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Jeff's Gameblog
Friday, 19 March 2004

Got a new page up at the Erol Otus Shrine.

Pat was over tonight. We shot the breeze about gaming, mostly discussing his ideas for recreating the entirety of the 1982 Anglo-Argentinian war in the Falkland Islands. He also gave me that copy of Boot Hill he had snagged for me. Its the edition I was looking for and in great shape. Yippee!

Posted by jrients at 10:06 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 10:07 PM CST

I noticed that alot of the n-squares contest entries at chessvariants.com use names in the format "word n", such as the variant Symmetry 44. Thus, the working title for my variant will be Spacewarp 44.

Over lunch I knocked out some numbers for the Day of the Juggernaut scenario. Even using my relatively wimpy builds for the good guys, the first draft of the Juggernaut was several hundred points shy of being balanced against Strike Force NOVA. I took another stab at it, laying on the special equipment and bumping the Juggernaut's disruptor cannon to a spinal mount. I had to add in auto-repair, which means the good guys should be allowed access to the damage control rules.

Posted by jrients at 1:53 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 4:31 PM CST
chess first draft

So here's my first crack at a 44-square chess variant. The black space in the middle is a non-space, a hole in the board. The red squares are some sort of funky translocation squares, I'm still working out the details.

The pawns are berolina pawns, the kind sort of inverse to regular pawns, they capture forward and move diagonally. The upside-down rook is a Crook, which moves like a rook but also has a one-shot knight movement. After making the knight movement the Crook is flipped back over to show it is a regular Rook for the rest of the game. The bishops can also move one square orthogonally, making them dragon horses, popes, or ladies depending on the source of your terminology. I was going to use standard bishops until I realized all four were on the same color squares.

No name for this variant yet. Based just upon the pieces "Crooks & Popes" might fit the bill, though it sounds potentially anti-Catholic. The board should really figure into the name, since its a board-related contest.

If I get this puppy submitted, maybe I'll do a Crook page for the Chess Variants Piececlopedia. And I still need to seriously tackle an Enochian Chess page for the site.

Posted by jrients at 11:59 AM CST

Got some more work done on transcribing those Romulan ships for the Archive. I think I should be able to get them submitted this weekend, possibly even tonight. I also should be able to post a new Erol Otus Shrine page soon.

I'm not sure what to do for my next web/gaming projects, but here's what's been oin my mind:

1) BattleTech: maybe a new scenario. I'd also like to put together Read-Outs for the some early model Mechs, particularly the early Ostroc and the prototype Blackjack.

2) Some Starmada scenarios. 2 Starmada Frontiers scenarios will probably come first, the Dramune War and Day of the Juggernaut.

3) Maybe an entry into the Chess Variants 44-square contest. Contest closes April 21st, so I'd have to work fast. Maybe my entry this time won't be a complete dud, like By Rook Or By Crook. Well, maybe not a complete dud. The Crook piece is kinda cool. Maybe I could use it again in my new game...

4) I need to add the rest of the Lords of Creation line to the Pen & Paper RPG database.

Posted by jrients at 9:34 AM CST
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 10:01 AM CST
Thursday, 18 March 2004
Historical Wargaming is Hard
I sometimes feel bad about not doing more historical wargaming. My brother-in-law is a historical gamer. His game room is chock full of boxes of World Wars and Napoleonics. Obviously I enjoy wargaming enough to play BattleTech and things like that, but I haven't even played the copy of Tactics II that I've owned for years. I've been trying to put my finger on why I have this disconnect with such an august section of the gaming hobby. So far, I can think of three reasons why I don't do more historical gaming:

1) Authenticity is hard. When there's a glitch in a Star Trek game you can write it off as a "continuity error". When things don't jive in an historical game it's just a plain oldfashioned mistake. Making historical errors sets off my geekotronic brain. Inauthentic! Inauthentic! Exterminate! That's the main reason I'm so leery of actually running and writing a Jack the Ripper scenario for Call of Cthulhu.

2) Although I like the idea of fighting out whole wars, I don't feel any connection with playing pieces that represent a zillion troops. In BattleTech you move individual giant robots across the terrain. In Starmada you captain individual ships. In roleplaying your playing piece is "my guy". I don't feel the same level of empathy when a counter represent the entire 3rd Tank Corps.

3) Finally, I don't like 5/8" inch counters and hexes. They're too damn small. They're hard to read. I understand small pieces allow you to cram in more game, but dammit I don't like shuffling those little bastards around. The smallest nudge of the map and your positions gets all jacked up.

