Monday, December 10, 2018

DECEMBER 15TH WE OPEN THE BALL

Gunfighter's Ball, Knuckleduster' new tabletop western miniatures game is wrapping up its Kickstarter fulfillment and the long-awaited release of the system has been set for December 15th, just in time for Christmas. The release will include a full-color, hardbound rulebook, four decks of playing cards used in the game, a game mat, a new saloon buildings, two new furniture sets (including a large saloon bar), as well as 31 new figures in addition to the 57 fighters, 33 bystanders, and numerous buildings, animals, and mounted figures currently available.




If you're already in-the-know, you can probably stop here. If you've never encountered this game before, please read-on and find out about the game your friends are (no doubt) telling you about!


WHAT IS GUNFIGHTER'S BALL?

Gunfighter's Ball is a very fast-paced and character-driven shootout game with card-based initiative, an innovative wound-tracking system that uses poker chips, and a very simple and easy-to-use defensive reaction mechanism that gives non-phasing players a chance to shoot back when being attacked from short range. This game stands on the shoulders of Wild West games that have gone before it, however this game will feel at once as comfortable as an old pair of boots, and shiny as a new pair of spurs.



WHAT MAKES THIS WILD WEST GAME UNIQUE?

Several things make Gunfighter's Ball stand out. First is its scope. The game was designed to recreate gunfights the size of the Tombstone shootout at the OK Corral; in other words, gunfights and NOT small military skirmishes with cowboys masquerading as assault troops. For this reason, you can think of it as "crime gaming" and not "wargaming".

Second is the use of cards to add flavor without the need to keep track of lots of details. Special ability cards, called Pistoleer Cards, can be used to give a character advantages, disadvantages, or quirks. Wound cards from "The Black Deck" can be used in lieu of the wound chart to add some gruesome fun to the hit results.






Third is the use of poker chips to keep track of health; Knuckleduster sells casino-grade clay composite poker chips that make a distinctively western sound when cashed in! Next, a universal system of weighting from -3 to +3  gives game Judges and players the ability to create characters and scenarios by balancing the worth of various special abilities and archetypes (and in 2019, weapons and equipment).

Finally, the defensive reaction system (known as "quickdraws") allow any character who is attacked from within short pistol range to sacrifice their next card to try and make a defensive snap shot. Players roll-off against one another to see who is the fastest gun hand, and it's even possible for characters to gun one another down simultaneously!


IS THERE AN OVERVIEW VIDEO?

I'm glad you asked. And here it is, pilgrim:




WHAT MAKES THE FIGURES UNIQUE?

Knuckleduster has paired these rules with their premier digitally-sculpted Gunfighter's Ball figures and terrain. Each figure is sculpted digitally by Forrest Harris, printed on a jewelry-grade, industry-standard 3D prototyping machine (and Envisiontec Hi-Res), and cast in razor-crisp tin pewter.



Figures are provided with an MDF base, and a set of 70 character cards is available for all of the figures in production, simultaneously providing stats as well as a color picture of a painted figure to use as a paint guide.




IS THERE TERRAIN TO GO WITH THE GAME?

Indeed there is.



Gunfighter's Ball MDF and HDF buildings have incorporated cast parts in order to make windows and doors realistic, strong, and easy to install. Stores, a blacksmith's shop, a barbershop, saloons, a jail, a boarding house/hotel, outhouse, fencing, and livery stable are in the current product line (some just being released at the holidays), and many more designs are planned.

Some of our buildings on the demo board we take to conventions. This is a typical game layout. You can also see our buildings in the YouTube video linked to earlier.


WHAT'S AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW?

Dozens and dozens of fighters, bystanders, vignettes (such as a pharo game in progress), animals, buildings, and furniture are available at the present time, and Knuckleduster's usual frantic pace of new releases, which took a break during Kickstarter fulfillment, will resume in earnest after December 15th, with dozens of new items in the pipeline.



Also be sure to check out the links on the right side of this page, and explore the articles contained here on the Gunfighter's Ball Blog.

Adios!






