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General Fantasy Gaming Discussion Group, where you can discuss anything fantasy and point visitors to your threads and activities elsewhere on Beasts of War’s Hubs and Forums.

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  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I had an idea for a game, a while back now, a game called Deneb. About a month ago I posted this in Backstage, and have had some great feedback from the guys there. It was suggested I post here to widen the feedback further, which seemed like a good idea!

    Having worked in the computer game industry for years, and been a keen tabletop gamer since my teenage days, it just felt like the right time to make something of my own in this area. Something entirely for the love of making a game whose world was my own, and where I could put my money where my mouth is when it comes to designing mechanics. So I got together a very helpful team for art, sculpting, designing, editing, play testing and so on, and started work.

    It’s far from finished, but I’ve wanted to widen the circle of feedback for a bit, and this seemed like a good place to start.

    All the core rules are written, plus unit rules for 4 factions (plus an unaligned collection of models), these have been through a chunk of play-testing, and it’s down to number crunching and wording tweaks at this point. The art has been created fully for 3 of the factions; the others are in progress.

    **** EDIT ****
    Core rules v0.85
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1v_XsK8SCXvavNm7-mDkhJZSXeZ9LNUIv

    - Art added for all but the last Shadow Unit.
    - Last short story added.
    - Contents, unit index and main index all up-to-date!

    Worth noting this is a heavily compressed PDF from the print version, so images lose some sharpness and there are some minor visual artefacts.

    Also for convenience of anyone wanting to learn, the quick start guide.

    Quick Start Rules v0.5
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwD-J7uTyNXAM3l0dkNLTzN4aDQ

    And in either case, this is a handy double-sided A4 reference sheet that covers the core things you need to know when playing.

    Quick Reference v0.3
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwD-J7uTyNXAR3ZzVXhacmd1SVBtSzBxdWJzOEl3RWRyTnI4

    After the initial feedback on sculpts, we’ve been looking at what else might be possible. The manufacturing process isn’t finalised and nothing is settled yet, but thought I’d include in this post current comparison between a digital sculpt and the character art here as well for easy viewing and feedback.

    Also, prototype box and printed cards/counters etc…

    Also, we have a website now! https://www.deneb-skirmish.com

    **** EDIT ****

    Feedback welcome, and if anyone wants to know more, I am sure you can guess I am ready to wax lyrical about this to anyone who asks :)

    I’ll copy in some of the posts made in Backstage that answered the first questions I got (and I clearly should have answered better in my first post!)

    Enjoy the cover art below!

    Check out my fantasy miniatures game Deneb!
    Forum Topic
    Website
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I possibly should explain some of the key things about the game that might help people decide if they want to bother looking at the PDF or not (although the art is pretty cool, so worth a peek for that at least!).

    - It uses a fantasy setting created for the game.

    - Its key mechanics are around choice rather than randomness. A game of Deneb has at most, two coin-tosses for random elements, and everything else is down to player choice.

    - It’s a skirmish-like game, but it uses tiles (which have built-in rules for elevation and other terrain effects) to build a grid for gameplay, and all movement and measurement is tile based.

    - It’s quick to play, with the smallest size games taking 30-60 mins, and the biggest 60-90 mins.

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Thought it might be interesting to include one of the unit cards to get an idea about how the units are described. These cards in the prototype are double sided A6, so the text is decently legible. Below is the Komtur, a Captain of the Knights in the elite armed force, the Ordo Draco.

    So far we have 25 unit cards in the rules to this level of completion (more or less done) across 3 of the factions.

    We have another 12 with complete rules and card layout, but art work is not yet complete.

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Some photos from a play-test setup!

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    In case anyone wants to try any play-testing here is the file I used to print the standee’s shown in the play-testing above.

    It’s a good idea to have some copies of the trackers as well, there is a version in the rulebook linked above to copy/print, but it might be better to have a single file for that for people to test with, I’ll dig that out if anyones interested. Also probably the quick play PDF that is intended for teaching a first game.

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Some Q&A stuff collated from some helpful backstagers

    Q: Isn’t Deneb a property in other things?
    A: The games name got changed a few times during development to avoid collision with other things (all the names were names of stars, which has some loose relevance to the concept behind the lore). Trouble is, it seems always someone, somewhere, has used a star name! However I don’t believe Deneb, spelt that way (the actual star name) is a trademarked property.

    Q: What makes this special and different in a market that is on the verge of over-saturation
    A: I would say there were some concepts I wanted out of the game, not all of which are original, but I hadn’t seen all together in one package.

