Tag Archives: Wargame Designer

Writing a Sci-Fi Tabletop Wargame – Part 6

Our past posts:

So the results of last weeks votes are as follows:

Factions

Now we’ve got most (if not all) of the basic information in place for our game we can start getting our hands dirty with some of the nitty gritty stuff. Firstly, should we have pre-made ready to go factions or should players have options to construct their own units for their own faction? This would make the game miniature agnostic but it would also require players to take the time to build a faction from the ground up, i.e. this is a leader unit it needs this particular weapon, with this armour and these special rules.

Of course we could always have a mixture of both pre-made and create your own. But what do you think?

Turn Order

This is about how the players determine who goes first. There are many options for this, but I’ve narrowed this down to two or three, but bear 🐻 in mind these can also have vary to some extent. For example, while AoS is a UgoIgo system it also implements the turn priority in terms of a dice roll before each turn.

I Go You Go

This is the first and possibly most common option used. Players use a mechanic to determine who goes first and then play is simply alternated between the players until the end of the game.

Draw

Players use coloured dice or chips to represent their individual units on the table e.g. one players units are represented by red dice while the others are blue, when a red dice is drawn the red player chooses a unit to activate. This system will be familiar to those who have played Warlord Games Bolt Action.

Initiative

This could either be an army wide initiative rating or individual initiative ratings for units to decide what order they act in. For example, elite units may have a much higher initiative than conscripts meaning they’ll always act first.

Bidding

One of my personal favourites is using bidding systems to determine who acts first. This can take various forms such as rolling a number of orders each side can take on two or three dice then giving up a number of those orders to try and claim the priority that turn.

So which is your favourite? Perhaps there’s one I’ve not even thought of, I’d that’s the case why not add a comment below?

Don Featherstone – A Life in Wargames (1918-2013)

Donald Featherstone is perhaps the most influential Wargamer of 20th century Britain. Because of him, Britain came to enjoy miniature wargaming as a pastime.

Don born in 1918 got into miniature wargaming after playing with H.G. Wells’ rules Little Wars which were introduced to him by his father. In 1939 Don signed up to serve in the Royal Tank Regiment after trying unsuccessfully to find service in first the RAF and then the Navy. Don feared service in the infantry following stories from both his Father and Uncle. Don managed to “negotiate” service in the tank regiments with the recruitment officers.

Once in the 51st Battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment, Don’s skill with words and the ability to type at a reasonable rate saw him move to the HQ and was appointed as clerk in the Orderly Room. Don’s battalion was posted to the Gothic Line in Northern Italy. It was here that Don had his brush with death when an enemy shell landed inside their camp where Don and his comrades were eating a meal. Don was the possibly the only one to walk away uninjured from the attack. Eventually Don left the army in January 1946.

In the 1950’s Don came across Wargames Digest produced by American Jack Scruby. This reignited Don’s love of miniature wargaming and bought back his memories of playing Little Wars with his 54mm tin soldiers. Also around this time Don met Tony Bath, who would be (beside his brother) his first wargame opponent. Tony would later become the manager of the miniatures company Miniature Figurines.

When Jack Scruby ceased producing Wargames Digest Don and Tony decided to co-edit it for Britain, followed by Don’s own Wargamer’s Newsletter which he started producing in April 1962 and continued to do so each month for 18 years until 1980. It was unfortunately discontinued due to rising costs and a declining readership.

In 1962 however players of wargames were scarce and so finding opponents particularly difficult to do. Therefore Don set up the country’s very first wargames event inside his own home, in which virtually every Wargamer at the time attended. The following year he stepped the event up and hired a function room at the local hotel, this time there were around 20 attendees. The social features included a recreation of Wells’s famous Battle of Hooks Farm using photographs from his book Little Wars on an overhead projector, while a background narrative was read from the book. The first of the National Wargames Championships Conventions originated here, where a silver salver presented by Airfix Productions Ltd was fought for. The attendance of the events gradually increased each time.

In 1962 Don also wrote his first book War Games which went on to sell around the world.

Don’s first set of rules

This set of rules would be the first of 40+ publications by Don and launched him to become an iconic wargame writer of the 20th Century. Backed by his own military experience, his study of history and his excellent writing ability Donald Featherstone can truly be called the Father of Wargaming in Britain and the entire wargaming community owes him so much for where we find ourselves today.

Don always said that wargaming is a social hobby and that players everywhere should never forget that.

Normally I would list a few choice selections of the designer I’ve covered in the article. However, because of my deepest respect for this man I decided to list every ruleset he has written.

Don’s Rulesets

I wanted to close with some of Don’s advice on military service.

Don’s Military Advice

1) Never volunteer for anything. War is dangerous, if volunteers are asked for, the task must be really dangerous.

2) Never join the infantry, they take the casualties.

3) Never take unnecessary chances.

4) Never go into any building first, even if they enemy have retreated.

5) Never be in the first tank.

6) Never ride on the first tank.

7) Officers go first, they get the medals.

Bryan Ansell – A Life in Wargames

Bryan Ansell started with his life in wargames by founding and designing for his own miniatures company Asgard Miniatures. He also had his own fanzine named Trollcrusher.

In 1979 Games Workshop approached Ansell to found their own miniatures branch Citadel Miniatures. The company was set up to allow Games Workshop to be self reliant for its miniature purposes, allowing her to create the miniatures for all the games which Games Workshop had the license for at the time. This took their reliance on other miniatures companies such as Ral Partha away.

