Archive for the ‘ playtesting ’ Category

War chariots in SSS

One week ago Andrea came to my house to playtest some rules for new rulesets in development in the Ganesha Games factory. After a lot of time we put our minds again on Song of Spear and Shield. The last time we had some problems with chariots because this type of vehicles are a real challenge to the geometric standards that are in every game.

If you look at the gaming tables in another way, we can say that we don’t play with miniatures but with bases to find a common ground when we consider the space and the form that a man (or a lot of people represented with a single miniature at variable ratios) assumes on it. So the movement rules in games are the interaction among these bases. If we are dealing with infantry we simulate how infantry moves. But when we add cavalry all is more complicated, and sometimes we simplistically handle it as an upper men on a longer base, a rectangular one instead of the square or circular ones. When we consider chariots we have to rethink all. We have a platform, pulled by horses, with warriors that can leave it. You cannot turn easily a thing like this and you have speed inertia that don’t permit to stop the ride. And every element of the composite weapon that we call chariot can broke, die or leave. Another thing: what happens when a chariot is launched against men?

So we spent 5 hours to develop some general rules that must clear every situation with chariots. Are our solutions the right ones? Today I will be in Terni for another playtest for chariots, but this time inside a real game. A report will follow in the next days…


A red table cloth full of minis

We think of my home as the venue of our club. In the past times we were all strictly compressed in the larger room of the house, playing 3 games of DBA at the same time, and more people were watching them. Now we are separated and dispersed, so I organised for the past holidays a playing reunion. It was hard because of distances and events, so only four people were present. Some news about the core members of our circle of friends: Luca is living in London while the third child is on arrival; Maurizio is living in Rome but our city is so chaotic that is difficult to meet each other, and a second child is on arrival; Narciso is living in Canino, a small town two hours far from Rome; Paolo is living in Swiss now with a marriage waited for August and this evening was his farewell to us. Me and Diego are always the same instead.

What you can see here is an extravaganza in small format, a 15mm DBA classic fight Roma versus Carthage but with a variation: every base is composed of 4 regular DBA bases. The overall effect is great, more troops in combat, more army look for your miniatures. The effect on the rules is that when a base is destroyed only one of the 4 bases is destroyed, so the play continues. This simulate attrition better than the disappearance of an entire base and the sudden hole in the line-up. Why none thought it before???

Here Narciso and the making of the cheap big bases. As you can see we utilised a red table cloth to play, because my home was setted for the holidays! Red instead of green, a colour not so easy to tolerate, indeed.

Later in the day, after the lunch in a Muslim fast food based on fried chicken meat and before a dinner with pizza and beer, we played two games of HOTT, the new (!) sensation in our Italian DBA world. Narciso wants to organise some tournaments so he is pushing me to compose a HOTT army. I’m thinking about a simple mummies army, my friends are thinking for me about an army based on gladiators. Another project!? I have enough of them!!! Well, maybe I will do something. However a day that we will remember.


Zaku: Ganesha style

In change of a lot of visits to Ganesha Games fighting arena inside Sergio’s home, Andrea came in Rome the past Sunday to a playtest session about Samurai Robot Battle Royale. The last time we tried the rules adopting a Go Nagai perspective, using heroic robots with a lot of fantastic weapons. It was Mazinga Z (aka Mazinger Z, aka Majingā Zetto) versus evil robots. This time I wanted a more military feel, using Patlabor universe mechas. They haven’t weird weapons but only guns and rifles. It is a challenge to write rules that you can adapt to all kind of robot fighting. Maybe it was too early, because I wanted to put in the middle a giant monster (the number XIII, an experimental biologic weapon in the Patlabor anime) using Mighty Monsters rules, to test the compatibility between the two rulesets. Instead we try to adopt the military feel with Gundams and Zakus! I have a big collection of these little gashapons, so it was time to see them fighting in the name of Zeon (I dislike the Federation side…)! Some tweaks were made and all seem fine, but we are still in a initial development stage. But we are on the right way.


Saturday, another day in Terni to meet Ganesha Games team. More mindstorming than playtesting this time. Here in the kitchen with Diego and a tisane for our fatigued throats after hours of speaking.

A preview from iPad about the frontispiece design of Drums & Shakos Large Battle. Full color for these rules. Three years in the working, such a great effort for Sergio. This day he woke up at 4 in the morning to end the English translation of the rules. Italian version ready for Christmas, we hope. The English one a little after.

Another project in the making from Sergio at its initial stages. Seven Years…

Reinforcements from painting service. Sergio is enlisting troops, drums of war are rolling.

Samurai Robots Battle Royale first fight! We are trying to make this new ruleset full compatible with Mighty Monsters so you can play robots against monsters, but this will be a totally new set of rules. As a matter of fact, during the first battle we changed the method to inflict wounds. Another playtest maybe in Rome the next Sunday with my Patlabor gashapons. I have to build quickly some buildings in Patlabor scale.

In the afternoon Railroad Tycoon to play together with something different than playtesting. I won. My adversaries couldn’t do anything to stop me!

Our board had weird colours for blue, violet and red, so Sergio fixed it at the end. And the last photo is about me in the main Sergio’s wargame room…


Another day with SDS LB

Another day in Terni, another day with Song of Drums and Shakos Large Battles (maybe in the final version the name will be without “Song”). The train left Roma station at 7.48 in the morning. This time Federico from Rome was with us. He is a veteran of Napoleonic battles. Our guest is Sergio as usual, with his game, his kindness and a powerful pasta with red and green pesto, red and green as Terni’s coat of arms.

