Friday, February 26, 2010

GiF update and things to come

Hey guys, I've been busy with real life issues, sorry it's been a little slow round here.

I am getting ready to post a quick update on Monday for the the Soul Reapers Mini-dex. Nothing major just couple of tweaks.

I will post finished pictures of Xusia the Sorcerer on Sunday afternoon.

I have a few more Homebrew articles to finish and post in the next few weeks also.

I posted my planned Space Wolves list for the upcoming Ragnarok GT in San Fransisco over on the SW blog. While preparing for the event things will slow down here on GiF a little bit. As I need to convert and paint a bunch of miniatures for the tourney.

Playtesting of the Soul Reapers is going strong and will continue while I work on my Wolves. So all in all lots of good stuff from me coming you way soon. I will keep you guys informed on what I am doing between the two blogs every Friday in an update post like this.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dice Like Thunder talks Fandex and homebrew

Rich, Dan and the Chicago crew discuss all things Fandex and touch on Homebrew too. It's a pretty good listen, and has a few nifty ideas put forth.

DLT episode 78

Topics covered are:

#1 Do homebrew codex's have a place in the 40K game scene?
#2 If yes is it something that should be reserved only to upgrade an older codex, a weak army codex or can anything be "personalized"?
#3 How much of a change are you willing to accept; FOC changes (i.e. elite can be taken as troops, etc...), stat line and point changes, or completely new sets of rules?
#4 If someone gets to make their own codex to match their personal game style should be used to balance it off? How much?
#5 What should the source inspiration for a homebrew codex be?
#6 How do you balance a homebrew codex so it doesn't get "over the top"?

Now a warning before you listen; DLT is an adult podcast, there will be fart and other inappropriate jokes.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Forge World Imperial Armor rules: part 1

Many gamers void the FW IA rules like the plague, and there are lots of claims that they are really unbalanced. While this may be the case with some IA units, it just isn't true in the broadest view of the IA rules.

As an amateur game designer I can see that the units in the IA books have not been vetted for competitive play. All I have to say is "Duh...." these rules are made for themed gaming which is usually done in a casual setting. Now lets face the brutal facts; GW is far from perfect in 40k unit and Codex design even with their 18 month playtest and design structure.

If you find something that is really under pointed in the IA rules, like the 5 point Autocannon upgrade for the Chimera, by all means fix it. Make sure you discuss this with your opponent before hand. I am pretty sure that nobody is going to argue with you paying more points for an option than the IA book says to.

One tip I would give out to anyone playing with IA rules is that both players pick something to use from an IA book. This will number one help offset a lot of the perceived balance issues, it will also add to the fun of the game. IMHO!

Why should the casual gamer hamstring himself to the "officialdom" of the base 40k rules and Codecies. The IA rules add some great flavor options for almost every 40k army out there. If you have the opportunity to use the IA rules I say do it!

I originally had a very long article written for this topic, but lost it with my Computer issues last week. I have decided to instead do a short series of articles on the IA rules over the next month. So this is just the opening for the series.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Homebrew and Fandex playtesting: Big Jim style

There are many ways of playtesting Fandex and Homebrew units, these are the methods my group employs. They are far from perfect but they work for us.

The first thing we do when trying out an new unit is to never let the creator use the unit in the initial games. This has the effect of keeping over the top unit design to a bare minimum. If you play against your homebrew unit and feel that it is unfair or unbalanced it usually is. It has kept everyone's heads firmly in balanced unit design.

The second thing we do is actually playtest the living heck outta the units. For every ten games we re-evaluate the unit, from points to stats; making every effort to keep things fair and balanced. This is done by the playtesting group as a whole. Then we playtest the unit some more!

The third thing we do once we have plenty of playtesting done is put the unit up for a vote to end playtesting. If it passes the vote we add it to our unofficial units binder.

The fourth and final step we take if the project is more than a single unit is to send it out to our friends out of the area for playtesting. Now that I have GiF I will be putting all of the new units we create up for open playtesting to the Blog community at large on top of our out of the area friends.

So for example the Soul Reapers mini-dex project is going into its fourth month of open playtesting and we are getting great feedback. I appreciate all the fantastic input, good or bad.

