A while back I had a chance to interview Scott Pyle, author of Blasters & Bulkheads.
If you are not familiar, B&B is a science fiction skirmish game that focuses on the sort of wild and crazy Space Opera adventure common in film and TV series as well as pulpy stories. The game plays with as little as a hand full of figures per side and utilizes the very entertaining Goalsystem rules. It is scenario driven game where objectives are key.
Thanks to Scott for the interview and if you haven't given Blasters and Bulkheads a try, please do. It's a treat.
1. For those who do not know about B&B, can you give us a quick description of the game concept, in your own words?
In Blasters & Bulkheads, players use the Goalsystem mechanics to play out Space Opera style skirmishes in either 15mm or 28mm. The game contains versatile, "build-your-own" rules that let players use whatever models they want from their collections. Rules for weapons from primitive to high-tech allow for just about any flavor of sci-fi players want, but with a mostly cinematic feel. You could play a Star Wars style skirmish just as easily as you could a a 40K or Inquisitor style battle.
2. What would you say is the optimal number of figures needed by a single player to have good game of B&B?
Five models per side feels best for me. But players can use as few as 1 or 2 models per side, up to as many as 20 or 30. The Henchmen rules Goalsystem is famous for mean you can move a lot of "mooks" around very efficiently.
3. B&B was a pretty solid game to begin with. Why the new edition?
B&B 1st ed. was solid, but it still had some holes. I wanted cleaner layout better suited to Lulu's print on demand process, a new cover, and slightly less emphasis on aping the tropes of a certain popular space opera series. I kept Essence as one "source" of weird powers, and added in the idea of Psionics as well as an alternative. I really wanted to make it so folks could do Inquisitor style skirmishes too.
4. What would you say are the major differences between 1st and 2nd ed?
A lot of little things. Superior layout and cover artwork. New mechanics for hacking, giant monsters, and destroying structures also add extra detail. I added a few new powers as well.
5. The 1st edition rules seemed very much designed to engage a very specific science fiction franchise that took place in a galaxy far far away, was this the plan and does that carry over to the new edition?
It still does, but as I suggested above, it's been broadened a bit to include other sci-fi tropes. You can certainly still have your Essence Warriors running about slicing up the Minions of the Galactic Hegemony, that's for sure!
6. I am a fan of both gritty sci-fi as well as Space Opera, will B&B work well for both?
YMMV, on this one! You can use the build system to tailor games to your play style. Want weaker characters? Start them with less Vitality or lower damage resistance. Or increase the Damage Numbers on some of the weapons. B&B has enough dials to allow folks to tinker with the lethality to create killer games.
7. I know this is always a tough question, but what is your favorite element of B&B?
I love the character build system! You can build just about anything, and we include rules for making your own new traits to add other stuff in as you see fit.
8. What do you think is B&B’s strongest point(s)?
Versatile character creation, consistent mechanics, and a slant towards story-based skirmish play. I like to think of B&B as adventure skirmish role-play in the same vein as some of my other games--SuperSystem and Goalsystem Delves.
9. One rule, I really like is the Henchmen. Would you mind giving us a brief rundown on the concepts of these rules.
No problem! The Henchmen rules work under the concept of many models moving and acting as a single model. So your band of 5 nameless guards (5 being the starting, default size for a group), moves and acts as one model. You make one attack and one defense roll for the whole group, for example. If the group takes 3 points of Vitality loss, you remove 3 models. You can buy up a henchmen group to as many as 15, 20, or even more models. It all depends on your collection of miniatures!
10. B&B is very setting and scenario oriented. Does this mean we might see expansions of specific genres, an “in-house” setting or campaign books in the future?
Oh yes! My partners Enrico Nardini, Joseph Dragovich, and I see a lot of potential to tailor the B&B rules to specific sub-genres and settings. Rico is getting ready to launch his own line of miniatures, Dark Vacuum. And we'll be doing write-ups for those models using the B&B rules. I love the idea of a setting that features Xeno Anthropologists exploring lost worlds and discovering alien species and slumbering gods man was not meant to know about! That's a possibility!