Monday 30 June 2014

Pieces of British gaming history, continued.

OK! Yesterday I talked about my recent yard sale acquisition of White Dwarf issue #4 and issue #6. There was good commentary in the, er, comments, placing these magazines in their historical context -- it's worth remembering that a lot of what seems like "oh, not this again," was actually pretty fresh and new in the late 70s, when D&D hadn't been out that long (and was even younger in the UK).

Without further ado, then, White Dwarf 6, for April/May 1978, six months before I was born.

What's interesting to me is that while I don't think this cover is as good as the last one, it is much more inspirational to me, gaming-wise. I like the weird, creature-like balloons, the caravan of weird animals, the ornate armour. It looks like a fun fight, set in a fun setting. 

As with the previous issue, we open with an editorial, this time announcing new refinements to the magazine -- justified text, new in this issue, and starting in #7, a colour cover. Oooh ... the big time!

Next up we have "Combat and Armour Class," by Roger Musson, another entry in the evergreen Armour Class Doesn't Make Any Goddamn Sense genre which attempts to create different types of armour class that apply to different types of attacks, not in a weapon vs armour type way but in a situational way. There are two really interesting things about this article to me: 
  • AC continues to be a huge visualisation problem for players. They want to translate the rule into something that they can imagine happening, and similarly to express what they can imagine happening via the rules. Everyone understands that AC is an abstraction, but it's just too abstract for this dude -- and many other players, judging from the number of articles relating to this issue one runs into. I think Armour Class Doesn't Make Any Goddamn Sense is probably the second-most-common D&D rules fix/complaint, right after Spell Memorisation WTF
  • The additional types of AC Musson proposes, "Target" and "Prone," are basically "Touch" and "Flatfooted."
"The Fiend Factory": Monsters! Many of them by Livingstone! The illustration for the Fiend is quite neat; the illustration for the Disenchanter is ... unconvincing. Ooh! Nilbogs!

"Archive Miniatures": A review of the imported American range, with particular attention to monsters suitable for D&D, including quite a nice umber hulk. I think it's interesting that the review refers to "Dragon Pass" figures suitable for "the world of White Bear and Red Moon," suggesting that the term "Glorantha" wasn't yet common currency. 

"A place in the wilderness" by Lewis Pulsipher is basically a chunk of wilderness setting that you can drop into your game, largely inspired by Jack Vance's The Dragon Masters. Let's Get Some Laser Guns Up Ins may be the third most common post-D&D article type, now that I think about it, and this definitely qualifies, with ultralethal future-tech weapons and some big-ass monsters to use them on. The art for this piece, by Polly Wilson, is choice.

It's got "murderer" in its name, for Pete's sake. 
Also, there is a monster in here called the Blue Horror. 

Reviews, reviews, reviews: Elric (the wargame) some miniatures, ooh! Wilderlands of High Fantasy. But the prize piece of the reviews is Don Turnbull's feature review of Traveller. And it is very interesting. 

Now, I've just mentioned the Let's Get Some Laser Guns Up Ins thread in writing about D&D, and I think it's indicative of the fact that many gamers wanted some SF in their games, and that, up to this point, there wasn't a whole lot of it about. Not none -- there was already Metamorphosis Alpha, obviously, as Turnbull points out, but I think this might be stretching the point. So Traveller is really the first big SF RPG, the first one to have a lot of traction. And this, to Turnbull's eye, is both a good thing and a problem. 

He's super complimentary about the books in the boxed set, but at the same time he expresses doubts about whether anyone will actually play it -- Turnbull thinks the game might be a shelf queen, praised by critics but not actually played. And why is that? There are a couple of points worth exploring here: 

