Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Coming 2016 - Battleblade

Well, it's been a while since my last post and for that I can only apologise - as well as maybe blame how hectic this time of year can be!

At Echidna Games HQ, we've had a few games of Laserblade as you might expect.  In the most recent, Daniel's team scored a decisive victory thanks to his supercharged Lurtle.

100 points - a Lurtle, an Echidna and an Old Man - with android backup!
Lurtle stands triumphant over my dead robo-ninja
In other news, work continues on Battleblade, our next title, due for about March 2016 (all being well).  Now, Laserblade already does a pretty good job of fantasy if you want it to but Battleblade will really focus on the subject with particular attention to close combat and magic.  Close combat in Laserblade doesn't really pay attention to the skills of the defender (other than with the likes of armour or hard to hit) whereas in Battleblade, each character has a defined skill level - the higher the skill level, the more likely they are to win in combat, whether they're attacking or defending.

I consider this an improvement over the original Laserblade rules in this area and early testing suggests it doesn't really slow the game down, and adds an element of risk vs reward that wasn't quite so defined before.  More news on the progress of Battleblade will be published here as and when it becomes available.

And that's about it from Echidna HQ.  All that remains is to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Alien Worlds - a Brief History

As Alien Worlds is now live at, I thought it might be nice to write a short post about how the game that started me off on this whole endeavour came about.
My son Daniel - who was only five at the time - and I found ourselves at home alone one rainy Saturday while my wife was out at work.  We had previously played a very basic game using his old Galactic Heroes figures.  If you've not seen them before, they look a bit like this:

photo courtesy of
The game we played was based on something I read on a forum somewhere, written by another Star Wars-loving dad.  From there, and to be honest I don't quite remember how it started, we graduated to the Star Wars Unleashed line of toys.

Star Wars Unleashed
Over a couple of weekends, we came up with a game using these toys and my old wargaming scenery that eventually evolved into Alien Worlds.  I knew that to keep Daniel interested, I had to keep it simple and fast.  I was playing a lot of Song of Blades and Heroes at the time, which is a very quick-moving game, and it was definitely an influence, although Alien Worlds (or The Star Wars Game as it was then) was faster still.
To maintain the interest level, we introduced different elements to the game.  Daniel and I took it in turns to come up with special abilities and new rules, some more practical than others.  We also sometimes used his other toys as the playing surface.  The Star Wars characters once had to fight their way to the top of an Early Learning Centre multi-storey car park, for example, and sometimes the Empire had a base made of Trio building blocks.  It certainly was a lot of fun.
We settled on the Alien Worlds standard of one hero, two special and three regular characters quite early on.  In those games, the Battle Droids and Stormtroopers were our regulars, Imperial Guards and Wookiees were our specials and the Jedi Knights were our heroes.  It was exclusively a Star Wars game, and it was our Star Wars game!
It occurred to me in early 2014 that I could publish the rules to our Star Wars game in Kindle format, as I had previously with a novel I'd written for National Novel Writing Month.  When I suggested to Daniel that we could sell our rules, he initially got upset because he thought  that would mean we wouldn't be able to play them ourselves.  After I explained to him what I actually meant - and in fairness it can't have been easy for his five-year-old brain to process - he started to come round to the idea and I think I finally convinced him when I said we could give the money we made from it to charity.  Naturally, I offered him the chance to choose a charity and he said "children with cancer".
So I googled that and CLIC Sargent came out top off the list.  I wrote the first version of the Alien Worlds rulebook and published it to Amazon in June 2014.  By the end of March this year (tying in with the end off the UK tax year) Alien Worlds had netted a modest £13.29 (about US$20).  Hardly enough to set the word on fire but I was frankly just glad to have a positive result.  I had paid about a fiver for the cover image and wasn't sure I'd even manage to recover that so being able to give even that tiny amount to charity felt great.
In the meantime, Laserblade was born, from a project that began life as Advanced Alien Worlds, and doubled our product portfolio!  As previously announced on our website, we will be donating 20% of this year's total profits to charity.  The dream is to be able to do this whole thing full-time one day, while continuing to support good causes.  That goal is a long way off but if we get there, it will have been thanks to a rainy day and a big box of Star Wars toys.
Neil Goodacre
Click here to see Alien Worlds on DriveThruRPG

Monday, 16 November 2015

Alien Worlds - now available from DriveThruRPG

Exciting stuff; Alien Worlds has been approved for sale through DriveThruRPG and is available in PDF format now!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Robo Ninja!

