Saturday, 10 September 2016

Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games split

It's official, GW and FFG will no longer be doing business. 

Considering that FFG/Asmodee have blasted past GW in terms of total turnover in the last few years and the decision of GW to bring back specialist games, i'm not hugely surprised.

FFG has been the actual games workshop for Games Workshop for a long long time. And while they have focused on model making supported by badly designed games, FFG have been keeping people who love the settings engaged with really good games.

A lot of these games are relatively early in their development cycle. People who stumped up to get Conquest & Warhammer Quest - the card game - will likely bit put out by not being able to continue to expand those games.

Forbidden stars will stay a 4 faction game, i'm so glad I didn't buy it yesterday (and I was in store, holding the box, debating it)

For me, Chaos in the Old World is the pinnacle of this relationship. It's dripping in GW's IP and theme, but has the great game design of FFG. It's simply a masterclass in game design and I am so glad I have a copy of a game that is likely to go OOP and stay OOP for a long long time.

Blood Bowl team manager is also my favourite "Lite" game, and i'm slightly miffed it won't be getting any more teams. 

I highly doubt the FFG/GW deal will allow GW to lift all the mechanics and start selling expansions for the games, so this could be the death of these lines. Although "REX" type reskins could happen for some of the games.

And looking at GW's most recent attempts at Board Game design, my hopes are not high. Poor mechanics and nice figures don't engage me. Dreadfleet was a terrible terrible game and Warhammer Quest:Silver Tower costs about the price of three decent boardgames in NZ and, asides from the figures, is an average to decent dungeon crawler. But i could also get Descent 2nd edition core set and two expansions for the same price. It also doesn't help that the new Warhammer world is just awful. 

It's pretty, but at $320 you are paying for the models, not the game or bits

Sure GW do great figures, they are a model company after all and they excel at that. But FFG is a games company, and losing the GW IP means that we have likely concluded a 2nd golden age of GW themed games.

The first was GW's glory days as a Games design company, when titles like Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, Warhammer Quest, Fury of Dracula and Heroquest were coming out and were as good as any of the competition. Space Hulk and Blood Bowl still occupy very warm places in my heart and on my games shelf. And boy am I glad that Blood Bowl online is still a thing.

It's possible that GW will eventually return to greatness in the Boardgame field, but it won't be immediately, their game development culture has been focused on flash and models for far to long and Game Design is not easy to do well. I personally prefer a mediocre looking game than a pretty one that sucks.

Power Grid > Dreadfleet in other words. 

Looks like I have a few expansions for games to procure before they go out of print. Time to finally get "Halls of Terra" for Relic, ugh, so gutted their won't be more Relic, that game was stupid but fun. 

I highly recommend getting the stuff you want for these games now, as they will go OOP really quickly and will likely not come back. 

Post Script:

A friend of mine brings up the RPG lines and raises the point that GW will likely not develop any replacements. Sad day for WHFRP and Dark heresy fans as well. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The core dice system - Radlandz developer diary.

Well, lets start talking about the core game systems and how they make Radlandz the most awesome little skirmish game out there.

Here are the core concepts behind the dice system

  • Radlandz uses several dice, d6, d8, d10 and d12. 
  • Dice are rolled against a difficulty number in most cases, the number of dice that equal or exceed this target number are successes
  • Target numbers are rarely changed, most effects allow you to stage up or stage down a dice. 
  • Staging up allows you to replace a dice with one higher type, say a d8 to a d10
  • Charging, aiming and ganging up normally allow you to stage up dice. 
  • Staging down forces you to replace a dice with a lower one, say a d8 to a d6
  • Wounds, being pinned and other negative effects normally cause dice to be staged down
  • A lot of rolls allow you to expend a dice roll of 4 or more that didn't succeed to add 2 to another roll. This means rolling 5,5,5 when the target number is 6 means you can actually succeed, and reduces a bit of the luck element.  

How do i determine my dice pool?

Well, a models stats determine their starting dice pools before any modifications. The three stats that have dice pools are

Armz: Melee pool
Eyez: Shooting pool
Gutz: Morale/leadership/special powers pool


Say your model has a Eyez pool of 2d8/1d6 and wants to shoot a regular trooper in light cover. That troopers defence in light cover is 7, so you will need to roll 7's to hit. With 2d8/1d6 this is pretty difficult to do. 

