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The Alternative Armies Christmas Interview 2008

An Interview by Craig Andrews

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Gavin Syme at Alternative Armies is kind enough to answer our questions about what's coming up for Flintloque and Alternative Armies.

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Q. For anyone not in the know, what is Flintloque the Skirmish?

A. Well first off I would like to thank Orcs in the Webbe for giving us the chance to speak directly to them and their audience of devoted black powder fantasy fans once again.  We will try not to disappoint you all!

Flintloque the Skirmish in essence is the gaming world's foremost black powder miniatures game aimed at small scale character driven scenarios in 28mm scale.  Its a game set in the World of Valon, a fantastical world that is in the throws of the Mordredian Wars, populated by a wide range of fantasy creatures.  Some of these creatures will be familiar such as Orcs, Dwarves and Elves, some will not be; such as Todoroni and Burrovians.  Each of these nations fields an army of Napoleonique soldiers equipped with muskets (the Flintloque from which the game takes its name), cannon and other black powder weapons along with all the other uniformed troop types of Napoleonique skirmish.  The Tyrant Emperor Mordred of the blue jacketed Elves leads the Ferach Empire against the Grand Alliance led by the redcoat Orcs of Albion while another Elvish led army has invaded the realm of the Dark Czar and now fights for its life against greatcoat clad Undead. Using the Flintloque books and your imagination you create a section of characters chosen from this huge world and then set out to gain promotion and glory for your nation. It is a fantasy game unlike any other where the chainmail and sword of traditional fantasy is replaced by the shako and the musket among creatures, each of whom in their dress and actions throw a nod to our own history and the early nineteenth century.

Q. Why create Flintloque 3rd Edition,  is there a need for a new edition?

A. Flintloque has been around for more than ten years now and has been through two editions and several supplements as well.  Many of the early books for the game are now collectors items and though out of date are viewed with fondness by gamers.  The current edition of the game Flintloque Reloaded was released in 2002 and has been greatly enjoyed by all for the last six years, it's simply now time for an update on all fronts.  Really the need for a new edition of Flintloque has come from the players, especially the members of the Notables Yahoo Group, the passing of time, the great expansion the scope of the game world (several new nations and races) and a change in what players want from their games of Flintloque.

Of course Alternative Armies is not into making you give up your hard earned coins for nothing more than a new cover and some cosmetic changes.  The new edition of Flintloque is bigger and better and will also see the release of new editions of the older supplements 'Deadloque' and 'Grapeshotte' along with other new books like 'Bedlum', but more on that later.  It will be the first in a family of books and new miniatures that will bring the game to even more vivid life.

The new edition will add all of these needs to itself and we believe will be the fullest and best edition of the game ever.   When you all see it you will know why we have created a new edition.

Q. In the next edition of Flintloque what are the major changes and or revisions in the rules of the game over Flintloque Reloaded (2nd Edition)?

A. Wow. Where to start? This version of Flintloque is a pretty radical departure from previous designs and it takes on board all the feedback and results of gaming from the last six years.

We at AA suppose the biggest change would have to be the complete removal of the 'Order Roster' as seen in both previous editions of Flintloque. It is being replaced by a very engaging alternating activation system in which each player performs actions with two miniatures at a time in one of three action phases in the following order: The Fire & Movement Phase, the Aimed Fire Phase, and the Reload Phase. All activity within a given phase is considered simultaneous and all characters which survive the previous three phases fight in hand-to-hand (Melee). The whole process was conceived and designed to keep opponents engaged at every moment during the game, make average games of Flintloque fit into just under an hour, and to minimize the amount of book keeping needed to play.

The basics of Shooting and Melee however are largely unchanged from the 2nd edition. You still roll percentile dice to shoot and it is still an opposed dice roll for Melee. The biggest difference here is that the speed (rate) you select for movement will affect your ability to target an enemy for shooting and there is now a roll to see if you wound in Melee. Speaking of wounding...that has also been changed so that the player whose figure was struck by a musket ball or bayonet makes a "STEADY" roll to avoid the damage. Once again, a player is never standing there helplessly watching his opponent. Both players are ALWAYS involved in the game and we just think it's cool that you have some sense of controlling the final fate of your soldiers.

