Monday, December 15, 2014

Litko game tokens as holiday gifts

Say you want a stocking stuffer for your significant nerdy other, or want to give a small gift to a gamer pal. Litko makes quality plastic acrylic game tokens and other miscellaneous game items, offering a great gift for them. A long while back I made no bones about my preference using tokens and markers around the table. Having a tactile marker to represent a condition, bonus, or temporary status is great over just using pen and paper. So I've had a long affair of enjoying Litko products for years now. They've got wonderful stuff for just about any gamer you'd like to get a gift for.

The wargamer - They offer tons of sets and individual packs for tokens. From command and casualty markers, to range band and blast templates, Litko offers some fantastic tokens and markers.

The board game fan - Litko has branched out and now provides game token sets for popular board games too. Imagine spicing up your Pandemic game with these tokens...

Not to mention some really wonderful X-Wing token and marker sets...

And I'm certain Netrunner players would enjoy having these on the table...

The RPG player - Litko also offers a lot of sets and tokens for RPG games also. You can find lots of tokens to mark temporary conditions....

and complete sets are also available like this one for Savage Worlds.

They offer some more interesting items like paper figure miniature stands...

or markers for indicating which character miniature is holding a torch...

And other bits for gamers - Litko also makes a variety of bases for miniatures and other really clever items like counter dials....

and a variety of portable dice towers which can be taken apart and thrown in a zip lock bag. Perfect for those gaming tourneys.

So I encourage folks to give them a look. Several online retailers also carry their products. And if you aren't sure about what they'd really like, well just give them a gift certificate instead. Hope folks enjoy the holidays with family and friends (and get some games in too).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Firestorm Armada terrain and MARs summary sheets

Some big news from Spartan Games is that they've opted to release all of their games as free downloadable pdfs. I completely understand why they did this. Likely they looked long and hard at the costs associated with printing, publishing, and warehousing hardback books and figured it just was better to go the digital route. I figure they are pushing more to sell their models as a revenue stream over selling rules.

As a long time rule book buyer for Firestorm Armada I'm a little torn. On one hand I'm happy as this will certainly get more people playing the game. On the other hand I feel a little burned buying another book that is released later as a free pdf. This happened for version 1.5 and now with 2.0. I guess on the plus side, I can finally take a peek at Dystopian Wars and Planetside without having to pony up any cash.

As the new pdfs are available, I revisited my QRS and updated it with better scans of the charts. While I was at it I also made a simple terrain effect summary sheet to get all the terrain rules on a single sheet. I decided to also whip up the MARS rules onto a front and back cheat sheet. I still need to figure out how to tweak that sheet some as there is a ton of white space. Both are really bare bones and fugly, but at least you can get all those rules at your fingertips to pass around the game table. All of this stuff is also over in the downloads section. Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Outrider Kickstarter wrapping up.

Outrider from Dice Fist Games has a successful Kickstarter that is ending soon. Set in an apocalyptic setting after a severe food shortage, players are car driving, mercenaries for hire assigned to protect truck shipments of food that pass through the the wastelands of Texas. It’s billed some as a board game but really is a miniature wargame using cards for cars. With souped up engines, welded armor plates, and machine guns strapped to the hood, players duke it out seeing who will be the king of the roads.

The game uses a clever system of assigning die types to various car characteristics to represent engine power, defense, driver skill, and weaponry. Players distribute a single D6-D12 for each of the car attributes with a higher die type translating into a more effective stat. Each car type also has base stat bonuses which add to the die type value, allowing players to rely on base car characteristics plus a lower assigned die type if seeking to tweak out a different attribute more.

Players resolve their turn one at a time, using a special maneuver deck. Players program the movement for their turn and then flip through the cards one at a time on their turn to move. It’s a rather simple, elegant system over relying on movement using a measuring tape. As each card is turned over, some may require maneuver tests. If successful the car continues, otherwise some mishap could happen.

During each maneuver card placement, there is an opportunity to fire weapons at opponents. Again, rather than using a ruler to measure out ranges and arcs of fire, a special set of cards is used. If the target is within the boundaries (or corridor of fire) of these cards, it’s hit. Then it is a matter of rolling the weaponry attack value versus the target’s armor. As with all the rolls and checks you have to equal or better a target number, with damage tokens used to record how much a beating your car can take before it’s a bullet-ridden wreck.

There are several Kickstarter add ons from additional cars to varying types of weapons, drivers, and equipment. It has a smattering of feel along the lines of X-Wing and Wings of War, but I totally dig the theme of the game. It’s successfully funded too, but will wrap up in a matter of days.

As the Kickstarter goes, I am a bit torn on the final product. While the quality of the cards and dashboards look top notch, I am disappointed with the various counters. It seems they’ve stuck with the concept of a better print and play version. The counters scream being printed on thick cardboard counters. The dashboard would really shine if a plastic dial was used instead of a separate counter. Instead you have double printed tokens on cardstock, which sort of makes the components fall flat. I totally understand the guy needs to make sure they can deliver and all those extra bits would likely mean the base cost of the boxed game would creep up more. But man, I’m hoping another publisher picks this up and gives the component quality some love.

