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Introducing the RV Games Micro Sub - Season 1
RV Games June Newsletter
Hello everyone! Welcome to the newest edition of the RV Games newsletter. This month is very exciting! We’re announcing a whole new product line and distribution method, and I’ll be sharing the status of our other ongoing projects.
I’ve written in a few spots about how I’ve become obsessed with the line of Microgames put out by Metagaming concepts from 1977-1983. These were hex and counter wargames and adventures for The Fantasy Trip (these were called Microquests) that were super cheap ($1.99-$4.99, not accounting for inflation) and put really interesting twists on what has become a pretty staid genre in the modern era. They all consisted of a short rulebook, a paper map, cheap counters, and some dice. Some came in small boxes and some were ziplock games. They generally take 1-2 hours to play. Other manufacturers put out games in this genre, but the Metagaming Microgames are my favorite.
The issue with all of these is they are still based around crunchy wargame mechanics, they usually require calculating an odds ratio and then rolling on a combat results table (there are some interesting exceptions, though). Doing division and rounding for every attack is not something I particularly like to do, and it’s not something that a lot of modern gamers want to do. I’m not saying this to denigrate the current hex and counters wargames on the market. I love them, and there’s some great games out there, I just want to make something pulpier. I’m thinking about it terms of the OSR/NSR movement in RPGs. I was not even alive when these games came out, so I can make no claims as to how people played them back then; however, I can make games in this mold with the same vibe, using the things I’ve learned from studying these games now, 50 years later. I think of it like the game Shovel Knight, it plays how we remember retro games working even though it is full of modern game design, it’s about the vibe not the exact mechanics because we have different expectations now.
With all that said, RV Games is announcing an entire line of Microgames. We’ll be putting out one every two months for the next year. The rules pamphlets for these will be free to everyone, but if you want to have access to the print & play maps and counters, you will need to become a paid subscriber to this newsletter. We’re using Substack as a method of slow funding. This was also inspired by Metagaming Concepts. Metagaming Concepts offered a subscription for their Microgames that they called “Micro Subs,” and we are flat out stealing the idea and name.
Start a paid subscription to get access to Season 1 of our Micro Sub. If you subscribe for the whole year during the next month, you receive a 10% discount on your yearly subscription. We also give you 7 days of a free trial, so you can see if you are interested in the full games. If you choose to subscribe for a high enough amount to become a founding subscriber, you receive free, ongoing access to digital versions of all of RV Games work moving forward.
We will also be offering print-on-demand counters because making counters is the most annoying part of print & play games. In addition, we will be running crowd sales for boxes of these games during the months where there are no new releases. We want the prices to be as cheap as possible. These are the opposite of Kickstarter games, they are as stripped down and cheap as humanly possible. Our manufacturing quality will be higher than the original Microgames because we will be using The Game Crafter who have nice quality punchouts and boxes and offer a dry erase coating on components; however, this means that for the boxed versions we need to run crowd sales to to get the volume to make them as affordable as we would like them to be.
Eventually, we hope to put all six games from this first season into a box set manufactured by Panda, which we could launch on Kickstarter or BackerKit Crowdfunding for a larger audience, assuming we gain support for this little experiment with our subscribers.
I will link to the product information pages, so this newsletter is about designer notes.
Our first Microgame is Thrust! This is a space combat game inspired by the space combat in the upcoming Mothership Shipbreakers Toolkit. However, we are unable to get this game licensed as a Mothership game, so we rewrote things, changed the names of ships and effects, and upgraded the stats for all the ships to make things more exciting and faster.
The art style of this game and most of these microgames are attempting to bring some zine culture to board wargames much like Space Weirdos does for miniatures wargames. The credits for the show Beef are a major inspiration for using art with smash cut titles to do a lot of heavy lifting.
This is a game played with two individual hidden boards and a main board, so it ends up working like a more complex version of Battleship in space. This was also inspired by the Double Blind series of games by Game Designers’ Workshop.
Thrust! uses a map split into zones rather than being a traditional tactical game. In reality, Space combat would be slower and riskier than it is usually presented, which is why I loved Sean McCoy’s interpretation of it.
The art for this game all comes from public domain science fiction films about traveling to the moon. These games are all supposed to be distinctive and low-rent on purpose. These are B-Movies, which are defined by low budget and high creativity.
As with all of these games, there are player trackers included. Not including player trackers and maps is something that bugged me about the original games, and it is something that I wish more people did even with pamphlet games and adventures.
The Game Crafter Crowd Sale for Thrust! is scheduled to start on July 11 and will run until August 8.
Please see the product page to access the free rules, Print & Play/VTT Materials for paid subscribers, and the link for physical counters for purchase from The Game Crafter.
The Rest of Season 1
This first season is intended to include a wide variety of game types. This is inspired by two specific 90s alternative/indie albums.
Both of these albums feature an eclectic mix of styles and genres that still share the bands’ general aesthetics. They are raw, idiosyncratic, and just plain fun! This is why this season includes a hidden board space combat game, a Wardenless Mothership dungeoncrawler, a re-imagining of the Metagming Microgame Hot Spot, a baseball game, a Home Alone inspired hidden objects and trap setting game, and a North Africa WWII game inspired by GDW’s Beda Fomm. All of these follow the same general wild art aesthetic, and they are linked together because they are all hex and counters games that use d100 roll under systems. I know that to traditional wargamers this dice system may seem insane, but I wear my Mothership influence on my sleeve even as these games move further and further away from our Mothership origins. Other than The Progeny and Thrust! these are all actually based on my Panic Engine cousin designed for wargames, Disrupter. This wargaming system is a WIP, and these games are helping me figure out parts I’m stuck on for the “full fat” miniatures game that Disrupter hopes to evolve into.
TOMBS Jam - Return to STAR Station
I’m working on a pamphlet for Mothership TOMBS Jam that the 3rd Sector Collective is doing together rn. This is a fun design challenge for me, which is also practice for Orgy of the Blood Leeches, because I am not making any creatures or encounters. This module will be entirely about social encounters and trading puzzles and non-combat problem solving. It will probably use our Pocket Mod variant from The Progeny with added wrinkle of including a revised version of our Social Rolls pamphlet. We’ll be re-using the map from Escape to STAR Station to save time and to channel Roger Corman and his re-use of sets for multiple movies.
Orgy of the Blood Leeches
We recently got back final NPC art from Amanda Lee Franck, and we’ve signed on HailSanta to complete the area maps in addition to the exterior render that he was already working on. I’ve been making these Microgames as a way to clear my brain, so I have more crystallized design ideas before I start designing spaces and create a vertical slice prototype for Blood Leeches. We hope to have this prototype done by the end of Summer.
Thank you for reading this long post. We really appreciate the support, and we hope that you will consider becoming a paid subscriber to support our year long experiment in publishing Microgames via Substack and The Game Crafter.