The final thing I want to mention is to have a thick skin, you are going to get harsh feedback. It does not mean that what you are doing is bad, some people just don't 'get it.' Don't scrap a project because you get negative feedback, just look at what you are doing and make sure you are presenting it correctly. So be open to all feedback take the good with the bad and learn from the experience.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fan-dex design, Big Jim style part 1

When I set about designing anything homebrew for the 40k tabletop, I always stay on the cautious side of design. While I appreciate the overly ambitious projects that many gamers try, I have found that less is more. I always try to design something that has a unique flair of its own, but can easily have it's rules and wargear summarized on one or two pages. This makes it much easier for an opponent to consider playing against.

While I never expect anyone from outside of my immediate gaming group to play against my fan-dex, I have been pretty successful getting to use the Soul Reapers outside of the group. I honestly believe this is because of the minimalistic style I have chosen for my work.

Now if I had gone the overambitious route by adding all six units to the project that the group and I had initially wanted too, I highly doubt I would have ever had the opportunity to every playtest this outside of the group. In stead I added two plus a unit upgrade and it seems to have been well received so far.

When starting out you need to have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve, but you must be open to feedback and making the proper adjustments to the list. After all what is the point of creating a fan-dex if you are never going to get to use it?

Creating a Fan-dex is a lot of work, so requires a lot of dedication. It also requires a thick skin, as you will take a lot of criticism. Just remember not a lot of other gamers are going to 'get it' as they are happily entrenched in the 'GW Matrix.'

First off designing an offshoot of an existing codex is the best route to get your 'feet wet' in the fan-dex realm. They tend to be the easiest projects to balance if you keep your goals reasonable. I am of the honest opinion that creating a fan-dex that is not an offshoot needs to be done by a group not an individual. This is because they are the hardest thing to playtest and balance.

Here are a couple of tips for those just starting out.

Points values can be a real pain in the rear to come up with as it seems GW do not a have a clear formula anymore. So I always try to find something comparable to what I am creating and work from there, often adding a point or two initially for balance sake. Sometimes the extra points stay in the final product, but often they do get dropped. Again this is on the cautious side of design, but it is what I have found to work well.

When creating special characters I almost always add 20 points to the Character type automatically before considering wargear or Special Rules. Stat increases to WS/BS are worth 1 point, S/I/A/LD worth 5 points, T/W are worth 10 points each.

Now all of these ideas are far from perfect, but design needs to begin somewhere.
Always aim for balance throughout the entire design process. This will involve dedicated playtesting, and I do mean a lot of playtesting.

Next time I will go over methods of playtesting.

Just a quick heads up

I am having computer problems so will only be online sporadically for the next few days.

Here is what I will be working on while off line.

Xusia is about half painted and looking slick so far.

I will have a minor update to the Soul Reapers mini-dex this week tweaking a few things.

I have started to work on my Realm of Battle board I won back in December, so expect some pretty pics soon.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Xusia modeling completed

Here is Xusia the Master of Malevolence completed and ready for paint. I am quite pleased with the outcome. My Pop say's that "he screams Special Character!"

I cannot wait to get him painted!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Does the 40k Bloggosphere want or need a hub for house rules and Fandex's?

I have been giving some thought lately to the idea of offering to make Galaxy in Flames a hub for all things Homebrew. From house rules, to new units or vehicles, all the way up to entire Fandex's.

Part of the reason I have been thinking about doing this is to help my fellow 40k Bloggers get the word out about there unique projects. It could even lead to interested playtesters for these types of projects.

It would also make for a great place to bounce ideas off of like minded bloggers.

I would also hope that is might just open the eyes of some of the closed minded gamers out there. Officialdom can really stifle creativity if we choose to let it.

This is from a recent post I made on the Dice like Thunder forums as they are getting ready to do a Podcast on Homebrew fandex's. I just want everyone to know where I am coming from here.

"The closed mindedness of some gamers shocks me sometimes; fandexs and homebrews are meant for casual play, I cannot imagine any of us are talking about making a tourney legal fandex.

As someone who has been playing 40k since RT it is hard for me to stifle my creativity and not make nifty new units for campaigns or general use in story driven play. This was something that was heavily encouraged in RT, so much so that they had the points formula in the MRB. I know that times have changed it does not mean that my group and I have to.

While I understand the desire to play 40K with official rules, but it is not the only way to play and GW are far from perfect at games design. Now I am not claiming to be a games designer, but I have been involved in the mechanics discussions, and playtesting of a few published sets of historical rules sets over my many years of gaming. So I do know my way around the subject. The hardest part of designing new stuff for 40k is the apparent abandonment of a strict points formula in GW's game design process.

