On Tuesday February 11th I'll be running a Zombicide Game Night at Next Dimension Games using Guillotine Games Zombicide Gaming Night Kit #1: Cars, Food, or Guns.
On the 11th all you need to do is show up and play, no experience
necessary (its a very simple game). The Zombicide Gaming Night Kit's
come with exclusive miniatures and dice as prizes for you to try and
earn. It'll be a fun night of gratuitous zombie killing and an easy
introduction to a very cool game.
The scenarios run about an hour and a half (unless you go buck wild and
get yourselves killed right away) so we'll shoot to start at 6PM so we
can try and get two scenarios in.
Reserving a spot is not
required but it would be helpful. If you can't get to the store at 6PM,
let me know because I can arrange for you to join in late in the game if
needed. We can accommodate 6 players in a single game. If more sign up
we might have to track down another copy of the game.
If you're wondering what the exclusive miniature is, its Kyoko:
Facebook Invite or to Chicago Wargamers and sign up.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Sunday, January 26, 2014
|My original blog was called Redemptors of Golinar, referencing my unique Imperial Guard army I had created. Going full circle in a way, these very same infantry models have been drafted into service as proxies to play test Broken Contract.|
I also watched a bunch of videos about iron mining and read a couple glossaries of mining terms so I can improve my terminology and refine my vision of the mines the would-be Breakers work in; and will need to escape to make their Break. I actually really enjoy doing this sort of research, its fascinating to find out how things are done that we take for granted.
On Friday Scott Kroll, the gentleman who originally started 2ndCityWarzone, gave me admin capabilities. I know it might be surprising to find out considering there hasn't been any activity from my fellow authors, but there are actually 8 authors and admins for 2ndCityWarzone. Scott doesn't do much wargaming these days, and has put his time into drawing comics and the other guys all moved on to their own blogs, gaming companies, and clubs that they've immersed themselves in and left 2ndCityWarzone behind. With my admin status I decided to add a couple of things I've wanted to for a while: a small blog roll, expanded ways to follow the blog, and added a direct link to my old blog Redemptors of Golinar. I left that blog behind when I focused on 2ndCityWarzone, but it still has some cool pictures to look at and a Step By Step of how to paint an Angels of Absolution Space Marine among other things.
Also, I reserved BrokenContract.blogspot.com because a time is going to come when Broken Contract is going to need its own home as it evolves into more than just an idea and people who are interested in it might not be so engaged in watching me expand my Ork army or whatever. More on that as time goes on. I need a cool logo and a "vision" for that blog before I start filling it with content. Plus, as of right now anyone who's following Broken Contract is looking here, but the time is nearing that it'll need its own space.
I think next we will look at the Stat line so people can get a better idea of how the game works. More on that in a few days.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
|Boylan's Ginger Ale and board games. This is from the first play testing session with Monkey (pictured) and Chuck (capturing the moment). Also pictured: Lisa, Ian Mackaynine, and Jean Harlow (making out in the far background).|
Broken Contract uses an Action system, similar to Zombicide, Wreck-Age, and even Infinity (though they call them Orders). Each Turn begins with the players drawing a numbered card for each Character on the board. The deck contains a card for each Character, so if the game has 8 Characters on the board, you would have cards numbered 1-8. This is how you establish Initiative Order in the game.
Starting with the Character who drew #1, you would work along completing each Character's Turn until you get to Character #8. Each Character has 3 Action Points with which they can perform either Actions or Interruptions (an Action performed out of Turn). You don't have to use all of a Character's Action Points when your Initiative comes up because you just might want to have Action Points remaining to perform those all important Interruptions.
The list of Actions includes the usual suspects, Walk, Shoot, and Attack, but it also includes a host of uncommon ones like Running Jump, Dive Roll, Apply Restraints, and Carry a Comrade. The Action system is geared for cinematic play and big drama. The list of Interruptions includes Defend, Parry, Dodge, Flee, Beg For Mercy and a bunch of other exciting options. Now you might ask yourself, "why would I ever Beg for Mercy?" Begging for Mercy allows you to make a Dealing Check to halt an Attack with desperate groveling or pathetic charm. Done at the right time it could spare your life for the moment while your opponent is out of Actions, the hope being that you can flip the situation to your advantage on the next Initiative draw. This makes for great "action movie moments".
Almost all of the Checks in the game require a simple roll of a D6 to keep the game play easy to process, and thus, fast and furious. The principle exception to this are Combat Actions as they require a roll to hit, and a roll to wound. The Checks all play off a list of 16 Stats from the obvious Move, Melee, Shoot and Strength; to less obvious ones like Dealing, Perception, Recovery, and Psyche. The robust list of Stats allows the Characters to be more varied with subtle distinctions of how they are specialized.