Posted by jrients at 4:30 PM CST

Started work last night on two new entries for the Star Trek Star Ship Tactical Combat Simulator Millennium Update & Archive. I've got a Stardate magazine with a couple of Romulan ships. The easy one is yet another Bird of Prey clone, so I don't have to do any graphics work, just enter the data. The other is a little corvette with a cloak, a perfect ship for Romulan nogoodnik's stirring up trouble in the Triangle. I was having the darndest time getting a 'square' scan of the thing. Then I realized the ship illo itself was not square in the magazine layout! I finally gave up, deciding good enough was going to have to be good enough. Now all I have to do is finish cleaning up all the fuzz, some of which needs to be done one pixel at a time.

Posted by jrients at 9:01 AM CST
Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Finally got my head shaved.

Got a lot of good work done on the AlphaTech template last night. All the standard letters I had examples of are on the template. I modified an E to make an F that looks pretty similar to the F on the cover of BattleForce. I also modified a U to make a reasonable J. That leaves K, Q, and Z to be done. I'm not anticipating any real trouble with Z, since it is basically a sideways N. I really struggled with making a K last night, trying both a V and an A to make the arms. Neither looked right.

I also got one of the special characters on the template, the kooky E from Battledroids. The Y from the interior of the second edition rulebook is done, but I am waiting to place it on the template until I see what other special characters I am going to use. The newer A is a work in progress, but shouldn't be a major hassle.

Got a call from Pat last night. His friend Loren (who is also in Dave Hoover's Savage Worlds game) was clearing out his game collection and Pat scored some nifty old school loot, including some Judges Guild products for himself and a copy of the Boot Hill boxed set for yours truly! I have long wanted older copies of Boot Hill and Gamma World since the 1st edition DMG has conversion rules, but so far I have balked at the collector's prices on eBay.

It occurred to me this morning that the old Star Frontiers scenario "Day of the Juggernaut" (from an Ares section in an old Dragon magazine) would be eminently suitable for a adaptation as a solitaire Starmada scenario since the Juggernaut is a robot operated ship.

Posted by jrients at 9:14 AM CST
Tuesday, 16 March 2004

So I finally ordered myself a copy of Savage worlds from shop.rpg.net. I also got some d20's marked 0 thru 9 twice for future Star Fleet Battle Manual gaming. I'm sure my buddy Pat will help me get them properly inked when they arrive.

Posted by jrients at 5:07 PM CST
Great Space Battles Throughout History
This Starmada campaign would be played as a multi-player multi-round round-robin tournament. Between each round you would advance the timeline and build new factions using the DP system in the Starmada Compendium. Each round you would get more DPs and more technology would become available for purchase.

Round one would feature a near-future interplanetary-only setting with extremely low technology. Factions would mostly be real-world political factions (NASA, ESU, and Chinese vessels, for example) and possibly extraterrestrial polities (The Free Asteroids, for example). Maybe start players out with negative DPs so that they are forced to take lower tech levels to buy nifty guns. battles at this level would be extremely small, say use the "small battle" points column but only roll d6+1. Only tech items that are arguably realworld extrapolations may be used. (I'd obviously have to draw up a list.) Each player would then fight one "key battle from history" with each other player, giving each player 1 point for a minor victory and 2 points for a major victory.

Each succeeding round the battles would get a little bigger, more technologies would become available, and each faction would get more DPs. I imagine that new factions would be created regularly. Perhaps the lowest scoring players would assume to have their factions destroyed while the higher scoring factions could opt to run a new faction.

My gut instincts tell me to run at least two rounds before introducing aliens into the mix. Certain technologies could be reserved for the aliens (e.g. organic hulls).

Posted by jrients at 1:16 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 16 March 2004 1:23 PM CST

Last night I got some real work done on the AlphaTech font. A, B, C, E and H are all templated. I still don't know exactly what I am going to do about J, K, Q, and Z. I think I have good examples of all the others. I have a small graphic showing a very plain J on the cover of Jumpships & Dropships, but it is obviously a later development of the original BattleTech logo work. I also need to figure out what characters I'm going to map to the one thru zero keys. The Battledroids E and the BattleTech Manual A are definitely in. There's an early Y in the 2nd edition rulebook that also looks interesting. The logo for MechWarrior uses decidedly un-stencily looking M and W, probably to avoid confusion, the M from the 2nd edition rulebook looks confusing to the eye. That W was also used on the cover of the Succession Wars, IIRC, so it's not exactly an 'alternate' until I develop an extrapolated predecessor. But it looks like A, E, M, and Y all have useful variants. I'd really like a full 10 alternate letters if I'm going to pony up the cash for a 36-letter font.

Posted by jrients at 9:24 AM CST

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