NEWS & BLOG #Blog


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  •  22.02.2020 12:00

Well, that was a longer break from blogging than I was expecting. I think that my posts will become a little less frequent for a while, as life gets busy. I would rather save the post for something that I feel I wanted to talk about, than try to talk about nothing just to fill a post. If you have any ideas or suggestions for this stream of consciousness, please do let me know! This week, I want to start with a question..... Why do you play tabletop wargames?

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  •  29.01.2020 00:00

The military have an expression - The first casualty of any battle is the plan. This might as well have been the theme for my 2019. I made the mistake of checking the project tracker on the Assault Publishing website recently..... What is it that they say about good intentions?

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  •  22.03.2019 00:00

I wanted to spin off something from last weeks blog post today - the 'creative process'. Now, I don't pretend to know how 'the great designers' go about writing and setting out their rules... I don't really always understand how I do it. But, I did want to shine a light a little on my own process. Most players have something that they are 'working on'. In most cases, this is a small project such as a new army list for a favourite game, or a new scenario for their local group. I am primarily interested in how rules translate to gameplay, and vice versa how gameplay can be captured by rules. For better or worse, any set of rules - even the most details - are an abstraction. We can't, or simple don't care to, simulate the sun in the eyes of the sniper at 8am or how recent rain has affected the siege engines of Ancient Rome. So, accepting this means that the role of a designer is to capture the most value, in the least rules. What is relevant to you? Do you want your troops to be likely to disobey all orders and flee at the first gunshot? Is that 'more real' or 'less fun'?

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  •  15.03.2019 00:00

Yes, its true.... I only wrote THAT title, so I could use that picture! Wargames are easy, right? I mean, if you are reading this then I assume that you enjoy them. Probably you have been playing a while, and after time everyone starts writing their own rules or scenarios or background. Well, yes, in a way, they are easy. I mean, there are a lot of worse ways I could spend a weekend, even if I have complained how hard wargames are...... I have a marginally obsessive personality, and a bad habit of turning my hobbies into a chore. I used to volunteer to help out and create and get involved in any number of projects. I learned the hard way that the absolute best way to take the fun out of a hobby is to include deadlines!

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  •  01.03.2019 00:00

Wargame scale is something that often doesn't get enough attention in my view, and I mean that applied to both types of 'scale' in gaming.

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  •  27.01.2019 12:00

A week ago Iain wrote a post about playtesting and now I would like to add a few opinions about this half-mythological subject. Every time we hear about game designing, one of the key words are 'playtesting' and IHMO sometimes it's a kind of fetish. Is this SO important? Today I would like to share my opinions about it.

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  •  19.01.2019 00:00

Apologies for missing last week, and for the late arrival of this weeks blog article. Beginning of the year has been super busy and not only left me little time to write, but left me little to write about. That said, I wanted to take the opportunity this week to shine a spotlight on one of the most important fundamental tools of games design, and one that is often compromised and minimised..... Playtesting. As most people are aware, playtesting is the process of getting some games in, and checking to see how your rules/army list plays on the table (and I have separated these two categories for a reason. On the surface, it seems obvious. You need to play games to see how things work in reality. But its actually more in depth than this. Playtesting allows a designer to see specifically highlight scenarios or units or situations, and play through a single engagement or a single turn. However, there is an art to the process. Playtesting really needs to be incremental. That is, initial playtesting should focus on the core rules engine, and this is where Dark Portents is currently. I am specifically looking at games with only a couple of units of basic troops armed with simple combat weapons or bows, and a couple of champions. No cavalry, no monsters, no cannons, no war engines......

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  •  04.01.2019 10:55

Before I start this, a note... I dislike writing about game design, because there is a danger of... 1) Coming across as any kind of authority, and I am clearly not, and/or 2) Shouting 'poor me, look how tough my awesome life is' figuratively. With that said.....

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  •  28.12.2018 00:00

Today I want to talk a bit about the link between a games mechanics and the background. Its something that we generally don't think about too much, but it can make a very big difference. Its also something that some companies do very well, and some….. don't. In most cases, the background exists side by side with the actual game, and while it may influence most heavily in places like army lists and factions rules, most rules are written 'background agnostic', beyond 'we don't need rules for lasers in a fantasy game'. This makes sense, as - in general - a core rules engine is designed to be mostly flavourless, and as generic as allowed, so that it can deal with future additions and expansions. As a rule, flavour is added in the armies. The most a rules engine will delineate are things like scale of the miniatures (both the size of the minis being used and the scope of the game, whether this is 30m tall robots at 28mm mini level for example), and the scale of the game, where skirmish games often have more detail built in. Then, of course, there is the type of game you are playing, where rules don't need to exist for rocket fire in fantasy or tank warfare in a naval game.

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  •  21.12.2018 12:00

Closing a business started from passion is always difficult and I never claimed that it was a pleasure. I was running Assault Publishing ("business variant") for 7 years and I left a big part of myself in it, but life is life and not always everything goes as we planned. As you remember we established the Assault Publishing Studio and we used the first few months to shape it. Honestly a few months ago I counted the Studio as a small experiment for me and honestly I wasn't sure of the final result. More than half-year passed and I think it's time for a few conclusions.

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  •  14.12.2018 12:00

This week has been mostly quiet here at the Assault bunker. Earlier in the week I managed to get in my first (half) game of Carnevale. A group of us got in on this at the Kickstarter, and my contribution was the rulebook, and a starter Doctors faction. For this first game, I borrowed another Doctors force to give the first few turns of the game a play through and get the hang of the overall mechanics. In general, it seems a fun and very dynamic game.

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