So, the model aims gaining 1 dice shift and also has a scope on their rifle which adds an additional shift when taking an aim action.

This is a total of 2 positive shifts which can be added in any way to your dice pool. You could boost a d8 twice to make it a d12, giving you d12/d8/d6, or boost both d8s to d10's, giving you 2d10/1d6. Or any other combination. 

The final choice is to boost the d6 twice to d10, for a dice pool of 1d10/2d8

The roll is 9,5,4 on the three dice. The nine is good enough to beat 7 so scores 1 hit. You then choose to burn the 4 to add +2 to the 6, making it an 7. Also good enough to score a hit. 

A 2 hit shot does considerably more damage than a 1 hit shot, but we will cover that another time.


By making most adjustments in the game dice shifts, and keeping target numbers relatively stable, it makes the game variable, without producing massive swings. Even with all the best modifiers in the game, the average shooting target number will be around 6-8, so d12's, while a lot better, hardly mean you are going to always hit and always kill someone. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

9 Games that inspired me when making a game.

As part of the Radlandz introduction, I want to talk about the game systems that inspired aspects of the rules. I've played a lot of games, and no game system comes from isolation. Its all part of the game development process and every new game stands on the shoulders of the giants that preceded it. 

So in this post I will talk about the games that either inspired me on a gameplay level, or games that I used mechanical ideas from. Some will be obvious, some a little more obscure. 

First up, the most obvious ones. 


In all honesty, their would likely be no Radlandz without these two games. They were the original "warband" level games that I played and their influence can be seen throughout.

Core concepts like group size, rosters, character types, loot, experience, skill upgrade and territory all find their origins here 

The core gameplay mechanics are very different, but the overall feel is similiar. But I really wanted to make a few changes in the overall feel to "fix" what i perceived to be problems with the games.

The two core issues are randomness and loss. Random skill increases always led to big skews in power between gangs, so instead I allow people to select them from a short list.

Loss was a huge deal in these games. If you played your first game with a gang and your heavy died, taking almost a 3rd of your gang value with him, you were actually better off rolling up a new gang. In Radlandz, your group will never drop below a minimum level of functionality. New troops are free and they come with their basic kit, they just have no XP or special upgrades. So even if your entire group is killed in the first game, you don't need to reroll.    


"A dog made me build Radlandz"

Frostgrave is the game that kicked off the whole process. I really really wanted to like it, but I found the randomness and lack of distinction in the forces frustrating. 

In the game we play, a war dog ate most of my army. Single handily killing 4 characters, a man at arms, an infantry man and two thugs. I rolled no less than a 13 on all 4 combats, but the war dogs player always rolled higher. The difference between a -1 rating war dog at 10 points and a +1 rating Man at arms at 80 points is negligible in a d20 system. I felt the game was pretty damned arbitrary at that point and that units really didn't matter much.

But I saw potential in the game, but figured it needs many house rules to make work. The randomness was too swingy for me, the spell lists full of chaff, the XP system skewed heavily in favour of combat mages, and the cost of losing your wizard was brutal.

What I really liked were the turn order sequence and the idea that Wizards had spells outside their primary disciplines. I've adapted the turn order sequence and am using something similar, and the wizard selection thing has become the "identity system", where a group has a primary identity it can buy characters from, but can also pick up secondary identities and populate their list with skills and troops from there.

A Mutant identity group fields mutants as their primary forces, but if they get some points in the Arcane identity, they may pick up an apprentice spell caster and some magic skills. Hopefully, with 12 identities, this means that there are a plethora of combinations and no group looks completely like another. 

Spartacus - A game of blood and sand

Spartacus was one of the most surprising games I've played. It a really good design, true to the source material, and a great backstabbing fun fest.

The gladiatorial combat system is fun and simple, and represents wounded characters losing fighting capacity really well.

I borrowed a lot of elements from the combat system for the melee system of Radlandz.

Each player rolls their melee pool of dice, then modifies them with parry re-rolls, shields and other tricks. Then they match numbers on their dice from highest to lowest. The more dice you win on the matchup, the more damage you inflict. Tie and you both inflict damage. Strong melee characters are normally either more dice or bigger dice, so will win more often. Wounds reduce the size of your dice in the dice pool.