Sunday, November 4, 2018

APOCALYPSE IN ABILENE



APOCALYPSE IN ABILENE
HISTORY TORN TO SMITHEREENS IN TEN MINUTES OF DEADLY GUNPLAY.
October 26th, 1874

Abilene, Kansas saw its deadliest gun battle in over thirty-six hours as members of the Texas cattle fraternity and local law officers battled it out in and around the Bull’s Head saloon, an establishment notorious for incidents such as the Saturday Night Slaughter of ’70, the Monday Afternoon Massacre of ’71, the Mid-day Holocaust of ’72, and the Lunch Catastrophe of ’73 which, in all fairness, was due to tainted mayonnaise on the finger sandwiches.

Among the fallen were notable lawman Wild Bill Hickok, Abilene constable “Chester” Asby Lowe, Texas mankiller John Wesley Hardin, and cattleman Phil “Doboy” Taylor, an associate of Hardin’s. Surviving were Bull’s Head owner Robert TB Tender, constable Woodrow Legge, and another member of the Taylor faction who was carried off by an spooked horse. Legge was shot through the mouth and prosthetic leg, yet managed to dispatch foes with a cool disregard for danger which is the hallmark of amputees.

The fracas began when Hardin and Taylor came to town to claim the body of their murdered cousin, Cletus “Pigeon Toes” Hootenany who was shot by an unidentified party at, coincidentally, an unidentified party. Blaming local law officers for the killing, the two Texans invaded the Bull’s Head saloon, killing Lowe instantly with a shot to the head and cornering Legge behind the bar, where he managed to kill Taylor after exchanging several shots and receiving his own gruesome head wound, a bullet entering the mouth and causing the loss of one good tooth, and one that was about sixty percent bad.

Hearing gunfire, Marshal J.B. Hickok vaulted to a perfect dismount from the amorous sport in which he was engaged, dressed himself impeccably and mounted a horse, riding to the scene of the gunplay and joining in, game as ever. Unfortunately, the auburn-haired specimen of manly perfection was unable to prevent a fate which has become the bane of Hickoks everywhere; he was shot dead from ambush by an assassin at the window behind him.

The gun battle was brought to a halt by the quick-thinking owner of the Bull’s Head and his trusty shotgun “Emma,” named for his estranged wife (who is now residing in Denver). Tender told reporters that much like his former companion, the shotgun cracks open when loaded and has a tremendous spread when used.

When asked if they were heroes, Tender attempted to sell the reporter his autograph, and Legge made a quiet whistling sound due to the holes in his face.

The preceding was a report from an afternoon game of Gunfighter’s Ball, the Wild West tabletop miniatures game. Six friends rolled dice, drew cards, and moved miniatures around a model town, producing the results detailed in this story. A good time was had by all.

Find out more at www.knuckleduster.com/gb.html and look up our game play video on YouTube.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TALKIN' TRIGGERNOMETRY: QUICK DRAWING

At first glance, Gunfighter's Ball is a simple and straightforward gunfighting game. After meeting one inglorious end after another, however, you begin to realize that there is quite a bit of strategy inside the combat system. If you pay attention to the little things, you'll find they make a big difference.

The Talkin' Triggernometry series of entries will address the strategies that give you the best chance of winning at Gunfighter's Ball, as well as how to avoid common mistakes. We'll also talk a bit about rules interpretations and suggestions for house rules to add detail to the game. You're encouraged to join the discussion in the comments section below each article to exchange observations and questions.

TODAY'S TOPIC: QUICK DRAW

One of the most powerful defensive moves you can make is to interrupt your opponent's planned shot with a quick draw, sacrificing your next turn in the process. This rule was designed to eliminate the very unrealistic situation that arises in games where your character is frozen while your opponent simply walks up and shoots you at point-blank range when it's their turn. 



THINGS TO CONSIDER

1. Quick draw is a defensive maneuver. If your opponent has declared three shots (the most they can take in one action), you will cut that down to one shot simply by declaring a quick draw. Also, even if you lose the roll that determines who shoots first, the only way you won’t be able to shoot back is if you're killed outright by your opponent's shot, which will now be taken at a reduced chance to hit.

2. It's called quick draw for a reason! Although this mechanism is essentially a snap shot and doesn't have to include drawing, it certainly can. If you find yourself in the thick of a gunfight with your pistol still in your holster, this is a way to get that gun in your hand and take a shot in the same action.

3. Speaking of gambling, you don't want to waste a quick draw in a situation where your opponent's declared shot would already have a poor chance of hitting. For instance, if your opponent moved on his first action to get within short range, and you are in cover, he is already highly likely to miss you. By declining to take a quick draw, you play good odds and save the ability to act during your next card.