  • Turnbull thinks that there are not actually a lot of RPGs being played. People buy games -- EPT, T&T, what have you -- but they don't actually play them as games in themselves. Instead, they mine them for ideas or roll them wholesale into their D&D games. He suspects that very few non-D&D games get a lot of play other than as part of a D&D game. I wonder if he was right -- there wasn't yet a game to take the "thinking man's D&D" mantle like RuneQuest would, and there wasn't yet a lot of game presence in other genres. Indeed, Playing at the World suggests that the distinction between "D&D" and "roleplaying games as a genre" was very, very fuzzy in the game's early history. 
  • Turnbull thinks that the game may just be too complex and time-consuming to play -- not because the system is difficult but because the setting is so large that generating it will be a right royal pain in the ass. Let me find the money quote. Here we are: 
Like MA [Metamorphosis Alpha], its scope is so vast that to play it thoroughly must approach a lifetime's experience. The referee's task is crucial here, for in both games it is virtually limitless ... the referee must populate a universe! Granted, the referee does not need to complete the entire ... universe before play can begin, but if the players are to have anything like reasonable freedom of action and choice [emphasis mine] the Traveller referee must do a good deal more pre-preparation than the D&D dungeonmaster, who can get by initially by creating two or three 'levels.'
Fascinating! What are we to make of it? I think it's very interesting to note that, like Pulsipher in No 4, Turnbull thinks that there are a lot of D&D games going in that don't have much of a setting -- just some scoundrels in a maze. And secondly, I think there's that emphasis on sandbox play. Since the players could hypothetically go anywhere and do anything, the ref has to be ready with at least a reasonable simulacrum of anything, whereas in D&D he or she has a reasonably good guess as to what the players' range of options are.

It made me wonder if increasing mechanical and setting complexity didn't go hand in hand with the decline of sandbox play as a concept? I'm not sure; I haven't really played Traveller, but I do think that games from the 80s tended to have settings that were much harder to just improvise. I don't know.

Anyway, it's fascinating, and of course Turnbull's dire predictions (which he goes back to in the last paragraph) were proven completely wrong. I should mention that I think this is a really good review. For me, the contextual discussion, wrong though it turned out to be, elevates it to much more than just your usual "here's what's in the box" piece.

There's a comic strip. Generic fantasy stuff needs an arresting visual presentation or else who cares? But perhaps people may not have felt this way 35 years ago.

"Treasure Chest" is full of crunchy bits: some new, complicated, magic items. One of them has four lines of doggerel on it. Then there's a system for giving XP for successful spellcasting. I'm sure someone can tell me why this is desirable. Then there's another hit location subsystem. I wonder how many hit location subsystems there are for D&D? I bet it's more than spell point systems, but on the other hand hit location subsystems are way easier to write.

The Classifieds are characteristically adorable. There's an ad for membership in the British Science Fiction Association ("Chairman: Arthur C. Clarke." Blimey!). 

I missed it from last issue, so check out this ad for Games Day.

Not what you'd get from GW marketing in this day and age, I'm sure you'll agree. 

Anyway, there you have it! I was really struck by just how stuffy and formal the language can sometimes sound. I would say it was an earlier era, but Dragon magazine was like this in 1991; like eating a great big bowl of sawdust. I wonder if perhaps most of the people writing for the magazine weren't really experienced writers? It's definitely a stylistic quirk that you get when people aren't really comfortable writing for publication -- they tend to go a bit serious as a way to compensate.

Again, I'm not sure there's anything in here I would really incorporate into a game (except maybe that mad-eyed Termagant), but it's all pretty fascinating. 

Sunday 29 June 2014

A piece of gaming history. Well, two.

I live in an area that has lots of charity shops, car boot sales and so on. Every now and again I find some cool piece of retro-gaming stuff at a good price. If it's something I want, then it goes in my collection, but if it isn't, then I try to resell it (at a low price; I'm not gouging) and add the profit to the little tin that houses my go-apeshit-at-Salute-or-failing-that-Fiasco fund. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had some great finds: a complete Rogue Trooper game that I sold almost immediately, and a complete (except for the plastic stands) 1st edition Blood Bowl. 

But that's not what I want to talk about. Yesterday, at a yard sale, I found a couple of 70s White Dwarfs -- issues 4 (the reprint version) and 6. And I found some of the articles very interesting, so I thought I would talk about them!

Look at that pretty-ass John Blanche cover.

So let's take a look at what's in here! We'll start with issue 4. Before the thing even gets going, there are some interesting ads!

Check out that ad in the top left corner. It's for game distributors "S.D. and V.M. Steel." The logo reminds me of distributor Esdevium, which of course could be another way of saying "SDVM." I never knew that!

The intro is by one of GW's founders, Ian Livingstone, and laments the lack of original British gaming products. Although we think of GW as the dominant force in British gaming, during the late 70s it was primarily a retailer, and the majority of gaming products were American. Livingstone, of course, went on to make crazy money off Fighting Fantasy, filling the need he identified in this piece. Anyway, onward. 