What this has mean't in testing is that well trained unwounded soldiers tend to butcher wounded ones easily, but not always. Poor quality troops have taken down melee masters as well, one expert melee character was taken down by a group of 4 guys with knives, as each one got a small hit in, reducing the big guys combat skills and making him easier to wound. Gang ups really work well.

It's also led to two already wounded characters killing each other in combat as they both score enough hits to do a killing blow to each other. 

The overall result is a rather cinematic combat system that has already produced numerous classic and memorable moments. 

Melee is the key to the game, shooting is designed to pin people and wound them, making them easier to mop up in close combat. 

Fortress America

Fortress america is an inspiration for the dice shifting mechanic in Radlandz. In fortress america, better units roll a higher sided dice which has a better chance of hitting and doing damage. Defending can shift a units dice up by one improving their chances of hitting and damaging.

In Radlandz I use a similar system. Each model has it's default dice pools for making ranged, melee, and morale checks. But these pools can be modified up and down depending on the models state. For example, Aiming and Charging allow you increase a dice by one size, each wound level reduces a dice by one size. 

The core difficulties to pass most checks are designed around the difficulty required for a d8 to succeed. So having upgraded dice to d10's improves that considerably, without altering the difficulty of the roll. In a way, it allows for more marginal alterations of difficulty than changing a target number, especially in a multiple dice system.

All dice are discrete, so if the target number for a roll is 6, and you roll 8, 6, 4. You score two hits, dice are never added together in Radlandz.  

Dice can go all the way up to a D12, but never below a D6. 


A really simple one here, D8's

Looking at X-wing over the last few years I have really gotten to appreciate the D8 in regards to probability. 12.5% per pip is really easy to work with, as a shift in difficulty by one is significant, but not huge. 

Also, the core concept of rolling a number of d8's and marking the number of hits scored is directly linked to X-wing in its original form.

With dice shifting and the like it's now quite different, but the ranged combat system started off with x-wing as the inspiration.  

Flames of war

I've never actually played Flames of War, which seems odd as I know a lot of one of the oldest playtest groups for the game (who I am hoping to co-opt into testing this), i'm a military history nerd, and I own the rule book.

I just never got around to it.

The one thing I did love reading the rules was the idea that the difficulty to hit a solider with a ranged attack is based on their training level. Conscripts use cover poorly, Veterans hug the dirt like its a long lost teddy bear.

In Radlandz, the difficulty to hit a model is based on their Brainz stat. Smart and savvy characters take cover quickly, poorly trained troops do not. As characters get more experienced, they become harder to hit. Also, big dumb killer robots are easy to hit, even if they are hard to damage.

It's a simple concept, but one I had not seen before Flames of War. 

Cthulhu wars

This is an example of how a mechanic in a game can inspire you to make a game design decision, that if you didn't spell it out clearly, no one would probably notice.

In Cthulhu wars, each faction has six spell books that are unlocked as complete objectives. You don't get all your powers and abilities at the game start and must do stuff to get them.

This system inspired the base system in Radlandz. Bases determine what models you can field and how many skills are on your available skill list.

At the start of the campaign, you may only have access to 3 or 4 skills, and 3-4 unit types. But as you progress, you can expand the base and gain more skills to choose from, more unit types to field, and more equipment options from resources.

Civilization 5 
Inspiration doesn't just come from board games. Computer games can also have excellent concepts that you can draw on, and I did that with Civilization 5 and strategic resources.

In Civ 5, you can only field as many tanks as you can supply with oil, or as many cavalry as you can supply with horses. I incorporated this idea into the base and roster mechanics. 

Each base building produces a certain amount of resources that you can use. A lot of basic gear, like swords, rifles, pistols and basic armours don't need any resources to field. But heavy machine guns, power weapons and magic armour do. 

The consumables resource also serves as your "unit cap" and restricts the number of models you can field.

Different bases provide different resources, so a Techno idenity base will get a lot of Energy resource that it can use to field multiple laser weapons, while a Mech identity base will have a lot of industrial resource to supply power armour.

It allows a group to field special weapons, while ensuring that not every model has power armour, a laser cannon and a magic sword when groups get very experienced. 

