Last weekend was the 3d edition of Poldercon. It is held in the same building as were we play with our local gaming club in Utrecht. It is a one day event, based around the idea that participants come over to play new games. There are some vendors (Wendy’s Miniatures and Imaginative Miniatures), but the goal is to play games, not primarilly buy stuff. Each participant gets acces to a website were you can find a list of demo games being played. The day is divided in 4 time slots of 1,5 hours each, separated by lunch. So you can play four games on this day. There was also a demonstration on how to build nice tree scenery and such.
About 100 people gathered this day.
I had entered myself for the following demos:
- Freebooters Fate
- All Quiet on the Martian Front
First up was Gaslands. I had seen this game played at the club, but not the opportunity to participate. So here was the opportunity to play with toy cars and pretend to be Mad Max or Frankenstein (Death Race). The game is played with normal sized toy cars. Since it is a post apocalyptic setting some converting and painting f the models is required, but that is pretty easily done. Terrain can be simple, rocks and such are enough for a basic game. Most of the demos played use downsized versions of the rulesets in order to get an small game done in about 1,5 hours. Gaslands was no exception and both the cars we played with had the same stats to keep it all simple. The rules (now in beta-version) are quite simple in itself once you get used to some unique things such as special dice. Movement is done with templates and each template tells you if you can use in in the gear you are in (hard turns are not done when you are in gear 6 racing along the board). Along the way you can slide and/or spin, gather hazard tokens and get shot at or rammed by the other cars.
We did 2 games were we had to race along a track and see who finished first. Both games resulted in a disaster for my car, but is was fun indeed.
If you have the chance try this game. It plays fast and has a lot of potential.
You can find more information at the Facebook group, it is not an open group, so you will have to ask to become a member first.
Next up was Freebooters Fate. A game of pirates. This game has been around for some time, but I never tried it. Since we play Legends of the High Seas for a while now we start to find some things that are not optimal for our style of playing (and with so many players at the same time instead of the regular 2 players were the game system is based on). This has made us thinking about some options. One option is to alter the existing rules to our taste, change the parts that are not working well for our group and make house rules. Another option would be to use other game systems for certain aspects of our games. Freebooters Fate is about pirates and therefore I wanted to give it a try.
This demo was held by the people from Golden Goblins from Belgium. A nice group of people with pirate humor and attire. Freebooter is a iceless game. Game mechanics are card driven. There is a special made deck of cards for this. Each character also has a stat card and combat also uses a special deck of cards. This means that the rulebook alone is not enough to play the game. You have to gt copies of these card decks as well. And since each model/faction you can choose from are special characters made by the same company you are somewhat stuck with them as well. A quick glance showed a lot of models that are somewhat special and not easily substituted by proxy models. This in itself makes the game system not very useful for our pirate campaign, but it does make for a very colorfull game. The card based combat is also very nice. Both combatants get a set of cards stating the various parts of the body you can target (head, torso, legs, arms etc). You get to choose a number of cards equal to your atttack value. The defender also chooses cards, but equal to his Defense value. Once chosen the attacker reveals the first location. When the defender has a same location card n his hand he gets to cancel that attack. For every card not cancelled in this way a hit gets through. If this is only one location a normal attack is resolved and damage is taken from the general stack of hitpoints. When more than one attack gets through there is the added bonus that one of the locations can be hit directly and the character has reduced stats for that location for the rest of the game. Since most characters excel at something that is related to one of their body locations this can be pretty interesting. Bluffing and guessing is also a nice aspect of this system.
Four people played this game, each with two figures. The object was to get a magical key and open a special magical treasure chest with it. The key and chest were located separately on the table, which was a very nice looking table filled with nice scenery. The key was guarded by some sea creature/pirate girl hybrid. The waters around the small island were the chest was seemed to contain a big beasty which had the nasty habit of dragging boats under water.
