Nordic Weasel Games

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Q&A Round up 18

As we are getting settled into the new home and the Weasel HQ is taking shape, I wanted to answer a few more general questions that come up from time to time. 

A few may be repeats from elsewhere.

How come you write for smaller gaming tables?

 My gaming table when I started NWG was a round table that was just about 24" across. This was basically the worst possible gaming table, but I was determined to get some use out of it and so I started looking for ways to make the most of it. While I have a nice, big gaming table available now, I still like to cater to smaller sizes. 

I think 3x3 feet  is probably my favourite size of gaming space, but a lot of people have realised that the tight, no-nonsense space of 2x2 feet can be really appealing. I even saw a blog post of someone running Five Men in Normandy on a 12x12" table and that still worked!

What scale do you playtest in?

Unless the game is explicitly written for something particular (like Laserstorm) the original test is always for 15mm figures. 

I don't tend to include adjusted ranges for other scales for two reasons: First because I rarely use them myself and second because the most likely scale people use is 28mm and games written for those figures tend to have movement speeds and weapon ranges that are about what I think feels good in 15mm. So (mostly) everyone is happy. 

Will you ever revisit X?

I have a very long list of old games to revisit for updates. With the new office, I am hoping to be more systematic with that kind of thing. 

The biggest loss of productive time for me tends to be working on a project for a while before realising it's not any good or that it'll turn out to be too much like something else. 

I am also trying to be more guarded about timeframes and plans, since I think that kind of information can often be misunderstood and its easier to just play the cards a bit closer to the chest.

Do you take suggestions?

In the past some games have come about due to fan suggestions (Weaseltech being the most obvious) so it does happen. When it does, it usually happens for quite some time down the road. What happens is this:

I won't do a game unless A: I feel strongly about it. B: I feel like I can put my own spin on things (i.e. make it Weasel-y). 

So sometimes an idea sits for a while before I have a good grip on it. 

Back catalogue reminder: Shoot People in Space

Okay so it is not that far into the depths of time but if you enjoy the chaotic and often very immersive experience of classic games like Spacefarers and Laserburn, you could do worse than check out from last year.

Shoot People in Space is played with single based figures (individual characters or 3 figure squads) and has a number of built in mechanics to produce unexpected outcomes: Your little soldiers will certainly have a mind all of their own. The rules include points systems, a progression system and options to play against another player or solo. The included units are the usual grab bag of Unified Space characters, easily adaptable to most scifi figure ranges (including actual Laserburn figures if you have any lying around). 

So go give it a shot. You may find you have a grand old time.

Did you know?

Clash on the Fringe was originally supposed to be called Starstrike, until we realized that was the name of an old gaming book. In hindsight it was probably also going to sound too much like a starship game.

My wife and I had drawn up 40 or so names on a notepad and went back and forth over them, before settling on Starstrike which is the title I used to refer to the game on the old blog while developing it.

I do not remember where the new title came from, though I seem to recall it was not among the original batch. I think that list went in the bin when we had picked.

Five Parsecs Tactics: Campaign progression

It has been a bit since I've been able to sit down and blog, but today we have a snippet from the upcoming Tactics game: Campaign progression.

The progression system is built so that it exists separately from the two campaign systems: The idea is that you may want to use one, two or all three components depending on your needs. One of the challenges is that a Tactics campaign has less of a fixed format than what I did in Parsecs. You might command a few units that participate in a range of battles, you might fight your way through a narrative campaign or you may even command an army but without being tied to specific units. 

Each battle you play you will earn Campaign Points (CP) awarded both based on a random roll as well as Victory Points earned during the battle. CP can be spent to buy both advances to specific units as well as other benefits. So lets take a look at what you can do:

Unit upgrades

These are the most traditional, offering you the chance to get better units in a campaign. These are used when you keep a roster of units. Upgrades include gaining veteran skills (there are 10 squad skills, 8 sergeant skills, 6 individual, 6 gun crew and 6 vehicle crew skills), retraining a unit (to get a new veteran skill), upgrading an individual figure to become a hero or making a non-leader figure into a leader.

