Is play testing fun? BLB Next Generation

The fact that I am asking that question (of myself) implies that play testing sends you slightly bonkers which is, on reflection, a possibility.

It all starts when you actually publish a set of rules! You think you have play tested them to death and then people begin to play them and a whole new raft of questions appear that you realize should have thought of yourself!

Having spent about 21 hours over 4 days playing 7 games of Beneath the Lily Banners with around 50 players, mostly newbies to the rules, provided an ideal opportunity to re appraise a rule set that has been on the whole extremely successful. Historicon is to wargames rules what Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD is to AFVs!

Beneath the Lily Banners 2nd Edition appeared in 2011 about three years after the 1st Edition had sold out. It was a significant advance on the original by way of improved mechanisms and enhanced descriptions of concepts.

I did an awful lot of this

I remember it not being universally well received and the usual level of trolling occurring on TMP (often this occurs before anyone has actually played a game and of course is not a phenomenon unique to BLB). Interestingly, that initial negative response has fermented over the five year period since release to an on the whole, loyal and affectionate following. BLB2 sold out in hard copy in 2014 and has been available only in pdf since then.

QRS mods lists go down when you broaden the dice scope - works well in Donnybrook

Apart from criticism of mechanics which is predictable even if in some cases illogical, other TMP critique was less fathomable. 'It looks too good' and  'Most games don't look like that' phased us both.

Aligning Artillery mechanics with other mechanics has proved a good innovation

Being punished for not adopting the black and white, printed on the company photocopier, sack cloth and ashes approach was typical of contrary, reverse snobbery which sometimes surfaces. The inference was - Please make something more shitty looking and stay in line with other home grown rules products. That seemed like part of the under achiever's charter  which neither of us signed up too.

Intuitive connections between the firing stands and number of dice

Raw versus Drilled - Quality defines dice type

Needless to say, we will not be dropping our standards anytime in the near future and that gets me round to the point of this piece.

The time has come to move the rules to the next iteration. Although that involves exciting and sexy stuff like photography, painting and artwork it also involves lots and lots of grunt work and rolling thousands of dice.

bonuses for weapon type - extra dice and improved die type for First Fire!

This we have been doing in darkened rooms both in VA and Lanarkshire. Now it's underway in various other locations including other parts of VA and even the East Midlands! The focus is on maintaining the existing game structure, simplicity and cleanliness whilst aligning several anomalous mechanisms and bringing the rules into line with other WordTwister publications which we have created or are due for release over the foreseeable future.

More dice for short range - this could hurt!

The mechanisms which have been getting most attention are Artillery, Shooting, Close Combat, Morale and FIBUA. There has been some pull through to other sections such as Movement and there has been more than a little refinement on certain troop types.

Combats are even cleaner than before and just as decisive

In addition we have created a heap of non core Supplementary rules for those who want to add a lot more flavour to the stew.

It is a balance between maths and feel. Intuition plays as important a role as probability

We are pretty far advanced in our activities as can be seen and wider play testing beyond the LoA core members is underway.

This post is really a heads up on the fact the BLB will be back soon and in a different guise.