Saturday, 14 February 2015

Ice, ice baby!

As most of you will know at this point, for the past year I have been working on a pulp prohibition era skirmish game called Liberal Crime. The playtest pack is ready to go out, however it is currently on hold while I work out how that process is going to work. What I have not gone public about until now is that there has been a second game in the works, one that I am very excited about.

As anyone that follows me on any kind of social media will know, I'm an ice hockey guy. For a while it has bothered me that the only visible sports games out there are based on American football (primarily Blood Bowl and Dreadball). I wanted to bring the speed and excitement of ice hockey to the tabletop with the feel of hockey but without some of the complexity. I'm almost ready to do that in the former of Puck Buddies (working title!).

PB is a board based game, utilising octagonal spaces for the players and diamond shaped spaces in between for the puck (yes, they don't occupy the same space). The will be an early draft of the board somewhere in this post (christ knows where my phone will put it).

One of the unique systems that the game uses is a momentum based movement system. Anyone that has ever skated will know that you can't just do a U-turn on the spot. Each player in the game has two speeds, skate and hustle (the equivalent of walk and run). If a player hustles, the have to move at least half that distance the following turn. Players are also limited as to how much they can turn for each space of movement, that's currently rotating by one side (i.e. an eighth of a turn) per space.of movement if hustling or two sides per square if skating. With the combination or limited turning and a commitment to moving in subsequent turns, you have to suitably plan ahead or end up hitting a wall.

Other elements of the game include fatigue (yep, players get tired), goalkeeping, crowd interaction and of course, fighting. There are also characterful teams and a full player progression/injury system for campaign play.

I'm hoping to get this out for playtesting to my initial group tomorrow and to alpha testers within a couple of weeks. If you would like to be a playtester, feel free to get in touch.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2 years, 1 Monkee - 2015 edition

So, 2014 is over and I thought it would be good to revisit a post from the start of last year and see if things turned out how I planned.  The categories and 2014 aims are pulled straight from my January 2014 post.


2014’s aims

To keep gainful employment and not have to resort to selling my rear to Mexican sailors to pay the rent.

2014 reality

I’m still employed, it’s not been the most pleasant of years but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

2015 aims

To carry on doing what I’m doing and see where that goes.


2014’s aims

To continue my 35 year long streak of being STI free.

2014 reality

No STIs for me!  To be fair, that wasn’t the most ambitious of aims.  I had two operations due to cycling accidents (neither my fault!) but other than that it’s been a pretty good year.  I’ve increased my interest in cycling and am putting in some serious miles which is doing wonders for my health (until I get to a hill).

2015 aims

To just keep on the path that I’m on.  It would be good to build on what I did in 2014 so I’ve set myself some cycling targets and signed up for a 100 mile ride in August.  Despite mercilessly mocking Pete for it, I no longer drink alcohol.  I only drank a handful of times last year and didn’t really enjoy it so it wasn’t a massive leap to go fully t-total.  One of my former work colleagues delightfully likened me to a reformed whore following that decision.


2014’s aims

To be attending sex addiction therapy sessions with my nudist, Rachel Bilson lookalike wife.  A more realistic aim may be to not get RSI, Judy Finnigan’s absence from TV will surely help achieve this goal.

2014 reality

Sadly no Rachel Bilson look-a-like but also no RSI.  2014 wasn’t a complete wash but not a million miles off.

2015 aims

Honestly, at this point I just don’t care.


2014’s aims

I am rubbish at keeping in touch with people, it’s always on my list of things to do but it never seems to make it all the way to the top.  This year I’m going to try and make regular contact with people that I want to keep in touch with.  If you receive an email in the next few days, I do care what’s going on in your life and want to try and make the effort to find out what that is.  I also want to try and get down to London at some point and play a game of something with Richi P (@doctorloxley), we seem very similar in the way we approach things so it’d be interesting to see how far that extends.

2014 reality

I was rubbish in this area, not only did I not reconnect with people, I lost contact with a load too.  With a lot of my friends being, at least in part, gamers, I think a lot of that is connected to my apathy for gaming.

2015 aims

To make more effort.  I know I said that last year and it didn’t go well but this year will be different (probably not).