Roster changes

If you play with a roster of units you can spend CP to refit a unit (such as swapping out the equipment loadout), customize a unit with options that are not included in the army builder., replace a unit with a new unit of the same type (f.x. replacing an armoured car with a tank), add units to your roster or replace destroyed units.

Battle advantages

This allows you to bring in support options using the support mechanic in the book, such as engineer or fire support. You can also buy initiative, luck or finesse advantages. These are all single use benefits that can tilt things a bit. Luck lets you roll for two sets of attacks and pick the one you would like to apply while Finesse lets you tweak the clock in games (for cases where you need things to end sooner or last longer). 

As you can see the CP system of course works best if you use a roster of troops that can gain improvements, but one of the benefits of doing it this way is that you want to swap forces (for example to play some battles from the other side or even swap to a different battalion in the big war or whatever) you can keep your CP pool and spend them on the new force. 

Designer diaries: No End in Sight

After FiveCore and Five Men in Normandy garnered some degree of popularity on wargaming forums, there was a bit of pressure to prove to myself that I was not just "the FiveCore guy". The result would be No End in Sight (NEIS), a game of cold war infantry action.

The impetus for NEIS was partially affected by discussions I had with people online. In particular I had been musing on the fact that infantry combat typically is much less lethal than what our tabletop games suggest* and that it did not seem to me that modern warfare could be accurately represented without accounting for wounded soldiers and the need to provide aid to them.

This met a surprising amount of resistance along the lines that a game like that would not be fun to play and that there was no point in doing so, often from people who were otherwise obsessing over modelling the correct tank turret rotation speeds and so forth. I suspect in hindsight that I ran into a case of "we've always done it this way" syndrome. At the time, it just made me mad and I set out to establish that you could absolutely do both and have a great game.

I don't recall where the mechanics started but the whole game revolves around the idea that reaction fire is not a specific state: Instead it is perpetual and any movement is subject to it. This means that it can be viewed as a test of the moving unit as much, or more so, than it is a test of the firing unit. The way I did this in the mechanics is through requiring dice rolls to move across fireswept ground. If the roll is not enough to reach cover, you get pinned down in the open. 

Regular combat uses Shock and Kill dice like I did in FiveCore but they function a bit differently. Soldiers can be pinned down and hits can result in them being wounded or killed. 

The turn sequence works in a different way to most infantry games, though I have seen similar mechanics before: Units accumulate stress each time they activate which increases the chance of them failing to activate again. A single unit will often activate multiple times during a turn, but as the stress mounts (along with the unit usually taking fire and getting pinned down) it can be very difficult to get everything done that you need to.

When testing the game, we realised pretty much immediately that the game felt very "gritty". What starts as infantry platoons manoeuvring against each other ends up as a dirty brawl as you try to knock out their last APC, while 3 soldiers are holding down one flank with desperate fire. In short, it felt very cinematic for a Vietnam or modern warfare type of film. 

At the time I had the impression from the population of a particular, unnamed forum, that contemporary wargaming was primarily something to talk about, by war-horny weirdoes who fantasise about bombing places they can't pronounce and not something that people actually sat down and played games about. To ward that crowd off, I started each chapter of the book with anti-war quotes from artists, politicians and soldiers. I rather expected someone would get mad about that but nobody ever did. At least they did not tell me if they did. I did get a few positive comments from people who had served in the military and who enjoyed the game, which meant a lot to me. 

The original design suffered a little from close combat being a bit of an afterthought and some rules not being explained as well as they could have been. A 2nd edition update was made available to fans and I hope to do a 3rd edition to really nail it in the future.

* People always explain this by saying that a "kill" does not mean dead, but the figure is still permanently removed from the game.  

Q&A Round up 17

It has been a bit since we did a Q&A Round up so let's have another one.

If you are new this is where I answer questions regarding Nordic Weasel games:

Some questions may be repeats if they are frequently asked. 

