Friday, May 18, 2018

Cool Free Stuff on the Internet: Warning Order Magazine

I grew up reading gaming magazines.  My dad had a subscription to The General, Avalon Hill’s house magazine.  I would pick up issues of White Dwarf and Autoduel Quarterly from the game store and devour them.  I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that there are a large number of game magazines that are published in digital format and that are released for free on The internet.

One magazine that I have found is Warning Order.  Warning Order is a free magazine published by the Wasatch Front Historical Gaming Society.  They have just released issue 48, and their entire backlog is available for download from their website.

Warning Order focuses on miniature wargaming and board wargames.  Each issue usually has some battle reports, game reviews, and other miscellaneous articles.  One cool feature that started in issue 36 is the inclusion of scenarios for miniatures games.  I also enjoy looking at all the pictures of painted miniatures set up for battle.

The latest issue (48) has a review of Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition, a review of GMT’s Next War: Poland, an interesting article on the current state of hobby gaming, and some battle reports.  If you are a fan of miniatures and Wargames I would check out Warning Order. All 48 issues are free to download at

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Reviews for Gamers: Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

First a shout-out to the Man Battlestations Podcast for recommending this book.  They described this book as The Golden Compass meets Firefly, and that is a fitting description.  Retribution Falls is a book about airship pirates and the swashbuckling adventures that they engage in.

Retribution Falls takes place on an Earth-like planet.  The geography is such that airship is the most convenient form of travel.  There is also some magic throughout the setting.  I would describe it as steampunk, although airships and planes are powered by some type of resource specific to the setting that is vaporized via electromagnets into lighter than air gas.  The steampunk feel comes from the airships and the fact that all other technology is from the eighteen-hundreds.

Go airships!
Retribution Falls is a fun read that follows the crew of the airship Ketty Jey.  The crew is a mix of dastardly characters who engage in pirate hijinks.  There is just the right mix of guns, swords, and magic.  The world the the author builds is intriguing.  There are different factions fighting for power and vertical cities built for the convenience of airships.  Giant airships fire cannons at each other while fighter planes engage in tense dogfights.  I recommend this to any fan of genre fiction.

Gaming the Book

Retribution Falls is a great inspiration for gaming.  The world of the book would make a great rpg campaign world as is, and it has tons of ideas that gms can borrow.  So you have read Retribution Falls and you are inspired to do some airship pirate gaming.  Where do you start.

Card Games

Retribution Falls has rules for a game in the back of the book.  How cool is that!  The game is a poker variant called Rake.  Rake is a variant of stud poker where the final cards of the hand are dealt in the middle of the table, and the players take turns taking them into their hands.  I like poker and this variant looks fun.  Rake is played throughout the book, and if you decide to run a campaign based in this world you should definitely have the characters play a hand of Rake.

Board and Miniature Games

When I was reading Retribution Falls I was thinking of games about air piracy.  The first game that I though of was the old FASA game Crimson Skies.   I had never heard of this game until I went over to a friend's house and he had it set up on his table.  He explained that it took place in an alternate history where the US became balkanized and air piracy was big as people used air shipments to smuggle cargo across the fractured political landscape.

There were no airships in the scenario we played but it was enjoyable.  We each had two fighter aircraft.  The game used pre-plotted movement.  Whenever an airplane was hit you put a clear template over your plane sheet used it to mark off damage that was done to your aircraft.  This was interesting because you could pick different types of ammo that did special damage.  For example, armor piercing rounds would go straight through the body of the aircraft while explosive rounds would take out shallow, broad chunks of the aircraft.  The game is now out of print.  WizKids published a version with airplanes that had heroclix style bases but I never played that edition.  If you want some air piracy and are lucky to find a copy, check out FASA's Crimson Skies.

There are a few miniatures rulesets that deal with airship combat, although I have not played any of them.  One that comes to mind is Dystopian Wars.  The original owners of the game have gone out of business and the IP is being transferred to a new company.  The game is in limbo right now but if you want to have some airship fleets attack each other it is worth checking out.   Note that Dystopian Wars also involves naval units and land units.  Imperial Skies is a game  published by Brigade Models.  They publish the rules and sell miniatures for the game.  It looks like pre-WWI airship combat with ships and fighters.  Ironclads & Ether Flyers is a set of miniatures rules that was written in the Space 1889 universe.  The rules can be purchased in pdf from rpgnow and in print from Amazon.  You will have to find/build your own miniatures for these rules.  Any of these games should allow you to have some nice airship combat on your tabletop.

Role Playing Games

If you want to run a campaign set in the world of Retribution Falls there are a few games that come to mind.  The main thing is that you will want a ruleset that can cover swashbuckling action, magic, and most importantly airships.  The company Cakebread & Walton publishes a game called Abney Park's Airship Pirates.  The game is based on the music of the Steampunk group Abney Park.  I have not played to game but it has airship pirates in the title.  It also has time travel and dinosaurs but any good gm could hack this game to fit the setting.  Cakebread & Walton have also a version based on their simple and excellent OneDice engine.

FATE would be another game that I would consider using if I was going to run a Retribution Falls game.  I think that FATE handles swashbuckling action well, and there are a few FATE settings that have airships.  The one that I would use would be Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie from FATE Worlds: Worlds on Fire.  While this settings is more of an alternate WWI with huge blimps and biplanes, with some magic thrown in and a few hacks here and there it would work well to run a Retribution Falls campaign.

My personal choice for running a Retribution Falls game would be Amazing Adventures from Troll Lord Games.  This uses the SEIGE engine which runs their Castles & Crusades game.  It is basically a streamlined version of the d20 system.  Amazing Adventures has magic rules already built in.  I would recommend using the Amazing Adventures Companion as it has some character classes (pirate, soldier) that would work well.

