State of Play

Hey folks,

Just a quick update on what’s happening at my end. I’ve just started a new job at Warlord Games and I’m in the process of relocating to Nottingham from Sheffield to make my life a little bit easier.

If you’re subscribed to Warlord’s bi-weekly newsletter you’ll be seeing a lot more of me, so keep an eye out.

As such, things are probably going to slow down on the game design front. If I’ve got the time I’ll keep plugging away at With a Turned Thumb and look at making Snakes and Slicks into something vaguely playable.

Thanks for all your support and kind words, and for the generosity of anyone who’s purchased a Wanderer Productions title in the past.

The Triumph of Germanicus

I would like to announce the first open play test of With a Turned Thumb!

With a Turned Thumb is a 28mm skirmish game with an innovative combat system and easy-to-learn rules, pitching players into the heart of the Ancient Roman arena.  I’ve put a good few months work into the rules and have run a few small tests with a local club, and now I’m opening up to you guys to put it through the wringer.

I’ve decided to theme the play test around a massive triumphal program to celebrate the birthday of the heroic Roman general Germanicus. As the man who tamed Germania and added Cappadocia to the Empire, Caesar has deemed him worthy of a mighty spectacle.

Each game you play will be commemorating the birth of this Roman hero. So grab some 28mm gladiators and something to use as an arena and dive right in.

Find a copy of the rules here.

When you’ve played your game, head to the link here and fill out the short survey to give your feedback.

If you’ve got any other questions or issues, don’t hesitate to contact me through the website or through any of the company’s social media.

A Quick Update

Hi all,

Things have been a little slow of late due to my workload and not being able to find the time to sit down and produce content for the website or to publish on WargameVault.

In the meantime, I’ve written a report of my time at ChillCon for Initiative Magazine and had an incredible time at Salute in London. I’m in the process of getting my thoughts on paper and working through the sizable haul accumulated across both conventions.

I’ve also found the time to head down to the Sheffield Wargames Society and play some games.  Expect to see a few battle reports and reviews from them in the coming weeks.

With a Turned Thumb is coming along nicely – the core game mechanics are pretty much locked down and some narrative campaign elements are in the works. I’ve also got plans to put a demonstration game together to take to some nearby shows.

I’ve also decided to focus entirely on With a Turned Thumb and an another upcoming skirmish title – putting a few other titles onto the back burner until I have a bit more time to work on them.

I will continue to play the Blitzfreeze campaign through to completion, as people seem to be enjoying it, so look out for the next installment in the week.

Apologies for the lack of content, I’m hoping to turn things around over the next couple of months.

Cheers for the support,

Tom

Free Stuff!

This week, because I’ve been worked half to death at my regular job and ChillCon’s coming up, I haven’t had time to playtest or work on any of my main projects.

So to tide you over until I’ve got some more content, I’d like to share a quick and dirty medieval wargame I wrote a little while back. Click the link below to download a copy for free!

Warlord_ Simple Medieval Battles

Also if you’re at ChillCon in Sheffield this Saturday, I’ll be mooching about with 10% off codes for Blitzfreeze.

The General – Book Review

In a slight departure from normal wargaming fare, I’m going to take a look at a book that grabbed my attention and what I’ve taken away from it. Please bear with me if I ramble.

The General was published in 1936, penned by the great C.S Forester of Hornblower fame. Apocryphally purchased by Adolf Hitler for his generals and hangers-on, this book serves as an object lesson for the perils of high command. It follows the meteoric rise of one Herbert Curzon from humble subaltern to lieutenant-general, taking in the bloodiest battles of the first world war along the way.

Curzon is a cavalryman, born and bred – deeply mistrustful of anything that deviates from the strategies laid down by the great worthies of the Napoleonic period. He is a man out of time, wholly unsuited for warfare involving magazine-fed rifles, machine guns and quick-fire artillery.

As he rises through the illustrious ranks of the British general staff, he becomes more and more detached from the reality at the front. He becomes obsessed with the application of even greater forces, convinced that each new offensive will shatter the German lines and pave the way to victory.

The book provides an interesting portrait of staff officers in the 20th century – something that I was wholly unfamiliar with prior to reading. This world of map tables and field telephones is wholly detached from the brutal realities of the front line, where shot and shell fall like spring rain.

It paints a picture of the prevailing opinions of the time, and the assumptions made by senior officers untroubled by the relentless march of technology, and the impacts that it would have on their profession.

