Saturday, February 11, 2017

FUNDED! Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter




On Thursday February 9th, the Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter successfully funded! I am ecstatic to have the funding to get all of the printed materials completed, and the goal is to have them all in time for AdeptiCon.

Now that we've succeeded it's time to look at what else we can push towards. Something that has frequently been requested is more models. The first Stretch Goal is for a dual kit that makes Ash Walker, a Black Squadron Officer who feels more comfortable amongst those he polices, and a basic Black Squadron Security Gunner with an Arc Carbine - a high powered taser rifle with a short range, and low rate of fire, but the ability to stop a Breaker in their tracks and quickly Restrain them. 

At the time of writing, we are only $400 away from this Stretch Goal and we have 9 days remaining. We can do this!


Our Rulebook and Play Aids Pledge Level is the best way to get up and running playing Broken Contract, and of course there are a lot of great Add On's including the two Faction Sets and Kickstarter Exclusive Set.



Finally, if you missed it a week and a half ago, Guerrilla Miniature Games did a fantastically entertaining 'Let's Play Broken Contract' video. If you're interested in the game or the setting, they mostly get the rules right, and they do a stellar job of conveying the setting. I consider it recommended viewing. 


Thanks for reading and take care!
-Nick

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Ability Card Deck


A couple of days ago I got a zipped folder full of new Ability Cards from Sam, our graphic designer. They are part of the Play Aids portion of the Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter running right now. Those who already own one of the Faction Sets know that each one comes with a deck of Ability Cards that correspond to the unique abilities that each of the Characters possesses. These cards were all brainstormed before I created the Character and Crew Creation system that is in the Rulebook. I realized as I was play testing Crew Creation that the Abilities in the Faction Sets just weren't diverse enough, so I sat down and developed an early incarnation of this list:

1. Scrapper - This Character may re-roll failed Melee checks.
2. Sure-handed - This Character may re-roll Melee checks of 1 when performing a Strike Action.
3. Crusher - This Character may re-roll failed Strength checks.
4. Wrestler - This Character may re-roll Strength checks of 1 when performing a Grab Action.
5. Lucky Shot- This Character may re-roll failed Shoot checks.
6. Skilled Shot - This Character may re-roll Shoot checks of 1 when performing a Shoot Action.
7. Nimble - already has a card.
8. Reactive - This Character may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing a Dodge Interruption.
9. True Grit - already has a card.
10. Tough - already has a card.
11. Indomitable - This Character may re-roll failed Psyche checks.
12. Determined - already has a card.
13. Med Savvy - This Character may re-roll Intellect checks of 1 when performing a First Aid Action.
14. Brilliant - This Character may re-roll failed Intellect checks.
15. Charmer - already has a card.
16. Weasel - This Character may re-roll Dealing checks of 1 when performing a Mercy Interruption.
17. Alert - This Character may re-roll failed Perceive checks.
18. Sharp - This Character may re-roll Perceive checks of 1 when performing a Search Action.
19. Influence - This Character may re-roll failed Leadership checks.
20. Rousing - This Character may re-roll Leadership checks of 1 when performing a Form Team Action.
21. Strider - This Character may perform a Walk Action twice per Turn.
22. Unyielding - This Character may ignore a single Wound once per Act.
23. Resistant - This Character may ignore Shock once per Act.
24. Energized - This Character may start the Turn with an Extra Action once per Act.
25. Centered - This Character may start the Turn Focused once per Act.
26. Intuitive - This Character may trade their Initiative Draw up or down by 1.
27. Reflexive - This Character receives two Initiative Cards every Turn and may spread their Actions across both.
28. Sure-footed - already has a card.
29. Double Jointed - This Character may re-roll Psyche checks of 1 when performing an Escape Restraints Action.
30. Blocker - This Character may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing an Impede Interruption.
31. Receiver - This Character may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing a Catch Interruption.
32. Deft - This Character may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing a Parry Interruption.

I tried to touch on every Stat in the game, as well as most of the Actions and Interruptions to give Characters the opportunity to specialize a bit. I'm happy with how these cards have play tested and I'm amped on how Sam has drawn upon icons to make them easily identifiable. When combined with the existing cards, it will just make the options broader and the characters more interesting.

