Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Star Monger Project

The Star Monger Project has officially begun. As mentioned in my last post, I'm converting Geoffrey Noles' excellent Flash game Star Monger to a tabletop boardgame format. I've completed the initial draft of the rules and will hopefully get some play testing in this weekend with the Bottom Street Irregulars. Here's my intro to the rules:

Star Monger started life as a Flash game on Geoffrey Noles’ website ae4rv.com. After playing it once or twice I thought, “Hey, this would make a neat tabletop game for an afternoon or a convention.” It is a game of exploration, colonization, conquest and eventual galactic domination. Some of the mechanics in play are quite subtle and although the basic strategies are learned quickly, there is an addictive quality to the game that I find appealing. I find myself playing it once or twice a day as a break from other pursuits.

A friend, James Earles, and I, had experimented with a similar concept a few years earlier called Terra Secunda at the Egyptian Campaign game convention in Carbondale, IL. TS was extremely complex, each faction actually requiring two people to play. One person ran the diplomatic and economic side of the game while another ran the military. Although most of the aspects of the game were extremely abstract and streamlined on an individual basis, together they made for a lot of work on both the players’ and game controllers’ end. The game lasted a whopping 12 hours, and was a substantial investment in time as well as money.

Star Monger will start life as the direct inverse of the TS experiment. Geoffrey describes the Flash version as “Risk in Space.” The simple, elegant play is good for an evening’s entertainment and that is where we shall begin with the board game version of Star Monger. Eventually, more rules and concepts will be layered on, adding more depth and hopefully fun (but unfortunately complexity). At its core, however, Star Monger shall remain a game about sending brave men and women out into the cold, inky blackness of space with orders to go forth, explore, colonize and conquer.

I will post the draft after its first playtest and open the floor to comments and suggestions. I have licensed the name and concept from Geoffrey for NON-COMMERCIAL purposes and provide the rules at no charge to you, the gaming public. The draft will be provided in PDF format. The concept and name are Geoffrey's, the words are mine. I ask that you credit accordingly when you redistribute any copies of the draft, beta, or finished rules.

In other news, my first batch of ships to use as fleet markers has been ordered. Leland Erickson of Metal Express suggested I use the Noble Armada Ships of the Line box set as a starter. Since the box comes with 32 ships, some dice, four 17x22 hex maps and scads of counters, it was too good a deal to pass up. I had flirted with the idea of using fighters from other sources, but I don't think they would look as good as smaller scale line ships to represent fleets. My other idea was to scratchbuild the ships from beads, buttons and assorted other odds and ends, but the end goal is to have 20 fleet markers for eight factions. That seems a bit tedious a process for 160 playing pieces. I can get the same out of five boxes of the Noble Armada sets. I think I would be able to get a whole box worth ready for play in an afternoon of minor clean up, priming, painting and basing.

Oh, also, it's my birthday. My wife got me the Wolfmother cd. It is rock and roll. Not merely "rock" nor "rock 'n' roll." It is rock and roll in the vein of Blue Oyster Cult, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and early Rush. Run, don't walk to get this cd. I'm particulalry fond of the first track "Dimension." Plus, the cover art was done by Frank Frazetta. If Frazetta ain't rock and roll, I don't know what is.

More to follow.

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