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Author Topic: [Krasnoarmeets] Ronnies feedback  (Read 4231 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: January 02, 2006, 11:41:07 AM »

Krasnoarmeets by James Holloway wins a Low Ronny! Check out some earlier discussion in [Kpachoapmee/Krasnoarmeets] Enemy at the Ronnies Gates.

At last, the Stalingrad RPG I was hoping for - I knew I threw authors a curve by not permitting Soviet, gun, and mud all together, and wondered how many folks would find a way around it. As a side note, the Soviet War Memorial (the one just west of the Brandenburg Gate) was one of the most moving sights of my visit to Berlin ... 25+ million dead, man ... geez.

So, we are looking at an RPG with minis, complete with group painting. Kind of a hefty buy-in, financially, don't you think? Although I applaud the idea of approaching "what we do here at this table" in a different way. As I see it, the big design goal is to keep it an RPG, letting the mini thing be useful and invoke "army men" without becoming itself a wargame.

To do that, it needs more structure for two things: (a) scenario/mission prep and overall "how many" missions, and (b) becoming a frontovik, which should be a big deal. Arguably, the latter should be independent of character death. By structure for these things, I don't necessarily mean detailed in-the-moment rules that you apply in the middle of resolution mechanics. Such rules might be how the two big things are expressed, or they might not. You'll have to consider that carefully.

On the debit side toward the big design goal, I think that small-scale nuances of terrain and wargamey resolution stuff like 5" movement interfere with it. Using the map as a rules and scenario organizer, and as an orienter toward the terrain at the largest scale, are great - but using it as a source of small-scale modifiers, for instance, is not.

Damn! The rules for tovarishti are crucial, as you mentioned in a recent post. Missing that is what bumps the award to a Low. I was thinkin' "High Ronny" until I hit that part. I can see how they'd fit, too! Relate them to the excellent stress mechanic that you have, especially the fact that you don't gain Stress when you are hit.

Best,
Ron
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James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2006, 01:52:03 PM »

Too much time spent faffing about with resolution and not enough time spent on the stuff that really mattered, viz. mission structure/escalation, character development, tovarishti. Absolutely. Working on this right now.

Too many modifiers? Yes, absolutely.

Too much investment? Maybe. I have to admit this is kind of an RPG written specifically for me and my old California group, wargamers all and given to get together for painting evenings. A lot of the base investment, in terms of terrain, paints, etc. we'd already have. In the game, I'll discuss how to set up a Krasnoarmeets table on a budget.

I quite like the wargamey movement, etc., but then again this may be because it seems like second nature to me. I should try it out with some people who are more traditional RPG players and see if it causes a problem.

We shall see. I got a copy of Zaloga's The Red Army of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 for Christmas, and it's got me thinking about the game again, so hopefully I should have a revised edition for posting in the next couple of weeks. Then we'll see where we go from there.
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James Holloway
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2006, 06:33:12 PM »

Further: at the moment I'm thinking that your tovarishti can, by interacting with you in the base, singing songs, getting drunk, etc., actually take stress from you onto themselves, and vice versa, rather than just plain getting rid of it -- although maybe they can get rid of small amounts, but if they try to get rid of large amounts, they take some themselves. The tovarishti are sharing each other's burdens.

I'd have to see how this works out in play -- I would hate for it to become a bloodless load-balancing mechanism. Maybe a random element to it. Not sure about this yet. Base may possibly include scavenging for booze, smokes, concertinas (each battalion of the Red Army was supposed to be issued at least one concertina) which help relieve stress? Not sure about that.

Mission progression is going to work something like this: you have X different types of mission (my notes say patrol, reconnaisance, defend, assault, capture; I could probably think of one or two others), each of which has a certain mission rating. When you complete a mission, the big campaign number goes up, until it reaches a certain level (set by the play group based on how long they want the campaign to be, I think) and then it's time for the big push. Possibly the amount added to the campaign number varies depending on whether the mission was a success or failure? Or the success or failure leads into a mission-selection tree?

I'm considering having the mission rating have something to do with the forces available to the Germans and Romanians (and how pathetically excited am I that HaT is finally releasing that Romanian Infantry boxed set? It doesn't bear thinking about), but part of me wants to say that the GM should really decide this stuff more or less at random -- some missions are walkovers, and some are simply impossible. Once you figure out the job can't be done, you have to say screw it and go back to the base, where you get a yelling-at from your commander, but that's life.

