Calvin’s Commentaries: Star Scrappers: Battledrill
Typically, that is the case with new abstract strategy games, deck builders, and especially skirmish level miniatures games.
In the case of mini-games, the key to grab attention is great looking miniatures and a game world that interests (steampunk, medieval Japan come to mind), and after that, you get around to looking into gameplay, although often the minis are bought without a look at the rules.
So recently I came upon Star Scrappers: Battledrill, q space western skirmish wargame, and I was immediately intrigued.
So how did the game come to be?
“Wojciech Guzowski and Marek Raczyński are two experienced wargamers who love science-fiction and beautiful miniatures,” explained Piotr Żuchowski Community Manager at Hexy Studio. They have always wanted to create their own wargame (Marek is also a board game designer with two titles to his account so far, Hard City and Slyville: Jester’s Gambit) and have been working on it for quite a time.
“As members of Hexy Studio, a creative team whose specialty is animation, graphic design, and 3D modeling for gaming purposes, and who runs an online shop with original miniatures (hexy.store), they have found a great environment to shape and develop their ideas.
But why create yet another miniature skirmish game?
“Our aim is to provide a simple, yet challenging game system that people will enjoy,” offered Żuchowski.
“And as for the components, we wanted to create a bridge between traditional tabletop gaming and digital content, as both of these fields are areas of Hexy Studio’s interest as a company. With the growing popularity of home 3D printing, we thought it would be a nice and refreshing take to offer a tabletop skirmish game with 100 percent digital content that the players could print out themselves.
“This is simply a cheaper alternative for traditional physical wargames where you need to buy rules, cards, terrain elements, and of course unit minis.”
The idea of digitally selling 3D files to home print was intriguing, so I followed up for more about why they went that direction?
“The 3D sculptors who work with us make great models and we wanted to share them with as many people as possible,” said Żuchowski. “Manufacturing a regular physical wargame is a huge undertaking, an investment which is often beyond the possibilities of a small independent design studio. Selling files at a comparatively lower price is a good way to reach new people, but it also lowers the entry threshold for the player – you can read the rules online first, then buy the files, but you don’t have to print everything at once – just the models you want.”
So it was interesting to print a few of the models to see just how well they turned out.
“Once I get the files downloaded I load them into a program that allows me to place support materials under the overhangs as well as orient the model to allow for the most detail, as with my low-end printer anything under supports is usually muddied,” offered Jordan Craib-Petkau the master 3D printer in our gaming group. “I then save the file and load that into a program called a slicer which slices the model into layers and exports a file the printer can read.
“I add resin to the reservoir of the printer and put an SD card with the print file in. Hit start and let it go, total print time varies depending on model orientation, in this case between 6 and 8 hours.
“Clean up involves protective gear (gloves and a respirator) a container filled with isopropyl alcohol and an old toothbrush. I remove the support materials and then rinse the finished print in the alcohol and scrub to remove any uncured resin. After that, it goes under a UV light to finish curing. Spray primer follows.”
In the case of Battledrill, the resulting minis are ready to paint now.
“I found the detail on these models to really come out quite nicely, even under the support material,” noted Craib-Petkau. “The poses are dynamic but still printable, and having the files broken into keyed parts makes arranging them on a smaller print bed easier.
“One issue I ran into was after the parts were cured either due to slight warping during printing or curing the keys no longer fit together and had to be cut off or shaved down.
“I think I could have printed the single part models instead and they would have turned out just as good if not better.”
As for the game, what did designers find most challenging in its creation?
“Balancing between the fun factor and light rules and deep, challenging tactical aspect,” said Żuchowski. “We wanted to make the battles quick and dynamic, but still offering many different options for the players. We are very happy with how this looks like now.”
The designers note too that no single element stands out for them.
“It’s hard to pick one thing for which you love your child the most, isn’t it?” asked Żuchowski. “I think it all depends on what a player expects from a game, I am sure that everyone will find in Battledrill something different that will appeal to them.
“We love the setting, for example – space western, heavily inspired by works of popular culture, filled with references, puns, and Easter eggs – and we had a lot of fun writing the lore of the game.
“Those who value the graphic aspect of their games should love our 3D models and card artwork.
“Wargamers will definitely find an innovative take on Action Point systems attractive and worth checking out.”
How gameplay goes will be detailed in a follow-up review after a playthrough, or two after the printed minis are based and ready to go.
The good news more is to come too.
“We have plans for both Battledrill and the Star Scrappers universe in general,” said Żuchowski. “The game will definitely continue to grow with new models released in the Print3D’n’Play format. The setting will grow as well with new products, one of them will be a card game by the designer of Terraforming Mars, Jacob Fryxelius.
“And this will definitely not be the last game set in this colorful sci-fi world.”
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