2014’s aims

My main aim is to play all of the games that I have already bought and start making a bit of progress through my OG Games wish list.  There’s currently a couple of grand’s worth of stuff on that list and some of them I really want to get my hands on (e.g. season 2 of Zombicide and Battle Lore 2nd edition).  For the most part it will be more of the same though, no need to fix what isn’t broken.

2014 reality

So this really didn’t go to plan!  At the point that I wrote last year’s post, I was already really struggling to stay interested but was very much in stubborn denial.  I ended up walking away from gaming shortly after that post.  The exception to this is that I started developing a gaming of my own called Liberal Crime.

2015 aims

In terms of playing, I really have no aim (or desire) to return to gaming in 2015.  I do have the playtest pack for Liberal Crime ready to start alpha testing however I am somewhat conflicted about what to do with it.  On the one hand, I have put a lot of hours into developing a game that I truly believe is as good as anything currently out there.  On the other hand, to fully complete it I will have to get hands on and drop back into the gaming world to a certain extent.  I do want to release a fully completed game and don’t want it to be half arsed but I don’t want to be involved to that depth.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking at the future of LC, I really don’t know what the conclusion of that will be.  Weirdly, this is the first time in years that I’m not planning to make an appearance at Vapnartak.


2014’s aims

I really want to get back to enjoying my hobby, I used to chomp at the bit waiting to get home to get started and that enthusiasm hasn’t been there in recent months.  I’ve really enjoyed the 40k stuff that I’ve painted so far so am hoping the replacement army that is being sent to me reignites that passion for painting.

2014 reality

I tried a lot of stuff, had a bit of interest in Empire of the Dead stuff but ultimately walked away.  I had planned on Pulp City being the last chance to reignite my passion but in true Kickstarter fashion, it’s still not been delivered.  I had some slight urges to paint towards the end of the year, I think I still need a creative outlet but only time will tell if that ends up being painting or not.  Last year a lot of my creative juices, and some blood, went into restoring an old Raleigh Burner (that an BMX bike to you youngsters).

2015 aims

Pulp City is due to start shipping soon so I’ll take a look at them, I also have some other stuff if I get any urges.  I honestly don’t know if those urges will return.  I’d really like to do more restorations or something of that type, especially if it’s mechanical (I’m kind of a sucker for all things Victorian or steampunk).

Soulstone Train

2014’s aims

So many plans are swimming round my head, some are already in the works and some may or may not happen.  One thing that I’m really keen on doing is giving people a little peek behind the curtain of how our recordings happen.  So little of the chaos makes in into the final episodes and it could be funny to let people see how much each turd gets polished before it is released.  This may well utilise our old YouTube channel, I’m not quite sure yet.  Another thing I’d really like to do is collaborate with some other podcast, there are a few out there with a similar mentality that could make for interesting listening.  There are also other plans in motion that we’re not going to give too much away about including a special something for Vapnartak.  I can reveal what our next episode is likely to cover as we have Memoir ’44 and Dust Tactics to review.  I would suggest not even waiting for the episode, just order Memoir ’44 now, you’ll be glad you did.

2014 reality

Put simply, 2014 saw the death of SST.  As I arranged everything, bought most of the games we reviewed, etc, my dislike of gaming had a catastrophic effect of SST.  Episodes became sporadic to the point where there were months between episodes and the quality really dipped (I blame Bennett!).  As much as I enjoyed the recording sessions, it’s hard to be involved when the subject matter doesn’t interest you.

2015 reality

We had intended to do a last episode to bring things to a close and air some things that have been bottled up for a while.  The Podbean account came up for renewal mid-December and I chose not to pay for another year.  As of today, the renewal period has expired and all content has been deleted.  I may look at archiving episodes online at some point but I don’t see that being any time soon.


Well, as you can see, those plans went completely tits up.  You have to play the hand you’re dealt and sometimes the cards aren’t what you’re expecting.  Whatever path you decide to walk in the coming year, I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2015.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Psychology of a game

For various reason it’s been a while since I’ve done an update for Liberal Crime, the main reason being that I couldn’t be arsed.  For this post I’m going to outline the basic concept for the psychology of the game.  Due to my background in psychology you may be expecting a slightly different approach to normal and you would be correct.  The usual way that games have addressed psychology has always confused me, especially when put side by side with the corresponding game’s fluff (e.g. space marines running away just seems odd).

