28 June 2013

Scratchbuild Spaceships: The Shipyard Reopens!

I've managed to get a week off of work and before other commitments consumed my time I was able to get two new spaceships sculpted, painted and based.

I experimented with using acrylic white gesso as a primer and was disappointed.  Perhaps I didn't wait long enough for the gesso to dry, but when I went to apply the initial coat of paint the gesso primer flaked off in some areas.  I've never had a problem with spray primer sticking to resin, so I think I'll stick with that despite the nasty fumes.

I'm still not complete, but I wanted to get some pictures up before the good light is gone for the day.  The yellow in the nozzles of the squatty ship just doesn't work for me; I'll try changing it to a white-hot glow.  Also the basic color-schemes work for the ships, but they need some pep.  I'll probably use some decals.

The bases are 1" metal washers covered with a design I created on Powerpoint and printed on address labels.  The design has a place to write the ships name, six "pies" to show firing arcs, and six arrows to facilitate the movement rules for my solo game Able Spaceman.  The decal on the base is covered with plastic so that I can use grease pencils and alcohol pens to make turn-by-turn notes.

22 June 2013

Solo Table-Top Space War Playtest

It's been a while since I've posted anything, what with work taking up all my time.  I have a week break in the syllabus coming up however and with the decreasing workload I've found time to playtest my latest miniature spaceship solo game effort: Able Spaceman.  I've been playing a few turns intermittently since last night and I think it's pretty fun.

If my last game, Greater Space Battles, could be described as a "Beer & Pretzels" game due to its simplicity, then Able Spaceman would be a "Beer" game, or "Pretzels" game because it's even simpler.

The new game's not exactly Checkers, but in order to keep things simple there's little variation between ships.  No matter what race or faction the player uses, ships pretty much are identical with the only variation being three size classes.

The game requires d10s only and uses an energy allocation mechanic where the solo player must distribute energy between moving, charging weapons, activating sensors to acquire targets, and maintaining defenses to avoid destruction.

The damage system is simple with ships having three states: space worthy, battle scarred, or crippled.  One hit (no matter the source) changes the ship state by one level.  When a crippled ship is hit again it is destroyed.  The states are more than just fancy names for how many times a ship has been struck.  Each  hit changes the way the dice are rolled for energy allocation, resulting in a decreasing likelihood of a useful amount of energy points.

Like all my solo games, there's no artificial intelligence engine for running the opposing side.  Instead, the solo player is expected to run both sides fairly.  In order to keep it interesting and unpredictable, the rules call for a lot of dice rolling.   A lot.  This increases the length of a turn (20 minutes or so for a 10-ship fight), but I find it the only way of keeping it exciting.

Since there's energy allocation the solo player needs a way to track the power distribution.  As I said though, this is a super-simple game, so I made the paperwork equally simple.  The picture below shows the game chits, fresh off the printer.  I printed them on photo paper on my cheap ink-jet and they turned out great.  I covered them with clear packing tape, folded the two sides back to back with glue between, then cut off the excess.  That created a nice little 1 inch square with a place to show weapon charging on one side and speed/power reserves on the other.  The second picture shows some chits during the play test.  With the plastic covering, I can write "permanent" notes with an alcohol pen, and then use a grease pencil to record things that change every turn (speed for example).

Chits are drawn randomly to determine initiative

Ship names can be wiped off with rubbing alcohol

The rules are written down, but just in quick brain-storm fashion, without any production values.  I want to make it nice before putting it on my downloads page, but if anyone is really interested, let me know in the comments and I'll make it available.


Thanks to SCN stalwart bluebirds40 for showing interest in my silly homebrew.  Consequently I've posted the draft of the rules on my downloads page.  It seems I've already had 30 or so hits on the rules, so for those who've downloaded, here are some disclaimers.

I wrote the rules a few playtests ago, so although the rules mention using polymer clay discs for chits, I now just use the paper ones pictured above.  Also the rules mention markers for charging heavy beam weapons.  That's unnecessary with the chit format above; simply record the energy allocated to each firing arc on the chit.

Finally, based on my playtest yesterday, here's a tip to get the most fun out of the rules.  Despite what the draft says, set your starting speeds for heavy, medium, and light ships at 5 inches, 10 inches, and 15 inches respectively.  Keep your ships at speeds appropriate for their sizes: heavy ships should trundle inexorably toward the enemy, launching missile salvos and heavy beam blasts continuously.  Light ships should swoop in full throttle, attempting to get at the vulnerable sterns of the bigger ships.

Have fun and let me know if you like the rules!