Experience, experience: still kicking this one around. Open to suggestions. Is the feedback thread the right place for this stuff or should I start a new Krasnoarmeets development thread?
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komradebob
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Posts: 462


« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2006, 06:37:51 PM »

Hi James:
I'm following the development of your game with great interest.

I think the inclusion of the group figure painting in addition to picking figures is an absolutely genius move. For me it is on par with the idea of group chargen or player participation in setting creation. I think it's fairly important in moving the physical pieces from the category of merely positional pawns to being an important part of character concept, the way a character sheet is. James, I hope you'll understand if I steal this particular technique for a design of my own at some future point. In terms of financial commitment for the group, realistically, how much are we looking at? My estimates are somewhere between $10-30 for the entire group as a whole, including paint and brushes, but not rules cost. I'm not saying that there is no cost involved, but I do think the cost of minis in games is often over-emphasized as a downside.
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2006, 06:48:12 PM »

In terms of financial commitment for the group, realistically, how much are we looking at?
Well, it all depends. You're going to have to translate into dollars if you care about them; one pound is about $1.70 or so.

Bare bones version: one box of Italeri/Esci Red Army, maybe two of Germans: twelve quid. That's everybody's models plus plenty of spares. We'll need a couple pots of brown paint, some green, some flesh, some gray, red, I dunno. All that kind of thing. That could be twenty pounds, with brushes. Maybe more. Good brushes are expensive. Terrain could be a big one if you don't have any. I have no idea of an estimate on that. I would be tempted to get a big-ass bucket of celluclay or papier-mache and some 2x2 particle board squares and just have all the players moosh it around to make the terrain. Get your fingers in there and make permanent terrain, then slap a couple coats of regular brown paint on it and work from there. Plays with the "mud" theme nicely, too.

Expensive version? The sky's the limit. Pricey but good 1/48 figures from North Star could run you a couple of quid each, and you could really go berserk on the terrain.

But honesly, I suspect that if you're the kind of group likely to play this game you're likely to have the basic painting infrastructure under control. Someone in the group is going to paint, at the very least.

I was going to say that I've never been in a gaming group where someone wasn't an enthusiastic miniature painter, but then I realized that was only because I've never been in a group that didn't have me in it.
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komradebob
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2006, 07:13:07 PM »

Gah!

Okay- when it's time to write the part on doing it on a budget, call me, okay? I'm like the cheapest minis gamer evah!

But, if the sky is the limit, check out Black Tree, particularly the scouts, characters, and partisans over here. I've been looking for an excuse to buy those forever.
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2006, 07:14:43 PM »

I love miniatures games and can't paint for shit, so it'd be an issue for me (I played Warhammer in grad school with some friends by making up a bunch of unit icons and printing out literally hundreds of tiny bases I cut out and glued to bits of cut-up cereal box -- and yes, that was for me easier than trying to paint anything).

Base may possibly include scavenging for booze, smokes, concertinas (each battalion of the Red Army was supposed to be issued at least one concertina) which help relieve stress...

MUST HAVE CONCERTINAS. I want to play a miniatures wargame where the most important item of equipment in the squad is the fucking accordion. "Ivan, what are you doing?" "I'm going back for the concertina!" "No, the Panzers will kill you for sure!" "But we need the +4 to Stress Relief rolls!" Etc.
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komradebob
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2006, 07:23:09 PM »

I love miniatures games and can't paint for shit, so it'd be an issue for me (I played Warhammer in grad school with some friends by making up a bunch of unit icons and printing out literally hundreds of tiny bases I cut out and glued to bits of cut-up cereal box -- and yes, that was for me easier than trying to paint anything).
In a way, I think that makes the painting as a group even more important. It's a bonding experiece for the players, that is mirrored in the relationship of the characters.

Having said that, I paint like a blind chimpanzee with a raggedy q-tip, so...

Quote
MUST HAVE CONCERTINAS. I want to play a miniatures wargame where the most important item of equipment in the squad is the fucking accordion. "Ivan, what are you doing?" "I'm going back for the concertina!" "No, the Panzers will kill you for sure!" "But we need the +4 to Stress Relief rolls!" Etc.

