This past weekend, I attended GameHoleCon in Madison Wisconsin. I had planned on attending with my wife, Angie, but with our move, circumstances meant that I was to go alone. Despite that, I had fun!

On Friday morning, I attended a seminar given by Marc Miller, designer/author of Traveller. The seminar was about Traveller rules and Marc sharing tidbits of history and design philosophy.

My question to him was (basically) “If you didn’t have Triplanetary as a model to design a space combat system, what do you think you would have done? How would you have done it?”

(As a note, Triplanetary was a space-based combat game released by Games Designers Worship in 1973, which used vector based movement. Classic Traveller directly used the same approach for it’s space combat rules.)

He jokingly said “I would have invented Triplanetary!” and laughed. We talked about how vector based game may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as an answer to my follow-up of “what would you recommend” he said something very key – “Games should be intuitive about what happens and how it happens.”

He then talked about how much of naval combat came down to lucky shots making a difference (like disabling rudders, knocking out engines, or hitting an ammo magazine).

This has taken me back to reconsidering the Starter Traveller space combat approach, but that’s for another post.

Marc’s a very approachable guy and I really enjoyed his talk. He’s also very generous by bringing a box of older books and magazines, which he handed out for free! I picked up the Leviathan module, having heard that it has some nice bits to mine. Marc was also very generous in signing it as well!

The next game was Friday evening where I played HEXplore It. Billed as a “cooperative hero building adventure board game toolkit.” Definitely something that I wouldn’t normally play, but I like trying out new things. I played a human scoundrel and hammed it up with hunting around for treasure while the players battled the various monsters and creatures. This was strategic, as I could backstab on my next turn, so the players had no problem with me collecting gold!

The game was basically one of building up your character over the game to be strong enough to face the final villain at the end. I was definitely entertained!

On Saturday, I ran my Battlestar Galactica/Traveller game for six players.

6 pregens were diced for, and the party ended up with a wide range of skills. Their mission was to find parts for the Battlestar Lance’s jumpdrive before the Cylons find the fleet!

They first took a bit of time to figure out if any ships in the fleet had compatible parts. Three do – a passenger liner, a freighter, a medical ship. They went to the passenger liner first, only to find strange problems are affecting the ship! They found bombs set up around the drives and tylium fuel tanks, and a strange program taking over the computer. As well, a passenger revolt was be taking place!

They disarmed the bomb, which was obviously Cylon in nature, in the drive section, but the bombs rigged in the cargo area exploded! Passengers were offloaded the now-stricken ship, with the troublemakers arrested. Part recovered!

The second ship, the heavy freighter, had a crew all too willing to abandon ship and let the drive be cannibalized, but the PCs found that it was transporting prisoners! Admid all this, said prisoners attempted an escape, taking hostages. The PCs bypassed the kidnappers (literally), retrieved the parts and then negotiated with the prisoners.

The players decided to not scavenge the medical ship but instead head in-system to the Homeworlds to seek out any wrecked military ships that might have parts. They arrived in two Raptors at a known rendezvous location and found remains of the Colonial fleet… and a Cylon basestar lurking at detection range!

They had about a centar (2 hours) before any Cylon Raider ships can arrive. The PCs got to work, dividing the party among two wrecked ships.

On one hulk, the PCs find survivors in an air-tight room. Dividing further, one PC helped to rescue the stranded crew while the other two moved ahead. In the other ship, the PCs made it straight to the drives, but it would take time (4 centars) to remove the part.

After a centar, two Raiders appeared and offloaded Centurions! Gunfire rang out across both wrecks. In one, the Cylons approached and attempted to use their bayonets to stab the PCs. One was hit but survived! They both gunned down the Centurions quickly.

In the other wreck, a long range battle took place, but in the end, the Marine was able to shoot the Cylons from cover without getting hit. (The dice were favoring the players this game!)

With part and survivors secured, the PCs retreated quickly before more reinforcements could be sent. The Battlestar was fixed and the refugee fleet jumped to safety!

A very fun game, everyone left with smiles and time well spent. I couldn’t ask for anything better!

Saturday night, I played Dawn Patrol with its author/designer, Mike Carr. This was a long-time bucket item, as I had always wanted to play this game. As a young teenager, I was introduced to wargames in part by the old Milton Bradley game “Dogfight”. So World War One air combat games have a special place in my heart.

Mike is a very warm and soft-spoken guy, and he broke down the game for beginners like myself very quickly! Three of us were newbies, three were experienced, but the game was very much up in the air until the last turn!

The scenario was very simple – in August of 1918, three of us German aviators, in Fokker D7 185s and a D.VIII, escorte a Hannover. We faced two American Nieuports and two American Spads.

I played like a cautious newbie should, sticking to my wingmen and mission. I managed to survive and stuck with the Hannover while the other planes shot each other up and then escaped. I did take some hits, at one point surviving withering fire from three different planes in one turn! I had a blast!

I won’t talk about Sunday morning’s seminar. It was … not what I was hoping it would be. Enough said.

Highly recommend GameHoleCon if you’ve a chance to get to it. Lots of great games and a very warm, welcoming feel!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.