Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Gaming Notes April 14, 2013

Space Gaming News:

(Steve Jackson Games) Car Wars —  Car Wars Classic has been released in PDF format. This is arguably the best edition of the game ever released. It is the basic framework of the original pocket box game, but fine tuned with all the rules improvements from Compendium Second Edition. Beautiful.

(GMT) Space Empires 4X — An iPad version of the game is planned.

(ADB) Star Fleet Battles — Module C6: Lost Empires will detail General War compatible fleets for the Carnivons and Paravians from the Early Years series and is expected this summer.

(Steve Jackson Games) Ogre — Ogre War Room app is now available for the Android.

(RPG Snob) Traveller — For Sci-Friday, Jason Packer explains why he loves this classic rpg.

(Delta’s D&D Hotspot) Star Frontiers — For SciFi Saturday, Delta opens up a shrink wrapped package of Sathar ships.

(Steve Jackson GamesOgre — Andrew Metzger’s “Barbarians at the Gate” expansion is available for preorder. See here for additional details.

Blog Watch:

(Blog of Holding) Rangers! An Exciting New D&D Class — “Both classes are pretty hard to qualify for, although not as hard as the AD&D paladin (whose stat prerequisites were so demanding that, paradoxically, anyone who claimed to have rolled up a paladin was by definition a liar and not worthy of paladin status.)”

(Random Wizard) David “Zeb” Cook Interview — “The Known World part came about by accident and design. It wasn’t directly based on any campaign that I knew, although if I were to go back and look at it I’d probably find seeds of things I and others used in our games. We really wanted to encourage players to create their own campaigns so the Known World was done as kind of an inspirational example. The other practical reason was that we knew we needed a place to set future D&D modules.”

(The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms) The Density of Hex Keys — “This reminded me of something I read in the First Fantasy Campaign recently: Dave Arneson talks about stocking hexes for wilderness exploration and suggests that each hex should have 0 to 4 possible encounters. It’s interesting how we went quickly from that to just one encounter per hex.”

(LFS) 2013 PROMETHEUS AWARD FINALISTS ANNOUNCED — Sarah Hoyt is in the running with her sequel to Darkship Thieves. (Hat tip, Sarah Hoyt.)

(According to Hoyt) Paul Howard — “I’ve gotten annoyed with the we’re doomed mindset. I’ll agree that we may going to have rough times ahead but over the years I’ve heard too many we’re doomed stories. Japan doesn’t own the US (unlike so many claims that it would). We aren’t over-populated (unlike how Harry Harrison described the future). We aren’t in an Ice Age (which was forecasted). And so forth. I have a pessimistic streak but know it and know that I’ve been wrong in the past. So why you should I trust other people who claim we’re all doomed?”

(Dungeon Fantastic) GURPS Weapons & Tactics: Flails — Lots of tactical notes that I had no clue about. For instance, flails are a good choice for low skill fighters even though it’s rated as DX/Hard. It’s just cool that GURPS differentiates stuff in this manner.

(Once More Unto the Breach) Yes, RPGs should be balanced… — “The older RPG systems necessitated getting to know your fellow gamers, because there weren’t rules for everything, and more often than not (especially in the case of D&D) the classes weren’t designed to stand alone. You needed to depend on each other for creative play in order to survive.”

(Dungeon of Signs) Thoughts Regarding Character mortality and old school D&D — “D&D is not heroic fantasy, it’s low fantasy, and it’s not a game of power fantasies for each player, but a a game of collective world-building between players and GM.”

(According to Hoyt) Keep Calm and Carry On — “What you CAN in fact do might be very small, but TRUST it.  Go with it.  What I’ve found is that any movement in the direction you want to go is liable to create others.  You’ll meet other people with the same interests; you’ll be at events where you’ll figure out how to take the next step.  A lot in life is showing up.  Show up, even if you’re the short kid in glasses in the back.  A team desperately short on players JUST might pick you.”

