Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My life, in miniature

Although I spend most of my down time playing roleplaying games these days, miniature games are my favourite. It's hard to play a large battle in a small apartment, and the roleplaying games are taking up so much of my time (between write-ups and scenario creation) that I don't have much time for painting. Hopefully that will start to change soon, once I am caught up on my RPG write-up writing (I have our latest Delta Green and HârnMaster write-ups to do, as well as the World War II Delta Green/Feng Shui game from the July 4 weekend).

I'm currently playtesting three sets of rules, two of my own design. The one I'm working on right now is Bujutsu. This is a set of miniatures rules for Japanese samurai skirmishes. It is based on the BattleLust rules by Columbia Games, which is the miniatures version of the HârnMaster combat system.

Version 1.1, available on my web site, is very much an expansion of BattleLust. It required BattleLust to play and used almost all of the BattleLust rules. Version 1.2 is shifting away from the parent rule set. Most of the concepts are the same, but the combat tables — except for the missile tables — are different. I may even change the missile tables when all is said and done. I'm debating making it a stand-alone product (doesn't need BattleLust to play). Right now I'm not comfortable doing that because it's just too much like the parent game. If, however, I end up modifying the morale rules there will be little reason not to make it a stand-alone rule set. At that point I'd want to change the way injuries are handled, thus divorcing the game from BattleLust entirely. We'll see how far I get along that route.

The second set of rules I'm playtesting allow you to play Call of Cthulhu games with miniatures. The basic activation, movement, and combat systems work well. I'm now working on the sanity/morale rules. I may even steal the activation system for use with the standalone Bujutsu rules.

The third game is PKombat. This is a science fiction skirmish version of Piquet. Piquet is a game people either love or hate. It does a wonderful job of duplicating fog of war, but at the expense of taking away some player control. I find it a fascinating system, which works well solitaire. The abbreviation for Piquet is "PK", which resulted in PKowboys, a western skirmish rule version of the game. PKombat, by Nick Hawkins, is in the same vein as PKowboys. I hope to do some playtesting of PKombat this coming weekend. We don't have much space in the apartment, but I can play the game using some 15mm figures (instead of the "standard" 25mm figures) on our dining room table.

There are two other rules I could/should be playtesting, both by Ground Zero Games: Full Thrust 3 and FMA Skirmish. Full Thrust 3 (FT3) is the next version of the popular starship combat miniatures game. FMA Skirmish is Jon Tuffley's small scale science fiction skirmish game.

I haven't played Full Thrust in about three years owing to the amount of space needed. Even though I helped playtest the first set of Fleet Book ships in the late 90s, I feel I'm way too far behind the rest of the FT playtesters to be of much use. Besides, there still is no coherent manuscript from Jon Tuffley, the author. Instead there are a number of rules proposed by the playtest group, some of which may or may not show up in the final version. I know the group needs people to test some of these rules, but I don't have a lot of spare time. I did some FMA Skirmish testing of rules created by one of the other playtesters only to have Jon come by at a late date and nix those rules completely. I just don't have enough spare time to be burned that way again.

FMA Skirmish (FMAS) is in an aggravating state of flux. Jon started writing the rules back in 1998, I think, maybe sooner. I joined the playtest group in 1998 specifically to work on this game. My original intention was to use FMAS for Call of Cthulhu miniatures games. Jon's been slow in supplying us with rules to test. I have played it a fair bit, but I haven't touched it in several months. The playtest group hasn't discussed the game in months, either, with their attentions focused on FT3. Jon is leaning toward publishing FT3 by next spring. If that's the case, it will be at least the end of 2006, and probably spring of 2007 at the earliest before we see FMAS.

So, while I wait for Jon to concentrate on FMAS again, I'll just have playtest my own rules and PKombat. And work on our roleplaying games. And add more of my battlefield pictures to my web site. And work on my battlefield essays...

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