I will try to give priority to any question asked directly on the blog, otherwise they are just questions I gather up from discord, facebook and my email inbox. 

Five Parsecs questions:

When I engage in a brawl, exactly when are Stun tokens removed?

They are removed as soon as you make contact. In effect they are traded for a hit bonus at that moment. This means that you cannot "stun out" the enemy if they had 2 markers and you hit them in the Brawl.

In Bug Hunt, do teams have to move together?

No. They receive a Reaction bonus if they move together but are not required to. 

What's the deal with gun sights and single shot weapons?

It's meant to mean "weapons that are single use" (no laser sights on hand grenades). My bad. 

Five Leagues questions:  

Are enemy Leaders melee or ranged troops?

They are always Melee troops.

Can I sell damaged items?

Yes for 1 mark. (yes, this means 1 mark items are often not worth repairing) 

Renegade Scout questions:

Does "Cool Down" count as a malfunction for the purpose of abilities that affect malfunctions?


Squad Hammer questions:

When exactly do units lose the Defend status?

When they move for any reason (including moving in response to a firefight) or they are given a new order. 

Parsecs Tactics: The Story campaign

As noted there are basically two campaign systems provided, which can be used on their own or in combination (and either can be used with or without progression systems).

The one I am going to take a look at today is the Campaign Story - This is basically a fairly open-ended and narrative campaign approach where we focus primarily on story beats. 

I am going to play through 4 "rounds" of this. A round can have any number of tabletop battles. This might be a single battle (if you want a campaign with lots of events) or every 2-4 battles if you want more tabletop time.

In this case, I am going to be working with a campaign pitting Unity troopers trying to take out a moon base held by notorious pirates. 

I will be taking the role of the Unity grunts and my campaign will follow a platoon or so of troops (say 4 squads and a walker for support). You dont have to follow a specific unit but thats the typical: Its more colourful if you do. 

The opening battle is probably a direct assault: The Unity grunts drop from their shuttles and have to fight through a thin defensive line of pirates. You can use an option from the book or just concoct your own. We are starting out easy, so I might be up against half my number of pirates so we don't end up gaming out the opening to Saving Private Ryan. 

After that I roll for the first story event and it is Side story. A secondary story takes place during the campaign. Having a think I decide that before the troopers storm in, there was actually a schism in the pirate ranks and a firefight had broken out. In that case my next scenario will be the two pirate factions slugging it out over who gets to be in charge. 

I could do multiple battles here but I decide to just do the one and then generate another event.

The second event then is Unconventional Operation. One side carries out a special operations mission of some sort. I could pick randomly (I like assigning a 1-2 / 3-6 chance to the two sides) but it seems obvious the grunts are going to be doing this. I come up with a quick scenario where they have to raid and blow up the pirates shuttles so they can't escape. 

I want a bit more table time this round, so I also play out a standard firefight where my platoon is getting stuck in with the pirates on the barricades. The special operation will be a new unit that I name but won't otherwise follow. 

Event 3 is a Critical Strike. This indicates an assault on a priority target of some sort. Seems similar to the prior event but the stakes here are higher. If my grunts won their mission, we are probably in position to knock out the defense networks of the base, allowing the rest of the army to show up. But I decide actually lets turn it around: The pirates are going to try to push through and recapture a big defense cannon to shoot our shuttles out of the sky.  That should make for a fun and tense scenario.

Luckily they fail and I think by now the pirates are probably on their last legs. I am going to interpret the last event with that in mind. I roll a New Character. This is what it sounds like: A new character is introduced to the story, typically in the players unit. I think this campaign is probably gonna come to a close here but lets leave a hook for later: A mysterious Unity field agent shows up and commandeers my platoon to secure a strange cargo crate, under strict instructions that they are not to be opened. 

I am now set for the final mission of the campaign and with a good hook to set up a new campaign.


