Messina Vassal Mod, Version 1.2

The new version includes built in Player Aids, with a summary of all the important rules in a convenient multi-tabbed window. Appears on pressing ‘Rules’. Click to the relevant section as needed.

Management of written Orders is now easier, with each Faction’s rules just a click away if you are logged in as that Faction. Game Masters can access the Orders using passwords.

Orders can be edited in a purpose-specific Window that has separate areas for Ground Orders and Air Orders. Syntax checking is available on clicking a button, and is also applied automatically on saving Orders.

Vassal Mod, First Draft

The first draft of the Vassal mod is now available. I will be looking at ways to make the entry of written orders more user-friendly, but this version is now playable, and will be used for the next playtest.

Please contact me for a copy (on Reddit, BGG, or in the forum here).

Some things that are not documented in the current version:
No rules are included, but there is a link to the rules at this site under ‘Help’.
Most objects have shortcut keys attached – right-click to see the options. For instance, to send a tradable piece or card to another player, press Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, Ctrl-3 etc. It will arrive in their ‘Loading Bay’ on their player mat.

Things that can have other pieces put on them, such as Location Cards and Utilities, require a shift-click to select.
Shields can be upgraded by clicking on the number on the top-left corner.

5 small resource tokens for E, W and F are provided for each player, but they are all on top of each other so you need to drag from the single visible icon to expose the others.

If you flip a card by pressing Ctrl-F, it becomes masked for other players, but it is still visible to you as a smaller version set within the usual card back. No one else can unmask it. This is potentially cumbersome if you want to trade a face-down card, so I will have to rewrite the masking code once I work out how.

The First Player Marker can be optionally rotated by pressing Ctrl-[  (and flipped with Ctrl-F), but there is a turn marker in the menu as well. You can use either or both or none.

The starship is a little large for the lunar orbit, so I recommend replacing it with the starship velocity token if the starship enters lunar orbit, or if there are a lot of pieces ‘below’ the starship on the planet surface. I have provided the AI faction with a spare velocity token to allow this.

I have reduced the Black Market starting pool to three large tokens of each resource, to speed up set-up and make the economy tighter.

New Starship

As part of the port to Vassal, I have designed a new starship for the AI. (The old one, from Google Images, has been retired.)

The cards are now imported… Just need to define the map zones and it is done.

Submission Forms

I have recently added a couple of forms to this site, to facilitate the submission of moves during online play. Playtesting is continuing using Slack. Without the benefit of a face-to-face learning session, it can be difficult to know how to go about selecting and performing actions in accordance with the rules.

The Submit Action form makes sure all of the necessary details are included when online players select their move.

The Submit Orders form makes sure that the military orders are syntactically correct.

Let me know if you have anyy trouble using the forms.

Both forms also have a link to a map from a current playtest.

Digital Dashboard

digitaldashboardPlaytesting is underway with a digital version of Messina. The graphical display used in the playtest is not covered in the rules, so I will run through the major elements here.

On the left is a close-up of the First Fleet base. On D1, two Farms are depicted. The left one has a grey border and is a standard (Level 1) Farm; the right one has a green border and is an upgraded (Level 2) Farm. Each of the Farms has two round Worker discs, in the FF colours. On E1 is a Bomber Unit and an Infantry Unit, also marked in the FF colours.

The total population that has formed FF Units is therefore 6 – the same as the number of yellow circles on the map. Near the base, the number “6” appears, in FF colours, and this is the number of Units that could be formed with colonists that FF has in reserve. Colonists sufficient for 4 additional Units are disaffected, as shown in red in the bottom right.

The total number of colonists that are aligned with the First Fleet is 16 Units worth, or 8,000 adults. This is depicted in white after the other First Fleet resources: 2E (orange), 12W (blue), 16F (green) and 16P (white).  The 16 population tokens have been allocated as follows: 2 Military Units, 4 Workers, 6 Spare, and 4 Disaffected. Outside the main rectangle, the number of on-map Military Units is compared to the maximum number that could be fielded (2/8), after allowing for those already allocated to Utilities or currently unwilling to fight because they are Disaffected.

The bottom row of the rectangle provides some of the same information, and is restricted to on-Map or on-Card Units. Two squares are shown to represent the two manned utilities (tying up 4 Population), and two circles are shown to represent the two Military Units.

Above the resources are a series of squares representing Southern Location Cards (blue) or Northern Location Cards (red). The black squares are empty slots for extra Location Cards.

D1 also shows a Shield. The number of black circles indicates the level – in this case, it is a Level 2 shield.



Welcome to Messina!

The game formerly known has Kepler has a new name and a new home… During early playtesting, the game was named after the scientist who described the basics of planetary motion, in keeping with the tradition of naming exoplanets Kepler-X, where X is a letter-number combination.

Another board game is being released with a similar name, so I figured it was time to choose a name that can see this project through to completion.

Messina is the name associated with the legendary straits in Greek mythology that Odysseus had to pass through on his famous journey, described in Homer’s Odyssey, Book XII. The straits were guarded by Scylla and Charybdis, two immortal and irresistible monsters.

Henry Fuseli’s painting of Odysseus facing the choice between Scylla and Charybdis.

According to Wikpedia:

Scylla was rationalized as a rock shoal (described as a six-headed sea monster) on the Italian side of the strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily. They were regarded as a sea hazard located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors; avoiding Charybdis meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa. According to Homer, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront while passing through the strait; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship in the whirlpool.

Like Odysseus in the Straits of Messina, life on the planet Messina faces perils on either side: the northern hemisphere is tidally locked to the planet’s sun, and is scorching hot; the southern hemisphere lies in perpetual dark, and is frozen. Between them lies a narrow equatorial band with conditions suitable for life. The human settlers of the planet Messina have also honoured Homer’s monsters by naming the two Poles: Charybdis (in the north), and Scylla (in the South).