About a year ago, I bought this guy from a place called Northstar Models
I'm finally getting around to painting him so I thought I'd share my method for doing so with the good people of the internet.  Now, I am no expert, far from it, but I am generally happy with the results when I put brush to plastic, and I enjoy doing it.  This will not be so much a "how to" as a "how I do", but you might gain something from it.  Anyway, shall we crack on?
Step 1 - Prepare It!
This little guy was a multi-part job so putting him together was first on the list. Some models can be a real pain to assemble but putting old Robo Ninja here together was easy, just a bit of superglue and I was done.  Sometimes models have extra plastic around the edges.  This is caused by the moulding process and is called flash.  This model had a little, mostly along the sword, which I scraped off with a craft knife.  Gently does it when you're de-flashing as you don't want to accidentally carve off any details.
You can see that I also mounted Old Robo on a base.  This is a laser-cut, 50mm wide, 3mm depth MDF disk.  There are loads of folks on ebay selling these, in various sizes, shapes and depths so just about every scale and system is catered for.  With our friend  assembled and mounted, it was time to get to work with the paints.
Step 2 - Spray It!

The next job was getting him sprayed.  Spraying your model with a primer will help make sure that your paint sticks to the surface.  You can paint straight on to most surfaces, but the paint can chip easily if it doesn't have something to cling to so a primer layer is recommended.

I use Army Painter Matt White.  I know a lot of people prefer a black base layer, but I find white gives me brighter, clearer colours and helps me spot areas I haven't painted as the white shows through the cracks.  I use a disposable rubber glove to hold onto the model's base with one hand while I spray with the other and this helps me get into all the nooks and crannies.  If you don't have a glove then you can rest the model on a cardboard box or something but whatever you choose, be prepared for it get covered in paint.  The kitchen table is not generally advised.

Make sure you spray in a well-ventilated area and if you are doing prolonged spraying, wear a mask.  I always spray my models in the garden.  Sometimes I end up with white patches on the lawn.  I tell my wife it snowed...

Step 3 - Colour It!

Anyway, after the spray basecoat, it's time to get the paints out proper.  I didn't know where I was going to go with the guy but in the end, this was my palette:

Honestly, I spent years on-and-off trying to find a set of paints that suits me.  I've tried Humbrol enamels, Games Workshop's Citadel range and others that I can't even remember but for price and quality, the Army Painter can't be beaten.  I was honestly never quite satisfied with my results until I tried them.  That does kind of coincide with my first foray into 54mm scale but I have since revisited 25mm with the Army Painter and again, I'm a lot happier with my work.

When I'm painting, I squirt a little bit of the colour I need onto an old tile and give it a swish with a brush.  All of the paints are water-based so you can thin them out with a little of the wet stuff as and when required.  The bulk of the model, I did in Desert Yellow.  Yellows usually need a few coats to take effect and the trick is to apply several thin coats rather than one thick one.  If you splodge it all at once it'll take ages to dry and you risk losing the detail.  When I was finished, our Robo Ninja looked like this:

As well as the Desert Yellow, I used Gun Metal for the mechanical arm, feet and respirator, as well as any other metallic bits on show.  The exception is the sword, which was done with Shining Silver just to set it apart.  The lizard was done with Army Green and the sword handle and other bindings are Leather Brown.  I assumed this guy had to be a black belt, so that's I went with, along with a few other black embellishments.  I also added some touches of Weapon Bronze to the metal sections.  I find that contrast between a silver colour and a brass really makes a model stand out.  I actually thought he looked quite good at this stage, but I knew my work wasn't done.  He needed some depth!
Step 4 - Ink It!
Alongside their paints, the Army Painter gang also produce a range of inks which they call Quickshade.  As well as some colour-specific inks, they offer three neutral shades; Soft Tone, Strong Tone and Dark Tone.  I opted for Strong Tone (a dark brown) to shade the yellow outfit and Dark Tone (essentially black ink) for the metal and leather.  The great thing about using inks like this is that your painted model doesn't have to be perfect.  As the ink flows into the lines, joints and creases on your model, it draws a natural line between areas that will mask any ragged edges.

The shot on the left shows our man after his inking. The others show the basing process.

Step 5 - Base It!

The second-to-last step in the process is to finish the model's base.  In the middle picture, I've used sand to add texture to the MDF disk.  Simply apply a coat of PVA glue, dip the model in some sand and you're done.  Word of warning - do not attempt this while the  paint is wet.  You model will end up looking like Sandman!

