Sunday, January 11, 2015

More than books

We have some new offerings in the Castalia House store:
Castalia House is a publisher of books, but we are also a developer of games. So that is why we are pleased to be able to announce that the Castalia House bookstore will also be carrying digital versions of various games we consider to be of high quality and potential interest to our readers in the new Games section. The first games we are offering here are published by Castalia House author Ken Burnside of Ad Astra Games, who contributed “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military Science Fiction” to Riding the Red Horse. Ken is also Castalia’s newest blogger, where he’ll be focusing on various aspects of game development, from general analysis and history to in-depth design and mechanics.
Our long-term goal for Castalia House is to become a major destination site for all high-quality Blue SF/F-related activity, including books, boardgames, and electronic games. This is another small step towards that objective.

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Anonymous Patrick Baker January 11, 2015 10:08 AM  

I regularly review games for "Armchair General". If you would like I could contact my editor and see if he would like to review these games. Most of the time all it takes a review copy sent to his offices.


Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 10:15 AM  

Yes, definitely do so. But the files are pretty monstrous, 20 to 50 MB. Just ask him first....

OpenID UnderwaterOperative January 11, 2015 10:49 AM  

This is very exciting. Before VD's reviews and Castalia, I had stayed away from my preferred genre for almost a decade, because of VD and Castalia I've gone through 20+ books since June in the Sci/Fi genre. And they've all been great! Similarly, I could never find anywhere to get good reviews of games and so stayed away. Hopefully, I'll be able to return to gaming like I did with books.

Anonymous jack January 11, 2015 10:56 AM  

Sounds like some sound plans there. Sally forth, and all. Bit of OT here. A few days ago I posted a query to the Ilk concerning a recent and mysterious inability to open story links in Drudge. Happened only on my provider line and to two different computers using two different browsers, one Vista and one XP.
After talking to the provider tech folk here is what cured it. I know this is probably old news to most of the Ilk and surely to Vox and Marku. Just in cast though;

Cure was to go into internet properties and change the DNS sourcing under protocol 4 from auto dns to manual as follows. Note that this is an Google dedicated DNS, so they tell me. Also, the problem was due, according to them, because of terrorist, hackers, you name it, overloading certain sites with dns requests. I had the problem with no other site.

DNS Manual


Good luck!

Anonymous It is what it is January 11, 2015 10:56 AM  


Blogger GX3Blogger January 11, 2015 11:31 AM  

Awesome! Looking forward to it.

Anonymous Barg Uist January 11, 2015 12:35 PM  

The board games side I am quite interested in. I am very decidedly pleased that you are looking to take Castalia House that direction.

Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 12:43 PM  

There is a general belief in the industry that people will not pay for games with VASSAL modules. I disagree, it's just that they won't pay board-and-counter prices for electronic versions. I suspect they are no different than ebooks in this regard.

A book costs $30 physical or $5 digital. That suggests a game that costs $60 physical should go for around $10 digital. I mean, Ender and I end up playing digital even when we have the physical game.

Blogger MidKnight January 11, 2015 12:59 PM  

First of all – excellent. I was already planning on getting AV and Squadron Strike.

As to the FFW… I had the CT complete set courtesy of the FFE CD-ROM

It included the FFW rules – quite a passable copy at that.

The image of the unit chits is crud. Low res, compression artifacts, and having contacted Marc, apparently they don’t have better ones available.

So I started doing my own. In part because I could get bigger chits out of it.

So the questions now are twofold – will the new edition of the rules have any changed elements to the rules?

And also – will there be a better image template for the chits?

Blogger MidKnight January 11, 2015 1:05 PM  

On another note entirely.

While I have not yet read or finished too many Castalia books (Night Lands, mostly), I have to second the note above by UnderwaterOperative.

For most of the last ten years or so, nearly the only SF I read, even when it was cheesy, was Baen. I hadn't been consciously aware of it. One year I was still reading stories with "interesting" concepts like memetics, but that nevertheless had depressing implied worldview, the next year almost everything I read was Baen. I only caught the change in retrospect.

The discussions of good SF and storytelling here, at Larry's, at MGC, and Sarah's have been eye openers, even as - despite my respect for Both Brandon's writing, and even more for Howards Schlock Mercenary - I find their writing podcast becoming even more and more wishy washy.

It certainly lost its edge when MRK came on full time.

So thank you for introducing me to John C Wright. Thank you Vox for your books as well, and thank you for yet another home for the kind of stories we love.

Anonymous BioShock Jock January 11, 2015 1:19 PM  

Me being a luddite, I'm still waiting for the actual hardcover and softcover print versions of the Castalia House books.

Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 2:42 PM  

So the questions now are twofold – will the new edition of the rules have any changed elements to the rules?

No. This is just to make it easier on folks who want a reference on their tablet.

And also – will there be a better image template for the chits?

Not applicable. The graphics are in the module. They are better, though.

