Monday, 25 February 2013

So Far, So Good!

After posting up my recent homebrew crossover for Castle Panic and ZOMBIES!!! I have had chance to give it a quick test and can happily report that for all intents and purposes, it seems to work.

Admittedly, so far  I have only had one chance to play it through (on the Standard difficulty setting) but, the game I played was neither too easy nor a dire struggle. It had it's moments, such as when I spawned two hordes of six zombies in a row but, with just about half of my walls and towers remaining at the games end, I feel it was a fair match-up.

Since that test though, I have also picked up some more ZOMBIES!!! goodies that were on sale at my FLGS (ZOMBIES!!! 2: CORPS(E), ZOMBIES!!! 3: MALL WALKERS, and a Bag O' 100 Glow in the Dark Zombies) for a grand total of £20 (absolute bargain) and, my creative juices have been flowing again.

The sculpt for both the original zombies and the glow in the dark zombies is identical, so I quickly realised that if put in a bag and mixed, they'd be indistinguishable from one another until drawn. I could, if I wanted, have two different types of zombie assault the castle without the need to draw up and print tokens. Awesome!

So here we have it, Zombie Panic 1.5!!! Now with added Uberness!

Zombie Panic 1.5

All the rules are the same as Zombie Panic!!! with the addition of uber zombies and, the following optional difficulty settings.

Uber zombies
 Uber zombies vary from game to game, where they are either very tough or, very fast (but you get to choose which). If you choose very tough, uber zombies have 2HP instead of the standard one (lay it down when it is first hit, removing it from play on the second hit).

Very fast uber zombies move forward two sections at a time, instead of the standard one.

For added challenge, you may choose to flip a coin (or roll a dice) before play to randomly determine which of these abilities all of the uber zombies will be granted this game.

Standard Game .5: Spawn 1D6 zombies each turn. 40 regular zombies and, 10 uber zombies in the spawning pool.

A Hard Game .5: Spawn 1D6+1 zombies each turn. 60 standard zombies and, 15 uber zombies in the spawning pool.

A Virtually Impossible Game .5: Spawn >2D6 (roll 2D6 and spawn zombies equal to the highest number shown) each turn. 80 standard zombies and, 20 uber zombies in the spawning pool.

A Hell Froze Over Game .5: As a Virtually Impossible game with the following additional rule:
Return Of The Living Dead
 Whenever a double is rolled for zombie spawning return that many zombies from the scrap heap (pile of defeated zombies) to the spawn pool. No zombies spawn this turn.
If there are both standard and uber zombies in the scrap heap, uber zombies are returned first.

First Look: The Wizard's Tower

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!!

After a long wait for it to come back into print, The Wizard's Tower expansion for Castle Panic is available once again.

But was it worth the wait?

From an initial look over the box contents, I'm going to go with a resounding yes. In fact, it's better than I expected! Initially I was hoping for maybe a few new monsters and, I knew that the inclusion of the spell cards would add another dimension to the way that the game played but a brief read through of the rulebook reveals that they have done much, MUCH more.

The strategy is a lot deeper once you add the expansion, you get to make more meaningful decisions and, the introduction of immunities and "mega boss" monsters really takes the whole experience to a new level. Well, I assume it will but, I'm yet to give it a whirl.

I'm also impressed that the aesthetics of the game have remained just as appealing with the expansion too, as the look of the original game was a large part of it's appeal.

Really looking forward to breaking this one out. :0).

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Alchemy's Workbench #14: One More Panic!

After posting up my variants in the pipeline for Castle Panic I was suddenly struck with a bolt of inspiration that I think could really work!

Instead of the standard circular attack area, this variant uses a grid and the grand daddy of all tower defense games, Missile Command, as it's theme. The "missiles" will all be programmed to move in a very D&D adventure system style (in order to home in on towers). The deck of cards that the players draw from will also be replaced.

Instead of Swordsmen, Knights and, Archers, the deck will be largely populated by letters and numbers, which are referenced on the grid to hit incoming missiles in the style of Battleships. There will also be a few cards that substitute for any letter, any number, any letter or any number, as well as other special effects cards.