Once the PVA glue has dried, I painted the base with Monster Brown paint.  Once that had dried, I gave the base a layer of Dark Tone ink.  It runs into the gaps between the grains of sand and gives the base a bit of depth.  I also edged the base with Matt Black then once all that was dry,  I splodged some more PVA glue on the base, a bit more haphazard this time, and sprinkled it with static grass.  See the third photo above.
Step 6 - Protect It!
The last step in the process is to give your model a coat of varnish.  There are several spray varnish products on the market and unlike the paints and inks, I can't really choose between them.  As with the paint, use your spray in a well-ventilated area.  You won't want to hold on to the model like before, so put it on a piece of cardboard or similar.  A coat of varnish does not have to get into all the nooks and crannies in the same way paint does.  Anyway, once your vanish is dry, your model is ready to do battle on the tabletop!

And that was our Ninja done and dusted.  Here he is with a friend from the Galaxy Laser Team:

The Robo Ninja matches the scale of his retro-styled chum perfectly.  They are going to look great on the table together!

So there we have it.  From start to finish was about three hours including drying time.  Not bad at all and this was a nice figure to paint.  I think looking back that I might have preferred to use Soft Tone for the fabric but the dark, comicbook lines have grown on me.
I do have issues with the price of the models from Northstar as they are a lot more expensive that the likes of Timmee or Tehnolog but they are designed as collectors' items as much as they are game pieces and the price is maybe worth it if you want some cool, unique characters to compliment your forces.

All told, I'm happy with it and I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs in Laserblade!

Want to try Laserblade for yourself?  Then download the PDF rules on

Friday, 23 October 2015

Native Americans. From Russia.

As you will have seen, our rulebooks and website include images of 54mm models made by the Russian company Tehnolog.  Even though the people at Tehnolog were happy to give us permission to use their models, I personally still know very little about them.  That said, I was recently able to pick up a set of their figures that I hadn't previously seen available - this bunch:

Tehnolog's "Sci Fi Indians"
As seems to be the way with Tehnolog (with one or two exceptions) these guys come as a bundle of five and are all one-piece castings.  They are obviously inspired by Hollywood's "injuns" from less politically-correct times, with a slight modern twist.

These two braves are the most conventional figures in the set.  Armed with tomahawks, they're obvious close combat fighters but I reckon their shields might just give them the defence they need to get eye-to-eye with their enemy.  They're joined by, surprisingly given the theme, a single archer.

Missing something?
And as you can see from the above, he's accompanied by a comrade packing some more serious firepower.  Now, the idea of a native American with a space-age machinegun might bother some.  Not me.  I think he's great.  What bothers me is that the archer is missing an arrow.  He's clearly posed holding something in his left hand, and the bow is curved like it's under strain, but nope, he's completely arrowless.  Once you see it, you can't unsee it.  It's one of those things that'll have to be fixed in the painting stage, somehow.  In game terms, I wonder if the archer might make a good scout.  The other guy, well, he's got a big machine gun so I wouldn't be surprised to see him with rapid fire and/or heavy weapon.  Last of all, we've got the chief.

The Chief - front and back
This man means business.  One of the coolest details about him is the thing on his back with the little hose connected to the gun on his belt.  I reckon this has to be some sort of stolen alien technology, meaning he was tough enough to go and get it in the first place!  In my book he's a commander who's useful at long range and up close.  And I reckon that gizmo on his back maybe projects some sort of disruption field that makes him hard to hit and/or provides some impressive armour.

Size comparison - Warhammer figure on the left, Star Wars Command on the right.  Brave rested on a 50mm base.

Honestly, I love these guys.  The arrowless archer annoys me, but the rest more than make up for it.  You could field an all-native team or mix these in with other humans to form a cool ragtag bunch.  I paid US$10 including shipping for these and I am very pleased with them for that price.  They have that chunky look to them that may not be to everyone's tastes but I quite like it. Painted pics and maybe even a battle report to follow.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Star Wars rules - part 1

Today at Echidna Games HQ, we had two Star Wars-inspired games of Laserblade using the excellent (but now sadly cancelled) Star Wars Command toys from Hasbro.  The first game was a simple toe-to-toe fight in which the Rebels barely came out on top and the second was a retrieval mission using a frozen Han Solo figure as the token in which the Empire won out.  This second was an extremely close game and if Yoda had just held out until the end of the turn he'd have secured bonus points for his team and a strong win, but alas he was blasted by a stormtrooper in the nick of time!