    The most important thing for me was to try and make a game where everything was player choice driven, as opposed to dice rolls or card draws. I could go on a lot about the theory of tension and conflict in games, and why randomness is a really good solution to this problem. However, I’d rather say, whilst I LOVE dice and cards, and have had a lot of fun with them over the years, I really wanted a game where at the end you go “Ah, I lost it when I made choice X”. Rather than, “I lost it when I failed roll X”. Balance is key for something like this, and the aim (and so far play-testing has borne this out) is to not know who is going to win until pretty late in the game. It’s definitely hard to get a mechanic like that right, but I feel Deneb does it well.

    I wanted a game where movement, cover, terrain and line of sight was very clearly defined. No debate, and very easy to determine. Primarily for speed, but also to avoid arguments in more competitive games. It’s not the first game to use this kind of grid mechanic, but as I say not in conjunction with all the other factors I liked.

    I wanted something I could play quickly, and with minimal financial and time investment. Something where once you know the rules, you can pick-up a single starter box, paint 5/6 mini’s, and be good to go. Also where those games take around an hour usually.

    Despite wanting all of the above factors (which I could have played other games to get some mix of those things), I also wanted to build army list. I love that construction aspect that let’s me read cool lore and abilities, and mix up models to create interesting synergies. Despite my love of strategy, I didn’t want chess (great game though it is) I wanted something that had cool characters, and whose abilities I could mix and match. Hence the strange allies rule, which makes balancing all the more difficult, but allows you to use pretty much any model from any faction in any list (there are some limitations of course!). The point was to give a lot of variety to army construction.

    An extension of this; was to make something where individual models really carried a bunch of interesting flavour with them. I like when rules and flavour really feel in synch with each other. Related to that, when a model feels like what it does is really its thing, and not “this is a power 6, defence 4 as opposed to a power 4, defence 6″. I want people to go “oh that’s the model that can create walls, I know how I could use that.” To make that playable, it was important for me that wherever possible, a rule that isn’t standard rule is written on a models card, as clearly as possible so you don’t need to look rules up in a book during play.

    The rulebook itself might not be the easiest to grok, and any advice to improve that is appreciated. I am working on a quick-play that is short, and should help get people up and running. I’ve found when teaching the game, people usually after one turn, have grasped the key rules and can play on their own after that, just asking the odd (usually unit specific) question after that.

    Lastly (and to an extent, least important) I wanted a game whose aesthetic I liked. To that end, I mean somewhat realistic (as opposed to cartoony) art style, and a fantasy setting. I do like things that are cartoony and all kinds of settings, just not as much as I like this style.

    Thanks for taking an interest and I hope you do get a chance to read the rules, and if you do, I look forward to hearing your feedback.

    Q: How do you plan to fund and distribute the game? Kickstarter?
    A: We have sufficient funding to complete the development, art, sculpts, tokens and so on, as well as to create a limited prototype run for demoing at cons and so on, though we are still a bit away time wise from doing all of that!

    Beyond that, Kickstarter is an option, but it’s not the only thing we are exploring when it comes to getting together everything logistically and financially to allow order, production and delivery of the final starter box set.

    Q: What size are the cards?
    A: The unit cards are going to be A6, so roughly double “normal” card size. So if you imagine the image above printed twice on an A4 portrait page (so one filling the top half, and one filling the bottom half). That is the actual size it ends up. As they are double-sided A6, so the front half has the image, main stats, and starting rule text, then the back-side has the rest of the rules text.

    I was worried about legibility, and I don’t think you can smaller in terms of card size, but I think it’s ok at A6. Less text is always better of course!

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 2 weeks ago:

    As noted above currently working on the Shadow faction unit cards (the 4th core faction to get it’s art and cards completed). First one of those has been finished off today, thought it might be nice to share it here.

    The Shadow are a slightly trickier faction to master, and but very good at taking out enemy targets when you get the hang of them.

    This is the Balestrieri…

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 1 week ago:

    As noted above currently working on the Shadow faction unit cards (the 4th core faction to get it’s art and cards completed). Second one of those has been finished off today, so decided to share.

    The Shadow are a slightly trickier faction to master, and but very good at taking out enemy targets when you get the hang of them.

    This is the Cinquedea…

    cinquedea.jpg
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 1 week ago:

    A question that has come up a few times is about what factions the game has, and what are they all about? To help with answering that question I am going to add some posts which cover a very brief overview of the faction and a bit of strategic detail on the models you might expect to see in a pure core-faction 5 model tournament legal strike team.

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 1 week ago:

    First up we have the Coven.

