Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Theseus Prince of Athens

Many are the tales from the life of Theseus, the heroic Warrior Prince of Athens.

Most famously the young hero stole aboard one of the Minoan raiding ships along with a handful of his most trusted and bravest guards. The ships and the Athenian captives on board were bound for the palace of Knossos and the Labyrinth beneath. Set loose, the captives are destined to be devoured by the Minotaur that reside there. 

On discovering who was aboard one of the ships, Minos, the King of Crete made boasts that Theseus's death would be a sacrifice great enough sate the gods and return power to the Minoan people. Ariadne, daughter of King Minos pitied Theseus and his men and sought to aid them.

Ariadne organised for a cache of weapons in the Labyrinth to be left where Theseus and his men would stumble upon them and arranged for for the secret routes through the maze to be imparted to Theseus to ensure that he could escape.

King Minos enraged by Ariadne's treachery ordered her to be thrown into the Labyrinth alongside Theseus and his men. Surrounded by rough walls, flickering torches and the screams of other captured souls the party set out to rescue the other captives, avenge the fallen and escape to freedom.

The Labyrinth beneath Knossos was not of ordinary construction, the inventor Daedalus had crafted it with mechanical contraptions which endlessly shift the walls. It was both a prison for the Minotaur and an endless puzzle for those thrust inside. The longer and further into the maze one wandered the more lost and confused they would become.

Legend says that on that day Theseus single-handedly slew the great Minotaur Asterios, the first of his kind, escaping with his loyal soldiers, a number of other victims and the beautiful Ariadne from the Labyrinth to a waiting Athenian Ship.

The artwork has already been sent to the sculptor I've lined up, and it will be the first miniature sculpted for the game.

Monday, 18 June 2012

On creating a combat system...

For a while now I've been working on alternative concepts for combat systems, anything that is not either roll a target number to hit or a opposed dice roll where each player rolls a dice and compares the result, which in effect is the same as the first option but with a variable target number.

When I started to put pen to paper for the rules of Aegeus I initially tried a system with attack and defense dice, no numbers just symbols representing hits, defends, critical hits etc, the idea was that a player had a choice to make as how many of each dice they could roll from a combat pool. Each player could choose how good or bad their character was in attack and defense to a certain extent, allowing for a couple of different types dice with more or less favorable results on the faces. Combat was resolved simultaneously and each side could be killed within a melee.

In practice this made for an awful system, each character had to have at least half a dozen dice to make the combat and decision interesting and so with units of 3-4 models you were rolling huge handfuls of dice. We also discovered that carrying out move actions and then doing all melee simultaneously made group combats hard work and generally left miniatures bunched up. Clearly this needed a rethink.

Back at the drawing board my brother and I had a discussion about what we wanted the combat system to feel like, out went the idea of simultaneous combat as we felt that all too often you would just get a big central brawl. We wanted something a little more fluid, an ebb and flow to the combat as well as a little risk. The original attack and defense dice idea morphed into something else, now the attacking player would roll the dice and the faces would have results such as Strike, Forced Back, Misses, Attrition and some combinations of these results. We also started discussing how abilities would work and that these could affect the dice, quite quickly the system came together.

Que several weeks of manic scribbling as I turned all the notes from the initial session into a workable set of rules and sketched out the starter 4 factions along with some base stat lines and a first stab at a points system.

Alpha play test weekend came along and it was time to test out the theory, with about a dozen miniatures aside we thrashed through 6 games with this new system and noted that it seemed to work on the tabletop, the pace was good, the mixture of tactical planning and fast paced combat system really seemed to work well.

With a couple of tweaks and the addition of a lower powered dice for poorer troops we seemed to have a working system.

Below is a picture from one of these first play test games with the all new combat dice system. I'll take a few moments to walk through whats going on:

The Minotaur on the left has charged the unit of centaurs utilizing a double move order and an attack order. He rolls 3 combat dice and the results are a Hit, a Forced Back Result and a Combined Hit and Forced Back result. So 2 Hits and 2 Forced Back results, the defending unit always gets forced back 1" from combat and due to the roll they are pushed back a further 2" directly away from combat (so 3" in total). The Player controlling the Minotaur then makes 2 armour rolls against the Centaur, in which he causes 1 wound.

