Sunday, 13 December 2020

Understanding the "5X from Y" series - Part 1

 The past year has seen a big explosion of people coming into the "Nordic Weasel" fold, especially through the "Five X" series (Five Parsecs and Five Leagues especially). More importantly, it is people that don't just buy the book and move on. I see the games regularly recommended on forums, I see photos pop up, I see talk.

That's all good! What is more awe-inspiring to me is that I am beginning to hear from people who are taking their first steps into miniatures gaming, and have chosen my games as the place to start. We all remember our first game and the idea that something I wrote could be that for someone is truly humbling.

But more eyes also means people with a wider range of experiences, particularly for people entering either from other "war band" hobby games or from role playing games. Five Parsecs and Five Leagues are games of many influences and I have never fully believed in the hard separation between miniatures games and RPG's that people tend to enforce, however, it is unavoidable that some of the expectations vary some.

As such I thought I would take a moment to write a post that is well overdue, laying out a little bit of common philosophy, as well as answering some questions that come up semi-frequently. 

This part 1 will answer assorted common questions:

What is the link between FiveCore and Five Parsecs? The names are confusing!

It turns out I am bad at naming things. The story goes something like this:

First there was Five Men in Normandy, a game of solo-friendly skirmish actions in ww2. 

Then came FiveCore which started as just the core mechanics of Normany in a stand-alone package, but developed into its own full-fledged game over time.

The original Five Parsecs was an expansion for FiveCore. This is the one with the blue cover. 

When the time came to update it and turn it into a stand-alone game, I felt that a new game engine aimed specifically at solo players would be the best option. As such, Five Parsecs 2nd edition became a thing.

When I adapted the rules to fantasy, keeping the naming convention seemed to make the most sense, but in hindsight of course, I don't blame anyone for getting confused!

I've heard the original version of Five Parsecs was way better?

The mechanics were more in-depth but also had far more special cases and exceptions, as they were intended primarily for games with another player, where they can help remember all the stuff.

The original switch-over slimmed down the game a lot and as a result a lot of fluff-text and flavor was cut, which was a mistake in hindsight. As the game has developed, a ton of additional detail, new things to do and more involved "universe" aspects have been added to the game. If you checked it out when 2nd edition first came out, it's almost an entirely new beast now.

What happened to Bug Hunt, Salvage Crew and Gang Warfare?

These were spin-off games that used the same mechanics. I realized fairly quickly that trying to keep four versions of the same game up-to-date and compatible was basically impossible to do for one person, along with developing new games. As such they are "legacy": Fully playable games on their own, but not receiving future updates. Bug Hunt in particular remains rather popular and you can easily port in encounters from the main Five Parsecs rulebook. 

Salvage Crew has been reworked into a supplement for Five Parsecs.

Are Five Parsecs, Leagues and Klicks the same game?

No, they use similar concepts but the game engine and campaign structure is reworked for each. So it's easy enough to move from one to the next, but they are never just "ported over" without making sure it works. Five Leagues has much more involved hand to hand combat rules for example, while Five Klicks has base-building aspects.

Are the games stand-alone? 

Yes, all of them are stand-alone except the original blue-cover Five Parsecs book, which requires a copy of the FiveCore rulebook to play.

Are all the Nordic Weasel games like these?

Not at all. All NWG titles share my views on game design of course, but some are specifically "competitive" games, some are historical battle games, some are multi-purpose, some are even RPGs!

Are these games retro-clones?

No, the only retro-clone is Renegade Scout and I think it has developed so extensively that it barely qualifies as a clone any longer. 

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