Sunday, 31 December 2017

End of the year then?

We're pretty much at the end of this 2017 business so maybe this is a good time to look back and reflect a little bit.

How did things sell?
The following products sold over 100 copies:

Blast system bundle
Dungeon scum
FiveCore 3rd edition
Scifi generator for almost any system
Five Parsecs From Home
Squad Hammer
Unity field agent (when the beta is included)

The following sold over 200 copies:

Scum of the earth (almost 300 in fact)
Starport Scum and several of the supplements for it.

Most other things sat around 50-70 copies.
Five Parsecs Gang Warfare for example is at 70 copies already, despite being on the market for only a very short time.

What were the big successes?

Starport Scum continues to be a huge deal, which I am rather pleased with. 

The revamp of Five Parsecs has also done extremely well.

What didn't go so well?

Much as I hate to say it, Unity Field Agent just hasn't caught on much. 
It burns me a bit because it's a fantastic game I think, but I think the "man to man" scifi market is already pretty saturated and I think people may have had a hard time distinguishing between the roles of that and Starport Scum.

I also think that "army list driven" games is a much harder sell in the indie market, but I may be 100% wrong there.
The problem arises that Unity material is time-consuming to write and test and I can't justify that if a given supplement only moves 20 copies.

We have some things planned for the new year though, so don't write it off just yet.

What is on the schedule for the new year?

I am always hesitant to say specifics, because things change and things don't work out.

The plan is:

Continue expanding Five Parsecs with new ways to play. 

An updated Starport Scum to bring some of the supplemental stuff into the main book.

FiveCore battalion commander (title may vary).

Squad Hammer based titles for early WW2. I am not sure whether there's actually an audience for this, but we'll test the waters.

As always, any and all of these are subject to change.

Are you going to revise any old games?

Yes. Laserstorm and No Stars in Sight are both on the writing list for revisions. 
Laserstorm mostly needs tweaking with the points and build systems, while NSIS needs to be cleaned up a bit and brought in line with No End in Sight.

Do you have any pipe dreams?

The wish list: 

No Tigers in Sight. 
Five Miles from the Castle.
An un-titled WW2 RPG/Wargame crossover that I have been pondering for a while.

Would it be cool to have historical versions of Five Parsecs

Will there be more RPG product?

There will be expansions and pooooooooooossibly a scifi version of Blade&Lockpick.

Other than that and the odd small thing for fun, probably not.
I am rapidly losing interest in the OSR field and selling original systems is a bit of a dead end unless you're a big name (which in RPG sales, I am certainly not).

There may be some expanded role play options for Starport Scum though, stay tuned.

What personal wargaming project are you working on?

Right now? 3mm tank skirmishing using Firefly or Panzer War. A bit retro!

What other projects would you like to do this year?

I'd love to branch into talking about war gaming and the hobby in more general terms.
We'll see how that goes. You can find many wonderful blogs that talk about 

Are you still reviewing Black Library novels?

Yup, but I have to take a break from that stuff once in a while. The blog will return in January most likely.

What is the status of the Blast Pistol systems?

The goal is to create a generic, universal system based off those mechanics. However, I've had interest expressed in purchasing the system and engine, so things have been on hiatus. Hence why it is not mentioned above.

There is a small chance of a Powder&Bayonet stand alone re-release. We'll see.

Any hope of a new FAD?

Yes, but not from me. The rights were sold to a UK outfit that have been tinkering away at an updated version.

What is the status of An Orc Too Far?

Basically the people who liked the beta version REALLY liked it, but it didn't seem to catch on that widely. So I am uncertain whether it'll be financially viable. 
Maybe trying to compete with "Hordes of the Things" was a bit too ambitious.

I'd really like to finish it and release it "for real" this year, but it may have to be a vanity project alongside a more confident selling product.

How long does it take to write a game?

The actual writing process? As in sitting at the computer and banging on the keyboard until Suppression Fire rules come out? 

About a week, give and take. Maybe two weeks for the big 100-140 page books.
A lot of the steps, I've mostly automated in my work flow.