Nonetheless, it looks like a fun game that straddles the mini wargame and board game camps pretty well. The box version seems they will have nice cards printed on good stock. At the very least, I am going in for the print and play version. If looking for a sleek version of Car Wars, or a more road warrior themed version of Wings of War/X-Wing, Outrider looks like it’s right up your alley.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Money in Savage Worlds

I’m not a fan of keeping track of money in games. A long time ago I used to dole out silver and gold coins, making sure my PCs kept track of the money they spent for ale and a night’s rest at the inn. I stopped doing that altogether in my games.

However money is still a motivator for some PCs. They want loot, or a means to acquire it through cash, so having some manner of wealth is something I needed. I just didn’t want to get mired down in individual dollars/gold coins/credits. For my 4E D&D game I took up the concept of chests of treasure. I simply awarded some abstract chest of treasure, a pile of coins, or just a share of wealth.

So for my Savage Worlds game, I adopted this as resolving wealth through shares. Shares are an abstract sum of wealth. They can be awarded in ½ increments. When players complete a job, or gain a significant amount of reward, they gain a share. A share is about $250 (or ½ the starting money a player gets during character generation), with ½ shares being roughly half that ($100-125).

Monthly income and expenses - I assume that every month a player goes through ½ a share. This is the gradual expenses of housing, food, upkeep of equipment, entertainment, etc. At the same time, if a player is not actively adventuring, they accumulate ½ a share. So the net income per month is zero. They are spending as much as they are earning.

I see this as a player spending time gathering spell components, income from odd jobs, money for pelts they’ve trapped, or the occasional sale they get from running some business they own. It all depends on the setting and the resources available to the player. Regardless, they get enough to pay the bills, keep a roof over their head, and their belly full.

Purchases - If they want to buy incidentals or some special equipment, I don’t worry if it’s under $100. I consider they have enough money on hand to cover the costs. Restocking arrows, buying flasks of oil, or repairing equipment, I just lump into typical monthly expenses. If they are making a larger purchase for special expensive equipment, that is when I dig into the players’ resources. Then I’ll have players spending shares in at least ½ increments, translating it to dollar amounts. So I don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s the larger purchases and expenses that hit the PCs in their purse strings.

Rewards - Most jobs are going to award each player one share. They might pick up more during the adventure, but one share is going to be the typical reward they’ll each get from a patron. Actively adventuring will cut into the time they would be spending gaining income through other means. At the end of the day, a player will be earning ½ a share in actual profits as they are going through ½ a share every month. So it’s a slow accumulation of wealth but players can earn a bit.

I like this as it leaves open more opportunities to give out rewards. Players might be charged with exploring a set of ruins. For such a task they’ll get one share from a patron. During the exploration they might come across treasure or some artifact that’ll fetch them even more money, allowing them to individually get another share (or a half).

I simply don’t bother with having players record every bit of wealth they get. If they stop a few bandits, in reality they might find a few dollars between them all however it’s not worth writing down. I end up hand-waving a lot of rewards. Players will always find just enough through your typical adventuring to pay for incidentals. It’s the completion of larger tasks that earn them enough reward to be considered a ‘share.’

Being Rich or Poor -These edges and hindrances can be a little tricky. For the wealthy edge I figure that a player is earning 1/2 share a month, regardless if they are actively adventuring or not. I still assume that whatever money they take in, they are spending just as much enjoying a more affluent lifestyle. They just don’t have to work at it as much as others.

This means if typical PCs take a job for 1 share, they’ll net ½ a share in profit at the end of the month. Remember they spend about half a share each month in expenses and adventuring takes away from time spent making a steady income. That PC with a wealthy edge will be walking away with a full share of profit instead. They aren’t penalized for spending time adventuring (it’s nice to live off interest, a trust fund, etc.).

For PCs with a poverty hindrance, they don’t gain ½ a share income every month like other players. So while other players can keep their heads above water and net a little profit leading a life of adventure, that poor PC will always be digging into their pockets a bit more. These guys have to always be on the prowl for work and always be looking for some manner of employment. While others have enough resources to get by, idleness will slowly grind PCs with the poverty hindrance into the ground. They just can’t get the typical monthly income other players get.

I like how this works for my game. PCs slowly accumulate their shares of wealth. Every month of game time I tell players to dock off half a share for expenses. If a lot of time has passed where they haven’t done anything noteworthy, their wealth is unchanged (they spend their time earning as much as they are spending). PCs with a wealthy edge don’t worry about having to spend ½ a share for upkeep, as they get that automatically and spend it every month. PCs with a poverty hindrance might have to worry about being an idle adventurer for too long as their shares of wealth can slowly be whittled away.

It’s pretty simple. I can quickly translate it to actual dollars when they need to spend something. More importantly, the bookkeeping is manageable and I don’t have to have players counting silver coins each time they hit up an inn for a belly of food, a pint of ale, and a place to rest their head.