In 1980 Ansell wrote his first wargaming rules called Laserburn which he had published via Tabletop Games. Although only a foot note in gaming history, Laserburn contained many elements and wargear of the future Warhammer 40,000 game, such as Power Armour, Dreadnoughts, Jet Cycles and Bolt Guns.

By 1982 Games Workshop was depending on the sales of Citadel Miniatures and Bryan Ansell brought out all of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson’s shared in Games Workshop and all the operations were eventually moved from London to Nottingham.

Laserburn which you can still find today as a PDF.

Ansell worked with Richard Halliwell and Rick Priestley on Games WorkshopsWarhammer Fantasy Battles. This was originally designed to be given out for free to encourage customers to buy the new Citadel Miniatures range.

Along with Rick Priestley, Alan & Michael Perry, Jervis Johnson, Richard Halliwell, John Blanche and Alan Merrett, Ansell was responsible for the Warhammer boom of the mid to late 1980’s.

He later left Games Workshop to Tom Kirby in 1991 and instead focused on his own company Wargames Foundry, a company which sells historical miniatures. These miniatures were originally sculpted by the Perry Twins for Citadel Miniatures, but were no longer sold as part of the Games Workshop fantasy ranges. Ansell took a number of figure molds used for historical and fantasy figures under Citadel Miniatures and Games Workshop, and they have become part of the Wargames Foundry range. Wargames Foundry continues to sell a range of metal figures for historical, sci-fi and fantasy war gaming.

Although not as prolific a writer as some of the other people focused on in “A Life in Wargames” Ansell has been involved in the rules development of 15+ games.

References

Wikipedia – Bryan Ansell

Wikipedia – Laserburn

Wargames Foundry

Board Game Geek

Andy Chambers – A Life in Wargames

Chambers is best known for his work for Games Workshop, where he worked from March 1990 to March 2004. He worked extensively on various Warhammer 40,000 rulebooks and sourcebooks, and also authored multiple fiction novels set in the same universe. Chambers was the lead designer on a number of Warhammer 40,000 spin-off games, such as Necromunda (1995) and Battlefleet Gothic (1999), produced by Specialist Games. These games were released at a time of major growth for Games Workshop and were designed with expansions and more miniatures sales in mind.

In 2003, Chambers joined Mongoose Publishing as the lead designer of the company’s development team for the Starship Troopers tabletop miniatures game. Starship Troopers won “Best New Game” in the 2005 Origins Awards.

Advertisements

Chambers was also made the lead story writer for Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty for which he is given much of the credit for completing the project by other members of the company such as Megan Farokhmanesh.

Andy Chambers has also been involved in numerous other projects over the years such as Dust Warfare (2012) releases by Fantasy Flight Games, Dropfleet Commander (2017) by Hawk Wargames and Blood Red Skies (2017) publisher by Warlord Games.

Like Jervis Johnson and Alessio Cavatore, Andy Chambers has been involved in the designing of over 100 rules and accompanying supplements for many publishers including Games Workshop, Warlord Games, Hawk Wargames and Fantasy Flight Games to name but a few.

Jervis Johnson – A Life in Wargames

Jervis Johnson officially retired from Games Workshop in July. As such I thought it was a great time to cover his career as a games designer, from his first game to his last and the impact he’s had on the hobby.

If you don’t know who Jervis Johnson is then this will introduce you to a man who has created many of the great games you know and love today.

Jervis joined Games Workshop as a trade sales assistant in 1982. During this time he started writing rules for Games Workshops’ own games in his spare time (them being the seller for dungeons and dragons in Europe.and not producing their own game of Warhammer Fantasy until 1983). What would become the first edition of Blood Bowl was produced in 1986, followed closely by Rogue Trader (the 1st edition of Warhammer 40k) in 1988.

During his time Jervis has designed or has been involved in the design of over 93 games and add-ons. Both for Games Workshop and other companies.

These include;

  • Blood Bowl (1st, 2nd & 3rd Editions) – 1986, 1988, 1994
  • Adeptus Titanicus (1st Edition) – 1988
  • Advanced HeroQuest – 1989
  • Advanced Space Crusade – 1990
  • Armies of the Imperium – 1991
  • Battle for Armageddon – 1992
  • Black Powder (2nd Edition) (Warlord Games) – 2019
  • Blood Bowl (2016 Edition) – 2016
  • Epic Armageddon – 2003
  • La Haye Saint (Warlord Games) – 2014
  • Necromunda – 1995
  • Space Hulk (2nd Edition) – 1996
  • Space Marine – 1989
  • Warhammer 40,000 (3rd Edition) – 1998
  • Warhammer 40,000 (4th Edition) – 2004
  • Warhammer Ancient battles – 1998
  • Warhammer Fantasy (8th Edition) – 2010
  • Warmaster – 1993

Many other companies have taken inspiration from some of Jervis Johnson’s games. Whether you know it or not, your favourite game has probably been worked on or has used inspiration from one of Johnson’s game.

His retirement is well deserved, but the wargaming community is losing a true giant of the industry. Goodbye Jervis, and enjoy your retirement.

Why don’t you let us know in the comments below which of Jervis’ games was your favourite?

Why not join our Facebook group to get the notifications on new posts and share your work with us for Tale of Painters.

Next Week

Alessio Cavatore