First up, "Alice in Dungeonland" by Don Turnbull. This is your usual whimsical D&D stuff. Manticores covered in wool disguising themselves as sheep, etc., etc. It's pretty crap dungeon design, in that it is, no lie, a straight path through an impassable hedge. Once you finish an encounter, the hedge closes behind you, so you can't do anything but just charge forward. It is pretty goofy. 

Then we have an article on D&D campaigns by Lewis Pulsipher. I sort of get the impression that there were a lot of these "how to make D&D work" articles going on in the early days of the game's history (well, relatively early -- it'd been out for a few years). A lot of them seem to share this article's insistence on trying to use a combination of alert GMing and mechanical strictures to make sure the game is played "right." Some of the remarks seem really weird -- like the idea that your PCs shouldn't venture out of the dungeon for the first couple of levels, which is logical given the way the rules work in early D&D (I guess) but seems absolutely bizarre to the modern ear. 

Tony Bath is next up with an article on Hyboria, the long-running sword and sorcery wargame campaign that was such an important part in the development of British fantasy gaming. Not too many surprises here if you know much about the game, but it is interesting to see how much role-playing and wargaming are intermingled; in fact, throughout the magazine, D&D is regularly referred to as a wargame. 

"Open Box" is yer review column. Famous items in this one include Nomad Gods, Dungeon! and Melee, which the review clearly treats as a combat supplement for D&D. Of course, together with Wizard, it would go on to become The Fantasy Trip which in turn would be GURPS

"Monsters Mild and Malign" is a little set of monsters, again from Turnbull. He makes a case here for the whimsical puzzle-monster. He also says (I think it's in this one) that he doesn't like new character classes because remembering the existing ones is hard enough. This will be ironic in a moment. It contains some goofy new monsters, none of whom really have the thematic oomph that would make them memorable antagonists. Of note here is the "Monstermark," basically an early attempt to codify how badass a monster is by creating a single value that takes into account its hit points, attacks, damage, and so on and so on. 

I continue to love the ads in this thing. There's one for occult paraphernalia!

The funny thing about the next column, "Treasure Chest," is that it contains a new class for D&D: The Barbarian! Yup, that was the new hotness in 1978, although this barbarian does not really resemble the one we know and love. There is a catching-arrows-out-of-the-air ability, which is a pretty neat concept and definitely exists in Viking sagas and so on. 

And then there's something called "The Loremaster of Avallon." Now this is part 4 of a series, so maybe I needed to read the other three for context, but just on a superficial analysis, this is the work of a disordered mind. 

It's another common feature of D&D house rules, which is an attempt to make Armour Class make any goddamn sense, but it does it in the form of an absolute crapload of tables and math. It's very hard to believe that this would be playable, but different groups are different. Perhaps reading the first three installments would make this feel less like something they find when they search the murderer's house. 

"Competitive D&D" by Fred Hemmings is the last few rooms of some patchwork dungeon with some tips on how to run competitive tournament scenarios. Eh. 

And then there's a letters column, some classifieds, all that kind of thing. 

So, overall impressions: I think there's a definite sense of punkity-rawk, but as done by nerds. A lot of the content is pretty blah, although I think the reviews are mainly on point. You can definitely see people struggling with the nature of the game, not quite sure what to do. There are a lot of gameable tidbits, although I don't think there's any of it I would incorporate into my game. 

It's mainly interesting, to me, as a snapshot of the British gaming scene developing. You can see only the dimmest shadow of the juggernaut that GW would become. Next time I will go over Issue 6. 

If you have questions, ask me and I'll take a look at the thing and see if I can answer it. 

Friday 27 June 2014

So what should go into a scenario?

I have been thinking about writing up one of the scenarios I've run for my Wednesday night D&D group -- tentatively titled The Magonium Mine Murders -- into something usable by another GM. And it is surprisingly difficult!

It's easy to think of some things that belong in scenarios and how to organise them -- for instance, location-keyed maps are relatively easy to do (although they can be done better or worse). But when the scenario has mystery elements, it's hard to figure out what should go where. I think I ought to describe the structure of the mystery first and then that will let the reader put the clues in context, but it feels like front-loading an awful lot of plot all at once. And it also feels a little redundant with NPC descriptions and location entries in some cases.

My general inclination is to put monster and item stats in the back (or in a page that gets linked to, or whatever) but I've also seen it done very effectively with them presented in-line (Forgive Us did this very well). So I guess I'm undecided.

I think the thing to do is go to the shelves, pull out adventures that I know I liked and take a look at how they present information. If you have particular scenarios or supplements that you think were very easy to read and understand, why not recommend some for me?

