Games Talks: December 2015

It is quite possible 3D printing will completely change how miniatures are created and used by hobbyists and gamers. But what exactly is 3D printing and what can it do?

Imagine you are product designer creating a new product and instead of dealing with manufacturing, logistics of transport, storing stock in warehouses and dealing with retailers, you simply sell the 3D model to people who print your product in their own home. The thing is you do not have to imagine.

This can be realized today through 3D printing, and is being touted as the next Industrial Revolution. It will transform object manufacturing in the same way the desktop printer has to publishing. The industry is growing fast and already there are many entrepreneurs utilizing the freedom and flexibility that bespoke manufacturing provides.

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But what is a 3D printer ?

Well it is a device that uses a process known as Additive Manufacturing to build an object (usually from ABS plastic, the same as used in LEGO) layer-by-layer. While the technology has been around for a few decades, it is only now starting to become affordable for the average household. The process starts by creating or obtaining a 3D digital model of an object you wish to print.

This can be done with traditional 3D modelling packages, by searching the internet on websites such as Thingiverse or by using some of the easier to use tools coming out such as Tinkercad. Once a 3D model is obtained, it must go through a mostly automatic process in order to convert it to a set of instructions for the 3D printer. The file is then sent to the printer and usually between 20 minutes to an hour later you have a real life version of your 3D object.

There are a wide range of devices out there, with a huge price range, but the current entry point 3D printers is either with a Makerbot or a RepRap. Both are open source, though the Makerbot is a bit slicker. The draw of the RepRap is that it is built almost entirely of parts you can find at a local hardware store or parts that another RepRap can print.

This means you can print the parts your friends need to build one! These machines are very nifty and cost around $1500 so are reasonably affordable when compared to the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to outlay for the big industrial machines. The results are striking but still have plenty of room for improvement, their resolution is low so they don’t create a polished finish and can take a lot of calibration in order to correctly setup.

3Dprinter

An alternative to these entry point printers is to use a service like Ponoko or Shapeways. You can send your 3D model files to them over the internet and they will quote a price to print them in a given material. If the price is reasonable, you can order a print and they will ship it to you. They have some high end machinery and can deliver very nice results, including printing in exotic materials such as metal and sandstone. What will this mean? Consider a future where designers don’t create a single object. Instead they will create a parametric system which defines a possible infinite set of objects that encapsulate a desired function.

Think of a chair that can be adjusted to any dimensions, or a set of shelves built exactly to your wall space. This technology has the possibility to bring back the personalization that craftsmen once provided before the industrial revolution, while offering the economic savings that mass production has brought us. It is an exciting prospect, however the current entry level is around the sophistication of personal computing during the 70s and 80s, thus there is a long way to go before the mainstream will get on board. So for now personal 3D printing is mostly the domain of geeks – but I think that in the next 5 to 10 years you might just have a 3D printer in your home or office.

Imperial Assault: Handling Missions

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This month I will have a closer look at the different Missions you will face in Imperial Assault.

STORY MISSIONS

The mission results will tell you what story mission to make active. Usually there is only one story mission active so they will have to pick it the next time a story mission “choice” comes up.

  • After the 1st “Aftermath” mission, perform the clean up steps. That will make two side missions active. The rebels will have two side missions to choose from when it comes up (maybe more if the Imperial player bought any).
  • You do not start with any Agenda cards. You’ll earn Influence to buy them at upgrade stages. Some are ongoing, some you play immediately, and some you can play when you want.

When you play a story mission you will get a story mission card to put on the table. Leave it there and play it the next time a story mission comes up. Rebels cannot choose it as a side mission. They choose from one of the two side missions if they are playing a side mission. Then they add a side mission as active. Then they play the story mission that’s on the table and so on …

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SIDE MISSIONS

Oops, you are playing with several groups at Imperial Assault but get confused how to handle the Side-Missions draft ?  Still, it is possible to play with multiple groups properly with some house-made tracking. Here’s how:

• For the first session, construct the Side Mission deck as normal.
• At the end of a session, record active Side Missions and discarded Side Missions. Don’t include the card/s you set aside during the construction of the deck.
• When starting the next session, reconstruct the sets of Active and discarded Side Missions while also counting the number of grey cards in these sets. Call this number X.
• From the remaining grey cards, add 4-X grey cards randomly to the new Side Mission deck (along with any remaining green and red cards that were in it earlier).

This maintains the fact that there are a total of 4 random Side Missions in the deck at all times. Each session might have different possible Side Missions, but that’s totally fine as they are meant to be random anyway. You retain the random nature of the deck without screwing the ratio of Grey to Green to Red Side Mission cards (which would happen if you include them all, seeing far more grey missions than you should).

It also means you will never see a played mission again and you don’t need to worry about swapping it for an unplayed one.

The only thing that would make the above method faulty is if there was a mechanic that could shuffle seen Side Missions back into the deck. It’s easy to even handle that situation by recording ‘seen’ Side Missions that you played with.

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AGENDA MISSIONS

To purchase Agenda cards, the Imperial player shuffles the Agenda deck and secretly draws four of them. He may purchase any of these cards by spending influence equal to the cards’ costs.

  • The Imperial player does not show his drawn Agenda cards to the heroes. Any cards he does not purchase are shuffled back into the deck without being revealed.
  • Most Agenda cards are immediately read aloud and resolved when purchased. The only exception is if the card instructs the player to “keep this card secret.” The Imperial player keeps the card and resolves the effect when he plays it.

There are two different kinds of Agenda cards that provide missions:
1. Agenda Side Missions. The cards say “Play this card as a side mission.” An example is “Breaking Point.”
2. Forced Missions. The cards say “Play [Title] as a forced mission.” An example is “Wanted.”

Agenda Side Missions instructions are: “After purchasing one of these cards, place it face-up on the table; it is now an active side mission. This Agenda card is kept with the active missions between sessions. Discard the card after the mission is resolved.” (RR, page 4)

Forced Missions instructions are: “Some Agenda cards force players to resolve a specific mission. After purchasing one of these cards, players immediately resolve the listed mission and then discard the Agenda card.” (RR, page 4)

After resolving a forced mission, players should perform the “post mission cleanup” step of a Mission Stage. Then they resolve the next available stage of the campaign.” (RR, page 17)

So after the Forced Mission, post mission cleanup is done, the upgrade stages are SKIPPED and the next stage of the campaign (next mission) is played.

So a Forced missions causes the Rebels to immediately play a mission that they’re not gonna like (they are hard and potentially give the Imperials a nice reward), don’t give them XP or credits, and don’t let them upgrade afterwards.