I'm still mulling this one over at the moment but it's fast falling into place. It's also far enough detached from the original game that it might even be permissible to offer as a print and play game right here! :0). 

Alchemy's Workbench #13: Other Sources Of Panic

In addition to the zombie variant I mentioned in my previous post, I have a few other ideas that are in various stages of development for other sources of panic. It's amazing just how flexible this game model is!

Star Wars Panic: Really need to come up with a better name for this one but basically you'll take on the roll of the Death Star as the rebels make runs through your trenches in an attempt to bullseye that womp rat.

Mechanically the range will cover aspects such as TIE Fighter and Defensive Gun Batteries, whilst "boss" monsters will include Luke in an X-Wing and, the Millennium Falcon. As for regular enemies I'm thinking mostly X-Wings and, that most cards will simply be re-skinned (Barbarian becomes "Use the force").

This one needs a fair bit of work but should be a fun little project.

WWII Panic: Inspired by the Battle of Britain / The Blitz but with very little historical accuracy to actual events (purely cinematic) other than that it will be anachronism free.

Again, this is very much just a re-skin (although expansion is a possibility) at the moment with the premise that you are defending a large city from incoming enemy aircraft. I am much further along with this idea with the following substitutions worked out so far:

  • Swordsmen will become Anti-Aircraft Guns.
  • Knights will become Fighters.
  • Heroes will become Aerial Aces.
  • Missing will become Blackout.
  • The Barbarian will become Fighter Squadron.
  • Drive Him Back will become Low Fuel.

Alchemy's Workbench #12: Panic Stations!

Given how much our little group both loves zombies and Castle Panic, I was delighted to come across this news snippet.

We were pretty sure that there was never going to be an undead expansion released for the original game as it is very much a family affair and, I agree. The wide appeal of the game is a big part of what's made it a success. That said, there has been a great cry out across the Internet that this is what gamers where looking for. So the release of a zombie themed game that expands the mechanics, creating more of a gamers game is a dream come true.

But this doesn't mean that you can't add zombies to your Castle Panic. Just that you'll have to homebrew it!

Now I could sit down and design counters, print counters and, use counters but with what I have at hand, there is an easier route. Because I have ZOMBIES!!!

Now, these rules are still very much at the draft stage but if you have a copy of Castle Panic and want to give them a try, I'd love to hear how well they worked for you. You don't even need ZOMBIES!!! Any counters will work as all monsters in this game are identical (until I get creative anyhow) ;0).

Zombie Panic Homebrew

Play is pretty standard with a couple of alterations:

  • The monster tokens are not used in this variant.
  • At set-up, place 1 zombie in the forest section of each numbered ring (6 in all).
  • All zombies have 1HP.
  • All zombies move 1 in the monster movement phase.
  • Instead of drawing monster tokens you roll D6 based on the difficulty (see below) to spawn zombies and then roll 1D6 for each zombie spawned, placing it in the appropriate forest section (as if you had drawn it as a monster token).
  • You win the game when all zombies are destroyed.
 In order to keep the game fresh you can alter the difficulty of the game with the following adjustments:

Standard Game: Spawn 1D6 zombies each turn. 50 zombies in the spawning pool.

A Hard Game: Spawn 1D6+1 zombies each turn. 75 zombies in the spawning pool.

A Virtually Impossible Game: Spawn >2D6 (roll 2D6 and spawn zombies equal to the highest number shown) each turn. 100 zombies in the spawning pool.

A Hell Froze Over Game: As a Virtually Impossible game with the following additional rule:

Return Of The Living Dead: Whenever a double is rolled for zombie spawning return that many zombies from the scrap heap (pile of defeated zombies) to the spawn pool. No zombies spawn this turn.

Blog Spot #1: Precognition - Something Cool That Almost Happened

The wonderful thing about role playing games is that you never really know how things are going to work out, despite the best planning. The more incredible thing is when you game with kids, the unpredictability is even greater.

