Miniature Mondays: Good Foundations

The base boards I’ve been talking about for my nostalgic SF cover a number of different themed environments. One of these is a spaceship interior – clearly an essential. I was originally thinking of doing this with modular pieces that included the floor as part of each section. However, after I saw this kickstarter, I think I’ll be using some of these as a starting point instead:

They look like they’ll save me a load of faffing about making a base and a framework for the walls on which I can hang detail. Plus they have lighting, which looks cool, in a slightly tacky 80s SF way 🙂

I’ve also been gathering lots of bits of detail gubbins which I was going to stick on homemade wall frames, but can now just add to this. I think I’ll want to disguise their laser cut origins, but that shouldn’t be impossible.

This isn’t going to be the first board I do – that’s still the Plaza – I just thought I’d hoover this up while I saw it 🙂

Posted in Miniature Mondays, Old Skool Skirmish | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Good Question

Estyles had a good question about why the Halji30 competition has an entry fee. I thought it might help to pull it out here.

Why is there a ÂŁ9 entry fee? Is there a copy of the game involved? From what I can see, it looks like you requesting design ideas and charging to review them, with the only prize being a chat with the designer, and you will use any ideas you like. Is that the case, or did I miss something?

That’s a good question: why is there an entry fee?

Well, there are a number of answers. In no particular order…

It’s a competition rather than a raffle. As a contest of skill, it takes some time to properly judge this, and that time comes out of the only resource I have to pay my bills: time. I strongly suspect that ÂŁ9 will not cover the actual costs of dealing with each entry, but the fact that it was 30 x 30p amused me because of the 30th anniversary link.

As a point of reference, I visited my mum yesterday and she sometimes enters poetry competitions. These typically cost ÂŁ5 per poem (up to 40-50 lines long). Now, reading through 2 short poems is way quicker and simpler than dealing with an entire game design, so ÂŁ9 does not seem unreasonable to me.

There’s also the frequent suggestion that charging for something makes people take it more seriously. I think this is probably true, and so having some sort of entry fee helps with this. It means fewer people will enter, but then this isn’t a serious money-making scheme for us; it’s a bit of fun.

The intention is that people submit whole games, not just ideas. Ideas are not something that we are not in any shortage of, thank you. I’ve already got several hundred game ideas in notebooks.

A big part of the prize is getting published, so naturally we will use the work that the winner submits. That’s the point.

The “chat with the designer” could also be referred to as a free consultation – something I normally charge companies for. If someone is interested in getting into the games industry professionally and having more games published then they probably have questions. Having spent 30 years in the business in a wide variety of roles, I often have those answers.

Note that running this competition is actually more faff and hassle for me and Chris than not doing it. We have no need to plunder your ideas, it’s just that Chris and I thought it would be fun to include other people and give someone a chance to get their name in print. If you’re not interested in this then there’s no need to take part. There’s no compulsion.

Posted in Battle of the Halji, Board Gaming, Competition | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Halji 30 01As I mentioned earlier this week, Chris and I are running a competition to design a new rule set for Battle of the Halji’s 30th anniversary edition. Just so it’s all in one place, I’ve repeated the rules and reference files below.

So, if you’re interested in trying your hand at creating a new kind of mayhem with the Belge, the Naffle and all the rest of the menagerie, please be our guest 🙂


Competition Rules

  1. You must design a new game using only the components from the original box. No new components are allowed, though non-obvious use of what’s included in the box is entirely reasonable and somewhat encouraged. The more of the original components you use, the better.
  2. The new game must be set in the original theme. This does not mean it has to be exactly the same story, but must clearly be part of the same world.
  3. You can design any type of game you want as long as it sticks to (1) and (2).
  4. The rules must be written clearly, in English, and in a sensible font so our ancient eyes can read them. If we can’t read it, it’s unlikely to win. Remember, we’re not judging your layout skills, or your fancy graphics, just your game design.
  5. Your submission must be sent to us as an A4 pdf. If you win we will ask for it in Word so we can edit and lay it out.
  6. It costs £9 to enter (30p x 30). Payment details (Paypal) will be sent to entrants on application. You can get the details by emailing Jake.
  7. There is a maximum limit of 30 entries. First come, first served.
  8. If you don’t have a copy of Halji already, don’t worry. There are some links to a PDF version below, and a video of all the game contents so you can see what you have to work with.
  9. Entries must arrive by 9am Tuesday the 13th of September 2016 (UK time). Don’t ask.
  10. Copyright in the original game rules, game world, and distinctive terms and images remains with us. Copyright of your new design remain with you. By entering this competition you agree to allow us use your new rules in print and digital editions of the 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Rules for no charge.
  11. If you are the winner, in addition to getting your name (and game) in print, you’ll also get a one-day mentoring/consulting session with Jake, either in person or over Skype (depending on where you are). This would be ideal to discuss any game ideas you might have, and get the benefit of advice from someone with three decades’ experience in the games industry.
  12. Finally, we reserve the right to not declare a winner if there is no entry of sufficient quality. Conversely, if there is more than one stand-out submission we may decide to have more than one winner. The judges’ decision is final in this and all other competition matters.

