No Soft Horizon last week as both Brad and I struggled a bit creatively. One drawback of this competence myth seems to be the fact that each week needs to bring another Big Challenge for these heroes. It’s by no means impossible, but a week after a destructive hell ride with a mud golem and unleashing a clutter of spiders upon Cap’n Finn, my follow-up session only came together at 1am the night before. Instead we opted to skip Soft Horizon this week.
It’s been a big month for VSCA however, with the continued developments of Soft Horizon combined with an unexpectedly amazing *three* ENnie nominations for Hollowpoint. Hollowpoint models itself upon a team of super competent people working together to accomplish nefarious and oft-times illicit goals. The tagline for the game is “Bad people killing bad people for bad reasons.”
This game of bad people earned nominations for Best Game, Best Rules and Product of the Year. Happily, this trio of nominations (of which Brad most wants to win Best Rules) has brought about a surge in sales for the game. Apparently casual gamers hadn’t heard of Hollowpoint but garnering three nods of achievement meant people checking out the ENnies felt intrigued enough to splurge on a violent, little red book. A gleeful Yuri on the cover blazing his way into and out of trouble.
The boost to sales seems to stem more from nomination than winning an award, at least that’s what can be discerned from our previous ENnie winning game, Diaspora. Especially since Hollowpoint enjoyed nominations in multiple categories, especially the high profile Best Game and Product of the Year.
Brad and I tried the game Small World, an absolute riot of a board game that I first heard about on Table Top with Wil Wheaton. It was their first episode. In Small World players control a race of humanoids with map-based ability. The brilliant game mechanism is that those abilities change from game to game.
In our first game I triumphed with some Forest Giants, Bivoacing Ratmen and something else. Second game, Brad conquered thanks to Flying Skeletons (best random combination), the powerful Dragon-lord Giants and the deceptively effective Fortified Dwarves. I misplayed my *something* Wizards, did fairly well with my Heroic Amazons, enjoyed the Ghouls and had to take my swarm of Wealthy Ratmen.
The fun thing about the Small World is that the classes and combinations don’t have to be balanced. A weak combination might linger in the selection zone for a while, but it pays off the more times it is passed over.
And the real fun is figuring out how to play certain races, from Seafaring Halflings to Diplomatic Trolls to Spirit Elves. Even misplaying them isn’t so bad since putting a race in decline means getting to select a new race to become a potentially dominant species.
Finally, as much as Brad and I are enjoying playing Cap’n Finn and Lord Pyrol, there is a good chance we may have to retire the characters. Both of us can see gaming with this pair for a dozen or more sessions. Affecting huge changes to the planes they explore and doing their utmost to improve the living conditions of the rest of the inhabitants. Or making things less civilized or more magical, keeping things in balance or being agents of chaos.
The reason for the potential retirement of the characters will be because we aren’t just gaming, we’re play testing. The goal of the sessions, in addition to spending an evening with friends and playing a game we both enjoy is to test the rules. We want to be certain that the planes created didn’t happen due to luck but can be produced each time we roll the dice. That a character skilled at Warfare or Violence is as much fun to play as the one identified with Ritual, Knowledge or Diplomacy. It is because we are developing a game that we may have to let the stories of Cap’n Finn and Lord Pyrol remain unfinished so that we can test the system.
Once Brad decides the game is ready to be released, we’ll codify the rules, select the font and layout and artwork and then, I think, some lucky gamers will get to beta-test Soft Horizon before it gets released as another game from the fiendishly creative minds of VSCA.
Hollowpointed Trophies? Alchemist Elves? And a Fear Undine?
Quite a way to spend a Thursday.