I run a AD&D game for the kids where the 12 year old is playing his second character. In this game, he is a half elf Thief-Acrobat, the cousin of a major political family in the city they are based out of. The 7 year old has been showing interest in playing, but she is still not to a point where she wants to learn rules and such. She is a half elf Thief-Mage that pretty much has any 1-3rd level spell that the group needs. She tends to run away from conflict initially, then lets me know what she wants to do. I then help her with her actual course of action. It is fun, and it keeps the boy's character alive more often than not because he tends to run his thief like his 100 HP Barbarian.

His character also has psionics, so he has a few special abilities associated with that 1st edition system. One of these is 'Precognition', which gives him a chance to determine the possible outcome of an immediate decision. He attempted to use it earlier in the adventure and the role was not successful.

However, later on in the dungeon delve, they burst into a room where the two dark elf opponents were aware and waiting for them. A few bad roles later, the entire group was dead, dying, or running away.

Ding Ding...Precognition....

I said stop...and to the boy...reverse back to you opening that door. What just happened is the vision that you got when you touched the door.

Both kids got a bit excited and actually came up with a decent plan on how to handle the situation a bit better, and the outcome was far more appealing to them.

Good times...

New Feature: Blog Spot

A big part of how I've approached writing this blog is consistency. I figure do what you do (and try to) do it well!

So everything that I post, I try to pigeon hole one way or another, with the idea being that it (theoretically) makes the blog easier to navigate. If you find something you like then hopefully it should be tagged to other items of interest in some shape, way or, form.

Blog Spot is going to be a little different though. Rather than taking you on a merry tour around the blog it'll lead to posts elsewhere that I think are well worth a share. Bringing the idea of Facebook's share function to Blogger.

This is pretty much an experiment at the moment, as I'll obviously need the permission of the original posters (as I plan to copy and paste the text) but, should it take off, I think it will provide a valuable gateway to the wider blogging community. After all, I come across posts all the time and think "that's great! But I can't really just post a link".

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Sources Of Power

Almost forgot to mention. In my ongoing, massive re-write of the Tunnels and Trolls spell book, I'm drawing upon all of these resources:

  • Tunnels and Trolls 7.5 Rulebook
  • Codex Incantatem
  • Codex Incantatem II
  • Tunnels and Trolls HQ
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Complete Arcane
  • Sword & Sorcery: Advanced Players Guide
  • GURPS: Magic (thanks to Tim Shorts for the heads up on this one)
  • Dragon Warriors
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

If there's a good one I've missed, I'd sure appreciate a point in the right direction. :0).

It's Bigger.. What Do You Know!?

Ever have one of those moments of realisation.. That comes way too late.

When I decided that I wanted to give the spell book for Tunnels and Trolls a bit of a sort, I figured piece of cake. All I had in mind after all was a re-classification of the spells already in the rulebook into new "classes". Then it struck me. Like a bolt of lightning it struck me!

Dividing the spells from 4 classes up into 17 new and different classes, whilst limiting new characters to having access to only two of these classes at creation is going to massively devalue the Wizard type. They'd only have a couple of spells.. At best!

This is suffice to say a problem. I either ditch the plan, cut down the number of classifications (which would kinda defeat the purpose) or, go with plan B: Add lots of new spells.

So if I tell you I have spent the better part of the evening after work sifting through Tunnels and Trolls 7.5 AND Dungeons and Dragons: Complete Arcane, I'm sure you can pretty much guess which route I've decided to take.

Which posses another question. All told, how many spells would you expect to find in a grouping and, what level should they run to?..

Okay that's two questions. ;0).

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

At The Table: Castle Panic / Race For The Galaxy

After realising that for a gamer, with a gaming blog I don't actually write up too much about what I've been playing, I figured that at the table might be a good idea.

The idea being to give a  brief overview of what's being played by our group, how it's been received and, who else might get a kick out of it. I suppose I am thinking of this along the lines of "reviews: fast play edition".

First up, Castle Panic.

