Wednesday, 14 July 2021

A Return to the Man Cave

Excuses, Excuses

It's been almost a year since I updated the blog, which I do apologise for. No, I am not dead....  ...but I had reasons (excuses?)

- My computer (with all my current rules/projects) exploding with a pop and subsequently being unable to find my backup drive; sapping my morale

- My kids (age 6 and 8) soaking up much of my free time (they are awesome - so this is fine!)

- My kids focus on cardgames and boardgames (Catan, Pandemic, Risk etc) and videogames which are a lot easier to get going in an evening after work (i.e. laziness)

- A huge unpainted backlog of incomplete projects, which means I froze buying new rules/minis (therefore not a lot of rules to review/have an opinion on).

Anyway, it's holiday time and I finally got some time in my shed.  It's a shared shed now - the kids have bunkbeds and a LEGO table alongside my bookcases and hobby area. I don't mind - I got my second shed due to consenting to have a second child, so I figure I owe them!

My daughter did not paint her mechs bright pink like she threatened....

What the kids did...

I decided to get them to paint some small GZG not-VOTOMS mecha (where bright colours that "pop" are a good thing). I was braced for a pink mech force but my daughter was quite restrained and went for copper instead. It took about 30min to do 4 each, and I can recommend doing similar size (~15mm) as you don't need to use as many colours/layers/detail. They are going to do another 4 or some support vehicles/tanks next time.

What I did...

I like the idea of a Mordhiem/Necromunda campaign game where mecha/tanks/aircraft base out of a mothership, like Homeworld (or Deserts of Kharak).  Where you have a limited size for your warband (i.e. 6-12 units) and you can upgrade the units AND the mothership in a campaign. One of my many homebrew rules...

What you see is a pair of 1:700 Fujima carriers I found in a box, which I mounted upside down on the separated tracks/turret of some $2 kids toy tanks.  This also took me ~30mins as I did a pretty casual job. (My standards drop to match the time available - we had to call a halt to go visit grandparents!)

I've also gone through the blog comments, removing the (often unintentionally hilarious) bot spam. I'm sorry, but if you are looking for penis enlargement tips, you will have to look elsewhere!

My son, predictably, went for blue... They're rough, but I'm content with my 30min 'made from junk' landships.

Future bought projects

Since I have the kids painting mecha, I've an excuse to buy Osprey's Gamma Wolves which I hear has an interesting "countdown clock" mechanic, as well as revive my own mecha rules (starting from scratch). On top of that I splurged on Reality's Edge which actually reminds me a lot of an early iteration of my modern pulp rules (identical activation, d10 resolution method). The kids are interested in Wild West at the moment, so I'm eyeing off Dracula's America. I'm open to other ideas as I've no idea what is hot at the moment, though I see Osprey is pumping out bucketloads of rules.  My focus will to be skirmish or any game where you only need under 15 or so models per side as I am wary of painting paralysis.

Future home-brew projects

On the 'home rules' front I am perenially experimenting with supercavitating 300kph sub rules, my MTBs-meet-Descent and drift mechanic big spaceships, as well as mecha and tank rules, "Middlehiem", and aeronef - but the rules are not up to date due to the computer 'splosion.The increasing paperwork at my school means my enthusiasm for typing (or re-typing) is low. 

Is Delta Vector back?

Maybe? After such a long break I'm not sure anyone cares, but in my blog clean up I noticed the game design posts still get a lot of interest (perhaps bots?). I'm probably out of the loop, but I still have been re-reading old rulebooks and tinkering, and I have made some notes lately about activation, leaders vs heroes, the lameness of Bolt Action initiative system, and how videogames can add ideas and accessibility to wargames - which could probably combine to share a post. 


  1. Glad to hear you are ok Mate.

    1. I live in small town Queensland, so the only COVID risks are NSW/Victorian refugees streaming north to their newly bought COVID refuge homes..

  2. Welcome back to the blogosphere!

  3. I'm really glad to hear that you're still with us, eville. You were certainly getting me worried.

    1. Oh yes, nearly forgot. You wrote "the game design posts still get a lot of interest (perhaps bots?" Well maybe but I certainly come back to them regularly and I'm not a bot. At least, I don't think I am. Joking aside, this is one of the best blogs of its kind, especially the game design stuff, so I for one hope you won't be giving up completely. Regards, Chris

    2. Thanks for the kind words, fellow meatbag.

      (I'm actually convinced I may be a Cylon as I always fail the Capatcha/anti bot tests 3-4x in a row.)

  4. Can't wait to get my kids into the miniature world. welcome back!

    1. I have trouble getting my kids into miniature gaming as they want to be involved in every step of it. By the time it comes to playing, I'm exhausted.