Sorry, I should have taken pictures...

Anyway, this got me back onto thinking about how best to stat out the famous faces from a galaxy far, far away and I've come up with a couple of new abilities which I hope will add a bit of flavour for the supporting cast.

Cost - 2CP
Description - if this character is in base contact with an elite character, the difficulty to hit that elite character is increased by +1 (this bonus is cumulative).

I thought this would be a good way to represent Chewbacca's protective nature or the security services of a bunch of gamorrean guards.

Lucky (E)
Cost - 4CP
Description - once per round, this character's owner may choose to have any die roll affecting this character re-rolled.  The re-rolled outcome is final.

This one is inspired by Han Solo's ability to survive close scrapes.  It's an elite ability so its use is limited, and of course by no means guaranteed.

Please try both of these out and let us know what you think.  Coming soon, ancient weapon and hokey religion special abilities...

Friday, 4 September 2015

We're in the pipe five by five

I'm always on the lookout for models that can be used in our games and last weekend, this arrived at Echidna Games HQ:

These figures were released by a company called Tree House Kids - not an organisation I'd even heard of until very recently - back in about 2004.  This box is actually one of several "blind bag" style sets released at the  time.  As I understand it, the idea was that you bought a sealed box not knowing what was inside but this one, bought second hand on ebay, had already been opened and the seller was quite upfront about that and the contents.  I thought two Colonial Marines and two Alien Warriors looked like a good way too start my collection.  Close up, the figures look like this (1:32 Airfix Space Warrior for size comparison):

The Marine, for a human-sized model, is taller than your average 1:32 or 54mm figure, and disproportionately slimmer too to the point that he looks like a normal figure reflected in a funhouse mirror.  The Alien Warrior, however, looks very cool and towers over even the lanky Marine.  A handful of those would look great on your tabletop.

That said, I paid about £8 for these including postage and for that same money, I could but a pack of at least nine Star Wars Command figures so I don't think these are great value as far as toys go.  For collectors that want to pay a premium, fine, but frankly I'd be happier with a big bag of Galaxy Laser Team.  Horses for courses though and all that.  And if you are in the mood for spending money on these, this set has got to be top of your list:

So anyway, how can we use these in our games?  Well, I'm thinking they're a good option for Laserblade.  The marines are pretty standard.  Probably something like this:

Colonial Marine (15CP)
Ranged Combat - 5+
Close Combat - 6+
Abilities - armour (9+), marksman

You'd probably want a Sergeant in charge of your squad.  They'd be the same as above but with the commander special ability for a total 20CP.  For a marine with smartgun (and it looks like they made models of both Vasquez and Drake), add rapid fire to the template above for a total 20CP.  You could get one sergeant, one smartgunner and four marines for 100CP.  Probably quite competitive.

The aliens are a little different and have prompted me to introduce a new ability:
Acid Splash
Cost - 3CP
Description - when this character is destroyed, it explodes into a shower of acid.  Each character in base contact with it is immediately attacked with a 6+ close combat attack.  Characters that are hit are destroyed.  Characters make armour saves as normal but any character that makes a successful armour save may not make armour saves for the rest of the game (this represents the fact that the armour is damaged by the acid).  Other chracters with acid splash are not affected by acid splash.

Alien Warrior (15CP)
Ranged Combat - none
Close Combat - 5+
Abilities - acid splash, armour (10+), brawler, close combat fighter, hard to hit

A squad of six aliens would cost you 90CP.  That prompted me to come up with another ability but this time one that applies to the whole team.

Hive Mind
Cost - 10CP
This rule applies to your whole team.  While your team consists of at least two characters, and your characters are in cohesion, your team is treated as having a commander.

This, rather neatly, brings the cost of that alien squad up to 100CP.  Six marines versus six alien warriors?  Will it be a successful bug hunt or will it be game over, man?  Looks like I'm going to need to find some more figures!


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

It's been a while!

Yeah, sorry about that.  The day job has been taking over a bit recently and while it's good to be busy, my other projects have had to take a bit of a back seat but here I am and with plenty on my hobby table to keep me occupied.