-Nick


Friday, January 20, 2017

The Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter


Hello friends! The Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter has been launched. The video above is one of the ones used on the Kickstarter page, but I'm going to give you the bullet points here:



The 32 page Broken Contract Rulebook contains:


  • An overview of how to play a miniature wargame, explaining moving, measuring, and making Stat Checks.
  • A detailed list of Actions and Interruptions. This is really the core of Character interaction in the game. There are over 15 entries for different Actions and 10 entries for Interruptions, and many of these have sub-entries giving the players an incredible array of options within the game. This also means that Characters can really hone in on what they are good at.
  • Rules for Critical Successes and Failures based on a special set of dice that are used after a 1 or 6 is rolled for a Stat Check. These dice, combined with a chart, are used to help create the action movie moments where your Characters do both the exceptional and the tragic, whether they are in combat, begging for mercy, or applying first aid. The Critical Success and Failure Chart covers over 20 Actions and Interruptions that require a D6 Stat Check to complete.
  • A starter list of Weapons and Equipment and all of the Special Rules that pertain to them.
  • Basic rules for Creating Characters and Assembling a Crew. These are quick and easy, and they allow you to create a true ragtag group of either Breakers or Black Squadron Security. If you remove the titles, it breaks down to the untrained, ill equipped, but larger force, and the well trained and well equipped but smaller force if you wanted to create your own setting using these rules.
  • Episode: The Hard Way, a three Act mini campaign of thematic scenarios to get you up and playing in the Broken Contract setting.


Additional we are trying to release a collection of Broken Contract Play Aids that include:
  • A Character Dashboard Set that contains 6 Character Dashboards, perfect for a single player. Each is a 5"x10" mat for keeping track of your Characters during the game with out the game board being littered with counters.
  • The Chit Box which contains 30 Chits to use during the game. These heavy duty 60pt chipboard chits cover all of the most important counters a player will need for using up to 6 Characters. Like the Character Dashboard Set, this is ideal for a single player.
  • The Broken Contract Dice Set that includes 2 Six sided dice, 2 Three sided dice, 2 Critical Success dice, and 2 Critical Failure dice.
  • The Ability Card Deck which contains 32 Ability Cards, 26 of which are brand new.
  • The Equipment Card Deck which contains 32 Equipment Cards including several new cards that do not appear in the Faction Sets, like the Arc Carbine and the Mining Drill.
  • The Blank Character Card Deck which contains 16 Blank Character Cards and 16 Blank Character Stat Cards so you can create your own crews.
  • Also included are an 8" FerrumSky Ruler and a 16 card Initiative Deck. 


Finally, as a separate Add On we are trying to release our first set of Board Game Tiles
  • The set of six 8"x8" Board Game Tiles are 60pt chip board with a UV coating.
  • The are all double sided. Two are straight corridors, two are "L" corridors, and two are "T" corridors. The are all "4 way" intersection corridors on the opposite side.
  • All of the scenarios in the Broken Contract Rulebook are based on these tiles, creating the perfect play area to get started.
We're looking forward to offering some cool Stretch Goals too, but we'd love to get you all involved to get these items moving forward. Thanks for reading and tell your friends. The Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter is going on now!

-Nick


Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Next Broken Contract Kickstarter Launches January 18.


The time is finally upon us. The Broken Contract Rulebook Kickstarter is set to launch January 18. The focus of this Kickstarter will be the rulebook, board game tiles, and play aids. It's been a long journey to get to this point, and I hope you can all come along on the next leg of the trip!

Share this far and wide. Thank you all for the continued support.

-Nick

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Breaker Press Games 2017

The year has come to a close, so it's time to think about what was accomplished in 2016 and look at goals for 2017. Looking back over the last year, things have moved slowly but have been consistently exciting.

Breaker Faction Set.

Q1
In January I approved all of the printing for the Broken Contract Miniature Faction Sets. It was thrilling since this was our first completed product. February and March was all packing and shipping those Kickstarter rewards and getting ready for AdeptiCon. In my notes, I had started mapping new rules, Ability Cards, and Factions. I was thinking ahead to completing the rulebook and FerrumSky Campaign book (more on those later).