      I paint for 20mins, kids see me and want to join in. I spend 20mins setting them up, they paint for 20mins and I need to help them.
      By now, an hour has passed. I have painted my own minis for 20mins and they have painted theirs for 20mins. I now have 5-6 half painted minis and they have 3-4 fully (but roughly painted) minis. They are bored and ready to move on to something new, and I am no longer interested in painting or miniatures for that matter. But we did get quality time together *shrugs*

  5. I’m very happy to see you back! I think your game design posts are some of the best on the net and I come back at them sometimes.
    I hope that you post again your ideas once in a while. Happy holydays!

    1. I still have lots of ideas hanging about (thanks to my "I'm bored in the car journal", but they are seldom written up since the SSD crash, and are more theoretical than what would once be carefully tested.... :-/

  6. I came back here to see if you had reviewed the newest iteration of Five Parsecs from Home published by Modiphius Games. As someone with young children and a demanding job myself, I know the pain of little to no hobby time, and little to no motivation in the evenings.

    1. Sorry - much as I admire Ivan, under my new fiscal policies, I'm unlikely to pay $20 to review a pdf (which is the price of 2 PC games I can play with my kids)

      I'm making efforts to resurrect the SSD from my dead computer, though...

    2. Hi Eville, Chris (the probable-meat-bag-possible-bot) here. I've got a bit of experience in resurrecting PCs and getting material off old drives (though I'm not an IT professional). Of course you may be way ahead of me but, for what it's worth ...

      If the machine will power up but not boot up, you can probably boot it up from a bootable USB stick that has any decent Linux distro on it. (Puppy Linux would be my favourite - see

      Otherwise you should be able to demount the SSD from the motherboard and buy an external usb caddy for it that will allow you to plug it into another device and get the data off it. The caddy's are only a few dollars on Amazon.

      If you're already way past that then I'm definitely left standing in your dust, looking sheepish.

      All the best and best of luck, Chris

    3. Actually, I have had success! (yesterday, actually)

      After it "popped" I stripped the old PC for parts and made my kids a Minecraft-level frankenstein computer with the bits that worked. At the time the SSD didn't work. However, I have found I had confused the SSD with another of identical size/brand (!!!) - which DID have critical errors - and I just assumed it was "cooked."

      I decided to have another attempt to retrieve it - discovered my mistake - and have everything back. Also feel like an idiot but well...

    4. Phew! It's really the only thing to say.

  7. I read the the game design posts regularly, must have read each one at least 3 times by this point. Always refreshing and inspirational when starting a new project.

    1. I feel like a grumpy professor muttering about an arcane and useless topic - so it cheers me to know others are interested in the same thing!

  8. I'm a regular even sitting your absence. You have a lot of good thoughts in your posts that I enjoy referencing for my own game design musings.

    Glad you're doing well!

    1. Appreciate the kind words. I'm happy people still get use out of the blog. The original intent was to critique rules so my friends-with-kids didn't have to waste their money on bad rulebooks... ...but now I'm the one with kid-limited income!... eeek

    2. Never think of the little darlings as a drain on income, they're just a means to find a better use for it. It just doesn't feel like that at the time. :-)

  9. I just spend most of my holiday reading time to go through your design posts!

    Reading all of them back to back there are many repeated motives (aka pet peeves :-) ), but most of them resonate well with me.

    Without meaning to offend, some of them sound like they are coming from an "old schooler" who is telling the new kids to "get off ma lawn!". But I feel like new, "shiney", boardgame-alike games (e.g. X-Wing, Crisis Protocol) are becoming the norm ... nobody has the attention span for "real" war gaming any more. :-(

    1. Also: have you considered running a Patreon to cover your reviews? It seems you have a small but devoted following here.

    2. I only do game design posts because I can't find much about the topics online, so I probably circle around my pet peeves in an unhealthily insular manner! It's a bit of an echo chamber...

      I'm a little surprised I come across as "old school" but perhaps as 10 years have gone by, I am regressing - I was quick to jump on the reactions of Infinity, the extra special rules of SoBH - pretty much every shiny new mechanic. It's just now game design has caught up a bit, with even GW ripping up their old 40K formula for some of their specialist games. But new mechanics are often just added for their own sake or copied from elsewhere, rather than doing them because they make sense in the context.

      I don't play X-Wing (Crisis Protocol is Marvel? so I assume is just Heroclix rebadged) for mechanics/game design flaws, but predatory pricing - without even knowing anything about Crisis Protocol I can predict (a) it has 28mm+ minis that are $25+ each (b) it uses unique card decks or dice sets that also cost $15-20 a pop. X-Wing was literally rebadged Wings of War but with 3x more expensive models.

      I'm not sure if attention span is an issue though? D&D has very convoluted rules and seems to be increasingly popular (and even as a non-RPGer, it seems more a clunky minis combat game than a narrative RPG). Board games seem more complex, not less. I don't think wargames are getting simpler or more complex - but they are being more aggressively monetized; i.e. "special rules" allow you to sell more special card decks/codexes/your special model with its unit card.

