Monday, 27 March 2017

Big Stompy Robots Newsletter

Some more information on Gav Thorpe's 'Big Stompy Robots' project...

Sci-Fi Artwork from Gav's Website
One of Sammy's Robot Toys
I’ve been a little quiet on the Big Stompy Robots front, mainly just to take a breather after getting everything sorted for the ROBIN show, but also because I’ve been up against a deadline for Black Library and frankly my brain hasn’t been in the right place on my downtime.
That said, I have started the wheels moving again, with an eye to getting an updated version ready for participation games at ChillCon in Sheffield.
The show is on the 27th May so that gives me about eight weeks to get to the next iteration. After that my eye is firmly fixed on DaffCon in August.
I’ve deliberately assumed the attitude that I’m just doing Big Stompy Robots for a bit of fun, without thinking too much about what might come of it commercially. This is to a) stop me thinking about it as work and therefore time spent not on things directly paying the mortgage, and b) to genuinely have fun while I’m designing and playing, so that I end up with a game I haven’t compromised for some imagined retail consideration, and so that I have something I can play again and again if nothing else comes of it.
To that end, just playing with model robots is cool motivation in itself, but events like ChillCon are handy for giving me milestones to aim for. ROBIN was perhaps a little ambitious in retrospect, but with a demo-able game now ready, all future events are less of a steep climb. They give me a little extra incentive to get some more terrain made, for example, or to sort out the next batch of weapons, or to buy some new mechs to paint. All things I would do anyway, but perhaps with a little more priority among the many other hobby projects I just wish I could do 24/7!
I have also started frequenting the War and Peace Games Club, which assembles every Wednesday night just 15 minutes away, with my new gaming buddy Dave (who I met doing an interview for the Four Dads of the Apocalypse website). I’m hoping to rope in, er, I mean interest, a few more people there, perhaps get them to paint a mech or two and get a little thing running. In time I also hope to have a presentable print-and-play version for folks on this newsletter list so that you can make your own copies and let me know how you get on.
Still, small steps for now, but moving toward an end goal.

The Rules

The rules have been my main area of interest lately. Rather than repeat myself, you can have a look at the new Games Design blog on my website which discusses how I've approached changing the game following playtesting and demo games.
Also, I have put together another short rules video, this time regarding the mechanics for moving your mech.  It took me longer than it should have done to figure out how to stitch two videos together so I could have a "talk to camera" section on the video, so please appreciate all my hard work!  Also, any suggestions for free and easy to use video editing software would be greatly appreciated!
Video explanation of how movement works in the game

The Models

There isn’t really anything to report on the models front. While I’m nailing down the main rules I don’t want to monkey around too much with other variables of size and different weapon combos, so I am sticking to the models assembled for ROBIN.
I hope that pretty soon I’ll be getting some more mechs though, and will probably be hitting the Heavy Gear range first as they seem to be the closest to what I want in terms of model size and weapon choices.

The Terrain

I recently attended Hammerhead, a wargames show in Newark. I was there to help my friend Carl from Second Thunder, demoing Open Combat to folks. But I was able to slip away for a bit to seek out any Big Stompy Robots-related goodies.
What I found was a nice bunch of things to expand the terrain collection. Most of these came from Ainsty Castings, and though primarily made for 25mm / 28mm games I picked out some pieces that wouldn’t look amiss on my 10mm scale board – in some cases the lack of scaling details can be very useful!
Hawk Wargames Ammo & Crates
I’m pleased with the ammo crates in particular, because I want to make ammo drops a part of the game and now I have some markers to use.
I also got drawn into the Hawk Wargames range of scenery and add-ons for Dropzone Commander. Not only is the Cityscape urban city-in-a-box a great bargain (I went for the post-battle look), it allows me to retire my Titan Legions ork buildings for now! Being able to easily assemble a completely different board layout from the ‘frontier colony’ table I’m putting together will help test out the building rules I’ve been working on.
To complement them I also picked up their civilian vehicles packs – these are lovely castings that required only a little clean up and I think will really give the mechs some scale. The buses and trucks in particular would make great mobile objectives either as an escort mission or perhaps trying to seize or destroy them. This is the sort of thing where actual hobbying and playing can give rise to areas for development, organically creating ideas to explore in the rules.
Mech & Truck
Hawk Wargames Civilian Vehicles
Yes, I needed to give a couple of these a better soapy wash before I sprayed them, but nothing a little bit of paint won’t put right...
So that's where I am to-date.  Thank you to everyone who has emailed with comments and suggestions on the game so far - keep it coming!
The next newsletter will probably be just before ChillCon at the end of May, as I've got a busy few weeks coming up.  Let me know if you're attending the event, so I can make sure I've got enough Big Stompy Robot Cakes! No, I'm not above bribing you to visit my demo game.
Cake with a robot decoration
Finally, as before, this isn't one of those 'do not reply' emails.  It might take a week or so, depending on how busy I am, but I reply to every email I receive.  All questions, suggestions, and general motivation welcome.

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