I resulted in a very bad performance. I act as an amateur. I went straight ahead but enemy cavalry was not so convinced to permit this to me. It is true that in this manner we could destroy it because was alone in the field and under fire from our forces. At the end I put my soldiers at the will of my partner in the game, Sergio himself. But Sergio wrong move was that he didn’t develop early the reserves, especially the artillery.

As I thought, this is not the last version of SDS LB (from now DSLB). Other tweaks have to be do. Nothing so big, but something to improve the game in some situations. Linear games are even a bit complicated by geometric messes, and we don’t want a game for land surveyors.

Maybe we could see the complete game at the end of the year…


Try this (SDS LB) at home

Some weeks ago, in the middle of August, during a hot evening, me and Diego tried in a private session the last release of Song of Drums and Shakos Large Battle. As I said before, Diego is very involved in the Sergio’s project, so he wanted to taste some of the rules to understand if all is smooth and fine. He set a scenario and adapted his 1/72 miniatures to the game. And he introduced some different composition of the armies to create peculiar forces, a variation to the more aseptic battalions that we used before for the tests.

I’m not an expert of Napoleonic warfare, but now I know some of the basics, so I moved my pieces with skilfulness, or almost I believe it. At the start I strike very hard, and glory was at hand. But in the following turns, a hill slowed my paces and I couldn’t give the final punch to the enemy on my left flank. Maybe the rule for hills are not good, because to climb them you must spend two activations only for movement. So I had too many turn overs. And to this followed a general change of situation on my throws: it meant a drawback and after defeat.

Another test and a list of observations to Sergio. Tomorrow we will have another playtesting day in Terni. Sergio tell us that this is the last test for the rules. I don’t believe him…


Swatters + MM + SDS LB

Another day in Terni, another day in Sergio’s house, another day of testing of Ganesha Games’ rules. This time was the 7th of August and the staff were: me, Diego “Legio Palatina”, Sergio “SDS”, Andrea “Ganesha”, Gasbarri “Italian champion of all miniature wargame tournaments”, Salini “Chimera”. So we had two gamers from Rome, two from Arezzo and two from Terni.

After a debate on who from Arezzo works as a apothecary (don’t mind, it is a inner joke), we started a game with Song of Drums and Shakos Large Battle. Every time I think it is in the final state of the testing, every time I found something new in the rules. Well, you can’t say we didn’t try this ruleset before its publication! We are testing it since a couple of years. What can I say? I confirm all my impressions. This time the game was faster because Sergio wants to close a game in a 2 hours and half, because he is tired of longer games that you cannot end in a evening. So you have a more deadly play, but with realistic results. I would prefer a slower and less compress view of the game, but frankly 2 hours and half are enough for a game, so now SDS LB is still better.

In the middle of the play we made a pause for lunch. At the restart I left SDS LB (my place was taken by Sergio and they made another game too, with a long debate after) for a game with Mighty Monsters. I aided Andrea in its development and founded some key ideas about the mechanism of the game. They were a lot of months that I didn’t play with these small versions of Godzilla and foes. We made some little adjustments and tried some terrain effects. It is almost ready for betatesting to external playtesters, but still we have to try it putting Japanese Defence Forces in the pit.

At the end I tried for the second time the new game of Andrea, Swatters (not the definitive name), a sci-fi game about voracious aliens and terrestrial garrisons (I talked about it in the 17th of July post). Andrea is very involved in its development because of the new form of the play. It is a game with easy rules and with a immediate visual recognition of the troops statistics and wounds using the miniatures and their position inside circular trays (made from old CDs). I think that especially this game it’s very easy to play without reading the rules before, because you have all what you need just on the table. I suggested to use trays made from mini-Cds, but now you can find only mini-DVDs, and Andrea is stockpiling them to play a very large battle. Using 15mm, the Ganesha’s distance sticks, a bunch of dices to add probability factors to your fighting results, and mini-DVDs as trays, you can have your sci-fi battle.


SSS & Large Battle SDS (again!)

Another holiday in Terni! Me and Diego again. Our train left the station at 7.43. You get up early in the morning for these little pieces of lead. I could say that my summer holidays this year are in Terni…

As you can see, there is another improvement in the Large Battle SDS playtest rules: the cover is in full colour. Well, there are even other modifications, the morale rules are better focused and very simple, some little developments are on the ground, some personalisations of the armies are tested. This time was tested a scenario for the book, a strange fight between minor nations.
These rules are a long time investment for Sergio, and Diego is very involved in their definition. I think that they are better every time that I see them, but more things are to be tested. They have to be perfect…

While musketeers was echoing in the room where Diego and Sergio played, me and Andrea were involved in some small fights for Song of Spear and Shield. We wanted to test some situations as hoplites warfare, light chariots and heavy chariots. Some ideas were tested, something was good, something was not so good. Chariots are a hard challenge to put them in a game. More work have to be done, but the core rules are fixed. Next time we want some pachyderms and more chariots.

In spare time after this session, me and Andrea playtested his alpha versions of a sci-fi game with voracious aliens. And I showed my new iPad2 to Andrea to have some indications on its functions. A frozen train left me at the station around the 22.30.