unique way we tend to take notice.  Enter Battle Merchants, set in a fantasy world that is embroiled in the good vs. evil conflict.  Instead of controlling one of the sides you are in charge making and selling weapons to the warring factions.  A kind of fantasy arms dealer or “merchant of death” if you will.

Who wouldn’t want to profit of the war between elves and orcs?  While taking place in a fantasy setting this game is definitely in the economic genre of boardgames.  Each of the four players must manufacture weapons and sell them to the different races.  Demand for the different weapons change throughout the game as does the quality of the weapons you can produce.  Each turn the players, “can forge weapons, sell a weapon, upgrade craft (to build better weapons), or take a Kingdom Card (for special powers). There is a possible fifth choice available (Forge and Sell a weapon in the same turn) for players with a high-enough level of craft.”

Obviously the name of the game is to make money.  To do so you sell your weapons to the races and like any good arms dealer you can even sell to both sides of the conflict to double your profit.  When the fighting stops if the weapons you sold your clients have survived they will need repairs which leads to even more profit.  The war will be good business for somebody.

The game comes with 120 weapon tiles, demand chips, reward tiles, races tiles, Kingdom and Craft cards, cardboard coins, and multi-color marker cubes.  A colorful playing board and merchant player mats round out the game.  If enough of the stretch goals are reached Battle Merchants plans to include a board for 2 and 3 players instead of just 4.  Also if you are willing to pony up enough dough you can purchase metal coins for the game instead of the standard cardboard ones.  For game art and to look over a copy of the rules check out the project’s Kickstarter page.

Operation Dauntless by GMT Games

Orders to Date: 645  Status: Made the Cut

Operation Dauntless covers the actions of the British 49th Infantry Division during the fighting near Caen in what is known now as Operation Martlet.  The 49th also known as “The Polar Bears were fighting forces of the 12th SS Panzer Division and Panzer Lehr.  The game map covers the areas around the towns of Fontenay and Raurary.  The terrain is typical of that part of France and is draw beautifully on the map to represent fields, orchards, woods, hedgerows, farms, and villages.  A number of hexes are also denoted as strong points in the possession of the defending Germans.  The game is considered grand tactical by the designer and turns represent 90 minutes of real time while distance is scaled at 425 yards per hex.  Infantry comes in company-scaled units while armor are present in platoon-sized units. Iron&Oakbn1(RBM)

At the core of Operation Dauntless is the Action Phase and mechanics are similar to the designer’s previous game Red Winter.  The action phase is key because the player may only choose one action for each unit.  These actions include, “move/assault, attempt recovery, dig in, or take replacement steps.”  This system forces the players to make important decisions for each unit accurately depicting the inability to do everything a unit would like to in combat.  In addition Operation Dauntless includes special rules for creeping barrages, hidden units, assault guns, engineers, air strikes, minefields, artillery, and the list goes on.

Both sides have numerous tanks so an armor and anti-tank combat subsystem is included in the rules to help model this type of warfare.  Infantry and armor ratings and effectiveness closely model their historical counterparts.  While the Germans, as the defenders, hold the advantage the British have superior numbers.  The unique replacement system also favors the British as the German historically lacked replacements for units who had taken casualties.  Overall expect the combat to be “fast and well integrated.”

Finally, the game contains two and a half sheets of counters, a map board, rule and scenario book, player aid and reinforcement cards and the appropriate dice.  What is very nice about this game is that it not is only is meant for two players but is easily suited for solo play.  The game comes with a campaign game which covers the three day battle as well as a large number of short scenarios that cover different parts of the battle.  A short tutorial mission is also included to help players become acquainted with the game’s combat system.  The game’s P500 page has links to more information on the game as well as images of the map and counter art.

Hollow Earth Expedition: Revelations of Mars

$20,215 of $15,000 goal funding ending on July 31st

GARPA 22 Hollow Earth Expedition Revelations of Mars Image Hollow Earth Expedition found initial success a few years back using a unique Ubiquity Dice based role-playing game. Echoing a Vernian trip to the center of the Earth RPG gamers looking for something beyond orcs and elves gobbled it up. The creator has been working on a new game and this one focuses on a trip to…where else?…Mars!

The fact that the Kickstarter project launched four days ago and has already been funded should be one indicator that Hollow Earth Expedition has been wildly successful and this latest expansion has some high expectations that gamers are confident will be met. Stretch goals are starting to get unlocked, with special miniatures, hardbound rules, and Ubiquity dice all part of the mix.

RPG gamers seeking a story-driven pulp-era adventure have been lauding Hollow Earth Expedition game system with awards since its release in 2006, and if you haven’t jumped on the game yet, now is your opportunity to fuel your rocket and blast off to Mars. Revelations of Mars’ Kickstarter page can be found here:

Fabled Environments: A High School Floor Plan For RPGs

$1,305 of $1,500 goal funding ending July 25th

Hey, who isn’t looking to boost their visibility on the NSA’s various watch lists? As if tempting fate by making sarcastic remarks in on-line games weren’t enough, developer Charles White is now creating a gaming map to recreate any number of role-playing games’ settings in a school definitely not of your making. GARPA 22 Kickstarter High School Map

Tasteless in light of some recent events? Perhaps. But then again gamers have been placing games in various settings well ahead of any recent crazy news stories. For those intrepid gamers who are seeking a setting which someone else designed (presumably for when their door gets kicked in they can legitimately claim it has no bearing on anything in their locale) this may be the map for you. Having been launched less than two weeks ago it is already very close to reaching successful funding, and with some interesting stretch goals on the horizon gamers may find this an interesting addition to their gaming adventures. The Kickstarter page can be found here:

One Response to GARPA 22 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

  1. […] forward to GARPA 22 and readers may recall Battle Merchants was presented for your consideration. Battle Merchants […]

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