So check out Retribution Falls and then go game some airship piracy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rolling Wednesday: Free Dice Winner!

Rolling Wednesday shall end with free dice!

More of my dice collection
The winner is Thriftomancer (Ellen Rimar).   You will be receiving this eclectic mix of dice.  Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Rolling Wednesday: Free Dice Contest still going!

Last Wednesday I announced the retirement of the Rolling Wednesday posts.  In celebration I decided to send some free dice to someone.  There are no claimers yet so here is what I have decided.  I will continue this contest for another week.  I will add more dice to the pot.  If there are no winners by next Wednesday, I will add even more dice to the pot. 

Soldiers playing dice in a tavern by Adriaen Brouwer 
Here are the rules to the contest.

If you would like me to mail you some free dice, here is what you need to do:

Send an email to nedpatrick ( AT ) yahoo ( DOT ) com.
Put "I love Dice" in the subject line.
In your message include your name and your favorite kind of die.

That's it.  Next Wednesday I will pick a winner.  If I get no entries then I will add more dice to the pot and continue the contest.  There are currently 12 mystery dice in the pot.

Good luck and happy rolling!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

"Game" Review: The Tragedy of GJ 237b

The Tragedy of GJ 237b is a game that I would not have know about if it wasn't nominated for a Nebula Award (although it did not make a spot on the finalist list).

You can read the full text of the game for free at and you can obtain the pdf on a pay-what-you-want basis at  The game text is very short and there is no way I can avoid spoilers in this review so I suggest that you read the game for yourself or be ready to have the contents spoiled.

The Tragedy of GJ 237b is a science fiction role-playing art piece about the negative consequences of human contact with alien ecosystems.  The game mainly consists of a description of the inhabitants of GJ237b.  Those inhabitants where irrevocably changed by contact with humans.

I will repeat that I cannot finish this review without spoiling what is in the game, so either go read it yourself or be prepared for spoilers.

Spoilers to follow!
The alien life on GJ237b was destroyed by the arrival of humans.  The game sets up a sort of Schrodinger's cat scenario.  The game materials are put out in a room and then the room is sealed with no one inside of it.  When the door to the room is opened, the game ends.

Sounds weird, right?  I will say it again, read the game for yourself.  I enjoyed reading The Tragedy of GJ237b and I ask myself, "Is it really a game?"  I would say that it is game adjacent.  The Tragedy of GJ237b is more of a piece of art than a game, and I think that this is what makes it interesting.  I challenge you to have your game group read the rules and then debate whether or not The Tragedy of GJ237b is a game.

The main theme of the game, that human interaction will fundamentally change ecosystems, is a thought-provoking science fiction trope.  Kim Stanley Robinson explored this topic in his book Red Mars, and it also touches on issues of  colonialism.  It is a heady theme and one that will elicit lots of opinions and discussion. 

Is this game worth playing?  Can you even play it?  I think that this game is worth reading for the fact that it is trying to do something different.  I would love to see it set up at a convention, or in a spare room of a house during a game night.  The alien culture of GJ237b is truly unique and will be an inspiration for science fiction fans.  I recommend it, and if you decide to stage a "playing" of the game, let me know how it went.     

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rolling Wednesday: Free Dice Giveaway!

Rolling Wednesday is going away!

I am retiring my experiment of trying to post a picture of a die or a dice-related post every Wednesday.  I may bring it back, but for now this will be the last Rolling Wednesday post.

Let's end it with free dice!

A portion of my dice collection

I love dice.  I love buying them, collecting them, rolling them, and giving them away.  Do you want some dice?  I will go to my local game store and a few other locations and pick up some dice.  There will be polyhedrals.  Other than that it will be a random hodgepodge of dice.  Will there be nothing but d4s?  A misshaped d12?  Whatever they are, you can have them for free.

If you would like me to mail you some free dice, here is what you need to do:

Send an email to nedpatrick ( AT ) yahoo ( DOT ) com.
Put "I love Dice" in the subject line.
In your message include your name and your favorite kind of die.

That's it.  Next Wednesday I will pick a winner.  Your odds of winning are good, since this blog is mainly read by my dad.  Shout out to Dad, whose Avalon Hill wargame collection inspired me to become a tabletop gamer.

Good luck and happy rolling!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gaming Wisdom: Use What You Have

I admit that I am a games collector.  My shelves are full of great games that more than often sit unplayed.  I consistently challenge myself to use to stuff that I have.  The other day I received a karmic lesson.

Last year I ordered the Storm of Sigmar starter set and the Age of Sigmar: Citadel Essentials paint and tool set from Games Workshop.  The Citadel Essentials set comes with a set of clippers, glue, a brush, and 3 mL pots of paint for the figures in the Storm of Sigmar set.  I assembled all of the figures from the Storm of Sigmar set.  Then I packed everything up for our move.

I have written on the trials and tribulations of our move.  All of our stuff spent about a month and a half in a Houston warehouse during the hottest months of the summer.  A few days ago I pulled out my Sigmar figures and paints and decided to put a coat of Imperial Primer on one of the figures.  This was the result.

The miniature is supposed to be coated in black.  The paint I was using was not doing a good job of covering the figure.  The covering is patchy.  When I looked in the pot I saw that most of the paint had dried into a huge lump on the side of the pot.  The lesson learned is that I should have used my paint right away.  The paint would have been still usable.

I went to my local game store to buy a pot of Imperial Primer.  The store was out.  The Games Workshop site currently does not list Imperial Primer as a product, and Games Workshop is notorious for changing their product line.  Maybe the store will be able to order another pot or maybe I will need to buy a different brush-on primer (I can't use spray primers).

This is a good learning experience.  Use what you have.  Don't worry about saving things for tomorrow.  Enjoy what you have today!