Although the centaurs took a wound and were pushed back neither result is sufficient for them to have to take a cowardice check and so the Minotaur's activation finishes.

The combination of actual hits and results that just force the opponent away makes for a fluid simple system, certain units have skills which affect these dice, the Minotaur for example has the "Stubborn" skill, this allows him to ignore any Forced Back results when he is the defender. This makes the Minotaur a powerful foe and great for blocking enemy movement towards other units.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Announcing the Athenians

One of the first factions we are developing for Aegeus are the renowned warriors from the city state of Athens.

The Athenian City State is one of the wealthiest and most intellectually advanced cultures in the Aegean. They prize cultural pursuits such as the arts above all else.  Their armies are a well trained and well equipped fighting force, lead by highly educated commanders and young heroes eager to prove their mettle on the field of battle or slaying mythical creatures in far off lands.

Athenian City State Infantry form the core of the Athenian Army, they are proud warriors, capable of fighting with a broad range of weaponry. Well equipped they are and trained to shift between solid shieldwall formations, open skirmishing and deliver stinging counter assaults. 

From the northern borders of Athenian Territory the tribes of centaur and satyr muster troops for war, a condition of their settlement on Athenian Lands. These tribes, forced from their homelands in the broad plains of Thessaly sought a new home and the King of Athens realising their potential on the Battlefield took them in. Powerful units of Centaur cavalry now ride alongside the armoured hoplites of the Athenian army, as nimble satyr archers skirt at the sides of the battlefield protecting the armies flanks and adding a ranged punch to the force.

With that in mind the Athenians forces have been designed around their use of hoplites and armoured infantry, with additional special units to be used for specific battlefield roles. Below is a selection of the initial concept art for some of the warriors of the faction, below are 2 basic hoplite infantry armed with the traditional long spear and rounded shield:

There will also be a more heavily armoured elite infantry.

Following on from these below is one of the generic hero concepts for the Athenian Faction.  The artwork includes front and back views on this occasion. 

I'm really chuffed with the artwork so far, the miniatures are intended to be at the premium end of the market and I wanted a lot of dynamic movement and mid action poses to reflect that. Emma (https://www.facebook.com/FuelledByTeaArthas done Sterling work so far and I'm keeping her busy with more work over the coming months. 

Next up should be some concept art for Theseus, one of the Athenians greatest heroes, hopefully should have it within the next week or so, I may also find some time to feed in a little more about some of the unit choices available for the Athenian Faction before we move onto the second faction in Aegeus, the Minoans. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Welcome to the world of Aegeus

Welcome traveler to our world. The world of Aegeus...

Aegeus is a new project bringing the rich mythology of the countries surrounding the Aegean Sea to the tabletop. Combining several thousand years of history into a fantasy game where man stands beside beast as the mighty states war against one another and the gods stretch out and grant favour to their champions.

Our goal is to develop our own skirmish system and miniatures range of heroic 28mm miniatures, initially we will be releasing 2 or 3 factions as starter sets with additional troop choices, however there are 7 factions currently being planned and there is plenty of scope beyond that to broaden the range.

The ruleset being developed is aimed smooth play limiting the number of modifiers and rule book checking to give a slick flowing game where players can concentrate on the action rather than whether x or y rule applies. We were keen to include command and control at the core of the game alongside a robust combat system which had to be scalable to allow anything on the table from an Athenian Hoplite to a mighty cyclops.

Command and control revolves around the use of "command" tokens drawn blind, these tokens include all actions from basic move and attack commands to faction specific special abilities. It is up to the player to use the tokens drawn in the most appropriate manner. The players are allowed to hold a small reserve pool of tokens to ensure that they are never totally without options however tactical use of combinations of command tokens is the core of the system.

Combat is resolved around special combat dice, the number and type depend on the unit, by combining these dice and a number of unit traits you get combat results from strikes on your enemy, to forcing them back giving a fluid combat where you can break lines and strategically break up forces to divide and conquer.

That's it for the moment, We'll be revealing more details over the coming weeks including early concept artwork, more details on rules and of course world and faction backgrounds.