If you factor design, planning and testing? Hard to say. 
If it's an adaptation of an existing game engine, you can usually test it pretty well in a few months because you already have done most of the leg-work the first time around. 
For a brand new system, it could go on for a very long time.

For what its worth, I rate one playtest by people who have to rely 100% on what I wrote without me being there to explain it as worth three-four playtests where I am present.

Why do you put music notes in your games?

Mostly it's for fun. Music is inspirational to me and each game has a distinct "feel".
I try to pick albums to listen to that reinforce the game's mood.

That being said, sometimes it's just coincidence. Don't put too much into it. 

Do you have an evil agenda that you are secretly adding to all your games?


How do I find play testers for my game?

Ask on a forum or social media site. 100 people will say they are interested. 
Of those, 8 will actually provide feedback.
Of those, 2 will be bonkers.

Take the remaining 6 and lock them up in your basement. Now you have a core play test group.

What software do you use?

Games prior to Unity Field Agent were done on a Linux system using Libre Office and GIMP.
From Unity onwards, everything is done on a Mac using the included software (Pages, Photos, Keynote)

What are your favourite armies in historical war games?

Napoleonics I have no favourite, I'll roll with anybody. Soft spot for Austrians and Prussians though.

American civil war. Live in Michigan, married a Vermonter ;)

WW1. Commonwealth or Germans, though I'll try anybody. 
For Eastern front, possibly Russians though I'd love to do an Austro-Hungarian army eventually.

WW2. It changes but Soviet or Brit/Commonwealth is highest on the list.

Your question here:
I hope that sheds a little light into the NWG operations and if you have more questions, please feel free to bring them up in the comments :)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

October Hammer is here

Thought we were going to stop at WW1 ?

October Hammer bursts into action with quick-play, easy rules for the Russian revolution.

Cossacks? Partisans? Red Guard? We got it all and more and in an easy 40 page game to boot.

No need to blow 30 dollars on an expensive game you aren't sure if you'll like, no need to buy 500 miniatures just to try out the period, no need to read 200 pages of rules so you can figure out who moves first.

Grab October Hammer. Grab a couple bags of your favourite miniatures and blow up some Bolsheviks/Imperialists.

Oh, you can play campaign games and generate 15 different armies too. 

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

[non NWG] Matilda tanks in WW2 rules.

Thought I'd do something a bit off the beaten path today and look at something fun:

In various game rules how does the Matilda II tank hold up to German 37mm gun fire?

Any book on the topic will tell us that the Panzer III had to be very close to penetrate (though I also wager that the fact many German tanks were Panzer II adds to this in general story telling) so we're going to examine how that plays out in a handful of miniatures rules all of which are not made by me :-)

We're going to assume a shot at 100, 500 and 800 meters (point blank, "average" distance in Normandy and "long" range in Normandy) respectively and for games with split hit/penetration rolls, we're only looking at the penetration chance.
All shots are frontal.

If more than zero people read this, I may do it again using Sherman 76 vs Tigers later in the week. We'll see, I'm just in an Early War mood right now.

Fistful of TOWs 3
Models are platoons. (There are 1-to-1 options but I never found the game "felt" right that way)

Panzer IIIe gets 3 shots at 8" range and has 2 Penetration.
Matilda II has 5 armor on the front.

The scale is 1" = 100 meters, meaning our shots are taken at 1", 5" and 8" range.
The 1" shot is within half range, so it counts as Penetration 4 instead.

100 meter test: Panzer III hit rolls 1D6. On a 5 or 6, the Matilda crew must take a Morale check or bail out.

500 meter test: Panzer III has no effect.

800 meter test: Panzer III has less than no effect.

Conclusion: Not good news for our Panzer crew though with multiple shots per turn and the relatively low chances of passing Morale checks, they have an okay chance within 4".

Command Decision (1st)
Models are platoons but act more like individual tanks.

Scale is 1" equal 50 yards, so we'll be shooting at 2", 10" and 16" range.