As far as Movement in Flintloque, the previous system has turned out to be too complex for the needs of most normal scenarios. The six column chart for rates of movement is more than is required to get characters from point A to point B. Consequently, movement has been clarified and simplified and now follows more familiar wargaming conventions. Difficult terrain costs double movement, etc. The movement chart has now been folded into the roster sheet as a combined firing and movement chart called... The Fire & Movement chart! There are now four movement speeds that match traditional military parade speeds. Double March, Quick March, Slow March, & Half-Step. I believe this helps add to the Napoleonique ambiance and as mentioned before, the selection of the speed actually becomes a tactical consideration that affects Firing. So the movement speeds are no more just cosmetic considerations.

One other aspect of movement worth mentioning is that characters now generate an "engagement zone" that can frustrate enemy movements and obscure lines of sight. This makes it possible to screen important figures from fire and prevent players from making unrealistic charges through your lines to get to your officer!  We really wanted to make the positioning of figures on the table have a real impact on game play and long time gamers should be familiar with this concept as this is a common feature in other games.

Now we come to one of our favourite changes of all to the core rules. The introduction of Command Points and Officer Reputations! In a nutshell, these allow section officers to perform special manoeuvres on the battlefield and add an extra touch of customization to your section leader. The reputations follow the Officer Types listed in Slaughterloo 2nd Edition in both name and spirit very closely and grant both bonuses and penalties. Heroic, Aggressive, Cowardly, and Dastardly. Though Flintloque has added an additional type of officer called the Professional Officer. Command points can sway a battle a critical moment and must be used very wisely as you only get three points for the whole game and you can only use one point per turn. These Command Points can affect everything from Initiative to Melee.

And finally, the new Flintloque will have the most customizable and comprehensive section creation and advancement system of any previous versions of Flintloque. This is where Flintloque 3rd edition is really going to shine. It adds a whole new level of meaning to the phrase 'elements of roleplay.' A wide range of new skills, traits, flaws, and troop types have been added to the game so that you can create an extremely diverse group of characters with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Races will all now have a unique attribute that is represented not just in the lore of the game but mechanically as well.

One of the most brought up topics in play was, "The Todoroni have a hop move, but what do the Ostarian Dogmen do?" Previously, there was no 'background influenced behaviour' difference between a Highland Rat and an Albion Orc except maybe speed. So now the different nations act the on the table in a way that gives them their own unique flavour. And the beauty of it all is that this additional texture and depth contributes no measurable complexity to the game.

We have been asked if any races, creatures, weapons or so on will be made 'illegal' or redundant in the new edition as is common to other game systems these days.  In answer we can say without hesitation NO.  All of your current collection of miniatures and characters will be completely usable in Flintloque 3rd Edition.

Will Roster Sheets and Counters be kept or removed?  Actually, Flintloque 3rd edition uses a hybrid system. Although, it is quite easy to play with strictly a roster sheet. As there are no orders given in the new version, the roster sheet is used strictly to track the condition of your section in both the battle at hand and the overall campaign game. Counters are generally used to track wounds, notate a figure's morale level, and to show if it has taken actions this turn.   Its more of a 'Section Progress' sheet now.

What format will any new Rosters and Counters take?  As well as being in the published book, Alternative Armies will also make them available as free downloads for all gamers to get from us at their own leisure.  Additionally Alternative Armies does have future plans to create custom counters for Flintloque, these will most likely take the form of metal scenic items of interest in their own right.

Just like all other incarnations of Flintloque, 3rd edition will be fun and easy to play.

Q. Will there be one book for Flintloque 3rd Edition, as with Flintloque Reloaded (2nd Edition) or will there be several books released for the new edition?  Meaning is there a Rulebook, A Background book and or an Army Book as well?

A. This is a good point indeed.  The simple answer is no.  Flintloque 3rd Edition will be more than one book.  There will be several 'rulebooks', each containing full rules for play and character creation, but each will focus on a different part of the Mordredian Wars.  So there will be Flintloque 3rd Edition  'War in Catalucia' which will contain the rules and character creation along with detailed sections on the races involved in that theatre of the Mordredian Wars (Orcs, Elves, Dark Elves, Goblins) and a detailed section on the war in Catalucia and Al-Garvey.