Firstly, a confession.  Whether I've turned to the dark side or taken my first steps into a larger world, I'm not sure, but I've only gone and spent my hard-earned money in Games Workshop!  In fairness, the new version of Warhammer is so far proving to be a lot of fun (prompting this review from yours truly) and right now, my hobby desk looks like this:

Also this week, something of a modern-day holy grail arrived at my door.  This:

As I have said before, these figures are great for games of Laserblade and Alien Worlds and just as we all thought the toy line had died (thanks to an over-confidence from Hasbro that the Emperor himself would have found a bit unfounded) this set emerged.  Whether it was meant to be released or whether it made it's way to the UK by accident after the line was cancelled, I don't know.  Fun figures though and that's what counts.  Laserblade stats for Jabba and Co. coming soon!

Lastly, I have to express my thanks to Thor Shiel, Army Men collector extraordinaire, for kindly taking the time to review Laserblade on his blog.  You can find his review here.  I am, as ever, grateful for any feedback I receive and it is all the more satisfying when that feedback is positive.  I will take all of Thor's thoughts on board - watch for special rules updates here and on the main site in the near future!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Review Alert and Charity News

Laserblade has received its first review and it's on Board Game Geek, the one-stop-shop for all things board game related.  The BGG page for Laserblade along with review can be found here.  The reviewer, a chap called Brett, was even kind enough to contact me by email and give me some positive feedback on the game.  If you're reading this; thank you, Brett!

As some readers will know, our first game - Alien Worlds - was released as a charity venture.  While we may not be contributing much to our chosen cause, there's a brief article on the main Echidna Games website all the same detailing our performance which can be found here.

No other news for now but watch this space for updates our next ebook release!


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Workbench update and match report

Well, the blue lady from the Airfix Space Warriors set now looks like this:

Not too shabby, if I say so myself.  The black hair could have looked better with a bit of a highlight but I still like it.  I've had some fun ideas for back story for her too.  That thing round her head is the  source of her people's power and she stole it.  As she wrestled its rightful owner for possession of it, he/she forced her back through time.  Trapped in her planet's past and her with her dreams of usurping the crown dashed, she now turns her attention to using the powers of the jewel to carve out an existence for herself...

I have some ideas for whom she might be going into battle alongside and will add them here as we go.

In other news, we had a game of Laserblade at Echidna Games HQ this week, my own Evil Overlord (more Space Warriors figures) versus Daniel's Star Wars Command team made up of two jedi and four ewoks.  Playing a scratch game in a short space of time, we opted for a three foot table and I think this was to Daniel's advantage as all six of his figures were close combat fighters.  I killed one jedi and a couple of ewoks but once they made contact with my goons, they made short work of them.  When he eventually had to take a valour check, all of Daniel's models stood firm.  When it came my turn to do the same, my last couple of characters lost their bottle.  Notch up another win for Daniel's ewoks!

Before I go, one last thing.  We now have our first review on from a chap called Brett Christensen and you can find it on the Laserblade page here.  Thank you, Brett!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Echidna Games blog is now live!

After a couple of false starts, Echidna Games are proud to present to you the first instalment of what will probably be a fairly occasional blog.  Our aim will be to not only bring you news about our titles but also to share general hobby stuff that we think might  be of interest.  Hopefully that'll go down alright with the great gaming public but we'll just have to see.

Just in case you don't know who we are or what we do, Echidna Games is a small, independent publisher of wargaming rules.  Heard of Games Workshop?  Well, if Games Workshop is an elephant, we're the benign, slightly sweet-tasting fungus under one of its toenails.  We have two titles in our inventory so far and both are available to download for Kindle.  There will be flashy-looking links for them somewhere on this blog page eventually but for now:

Laserblade - fast play science fiction skirmish rules

Alien Worlds - miniatures rules you can enjoy with your children

As far as future titles go, we had originally planned to release a fantasy-themed game based on the  Laserblade mechanics at some point this year.  As it stands, Battleblade will still be released but first up will be a "modern warfare" game, currently called Iron Sights.  It's early days yet but it's likely this will borrow heavily from the Laserblade mechanic but carry a more "realistic" feel - at least as realistic as pushing toy soldiers goes anyway.

So that's that.  True to our word, we also wanted to share a bit of hobby stuff and show what's on the Echidna Games workbench right now.  That would be this little lady:

She comes from an old Airfix kit called Space Warriors from way back in the 80s.  Interesting piece of trivia (which may or may not be true); she is the only female figure released by Airfix in 1:32 scale.  We decided she looked suitably otherworldly to not be painted in a conventional flesh tone so instead opted for blue.  The hair is a bit of an experiment that failed, using blue ink over a white basecoat in an attempt to make a light blue shade.  The first order of business is to fix that, then get her inked and based, ready for battle.

We reckon that thing on her head must grant her some special powers.  But what?