Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blog plans for 2013

This blog will complete two years on the next January 22nd. It has been a good outlet for my gaming experiences and a way to connect with fellow hobbyists. As the end of the year approaches, I felt the need to review what I'm doing here.

First, here is a chart of my posts per month during the lifetime of the blog. The year of 2011 was quite regular with the exception of August and December, with an average and a median of 9 posts per month. On the other hand, there was a drop in posts during the second half of 2012. Looking back, this coincides with my renewed interest in digital games (for instance, I pre-purchased Guild Wars 2 in eary June.) I can't say I had less time for hobbies overall but I didn't put as much energy in tabletop games, as it is evident.

Here is another graph showing the whole history of posts over time, with a trend line that emphasizes the decrease in post frequency. If I ignore the last six months, I had an average of about 8 posts per month, which isn't bad, although I should strive for a little more regularity.

In terms of content, besides little personal rants like these, my posts are mostly about papercraft, (solo) battle reports and reviews, with the papercraft posts being the most popular. This makes me happy because one of my goals when I started this blog was to add more examples and ideas about gaming with paper models and miniatures.

I should note that JF's contact (by means of the "liebstar award") was also important for me to re-evaluate this blog and my involvement with the hobby. I think that the six-month break was good but I don't feel I can (nor I should) rely only on digital games for my gaming hobby.


In 2013, I intend to keep posting 4-8 times a month, meaning at least one new post per week. Given my history of posts, this seems like a viable goal. I have many games to try, models to build and a few campaign ideas so the content of the blog will remain focused in those subjects.

Over these two years of solo tabletop gaming I've learned that recording and reporting one's experiences is a significant part of the fun, from which the player can think about, create new scenarios and sometimes even reach conclusions that go beyond the scope of gaming. Although this is rewarding in itself, sharing these things through a gaming blog and discussing them with others make the experience much better. So I would like to thank all the occasional and regular readers and all other gaming bloggers.

Happy 2013 for all of us!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Getting started with Rally Round the King

Besides printing some paper models, I also made a bunch of tokens to start playing Rally Round the King (RRtK.) Nothing fancy like the ones made by Sean or JF but they're functional for me to get started.

Specifically, I made armies for the Barylistan, Stygustan and Zheman, which are modeled after Persian, Egyptian and Assyrian ancients. I used the basic troops and random recruiting rolls -- by the way, I really liked the recruiting tables as they give variation but maintain consistency in each army.

Using the solo system given in the rules and some intuition about formations, my first playtest game started like the following picture. I played the yellow-tinted Barylistans in the bottom against an automated Zheman army at the top.

I didn't finish this first playtest after I noticed some mistakes but I learned a few things:

  1. Despite the advice in the book for not charging fresh infantry with cavalry, for some reason I thought this would work with chariots (which are nearly the same, game-wise.) It didn't and it ruined the Zheman army.
  2. It seems wiser to make less bodies of more units than those small bodies like I made. My body of two skirmisher units on the left was quickly dispatched by archers, for instance. There really is strength in numbers in RRtK.
  3. I also managed to trap cavalry between the enemy and my own infantry, resulting in taking extra hits due to being unable to retire. Really awful.
As with other Two Hour Wargames products, it takes some time to actually wrap your head around everything, and you have to browse the discussion group (or ask questions) to clarify a point or two. However, I feel that after this first test I got most of the basics. I still have to make a few more test runs (to try magic and heroes, for instance) and maybe make a "second generation" of counters before I can have a reasonable battle to report but I'm really liking it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Back to paper modeling at last!

Today I finally spared some time to print and build paper models and minis. Here's a small "diorama" using Grey Matter Games' Camel, Slick's Minis modern soldiers and a crate from Finger and Toe Models, built in 15mm scale for my work desk:

A view from the opposite angle. I still have to do something with the foamboard base (maybe paint it black? Cover with tape?) to remove that rough look.