Each of these core books, there will be one for the Undead and Centre Urop etc, is a rule book in its own right and an army book as well for the nations in that theatre of the war.  Each book will stand on its own and players will only need the ones they want, if you are not interested in the Undead then you will not need the book that deals with them.  On top of these core books will be other titles such as 'Grapeshotte' which will provide Artillery and Armory rules that cover ALL the theatres of the wars, and 'Kooruna' which is a pure campaign book giving scenarios and information to re-fight this vital conflict.

These books are all connected and are all independent of each other.  They offer the best value for money and greatest interest that can be fitted into their pages.   It might be easier at this point to think of each of the core books as a 'background' book that happens to contain the full rules for Flintloque 3rd Edition as an added bonus!

Q. Will Flintloque 3rd Edition be released as a book only or as a boxed set like Flintloque Reloaded was?

A. Flintloque 3rd Edition will be released as a book, not as a boxed set.

Q. Have there been any major revisions to the background of the World of Valon?  Is so what will they be?

A. If by revisions you mean has anyone or anything been erased, then no.  The biggest change in the background material of the game world is in its presentation and theme.  With the separation of each theatre of the Mordredian Wars in the new books the 'feel' of the material will be much more pronounced.  Everything on the Army of Albion will be in  'War in Catalucia' from its troop types to its leaders, its camp songs and its battles.  There will be more and it will be in more detail than before.

As to what actual expansions of the background there will be... we ain't saying!

Q. Will Flintloque in its 3rd Edition cover other 'Ages of Valon' on top of the 4th Age Black Powder?

A. No.   The 4th Age of Black Powder is the focus of Flintloque and always will be.  Other titles will cover the other Ages of Valon.

Q. Are there any new Nations or Races of Valon in the 3rd Edition?

A. The nations and races added to Flintloque 3rd Edition are on the whole those who have been brought into 'metal' since the release of Flintloque Reloaded back in 2002.  There will be information on the Hob Goblins of Taffsea, the last member country of the Army of Albion and on the Rabbitmen of Burrovia allies of the Ferach Empire.  Also there will be information on the Centaurs and Werewolves of Diberia and the Duchty of Coltz, plus the other nations that were brought into the fold with the release of Slaughterloo 2nd Edition.  Each will be placed into the title that best suits them.

Q. How will the release of Flintloque 3rd Edition affect Frontear the Skirmish? Will Frontear continue to get new miniatures, will it become as supplement of Flintloque or remain separate?

A. The release of Flintloque 3rd Edition will not affect Frontear in the course of 2009.  In the future Frontear may become a separate supplement inside the Flintloque family.  Frontear will get many new releases in the next year and while we do admit that we have not released as many miniatures as we hoped to we are sure that your readers will enjoy those coming in the next year. The Amerkan Civile Warre will get its fair share of attention.

Q. Will the release of Flintloque 3rd Edition herald the release of a full book for Trafalgore?

A. In time yes.  Trafalgore is classed as an expansion like Grapeshotte, meaning you will need a rulebook to play the game using the material that the book provides.  While we cannot tell you the exact time scale or contents we can say that Trafalgore would cover all the navies and marines of Valon along with all the naval weapons and boarding, landfall and in the midst of water expansion rules for Flintloque 3rd Edition.

Q. Will the release of Flintloque 3rd Edition mean that after years of waiting and tantalising miniatures that Bedlum will make an appearance as a book?   What will Bedlum be when it is released?  If there are more miniatures for Bedlum will any of them be taken from the 'real world' or the 'worlds of fiction' like Reckhard Sharke in Flintloque?

A. Yes, Yes, Yes!  The release of the mighty and fantastic Londinium Coach box set in late November of 2008 put Bedlum firmly on the map so to speak.  While you will have to be tantalised and tormented a while longer with excellent new miniatures before the book makes an appearance, the book will be a core book to Flintloque meaning you will need not need a copy of Flintloque to use it.  It will contain full urban rules, character creation, background, weapons and more.  A sister game to Flintloque using essentially the same rules but changed for brawls on the cobbles between rascals and bone streete rumblers.

While Sharke is a one off, Bedlum will see some characters taken from the real world and from fictional settings.  All suggestions welcome!

Q. If I already own copies of previous editions of Flintloque, Frontear and the other older books such as Deadloque and Grapeshotte what case do you make that I should buy some or all of new books for the World of Valon?

