It's that time of the year again when suddenly there are a million things to do and gaming, especially miniature gaming, often gets kicked to the curb in exchange for lots and lots of family time, travel, holiday preparation etc.
There's one tradition that all gamers should try this season that my wife and I have discovered leads to a much happier holiday season for everyone. We call it game therapy. Game therapy is pretty easy. You invite your friends over for a game of some type. But most of all you make sure that there is at least one day when your gaming buddies get the call. You stock the fridge, everyone brings something to share, there are libations available and you play. But you don't actually play a standard game, you play socially, and you make up some fun rules for a scenario for some memorable gaming. How do you do this? Read on…
For my example I'm going to use Heavy Gear Blitz as my example (Living Rule Book) not just because it's what I do, but because miniature games can be some of the hardest games to play socially, but that doesn't need to be the case.
1. The first step of social gaming is that you make sure that everyone is involved. It should not matter skill level or even if people have models. As long as one person can set up a table and has one figure per person you will be good to go! In fact it is the perfect time to teach significant others, children, parents, postal workers, etc how to play the game. Ideally you start with one General Purpose model per person. The more variety of weapons the better.
2. The second step is to change the level of the game from competitive to social. There are two good ways to do that: Re spawning, and Bridling. Re-spawning is letting a model that was destroyed be back at full health right away, or with a short delay. To prevent players getting an advantage from getting killed it is often fun to let the player who killed them get to re-spawn them within range of a number of re-spawning points that are pre-set on the table. This lets models bounce around a lot causing much mayhem and confusion and can be hilarious as a model gets bounced all over the place by a chain of kills. Bridling means that if a player gets 'destroyed' they just count as crippled until the end of their next activation.
Between the two methods I prefer re-spawning just because of the bounce effect.
3. The third change is that you have to have some kind of goal that is not just going for a kill count. Here's where you can get creative.
Place a number of 'treasure' objectives around the board. make sure there are 12-16 of them for a 3×3 board. They should be pretty common. Each treasure counter a Gear touches when they move gives them a bonus. A good way to do this is to just use a deck of playing cards. Deal each player a hand of five cards to start. When a player's Gear touches a treasure counter they get to draw a card and keep it hidden from the other players. players have to discard down to five cards at the end of their activation
Then you make up a simple table of bonuses that they can buy by discarding cards in sets. Here's an example list, modify or make up your own:
Any single card: Re-roll one dice.
Pair: re-roll a whole roll.
Two Pair: Your weapon gets Split:1 or adds 1 to the rating of a split trait they have. There are no modifiers to this
Three of a kind: Upgrade your model to a Srike
Straight: Your Gear can now move at top speed without the negative modifier to attacking.
Full House: Your model gains an extra action for the rest of the game.
Four of a Kind: Upgrade your model to Fire Support. (have some bigger guys around like Fire Support Gears available to swap out).
Straight Flush: You win the Game!
At the end of the game the best hand remaining wins one prize, most kills wins another. Make up some fun prizes!
In addition to the fun of just mixing it up with the models, rules etc feel free to interject your own rules to keep it fun. Social gaming is the most fun when there is a time limit. If you give 30 minutes to explain the rules and the scenario and one hour for the game then everyone should have a good time. If people want to play longer, let them! As long as everyone is having a good time then the Primary Objective is achieved!
Have a great holiday season everyone, don't forget to check out the Holiday sale on the online store to get your X-mas present from us, a Chibi Kodiak!