Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nemo's War

I mentioned a while back my sojourn to Tempe, AZ as GOH at Consim World Expo 2011. I had a great time (as always) and came back with lots of jobs to keep me busy for the foreseeable future (once A Prince of Mars is finished, of course.) Most of the show deals with historical board games, and one of the big pluses for me is to get a chance to see and hang out with the crew from Victory Point Games. They publish a number of historical board games, including a growing number from yours truly, but their line is incredibly broad.

Which brings me to today’s subject – Nemo’s War. This is a remarkable little game from Victory Point Games which should delight Steampunkers everywhere, and I enthusiastically recommend that you at least take a look at it. It is designed by Chris Taylor, a veteran computer and board game designer with some real chops. It is a solitaire game in which you play Captain Nemo against – well, against the world, pretty much, or at least against its colonial powers. It captures the feel of the novel spot-on, has a strong narrative feel as the story unfolds, and remains a very easy-playing but challenging game.

 Here is a link to the VPG page covering the game.  Lots of stuff to see here, including the rules and design notes.

Here are some comments from players and reviews. Full disclosure – I had nothing to do with the design and I receive no royalty on this game; I just think it's cool.

- "One of the best games of 2009, and Nemo is a must-own for the solo gamer in my mind." - Michael Debije (Board Game Geek)
- "It stands as a shining example of how games can express theme, narrative, and setting without a hundred dollars worth of cheap bubblegum machine figures, gaudy artwork, or laughable flavor text." - Michael Barnes (Game Shark)
- "Very original and narratively rich, it lets you choose your own way, and even change it mid-game. Multiple goals, multiple end-of-game conditions, this is a swiss-knife of a game!" - Stephane Josephy (Board Game Geek)
- "At the end of the day I would say Nemo’s War ranks up there as a penultimate example of solitaire gaming done right!" - Jeff McAleer (The Gaming Gang)
- "What makes the game for me is that I can see and feel the passion that the creator put into the game. I see that this is a labour of love." - Paul Shabatowski (Board Game Geek)
- "I found Nemo's War to be a very light but short and enjoyable solitaire game with elegant rules but a surprising amount of control over how you play the game." - Dug (A Boy Named Dug)
- "The game was fun to play and difficult to beat. Great theme and nice execution. Certainly not a brain burner. I would recommend Nemo's war anyone who likes a fun fast solitaire game that is well executed." - Kenneth Lury (Board Game Geek)
- Easy to set-up and learn (at least in terms of how to play). The mechanisms for variety from game to game are simple yet clever, giving it a high replay value. The mechanisms for forcing many different decisions are outstanding. This is one of, perhaps the best, true solitaire game I've encountered." - Jim Bailey (Consim World)
- "I can see how the different objectives will make you re-think your strategy and try different paths to victory, which is cool. I'm playing this again for sure, as I found it to be much less complex than I expected and also very fast to play." - Jorge Arroyo (Board Game Geek)
- "Nemo is, simply, a joy to play. You begin pushing cardboard chits around a piece of paper but are soon engaged in a highly involved game of strategy and resource management. Fulfilling those victory conditions and reaching the highest point value (the more victory points, the better the result) is a terrific and enjoyable challenge." - Howard Jones (Black Gate Magazine)

To get you in the mood to play, here is a link to a page with gobs and gobs of amazing photos of various scale models, including interiors (as above -- which is just a detail on the completed model), of the Nautilus. Really, check this out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dispatches From The Origins Show

I just returned from the Origins Game Fair in Columbus Ohio. Origins is the national show of the Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) and this year was the 35th annual show, so it's been around for a while. I missed it last year but I've been to it every other year, starting in Baltimore over three decades ago. Good show.

The show's theme this year was Victoriana, yet more evidence of the relentless all-conquering march of Steampunk. In honor of that, Talon Dunning (an artist who I predict you’ll see more of in the future) did a beautiful painting for the Origins War College. For reasons which surpass understanding, they did not use it, but I bought a copy of the print. I also used it as the lead piece of artwork on this blog entry, so judge for yourself. Here’s a link to his web page – most of his art is fantasy rather than steampunk, but that may change as well. Let's hope so.

Catalyst Game Labs prominently featured their steampunk miniatures game Leviathans, complete with a large diorama of two French aerial Leviathans crossing above the White Cliffs of Dover and being met by two British aerial vessels. There’s no denying the appeal of big flying ships. I’ve certainly never been able to resist. Here is a link to Catalyst’s free download section where you can take a look at the game basics and a background piece on their world.

Several of the booths were purveyors of Steampunk costume paraphernalia and lots of the attendees were in costume. Here are some pictures of attendees, snapped by Ken St. Andre and forwarded to me. Ken’s the designer of Tunnels and Trolls, and it was good to see him again at the show.

Rod Campbell from Highlander Studios was there as well. We had dinner and spent a couple hours talking about the upcoming 15mm line, fine-tuning its contents mostly. We have greens (masters) right now, but we should have some painted production figures in a couple weeks so we’ll hold off showing them until then. Those of you going to Historicon in about a week will see the first releases there.

A very good show overall.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I Am Not Responding To Comments

Guys and Gals,

I haven't responded to anyone's comments since May 24, when Blogger (the hosting service) developed a system-wide software glitch which prevents some users (including, unfortunately, me) from posting comments to blogs, including our own. Some of you may be experiencing a similar problem when you try to post comments as well -- it sends you to the sign-in screen, then when you sign in it sends you to the visual verification screen, then back to sign-in, then back to verification, forever and ever.