Castle Panic

As those of you following the blog will be aware, this is a game that I was virtually bursting at the seams to play and, upon it's introduction to the group it went down like a storm. We have literally not a bad word to say about this game and I can honestly see it remaining popular for months to come. We also have the expansion on order and are eagerly awaiting it's arrival.

Given the simple rules, amount of laughter it has produced and the family friendly art, I would have to say that this game is perfectly suitable for any gamer or group and, I'd happily recommend you all pick up a copy.

Race For The Galaxy

This was a surprise addition to our regular games, despite the fact that I'd had a copy of this game sitting on my shelves for months. Personally I'd found the rulebook to be as clear as mud, so had shelved it but, with another member of the group being shown how to play and in turn showing me, we have found that we have another firm favorite.

Whilst being a good game with a lot of replay value, you may struggle with the rulebook if you don't happen to have an experienced player at hand to break it down for you. That said, it's not a complicated game once you get to grips with it so for groups looking for a strategic game with a difference and some depth, this might be just the ticket.

It's certainly proved popular at our FLGS, selling faster than it can be stocked!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A Few New Bits And Bobs

I popped down to my FLGS store yesterday and, spotted something odd out of the corner of my eye.

In amongst the odds and sods pile of second-hand (but still in good shape) miniatures was a couple of packets of second-hand dice, one of which included this little bundle to the right for the very reasonable price of £6.

Dice for random weapons, armor, alignment, critical hits, critical misses, terrain, traps and, a couple of more besides. All great stuff as far as I'm concerned and, I'm just itching for an excuse to roll them.

I also managed to pick up a few old metal miniatures, some of which form an anti-hero party of ogres for only 20p a piece! Sadly they wouldn't photograph though due to the bare metal finish and the lighting conditions (not to mention a low res camera). All being well, they'll photograph a lot better once painted though. :0).

There's also a gnome in there. Gotta love gnomes. ;0).

Alchemy's Workbench #11: Putting Meat On The Bones

In my last post, I made comment that I would be looking to tweak the new release of Dungeon!, the classic board game of dungeon crawling. Despite a couple of questionable choices with the revamp, this was nothing to do with Dungeon! being a bad game. I just think that it could be more.

So here's what I have brewing so far:

Leveling up: Whenever you roll a double that is greater than your current level (you start at level 1), you go up one level. This should give a nice curve to progression, making it harder to achieve higher levels, which I feel is truly representative of early role playing games (and more modern ones come to think of it). I intend to introduce bonuses based on class and race that will be gained at various levels but those are still very much on the drawing board.

Character Generation: Instead of going with the box standard Halfling Rogue, Elven Wizard etc, players will be able to mix and match race and class as they wish. The treasure target will depend upon the combination selected, so whilst certain races may offer bigger benefits to the player, they will need to earn more treasure in order to win.

The race / class build list looks like this so far, using those in the base game:


Rogue: +5,000 GP
Cleric: +5,000 GP
Fighter: +10,000 GP
Wizard: +15,000 GP


Halfling: +5,000 GP
Dwarf: +5,000 GP
Human: +10,000 GP
Elf: +15,000 GP

So a Human Rogue would need to collect 15,000 GP worth of treasure and return to the Great Hall to win the game and, would have access to the Rogues and Humans bonuses as they leveled up.

That's all that I have so far but I also have a few ideas for the bonuses that certain classes / races might grant the player as well as a few other modifications that I would like to add to the game, including different "Monster Attacks" tables for different classes, maybe introducing puzzles in addition to monsters and traps that simply cause a player to lose turns instead of inflicting damage upon failure to overcome them. The actual monsters, their levels and, their values also seriously need tweaking.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Dungeon! (2012): Huh?

I finally picked up a copy of the Wizards of the Coast re-release of the dungeon crawling classic, Dungeon! and, on closer inspection I have been left wondering, well, huh?

As much as I appreciate Wizards breathing new life into this game and opening it up to a new generation of gamers, without forcing them to trawl E-Bay, a number of the changes that they have made have left me puzzled. Some of which just defy logic.