    The coven is a global organisation of witches that believe, above all else, in the primacy of women in power. They are formed from a loosely knit collection of cells which operate on broadly the same principles. There are four ranks of authority with the coven, going from least to most; Man, maiden, mother and the most senior, the crone.

    Tactically Coven units are great at working with cover to their advantage. Many of their abilities do not require line of effect. So they can hide behind cover while attacking without penalty. Most witches can deal hex damage, and the hex augment gem is often a good marketplace buy for them.

    Against other factions:
    vs Tower: The tower can be squishy, and rely on projectile attacks, so use cover and hit them hard with augment gems to try and get crits. Beware their mobility when it comes to grabbing objectives though. Fire amulets are a good choice here.

    vs Ordo Draco: Curse is not a projectile attack, so flying high doesn’t get you out of range. That means use Curse to kill the Legendary Dragon they are almost certain to bring. They are about as slow as you, and a little tougher to kill, so focus on objectives when you can. Cutting amulets are a good choice here.

    vs Shadow: Make sure you go second on any turn you can, and deploy your Axemen first, otherwise they are going to be crit-killing your valuable witches. Keep an eye on if they have Balestrieri, Carcano or Cinquedea left to sneak attack and get piercing or cutting amulets as required. Shadow always excel at killing, so focus on objectives.

    now to look in detail at some specific models…

  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months, 1 week ago:

    The Axemen are the “odd” model in the Coven. They lack the Witch keyword, the Hex Siphon trait and so on. However, they serve an important role. With VIG 3 and the Sturdy trait, they are very hard to kill. Walk 1 is their only movement option, so they are very slow; this can be mitigated with the Sigil of Speed from the Marketplace. Often the sigil is a good late-game buy to help a single Axeman get to an objective and either hold it or use Wild Swing to force an enemy model out of the scoring area. They are exceptionally good value bringing 2 marks to your starting unspent marks pool.

    They also have a rare projectile attack for the Coven with Throwing Axe. That means you need to beware cover when making attacks, but it also means they can use the Spyglass marketplace item to extend their range from an already decent 2 to 2-3. They can’t throw at enemies at range 1, so be aware of that against things like the Tower’s Blink Dodge.

    Wild Swing might be their most important ability when it comes to objectives, it’s very good at forcing models to move and hopefully stop them scoring VP.

    For upgrades, if you are looking to focus on killing models then Mastercrafted Axe is a good choice. It’s expensive compared to an augment, but you don’t lose it on a crit which against the Tower might allow you to go on a bit of a crit-spree. For the coven! is ideal when trying to keep a witch alive that is holding a key objective location, best used when the Axeman is on 3 points of damage for maximum benefit. As always, upgrades are expensive, not all models are going to get one over the course of a game, so decide if buying one for the Axeman is really going to make the key difference in a game, vs for another model.

    When it comes to a basic 5 model legal force, I’d suggest taking two axemen and deploying them as far apart as possible to maximise the area of terrain they are able to have an impact on. Their slow movement means placing them together can mean a cunning opponent can avoid them almost altogether if the scenario allows. So, avoid that with a spread deployment.

    axeman.jpg
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months ago:

    The Wood Mother is a versatile model for the Coven. She is a witch, and like most witches, she has Hex Siphon and Curse. Hex Siphon allows you to grant a witch an extra action point when you kill someone with hex damage (e.g. curse). Can really help you push a little extra to swing things in your favour. As always with Curse, it’s not a projectile, so it ignores cover and elevation. She’s reasonably survivable with VIG 2, but a little expensive bringing 0 marks to the game.

    Where the Wood Witch excels is she brings her Grimalkin familiar with her, which can act as an origin for ANY spell, cast by ANY witch. The Grimalkin is very fast, and that makes it almost impossible for your enemy to hide from your curse. As such Hex Augment is pretty much always a sound buy for her from the marketplace.

    She also has the ability to shapeshift into a Raven. This grants her a mobility that is unmatched by any other Coven witch. She must start in human form, shapeshifting is a free action, and you must take free-movement for flying before any other free action, and she can’t perform “use” actions as a Raven. That means she isn’t a first turn objective grabber like say an Ordo Blitz Dragon, or the Covens own White Witch. However, she can still get around the terrain in a hurry compared to your other models, she can also hide from trouble as a Raven, all of which help make her very useful when you might need to pivot your strategy late game.