Hell yes. I've been trying to figure out how to work bagpipes into a ww1 game.
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
James Holloway
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2006, 07:42:55 PM »

MUST HAVE CONCERTINAS.
Well, you know, this all started as trying to get around the problem of designing a game set during a war without "gun," but I actually like it. I've got a good quote somewhere about how it's acceptable to smoke during combat.
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komradebob
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2006, 09:23:12 AM »

MUST HAVE CONCERTINAS.
Well, you know, this all started as trying to get around the problem of designing a game set during a war without "gun," but I actually like it. I've got a good quote somewhere about how it's acceptable to smoke during combat.

I think that your take on guns in this design is especially good- The figures have guns because they're soldiers in a war. Gun-bunny statistic-love, however, isn't the focus of their use. Very nice!

I wanted to ask a couple of questions related to the physical pieces:
I've stated that I think the group painting is important for player emotional investment in the game. Couple follow ups:
Have you considered any in-game effects of painted versus unpainted figures? I'm thinking about two key areas: replacements for killed characters and enemy troops. Should fngs even be painted until they finish a mission? Is there a mechanical way to integrate painted and non-painted enemy troops? Overall, I'm getting at the idea of painted ( known, significant, fleshed out) characters, versus unpainted ( unknown, faceless enemies or replacements). I guess i'm thinking about a sort of ritualized aspect to the game.

On a related idea, what about the player creation of terrain pieces? Who has responsibilty to make this stuff, and how is it integrated into the overall ritual of gaming? Can this aspect be tied into the campaign? Is the GM repsonsible for example for shoosing missions only based on the terrain available? Should players get a say in the terrain used in a mission? How about the creation of terrain for the base?

Overall, I'm trying to ask about the creation/ addition to the overall game collection, thinking about it in a fashion similar to component creation/development in Universalis. I'm curious about you're own take, because I've been thinking about the issue in terms of how a group of miniatures game players interact on the SC level, and how that might be tied to actual in-games rules.

Thanks,
Robert
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2006, 02:39:07 AM »

I wanted to ask a couple of questions related to the physical pieces:
I've stated that I think the group painting is important for player emotional investment in the game. Couple follow ups:
Have you considered any in-game effects of painted versus unpainted figures? I'm thinking about two key areas: replacements for killed characters and enemy troops. Should fngs even be painted until they finish a mission? Is there a mechanical way to integrate painted and non-painted enemy troops? Overall, I'm getting at the idea of painted ( known, significant, fleshed out) characters, versus unpainted ( unknown, faceless enemies or replacements). I guess i'm thinking about a sort of ritualized aspect to the game.
Unpainted figures give me a rash. In general, I'm thinking the GM will paint the baddies (because in general I'm thinking the GM is me, right?) and that if a whole company is going to be painted, the paint job is pretty simple. So non-PCs are probably going to have a simplistic block-painted kind of a look. Beyond that, I have to admit I haven't really given it much thought.
Quote
On a related idea, what about the player creation of terrain pieces? Who has responsibilty to make this stuff, and how is it integrated into the overall ritual of gaming? Can this aspect be tied into the campaign? Is the GM repsonsible for example for shoosing missions only based on the terrain available? Should players get a say in the terrain used in a mission? How about the creation of terrain for the base?
I think communal terrain creation would be fantastic, actually, particularly of the base. I'd like to see the same terrain essentially used over and over again -- this is your sector of the front, and you're responsible for it.
Quote
Overall, I'm trying to ask about the creation/ addition to the overall game collection, thinking about it in a fashion similar to component creation/development in Universalis. I'm curious about you're own take, because I've been thinking about the issue in terms of how a group of miniatures game players interact on the SC level, and how that might be tied to actual in-games rules.

Thanks,
Robert
This is all good stuff; keep it up.
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Doug Ruff
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Posts: 445


« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2006, 05:34:53 AM »

I wanted to ask a couple of questions related to the physical pieces:
I've stated that I think the group painting is important for player emotional investment in the game. Couple follow ups:
Have you considered any in-game effects of painted versus unpainted figures? I'm thinking about two key areas: replacements for killed characters and enemy troops. Should fngs even be painted until they finish a mission? Is there a mechanical way to integrate painted and non-painted enemy troops? Overall, I'm getting at the idea of painted ( known, significant, fleshed out) characters, versus unpainted ( unknown, faceless enemies or replacements). I guess i'm thinking about a sort of ritualized aspect to the game.
Unpainted figures give me a rash. In general, I'm thinking the GM will paint the baddies (because in general I'm thinking the GM is me, right?) and that if a whole company is going to be painted, the paint job is pretty simple. So non-PCs are probably going to have a simplistic block-painted kind of a look. Beyond that, I have to admit I haven't really given it much thought.