My vision of what Broken Contract can be in three dimensions!

Q2
April saw the first notes and blog post on developing a campaign system for injuries. Looking back, it was actually the biggest blogging month of the year with five blog posts on various topics. It sort of demonstrates how invigorating going to a convention like AdeptiCon can be. In May, I developed our first point system and matched point scenarios for the upcoming rulebook. My notes indicate that this is when I started really working on the next Kickstarter and building the page for it. It sadly shows how slow things can move. It is 7 months later and we are only now just about ready to launch. In June, I reimagined how scenery would be used in Broken Contract, and built a ton of it to share with people.

Troublemakers Cards I threw together. Art by Blutt.

Q3
July saw more time up in the attic, building and painting scenery, but it also saw something else interesting. My partner and I went out to visit a friend in Cincinnati and we brought Broken Contract and a card game design we hadn't touched in a year. This card game, Troublemakers, was great fun - and it didn't even have art yet. It was just handwritten cards I had made out of card stock. We had pulled the game back into our collected conscious, so through the rest of July I put my horrific Photoshop skills to work, used a street artist friend's art from their Facebook page, and sent off the art files to The Game Crafter for printing. I sent one of the 3 decks to him and he loved it (more about that below as well). August saw the introduction of our new regular playtester, Hal Crossno, and my first time holding professionally printed prototype game board tiles and the first graphic design draft of the rulebook.

Draft #2 of the Broken Contract rulebook in hard copy.

Q4
October through December was a steady mix of editing, model painting, and playtesting. Rules were stripped out of the game and new ones were added. We put a lot of time into playing through the introductory scenarios that are in the book to ensure they will be engaging and easy to understand. We also ran through the core Crew Creation and campaign rules that will be introduced in the rulebook. December ended with graphic designer, Sam Alcarez, sending over the 5th draft of the Broken Contract Rulebook, which also happened to have the last major changes to the game. From here we go to copy editing and filling out the art and design.

The FerrumSky mines are an unforgiving place.
Art by Filip Dudek

2017
Having looked back on the previous year, what are reasonable goals to pursue in 2017?

  • Broken Contract Rulebook and all essential play aids - I'm finally confident that the rules to Broken Contract are in a complete state and with some copy editing and graphic design polish they will be ready to go to Kickstarter in a couple of weeks. Additionally, most of the big design challenges of the Ability Cards, Equipment Cards, Board Tiles, and Character Dashboards are completed. Assuming the Kickstarter is successful, we'll be able to get all of these things manufactured in early 2017.
  • Troublemakers Card Game - This is a project I'm very excited about but a lot of this hinges on Blutt, the artist. The mechanics to the game are there with plenty of card types to make a variety of interactions possible. There is also plenty of room for expansion. But the game was designed with Blutt's art in mind, and he's the final curator of what goes into the game. Ideally, I'd like to have this ready for Kickstarter this summer. Only time will tell.
  • FerrumSky Campaign Book and the Left for Dead Deck - Broken Contract was envisioned as a game designed to tell an ever unfolding story and that story begins in the FerrumSky mines. The FerrumSky Campaign Book is meant to both demonstrate that story telling vision while simultaneously giving the players expanded campaign rules and a bunch of additional scenarios that they can play. Part of those expanded campaign rules uses the Left for Dead Deck, a card driven method of determining the fates of the injured crew members. I'm really excited to immerse myself in the further development of these products, which probably won't come to fruition until the end of 2017.
  • AdeptiCon and Conventions - AdeptiCon has been the lynchpin of my demo efforts, and this year will be no exception. However, I really need to get out to other conventions and expose a greater population of gamers to these games. I want to attend a minimum of 3 conventions this year, and as many as 6 - which would be extremely ambitious.
I have a lot of other little goals revolving around painting and blogging, but the above goals are the big important ones. Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for that first Kickstarter of the year in a couple of weeks! 

-Nick

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Game Designer's Notebook: Playing a Campaign Part 2

My Breakers taking a beating in Act III: As Good as Dead.