If you’ve got any questions about this then drop us a comment below.



Reference files



There’s also a video of Chris unboxing the game to go through the components. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to link it here, so you’ll have to check it out on his site.

Posted in Battle of the Halji, Board Gaming, Competition | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Now That’s Good Timing

Given the topic of my Miniature Mondays post, this competition from Beasts of War is rather well-timed. I wonder if I can do something to fit their criteria.


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Miniature Mondays: wrecker’s yard

One thing about the good old days is that they weren’t all that good. At least, not if you’re talking about variety of stuff you could buy off the shelf, ready-made. These days there are many, many times more of everything available: more miniatures, more scenery, more paints, more rules, more tutorials – you name it, there’s more choice now.

However, back in those long-gone days or yore, when we hadn’t got more than a few card buildings out of old White Dwarfs to stick on the table, we had to make sure own. And, when we did, we used all manner of rubbish: insides of old radios, toilet roll holders, Pringles tubes (once they’d been invented), toothpicks, film cases, and so on. Whatever you could find that had an interesting shape.

While I’m intending to use slightly more robust materials than cereal packets for my own core construction, I thought it would be fun to go back to that nostalgic ransacking to see if I could find any interesting stuff for my Old Skool Skirmish boards.

The first victim was an old router I found. It’s not worth anything on eBay, and it’s outdated so it’s not much use elsewhere. So out came the toolkit…

Here’s what it looked like when I started.

Old router 01The dirty white outer case popped off easily enough. Can’t see a use for that. The inner box has perforated sides that look like they should have some use, so I wanted to get into that. Fiddly stuff, but it came apart in the end.

Old router 02The PCB is mostly rubbish. I’ve seen them used on scenery before, and they look terrible. Just like giant PCBs, which is silly. The trick is to find something that’s got an interesting shape you wouldn’t be able to easily make, but which you can disguise in terms of scale and provenance.

Old router 03I’m liking the look of this clear plastic curvy pseudo piping. Not sure what it’s actually doing in here, though I can see it as piping on a tabletop.

Old router 04The other bits I like are the insides of the ports. These look like they might do as air-con units, or something like that once they’ve been taken off the board.

Old router 05Then there’s the sides of the inner case, with their perforations. It’s nice and robust, so could be a wall of some sort. Might suit some part of my modernist Plaza.

Old router 06I’ve not quite finished hacking off the goodies and dumping the rubbish – I ran out of time before I had to write this. You can see where I’m going though. And this is fun too. You never know what you’re going to find when you crack something open!

Do you game over scratch built terrain made from found items, or are you a buy off the shelf kind of gamer?

Posted in Miniature Mondays, Nostalgia, Old Skool Skirmish, Terrain | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Halji30 Competition

Halji box coverI’ve mentioned the idea of a Battle of the Halji competition a few times as something to mark its 30th anniversary, next year. Well Chris and I (mostly Chris, actually) have finally finished getting all the files and competition rules sorted out, so the competition is live as of now.

So what do you need to do?

The first step is to mosey over to Chris’s site where all the relevant game files, competition rules and even a video unboxing are awaiting your delectation and delight.

We look forward to playing you’re entries 🙂




Posted in Battle of the Halji, Competition | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Miniature Mondays: does size matter?

More thoughts on terrain boards today.

If you’d asked me last week, what size are OSS boards, I’d have happily told you that they were 2×2 foot square. Now, I think I’ve changed my mind.

The reason is simple. Whilst the 2×2 boards work very well for the scenarios I’d tried out before during early playtests, when I did a rough set of new scenarios there were some that found it too confining. Now I really like the slightly cramped battlefields for a number of game play reasons, so I want to keep that. However, it was impinging on my ability to tell stories, and as that’s one of the core ideas of OSS it had to be changed.

So, having spent some hours blocking things out and pushing models about on several other sizes and shapes of boards, I’ve settled on 2×4 feet as a standard size. This allows me to play either across or down the board, and that flexibility gives me a lot more options when it comes to scenario set ups.

A little of the doodling, showing a couple of the simple scenario layouts I was playing with.

OSS terrain boardsOn the left is an idea based on what happened to Varus’ unfortunate legions (ambush with raised ground to ambush from, and marsh to push folk into). On the right is a Plaza a bit like this one:

Plaza 07

The arrows show the direction of attack.

This sort of sketching out, plus a lot of pushing things about on the actual size boards, are how I work these things out. Nothing too high tech 🙂

Posted in Miniature Mondays, Old Skool Skirmish, Terrain | Tagged , , | 14 Comments