When it was first published in 1936, the message of this book was obvious – those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. While explicitly stated as a work of fiction, with no greater aspirations than to entertain the readership of a popular author, the General gives us a chilling insight into the mindset of the British high command and their unsuitability for the travails of mechanized warfare.

I found the insights into high command particularly compelling – and while not necessarily directly applicable to game design, the book gave an interesting perspective on the rigours of command and control at a divisional and army group level.

Most wargames give players some degree of omniscience and does very little to model the difficulty of transmitting orders between units, and the transfer of accurate information up and down the chain of command.

Making an effort to represent the fog of war and the problems of command in a wargame may add an interesting dynamic to play – introducing an element of unpredictability and presenting new challenges for players to overcome.

Blog: An Interview with Ivan of NWG

This piece was written as part of my MA Journalism course back in 2016. 

Tabletop gaming has undergone a renaissance in recent years, spurred onward by the availability of self-publishing marketplaces like WargameVault. These online storefronts have allowed many new designers to make the transition from homebrewer to content creator.

One of these rising stars is Ivan Sorensen who has seen much success since the release of Five Men in Normandy in 2013.

Ivan’s one-man operation has carved out a niche in the industry, producing simple narrative-driven skirmish systems in an environment dominated by complicated rulesets and glossy rulebooks.

Following the release of FiveCore Pulp in the last month, Ivan opened up about the rationale behind his latest ruleset and the design process in all his games.

FiveCore Pulp is a game of heroic adventurers exploring secret tombs in search of treasure. Ivan set out to create something very specific with his latest release.

He said: “I kept out of pulp gaming for a while, since a lot of it tends to go for the over the top, sort of Nazi-gorillas-on-the-moon kinda thing, and that’s fine but I’d rather just play a straight-up sci-fi game.”

With this in mind, FiveCore Pulp harks back to the pulp novels of the early 20th century and the more recent big screen adventures of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft.

His whole design philosophy is geared towards emphasising individual characters over large-scale set pieces, and FiveCore Pulp is no different. He said: “It’s about these human characters, with y’know, human limitations and failings. It’s recognisable, I guess.”

Bringing these recognisable human elements to the fore is something that permeates Ivan’s design philosophy through all his titles.

He said: “Skirmish gaming tends to sell itself short a little bit, because a lot of games are very focused on the mechanical, like there’s 8 different types of cover, every action has 40 different modifiers. This stuff isn’t what makes skirmish gaming interesting, I think it’s the idea that these are real little people.”

Ivan’s games attempt to bridge the gap between roleplaying games and wargames, bringing the concept of creating characters and forging narratives from games like Dungeons and Dragons and marrying them to the tactical battle mechanics of a wargame.

He said: “Growing up, I played roleplaying games, board games, cards, miniatures, I played everything I could get my hands on, I just liked games. But it was always very distinct, when you were wargaming, you were building a 2000 point army and fighting it out, when you were roleplaying you were making characters.”

“I think it was 2 Hour Wargames that really nailed it for me, you could take the best parts of both and make it a thing.”

2 Hour Wargames are a company that have pioneered fast-paced, simple rulesets for a variety of settings. Their core philosophy is that a game can be played from start to finish in two hours. While on the surface, these systems might appear quite simple, the depth lies in being able to string multiple games together into a campaign.

Ivan said: “If you just play it once, it doesn’t really strike you that there’s anything special about it, because it’s the same thing you’ve seen before, but once you play a couple of times and carry over the same gang or squad, suddenly you get it.”

These design elements permeate all his games, and help to set them apart from the rest of the market. Many tabletop skirmish games like Bolt Action or Force on Force focus on representing small-scale battles in detail, with specific statistics for types of tank or the quality of a specific unit.

Ivan’s games remove a lot of the mechanical clutter for the sake of simplicity and ease of play. His rulesets can still create interesting tactical dilemmas, but are much easier to get into and facilitate storytelling in a way his competitors don’t.

Looking to the future, Ivan said, “we’re going back to Five Parsecs from Home, which is kinda the FiveCore space opera, and there’s been a strong request from players of that to get a new version, to get a bit of an update ‘cause FiveCore skirmish is on it’s third major version, so some things don’t line up all that neatly and a lot of people wanted a standalone game.”

“And the Pulp book in a way was kind of a test run of that as well, of changing up a few mechanics a bit, and since the reception to that was pretty positive, it’s reassurance that you can be a bit more adventurous and move out a little bit more.”