LC has two different types of psychological test, one that requires rolling and one that does not.  The usual kind of psychology test (due to fear) is automatic (based on stats) and is a minor aside to the central theme of the game’s psychology.  Each character has a bravery value and certain types of action have a terror score, if the terror score is greater than your bravery, you run and hide.  It’s a nice simple way of dealing with things and makes a lot more sense to me than rolling (e.g. a coward will always run when sufficiently scared).

The main theme of the psychology rules, dealt with using stats and dice rolls, is morality.  Instead of fear being the driving trait for the psychology, it is the characters ability to perform heinous acts.  Each character has a morality stat which governs their ability to take certain actions and also how other characters will react to them.  I would describe these tests as semi-random as the dice roll only determines a certain amount of the outcome, due to the stats some characters will be statistically unable to perform some actions (e.g. a vicar shooting an innocent in the back at short range is an automatic fail whereas a hardened gangster may only need a 3+ on a D10 to pass the test).

There are various actions in the game, both standard and mission specific, that require this sort of test, from simple pickpocketing to setting off massive explosions.  My hope is that this will bring a slightly different slant on psychology in games and really emphasis the personality of each character in the game.

It’s been a busy period at work but things should settle down in a couple of weeks so I’m hoping to put out a fair few more updates in the coming months.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

End of an era

Over the last couple of weeks I've been planning what is likely to be the last episode of SST. Over the past couple of years, SST has meant a lot to me so finding the right way to wrap it up isn't easy.

When I started SST on YouTube (yes, it was on there before being a podcast), I was balls deep in the gaming community and (as is my way) didn't envisage pulling out any time soon. The first episode was nothing more than two hammered (and I do mean hammered!) mates just wanting to share their love of a game and to be honest, the result was a train wreck.

Over time, the podcast evolved with more people getting involved and far less alcohol being consumed (excluding Shane). To pay proper tribute to what SST has been, I thought it might be fitting to go back to our roots and just get royally fucked up and see what happens. There have been suggestions of recording on the way round a pub crawl or at next month's York Beer Festival.

Nothing is set in stone yet so if you have any suggestions or there's something you want to hear, let me know and I'll put it to the hosts.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A is for Apathy

It’s no great secret that, in the past year or so, my hobby has not been a smooth ride.  Since the playtest for Malifaux 2nd edition, I have bounced around various game systems looking for something to fill the void.  I have tried good games like X-Wing (good game mechanics but a huge lack of in-game narrative and hobby side of things) and bad games like 40k (unbalanced rules, soulless minis and half the community are douchebags).  Despite looking everywhere even remotely interesting, I have failed to find something to hold my attention.  Recently the closest has been Empire of the Dead, the minis are simple but easy to paint quickly to a decent standard, but the lack of character and the GW derivative rule set (although the fluff is decent, it reads like a Malifaux rip off at times) rules it out as a possible main game.

So where exactly am I going with this, is it just going to be another “Mack Martin stole my hobby” rants?

Over the past few months I’ve become increasingly apathetic towards gaming and the hobby in general, my enthusiasm has been almost zero for any involvement.  This apathy has very much been reflected in recent Soulstone Train episodes, they have been few and far between with my vocal presence much reduced (more than ever I’ve just sat in the corner with a drink).

And now to the point.

For a while I’ve been considering what the hobby means to me and why I got involved in the first place.  To me a hobby is something that you derive pleasure from and at the moment, that is not true for me.  After much thinking, I have decided that once my current commitments have been met, I’ll be taking an indefinite break from the hobby.  To be perfectly honest, at the moment I’m expecting that break to be permanent.  This will of course also mean the end of SST as I arrange the recordings, edit it and pay for everything.  As the core mechanics are complete, I will continue to develop Liberal Crime but it will purely be as a creative outlet (fluff writing, etc), it may well be released in the future but at this point I really don’t know.

I’ve met a lot of great people through the hobby (and a few complete c**ts) and I hope to continue those friendships without the gaming backdrop.  I may come back at some point but if not, assume you’re the reason and strive to be a better person.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Stalled or just plain stopped?

It's no great secret that I'm not a quick painter. Even with 3-4 months notice, I still used to struggle to get a set of 6-8 models painted for a Malifaux tournament. Part of this speed problem is I have nerve damage in my arms that sometimes means I can't hold a brush, my job also has a tendency to encroach on my hobby time. The main factor however is motivation, or more accurately the lack of. I used to use the run up to a tournament to force myself to make progress, it wasn't always as enjoyable but it got things done.