The list of possible Actions and Interruptions is extensive which does require some contemplation, but they all involve very simple mechanics so that once you get familiar with the list it becomes fairly intuitive how to carry them out. Of course, with so many options available you may find yourself making hard decisions as there will likely be multiple right and wrong answers for any given situation. This makes for a fun, exciting, and sometimes challenging time.
The Weapon list features a lot of non-lethal options as Security Officers and Enforcers are hoping to bring back escaping Breakers alive. So Arc Pistols and Shock Batons can Shock opponents leaving them Prone and twitching, while Neuro Grenades use gas to Drug the victims leaving them Stumbling around. Of course, you have to have big guns, so a Repeater Rifle with Rubber Bullets can easily Stun a Character (remove an Action Point for the remainder of the Turn) but it has a harder time Wounding. Meanwhile, the Breakers use a lot of improvised weapons like Shovels, Pick Axes, Pneumatic Drills, and "home brewed" Molotovs.
Like some of my favorite old games like Bloodbowl, Necromunda, and Gorkamorka, there are plenty of opportunities for Characters to trip and fall, break weapons in half, run out of ammo, or accidentally drop a Molotov at your own feet. All of these unfortunate events come from rolling natural "1"'s during some of the more dramatic Checks that take place during the game.
At the end of a normal Turn, you will likely have Characters defined as being Shocked, Down, Out of Action, or Seriously Injured. For all but the Seriously Injured there is a Recovery phase where Recovery Checks are made to see if their condition improves or worsens before going into the next Turn.
Play continues until the scenario has been successfully completed, or all of the Characters on one side are unable to act or off the board.
As one might expect, the board game will come packed with scenarios, and more will be planned for Expansions as well as downloadable content to keep game play varied and interesting.
That should give you a rough overview. The last play testing session on Monday yielded some tweaks but overall it plays pretty well, so I'm focusing on editing and writing more scenarios. That's it for now. Thanks for reading.
PS. If you're curious about the previous articles:
I. Broken Contract
II Broken Contract - Breakers
III. Broken Contract - Enforcers
IV. Broken Contract - Security Officers and What is Broken Contract?
V. Broken Contract - Board Design and Scenario Development
VI. Broken Contract - Play Testing and Revisions
Sunday, January 19, 2014
|Breaker with pneumatic drill concept sketch by Oliver Zavala.|
I read through the scenario narrative text to give them a sense of where they were and what they were doing, handed them a list of Actions they could take in the game, and had them roll for Initiative.
Less than 5 minutes in I found my first flaw. Each Character on the board has their own randomly determined Initiative. In solo play testing I had tried alternating initiative, rolling by side and choosing initiative order, and also trying rolling 2D6, 3D6, and 4D6 for each individual model. No matter how many dice you roll, certain numbers came up all the time, forcing a need to re-roll. Each new Turn in a group setting saw the Initiative taking 2-3 minutes as we rolled and re-rolled for each Character. This needed a better system. The next morning it came to me: A shuffled deck of uniquely numbered cards, If there are 8 Characters on the board you use a deck of 8 cards numbered 1-8, shuffle them, and everyone playing draws a single card for each of their Characters. This presented a seamless and quick solution to Initiative.
As the game progressed Chuck and Monkey were clearly having fun but I felt like certain Actions were ignored, gear was forgotten, and in one case, a weapon I expected to be really effective, a Repeater Rifle with Rubber Bullets, just didn't perform how I planned. Some of these occurrences can be chocked up being new to the game, but seeing a part of the game used and not perform how I intended was clearly an issue so I re-wrote it.
This prompted me to do a read through of all the current rules documents I have assembled for the game in order to purge, consolidate, simplify, and preserve the continuity of. That one night of play testing was invigorating for me. Seeing people have a good time playing a game that I designed was hugely rewarding. I can't wait for the next play testing session, which happens to be Monday (tomorrow) evening.
In addition to all of the rules tweaks that were inspired by that first night of play testing, I've had my brain cranking along on the contents of the game, where I want the story line to go, and what sorts of expansions could evolve from that story line. Finally, I've mapped out the scenarios, created a rough draft of how I envision the mining complex, and sketched in where the various scenarios I had brainstormed would take place so I know what board sections to make. All in all, its been a very productive week. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and what inspiration it will bring forth.
More later in the week!
