Age Of Tyrants Rules

aot_facebook_placeholderFollowing on from the testing Mark and I did in November, there is a new version of the AoT rules up for you to have a play with.

This is slated for a Kickstarter in January, and I’ve seen some of the early test models already. Very nice they are too. I’ll show you some pics a bit closer to the time.

If you’re into mass battles do have a look and see what you think. I’m sure Mark and the crew would be very happy to hear any thoughts or feedback you might have on their new 6mm battle game :)



Posted in Age of Tyrants, Random Thoughts | Tagged | 2 Comments

DZR Beta Points Values

Just to make things a little easier when it comes to sorting through all the feedback on the DZR beta, I’d like to collect all the points queries here. Obviously getting the points costs of the different models is important, and I think it will be clearer for everyone if there’s a single thread for this. It’ll certainly make life easier when it comes to collating the feedback and making sure it all gets properly considered.

Many of the values in the beta have been changed since I did them, so I’m not going to take part in the debate on what’s right and wrong. That’s for you to decide – preferably based on your experience with the game on the table.

When looking at points values, please use the 16 point basic Enforcer as your reference point. We have to assume something is correct and that’s as good as any.

When you decide a value is wrong, please explain why you think so.

Also, please stick to just basic model costs for the moment. Leave weapon and item costs for later.

If you’ve got more general comments on DZR you can put them here.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 30 Comments


With the unexpected arrival of the Deadzone beta, I’ve been a little sidetracked into answering the questions on that thread. This is fine – after all, that’s why the thread is up in the first place. However, it might make DS players think I’ve forgotten them entirely. Not so.

I’ve been sorting out some diagrams for LOS as this seems like an important issue to discuss in an article. Of course, it needs diagrams to do so properly, and they take a bit more fiddling about than me just sitting down and bashing out some nonsense on the keyboard :)

I’ve also got a half-written article for my Game Design Theory series that I’d like to finish off. This is about working as a designer rather than rules, so is a bit different from the others. Still, I hope it will be of some interest.

Once those posts are done I should probably do a round up of the DZR beta comments and feedback so far. That thread is full of interesting and valuable discussions, but is getting rather long :)

Posted in Deadzone, Dungeon Sagas, Random Thoughts | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Deadzone Redux Beta FAQ

DZR Beta file is here: Deadzone 2 v1.3

Normally with FAQ pages I remove comments once I’ve included them in the FAQ. In this case I won’t be doing that as I want to keep the original comments to hand in case anyone at Mantic wants to check what people have said.

Please post all comments regarding point costs for models to the thread specifically for that. Thanks.

Posted in Deadzone, FAQ | Tagged , | 386 Comments

Building Site

It’s a mess here. Builders have spent the last few days smashing old plaster off walls, humping rubble about, and drinking lots of tea.

Today is day 2 without hot water or heating, with a puzzle in the plumbing that doesn’t want to be solved. Today they started turning the electricity on and off as they worked as well, meaning that this is written on my iPad.

All this needs to be done and they are making clear progress. It’s not conducive to getting much work done though.

And the cats are not impressed.

If this was all at 1:50th then it would be fine. Sadly, it’s a 1:1 scale job :)

Posted in Random Thoughts | 4 Comments

Balancing DS Campaigns

The campaign rules on page 31 of the DKQ quest book include a simple balancing mechanism to tailor things to your group.

The balance of the metagame is very sensitive to the relative skills of the different players, especially how cunning the Overlord is compared to the Heroes. Playing the Overlord and the Heroes requires different skills and mindsets, and people are usually better at one side or the other. Sometimes this means that the Heroes romp through with little to stop them; other times the Overlord halts them at every turn. Ideally you have a balance, but this isn’t always the case.

The campaign rules give the Heroes 15 campaign hours (tries) to get through all the adventures. During testing this was the average needed, and gave us about a 50/50 split of victories. However, as I mentioned above, the relative skills of the players often made a big difference, and you may want to tweak this if one side is especially cunning or inexperienced compared to the other.The easiest way to balance a campaign is to change the number of campaign hours available. You can either do this by simply picking what you think will work better for your group, or you can bid.

Bidding works well when you have more than one person who wants to play a particular side. One of the players declares that they can win with a particular number of campaign hours on the clock (you could start with 15). Then one of the other players who would like that role declares that he can do it in less/more (depending on which role they’re bidding for). Continue until all players bar one have dropped out. The last player then gets to try to live up to this boast as you play through the campaign.

Obviously it will depend on which role the players are bidding for as to whether the campaign hours bid should be going up or down. Bidding for the Overlord means offering higher numbers (meaning you have to hold out for longer).

Incidentally, the most common mistake of inexperienced Overlords is to care too much about their minions. Think big – the individual lives of your followers don’t matter. What is important is killing Heroes, and if that is proving too hard, simply slowing them up enough to allow your Great Work to be completed. In a campaign sense, this means slowing them down so much that they can’t get through an adventure before they run out of time. In reality, time running out simply means that reinforcements have arrived from deeper in the catacombs, and the Heroes are forced to retreat by a wall of enemies, and wait for them to return to their lairs once more before they can try again.

One final thought on these campaigns: people occasionally say that the Overlord misses out on the extra mini-missions. That’s right, he does, and quite rightly too. Apart from balance issues, this goes back to the difference in ways of thinking. We’re used to seeing movies and reading books where the Bad Guy is rather less detailed than the Heroes, and D&D et al has taught us that Heroes should be worried about the minutiae of equipment. The Overlord is appropriately rewarded by the campaign timer ticking down every time he wins, and this long view is where he needs his head at. His minions are merely the means to an end and individuals don’t matter, so nor does their exact equipment – the Overlord has far more important things to be pondering. Heroes, on the other hand, are all about the individual and really care who has the shiniest sword :)

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Game Design Theory | Tagged , | 7 Comments

DS Commands & Command Cards

One of the changes on the DS FAQ is a piece of errata for page 76, explaining the numbers of Commands per turn and Command cards the Overlord has. Some folk have found this a bit contra-intuitive, but it is correct.

The confusing bit seems to be that the Overlord gets more Command cards against inexperienced opponents. That’s because the cards are the game’s timer, so more cards means more time for the neophyte Heroes to make their way past the Overlord’s minions.

Commands per turn works the other way, as this is the real danger to the Heroes. Here the Overlord gets the ability to do more against higher level Heroes, to balance the game better.

However, these are just guidelines. The number of Commands per turn is particularly hard to make fixed rules about because it is so sensitive to things like the layout of the tiles. You’ll note that the pre-written adventures have a much wider range for Commands per turn than mentioned here, and this is because they’ve been balanced by repeated playing.

When you design your own adventures I’d start with 3 Commands per turn as a starting point and see how that goes. You may find that the layout makes the Overlord’s job easy, even if he doesn’t have that many minions. All sorts of things can impact this balance, such as the type and strength of locks, width of corridors, number of doors and so on. And that’s not to mention the combination and levels of Heroes and the relative skills of the Hero and Overlord players.

All told, you will probably need to be prepared to adapt things to suit your player group if you want every adventure to be perfectly balanced. I will be adding another article on balancing quests to offer some more suggestions, but the fundamentals aren’t going to change. There’s no way to make something this flexible into a hard and fast universal rule (that works). That was always going to be the downside of having a system that allows so much mutability :)

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Random Thoughts | Tagged | 12 Comments