    For upgrades, Black Oak’s Blessing is good if you are wanting more control over your opponents movement. Just remember the Tower Mages can teleport, so unless they are fielding a Golem, it’s probably not worth taking this upgrade against them. Wood Crone is a solid choice insofar as granting 2AP to any model capable of grabbing objectives can be a game winner (but see notes about the Grimalkin below). As always, upgrades are expensive, not all models are going to get one over the course of a game, so decide if buying one for the Wood Mother is really going to make the key difference in a game, vs for another model.

    When it comes to a basic 5 model legal force, I’d suggest taking one or two wood mothers. Taking two makes sure you are going to have the range extension of a Grimalkin available to your other witches even if one gets destroyed. It also means 7 models in play, which can really divide your opponents attention. However, you are going to sacrifice a slot that could otherwise go to a hardier Axeman or bringing more variety to your force, so experiment and see what works best for you. Remember when a model gets removed from play, it’s surrogate(s) get removed as well.

    You get a Grimalkin as a surrogate model for every Wood Mother you field. The Grimalkin is a little squishy at VIG 1, so consider taking an appropriate amulet to protect. Especially because to maximise the value you are going to want to be able to run the Grimalkin into danger to act as a big range extender for your witches spells (most likely curse). That’s the other thing with the Grimalkin, she’s fast, Walk 4 makes her the fastest model in the game that isn’t flying.

    She has the True Partner trait, which allows her to make “use” actions despite being a surrogate. That’s helpful in scenarios where a “use” action is needed to grab objectives, but remember that isn’t always the case (or like in Intercept the Courier, it’s only useful in the early part of the game).

    Her own Scratch is a decent attack, but against well-armoured opponents (like Schilten) you might struggle to land a hit. This is made tougher by the fact you might favour defence as a tactical commitment to protect the Grimalkin for as long as possible. However, if you find a target you can hit, a cutting augment gem isn’t a bad choice, but Grimalkins tend to attract enemy ire, so don’t expect to get multiple turns of value out of it.

    wood_mother.jpg
    grimalkin.jpg
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months ago:

    The Blood Mother is a powerful buffing support model for the Coven. She is a witch, and like most witches, she has Hex Siphon and Curse. Hex Siphon allows you to grant a witch an extra action point when you kill someone with hex damage (e.g. curse). Can really help you push a little extra to swing things in your favour. As always with Curse, it’s not a projectile, so it ignores cover and elevation. She’s reasonably survivable with VIG 2, and good value bringing 1 Mark to your unspent mark pool. The weakness is her buffing ability whilst powerful, can be situational.

    When any model with the living keyword takes damage (on either side) the Blood Mother acquires blood counters that fuel her Blood Rite which can buff any of the core combat stats (BRN/AGI/CMD/INT/VIG/ARM). She can use blood pact as a free action to share blood counters with her allies and allow them to benefit from a later use of Blood Rite.

    In early game, you are going to be wanting to use curse, and build up those blood counters. Remember that any living model on either side taking damage will get you a blood counter. The trick with the Blood Mother is to use those tokens at the right time. There are two basic scenarios, in a game where you are easily hitting or being hit and you need for a key check to massively spike an attribute to guarantee winning a skill check (either avoiding a hit or delivering one). In this case you burn all your blood counters in one go on a single attribute for either just the blood mother herself, or her and one ally, and win that check that hopefully wins you the game or at least an objective. The other case is where you are facing a force where tactical commitment is the deciding factor on winning a good number of skill checks, and you need to make sure whichever model is involved in the check will succeed. In this case you spread a small buff thinly across a large number of models. Remember you are likely to only get one or maybe two shots a this during a game (with typical production of blood counters), so choose that moment carefully.

    For upgrades, Blood Crone is quite situational, do you have a lot of tokens, and need to both use blood rite and curse, or blood rite and move, or blood rite and “use objective” in the same activation. If any of those are true, then this might be a perfect upgrade, but otherwise perhaps not. Blood Bath is a very solid choice if you must keep this model alive for an objective, especially if you aren’t fielding a White Witch. It’s also a really good upgrade for burning the odd spare blood counter in late game that might not have another use. As always, upgrades are expensive, not all models are going to get one over the course of a game, so decide if buying one for the Blood Mother is really going to make the key difference in a game, vs for another model.

    When it comes to a basic 5 model legal force, I’d suggest taking one blood mother, she has the uncommon trait so you can have only have two at maximum, there are some more esoteric strategies involving two blood mothers, but starting out I’d go with one.

    blood_mother.jpg
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months ago:

    Ok, so time to look at the last model for a basic 5 model pure Coven force. The White Witch. One of the only models in the game that can reliably churn out healing. She is a witch, and like most witches, she has Hex Siphon. Hex Siphon allows you to grant a witch an extra action point when you kill someone with hex damage (e.g. curse). Can really help you push a little extra to swing things in your favour. She’s reasonably survivable with VIG 2, and good value bringing 1 Mark to your unspent mark pool.