Sunday 22 June 2014

Then you get the women

Friend Tim of The Responsible One's Wargaming Blog recently retweeted some comments by Twitter user The Dice Bag Lady which I thought raised a familiar but interesting point:

I wonder if any miniatures company has had the "far out" idea yet to sculpt female models that aren't purely sex objects #controversial ;-)

Imagine if you just wanted a regular space marine, but they literally only come in assless chaps. (Ref previous tweet)
Now, this is true for the most part: representation of female characters, particularly in your more war-y type of wargame, is ... well, it isn't great. And specifically what you so seldom get is perfectly ordinary infantry rank-and-file troopers. Now, sometimes the banner of "realism" is flown in this respect. After all, historically militaries have been mainly (though far from exclusively) male.

But then that wouldn't explain things like the old GW female commissar, who has apparently decided to enter battle wearing ... er ... some kind of corset. In general, I think Dice Bag Lady's point is right: there are a lot of models of "fighting pinups," the kind of sexualised women in uniform drag that you get in airplane nose art, recruiting posters and so on. Otherwise, it's mostly all dudes -- there are few ordinary women just going about their business.

That's not to say that there are no such models in 40K -- there are a couple of female Imperial Guard figures, including, I think, one of the Last Chancers, one of the Ghosts and a couple of Catachans. In the case of the Ghosts, of course, that's a regiment described in the fiction as integrated, with female troops, female officers, and so on.

There were also some female warriors in the early Rogue Trader run, including what's pretty clearly a female Space Marine or two.

In many games, when you do tend to get female models, they're often in all-female factions. Consider Necromunda, where House Escher are all-female, but none of the other houses appear to have any female fighters at all, or Mordheim, where the Sisters of Sigmar are all-female, but there are hardly any female models in the other factions (there is quite a nice female Middenheim youngblood, but they're very rare).

A particularly weird example of this was in Warzone, where the character Valerie Duval was originally introduced as a member of the Etoiles Mortants, an elite military unit.

I could be misremembering, but I don't think that it was ever suggested originally that the unit was all-female. But by the time the models were being produced, that was certainly the case:

I wonder if the trend toward multi-part plastic models hasn't actually moved against the representation of female troopers in these types of games, at least of female soldiers in mixed units. After all, when all of your models are unique sculpts, it's easier to have quite a lot of variation. When their parts are supposed to be interchangeable, they need to be all much the same size and shape.

Some manufacturers have got around this problem -- consider Wargames Factory, who have a male and female zombie set and a male and female apocalypse survivor set, allowing interchangeability. But in general, I wonder if the trend toward standardisation hasn't been a problem for the portrayal of female characters (which, of course, assumes that they're somehow less desirable in the first place, which I don't agree with but which attitude I think is reflected by the availability of models out there).

I don't think you can place the blame on just technical problems, of course. The fact of the matter is that you're looking to represent a female character of any kind with a miniature, your odds are immeasurably better if she is a dominatrix, a nun, or some kind of prostitute.

Some people get mad, claiming that people who don't like these minis are trying to censor them or something like that. I don't think that's the case, though. It's just that the balance is really tilted in one direction. Just at a guess, it seems like minis lines are, in descending order of likelihood:
  1. Worlds in which women aren't represented, or barely present. 
  2. Worlds in which women primarily exist to be sexy sexy. 
  3. Worlds in which women are portrayed diversely. 
That may be customer demand; I dunno. I don't think most companies have thought about it. It's like the way non-European cultures are portrayed in Warhammer. It's super-duper racist, but I don't think that was anyone's intention. It's just the result of an unconscious reflex that reveals a broader social problem.

I don't propose to explore this problem here. I will take it for granted that the portrayal of more types of female characters -- heck, of characters in general -- is a good thing.  If you like them, you can buy them and if you don't it's no skin off your ass.  If you want to collect pinup models you should knock yourself out, and if people draw a conclusion based on that, that's life. Representation of women in geek culture is a problem, but, ya know.  One thing at a time.

So what do you do if you do want to have regular old female models? Happily, there are some examples of companies that don't follow the general trend. I think Mark Copplestone is an interesting case in point. The old models he sculpted for Grenadier, and the obviously related line he sells through his own company, show an interesting mixture of cheesecake and regular old female soldiers. Consider that the modern Copplestone line includes not only "Bodyguards in Bikinis":

... but also "Babes with Guns," not all of whom are too ridiculous.