Penetration is -1 at 2" and -2 at the other ranges (with accuracy dropping off massively for the 16" shot).

The Queen of the Desert sports 8 frontal armor.

100 meter test: A D10 roll of a 9 will Force the Matilda Back. A roll of a 10 will Damage it.

500 and 800 meter test: A D10 roll of a 10 will Force Back the Matilda.

Conclusion: Give it up Krauts. Closing to within 2" range and volley firing 37mm's will result in a lot of burned out Panzers en route.

Models are single tanks.

All distances are given in meters to begin with.

Penetration is 8 at 100 meters, 7 at 500 meters and 6 at 800 meters.

Matilda gets 6 frontal armor.

100 meter test: A D10 roll of 1 or 2 knocks out the Matilda. A roll of 3 Neutralizes it (unable to act this turn, suppressed the next) while a 4 or higher simply Suppresses it.

500 meter test: A D10 roll of 1 knocks out while a 2 Neutralizes.

800 meter test: A D10 roll of 9 or 10 Neutralizes.

Conclusion: Not great odds but they CAN kill it at 500 meters if you are feeling quite lucky.

Panzer War
Models are single tanks.

Distances are given in GSU which are half a meter each.

Penetration is 5 at 50 GSU, 4 at 250 GSU and 3 at 400 GSU when firing AP.
This is increased to 7, 4 and 2.5 when firing APCR.

Panzer War is fairly detailed in that shots can both experience substantial variation, often penetrating less than expected. Additionally different hit locations have rather different armor values.

100 meter test: Both ammo types will penetrate the tracks, even on a weak hit.
Critical hits (D6 roll of a 6 followed by at least a 4+) are needed to penetrate other locations in most cases.
APCR can penetrate parts of the turret if it does not suffer any deflection.

A Turret penetration will then need a 7+ (on a D10) to kill the tank and a 7+ (on a second D10) to knock out the tank commander).

500 meter test: Even with critical hits, it's unlikely to do any damage beyond tracking the tank.

800 meter test: As above.

Conclusion: Panzer crew is probably doomed, but the chance of knocking out a track does give some more options to the German player.
Also Panzer War has the penetration drop off much faster at range compared to Firefly.

Tank Charts
Models are single tanks.

Distances are given in meters.

100 meter penetration is 48, 500 meters is 39, 800 meters is 28.

Optionally, these can be varied up and down 10%.

100 meter test: From the front, the weakest hit location has 79 mm armor. Even with variation, there is zero chance whatsoever.

No need to conduct further tests.

Conclusion: Fritz go home.

So there you have it: Information that is of absolutely no value to anybody :-)

I didn't check Chain of Command, Crossfire or Troops, Weapons & Tactics since I don't really consider them tank games and I don't have a copy of Spearhead lying around any more.

Which result seemed to fit the best? Discuss as you see fit.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Trench Hammer. Solo RPG'ing and WINTER OFFENSIVE

First, Trench Hammer is available.
A collaboration with Patrick Smyrl, this uses the Squad Hammer engine to allow fast, easy and fun WW1 infantry war fare.

You can run a platoon to a company with no trouble and of course we include a few nods to campaign gaming.

The package includes details on organizing German and British platoons plus 3 scenarios.

Trench Hammer is what I've termed a "mini mini's game": A game that has a lot of finesse and chrome but in a small page count and a small price tag.
Grab a copy, buy a few bags of 15mm figures and you can have a fully playable game on the cheap.

Heck, do it for Christmas. We both know you're going to want to escape your drunk grandma complaining that the people in TV are hiding her socks, and where better to do so than with a new wargame, some unpainted miniatures and a few Ospreys books for a new war gaming period ?
Rules are available here for 4.99.
You do NOT need a copy of Squad Hammer to use this.

Second, based on feedback, the price for the solo Blade&Lockpick game system is reduced to 2.99.
If you were hesitant because you like the idea of a group/solo oriented task system but don't want to pay for an oracle you won't use...well, now you can get the whole thing for half the price.
Fair, no ?