For example, one of the cosmetic changes that they have made is to include a minotaur, which is great. Minotaurs are a firm favorite of mine. But as a level 1 monster? Really? A minotaur on the same level as goblins and kobolds. Level 2 is only orcs and hobgoblins and, you're telling me they're tougher than minotaurs!? The values that they have assigned to defeat these monsters seems more than a little arbitrary as well.

The other major change (other than a tweak to the way magic swords work) is to the characters. This change is purely cosmetic, meaning that instead of Elves, Heroes, Super Heroes and, Wizards you now have Halfling Rogues (instead of the Elf), Dwarven Clerics (instead of the Hero), Human Fighters (instead of the Super Hero) and, Elven Wizards (instead of the Wizard).

Despite being purely a re-branding of the old characters, I did find it interesting that the introduction of Dwarves, Clerics and, Halflings didn't draw upon the expansions for those very classes released for earlier versions of Dungeon!

So all in all, the new release has raised a lot of questions, for me at least, but I am sure as with the previous versions the fans will set it straight in the long run. I may even have a crack myself. As a start though, some veteran players have released some interesting variants on the Wizards website that are worth a look.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Who Are You Brave Adventurers?

Something struck me the other day as I was sorting through my various editions of Tunnels and Trolls and supplements looking for everything I could find regarding spell casting. Who are these nameless heroes?

I see them every time I open the box or, pick up the rulebook but until now I've never really given them a second thought, let alone any stats.

So if you were writing up one of these delvers, how would you outfit them? What type? What attributes? What back story and, what equipment?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Alchemy's Workbench #10: Zombie-a-go-go

Speak Easy or Die Hard is a go!

After pitching the idea to a member of our little gaming group only yesterday, I already have two players signed up and, pitching characters. Characters which I have to say that I am very impressed with.

So far we have a Medical Examiner that is working as a Mob Doctor on the side to help settle their gambling debts to a local heavy hitter and, the fast talking construction worker who is running a speak easy to rake in the extra bucks. Not what I expected at all it has to be said. Far better in fact and, the choice in characters has really helped me gel elements of the story together.

All being well I'll set to work penning all the lose notes for the overall arc over the next few days and, I'll take it from there.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Log: 50 Points of Efficiency

As well as playing the game well and, a fair amount of luck, a big part of victory in Heroclix like a lot of other collectible games involves choosing and fielding a "good" force.

But what makes a "good" force?

My initial thoughts on this where a flashback to my Magic: The Gathering days where if you stocked your deck with more Rare cards than your opponent you were distinctly more likely to win. On closer inspection though, I'm pretty sure that's not really the case with Heroclix.

This doesn't mean that you don't get a bit more bang for your buck with say a Rare clix model than you do from a Common one but, with models also being graded by their "experience" and, having all this tied up with a points cost, it seems far less important to only field Rare or Limited Edition models.

To put it another way, Rarity is no guarantee of quality and, the theory that I am currently working with is that the better forces are the ones that make the best use of the rules. We're not talking about loopholes here but the bare bones of the mechanics. Making use of factors such high defense scores boosted by Team Abilities and Abilities that make you virtually impossible and such.

Looking over the rules it is even possible to determine the most "efficient" point costing of a clix, which given the title of this post shouldn't surprise you when I say it's 50.

But why 50 points?

Well no matter the size of your fielded force you can take actions (excluding free actions)equal to the point cost divided by 100, with your basic actions being move and attack. Try to act with the same models two turns in a row though and they take damage (although some abilities can get around this) and, won't be able to do anything for the next turn.. Well, other than sit there waiting to get shot to pieces that is.

However, if you field 50 points models you can get around this completely. On one turn half of your models can act as the other half clear their action tokens as a freebie, who are then ready to act next turn, as this lot clear theirs.

Acting fully every turn seems like a great way to go from a newcomers point of view but, I do see that finding a handful of 50 point models you want to field might be a problem. I don't believe it's impossible though.. Just a challenge.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Amazing Thrift Store Find!

Sometimes you just can't believe your luck, no matter how lucky you are and, this was one such moment.