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
|Four new prototype board sections that I'm using to play test Scenario #2.|
I finished the rough draft of the rules to Broken Contract back in November. I've made tweaks here and there since then as I've gotten feedback from friends, but most of the tweaks I've discovered in the heat of battle when I hit a situation, read what I wrote, and say, "Hmmm. That doesn't make much sense." That's what alpha testing is for: tightening up the rule set before it gets exposed to a larger group of play testers so that the obvious errors don't ever muddle their play testing. In order to expose myself to a variety of circumstances, I needed some boards and missions to play on, so I set myself to crafting some.
|An early play test game for 'Its Time!' the introductory scenario and initial Break attempt. The white counters represent ore carts meant to be barricades/obstacles to hide behind or get in your way.|
Originally I designed two 12"x12" board sections, drew them out on some heavy card stock, and started playing. I wanted to the Introductory scenario to be the initial Break attempt, dubbed 'Its Time!' Five laborers rise up to over take their masters. It was based on a tiny piece of fluff I had written to open up the "Actions and Interruptions" chapter of the rules.
“Open revolt. One of the miners in your crew, Trest, has overtaken one of the guards. You had discussed this. You planned for this. The moment is upon you and all those plans are blurred by fear and adrenaline. It’s time to act. A Security Officer moves past you with his shock baton charging towards Trest, demanding that Trest stand down. You step forward and swing your shovel, connecting with the Security Officer’s head. You instinctively anticipate gunfire from the Overseer’s position and drop to the ground to take protection behind a bin and plan your next move.”
Overall, I was happy with how the rules were playing out but the scenario ran a little long for an introduction (Note: It took an hour and I was hoping for 30 minutes.) Also, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the large board sections made it more difficult for the Breakers to flee off the board and escape into the mines. Additionally, 12"x12" board sections would be difficult for me to turn into PDFs for my play testers. Over time, the board evolved into a more compact 8"x10" and the mission objectives and victory conditions evolved too.
I played out the opening scenario a dozen times using the various skills, special rules, and equipment to see how they interacted with scenario special rules and board. I think it came out fun, and as I hoped there were lots of options to choose from. It isn't a finished product, but its something I was happy enough to share with my friends who were interested in play testing.
Once I had 'Its Time!' up for them to download with the board sections I had to ask myself, "Wow. What happens next?" "What do I want the Breakers and Security Officers to do?" "What do mines really look like?" "How do I want the expanding board to be as a result?" Then came a mix of brainstorming and research. I needed to come up with a series of challenges, from people the Breakers might want to go back for due to friendships or to expand their available skill set. I needed to think about the role I wanted the Security Officers to take and how tooled up I would expect them to be. And I needed the board to be interesting, and a straight line mine shaft didn't seem to meet that criteria even if I added debris, chasms, and check points. Then I discovered room and pillar mining and I knew this would make for a cool section of the board. Room and pillar mining is where they weave a grid leaving of massive columns behind to support the roof of the mine. For a game board, it felt more interesting than a horizontal drift mine, though I'll likely combine elements of various sorts of mining. The internet is fantastic at times because it even gives approximate sizing of the rooms and pillars and I was actually able to design the board sections to the smaller end of the actual scale.
Out came the card stock and pencil. I drew out 4 board sections to try out the rooms and pillars. I played out a game on it based on the assumption that the alarm had been raised and the Breakers would need to weave through the rooms and pillars to get to their next destination as Security Officers come running. I was happy with the results so the craft paints came out and I detailed my prototype sections.
|Heavy card stock, you've been a valuable friend. These board sections also line up with the board sections from the introductory scenario so that you can combine them.|
Monday, January 6, 2014
This is another tiny blurb from the rough draft of the game I'm working on called Broken Contract. Previously I posted the Introduction to the background, as well as blurbs about Breakers (laborers who break their work contracts and flee indentured servitude) and Enforcers (bounty hunter posses that hunt Breakers to bring them back to work). As it stands these will be the three groups the initial game will be based around. After the blurb I'll write a bit more about what the game intends to be.
Security Officers or Prods oversee the daily toil of the Tracted on behalf of the Corp they work for. Ensuring quotas are met and the work is done gives them their purpose. They exist to ensure that Contracted do not slack off, inflict calamity upon themselves, sabotage their work, or attempt to organize. They serve as the de facto police, supervisors, and in a bloody minded and militant way as the middle management of the dark and twisted life that causes so many to risk their necks before enduring another day under the boot of the Prods.