It also allows for progression, as your base expands you get more options. Base expansion is capped, but can be reconfigured in a long campaign. Decide you want more machine guns, demolish a building providing mystic resource and build one that provides industrial. 

Designing a game is about your own experiences and what you enjoyed playing in the past, and how, in your own way, you want to replicate that experience.
I think it's good to acknowledge those inspirations and sources. No doubt there are things I've forgotten to mention, and other indirect sources. But these are the ones that stood out.

This should give some insight into what the final Radlandz product will look like

Monday, 9 May 2016

Radlandz - A new miniatures game by me

Less than a month ago I decided to make my own skirmish game, using a post apocalyptic setting. 

I set out to keep model count low, action high, cover important, and have huge variety in units and equipment.

Well, its been a success and Radlandz now has a full rulebook weighing in at 64 pages.

Game features include

  • Estimated 60-90 minute playtime per game (once up to speed)
  • Unique Dice shifting and Dice building game mechanics. 
  • 12 group identities
  • 60 unit types
  • 100+ skills
  • 40 odd weapons
  • Full combat rules
  • 6 Scenarios (more to come)
  • Campaign rules 
  • Roster and group record sheets.

Alpha testing experiences so far

Testing is still at its early stages, but the first 5 games have been quite an enjoyable experience for all involved. The game seems to have a relatively "epic" feeling to it for a skirmish game, and each game has produced at least one memorable moment.

I attribute much of this to the unique wound system that allows characters to sustain multiple hits, without requiring a "damage boxes" or "hit point" system. When a character is damaged, they suffer a wound penalty, and that adds to later damage rolls. But if the character receives the same type of wound again, it does nothing additional. So a model may be wounded countless times before that final good hit takes them out.  

Glancing shots rarely kill in this system, but they make follow up attacks deadlier. But even the toughest model will eventually succumb to small stabbing blades as well.

And sometimes, you roll enough hits to kill someone outright. Normally an experienced melee fighter vs a mook, or someone standing in open ground in front of a machine gun. While you can survive a number of glancing hits, direct hits are still lethal.

Shooting will rarely win you a game out right. Shooting allows you to injure models and pin them, allow your assault to be more deadly.

This is working exactly to plan, as I wanted a game with tactical shooting, but not one where "planet bowling balls machine gun legion" would be dominant.

Guns aren't just for show, but knives are certainly for pros. 

What is next

A lot more internal alpha testing to come. And I still need to write systems for weather and hazards, neutral creatures, and a few more scenarios. 

I also need to seriously proof read and edit the damn thing. 

I'm aiming to get a couple of beta test groups in my local community to try a blind test of the rules as well. 

Oh, and i'll be doing a series of these posts on the game mechanics and the rationale behind each one.

Thanks to

The initial alpha test team of DJ Ekim, Megapope, Arvald von Kuggenstein and the Millernator, for actually wanting to play this contraption while it is still a horrific mess. 

Friday, 22 April 2016

Warmachine MK3 - Even more changes and more thoughts on it

Cheers to Sean for compiling these notes for our local wargaming scene. 

Here are some more updates on MK3 and what to look forward to. The more I see of it, the better it looks. 

No skill checks at all - I don't know anything other than models requiring skill checks are completely retooled

This is great, they had previously said repair rolls, but getting rid of all skill rolls is a nice game smoothing mechanic. I'm really interested to see how Stormcallers are balanced now. 

Frenzy Checks are much simpler. 1) Shake any effects, 2) Charge nearest models 3) Make a boosted attack with your highest P+S attack value

I never played a hordes faction, but I know the frenzy rules were a bit awkward. SOunds good. 

No wreck markers

I'm so-so with this one, simply because I got metal wreck markers and painted them. Oh, and one of my finest Warmachine moments was double handed throwing an enemy jack back towards my caster so my army could wreck it and he would have somewhere to sit in cover all game. 

No psychology 'tests' whatsoever

This makes a lot of sense. Troops would be scared of undead, but not of 12 foot tall killing machines armed with fire weapons or even a mountain king? If the game had psychology for troops, it should have triggered a lot more. As it was, i'd forget command checks a lot as they seemed like an after thought. 

All cavalry get a after-activation re-position. Heavy cav gets a 3" move. The assumption is that light cav gets more.
As some with loads of cavalry, who likes cavalry armies. I'm cool with this. Cav should cost a bit, be a glass cannon, but have far more mobility than other units. Nice change. 

