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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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April 22, 2021

Toolkit Games

I’ve been thinking recently about the games I really enjoy playing and which games are giving me the most pleasure at the moment. Now I’ll be honest I do like a lot of games but there are 4 of them that are standing out from the crowd at the moment and they are:

  • Sharp Practice
  • Open Combat
  • Sword and Spear Fantasy
  • Polyversal

The first 2 are existing games whilst Polyversal and S&S Fantasy are games I’ve only played during a playtest. Now when you look at them the games look completely different, but there is one similarity in the 4 that I think is what attracts me to them.

All of these games are what I call ‘Toolkit’ games, or to put it another way these are all games where you can design your own army using the rules included in the game.

So lets look at each of these games in turn

Sharp Practice is a large skirmish game set in the black powder period, but the Too Fat Lardies have provided players with a tool called the ‘Sharpulator’ to allow people to play around with existing army lists or generate their own. I’ve used this extensively in the work I’ve done on the War of 1812 book I’m working on at the moment and it really allows you to tailor individual units to how they fought during the period.

Open Combat was designed with a flat points system and has a list of abilities you assign to the figures in your warband. So you can pick up a group of figures you’ve had hanging around and craft them into whatever you want. I’ve used this to generate groups of Samurai, a gang of Vikings, I’ve even used my Asterix figures and played a game using them

Sword and Spear Fantasy, also provides players with a set of unit types and abilities that they can use to assemble an army. This uses the concept of defining a unit type (maybe its heavy infantry, or its light cavalry etc) and then having abilities that you can layer on top to design your unit. I’ve used to repurpose my old warmaster armies and have created lists for about 5 different armies now.

Finally, we come to Polyversal, which uses a similar concept to S&S but being a sci-fi game the options are much bigger and therefore much more flexible. Polyversal really does allow you to create units that can almost anything and so far I’ve only created a small Space Marine force using my old Epic armies, and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of what Polyversal can do.

One of things I like with these Toolkit games is they allow your imagination to run free and I do have a habit of pushing what these systems can do and seeing where they break. Oddly in each of these 4 games I haven’t been able to break them, they all just work.

You are probably wondering how I could push the army generation with Sharp Practice as it’s an historical game set in a specific time period, but you know me I do like to try odd things. If you look at one of my previous posts which was a battle report of Sharp Practice way before it came out. In that game I used my old Slaughterloo figures as proxy figures for the Peninsular Napoleonic lists in SP2, but over the last few days I’ve wondered if I could take Sharp Practice further and use it to play games in the Slaughterloo universe?

Well apparently you can and I’ve started putting together a few army lists tailored on the units that appear in Alternative Armies world of Valon. I’ll be posting links to them later for people to download and try out, so if you fancy Sharp Practice but only have Slaughterloo figures in your collection, now you can combine the 2 games

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2 Responses “Toolkit Games”

  1. Avatar May 14, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    If we’re listing toolkit games then I’d add Pulp Alley to the list. A great system for creating games across a variety of settings. I’ve used it for ripping 1930s yarns, 1990s espionage, and the adventures of such TV heroes as Buffy Summers and The Doctor.

  2. MikeH
    May 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    good call on Pulp Alley, I used that for Gothic Horror games and yes its just fantastic for that

    I also missed out 7TV as well, but mainly because I haven’t had a chance to play it yet

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