Many corporations prefer to keep their Security Force in-house, but private Security Firms are big business as well. Often there are layers to a the corporate security structure, with in-house security being better armed, better paid, and invested in the continued profitability of the corporation they work for. The private Security Firms are employed because they are a much cheaper option. Private Security Officers are poorly paid and are given inferior equipment and training. They provide warm bodies, semi alert and semi capable, who are there to provide greater numbers when needed. Still, their lot is superior to that of the common worker, and they know it and have little desire to upset that paradigm.
In the event of any sort of work stoppage or Break attempt, Security Officers are paid to intervene and stop not only the Breakers, but to shut down any widespread frenzy that it might create. Riots need to be crushed before they can start and that is where their training excels. Overseers and Officers employ shock batons, arc pistols, and repeater rifles with rubber bullets to great effect bringing the hammer down on any budding insurrection without significantly damaging corporate property.
-Nick Baran (with Rob Ferrick)
What Is Broken Contract? (or What Does It Intend to Be?)
Broken Contract is a Sci-Fi Wild West 28mm miniature board game. It is set in a dystopian future where humanity has begun colonizing the stars, but most folks live in indentured servitude to draconian mega-corporations. Though most accept their lot in life, there are those who yearn to be free of their masters. They break free from their mining colonies, agri-domes, and factory cities in the hope of starting a new life on the frontiers of whatever backwater planets they are enslaved on. These once contracted laborers are called Breakers for short. But the mega-corporations can’t let a strong back go, particularly when there are still debts to be paid. Assuming that Breakers manage to escape through the grasp of corporate Security Forces and make it out onto the desert plains, bounty hunters are then hired to bring them back alive to complete their contract. These bounty hunters are called Enforcers.
Game play in Broken Contract mixes the simplicity of a dungeon crawler board game with the depth of a skirmish war game. As a “high adventure” game, the mechanics are meant for fast and furious game play, and offer some of the same experiences that a true table top RPG or a first person shooter video game would offer, with the ability to leap over obstacles and dive roll under a closing door. Of course that also means the risk of falling or being crushed to death! To facilitate these ends the Characters have 16 Stats to help determine how well they can do things from fighting in hand-to-hand to patching up an injured comrade. Additionally, each Character can perform 3 Actions per turn so that they can jog to a better firing position and shoot a gun, or they could jump over a mining cart and hit that Security Officer they’ve been mean-mugging all day with a shovel. In the next turn they might want to throw them down a vertical mine shaft? It’s a difficult Action to perform but you can try! To add to the excitement, a Character who still has Actions left can Interrupt an attack by dodging, defending themselves or fleeing; among other things. Everything is resolved with a simple roll of a 6 sided dice to keep the game simple and flowing.
If anyone has any questions or is curious where this is going, ask away. I'd love to hear from you.
Friday, January 3, 2014
|So savage. I started these Orks around 2001. In the last decade I think I've added 5 models to the army.|
So what does 2014 hold for me for gaming and hobby activity? At this point I'm still working at Next Dimension Games, running an event at Adepticon, working towards starting my own game company, and of course, painting the stupid amount of models I already own. So what am I striving for this year? Here are my top 6 Goals in increasing order of importance.
|This Ork is one of the last ones I finished painting. I believe he was completed in 2008 or 2009.|
I want to push my fledgling force of 40K Orks to 1500 points and bring them to at least one AWC tournament. One of the things I noticed at the AWC Tournaments this year is that people stopped looking at my Angels of Absolution army because I don't make drastic additions (because I paint so slowly) and I will only bring a 95% painted army with me. The Angels have become tired and familiar even if I love them. The rumors have indicated for a couple months now that a new Ork book is coming this year and its left me excited. I want to be ready. This year its time to get wild. I own tons of Ork models and have a case full of models started. It'll be a hard goal, but its a goal I want to achieve to push myself.
|Poor armless librarian. A little TLC and you can Prescience your way to glory. I'm still proud of that head swap. The head is from a Rogue Trader era lead model.|
The above four items will push my Angels of Absolution collection over 2000 points and will add competitive options to my army. The Command Squad and Techmarine have come to the last 2 AWC Tournaments and are not finished. This absolutely needs to be corrected.
|You're one of a kind. The rest of my Tomb Kings were painted 12-20 years ago (depending). This one was painted in the last decade after I honed my painting skills. I love them. They also took forever.|
Working at Next Dimension Games has shown me there are people actively playing WFB in the city that I can tap into since my own gaming buddies only dabble in the game if they own any models for it at all. I don't want to commit to painting any of my Tomb Kings or Empire models, but if I can get in 3-5 games of WFB this year I would be stoked. The current standard 2400 points people play is way out of my league. Let's play 1000-1500. I'd like to be done in 2 hours including set up and chit chat and not field 100 unpainted models. That's not my style.
