Fast Play Jet Combat

Fast Play Jet Combat is a set of free wargames rules for 1/600 aircraft on a hex grid. Interestingly, it requires a d100 die. If you don't have one handy (and who does), you can do the same thing with two d10s in different colors.

Minimal Melee Combat

Minimal Melee Combat is a set of free wargames rules designed to depict combat between sword armed adversaries.

Free Science Fiction From Microsoft

Future Visions is an anthology of science fiction short stories commissioned by Microsoft and available for free.

Future Visions features contributions from: Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer and a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camacho.

You can get it here:

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft

The notion of a wealthy company paying artists to produce works for "free" puts me in mind of classical artists who produced works on commission for nobility or the church, or who worked for a patron. Going forward, commissions might be a way digitally vulnerable artists could continue to make a living. Products produced by photographers, film makers, writers and musicians and other similar creatives are too easily stolen and distributed, producing no income for the artists. A commission model, on the other hand, would pay them up front. The company or individual would not care if the product was distributed free, because their intent is to reach as wide an audience as possible for publicity and good will.

We see this already with concerts partially sponsored by various producers, and athletics, particularly in golf and racing. I also think there's a hint of it in miniature wargaming, where figure manufacturers are commissioning rules sets and in many cases giving away the digital versions.

Colonials vs Martians Steampunk Game

Colonials vs Martians is a set of free wargames rules for steampunk adventure. The author writes:

The great behemoth landships with coal fires stoked and steam boilers at full pressure chub their mighty pistons, sending vibrations of fear shaking the ground and hearts of men. Landships are the tanks of H. G. Wells imagination and the main figures in this game, One per side along with 4 (5-10) man infantry squads, gatling gun, and a cannon crew of two men, or limits of your imagination... as you experiment with more squads and/or landships in larger battles. The enemy of our Victorian Era heroes armed with steam and black powder? Martians! These are Martian's not of -war of the worlds- level tech, but who grasp ‘like’ ability weapons they may have a co2 powered bolt weapon or Martian water pistols (to be cool) but just use “musket” stats. How they got to earth in the days of the Victorian colonial era or we got to Mars... um, would you believe natural space worm portholes? How about Martian Either water, that negates gravity, painted on wooden sailing ships? That wacky Ether!

Epic, BloodBowl, Other Games Workshop Classics To Return

Games Workshop is reopening its Specialist studio and is bringing back some of your old favorites.

In an announcment made on the Games Workshop App, the company wrote:

"Our all-new Specialist Design Studio will even be tasked with bringing back and re-vamping some of our old favourites. Blood Bowl, Epic, Necromunda and Battlefield Gothic are just some of the great games the team are already eyeing up."

I think they could earn themselves a lot of good will by making the new games compatible with the old figures. I think that their business model of making older figures obsolete by releasing incompatible games every couple of years has cost them more ill-will than they will ever know. I think the assumption was that there would always be youngsters entering the hobby with the deep pockets to purchase large armies of high-margin figures.

Probably not so much. As a teacher, I can provide lots of anecdotal evidence that the current generation just doesn't have the patience to paint those figures. And their spending money is dumped on other activities that don't require a huge sense of delayed gratification. If you buy a video game, you can play immediately. I think the lack of patience is one reason why board games have had a resurgence. People want the face-to-face interaction, and board games offer quick setup, constrained playing times and quick cleanup. Best of all is that you can play the same afternoon you buy the box.