How about starting the game with all the minis (PC and NPC) gettting a 'generic' paint job? As in, the uniform and skin etc is painted, but no detail work. As the end of each scenario, features get added to the survivors - maybe a bandage or a bit of stubble, some rank insignia to represent a field promotion and so on. So the minis develop as the characters develop.
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'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'
James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2006, 04:33:36 PM »

How about starting the game with all the minis (PC and NPC) gettting a 'generic' paint job? As in, the uniform and skin etc is painted, but no detail work. As the end of each scenario, features get added to the survivors - maybe a bandage or a bit of stubble, some rank insignia to represent a field promotion and so on. So the minis develop as the characters develop.
While that's a cool idea, it does raise storage and transport issues, because you're talking about not varnishing these figures at all. That could get a little ugly.
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komradebob
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Posts: 462


« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2006, 09:48:06 AM »

Quote
Unpainted figures give me a rash. In general, I'm thinking the GM will paint the baddies (because in general I'm thinking the GM is me, right?) and that if a whole company is going to be painted, the paint job is pretty simple. So non-PCs are probably going to have a simplistic block-painted kind of a look. Beyond that, I have to admit I haven't really given it much thought.


Perhaps I've misunderstood a bit about your game. Why would a company of baddies be necessary for the GM to paint? I thought that each player used one character figure? Wouldn't having a whole company of enemies be a bit of overkill for the likely missions?

As for the GM doing the painting-why?

Here's what I'm thinking:
Think of the players having some responsibility to paint up both their own troops, enemies, and terrain. Think of this stuff sort of like Kickers (not completely, but sort of...)- It's a way for the players to tell you, the GM, what kind of missions they want to play. If they paint snipers, you'll make sniper bangs/missions. If it's a machinegun nest, again, it gives you something to work with.

Admittedly, this isn't a direct translation of kickers/bangs, but there is a similarity of method.

Popping up to the gamerules/sc frontier for a moment, you could feasibly integrate painting/terrain creation by the players with the missions. For a moment, let's consider that you're writing rules where actually having cool models is important. You aren't even trying to satisfy folks that don't love the painted toy soldiers and developed model terrain- you're writing for groups like your own that do love this stuff! What could you do with that? How can you make those methods/techniques work in that context?

I guess I'm thinking of what rules you mght put in place, integrated with a campaign, that works from the perspective of a play group/club context where the participants want to go whole hog on the minis. What would make this easier? How much should each person contribute? What in-game rewards can be established for participating in this fashion?
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2006, 06:02:09 PM »

Perhaps I've misunderstood a bit about your game. Why would a company of baddies be necessary for the GM to paint? I thought that each player used one character figure? Wouldn't having a whole company of enemies be a bit of overkill for the likely missions?
Well, yeah, OK, a company is probably overkill. There should be a company's worth of variety, but you're never going to field more than three rifle squads against the PCs, and seldom even that.
Quote
Quote
As for the GM doing the painting-why?
No reason, really. Tradition.
Quote
Here's what I'm thinking:
Think of the players having some responsibility to paint up both their own troops, enemies, and terrain. Think of this stuff sort of like Kickers (not completely, but sort of...)- It's a way for the players to tell you, the GM, what kind of missions they want to play. If they paint snipers, you'll make sniper bangs/missions. If it's a machinegun nest, again, it gives you something to work with.
Could do, could do.
Quote
I guess I'm thinking of what rules you mght put in place, integrated with a campaign, that works from the perspective of a play group/club context where the participants want to go whole hog on the minis. What would make this easier? How much should each person contribute? What in-game rewards can be established for participating in this fashion?
If I knew, I'd be a happier gamer. But in all the wargames clubs I know (which isn't many), if you want to get everyone into something, you're responsible for handling it. I guess that's the attitude I'm bringing to the game, but there's no real reason for it; it's an artifact of my situation and not anything inherent in the game rules.

In a way, the game represents the gap between my California and Cambridge game groups. It aspires to the first, but when I discuss it here I kind of assume the second, although there's no real reason to.
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