For the minis, I used a double sided tape that has a layer of "foam" in it. It is a technique suggested by Parduz at the Cardboard Warriors forum and I like the results: especially at this reduced scale the thick minis feel a little more "three-dimensional."

I also printed a full-size version of the Camel but I still have to finish building it so for now that's it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Survival Horror

The Survival Horror Tabletop Game by Darkmook Paper Miniatures was released in November and I picked it up today, along with the Nick-Mall Santa free bonus figure.

The rules take up six pages and from a first read the game seems to require a bit of bookkeeping but I'll only be sure after I actually play a few times. Besides the rules and tiles, the game also includes lots of markers and dozens of figures -- zombies and survivors.

In this game players control either human survivors or the zombie horde. The game's description say it is fit for one or more players so this might be my solo print and play project for my vacations. The game is about exploring a variable, tile-based map to reach the objective tile with the proper items that allow you to escape. The game includes two scenarios based on the included tiles.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Liebster Blog Award and my blogroll

I got a Liebster Award, courtesy of JF of the Solo Nexus blog. This is a kind of viral/blogger-to-blogger award meant to promote less known blogs (and well, it's nice to give and get some recognition.)

The Rules:
  • Copy and paste the award to your blog, linking it to the blog who nominated you.
  • Pass the award to your top five blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their blog posts to notify them that they have won the award and list them on your own blog.
  • Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you have made someone's day
  • There is no obligation to pass this onto anyone but it is nice if you do.
I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass along the award to some nice blogs that I follow and that, like my own, haven't seen updates in a while. In alphabetical order, they are:

El Rincón de Slorm: lots of good battle reports with an emphasis in games from Two Hour Wargames, USE ME and the Song of Blades engine. 

Miniaturas de Reivaj: I knew Reivaj through the Cardboard Warriors forum. His blog is all about paper miniatures, which he continually improves. He currently sells some sets through RPGNow. It's also very nice that he uses paper miniatures in class activities with his students.

Mono Desire: Mats' blog is about solo gaming, whether board games, strategy games or RPGs, with good battle reports and product reviews. He's also produced a nice set of solo rules for Song of Blades and Heroes.

Solo RPG Gamer: this blog was, appropriately enough, my starting point for solo RPG sessions. Dreamer's discussions about solo storytelling and session reports are all worth reading.

Tactical Miniature Gaming: beautiful battle reports in a variety of games, as well as good posts about paper terrain (10mm scale buildings, for instance.)

As I checked my blogroll, I was surprised to see that 246's Adventures seem to have been deleted. His creative battle reports were one of the main inspirations for me to start my own gaming blog.

Ludum Dare and solo gaming

Solo gaming is often about tweaking and even creating games to fit one's needs and expectations. While most of the time this blog and others focus on tabletop games, there might be something to explore in the digital medium too. Anna Anthropy's "Rise of the Videogame Zinesters" is a manifesto for people to create more digital games that focus on their interests, views, culture: video games as self-expression and art. One of the main arguments for that is the appearance of tools that make digital game creation possible without the need of lots of technical knowledge.

Now consider Ludum Dare, a game creation event that had its tenth anniversary this year. The 25th edition of the event (there are currently 3 editions per year) starts today, and there are two ways to participate. In the "jam," teams create games in 72 hours. In the "competition," individuals must try to complete their creations in 48 hours. It is interesting to note that there are no prizes in the competition other than peer recognition and the experience itself of creating the game. JF has already written about solo gaming and creativity and I'd say the arguments also apply in the case of these digital game creation solo challenges.

It's interesting to see that there is still a divide between tabletop and digital games. Take, for instance, the different meanings and implications of the terms "solo gaming" in tabletop games and "single player" in digital games, although they both refer to the same activity of playing a game by oneself. However, with the increased availability and rise in the capabilities of tablets and smartphones, these views might converge and different possibilities for solo gaming (and gaming in general) might be explored.