The game went along nice and fast paced and the games master encouraged strange ideas and solutions to get to the objectives. This resulted in shooting at pigs, which was thrown around subsequently and lots of swashbuckling actions. There was a shark with a taste for pirate queens and best of all there was backstabbing (my favorite kind of playing :-).
I ended up winning this game, with much tanks to my fellow player Jan. I hope to see him at our club in the future.
All in all a very entertaining demo and as such a nice game system (if you do not already play with another system) to play pirates with. Beautiful demo table and nice people as game hosts.
Lunch was served after this game. A nice selection of breads and such. Some warm bites as well. Lunch was included in the entry fee and enough time was kept between the second and third game to let everybody eat at a relaxed pace. No need to rush.
After lunch it was time for a game of All Quiet at the Martian Front, hosted by Anton (one of the players at my X-Wing Big Battle day). This game is based around the idea that the Martians who invaded earth in the book War of the Worlds return after their initial defeat (because of exposure to Earth-born viruses). They have fond a way to beat these viruses and launch a new attack. This results in lots of tripods walking around on Earth, which in turn get attacked by the armies of Earth. Tanks are steam driven and come in a lot of variaties. Some resemble normal tanks, others are more strange contraptions, either big moving fortresses or equipped with strange weapons such as a Tesla Canon. Infantry is effective as close combat units and artillery can fire over large distances.
The Martian Tripods have their own unique array of devastating weaponry to torment the pesky humans with.
The game mechanics are, such as lots of systems, a combination of familiar mechanics spiced up with some unique stuff for the specifics of the game’s background and story. It does not take long to get used to the basic rules of the game. Each unit has it’s own rules and tables in play, which makes it a bit more static when played for the first time. Once you get used to these the games should be more fast paced in my opinion. Fortunately demo games like these are led by people who have experience with the game and things run pretty smoothly.
I commanded the tripods in this game. Something I was confident about. Surely these small humans (20mm based game) were no match for the Martian superiority. Only the tanks could be troublesome. How wrong I was. Even the Martians could not anticipate the dice throwing powers of my opponent. In order to hit the tripods he needed mostly 9’s or 10’s on D10 throws. Something he had absolutely no trouble with. Hit after hit was scored in the first round. Once a tripod is hit it loses hitpoints/armourpoints. This in itself is not so much of a problem, a tripod can absorb some hits before crashing down. But with each hit a roll on a special damage table is made. And rolls of 9 and 10 are disastrous. Still on a roll, my opponent scored catastrophic explosion after catastrophic explosion until only two of my tripods were left standing after turn 1! The second turn I was able to do some damage to the infantry in front, but when another tripod went up in flames my chances of winning the scenario were done. I needed two tripods to reach the other side of the table, but only one was left standing. Even the game host was stunned by this result and opted that I got a new tripod who could emerge at my table side next movement turn. By that time my one remains tripod had opened up a corridor at one end of the table by destroying some tanks there. He was free to walk to the table edge. My reinforcement tripod was also able to use this corridor since all other tanks were to far away to do some real damage. Some shots were fired at the last Martian, but fortunately all missed. So I had two tripods at the other end of the table, but it stil did not feel like a victory looking at all the burning wrecks of our fellow Martians.
The story makes it a nice game. The models are a plus as well. The look of these tripods are very much seventies sci-fi. Not too much in the way of details, but very nice in shape and form. The game mechanics are good enough, but since our game was over pretty quick I am not able to judge the rules good enough. I have no real insight in game balance for instance. But I think I will give this game another go in the future.
Unfortunately I was still recovering from a very hard hitting case of the flu the week before and by this time was not feeling very well. I therefore had to forego the last game of Guildball and after I notified the game host I could not participate headed home. The day after I received a nice email from the host with lots of links to the games rules try out versions and an invitation to play a demo at another time with him. Very considerate!
I had a great day playing new games and meeting new people and old acquaintances. These gatherings of gamers are always a source of new inspiration and fun. Good organization contributes to this and next year I wil certainly be back (perhaps hosting a demo game myself).