It even made me run and, well, I'm not the running type. When I spied a copy of Ticket to Ride: Europe half way down the thrift store as I entered the door however, I went all Flash on the situation. ;0).

I'm glad I did too as not only was this the only game remotely like this in the whole store but, it was also complete, in great condition and, cheap!

Granted, I am not 100% sure on what the actual retail price on this product is but when you're only giving up a fiver, which goes to a good cause you really can't complain. Especially when you've been eying up a copy in your local gaming store for a while which would have set you back a damn sight more!

In many ways, I think that little box defines the very meaning of "great find". :0).

DMotivational #47: Undead Or Alive, You're Coming With Me

Well folks, as it stands this is the last DMotivational that I have to post to the blog. Well, the last till I find more that is.

Enjoy. :0).

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Heroclix: The Log

With Star Trek Heroclix Tactics revitalising my love for all things clix via my love for most things Star Trek (Shatner is the exception that proves the rule), I have decided that I will start tracking my thoughts as I feel my way back into Heroclix here under the tag, The Log.

What Do You Know!?: Part Deux

Following on from my previous post on the handling of spells in Tunnels and Trolls I've decided that I am going to go down the colleges route with a twist.

At creation, a Wizard will begin play with all of the 1st Level spells from the two classes that they "majored in", with each class granting 5 spells.

If a Wizard tries to learn a spell from one of their majors later in their career, they will need to make an INT SR at that spells level to do so, double the level if it's a spell from a class that they didn't major in and, four times the level if they are attempting to learn a spell from a class that directly opposes one of their majors.

As for the actual schools of magic, I have a lot of ideas knocking around at the moment, including:

Medicinal Magic

Quite the list don't you think? Quite a way off complete too as I imagine that as I sift through all the currently existing spells and, add my own to make up the numbers, the nature of the colleges may well change.

So what do you think? Did I miss something that you'd like to see added?

It's A Big Wide World.. And An Even Bigger World Wide Web

So no matter how obscure the idea, you're probably not the only one having it. Even it seems, the idea of a Christian RPG.

Now off the bat, let me just say that I am about as far away from a Christian as you can get but, I do like Googling the odd thoughts that pop into my mind, which is where I came across this (and an Amish Robot):

Dragon Raid: Adventure Learning System

Despite pegging itself as a "learning system" it's clearly a roleplaying game. An odd roleplaying game but, a roleplaying game non the less. It admits to this fact in the small print but, it is interesting how it tries to distance itself from the whole "Roleplaying is Satanic" stigma with it's branding.

Not that I am 100% sure that I can see the point in this product at all. It reeks of being a poor attempt to sell Christianity as "cool" to the kids by presenting it to them in a "Saturday Morning Cartoon" format. Which would be lame enough in itself but, it also leads me to question who on earth they thought their target market was?
"DragonRaid is an exciting experience in adventure simulation. More than just a game, it offers hours of enjoyment while teaching participants to resist sin, counter deceptive arguments, memorize Scripture, and build moral and spiritual character".
If you're already into the Judeo-Christian faith, this product is kinda blasphemous, if you're not, then what is there to hold your interest when you can just go out and buy another fine product that doesn't require you to memorise scripture?

This product is at best an odd-ball and, I could say far FAR worse about it and it's potentially detrimental effects on impressionable minds, but I'll settle for pointing out it's most base flaws.

It's a game where no matter your class, you're a cleric. It teaches people to resist sin whilst advocating conflict and animosity towards those who think differently than yourself. It's a product with no market. It sucks.

First Look: Boldly Going To The Sorting Office

Well, it seems I have been through hell and high water, even as far as the local postal sorting office (which isn't that local) but it's finally here. After what I think is probably close to a year, I finally have a copy of the Star Trek Heroclix Tactics Starter to call my very own.

Was it worth the wait, and the walk? Definitely.

It's been a while since I played any clix game and, honestly, Horrorclix was always more my thing. The moment I heard that this product was hitting the shelves though, I knew that I'd be picking one up. It's just taken a while.

Still, I have a copy now at least. :0). More to come on this one in the future.