    She is also an example of a 2AP model. Most models in Deneb have 1AP, a rare few have 2AP, and they are generally ones that have no direct form of dealing damage with AP, the White Witch is no exception. These 2AP models are often excellent at grabbing objectives (being able to move and “use” all in the one turn). All of her unique abilities without upgrades cost 2AP, so she is still generally doing one thing a turn. Where the 2AP comes in is if you need her to move twice, or move and “use” as noted earlier, or with the Mend Flesh upgrade.

    Apply Poultice may feel limited costing both AP and requiring her to be adjacent to the model she is healing. However you can heal a damage point every turn with this, healing is hard to come by in Deneb, and this can be the difference between holding an objective for a VP win, or keeping a model alive in a model-count victory situation. As this requires Utility it can be handy if the White Witch is taking your initiative check and you are hoping to go first, as she can still heal on a turn when she has opted Utility to give the best possible score on the initiative check.

    Protective Charm, again, costs 2AP. This is within range 2, and can be used on a model with or without full health. Adding tokens like this can be stacked over several turns providing models with a lot of survivability. Can also be useful to buff up a Grimalkin before it runs into the enemy to act as an origin for other Witches to Curse from. Once you’ve grabbed any objectives you can first turn, then early-game is likely dominated by the use of this ability either to make a single model almost impossible to kill or several a little more survivable. Late game you might switch to healing, depending on if you’ve needed to go into Utility or Defence for the White Witch herself, and if the enemy has any abilities that remove counters (or conversely, deal extra damage against injured models).

    Aura of tranquillity again costs 2AP, and requires aggression so oddly puts the White Witch at a little bit of risk (by not allowing defence) and makes her a poor choice for initiative checks on a turn she wishes to use this. It’s quite situational, but it can potentially affect up to 3 models, and give them all -1 to skill checks involving attack. Remember it effects your own models as well as enemies. It’s also a wall that lasts until the White Witches next activation, so you might be able to use an Axemans Wild Swing to force a model into the area of effect at a later point in the turn. It has to target unoccupied squares initially, so you need to plan when you use this. In the right situation, this can stop enemies from being able to actually land a hit, which can be huge. The game is balanced in favour of attackers landing hits, and so you are likely to need some other effect in play (e.g. Axemans Sturdy Trait) to make this effective. More often you are going to be forcing enemies to take a longer route to avoid the -1 or force them to change their plan in some other way.

    For upgrades, Mend Flesh is a great choice in games where you expect the enemy to be churning out consistent damage and trying to win by model-kill. It’s a 1AP, range 3 heal. That is huge, especially with her having 2AP, so you can heal twice in a single activation. Against a Shadow strike team, this is almost an auto-buy. Resurrect is powerful, but situational. You are basically trading one point of damage on the White Witch to remove a point of damage on a dead model and bring it back. It’s typically only useful if you are going to lose on model count, and taking that point of damage won’t kill the White Witch, of course in those situations it might be the difference between victory and defeat. As always, upgrades are expensive, not all models are going to get one over the course of a game, so decide if buying one for the White Witch is really going to make the key difference in a game, vs for another model.

    When it comes to a basic 5 model legal force, I’d suggest taking one White Witch, she is a potent healer, and a great objective grabber, but zero ability to deal damage means taking more than one is going to really limit your ability to hurt your opponent.

    white_witch.jpg
  • Avatar Image davehawes385p said 4 months ago:

    So that’s the basic Coven Models done, the core rules also include a couple more advanced options for the Coven.

    The Bone Maiden, with her ability to summon animated limbs, animated skeleton and the very nasty skeletal abomination. She is best in 5v5 games of mostly living models that are going to go on for a while. Pulling off her necromancy tricks requires quite a bit of planning but can turn a game around where you’ve lost a few models!

    The Puppeteer Crone and her Wood Effigy surrogate are a devastating combination when used well. Able to control opponent models, as well as damage, buff or de-buff them by having her or her allies target her Wood Effigy. She does rely on synergies with other models to either guarantee skill check success or maximise her effects, but orchestrate that and she can really mess with an opponent’s plans.

    Full art, rules and unit cards for these models can be found in the rulebook link in the first post. Once I’ve done core faction basic 5 model strike team guides for all the factions I may revisit these extra models and give them the full detail treatment as well.