But these are not the only female models in the line. There's the Female Troopers pack, who are mainly just, y'know, female troopers.

And if you buy the Trooper Officers blister, you'll see that one of the officers is a woman.

As are some of the cops.

The same is true of the old Grenadier line, now available through em-4 miniatures and Forlorn Hope. A couple of the troopers are female; one isn't wearing her body armour, but then the same is true for some of the male troopers, and neither of them are particularly overtly sexualised.

One of the really positive results of this conversation has been that people have popped up recommending companies that sell the kind of figures Dice Bag Lady is looking for -- these female Vikings from Bronze Age miniatures are only one example.

In terms of fantasy characters,  Reaper have some good stuff and some not so good, but variety is what we care about,  right? However, they are individual characters, on the whole, which is good for me but less so for the original question.

If you have examples of good, not too boobed-up female models, from any period or setting, why not leave a comment? I and my players will thank you.

One final note: not to quibble, but there's no such thing as "assless chaps." Or rather,  all chaps only cover the front of the legs.  You are supposed to wear trousers under them.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Space ruffians part 2

OK, so I have already posted the first part of my entry in the sci-fi week challenge issued by Chico of Oldhammer on a Budget. I painted up a squad of Reaper Bones IMEF Marines. Since I had a couple of days left, I thought I would add a few more models. I painted up the remaining IMEF model, the sniper, and also added a transport for the squad.

The sniper is done in the same way as the rest of the squad -- highlighting up from VMC Chocolate Brown and then colouring with various inks. I am not happy with how the face turned out, but she looks OK on the tabletop. 

The transport is inspired by a series of posts on the Chaos Arts blog. The transport is a cheap plastic toy armoured car from Little Green Men Toys. I picked up three of them for US $3.75 (about £2.25) each plus shipping on one of my trips to the USA. I chopped off the plastic gun from the turret, added a twin autocannon from a huge set of Robogear toys I got on eBay and stuck on a spare dozer blade from a 40K vehicle kit. I painted it up in a crude camo scheme that uses the main colours from the models, then weathered it kind of random and added a few decals from old tank and aircraft model kits. 

So now the squad has a bus to drive around in and someone to pick off HVTs. I think that's not bad for less than a week. 

Thursday 12 June 2014

Space ruffians

So, this week's painting challenge over at Oldhammer on a Budget is sci-fi. Now, I paint a lot of sci-fi minis already, but nothing on my painting table was really calling to me, so I had a rummage through the unpainted bins and found these Reaper Bones marines. According to the Reaper website, their names are Nick Stone, Torch McHugh, Reggie Van Zandt, Jazz Jenkins and Erik Proudfoot. I also have the sniper, Sarah Blitzer, but she needs to be straightened in hot water so I haven't painted her yet. These models were part of a very generous gift from a good friend, and they're among the only ones from that gift that I haven't painted.

I have a bad habit of picking up a squad's worth of sci-fi infantry guys from all different manufacturers: I have teams from Metal Magic/em-4, Copplestone, GW, Reaper again, Alternative Armies, Grenadier/em-4 and probably more that I'm not thinking of. They can look a little bitty -- and also I paint a hell of a lot of tan, browny-green and grey. I decided that I wasn't going to do that this time; I would make them a little more colourful.

I started these models on Tuesday morning, and decided to do them as fast as I could in between work projects. After removing the mould lines and washing them in dish soap (removing mould lines on Bones models is a giant pain in the ass, and I always miss some), I gave them an all-over coat of VMC Chocolate Brown, then drybrushed with a mixture of that and VMC US Field Drab, then straight US Field Drab. I then went over the armour plates with a mixture of US Field Drab and Ivory. I did the weapons and equipment with VMC German Grey, then a highlight of German Grey mixed with London Grey. I then blocked in the faces.

Time for washes! Face and hands got a flesh wash appropriate to the skin tone, then a couple of brown washes (Army Painter Strong for the cloth, followed by a re-highlight and a layer of Army Painter Soft), black washes (for the under-layer of armour and the boots as well as the weapons and kit).

In my mind I had decided that these guys were going be sort of Chaos-y characters in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, I guess because the Gears of War knockoff symbol on their chest armour made me think of the Chaos star. I wanted their armour plate to be reddish, but I didn't have a good red wash, so I picked up a pot of GW Carroburg Crimson while out yesterday. It turns out to be quite purply, but I think it actually looks OK. (I added a second layer of 50/50 that and a brown wash to tone it down a wee bit, although I don't know how noticeable it is.)