Over the last two months Hal and I have worked our way through completing the three Act Broken Contract campaign from the upcoming rulebook. It's been a great experience with a lot of great information gleaned and bits reworked to make it a better experience. Collected are a bunch of thoughts from Act II: Escape Route and Act III: As Good as Dead. -Nick

There's obviously a huge difference in quality between
these 2 tiles.


The Constraints of Cost and Play Area

Before we get into the scenarios themselves I want to talk about play area. Broken Contract was designed to be played on a very small area. Most of the games I've played have been played in anywhere from a 8" x 20" area to a 24" x 24" area. One of my long standing plans was to create a pack of 10 double sided game board tiles so that 24" x 24" was a pretty standard size. Over the summer I finally acquired 8" x 8" game tiles in two thicknesses. One was heavy card stock, the same as the game cards, and the other was a heavy chipboard "board game tile". Universally, everyone preferred the chipboard tiles. I crunched the numbers and they were just too expensive to manufacture in packs of 10. I would have to charge people way too much. After a lot of hand wringing I scaled the tile pack down to 6 tiles. This meant changing all of the scenarios in the rulebook to accommodate a smaller area. One of the most consistent lessons I've learned in game design is asking yourself, "how much is this idea going to cost?" Some of my early design decisions have turned out to not be cost effective and have been reimagined several times. Just because Fantasy Flight can pack a million high end components into a box does not mean that I can do the same. Where you manufacture and economy of scale are both huge considerations. I manufacture in the USA and currently I'm producing on a very small boutique type scale, so my costs per piece are very different than the mid-sized and large game companies.

Image I sent to Sam to sketch out how the scenario maps
should roughly look in the book.

Long story short, all of the scenarios in the rulebook had to max out a 16" x 24" play area, because that's what you can get out of 6 double sided tiles. This meant compacting all of the scenarios and tweaking their special rules to make them still convey the same ideas. All of our games on the smaller play areas have been tense and close so I'm very pleased it's worked out. The plus side of this for hobbyists is that not only is your average game like 4-6 models per side, but you can also slow grow your scenery collection as well so you'll initially only need to cover a small area with terrain.

Your Crew as a Character Toolbox

I mentioned in Part 1 of Playing a Campaign that you create a 100 point Crew but each of the Acts are based on 50 points. I talked a bit about Crew Creation and though you end up with a somewhat random assortment of upgrades and Special Abilities, you tend to end up with a toolbox of diverse characters. This has panned out as I took my fastest and most agile Breaker characters in Escape Route, and I had a Character more adept at Intellect checks that I brought into the crew for As Good as Dead which has multiple coded doors to try and get through (you can also fight your way through Black Squadron through the only open passage or steal a key card, so there are other ways to be successful at the scenario, but the sneaky route is a much better play.) Needless to say, I feel good about this as a design decision.

Escape Route and As Good as Dead Water Cooler Moments

Both games had some fantastic moments of both the LOL and triumphant variety. The rules allow for Characters to Throw and Catch objects, and I tried throwing a shovel to Breaker surrounded by Black Squadron Security only for him to miss and have it land where it was of no benefit to anyone.

At one point in Escape Route a group of Black Squadron Officers and Drones were pursuing my Breakers who were about to exit the board. The lead Officer in pursuit was standing on the threshold of an overhead door. I gave Hal two Victory Point by sounding the alarm myself, dropping the door on the Officer and cutting off the rest of his pursuing friends. It was a completely unexpected action and I felt very clever for a few minutes. I scored VPs for most of Characters by exiting the board. It was a worthwhile trade-off.

The other night, during As Good as Dead, I thought I was going to get that clever feeling again. I had one of my Breaker Characters end the final turn of the game 2" away from the Exit Point. With my final Initiative of the game, I had another Character Rush and perform a Push Action on the Character 2" from the Exit. If I had been successful I could have Pushed that Character off the board for a VP and then used my final Action with the Pushing Character to Walk off the same Exit Point. It would have been glorious. Instead she failed, and neither Character made it off the board. My glory turned to tragedy, and it still felt fantastic!

If every Character ends up Recovering, how do I know if the
campaign rules for serious injury rules work?

What Didn't I Learn?