A. Well....let us lay our case before you.

While all players are perfectly entitled to continue to use any of the older versions of the game (and rightly so, you paid for them!), we have to say firstly that Alternative Armies will not continue to sell Flintloque Reloaded or provide material for it.  Also you are lucky if you have a copy of some of the older books, they fetch a keen price these days!

Secondly we honestly feel that having read this interview and once you see the new edition and its expansions you will want to invest in them and no one could accuse us of releasing new editions every couple of years could they.

The new editions will contain material you have seen before, of course they will otherwise it would not be Flintloque, but they will have much more to offer you than is currently on the market from us.  A refined rules system, greatly expanded game world, in depth character and section creation, free material from us every week, new miniatures, more books that have never been seen before.  These all add up to the biggest investment that Valon has ever known.

Flintloque 3rd Edition keeps the humour and the fun that made you adore it in previous editions but it offers you rules and playing style along with the depth that the gaming community now wants.

Q. Some people have said in the last year that Alternative Armies does not put out a coherent release schedule for its products and that they just appear without any warning.  What is your take on this?

A. This has been put to us before and its not something that we think is a fair take. Its not about releases but about the schedule of them.  Sure we do not tell people what we are doing six months or a year ahead, but then how many times have you been told about something that never actually arrived in the gaming industry?  Plus we are fully committed to responding to our customers requests for products.  As the successful VLE miniatures have shown (each has a run of 250 packs only) if you ask us for a character miniature or new units we will make them, few other companies will do this for their gamers.  Have a look at our releases this year, they are varied and plentiful.  Alternative Armies does not release by date but by number, our releases are numbered from the start of the year, and on average we release product every few weeks.  If customers feel that they would like more information in the future then we will certainly look at perhaps providing a public schedule that runs a couple of months ahead.

Q. Can you tell us the situation about the Alternative Armies Compendium and the Notables Newspaper plus 60 Bloody Rounds?  The first Compendium was a great success and many are waiting for another edition to get more material to read about Valon.  What can Orcs in the Webbe readers expect next year?

A. While we cannot give, as yet, exact details here is what will be happening in 2009 concerning the Alternative Armies Compendium, 60 Bloody Rounds and the Notables Newspaper.

Next year Alternative Armies will be releasing a lot of new products including a new edition of Flintloque and other books to support it these books will all be perfect bound and done in a similar format throughout. When it comes to the AA Compendium the same applies, it will also increase in page count and various subject matter, covering not only Flintloque and Slaughterloo, the Ion Age, Frontear, New Releases etc...but also....the Notables Newspaper and 60 Bloody Rounds.

Yes, that is correct. 60BR and Notables Newspaper will be part of the Compendium from this point with each given its own number of pages and covering its own content distinct from the other parts of the book. So, more information will follow but the next Compendium in the new format with the new content will be released in the spring of 2009.

Mike thinks, and I agree, that this is the way forward...united we are stronger and can offer a fuller and more regular publication for you all to enjoy.

Q. There are rumours around that 2009 will also see the return of Alternative Armies science fiction Ion Age.  Is it true that a second edition of Firefight is in the works and that a skirmish game called Starvaulter will both make an appearance?

A. Yes, its true.  We have had a lot of emails and calls about this rumour and there will be a new edition of Firefight in 2009.  The Ion Age will see the re-release of the popular miniatures that we produced even before the World of Valon came into being.  The whole thing will be kicked off in the early part of next year (2009) with 'Firefight Lite' an basic game giving all needed to play plus the start of the re-molded miniatures range.

Starvaulter is based on the engine of Flintloque but adapted for science fiction, it will be a tabletop character driven skirmish game set in the Ion Age.  The core rules were tried out during 2008 by the members of the Notables Yahoo Group and we thank them for their input on the game.  We aim to release Starvaulter late in 2009.

Q. Finally can you tell me the release date for Flintloque 3rd Edition?

A. Flintloque 3rd Edition will begin its core book releases in the Spring of 2009.  Keep an eye on us for more information.

Webmaster's Notes

An Orcs in the Webbe Exclusive! The above interview was first published on Christmas Eve 2009.

I would like to thank Gavin and all those at Alternative Armies for continuing to support Orcs in the Webbe and I know I'm not alone in looking forward to the developments in the world of Valon and beyond over the next year.