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'Scrum Club TV' Launches, plus Scrum Con Profiled on 'Tankard Talk'

We don't typically shoot video for our Second Saturday Scrum Club gatherings, but I got tired of seeing those Little Wars TV fellas getting all of the glory, so we're launching our own Scrum Club TV.

I've been impressed by the industrious guys at Little Wars TV, their really cool renovated club house, and the fact that they seduced away Miles Reidy to their ranks just before I had a chance to recruit him as a member of the Second Saturday Scrum Club. Although they seem much more interested in historicals than most of the members of the Scrum Club, I get a real sense that we're kindred spirits, at least in regards to having some really talented members who like to augment the club's gaming with related extra curricular activities.

Their Little Wars TV YouTube channel was an inspiration for us to launch something similar that we're calling Scrum Club TV. The plan is to shoot and cut a video after our monthly gatherings that will likely be a post mortem of the game we played that night. We typically have these discussions anyway as a natural part of the conviviality that characterizes our gatherings, and a couple of us Scrummers decided recently we ought to just turn the iPhone's camera on and see what we get. The discussion in the first video was decent enough that we're going to keep giving these a try, promising to "deep six" any that don't yield something we think might be of interest.

We're also going to shoot interviews and provide convention reports, starting with the upcoming Historicon (and we might be able to muster up reports on Origins and GenCon this summer, too, since some of the Scrummers are attending those). Look for me and some of my club mates to perhaps corner some of you for short interviews at those cons.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our first episode, shot in March after finishing up a three-scenario session using the new solo/co-op rules, Rangers of Shadow Deep. The discussion compares Rangers with another favorite system of the SSSC, Sellswords & Spellslingers, which Steve B. and I have both run at HMGS conventions in the past year, crafting scenarios based on the Robert E. Howard story, "Beyond the Black River." It, too, is a new solo/co-op ruleset by a long-standing fan-favorite game designer in the field, so a discussion comparing the two felt natural, even inevitable. Let us know what you think in the comments to this post or on YouTube.

We were also excited to find a field report filed by Josh O'Connor devoted to last February's Scrum Con for his new YouTube channel, Tankard Talk. There's lots of neat footage of our fledgling little con, as well as a short interview with me and, far more importantly, the convention's guest of honor, David "Zeb" Cook. Josh joined our club right around the time of the convention, and we're looking forward to him contributing his talents to the next Scrum Con, behind the camera and as a GM at the game table.

Let us know your thoughts on Josh's video, too, either on his YouTube channel or in this post's comments.

Our next Scrum Club TV video will appear in a couple of weeks, and it is devoted to the post-game discussion from last night's gathering at which we playtested fellow Scrummer John Sears' work-in-progress rules for a game he's writing called Star Schlock. I'll try to get a blog post together for that game with lots of great photos of John's beautiful terrain and miniatures before the end of the week.



Well-thumbed posts

Chainmail: Battle of Emridy Meadows

In my imagination, Chainmail has always been that shadowy precursor to Dungeons & Dragons that I was both intrigued by yet leery of. I loved the idea of a game involving mass battles in a fantasy setting akin to those depicted in the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but I also had a sense that Chainmail, released in 1971 a mere year after I was born, was likely a clunky wargame that would be too frustrating to bother mastering. It also didn't help that my first inkling of its existence was around 1980 or so when I could never dream of amassing the miniature armies needed to play out these massive conflicts. No, back then I was pretty sure Chainmail was the province of grizzled old grognards who had started wargaming before I was even born.

Even after my gaming rebirth decades later in 2016, I was fine with letting the dim past remain so, and was more than content during my first couple of years back in the hobby exploring rules of a more recent vintage and manageable scale…

Lost Art of D&D: Alex Nuckols

Artist Alex Nuckols made what disappointingly ended up being a minor yet still evocative contribution to the visual history of D&D with a series of paintings he was commissioned to produce for a school supply company named St. Regis. It seems he painted nearly a dozen pieces that graced the covers of D&D-themed notebooks, folders, and three-ring binders in 1980-81. As a D&D-obsessed kid of 10-11 years old at the time, I owned three or four of these and have never parted with them. 