Finally, we're participating in the Winter Offensive.
If you've held off on grabbed NWG titles such as LaserStorm, Clash on the Fringe, Starport Scum, No End in Sight or...well, any of them, now you can do so at a nice discount.

You deserve some gaming don't you?

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Wargaming the Russian Civil War - Rules agnostic

The Russian Civil War and the various sub-conflicts (such as the Soviet-Polish war and Finnish Civil Wars) make for excellent gaming material but there are relatively few rule sets dealing with it specifically.

Luckily, any set of WW1 rules (such as 1916, Great War Spearhead, Over the Top, Contemptible Little Armies etc.) can be pressed into service with a few tweaks.
And if that fails you, grab some WW2 rules that you like.

I am going to make some suggestions below, mainly for larger scaled battles:

1: A bit less trenchy.

Troops certainly dug in during the RCW, however, it was not nearly as common to find the extensive trench networks of the Western front.
Part of this is the nature of the fighting: A lot of the "meeting engagements" that players tend to enjoy would be alongside rail or river supply lines, where there's not much to be gained from holding a given spot.
Additionally, given the size of the territories in question, a heavy position could usually always be outflanked.

As such, if your game system gives an increased defensive benefit to trenches (compared to other forms of "hard cover" such as a stone wall or barricade), don't allow that bonus unless defending a real fortification network (such as Petrograd or Tsaritsyn).

Trenches are simply rated the same as any other physical obstacle.

2: Crap troops can still win.

While many units fought fiercely and resolutely, civil wars tend to give us an excuse for all manner of dubious troops.
What will occasionally surprise WW1 (and even WW2) players is that these troops often did just fine storming an enemy position.

To some extent this can be answered by the equally dismal state of the opposing forces, however I think a significant factor is that there's not much to be gained from defending a particular spot to the death.
Whether you defend this particular spot of dirt or another equivalent spot 10 miles to your rear will make little difference on the steppes.

As such, if your rules offer a Morale bonus for occupying defensive positions, do not apply the bonus unless it is a vital position or your troops are Loyal.
Alternatively, lower all "in cover" Morale boosts by one step.

3: Horsies!

One of the more fun aspects is that cavalry is a vital battle field tool in the RCW.
They can even do quite well on the actual battle field, to the delight of many a frustrated WW1 horse-miniature painter.

My personal theory as to the relative battle field success of cavalry in the east is that firepower was comparatively low: A mixture of rifle types, limited ammunition as well as modest degrees of training  (to be optimistic) meant that troops just couldn't put out the sorts of concentrated firepower that would doom any cavalry attack in the West.

If your rules provide a firing bonus against mounted troops, drop this bonus UNLESS the troops in question are Allied Intervention Forces.
Yes, this will apply even for machine guns.

I'd also suggest applying a morale effect for enemy cavalry near your position.
A simple penalty (or even forcing a morale check when enemy horse approach within "close" range) will work fine.

4: Who you gonna call? 

Indirect artillery fire should probably be non-existent unless you're attacking a known, fortified position.
Most artillery support would be over open sights at spotted targets, even for mortars.

This incidentally allows you to ignore the most complicated part of many rule sets.

5: Desertion

There's plenty of recorded instances of troops melting away at the first sign of trouble or even switching sides.

Unless a unit is Loyal, if you roll the worst possible score for a Morale check, the unit is removed from play.
If they are within "close" range of the enemy, give a 25% chance of changing sides (in which case they are assumed to have passed the morale check).

I hope these tricks help or maybe even get you interested in this wonderful period for gaming purposes.
Let me know your own ideas below.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Next revision: No Stars in Sight

The next big update will likely be to No Stars in Sight.
In the event this changes, consider this a "speculating about the future" blog post.

"Hard scifi" rules have always been a bit of a side-show in the scifi skirmish communities. Stargrunt 2 paved the way and currently All Tomorrow's War holds the throne.