I think they look not bad; there are some things I would do differently the second time around, and there are some areas where I could add more detail but just couldn't be bothered (the hero's headgear is somewhat underdefined) and of course there are %@$*! mould lines everywhere, but hey! I painted five of 'em in two days while doing other things, and I think they look not too bad. If I get time I will add the sniper, just to make poor Jazz Jenkins, the only ordinary rifleman of the bunch, feel like even more of a chump.

The boys all together.
The sergeant, with look of grim determination and big ugly mould lines.

Jazz, the only private in all of GI Joe.

Marcus who? Never heard of 'im.

The heavy. Actually, I quite like this guy.

Monday 2 June 2014

Review: Forgive Us

So another thing I picked up while at UK Games Expo was Forgive Us by Kelvin Green, a supplement for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG -- although like pretty much everything for LotFP, it should work super-easily with anything based on old D&D, and pretty easily with more or less any similar RPG system. There's not a whole lot of mechanics.

It is both written and illustrated by Green, and it looks superb. It's in a little A5 paperback, and the layout is just so clean and smooth. Observe: 

The really clever thing is that the main scenario (there are three in total, one big one and two little ones) has its "dungeon" in the form of a complex of connected buildings -- so it's effectively broken up into modular chunks, each of which has just enough map and text to fit a two-page spread. It's really readable. Check out the little indented sections on the right-hand page up there: the top one is the stat block of a character encountered in the building, and the bottom two are specific descriptions of the numbered locations on the map. So easy to look up! 

OK, so the book looks terrific. What about the scenarios themselves? I'm not going to go into too much detail, because I intend to use these in my game and I expect that at least one of my players periodically reads my blog. I will say that it's nominally set in Norwich(!) in 1625, and that it deals with scoundrels, theft, secretive cults and grotesquerie. 

Yes, Norwich. Why not?
"Hmmm," you say. "Scoundrels, thefts and grotesquerie in a 30 Years' War setting? I wonder where I've heard that before." And it's true -- this scenario is very WHFRP-ish. In fact, you could run it in WHFRP with about 15 minutes' prep (figuring out spell lists for spell-casting NPCs would be about it). Green even says in his intro that he was inspired by White Dwarf scenarios from the golden age, and the influence is very clear. Which is a good thing. 

My own campaign is scumbag-heavy and magic-light, so Forgive Us is perfect for me. I think I will probably invest about half an hour in changing the scenario to be more consistent with my own game (oh, and I will probably half to come up with some D20 stats for the monsters, so maybe make it 45 minutes). Even if your campaign doesn't dovetail so well with the way this one is presented, there's a lot of good material in here that you'll be able to use. 

I paid £10 for this book, which seems like a lot (by my standards anyway) for such a small book, but when I consider that I'll probably get 3 sessions out of the main scenario and one each out of the remaining two, that's pretty good value for money. You can also (if you like) buy the PDF on RPGnow for under £5. As a side note, the A5 format of this book would probably display really well on a typical computer monitor with two pages side-by-side, considering that most game book PDFs are a pain to read on a laptop. And a single page should display cleanly on a tablet, although you'll lose the cool side-by-side presentation, I should think.

So, yeah, it is good quality. 

Honestly, the only thing I didn't like about it was when he talked about the White Dwarfs of that era and that made me feel a stab of regret at selling off all of mine at a flea market about 11 years ago. I did really need the money, though. I bet the good scenarios are all on the internet somewhere, though. 

Sunday 1 June 2014

Trip report: UK Games Expo!

Today a crony and I went to UK Games Expo in Birmingham. It was very good; I bought all kinds of stuff. But the most historically-relevant thing I bought was a deck of replica 16th-century German playing cards from The Historic Games Shop. These things are pretty cool: they are replicas of a deck from 1588, and they have four German suits: cups, vases, ink stamps and books. 

Note that the four of vases is an illustrated card: even the number cards are illustrated in this deck, like in a Tarot deck. 

The cards are a little bit flimsier than your modern deck, which apparently is more or less how they would be. I really like these and I need to incorporate them into a game in some way. I even spent an hour or so trying to figure out how they should be used in my history class, but nothing comes to mind just yet. 

The guy I spoke to at the company's stall was a cool dude, very friendly. I'm going to have to get some more of their stuff at some point.