This is why I cannot stress enough to playtest the heck outta any fandex or homebrew stuff. When you think you've got it balanced do more playtesting. If you can get outside help with playtesting that can help a lot.

I currently have 6 gamers from three countries playtesting my fandex, and it is going well so far. Because of the outside help we have made some great changes from the extra input. By the time that the final version of the Dex goes up it will have been in design for 2 years and playtested as a whole list for almost 18 months. Which is pretty much how it's rumored that GW does things, and I am pretty sure that GW ain't telling any of their internal testers to try to break the list; like I am telling my external ones to do.

Of course this topic is always full of debate and grey areas. At least for me, I have found as I have gotten older I’m enjoying more story driven games than competitive ones, I am going to less and less tournaments."

With all that said is there any interest in making a hub for all things unofficial for 40k?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Soul Reapers Mini-dex V-3 Update

Ok guys later than I had planned here is the 3rd update to the Soul Reapers mini-dex.

The Soul Reapers Mini-dex Version 3

Download Here

During the initial phases of the codex design we had thought about adding three different units to the list: Rage Zombies, Chaos Cultists and a new type of Daemon. Well we have finally made a decision on which to add to the codex.

We decided to add the Daemon unit to the army list.

Gore Daemons

Gore Daemons are brutish creatures of the Warp that hunger for blood and carnage. They are the thought to be created from the souls of Chaos Space Marines who served the Dark Gods, never pledging themselves to any one Chaos God. So strong was their dedication to the Dark Gods and bond with their traitorous brothers that once their mortal life is over, their soul ascends and fights on for eternity bringing glory to Chaos. They deck themselves out with thick armor and carry large two-handed axes forged in their hellish Daemon realms.

WS-4, BS-4, S-5, T-4, W-1, I-4, A-2, Save-4+, Points-20

Unit type:

Squad composition:
5-10 Gore Daemons

Two- handed axe

Special Rules:
5+ Invulnerable save

Limited numbers: There may never be more Gore Daemons than Lesser Daemons in a Soul Reapers army.

Other Updates

We have adding a one point increase per model in the army that gets the Fear is for the Weak special rule.

(In addition to the Wargear listed on pages 81-88 of the Codex Chaos Space Marines)

Demo Pack: They may be relatively small and compact, demo packs are extremely destructive. Usually used to breach the wall of enemy fortifications, they are also fantastic against enemy armor.

Warp Conductor: The Psychic Hoods that the Apostles of Malevolence possessed during the Great Crusade have been long since discarded as they had fallen into disrepair. Leaving the forces of the Soul Reapers vulnerable to the psychic powers of their foes. This has been the case until recently, on Ehdan the Dark Mechanicus uncovered an ancient STC for a warp conductor. It was used as a dampening field to keep warp fiends from being able to manifest. The Dark Mechanicus have reworked the design to fit into the mounts for the old Psychic Hoods.

An Apostle that possesses a Warp Conductor may nullify any psychic power on a 4+ that is used within 12 inches of the Apostle. Additionally if a 1 is rolled as a result, the Sorcerer suffers a S7, AP2 attack.

Psychic Powers

All Apostles of Malevolence may use one psychic power a turn. The only exception is if they have been upgraded to a Master of Sorcery, and then the Apostle may attempt to use two powers a turn. All psychic powers are used following the rules given in the Warhammer 40,000 BRB.

Apostles of Malevolence may choose from the following Powers found on page 88 of the Chaos Space Marine Codex:

Warp Time
Wind of Chaos
Gift of Chaos

Chains of Torment: The Apostle creates small warp rifts under his foes, launching ethereal chains that rend flesh to the bone in an attempt to drag the targets into the warp.

Chains of torment is a shooting attack that may target any non-vehicle unit, with the following profile:

Range 18, Strength 6, AP 5, Type: Assault D6+1, Pinning

Added to the HQ section of the CSM codex replacing the Sorcerer entry on Page 93.

Apostle of Malevolence
Same stats and options as the Chaos Sorcerer minus the Marks of Chaos, with the following additions.
Upgrade options:
Master of Sorcery: 20 points
Warp Conductor: 15 points

Psychic power: Chains of Torment 25 points