2019 was all about Gaslands: Refuelled, and with that in the can, I found my tank a little low for immediately working on more post-apocalyptic car combat. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots more to explore about both the world and the game, but I needed to work on some other projects for a while to refuel my own creativity.
People might not know that as a games designer I work ENTIRELY in my own spare time. I have a (hectic) full time job, and it ain’t writing wargames. Every word and chart in Gaslands is the product of my spare time, (and with two young kids, that’s a precious commodity), plus the generosity of my playtesters. I’m writing this post at 9pm on a Sunday night. I’m an indie designer. I’m not part of a company, and that means I can work on whatever the h*ck I like!
Right now, I’m working on a TON of awesome tabletop miniature goodness, and although it’s mostly not Gaslands-related, I really want to share it all with you.
Here’s some previews of what’s going on in my world at the moment, in roughly the order you’ll be able to get your hands on it. It’s essentially the Planet Smasher Games roadmap.
Blaster (Available Now)
Being invited to be part of BLASTER has been a total delight, and rocket fuel for my creativity and productivity. Joe McCullough approached me, and I’m hella glad he did. It’s no coincidence that Ash picked up my lockdown-friendly Perilous Tales beta rules to showcase on Guerrilla Miniature Games, which gave me the impetus to kick it into open beta, and I now have some extremely exciting plans ahead for it (see below).
BLASTER is both a way for me to publish expansions for my games and also an escape valve for the dozens of game ideas I have a year. I used Volume 1 as an excuse to finally nail the hover car racing mode for Gaslands that has eluded me for more than three years. It was original planned to be in Refuelled, but I couldn’t get it to work as I wanted. BLASTER gave me the motivation to finish it, and you should really pick up Volume 1 and check it out. Buy BLASTER: Volume 1 here.
Gaslands: Martian Racing Federation (Available Now)
Martian Racing Federation is a new game mode for Gaslands, in which you pilot high-speed anti-grav racers across the red sands of Mars. It uses the Gaslands movement templates but is a stand-alone game in its own right. All the rules you need to play are included in Volume One of BLASTER.
Mystic Skies (Sept 2020)
The thing about BLASTER that most excited me is the chance to collaborate with these other epic indie designers. That’s why I’m so psyched to be involved in the first BLASTER collaboration: Sean Sutter (owner of Metal King Studios and creator of Relicblade) and I are collaborating on a new tabletop miniatures game, called Mystic Skies.
Imagine yourself as a powerful sorcerer, soaring above the battlefield on a magic carpet. Hordes of slavering monsters menace your tower of sorcery, desperate to rob you of your hard-won mana stores. You muster mercenaries, summon elementals and attempt to raze your nemesis’ tower before they can claim yours.
Releasing in September 2020 in Volume Two of BLASTER, Mystics Skies is a unique skirmish miniatures set in the world of Relicblade.
Players control a wizard on a magic carpet (or similar sorcerous mount), with a small warband of minions, defending their tower of sorcery from both the machinations of their opportunity and the onslaught of the constantly spawning wandering monsters. Wizards activate multiple times in a rounds, moving using Gaslands movement templates and casting spells. Spells in Mystic Skies are cast automatically, so the question is never “will I cast this spell”, but rather “which is the right spell to cast”. There are four schools of magic to choose from.
Interestingly, this is the first game I’ve written where all the playtesting has been virtual, and thanks to Tabletop Simulator, Sean and I have been able to collaborate on the design despite the 5000 miles between us!
UPDATE: The Mystic Skies official Tabletop Simulator mod is now LIVE!
The game is predominantly designed and written by me, and the miniatures, artwork and photograph created by Sean. Sean is a creative whirlwind and an extraordinarily characterful illustrator. I’m absolutely over the moon with the game’s look, and I think we both see the possibility of growing Mystic Skies into a fuller product over time, perhaps releasing a full-length stand-alone rulebook in 2021. We’ll see.
Perilous Tales (TBC)
It started with an innocuous tweet.
A month into lockdown I remembered that I had a half-finished solo adventure game that was just perfect for this situation. Ash saw the tweet, and seeing as we had just become Blastpals, he downloaded the rules and gave them a spin on his YouTube channel. The reaction was really awesome, so it seemed like the right time to get some buzz going and use it to push the game forward.
Perilous Tales is a tabletop adventure game in which you pit a group of five heroes again any one of a rogues gallery of classic horror monsters and bad guys. The core innovation of the system is the “threat markers”, which a tokens that begin the game randomised and face-down. No bad guys start in play. As your team explores the board and attempts to complete the objectives, they will undoubtably uncover villainous foes, but they will never be sure from where!
The Perilous Tales Facebook group has been fantastic. So much energy and enthusiasm. I designed Perilous Tales to scratch a really specific itch for me: the ability to tell emergent adventure stories using the mess of pulp and horror miniatures I own, and be able to do that solo.
People really do seem to agree that it is a fun game, a great excuse for small (achievable) hobby projects and a pretty unique play experience. With enthusiasm is building around the game, I have decided to take the game to the next stage, and my buddy Glenn (Man ‘O Kent Games) and I will be bringing Perilous Tales to Kickstarter in the near future! Artwork is already underway, and I have some very exciting layout and content ideas for the game. I’m tremendously excited about the future for Perilous Tales!
A Billion Suns (Feb 2021)
Wait, Mike, wasn’t A Billion Suns suppose to be your second game? You even wrote a blog post about that fact?
Yes, it was, but A Billion Suns got delayed in production. Nothing to do with me, I was bang on time*. I’m led to understand that this is actually surprisingly common, and probably why games companies don’t start their hype until the product is ready to ship. I took advantage of the slippage to get a bunch of fresh eyes on the rulebook, and improved the rulebook based on their feedback. *(Okay, less than 6 weeks late).
If you aren’t aware, A Billion Suns is a spaceship combat miniatures game like nothing you’re seen before. You can read more about the unique features of the game on the official site, but to give you a taste: you have no army list; you start with nothing on the table; you pay for units with the same victory points you need to win; and most games take place over multiple gaming tables connected with warp gates. It’s bonkers, and I think you’ll love it. *(It’s easier than it sounds, and you don’t need loads of space).
I’ve now handed over the final manuscript, and will be shifting my design energies over to design and playtesting of the next contract sets, to expand the game into the far reaches of the galactic Fringe, and the chaos of the Warzone.
None of these are Gaslands expansions? WHERE’S THE GASLANDS EXPANSIONS!?
UPDATE: The answer is here.
We’ll see. Part of me really thinks that the game has the right number of vehicle types, weapons, and sponsors. I genuinely worry that adding more would be bloat and actually hurt the game. For certain there is space for a couple extra sponsors and some more scenarios. I also want to create a solo play game mode, but I’m still searching for the version that I’m exciting enough about enough to put into print. Gaslands is still my first love, but I hope that everything above is enough to convince people that even in the absence of immediate Gaslands expansions, there’s a lot to look forward to!
If there’s a Gaslands expansion you really think I should be writing, I’m totally up for hearing about it! Mail me at “Mike” swirling sign “this website”.