(Necropraxis) Solipsistic Hexes — “By implication, the ‘real’ size (whatever that might mean) of a predominantly mountain hex is smaller that the size of a plains hex (because you can travel much farther on plains than on mountains). What this does is pull the wilderness into a loose mesh similar to a point-crawl, but with more enforced structure (as there will always be six adjacent nodes at any given location).”

(Quickly, Quietly, Carefully) Keep wildnerness movement abstract — “If the model is good enough for players to make meaningful choices, it’s realistic enough.”

(GURPS Day!) Several GURPS bloggers coordinated to post on the topic of Melee Academy. Check out this quadruple slam:

(Monsters and Manuals) False Optimization? — Just from the raw game mechanics of B/X D&D, there is no reason to choose class based on highest attribute. Attribute scores can maybe keep you out of a particular demi-human option, but other than that, the worst thing that can happen to you is that you miss out on a prime requisite bonus. That’s not a big deal given the survival rates of first level characters! From a raw min/maxing standpoint, the real issue is collective party composition regardless of stats. But people at cons will pick their class based on highest attribute score and totally ignore that. This seems strange, but one nice thing about it is that players will tend to try something different if they roll up another character. On the other hand, I’ve seen people complain about “having to be the cleric” but went with that class anyway just because of the high WIS score.

A Request from Jeffro:

I’m no Tom Vassel or Will Wheaton and this blog is not a marketing juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’ve designed a space game and sell it somehow, I’d probably like to plug it here. If you have a news item for your game, if you have some pictures or graphics that you can give me permission to use here, or if you’d agree to do a short interview where we talk shop about game design and space gaming, please contact me. My email address is through gmail. My account name there is “autoduelist.” If you use Google+, you can also find me there.

Apropos of Nothing:

Games played this week: Alhambra — You choose between paying exactly for a tile and going again, overpaying and ending your turn, or taking cards so that you can purchase more tiles later. Complicating things are the fact that the value of your tiles depend on what the other players have bought… while the way you connect them can limit your options.

Listening to this week: Double Fantasy — The striking thing about this album is the dynamic of the musical conversation. John Lennon will lay out these tracks that highlight his devotion to Yoko Ono… and she doesn’t exactly reciprocate. She’s so caught up in making a statement or being edgy… that she doesn’t seem to really be connecting back to John on a genuine emotional level. And no, I don’t know enough about their history to really say what was going on behind the scenes, but when I finally hear Lennon’s songs in their original context, it’s unsettling just how detached the object of his affections really comes off as being.

Something I learned this week — Jack McDevitt’s notes on rookie writing mistakes are extremely useful. His thoughts on pacing and the use of body language in dialogue particularly fire my imagination.

Something I’d like to learn — I’m making the effort to follow the rules concerning copyright and so forth. In the process, I’ve realized just how clueless I am on this topic. I don’t even know what questions I should be asking!

Car Wars is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games, and the art here is copyrighted by Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Star Fleet Battles Module C6 counter art used by permission.

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6 responses to “Gaming Notes April 14, 2013

  1. Jason Packer April 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I own the latest Car Wars Compendium (at least I think so) – what’s different about the Classic PDF, and would there be any value in owning it?

    • jeffro April 16, 2013 at 6:06 am

      If you have a Compendium and the temerity to limit your game as you see fit, then you are good to go. (Though I’d suggest replacing the first edition with second. And if you have Smif art in your copy, I’d suggest going back to second edition!) This Classic PDF gives you just the cars and cycles with a subset of the more sane equipment, i.e. it excludes jump jets and oil guns or whatnot. (The most common complaint against the Compendium is that it’s got too many vehicle types and options. Yeah… go figure…!)

  2. Drew Metzger April 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the mention re: Barbarians at the Gate! Much appreciated!
    – Drew

  3. Jimmy Anderson April 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Speaking of Car Wars, your reader might be interested to know that I resurrected the MADHAT PBEM games…

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