various new games

Hi all, back again, hopefully now on a more regular basis.

Lately I have had some difficulties finding the time to write some more articles (rather, I had time, but had to spend it to more pressing matters). I did try to attend our regular Friday-evening club events as much as I could, because playing the games we love with nice people is what this hobby is about. So I do have some pictures of a few games we played in these past weeks/months.

First off is a game of Dead Man’s Hand Apocalypse. Based on the original DMH rules, but with a bit of post-apocalyptic mayhem thrown in. We played with these adapted rules before so Rob made a new scenario in which our gangs of motorized maniacs had to fight some aliens who had landed on earth. We could earn victory points by killing aliens, big stomping robots, huge mutated creatures and, off course, each other.

   

We got teamed up in gangs of two and both teams would start at opposite table edges. We eagerly raced forwards to engage the alien manace, perhaps somewhat overly enthusiastic. It certainly drew a lot of attention. Matthijs had some mutant nastiness to attend to while my Tallarn/Escher combo got surrounded by aliens footsloggers and a big robot to boot.

   

At the other end of the table both teams were somewhat more reluctant to proceed forwards. Probably a much safer strategy, but in due time they also had to deal with lots of aliens yelling ‘Ack-Ack’ in a very threatening way. In the meantime I frantically tried to destroy the big robot and a mutant at the same time.

   

Shots went to and fro and close combat ensued on several parts of the table. Fortunate out-of-ammo rolls for the aliens saved my hide here and there and while members of Matthijs’ team tried to kill an alien leader who went hiding in the diner his big truck got hi-jacked.

   

In the end my whole team was vaporized and Matthijs had just one warrior left. But we still won the day over the other teams (who had considerably more warriors left on the table) because we had managed to kill the robot and a few mute beasts. Along with alien kills we won by just 1 point of difference, but still. We won!

The simplicity of the Dead Man’s Hand rules make them very much applicable to other settings then just the Wild West. With a few adjustments and some additions they make for easy to play and fast paced skirmish games.

 

Two weeks later I got invited to a game of ‘In Her Majesty’s Name’. This is a ruleset with a steampunk-like setting in Victorian England. The scenario Jack had made involved a big chest of money intended as salary for the local enforcers. It was held in a barn and guarded by some suspiciously German-looking soldiers. 4 gangs had other plans for the money. The gangs were divided in two teams with my soldiers picking side with some brawlers from the street. We would face men from the Ottoman Empire who had also found some local street gang to collaborate with.

 

Again, this is a skirmish game system that is not to difficult to learn. It has a basic idea of movement, shooing and close combat together with some unique ideas. In this case there is a certain roll-off for successes. As it was several weeks ago that we played the precise mechanics do not easily come to mind, but I do remember liking it. Another thing I liked was the special rule my riflemen had of concentrating fire. So when the Ottomans advanced on my side of the table I just had to try this manner of shooting. It was very effective I may say.

  

So while I pinned down most of the fighters with the red fezzes and killing some of them in the process my team-mate advanced on the barn. It all ended with the street brawlers doing what they do best; close combat with the guards and each other while grappling for the big chest of money. In the unlikely event that the gangers from the other side would emerge from the barn with the money I had my riflemen take position so that they could immediately gun them down.

     

I can’t really remember which side won in the end. I know we had a very good chance of winning, but something might have come up that fouled our plans… Let’s just say it was a very enjoyable game and a nice rules set to play with. Although not extremely original in it’s basic form it had enough unique features to set it aside from other rules sets.

 

Two weeks later we returned to the alien theme again when I played a game of ‘Mars Attacks’ with Almer. This is a themed miniature game which is played on a more fixed board in such that it uses a grid where your models can move over. The basic set has the rulebook and several scenarios to play. These have a cinematic storyline when played in the right sequence. So the first scenario is a shootout between the soldiers of Earth and some freshly landed alien soldiers. You can win by simply destroying your opponent or by getting enough objective markers which are randomly distributed on the board. Both kills and markers get you points and the player who reaches a certain amount of points first wins the scenario.