|Victorious in the face of rampaging zombies! This was the first time we survived the zombie apocalypse so it was a photo worthy moment. In the background you can see Ian Mackaynine looking on wondering, "wtf?"|
I don't need to get in a game every week, One AWC tournament can knock out almost a month of gaming as far as I'm concerned. I just want to play more games. Lisa (my partner) and I love having game nights and had a regular game night going last year that petered out when the summer ended. Ultimately, I want gaming to be a regular part of my life, whether its board games, the occasional card game, or heavy duty miniature war gaming.
|The ill fated full color 40K Warzone booklet I did last year that was too hard to read. :( I'd love to take a Photoshop class this year to prevent having a week of work being wasted like last year.|
I'm running the 40K Warzone Tournament again this year at Adepticon. Now that I work at Next Dimension Games a couple of nights a week I'd like to run some Zombicide nights and possibly some other events. One of the things I need to do though is sell off some of my less needed gaming tables so that I can make some that are more durable and easier to store and transport. The new Warzone I'm planning for this year fits in with that plan, but I need space and that involves liquidating some of what I have.
This is the big one. There are no guarantees in this world, but I want to eventually live doing something that I love instead of floundering around. Tearing my ACL gave me time to reflect and I sat down with a dry erase board and jotted down all of the ideas I've had in my life and the things that I've participated in that brought me joy and reward - some of them could potentially be parlayed into a long term career and some of them can't (I can't really make money being a DIY punk vocalist, and I can't do it forever no matter how much I love doing it). After some encouragement I started working on Broken Contract with all of that free time I had in those initial weeks after my knee surgery. I want to take a stab at turning it into something. It'll be a lot of hard work, but my experiences with Hyacinth Games reminded me that game design has always been something that I knew I would love doing, dating back to being in grade school and writing my own AD&D modules.If its bust, so be it. But at least I'll be able to say I tried. Any encouragement, support, input, and hype will be greatly encouraged and appreciated in the coming months. :)
So those are my goals. I do have smaller goals, like getting my friends playing or blogging again, and getting some other projects done. I want to continue to improve my photo skills, and I mentioned wanting to take a Photoshop class. But these are the biggies. The important ones. We'll see how it all goes.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
|Broken Contract prototype board sections for the first scenario in the game, honed after a bunch of solo play testing. These board sections are 8"x10" so that they can also fit on a normal scanner.|
Days before I stepped away from Hyacinth I got injured on the job. I work for a moving company and I tore my ACL and meniscus disk trying to lift something awkwardly (hindsight: because it was too heavy for one person). Though I'm poor as dirt right now it was a sort of blessing in disguise. Friends and family were asking if I was going to work on a game of my own and suddenly I was on crutches and unable to work. I floundered around for a month debating whether this was something I wanted to do but I got some solid encouragement. Worker's compensation was going to take care of my surgery so immediately after my surgery I set to writing. If you follow the blog you saw these three posts:
Broken Contract - Breakers
Broken Contract - Enforcers
These posts formed the budding concept for Broken Contract, a board game that could one day be fully expanded into a skirmish miniature game or even potentially a RPG. One thing I learned working on Wreck-Age was that a 344 page full color hard back rule book was was an enormous undertaking and way too ambitious for what I could undertake. So instead I looked at how a game like Zombicide was presented - the simplicity - and I decided to start out somewhere akin to that. By Thanksgiving I finished the first draft of the alpha play test rules and presented them to my friends - the core of which were my beloved gaming buddies from my time at GW #108 in Buffalo, NY. Rob Ferrick, Brenden Terrill, Mike Hughes, and Aaron Beechler have at least read partially through the document and given great commentary (Rob actually has done most of the editing thus far). The one thing that was missing from my initial play test rules was a scenario that could be played, and the board to play it on. So in December that became my new goal along with hounding some artist friends for some concept art. December also saw the start of pricing out development and manufacture along with assembling a business plan. One of the challenges I'll be facing is attempting to produce the most ecological and ethical game I can. I know this is going to drive costs up. However, I can't very well make a game about a ravaged Earth left behind and human workers forced into indentured servitude, and then contribute to those same conditions.
|This was an initial prototype board that used 12"x12" board sections. Smaller board sections sped up play and would be easier to scan and send to my play testers. These sections met the blade of my paper cutter for alterations.|