Here are some examples I found online. I’ve always regretted that Nuckols didn’t produce work for any actual gaming material released by TSR (or any game company) because to this day I think he captured the gritty feel and texture of how I imagined these fantasy worlds in my mind’s eye. He was certainly a more accomplished artist than many of those who ended up in the stable as staff at TSR at the time. Artistically, his compositions are always compelling and typically eschew the over-heroic pose…

All Together Now: 'Sellswords & Spellslingers' and the Pleasures of Cooperative Gaming

I've always enjoyed a good competitive match as much as the next guy, whether it was sports in high school or video games (HALO, etc.) in my thirties. But regardless of the game, I've always been partial to team play, and the best cooperative games put all of the focus on succeeding as a team. That's one of the reasons I was enthusiastic about getting Andrea Sfiligoi's latest release, Sellswords & Spellslingers (Ganesha Games), on the table for this month's Second Saturday Scrum Club gathering.

Last year I had organized a Halloween game (recap) to beta-test Sfiligoi's Run From the Dead, which is built atop the same cooperative mechanics as Sellswords. I was surprised when I discovered these rules were re-skinned for the fantasy genre and released last December ahead of Run From the Dead. Hopefully, the zombie apocalypse version of the rules is not too far behind because I definitely think Run From the Dead is the best tabletop miniatures rule set I've …

Historicon 2019: New Digs, Epic Games

Historicon is turning into one of the highlights of my summer. I've developed some fond friendships over the past three years of attending and feel like I'm beginning to be more a part of a community and less a neophyte or spectator. It was at the first Historicon I attended in 2017 that I met future fellow Scrum Clubbers Walt O'Hara and Steve Braun, and the circle of gaming friends has expanded significantly from there to include great guys like Ivor Evans, Miles Reidy, Jeff Allen, Joe Bloch, Eric Schlegel, and a bunch of the HAWKs gaming group (Don, Duncan, Buck, Chris, Greg, Bill, et al.).

The two hour trip up to Lancaster Friday morning made for a lovely drive with the convertible's top down and Spotify blaring out a summer tunes mix. I had found a great Airbnb condo five blocks from the convention, but I decided to go straight to Historicon without checking in (which finally happened a bone-weary dozen hours later and well after midnight).

I spent most of that fi…

Scrum Con 2020: A Leap Forward!

Scrum Con 2020 was held last weekend in Silver Spring, Maryland on Leap Day, which seems fitting in that the convention itself took quite a jump forward from 2019: More than double the number of games, more than double the number of attendees, double the number of convention t-shirt designs, and three times the space.

And we sold the show out again! 

We had about 215 registered attendees and filled almost 275 seats in the 35 games we offered over the course of the day. We had folks come from some distance to attend, including Philadelphia, West Virginia, New Jersey, and other exotic locales that I'm sure I'm forgetting. As always, we organize the convention as an equal split between miniatures games and role-playing games, and I was pleased to see even more attendees this year sign up for one of each type.

We're admittedly small as far as these things go, but I think the quality of the experience we offer is a cut above, and we put a lot of effort into everything from the pri…

Striking Back Against COVID-19: Free Conan Scenarios for 'Sellswords & Spellslingers'

Long-time readers of the blog will remember the adaptation of "Beyond the Black River" I started working on in the spring of 2018 for the Sellswords & Spellslingers rules. I ran it for the first time at Historicon 2018, and have now run it at several conventions and game days since.

Sellswords & Spellslingers is designed for solo and co-op play, so to do my bit in helping the game community in its fight against boredom during these isolating pandemic days, I've decided to gather and organize all of the material I developed for my convention scenarios and make it freely available as a download via this blog. At the link further down is a 68-page PDF file with all of my player aids and notes.
Of all of the major solo/co-op miniatures rules that have been released in the past few years, Sellswords & Spellslingers is hands down the best if unfortunately not the most widely known or used. I highly encourage you to buy a copy of the rules, if you haven’t already, a…