Anonymous Valiant January 11, 2015 2:50 PM  

I hope this is an ok place to ask this. Is there an update on book 2 of AODAL?

Blogger Expendable Faceless Minion January 11, 2015 3:13 PM  

VD, I spend a lot of time alone. For a very long time, I've been looking for a game that lets me play without others. I'd really like to find some good games for one player that don't involve decks of cards or computers.

I've never seen any. If you could design something along those lines, I'd buy one.

Anonymous hoosiertoo January 11, 2015 3:13 PM  


Not quite a Luddite, but I'm a slow adopter of tech myself. I still use a flip phone - horrors! -and what I've seen of smart phones leaves me underwhelmed. That said, I received a tablet for Christmas from the missus and find that the Kindle app is a wonderful thing. Savings on the Kindle versions of books have already paid for the tablet a couple of times over, and at 56 it's pretty easy on the eyes as well. Why wait?

OpenID jeffro January 11, 2015 3:50 PM  

@Expendable Faceless Minion

I can recommend the following for solitaire tabletop gaming:

Adventure + Tactical Man-to-Man Combat: Dark City Games adventures are old school cool --

Tactical Space Combat: Star Fleet Battles Basic Set includes both "Monster" and Cruise Drone Scenarios --

Strategic Space Combat: Space Empires 4X includes both Doomsday Machine and Alien Empire scenarios --

Classic SF Role Playing: The Traveller Book lets you roll up characters, design space ships, and roll up scads of worlds. You can have a lot of fun without ever getting to the game session part.

WWII Submarine action: The Hunters will let you see how things work out for you in "Das Boot" in an incredibly neat game.

Good luck!

Blogger Jeffro January 11, 2015 4:08 PM  

(I know you asked Vox, but I couldn't help but jump in.)

Oh, and if you haven't seen Pandemic... it's a great little cooperative game that plays nicely enough solitaire:

Also... GMT Games has a great COIN series. In "Fire in the Lake" there are paper-fied artificial intelligence rules that allow any or all of the Americans, the ARVN, the NVA, and/or the Viet Cong to play on automatic. It's much more complex than, say, Pandemic... but if you're into it you might like it.

Blogger Expendable Faceless Minion January 11, 2015 4:20 PM  

Many thanks, Jeffro! I appreciate help from any source.

Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 4:25 PM  

VD, I spend a lot of time alone. For a very long time, I've been looking for a game that lets me play without others. I'd really like to find some good games for one player that don't involve decks of cards or computers.

Check out Birds of Prey. It has solo play rules. Solitaire ASL is also pretty good, as is B-17 Bomber.

Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 4:26 PM  

Many thanks, Jeffro! I appreciate help from any source.

Jeffro knows more about this than I do. He's the expert.

Anonymous VD January 11, 2015 4:26 PM  

Is there an update on book 2 of AODAL?

Still have a long way to go. It will be 2015 though.

Anonymous Valiant January 11, 2015 4:53 PM  

Thanks for the update.

Blogger MidKnight January 11, 2015 8:37 PM  

@ Expendable Faceless Minion

I'll also add the Commands and Colors: Ancients and Memoir '44 (based on the same system)

They're not designed for Solo play, and you definitely have two sides, but due to the card mechanic for issuing command, you have the ability to give yourself some "fog of war" for your "other" side by timing th card draws. This at least lets you stay ignorant of at least some options each side has until it's that sides turn.

Anonymous Atombum January 11, 2015 9:52 PM  

Books and games now, but what next? How about `action figure` characters derived from your most popular books and games, especially those serial in nature with their own overarching universe. Keep overhead low by outsourcing the manufacturing.

Anonymous Sensei January 12, 2015 3:03 AM  

Books and games now, but what next?

*in a research lab somewhere in Europe*
Markku: So what are we doing tonight, Vox?
Vox: The same thing we do every night, Markku..

OpenID jeffro January 12, 2015 9:49 AM  

A note about my advice-- it is tilted towards classic games and is not in line with what's popular right now. However, if you peruse stuff about those games you should hopefully find one that strikes your fancy or that at least gets you on track to find something that will. The main thing is... there are all kinds of tabletop games out there with a solitaire component. There are all kinds of game types with all kinds of themes. You don't have to wait... in fact, there are more being made every year!

Also: Solitaire play can be a little dry. It is hard for it to compete with having a good opponent that is into playing the same thing. However... the act of playing solitaire games prepares you to take advantage of the opportunities that turn up. For some reason, being ready to run a game session at the drop of a hat can almost cause an opponent to materialize and demand to play.

That said, solitaire play is worth pursuing in its own right. Some people just like it... and yeah, there is a lot more options out there now than, say, Freecell.

Blogger Russell January 12, 2015 12:55 PM  

Dash it all, Castalia House seems designed to take all my spending money.

Might as well just mug me in a dark alley and take my wallet! It would be faster and make for a more engaging story.

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