A few months ago I bought starter boxes for a number of different games, amongst them was the vampire box for Empire of the Dead. Since purchasing said box, it has sat unopened on a table in my nerd cave. The main reason for this box staying shut is simply that the miniatures didn't look that good in comparison to the other stuff I bought. When lined up with minis from Bushido, Freebooters Fate and Carnevale, there is a very noticeable difference in the level of detail. The EotD minis reminded me a lot of the 90s GW sculpts for fantasy and Mordheim, put simply they looked dated. I bought that box mainly because I'd heard good things about the ruleset so I wasn't that bothered about the minis.

For some unknown reason, that week I had the urge to open that box. I got everything built and started tickling them with a brush. Shockingly, a couple of days later I've finished two of the eight minis in the box and have already ordered another. I've even found myself trying to steal a few minutes painting time before work because I've been enjoying it so much.

I don't know if the EotD minis are simpler as an artistic choice or they just couldn't afford a digital sculptor but whatever it is, I hope Westwind (the makers) keep doing it as they're an absolute delight to paint.

Having completed two miniatures in the space of a few days, I was curious how many I'd painted so far this calendar year. The answer is a mildly shocking four, including the two painted this week! I may have started work on a fair few things but essentially finishing two models in the first half of the year shocked me.

I have tried to force myself to paint 40k stuff and to be honest, I have not enjoyed that time in the slightest. I've found GW models to be soulless and bland to paint. Now that I have a bit of motivation back, I am quite looking forward to putting a brush to some of my infinity stuff but that'll be after my EotD stuff is finished.

Monday, 23 June 2014

A man born from insanity

For a while now I've not only been thinking up the rules and characters for Liberal Crime, I've also been considering the Kickstarter campaign. For the most part this has been boring number stuff but I also wanted to do something different as a campaign exclusive. The result of this is something I have mentioned in a previous post, it's a man called Colin.

When I look around at my favourite characters, whether it's Stone Cold Steve Austin entering the Royal Rumble, John McClane crawling around in the vents or Chuck Norris being Chuck Norris, they all have one thing in common. It's one man walking in alone and cleaning house. It's something that I've not seen done in a skirmish game and LC seems like the sort of world that would suit that sort of character.

Writing it from a game point of view has not been easy, balancing that character was always going to be a challenge. The idea is he's a bit of fun that you can use to test your skills. I didn't want to make him able to hold his own in any game size, I wanted some form of realism. With that in mind, he has the same number of actions as anyone else. He does have some abilities that make him more accurate and harder to hit but his main ability comes in the form of reactive actions. This means that he should have slightly less chance of surviving with every enemy model added.

Below is the rough outline of his character sheet, some abilities I have intentionally removed until it's been playtested.

Colin York. Hitman. Male.

In Liberal County there is crime, there is punishment and there is an old man called Colin.

An unassuming man in his late 50s, Colin was raised by loving parents, his father a watchmaker and his mother a teacher at the local elementary school.  His family were never wealthy but the love in their household always made Colin feel rich.  What little money they had was used to fund Colin’s education.  It was at school that Colin first met a young man by the name of Benito and the two became fast friends.  While Benito was a loud and angry child, Colin was quiet and polite preferring a good book to a schoolyard scuffle.  On Colin’s tenth birthday he vanished along with his parents.

Many years later Benito, now the leader of a major crime family, still thinks of his old friend often, wondering what became of the little bookworm.  The answer came in a very unexpected manner.  Just outside of town was a farmhouse that the family used as a place of pleasure but there was no enjoyment to be had that day.  Upon entering the house, Benito found the bodies of eight men, each shot perfectly through their left eye.  Pinned to the kitchen door was a note that simply said “I’m back. Colin”.  Don Benito didn’t know where his friend had been all these year but he was sure that his return was not going to benefit the family.

Special rules

Loner: Colin York works alone, his cost is equal to the game size.


Women and children first: This models pays no penalty for targeting any model.

Going solo: Colin always shoots first.


Quick reflexes

I have also been toying with the idea of making him a dwarf/midget, not for comedy value but so he'd be a small target and therefore harder to hit.