To contact us:

Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria

Del Stover (President for Life)


More on our Historicon Games

Here’s a little background of some of the games we’ll be hosting in July.

Suffer Not the Xeno to Live

F-162, Fri 7 p.m.


Players: 4, Hours: 3, Scale: 25mm, Period: Sci-fi, Rules: Tabletop Battle System, GM: Del Stover, Sponsor: Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria


Suffer not the xeno to live—that

is official Imperial policy in the

40th Millennium. So when word

reaches the Inquisition that a

colony on Epsilon Canis Majoris

is trading with Tau merchants,

Inquisitor Claudius Titus is sent

to investigate. Who knew his

arrival would spark murder and

a new war between the Tau and

Imperium? A blend of murder

mystery and wargame, play will

take on a dedicated, diorama-

quality game table seen in the

February 2010 issue of

Wargames Illustrated and

accompanied by video briefings,

movie clips, and other special

effects. Learn more about our

game—and table—at


Designing a Mystery Wargame


Attempting to combine two genres of gaming into a three-hour convention event is nothing if not ambitious. Pulling it off successfully is problematic.


But what the heck? I’ve always thought it would be fun, so I’m giving it a try.


Obviously I cannot share too many

details about the game (it is a mystery,

after all), but I can share some of my

goals and design ideas:


First, I wanted a short game. If can’t

wrap up my “story” in three hours,

then it’s too complicated—and too

slow. (Also, if the whole thing is a

spectacular failure, no one suffers

too long.)


Second, I wanted a mystery that

wasn’t too simple—but not too hard,

either. It needs to be more than

“Colonel Mustard in the Library with

the Candlestick.” But it cannot be as

convoluted as Agatha Christie’s Murder

on the Orient Express.


Finally, it needs action. Although

participants have fair warning that

this is a “murder mystery,” wargamers

do like to roll some dice and shot at

bad guys. They want action. They want fighting. I’ve got to give them at least some of that.


Thus I’ve designed a hybrid of wargame, role-playing game, and interactive movie script. As “referee,” I’d describe the setting to players and play out the role of NPCs (non-player characters). Players will decide where to go, whom to talk to, and ask questions. And they will get into trouble. (Perhaps stumbling into a barroom fight? I’m not telling.)


Just as a play consists of three acts, my murder mystery is designed around six or seven “Acts.”


These moments are what I call “decision points.” Players will make a decision that will influence the next act. Do they go talk to the head of the worker’s union—or the lab assistant? Do they try to break into a computer? Do they use their guild assassin to keep someone under surveillance?


There are, in fact, a variety of paths—or acts—that players can take to resolve the mystery.  Indeed, I have at least 20 different “incidents” that players can experience, although no more than six or seven should give them enough information to solve the puzzle.


So no two games will be alike. Players will have options, including some that will take them down a false trail but still be engaging.


This is, in fact, the hard part for me. I don’t want to lead players by the nose to get them from point A to point B. Then again, I don’t want players to be totally befuddled by clues, bored with endless questioning, or twiddling their thumbs waiting for acdtion.


This is going to require a delicate balance.


In the end, it’s not how clever a mystery I come up or how elegant the mechanics. It’s how players feel at the end of the mystery that will decide whether the game is a success.


Cross your fingers. While I “think” I’ve the answer, there’s only one way to know. See you at the show.