I hope this helps show how the campaign story can unfold. Each result in this example was rolled randomly. The results in the book all come with both suggested player effects AND have a tie-in to the operational campaign rules if you use those but more on that in the future. 

Some Weasel Q&A

Instead of a rules Q&A, I wanted to do a round-up of various questions I get that are in a more general or personal sense:

How can I get a hold of you?

Email is always best: 

If you don't reply, do you hate me?

It is possible but odds are I just lost track. If it has been a couple of days just email me with a reminder. 

Can I ask you to look at my <insert game material here>?

I am happy to do so but I must warn that I don't have a ton of free time, so please be armed with patience. If you are looking for an in-depth paragraph by paragraph review of a rules text, I will ask to be compensated for my time. 

Can I ask you about something regarding game design or game publishing?

Yes absolutely. 

Can I show you my hack combining one of your games with another game?

Happy to see things like that, but I can't usually comment on them or help with them.

Will you ever make a hack of your rules to use another setting?

Probably not. I think that is something best left to fans. 

Can I recommend a book, band, show etc. that is like the ones you list as inspirations?

By all means!

Can I send you a copy of my game because I'd like you to have it?

That would be very kind. 

Will you come to this convention?

I'd like to do some convention stuff this or next year and am happy to do seminars or Q&As. 

Will you endorse my group/movement/hashtag?

Probably not. 

Five Parsecs Tactics: Combat changes

Post number 2 for Tactics, this time discussing how I changed the combat rules to account for larger scale actions.

I am going to just say Tactics when I mean Five Parsecs Tactics and From Home when I mean Five Parsecs From Home, so I don't have to type each title out a million times.

Now it is important to note that these changes are not "Five Parsecs 4e". They are used when playing battles using the Tactics rules. The idea is that when you play a scenario, you decide if it is a From Home or a Tactics scenario and use the relevant rules.

HOWEVER they are also generally modular so you can use Tactics as a grab bag for things you like. For example if you want to put a tank into a From Home scenario (quite the heist!) you can just use those rules. 

Make sense? Okay, lets proceed.

The concerns Tactics have to tackle is how to work well with more stuff on the table and how to work well with bigger stuff on the table.

A From Home battle typically has 6 characters against 8ish enemies. You can absolutely play Tactics at that scale too but if you want to play, say, a platoon of troops on each side, we are looking at 3-5 squads of infantry (each of which might have 5 figures) and probably a tank or robot or three. So things add up pretty quickly and of course we have to account both for players that want to play very small games and ones who want to play very LARGE games. 

The turn sequence

The first (and perhaps biggest) change is the turn sequence which functions a little differently. This works roughly as follows: The two sides alternate taking a phase. When you are taking your phase, one of your units activates normally then you roll 3D6 and can activate units with a reaction score equal or higher than one of the dice. So if you are lucky, you might activate 4 units in your phase and you might activate only 1. The players then alternate until every unit on the table has acted. 

When units act they carry out their actions such as moving, firing weapons and all the rest. There are some additional options available such as overwatch, sneaking around or scanning the terrain for hidden troops. 

Note that units here can either be a single character, a single vehicle or a squad of soldiers. 


Movement rules are not very exciting and there was not a lot of reason to change things up here. You should recognize most things just fine.

Shooting at people

A number of new things here such as some limitations on what you can shoot at, rules for height advantage (units on the ground generally shoot at the closest target, units up high can pick from the two closest) and such. The most interesting new feature is suppression!

Yes, From Home battles are pretty space opera affairs but on the battlefield things get a bit more gritty. When units get shot at they get suppression markers which hinder them when they try to fire. The effects are handled very simply: If a unit has 3 suppression markers f.x. 3 figures in that unit will hit only on natural 6s. The owning player gets to pick who so you can minimise the effects a bit.

In return, the stun rule is not used in Tactics battles as we really dont want to have to track both. This also makes damage a bit simpler: You have to roll over the Toughness or nothing happens to the guy. Many figures have multiple Kill Points which means it takes several hits to bring them down. Conversely some weapons also inflict multiple damage rolls now.