Upon its original release, No Stars was pretty well received for feeling "realistic", having innovative ideas and being easy to play.
Conversely, it was also felt to be "busy" with a lot of things to keep track of and with too many special cases and exceptions, particularly as regards equipment.

The first step is obviously the improvements that was brought along in NEIS 2nd edition, such as getting rid of permanent stress and simplifying some of the mechanics.

However, one of the things I would also like to do is try to push up the scale a little bit: From the reinforced platoon to a half company or even a full, light company of troops.
I am not completely certain this will work, but I think if the design can be made to work at that larger scale, it'd be very attractive to a lot of people.
"Mass Skirmish" is popular with a lot of 15mm players who want to be able to field several vehicles along with a handful of infantry squads.

There were a lot of added systems in NSIS (hacking, the various alien critters etc.) that need to be carefully evaluated for simplifying or rebuilding.

The biggest worry is that compatibility between NEIS and NSIS may end up being broken a little bit.
I don't know if that's a disaster in itself, as long as the core mechanics are similar, but it does bear thinking about.

Stay tuned.
If you are experienced with the existing NSIS or NEIS rules and are curious about this new version, let me know and you might be able to help test things out.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Five Parsecs: Adjustments and difficulty

With a lot of games of Five Parsecs being played right now, I thought it'd be worth adding:

If you have any thoughts at all on how to tweak and improve the balance of the campaign game, let me know.

Whether it's characters advancing too slowly, too quickly, getting injured too often (or not enough), too many or too few enemies, cash problems, not enough to spend credits on, etc. etc. etc. I am all ears to all of that.

Procedural campaigns can be incredibly challenging to balance because the number of possible outcomes is astronomically high (there are events that never was rolled even once during testing).

So the intent is to rely on player feedback to adjust things as we go along.

So don't be shy, get in touch!
I like to pride myself on NWG always being fairly responsive to customers and the benefit of PDF publishing is that we can make changes rather quickly, instead of waiting a year or three for the 2nd edition.

In short: Love the game but this one thing is bugging you?
Write me :)

(also, leave some reviews on the site where you purchased please. Don't fluff it up, be honest with the ups and downs)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

I should add..

..the two Five Parsecs games were intended to have released closer to each other, but that didn't end up working out, so here they are :-)

Balancing the economy of a game like this is tricky: You can roll the dice twenty times and still not get a clear representation of every possibility.

If you run into elements that "break" the campaign, either by being far too stringent or far too rewarding, don't hesitate to email me.
The intention is that, as with all NWG games, things can and will be adjusted over time as more and more players get their claws into the campaigns.

There are more Five Parsecs material planned, though I am hesitant to talk too much about it in advance, since you never know when plans change and what product catches the publics attention.

The dream is to have a whole universe you can adventure in, moving from campaign to campaign as you wish, all powered by the same mechanics.
In some ways, rather inspired by 5150 from Two hour wargames.

We will see where things go, but stay tuned.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Rolling up a Five Parsecs character...but wait?

Grab the dice, we're going to just roll a quick Five Parsecs character.

Motivation: Nihilism.

Raised by: Smugglers

Knack: Bruiser.

Reactions 1
Speed 4
Combat Skill 0
Toughness 4

Wait... those aren't entries from the Five Parsecs rulebook.

What kind of low life scum is this?

I wonder..

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Squad Hammer Space Elves are here

Complete with hard-hitting arrogant space ritualistics, a bit of wizardry and some very VERY mean ghost-walkers.

Go get it at the usual location:

Players should note that some revisions are coming to the SquadHammer points system. As such, this army list is based on estimation rather than exact calculation. Values will be subject to change and any player feedback will certainly be considered.

Blade&Lockpick update

Blade&Lockpick has been updated:

At the back of the booklet you will find a 3 character adventuring party (both to serve as examples and to serve as a ready-to-play adventuring party) plus an example of the Path character creation system.

A few more game examples will also be added in the near future so stay tuned.

Download your file again from the website. You only need to print the two final pages.