4. It's important to weigh the use of the quick draw carefully, because sacrificing a card means losing two actions on your next turn in exchange for one snap shot. Use it when your back is really up against the wall--when your opponent has a very good chance to hit you, or waiting to act until your next turn isn’t soon enough.



SIZING UP YOUR OPPONENT

Fortune favors the well-prepared. Try to be aware of characters' strengths and weaknesses. In the example below, The Chaco Kid (see cards) has an Action Number of 3 versus Maria's Action Number of 2. He also has a +1 bonus because of his "Greased Lightning" special ability. In total, he rolls with a 2-point advantage over Maria. For this reason, it's a good idea for The Chaco Kid to be maneuvered into in a situation which might involve a quickdraw against her, perhaps avoiding an enemy character with stats closer to his own.



If you are adept at using the quickdraw rule, you will find your opponent constantly out-of-step with the flow of combat and vulnerable to the sting of your smokin' sixguns.

Thanks, and be sure to post your comments and questions below.

NEXT TALKIN' TRIGGERNOMETRY TOPIC: SHORT RANGE FIRE EFFECTIVENESS.












Thursday, July 12, 2018

INTRODUCING GUNFIGHTER'S BALL!




Gunfighter's Ball wild west tabletop miniatures game is a quick, easy, and fun shootout wargame. Here is a rundown on the game, miniatures, and accessories.

THE SYSTEM
Gunfighter's Ball is a tabletop miniature wargame; each player controls between one and three characters represented by 28mm miniatures and wild west battles are conducted on a table full of model terrain, all of which is produced by Knuckleduster Miniatures in the Gunfighter's Ball product line.

Gunfighter's Ball game at Garycon, 2018
If you're an old hand at wargaming, you'll be relieved to know that these rules incorporate time-honored rule mechanisms that should be very intuitive for you, and they're also easy for newcomers to learn. For instance:
  • The turn sequence is controlled by poker cards; when your card comes up, it's your turn to go.
  • You can perform two actions when your card comes up. The actions are very clearly defined.
  • Movement is performed with dice to introduce an element of uncertainty.
  • Fire is performed using percentile dice and a simple chart. There are options for opportunity fire/reactions that help get around the problem of attacks on static/helpless non-phasing characters that you often get in "I-Go-U-Go" systems.
  • If a hit is scored, wounds are rolled-for using percentile dice and a chart, or "The Black Deck" is used as an alternative to charts.
  • Health it tracked with poker chips. You begin the game with nine "lives" (health points). Each wound you take costs you between 1 and 6 chips (0 and "All Remaining" are also options for extreme results). The last three chips are red and represent the mortally-wounded level, in which you start taking massive penalties on the charts when you try to move or fight.
  • There are rules for special abilities, animal combat, mounted movement, explosives, and other things you might expect. We've tried to give you the most complete options we can for an old west game. 
  • The scenario section includes an extensive discussion of HOW to write scenarios as well as providing examples of scenarios to get you started.
Download the simplified "Greenhorn" version via the link at the right and see what you think.

Check out this video for a more detailed walk-through:




THE MINIATURES
The Gunfighter's Ball miniature line was already extensive before the kickstarter, with over 50 gunfighting characters, and over 30 bystander packs. With the kickstarter, we've added over a dozen new characters, as well as numerous terrain items. The highlight of the project is the addition of more MDF building kits. This part of the product line will grow a lot during 2018. We've even got a photo-realistic neoprene-backed cloth (mousepad) game mat.

 THE ACCESSORIES
The experience of playing the game is enhanced by high quality game materials worthy of the quality of the figures and terrain. There will be several ancillary card decks that can be used to spice up the game (but are not necessary for play). Each character in our product line will have a large-format "tarot" sized card made from a glossy material that can be easily wiped off after notes are made with a dry-erase or transparency marker. The Black Deck can be used to deal out more specific wound results, and a special ability deck called the Pistoleer Deck can be used to add depth to your characters. Finally, the Death Dealer Deck gives the Judge an elegant and evocative way to deal up characters' turns.


Be sure to share this page with all of your gaming buddies and visit us on Facebook, peruse our webstore, and find the game's listing on Board Game Geek.











Sunday, January 28, 2018

GUNFIGHTER'S BALL; FUNDED ON KICKSTARTER AND COMING SPRING 2018!

