Wednesday, August 30, 2006

out to pasture

It’s been a little quiet on the blogging front of late, as mostly we’ve been working our limbs off on super secret Dark Heresy stuff. We could tell you about it, but then we’d have to burninate you.

Of course, working ceaselessly on corruption, gothic decay and the merciless irony of an acolyte’s life means we like to take a little light relief now and again. Computer games have sucked up some of our spare time (‘Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’, Mah-jong and ‘I love Katamari’) as well as board gaming (Shadows over Camelot and Ticket to Ride)

Imagine our delight then, when Mal Green arrived in the office with what he described as the peak of board game design. “It’s got pigs in” he said. Immediately we were hooked.

Mal had managed to find a copy of the old 80’s game ‘Farming’

The cover had us intrigued. We too wanted to take part in crop production simulation.

So we wandered over to Bugmans, bought ourselves some cider (naturally) and set about the game. We decided early to add the magic ‘you must talk in character’ rule from Shadows over Camelot- resulting in west cun’ry Farmer Rowland Cox, Naarfolk Faarmer Kate Flaack and Mummerset Pirate Farmer Mal Green.

The rules were very simple. You started with a farm full of animals and crops, and had to last out the year. The Farmer with the most money at the end of the year was the winner. “It be dead easy” said Farmer Green “you do read caards, an’ do what they do say”

Oh, understatement, the sweet, intoxicating apple in the cider of life…

The central mechanic was a suite of 52 cards, one for each week of the year, which were read out in order- 1 to 52- to simulate the passing of the seasons. Inserted into the calendar at random intervals were various stock auctions, disasters, good things, random bills and ‘hazards’ which could be good, but were most likely bad.

You could choose to invest in stock- pigs, sheep, horses or cows or crops- potatoes, oats, barley or wheat. These would invariably cause expenses- from vet bills to silage costs, but would occasionally produce money in the form of milk, piglets, lambs, calves and crop yield.

If money was tight (which it very often was) you could sell off your livestock. Occasionally you could buy more stock at auction- where you had to bid against the other players.

Doesn’t sound too difficult, but we started to get nervous when we read the cards. Little things made the difference- you never saw the word ‘calculate’ –it was ‘computating’ there were charts. There were strangely scaled pictures. There were impenetrable instructions.
For example
“A full half of your dairy herd has calved. Lose 4 calves. 12 are heifer calves, the rest are bulls. You have 87 tonnes of silage. Each calf, ewe and lamb consumes a ¼ tonne. Each Cow or Horse consumes 1 tonne. You must make up any shortfall at £6 a tonne.”

You effectively spent all your time paying out money for things. Labour costs, manure, silage, income tax, fraud investigations by the E.C and so on. Your animals died all the time, and you started to take a strange interest in beggaring your neighbouring Farmers at auctions. A visit from the milk board was a much anticipated event (because you could make money from your dairy herd’s milk) and the price of pigs became of supreme importance. We grumbled at any expense and watched each other with suspicious eyes. We spoke to the bar staff in our ‘country’ accents…all in all…it was great.

There was a sense that it was unfair, but that it was equally unfair. Except for that cheatin’ beggar Green, who invested early in potatoes an’ made out like a sheep botherin’ swine at end o’ year…

Worth a play? Yes, if you’ve a group of like minded cider swilling fellas who ain’t of a mind to take it too serious, like. You’ll be needin’ one of them calculators to be a doin’ the computatin’ for yer, and like as not a pen an’ some scratch paper.

Get into the spirit of it, and you’ll be up in’t top field with yer leg bound in polythine afore ye can say “blackbird, I’ll ‘ave ‘ee”


Anonymous Zapp said...

I couldn't help but notice the Trogdor reference.

Here's hoping he will be in Dark Heresy somewhere! :-D

5:57 pm  
Blogger BI Dev Team said...

gto paraphrase Mr Pramas, we're sure there'll be plenty of chances to burninate the galaxy in Dark Heresy...

10:31 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home