A section on Tactical Options brings up a number of options you can add to your game if you like. These include units being able to hide, sitting tight on overwatch to shoot at moving enemies and the option to fall back in order to relieve suppression.

Close combat

Doing individual opposed rolls for 6 sets of combats per unit would be a lot, so close combat is now handled in a way more similar to shooting, though the opponent gets to counter attack and you can potentially end up with a couple rounds of this. 


Infantry squads of course have to worry about morale as well. This is now unit based, with units testing morale if they took casualties during the turn. The new mechanic for this is fairly simple: You have a current morale score equal to unit size + any morale bonus of the unit. Roll 2D6 and if both dice are individually higher than your morale score, the unit breaks. This means that large (or brave) troops can avoid a few morale checks (because they cant fail them) while small units get quite fragile. 

For players who prefer a more tacti-cool experience, an option is included to retreat in place of testing at all.

Thats it for today

There are a ton of other things like off table support and of course vehicles, but that is going to be left for a later post. I wanted today to just focus on the infantry side of things and what things look and feel like on the larger firefights you will be able to do.

Of course a lot of these new rules still work just fine with a handful of figures on each side. I want to emphasise that you do not have to paint up 50 guys to play. 

Take a look at your current collection. You likely have a number of characters to pick from and several squads of various aliens and mercenaries. Grab some of those. Maybe paint up one more squad and find yourself a cool vehicle. Now you have a Tactics force or two. 

Five Parsecs Tactics: What to expect

What is Five Parsecs Tactics?

Tactics (so I can save on typing) is the next game in the Five Parsecs “universe”. It allows you to play out battles that are beyond the scope of the regular “From Home” experience. With the Tactics rules you can easily have a platoon or more of troops on the table along with vehicles and much more. 

 One of the thoughts behind all of this is that people have built up some very impressive figure collections playing the current campaigns. So it seemed to me that if you already have 10 or so pirates and a handful of soldiers and some K’Erin, then you are half way to a pretty good sized wargame scenario already.

So what can I do with Tactics?

You can play the game in a lot of different ways. 

You might play out military actions, boarding actions etc that happen in your existing campaign to add character and flavour. 

For example if your world is invaded you might play out a Tactics battle (or even a whole campaign) so you know what happened during that invasion. Or your crew had a job to find dirt on a space pirate gang so you decide to game out the Unity enforcers storming the pirate compound.

Of course since the two systems are compatible you can have your crew take part in a military mission or bring military elements into a special scenario. The vehicle rules in particular will probably appeal to a lot of people who want to do something along those lines.

Tactics also stands alone as a game and is playable on its own, in a number of ways.

If you want to play a pick up game, a points system is included to let you just that, along with scenario options.

If you prefer to play solo, well, we got you covered there too. The game is of course solo playable and can feature both pre-selected enemies as well as discovering the enemy forces during the battle. 

You also get two campaign systems, one using a map and one strictly centred around narrative progression. The two can even be combined and allow you to both fight over ground on the battlefield as well as experience narrative flair such as the perspective of the campaign changing or a third party entering the war.

Of course all of this is not restricted to military actions specifically. Tactics will do just fine for space pirates, colonists fending off Swarm infestations and just about anything else you can think of.
Since I am confident you can think of a lot, the book is also jammed full of advice on creating scenarios and running a game, as well as canned rules for everything from encountering neutral groups to concealed troops and characters being suspicious of things.

I haven’t neglected the military side either for combat nerds, with rules for infiltrating troops forward, calling in engineer support and more.

All of this hopefully adds up to a game that both offers a lot of campaign fun to solo gamers, acts as a “big brother” compendium of cool tricks for your existing campaigns and is a perfect tool for people who enjoy GM-led wargame scenarios (or would like to explore that).

Woof, thats a lot but I wanted to give you people a lot to chew on and think about.

Future posts will talk about adaptations to the core game rules as well as probably an example of how a narrative campaign might play out.