    

Both sides have stats listed in the book. Plain and simple and only covering half of a page. In addition to that each player receives four random cards. These are tactical actions you can deploy during the game and range from orbital attacks to sustained fire and such. These cards are limited and you have to employ them at the best moment. At the end of each turn you can get new cards, but while they get distributed there is also a chance that you pull an event card. Now these can really screw with your tactics. They are very much inspired by the original Mars Attacks setting and can wreak havoc across the board. A stampede of burning cows or a thrown around car in random directions can wipe out more of your models than you would like and completely turn the advantage in the game. While this might sound as a big imbalance to the game (and quite frankly is exactly that) these events are so hilarious in itself that I for one do not care about the outcome of the game anymore. Just sit back and enjoy the random mayhem as if you are watching the movie.
This game is quite entertaining, but I do believe that after playing about ten games or so it can get a bit ‘boring’. Luckily there are some expansion sets that should keep the entertainment going. The alien models themselves are reason enough to want to buy this game though. So far I have been able to withhold myself from a purchase…

 

Last friday Jan-Willem invited me to try the ‘Fist Full of Kung-Fu’ rules set. Since I decided to try my hand at making a rules set of my own I have come up with a few notes on several parts of the game that I want to do somewhat different. One of the things I would like to make more interesting is the close combat phase. Instead of just rolling some dice, add and subtract some numbers, compare the result and then decide who won I would like it to be a bit more cinematic. I want players to be more connected to what actually happens in the fight. For that reason Jan-Willem offered to play a game of Fistful of Kung-Fu because it has a somewhat different way of dealing with close combat results. It still depends on rolling dice and modifiers, but the result of the combat is more cinematic. If you win a combat, the higher the difference between the two outcomes determines what dramatic effect takes place. This can vary from a simple ‘knocked down’ to being smashed around and get thrown into ‘props’ which then get ‘activated’. Props are basically parts of the scenery. So when your model gets slammed into an aquarium for instance the prop will get activated. Players decide what the actual activation looks like. In the case of the aquarium the model might be slammed right through it, spilling the water and fish all over the floor. This in turn wil cause the floor to become slippery. (And yes, ‘slippery floors’ are covered in the rules.). To make the game even more cinematic your team is always lead by a protagonist (i.e. The Hero or The Bad Guy) and he/she can be assisted by a secondary character, but the rest is made up of ‘extra’s’. These extra’s are exactly what they would be in a movie, namely cannon fodder. The story revolves around the hero, who can do very heroic stuff.
In this scenario I played a heroic cop who led a group of SWAT extra’s and some other cops into a villa where a group of outlaws dwelled. The bodyguard of their hero needed to be captured and led away for interrogation since he might have evidence to condemn their leader. I used the SWAT team to assault the back door and distract the villains from the fact that my hero and some other cops wanted to use the front gate and snatch the culprit somewhat unseen.

      

All went pretty well in the initial phases of the game. The SWAT team kicked in the door and my hero moved towards the front gate. Unfortunately the SWAT team got bogged up at the door because of gunfire. But a lot of the gangsters started to move towards them because they were the larger group. The cop and veteran cop who accompanied the hero advanced towards the gate while the hero himself took a heroic jump onto the roof, gaining a perfect view on the inner compound where he spotted just three gangsters.

 

The thing that can completely turn the tide in this game is the way you activate models. In your turn you can activate all your models, but you must throw the dice to see how many actions he gets and how many he fails. For each fail the hero from the other side gets a chance to take a reaction. This means that your hero gets to do quite a lot of stuff whilst it is not your turn. So by the time my regular cops had broken the front gate my hero had already shot two of the gangers in the inner compound and leapt down to get more close to the action. And while my worthy opponent had a lot of good tactics on his mind his dice rolls were dramatic to say the least. I have not seen someone other than myself roll so many 1’s in a single game.

   

The SWAT team was still messing things up on their side, but fortunately kept the villains occupied while my hero and cops went on a rampage, killing and disarming gangers left and right.

  

With the bodyguard in sight and most of the ganger dead on the floor I could only loose this game if I had some real misfortune… and guess what… The Bad Guy who was used to rolling 1’s now had some very serious luck and got some reactions going which not only killed my hero and his cops (who already had the bodyguard on the ground), but also scared away the remaining SWAT members on the premises. So the Bad Guy won… but at least I killed of most of his gang.

 

Fits Full of Kung-Fu has some nice game mechanics such as the way of activating and chances of reactions. Something which later returned in the rules set of Rogue Stars. The cinematic ways of the combat results and actions that can be done by the heroes is also something nice and keeps the game very entertaining and narrative. I learned lots from all of the four games which might help me develop my own rules. And each game was also very enjoyable to play, so I call this a win-win situation.

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