Weekend Haul

What a weekend! I had so much stuff going on and got so much done, I’ll likely not be able to cover everything in less than half a dozen posts. I knocked out probably the last Hugo Category I’ll be voting on, found more glaring issues with B/X vs. how everyone always plays the game, read some more Vance which made me want to play some more Morrowind, had time to reflect on my wins and losses in the Civil War, and got some amazing stuff at flea markets and thrift stores.

I grabbed the last pulps off the shelf that had Leigh Brackett, Jack Vance, or Poul Anderson as front cover features; I think this is a good place for me to stop simply collecting until I’ve had a chance to actually read some of these suckers. I might go back at some point and get some more if I find anyone particularly to my liking (I should probably read that Gardner F. Fox book I got and give myself an excuse to grab the issues he’s got stories in), but for now I can at least not feel a sense of panic (“what if someone ELSE grabs that copy of Thrilling with The Moon that Vanished!?” ) by NOT having them. I’ll just feel that way later when I have a better idea of who those cover story writers are. I also snagged a cheap collection of the complete Kull for a buck.

But as impressive as those sound, that wasn’t my mind-blowing haul of the weekend. My girlfriend saw some book at Savers and she couldn’t remember the title and couldn’t remember who it was by but could have sworn that she’d seen me reading a book by that author/in that series. It didn’t sound familiar, but it gnawed at me, so after hitting the flea market, we went to Savers. Well, turns out I had never heard of the book, never heard of the author, and the book looked terrible. But, tucked into a corner behind glass, someone had apparently donated their entire collection of RGP books and supplements that were being sold in bundles.

There was some Star Wars RPG stuff, but there was also a ton of old Judges Guild and old D&D stuff . I’m honestly not familiar enough with the Judges Guild stuff to buy a big stack of them that I may never do anything with, so I passed those up. I also passed up the copies of First Fantasy Campaign (the old Judges Guild Dave Arneson Blackmoor setting book) because they were selling them for $80. But I did not leave empty handed. I got a $15 bundle that had the Dragons of Glory (hmmm…), Bloodstone Pass (Whaaaa?), and the original World of Grayhawk (ZOMG!) folios AND for $20 the Battle System still in its box with all of its pieces (metal minis, a zillion cardboard chits, the X10 module, and a giant hex map of the Known World). For another $10, I got a copy of Bismark, which I’ll suggest as the next game for my dad and I to play.

Sifting through the Battle System, I was astounded by the amount of content, the ambition and audacity of a product that created a 3-tiered gaming experience that foisted a cumbersome wargame upon roleplayers and inserted roleplaying too deeply into a wargame to effectively use all of its assets as a standalone product. Maybe. We’ll see. On one hand, I loved seeing all of the counters to represent the standing Armies of the Known World, but I’ll be damned if I can ever find anyone to run X10 with or have enough room to set the damn thing up. But if I could, it would be my only real chance to test out Mentzer’s much maligned (by me) War Machine rules. Unfortunately, the included war game is bogged down by diplomatic mission roleplaying stuff such that I won’t be able to play it with my dad, one of the few people I know with patience for cumbersome wargames. I don’t know that I can just set-up the map of the Known World with all of the armies out and be all “Okay, D&D free-for-all!”

One of the amazing things about this is that you’re expected to be able to leave up this giant hex-map with the standing armies somewhere, AND have space to run the tactical battles (middle tier), AND, I suppose, have a table to actually play the bog-standard D&D stuff at.

Still, I can’t help but want to try to play this somewhere, somehow! I want to do something with these thousands of little counters that say “human”, “orc”, “monster”, “halfling”, “goblin”, “Dragon”, etc. I can’t help but smile reading the booklet on how to paint minis like a pro. I want to frame that damn hex-map of the Known World. I’m sure as hell going to paint the two metal minis who came in the box and would have alone justified the $20 price.

I’m also somewhat contented to know that Battle System is NOT the place for me to look to for Battlefields & Broadswords, because it’s NOT the experience that I want to offer. The point of B&B will be to bring tactical combat to people who don’t have the resources or space for the hundreds of counters. Though I have gotten substantially busier in the last few weeks, B&B is something I do intend to see through to the end. And I may actually have a chance to playtest the S3M sometime in the near future, as one of my library players is wanting to run something with minis. Which leads me into tomorrow’s post. Which I may write today, because I’m a maniac…

Short Reviews will continue next week. I’ve got too much gaming stuff to talk about!

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7 responses to “Weekend Haul

    • Yeah. The Battle System rulebook specifically warns against using the your dining room table. I appreciate that TSR assumes that folks happen to have saw horses and sheets of ply-wood to set up somewhere.

      Most of the games I’ve played with my dad lately have required at least two tables, and Civil War would be unplayable if we couldn’t lay it out across the twin beds in my parents’ guest bedroom.

  1. Nice haul! I’ve never actually tried playing Battlesystem though I did have the one version of the rules (the softcover book with a half-orc on the cover). Keeping allt the polyhedrals in play and rolling tons of them seemed like a bad idea even back in the late 80s. But I do have ambitions to run a campaign some time that involves mass battles, so maybe I should give it another look.
    I always passed on JG stugg BITD too — the cheap, thin newsprint was a turnoff, and we never played modules anyway. But some of the stuff I’ve seen looks pretty swell — the “treasure maps” books which were actually a bunch of short adventures, some of the modules like “Heroic adventures” which had themed adventures for halflings and halforcs (!), and the DM’s reference book.
    First Fantasy Campaign is kind of interesting to read but it’s such a disorganized mess you really just get some ideas, there’s nothing “there” to use really.

    • Thanks! I think I may have read a pdf of FFC once, or at least some version of it (I believe that Blackmoor setting itself is either CC or OGL) that was available free somewhere, and I’m not all that impressed with Arneson’s writing ability. His stuff struck me as an even bigger mess than Gary’s.

      I’ve at least found someone who’s interested in trying to sort out the Battle System with me, so I’ll hopefully have something to report in a few weeks or more.

    • Also, given that they felt the need in the BS box set to include literally thousands of cardboard counters, one has to assume that you’d need a vast number of counters; that they would sell a book without it would be like selling the rule book to a regular hex & chit board game and expect that the players had those blanks to draw their own units. It’s a no wonder Battle System was something of a failure.

    • Thanks! I’d almost forgotten about that. Yeah, it’s here somewhere on Cirsova; that works for statting out parties better than it does units of like troops, but I may figure out something to do with that yet!

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