All Heavy Infantry except MOW drop to five boxes. MOW stay at 8 and their new solo gives them basically anti KD, & immovable rules. Armour wise they are apparently super tough.

5 boxes still isn't a lot really, but i'm ok witht hat. I'm very pleased with MOW being closer to mini-jacks though, nice change. 

Other medium based infantry are realigned with where they should be – Warders become more defensive, as do Skin Walkers, Ravagers gain a ton of new abilities via their solo to increase their aggressiveness – Overtake & Vengeance plus others. They didn’t specifically say it, but they worded Vengeance weird, mentioning that it triggers off damage (so not necessarily kill?)

Will need to check the specifics on this at some point to fully judge.  

There are no longer Minion Pacts or Merc Contract. They all all unified contracts without restrictions (outside of animosities). You cant take a gator beast with a pig warlock, but you can take farrow with a gator warlock for example.

This is interesting, and probably got a massive cheer from Minions and Mercs players. Should open up the factions to some awesome new tactics and combos. I wonder about Lialese gun mages which many highborn covenant players used though. 

Theme Forces – A faction wide and far fewer. They are not restricted to warcasters
Theme forces are the dumbest thing in warmachine. They are invariably either complete rubbish, or the best way to play a caster, there are few that are good without being great. I hope the new theme lists are less restrictive, but give less bonuses. 

Tough Changes – Tough does not work if you are knocked down.
It never should of. This is a great change. One of the silliest things in WM was hitting a knocked down tough model 4 or 5 times and having them shrug it off. Sure,t hat rarely happened, but a constant invulnerable save is just a luck magnet.


I wont comment on these, just check them out. 

• Ironclad quake hammer *Attack hits a model and centres a 4” AOE on that model hitting everything down except the Ironclad itself. The model hit still suffers the melee damage from the hit
• Point costs are reduced where required
Cryx – Increased emphasis on Jacks
Menoth – Choir loses +2 to hit buff entirely. All jacks that were lower are brought up to MAT6
• Colossal - Creeping Barrage is a flat POW 10 – not halved like a normal AOE – seems legit
• MOW are designed to be an unkillable tanky unit – moreso than any other in the game
Ret – Just a rebalance, no real information
Mercs – All contracts merged
Trollbloods – Kriel Warriors are super cheap. Warders and Champs redone
Skorne –
• Ancestral guardians/Immortals have souls now – so they can trigger abilities on themselves, so they don’t need another unit to die in order to function.
• Removing some of the Skornegy
Circle – No real information outside of working on the medium based infantry
Legion – 
• A removal of some fury management. Still the best in the game, but not quite so good
• A real emphasis on infantry to try and drive a real choice between infantry and beasts
Minions – No pacts.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Radlandz - Post apocalyptic miniatures gaming

So, I ended up playing Frostgrave for the first time this weekend and I really enjoyed playing a skirmish wargame again.

I loved necromunda and really feel that scale, and style of campaign is excellent fun. 

But Frostgrave left me feeling like their were almost as many problems with the game as their were great parts. I couldn't help but trying to "fix" the game as parts of it seemed really wonky and awkward to me.

So, my solution? Write my own damned skirmish game.

Yep, this project is under the working title of "Radlandz" and is a post-apocalypse miniatures game. Frostgrave allows you to use all your fantasy miniatures, so i thought why not do something like that in a sci-fi setting. This way people can dust off their Necromunda gangs, use star wars miniatures, WWII figures or virtually anything else. heck, a lot of fantasy figures will work in this setting like Chaos cultists and skaven.

So here are my design guidelines for how i want the game to shape up

  • Allow a lot of freedom in how a group is put together so people can customize and explore 
  • Make factions that are flavorful and fun
  • Allow any model to be used somewhere, so the game is accessible to anyone with figures.   
  • Make melee important and brutal
  • Make cover essential
  • Have all combat decided in two rolls or less. 
  • Create solid campaign rules that allow groups to expand, but stop runaway leaders
  • Include high tech, low tech, magic, mysticism and power armour in one setting
Last night I wrote a draft of the core rules in one sitting. bare in mind this is literally a first pass at the concepts and still needs a lot of fleshing out and testing. But if anyone is interested, here are my first thoughts on the game rules. 
So, is there a market out there for a game like this. What would you like to see in a skirmish game. I'm at the very early stages of development so get your ideas in now!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Warmachine Mk3 - What's changing and some thoughts

So, a lot to take in on the future of Warmachine. 

