Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pocket Gaming

A Quick Update
Since my last post, I haven't had much time for gaming. There's been a lot going on:
  • My father has been in rehab recovering from his hip surgery and I have been visiting him in my spare time.
  • My wife took a medical coding certification exam. The exam site was in Daytona Beach (about 3 hours away) so we made a weekend out of it, and stayed at a hotel on the beach. Too bad the temperature dropped into the 50s (mid-teens in Celsius). To a South Floridian, that's practically arctic!
  • I also have been making preparations for my Amtgard group's monthly battle game. It involved a couple of craft project (making award certificates and spell balls). Here is a little background for our scenarios.
Thoughts on Pocket Gaming
Yesterday morning I finally had enough free time for a game, but I was just not motivated to set something up.

Instead, I got to thinking about the ideal game for my lazy moments. I would like miniatures but I want minimal set-up. I'd also prefer a small board - something that would fit on the footstool in the family room (perhaps 1 ft square). I also want all the components to fit into a small box. That way, I could pull it out and set it up quickly. I've been thinking of this as "pocket gaming" although in reality it's a bit bigger than a pocket. 

Anyway, I mulled over some ideas. Here are some of them:

What should the game's theme be? A dungeon crawl seemed like the obvious answer.

What about Four Against Darkness then? It already provides a quick-playing game that requires minimal components. Why not just play that? I toyed with the idea but 2 things put me off:
    1. 4AD doesn't use miniatures. I want minis!
    2. I didn't feel like shuffling through all the tables.
4AD does provide a good game engine so I started thinking of ways to modify it to mitigate the 2 issues. 

Adding miniatures is easy (I've done it before). I'm thinking of using a battle board and playing out the combats there, much like what I've done with the skirmishes I've run this year (such as this virtual dungeon crawl). I want to keep the 4AD combat mechanics but add movement rules for a gridded board. I have some Perfect Six miniatures and may experiment with them, although I'm thinking of going up to 10mm or 15mm.

My next issue with 4AD was all the tables. How could I minimize them? First, I decided to dispense with the dungeon map. I know that it is one of the unique features of 4AD but I realized that, other than adding a feeling of controlling one's destiny by choosing one's path, the map did not really add to the narrative. If I dump the map, I won't have to consult the room tables.

How about encounters? Instead of tables, perhaps I can use cards, I'm normally not a big fan of cards, but in this case, I think it can streamline the game. Instead of rolling dice and consulting tables, I can just pick a card. Here is an example of a card I created (using Excel):

Another advantage of cards is that they can easily be tailored to a specific dungeon. Just create a deck using only applicable cards. Of course, this requires more initial set-up. Fortunately, it can be done piecemeal. For example, I am creating a deck for an Egyptian-style temple, with the mummy as a boss. I created some new creatures - scarab beetles, hyena men, and a giant cobra - and created cards for those. I also have cards for a special features and event. I just need to print up my deck and play. Over time, I'll add cards for other creatures, features, and event. Ultimately, I'll have all the encounters I'll ever need.

As a result of all this thinking and experimenting, I ended up not having any time to play a game yesterday. Battles in Anarendor still await. I'm on vacation all next week so I hope I can play then.

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