They have been working on a patch, but so far apparently no luck.

I saw a sign once which always tickled my fancy:

Due to circumstances beyond our control,
circumstances are beyond our control.
Please stand by.

I also did a little housekeeping. The Canadian National Steampunk Exhibition web page has closed to I deleted that link. The Pinacle Productions link was broken so I have fixed it. If you have tried that one and been frustrated, please try again.

Thanks to all who posted suggestions. Google has still not fixed the software glitch which keeps some or all Internet Explorer users from posting comments, but using Chrome as the browser seems to fix the problem. 

The Big Scoop on Space: 1889 EBooks

After a week in Arizona as guest of honor at the 2011 Consimworld Expo (great time, and more about that in a later colum), and then a week without internet service (due to a broken router and delayed service call, one of the thrills of rural living), I imagine some of you thought I'd fallen off the earth. Nay nay! Lots of stuff to report, and some pictures of master miniatures coming in a later post.

But for today the big news is the official launch of the Untreed Reads line of Space: 1889 EBooks, with the first one due out next month and then following through the rest of the summer and fall with all six available by the end of the year. This is not a series for which you'll have to wait a year or two between installments. Also, at least one of the authors may sound a little familiar.

Here is the complete press release from Untreed Reads:


Coming July 2011 from Untreed Reads Publishing
Everything Jules Verne should have written.
Everything H.G. Wells could have written.
Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,
but never published – because it was too fantastic!

A brand new series of ebooks based on the world-renowned Role Playing Game, fully licensed from creator, Frank Chadwick, and headed by best-selling author of Seeker (Book One of The Garden), Andy Frankham-Allen. Space 1889 & Beyond takes the concepts and ideas that have thrilled steampunk gamers for over two decades into new and unexpected directions. Familiar enough for the old guard, and thrilling enough for a whole new generation of fans.

This series follows the exploits of “Professor” Nathanial Stone, scientific genius and unwilling adventurer, and Miss Annabelle Somerset, niece of infamous scientist Doctor Cyrus Grant and born adventuress, as they travel the inner worlds uncovering secret plots and encountering strange creatures. From the unexplored subterranean world of Luna, all the way to the divided sands of Mars, and back again, adventure and wild daring-do is never far away.

The first series of six ebooks runs from July through to December 2011 and is brought to you by some of the best names in the field of steampunk, science fiction and horror.

Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Hirst Publishing and Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden. In June 2011 he was also Author of Month with Queer Magazine Online. He is the author of story #1: Journey to the Heart of the Luna and co-author of story #6: Return to Luna.

K.G. McAbee writes steampunk, fantasy, horror, science fiction, pulp and YA, plus a few more genres from time to time just to keep her hand in. She’s had seventeen books and over ninety-one short stories and novellas published so far, and she has from five to seven underway at any given time; she also has a passion for prime numbers. She’s the author of the Lady Abigail steampunk short story series at Untreed Reads, and she is co-author of the steampunk series The Brass Chronicles; the first book, Brass and Bone, will be released soon from Carina Press/Harlequin. She’s a history geek who once spent an hour lying in a stone vault in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, and she lives in a 217-year-old log cabin in the woods of upstate South Carolina, near an ancient stone quarry used by some of her ancestors, the Cherokee. She is the author of story #2: Vandals on Venus.

Mark Michalowski is the author of four BBC Doctor Who novels, a Doctor Who spin-off novel and a BBC Being Human novel, as well as more short stories than he can count (mainly because he's never been very good at counting). He lives in Leeds with half a cat. Not in a macabre way - it's just that Lulu spends half of her time living in the lap of luxury at various neighbours' houses. If only humans could do that... He is the author of story #3: The Ghost of Mercury.

L. Joseph Shosty lives in Beaumont, Texas with his wife and son.  He is the author of nearly fifty short stories, as well as numerous essays, articles, book reviews, and poems.  A novel, Sign of the Hanged Man, was serialised on the web in 2000 and 2001, and his story collection, Hoodwinks on a Crumbling Fence, was published in 2000.  His second novel, a mainstream work titled The Return of Baldheaded Johnson, has recently been completed. He is the author of story #4: Abattoir in the Aether.

Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves. He is the author of story #5: A Prince of Mars.

J.T. Wilson is an author, a script consultant and a musician. He is the manager of the band Deathsex Bloodbath and the wrestling zombie Chris Stone, a traveller in Unspace, a renowned lover and a compulsive liar. He is best known for his far-fetched fiction novel Cemetery Drive and the forthcoming Untreed Reads short Squalling Brats. Despite growing up in the North of England, ill-fated dabblings with the undead condemn him to dwell forevermore in Coventry. He likes cats and dinosaurs and is the last of the romantics. He is the co-author of story #6: Return to Luna.

Steve Upham is the artist, editor and publisher at Screaming Dreams, a small press dedicated to all things fantasy, sci-fi and horror. He also produces cover artwork and designs for several other independent publishers. Although formally trained in traditional media, Steve now works digitally for illustration work using numerous 2D and 3D graphics applications. As if he doesn't already have enough to do, he continues to look for new challenges! You can find out more at his website - He redesigned the series logo, and designed the cover template.

David Burson is a freelance illustrator specializing in science fiction art. He writes and illustrates the comic book Draculasaurus, and is an active Doctor Who fan artist. David lives near Austin, Texas with his wife. He is the cover artist for series one.