A lot of this stuff is from some early release videos and what not. So here are the first changes mentioned.

Ill add comments in italics text.  

What has changed? - [3:50]
- We have rebalanced every model in the game.

Good. PP does this well, nothing like having some armies/models operating under old rules to mess up a game  

- Each warcaster has a unique, flavorful spell/ability. Some casters already had, some had to be added.

Excellent. Some casters did feel a bit dry, especially some of the Battlebox ones. I also think that each caster needs that signature effect to stand out. Keen to see how some casters who are a little dull get unique effects. 

- Doubled the point scale.

This is a small one, but at low points some models were annoying to point out. The difference between 2 and 3 point solos was a great example. 

- Addresses difference between Focus and Fury.

Not sure what this means, I do like that the systems are currently different. I hope these changes keep the flavour. 

- New Mechanics: 
- Power Up = Warjack are allocated a focus for starting in the caster's battlegroup.
- Upped warjack/warbeast points. 28-30 points now.

Anything that makes jacks more integral to the game and useful is great for me. This is a game about giant robots and beasts, not infantry swarms after all. 

- Spirit Bonds: As warbeasts die, Warlocks can gain fury "from the grave"

I don't know how this will work, but this could be a real game changer. As kill the beasts, then kill the warlock was a key strategy against hordes. Curious how this works. 

- Games are still similar sized.

Good, game bloat, like what has happened to 40k and other games is awful. Keep it skirmish level where possible. 

Why MK III vs MK 2.5?
- "Felt like the right time."
- "MKII got to a point where it was a time to readdress [interactions and power level]."
- "Look at the whole picture."

6 years of MK2 is a long time really. And personally, I was starting to have issues with the game, ever since collosals came out. 

What were some lessons from MKII?
- "Punctuated by "setting huge base models free in the wild."
- "Played huge base models conservatively in places. Push them more in places"

Colossals are a nightmare for balance in a skirmish scale game. Too easy to throw the game into skew one way or the other. I hope they address this well.  

- Global reset of the rules. Smooth things outs.
- Rework presentation. Organization to (hopefully) make information more accessible.
- Differences in Fury and Focus are addressed (in a meaningful way)

ok, comments above address most of this

- "It already exists, felt like a loophole."
- No more 'Gotchas'

Premeasuring exists if you are good enough with trig and can measure things using your control area.

All making it permissible openly does is help level the playing field. An excellent inclusion, my experience with Armada shows that pre-measuring can actually add to a game, not distract from it. 

No more Fear/Terror

Ok? does this mean they are rolling them into one, or getting rid of the effect all together? 

Change with Huge-Base Models [15:00]
- They feel like the monsters of the battlefield like they should.

I'm not sure about this. I know they said they will push them more in big battles and less in smaller ones, but the issue with skew is still a big one for me. 

Presentation of Story 
- Time-skip! Two-year jump.
- Flash-Point. First installment in a trilogy.
- Story line stuff. Resolutions and new things

Two year jump means that the prediction that the journeymen casters will be full-blown heroes in the story. That's ok for me.  

- No favorite character is safe. Plot armor is off! 

I simply cannot stand the plot armour of the fiction to date. It kills all tension and suspense when a character is in danger. And I could get a few characters having plot armour, but every single damn one of them? For a world at war, no one seems to have actually been fighting and dying. This is a necessary change, and for me, as important as any rule balance.  

New Hordes Faction [Preview - LnL 2017] [29:00]
- Unlike anything they have ever done. "Weird stuff"
- "Things you have never been able to do before."
- Built from the ground-up under MKIII rules.
- "Feels like a complete little ecosystem as a faction, interesting reason for being in existence."

Personally, I want to see the "dragon alliance" as a faction. With each of the different dragons contributing units of their own fashioning and style. I'm unlikely to buy a new faction anyway, but I am intersted to see where they go with this. All I hope is that they don't "jump the shark" and introduce something idiotic like aliens. 


As said above, looks good, but lets wait and see. 

Even more changes are noted here

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