This is my first blog post since the Kickstarter concluded in December.


The campaign was a rousing success, with enough funds raised to pay for the development of some stunning new figures, accessories, and print materials, as well as launch Knuckleduster into 2018 with the ability to create cutting-edge wild west game gear.

As a result, we've been very busy at Knuckleduster headquarters. The manuscript is undergoing editing, the photos are taken, and a few last-minute illustrations are being rounded up for the rule book. The guys are planning, casting, and packing product--making lists, spinning tin, and inspecting every spur and hat brim.

Here are some of the essential things you need to know about this game system if this is the first time you've encountered it:



THE SYSTEM
Gunfighter's Ball is a tabletop miniature wargame; each player controls between one and three characters represented by 28mm miniatures and wild west battles are conducted on a table full of model terrain, all of which is produced by Knuckleduster Miniatures in the Gunfighter's Ball product line.

If you're an old hand at wargaming, you'll be relieved to know that these rules incorporate time-honored rule mechanisms that should be very intuitive for you, and they're also easy for newcomers to learn. For instance:

  • The turn sequence is controlled by poker cards; when your card comes up, it's your turn to go.
  • You can perform two actions when your card comes up. The actions are very clearly defined.
  • Movement is performed with dice to introduce an element of uncertainty.
  • Fire is performed using percentile dice and a simple chart. There are options for opportunity fire/reactions that help get around the problem of attacks on static/helpless non-phasing characters that you often get in "I-Go-U-Go" systems.
  • If a hit is scored, wounds are rolled-for using percentile dice and a chart, or "The Black Deck" is used as an alternative to charts.
  • Health it tracked with poker chips. You begin the game with nine "lives" (health points). Each wound you take costs you between 1 and 6 chips (0 and "All Remaining" are also options for extreme results). The last three chips are red and represent the mortally-wounded level, in which you start taking massive penalties on the charts when you try to move or fight.
  • There are rules for special abilities, animal combat, mounted movement, explosives, and other things you might expect. We've tried to give you the most complete options we can for an old west game. 
  • The scenario section includes an extensive discussion of HOW to write scenarios as well as providing examples of scenarios to get you started.
Download the simplified "Greenhorn" version via the link at the right and see what you think.



THE MINIATURES
The Gunfighter's Ball miniature line was already extensive before the kickstarter, with over 50 gunfighting characters, and over 30 bystander packs. With the kickstarter, we've added over a dozen new characters, as well as numerous terrain items. The highlight of the project is the addition of more MDF building kits. This part of the product line will grow a lot during 2018. We've even got a photo-realistic game mat that's about to go off to the printer.


THE ACCESSORIES
The experience of playing the game is enhanced by high quality game materials worthy of the quality of the figures and terrain. There will be several ancillary card decks that can be used to spice up the game (but are not necessary for play). Each character in our product line will have a large-format "tarot" sized card made from a glossy material that can be easily wiped off after notes are made with a dry-erase or transparency marker. The Black Deck can be used to deal out more specific wound results, and a special ability deck called the Pistoleer Deck can be used to add depth to your characters. Finally, the Death Dealer Deck gives the Judge an elegant and evocative way to deal up characters' turns.



STAY TUNED
The next phase of Gunfighters Ball is the fulfillment of the kickstarter backer kits. During this time, we (and our European stockist, Caliver Books) are still open for business, and the established part of the product line is available for purchase. Be sure to visit Knuckleduster's shopping cart and browse our selection of figures. We've even got mounted versions of the dismounted characters and things like longhorn cattle.

IF YOU MISSED THE KICKSTARTER
Not to worry--you can still pre-order items that were in the Kickstarter and receive them when the backer kits go out. Our kickstarter pre-order system is being administrated by backerkit.com. Go HERE to check out the pre-ordering information. You'll be able to buy everything except the exclusive figure (The Drifter). All the stretch goal items are in the Backerkit shopping cart for pre-order.



IF YOU ARE A RETAILER
If you are retailer in the US or Canada, contact me at knuckledusterharris@gmail.com and we'll start talking turkey. I have two programs set up; one for brick-and-mortar retailers and one for established internet retailers that meet certain criteria.
If you are a retailer in the EU, you will be able to apply to our distributor in the UK, Caliver Books (www.caliverbooks.com).

IF YOU ARE A DISTRIBUTOR
We await your call with baited breath.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Please comment below or join us on facebook for more photos and news.