There was one thing that was conspicuously absent from our mini-campaign: injury. It's not that rules for serious injuries do not exist, it is that in every game we both made conscious efforts not to kill each other because we'd lose Victory Points. Without beating Characters while they were down, and a lack of particularly lethal weapons, Characters almost always Recovered by the end of the game. This meant no serious injury rolls or deaths. This means I need to replay the campaign, not be afraid to get a little blood on my Character's hands, and see what happens. I put an emphasis on non-lethal weaponry for a reason, but for when it does happen, I need to know that it feels "right".

I've been thinking long and hard about Act II: Escape Route. Though the idea of a scenario that has a different board every time that the Breaker sets up is something that will definitely be a part of the game, I think that with a 6 tile set players will usually end up creating layouts that are roughly straight runs that the Breakers need to fight their way through, with no way to out maneuver their enemies. We had a great time playing the scenario, but I just think it would be too fiddly for new players, so I think it needs to be replace in the rulebook. I'm sure it will make it into the FerrumSky Campaign book in some fashion.

It's time to get back to writing and testing. Thanks for reading!
-Nick

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Game Designer's Notebook: Named Characters and Points

This is approximately 100 points of Black Squadron. 

Points in Broken Contract have actually been a rather recent development, with the early playtesting done with a Character ratio of roughly 3/5 (three Black Squadron models for every five Breakers). The plan back then was to just indicate in each scenario how many Characters each side should take. All of the Characters released as part of the last Kickstarter were sent out into the world without any sort of point values because of this. In fact, the very first mention of points was in May of 2016. This means that everyone who owns the Character models that have been produced have to piece their way through the Character Creation rules I posted up in May to try and figure out how many points each named Character is worth. I figure I should rectify this until the FerrumSky Campaign Book is released some time in 2017.

These are the points values for each Character without any of their equipment.

Black Squadron Characters (Unequipped)

Naria Anlika - 13 points
Wire Billins - 13 points
Kal Hickley - 12 points
Sarie Moerta - 13 points
Overseer Smythe - 13 points
Speaker Drone - 10 points
Surveillance Drone - 10 points
Lamal Tulson - 13 points
Xer - 21 points

Breakers (Unequipped)

Grippe Candera - 13 points
Micha Donelly - 12 points
Ari Gaylen - 12 points
Adesi Haddonis - 12 points
Talla Kellerman - 13 points
Will Kollis - 14 points
Trest - 15 points
Nells Turnbull - 13 points


Sarie Moerta with her standard Equipment Cards.


Adding Equipment

Each piece of Equipment is 1 point unless it is duplicated in the Crew, with a few exceptions like Shovels for Breakers, and Shock Batons/Restraints for Black Squadron. Each Character model comes with the Equipment Cards for the items depicted on the model. For example, Officer Sarie Moerta has an Arc Pistol, Shock Baton, and Restraints. If you were to take all 3 pieces of equipment, she'd cost 16 points (her unequipped points value of 13 + 3 for her equipment).

Some Notes on Points

I've mentioned this in previous articles, but currently all Equipment is 1 point per item. You're probably thinking, "how come an Oversized Rock Saw is the same amount of points as a Knife?" This works out because the lethality of the Oversized Rock Saw makes it as likely to lose you games, as it is to win you games. Rendering your opponents Critical or Dead will lose you Victory Points. The only time points for Equipment escalate is when multiple Characters in a Crew duplicate items. This discourages spamming and building strategies around Equipment and not the Characters themselves.

This is the model for Grippe Candera with a head swap and
one of his Pickaxes removed. Converting your own Characters
is fun, but it's not required.


A Final Note on WYSIWYG

All of the Character models that have been released thus far have come with the cards to equip them as depicted by the model. However, Broken Contract encourages acquiring, stealing, and sharing Equipment, so "what you see is what you get" expectations are low. A Character may acquire a piece of equipment during Turn 2 of a game, and accidentally smash it to pieces 2 Turns later. The point is, equipment will always be in flux, so the players don't need to stress about how their Characters are modeled. However, if you love painting and converting, there is nothing stopping you from going all out!

Thanks for reading!
-Nick