  10. > I'm a little surprised I come across as "old school"

    I don't mean that disrespectful, that's probably mostly my image of "non mainstream wargamers".

    That "image", of a game that is played "forever", is something I am longing for ... I still have a photocopy of the German "Armageddon: das fantastische Strategiespiel" ("the fantastic strategy game"), that my father copied like 30 years ago, apparently people have played that since '68 (132 documented games so far with LARP and convention spin-offs).

    Which chimes with:

    > predatory pricing
    > aggressively monetized

    Or as I would say: complete capitalisation of the hobby. The problem being that most many (most?) apparently can't see past the "shiney" ... which is very evident in the BGA "hotness" and miniature-laden kickstarters.

    Amateur rule sets and "niche" miniatures just can't compete with that.

    > D&D [...] a clunky minis combat game

    Honestly I was a bit surprised when I realized that (some years ago) ... I grew up with "Das Schwarze Auge" (aka German D&D but pure Theater of Mind) and Shadowrun ... And always assumed D&D was played along the same lines.

    Miniatures in a RPG just interfere with creative storytelling ...

    (That said, currently I have too much fun running a LancerRPG campaign on a virtual tabletop platform (yay Corona) ... But we play that less for the RPG and more for the pushing "minis" around part).

    > it has 28mm+ minis that are $25+ each

    I have not played Crisis Protocol, but I think you are right in your assessment.

    X-Wing _is_ fun ... but I only got into that because of a friend who already owns most of the first edition (and is now reluctant to "upgrade" to 2ed).

    As for me ... I am ogling Lightning Strike (thanks for the review btw) ... I love the fact that everything has it's own movement mechanics. But lack of minis (and lack of friends that want to see past the "shiny") makes that a non starter for me :-(

    > allow you to sell more special card decks/codexes/your special model with its unit card

    Yep ... That's another thing that just resonates with me ... there are (probably, hopefully) enough good games™ in existence to last for a gamers life time ... but "the man" just understands how to twiddle everybodys knobs to buy the latest and greatest.

    (hey I can rant too ;-) )

    1. Ranting is fun!

      My definition of old school is using IGOUGO, D&D rules and anything that resembles older 40K, most historical games especially those by WRG with lots of charts....

      RPGs can be with or without minis; but if D&D is meant to be with minis, it is a hideously overcomplicated clunky set of rules. And if it is not meant to be played WITH minis, it is STILL an overcomplicated clunky set of rules. It makes 40K look like a paragon of stylish efficiency.

      Lightning Strike is a great set of 'reference rules' i.e. I use it for ideas more than I play it; but minis from DP9 are wildly overpriced (and postage seemed especially vicious) and there wasn't many to choose from. I'd consider cheap Gundam model kits instead, perhaps?

      I used 6mm GZG mechs & BT battlesuits on pins, from memory.

      It would be a hard sell to friends, but consider the rules for your own fun.

    2. > My definition of old school

      I shouldn't put labels on stuff I know nothing about ... I just have the impression that there is a big divide between "traditional" and "commercial/mainstream" war gaming.

      Reading your design posts I was somewhat surprised that there still is a constant stream of "non-shiny" rule books. I wonder who is even playing any of those?

      > lots of charts

      I guess that's the point were wargamers have to accept that it might be efficient to just play a computer game. That might also be the reason that simple, more boardgame like games are becoming the mainstream?

      > Lightning Strike Models

      I kind of hope that I'll find some suitable models to 3d print, maybe even design my own. I recently printed a whole set of Battletech Mechs that somebody designed specifically for FDM printers. Crazy times. That would at the same time get rid of the scaling issues.

      > hard sell to friends

      I feel that LS is in desperate need of a graphical overhaul ... The cards are functional, but some "bling" does never hurt.

      I just skimmed through the companion for the first time, all those event, R&D, espionage and location cards could do with a nice thematic image ... etc

      (That said, I only bought the PDFs and they are very low quality scans (?) of the books, the images on the unit cards are pixelate and would look pretty ugly printed.)

      > LS Companion / Campaign Play

      I would love to try that ... But who has time for that? I honestly have no idea ... Have people had more free time when these rules were conceived? 😅

    3. ....Reading your design posts I was somewhat surprised that there still is a constant stream of "non-shiny" rule books. I wonder who is even playing any of those?...

      Yep. Some rules are designed to sell minis, other rules are just... to game the setting.

      It's interesting when a rules set spawns a set of minis. North Star Minis often does this - it makes minis for a popular rules set (Oathmark, Frostgrave, Gaslands etc - all rules that were standalone and meant to use any generic minis.

      I.e instead of the rules existing as a way to facilitate the buying of specific minis/dice/cards, the rules are "use anything you want" and the minis spring up afterwards cos the rules are popular....

  11. Sorry I am late to the party! Welcome back!

    Hopefully this will help kick start the design group a bit too!