Adios,
Knuckleduster








Wednesday, December 13, 2017

GUNFIGHTER'S BALL WILD WEST MAT

The trend in tabletop gaming is the use of finely-detailed printed mats instead of felt or flocked cloth. They're neater, they lay nice and flat, and if designed properly, the detail on the surface fools the eye into seeing texture. This characteristics of game mats has driven their popularity. And then there is the durability; no more problem with flock rubbing off your groundcloth!

The neoprene-backed printed cloth mats are the most popular of all. This is usually referred-to as "mousepad" material, since it is essentially the material used to make the old-fashioned mousepads we know so well. Using typical gamer ingenuity, somebody discovered several years ago how well this material looks when printed, and how nicely it flattens out on the table and voila, paradigm shift.


Here's a closeup (about 200% magnification--these tufts of yucca will print up about 1/4" wide) of the kind of results you can get with a printed game mat. The artist we're working with made this render so we could evaluate textures, and we were immediately blown-away.


Here's a mockup of the final mat in 3'x4' size. The artist is now working on applying that detail to the entire surface in a similar pattern to the one pictured. Each end has vegetation, and the sides are more clear in case you want to put several mats side-by-side to make a big town.



I'm really excited about this. If you've ever seen our game demo board at a show, you've seen the improvement that a nicely detailed surface can make over a plain tan groundcloth. This game mat gives you the advantages of a textured board with the convenience of rolling it up and putting in a tube for transport. And the material rolls out flat with enough weight to stay put.

If the campaign hits 28k, everybody who is eligible for stretch goals will receive on of these. If they are unlocked, they will also be available in the add-ons in case you want additional mats, or if you pledged below the level that receives stretch goals.

And don't forget, we have an interim stretch goal at 23.5k, which is a mounted version of Honest John the Sheriff!



Any questions can be directed to us through Kickstarter, or via email at knuckledusterharris@gmail.com





Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pistoleer Cards


If you have perused the Greenhorn Download, you will have a good idea how the basics of Gunfighter's Ball work. To make the game more interesting, we incorporate special abilities using Pistoleer Cards.

This was something Desperado never had, and it was entirely up to players to role-play any quirks they had, or entirely up to Game Masters to design them into characters. This deck provides an easy and systematic way to spice up characters to take the game beyond a simple "move and shoot" to something with more depth.

There are 52 cards, comprising 52 skills, quirks, advantages, disadvantages, and special abilities. Each card has a detailed description of the characteristic with effects on play described in enough detail that a rulebook is not necessary.


Examples include:

River Rat . . . handy with a throwing knife.
Lunger . . . sickly, starting the game with fewer wound chips.
Nervy . . . cowardly and ap to run when the shots start flying.
Ambidextrous . . . no penalty for using non-dominant hand.
Sidekick . . . gives hero an advantage when nearby.
Rube . . . ill-equipped for combat.

The entire list:

Greased Lightning
Hesitant
Deliberate Shooter
Wild
Drunk
Marksman
Pistoleer
Cavalryman
Horseman
Guerilla Horseman
Nervy
City Slicker
Sneaky
Oafish
Bruiser
Featherweight
Fleet Of Foot
Pegleg
Trick Rider
Clumsy Shooter
Climber
Four-Eyes
Tough
Lunger
Ambidextrous
Thumb Buster
River Rat
Old Wound Acting Up
Mute
Miner
Lady
Hero
Sidekick
Spooks Horses
Old Nag
Mule
Cowboy
Hired Gun
Rube
Eagle Eye
Glutton For Punishment
Sissy
Left-Handed
Lucky Son Of A Gun
Cursed
Proud
Gentleman
Mysogynist
Raging Drunk
Code Against Killing
Hubris

Methodical

The number in the red circle is a relative weight so that a point system can be use to build characters. For instance, if a game allows for characters to come out at a net level of 1, then this ability would need to be balanced out by a disadvantage with a weight of -1.

We cut some of them and start another deck which will be called the "Dirty Tricks" deck. This will essentially be a weapons and special equipment deck with some special skills such as "menacing glare."

The mockups above are something I put together to illustrate how they might look. I incorporated images from a real antique card deck in order to give it a little period flavor. I'm still on the fence about some of the graphic design, but the content is finished.

Visit the Kickstarter and see how it's going!

Adios!
Forrest