Thursday, 16 August 2018

Coming Soon

I haven't been updating this blog for the past few days because I've been rather busy. My alter ego has a hectic couple of months coming up, with a ball, a trip across NSW for the annual Priscilla festival, the impending Frocktober charity event and finally a burlesque performance to be learned and rehearsed for September, so she's been occupying some of my time and attention.

I have, however, been devoting myself to some Gaslands. I'm not getting chance to play, but I have been working on some new vehicle builds. I have four cars undercoated and ready to paint, as well as some terrain pieces, but they have taken a back-seat to a bigger project. I'm hoping I will be able to break the back of this one over the weekend, but here's a sneaky, crypic preview of my largest vehicle build to date.

I've quite enjoyed putting this together so far, so I'm hoping that I can finish it with the same level of enthusiasm.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Gaslands Again

I volunteered to run Gaslands at the Gong Garage Gamers last night, and ended up with five players, three of whom had never played it before and a couple of whom hadn't read the rules. But despite the novices I wanted to try a 'full' game as much as possible, so I constructed six teams of two cars each using the sponsors and perks. This gave everyone a choice.

So we ended up with ten cars on the starting grid, in a figure-of-eight race. There were a mix of types, including a buggy and a couple of pick-ups, and a range of weaponry and team-styles.

Needless to say, the start was chaos, with vehicles bumping and bashing right from the start. Actual weaponry doesn't activate until the first gate has been passed, so there was no shooting.

Things started to spread out, but it was still chaotic. However some cars were approaching the first gate. In the centre the pink Woman King was rammed head-on by the big Bulls On Parade. Both vehicles took so much damage that they limped around on their last hit for a few moves before wrecking. Woman King managed to pass the first gate even, before a minor collision finished it off.

This was the last photo I got. In the background you can see the wrecked Woman King. But the key feature is Caesar's Back In Black who passed through the first gate, activated its guns, then turned and charged headlong into the pack with weapons blazing. The car in front of him was armed with a flamethrower and highly explosive. And the one next to him was equipped with and experimental (and also highly explosive) nuclear reactor.  A disaster was in the offing.

In fact the flamethrower survived the crash. As did Back In Black, but he fell to a passing shot from the spiky buggy Please Don't Touch that you can see on the left. And exploded. Amazingly the two volatile cars survived that as well.

Also in the background you can see my speedster, Perfect Day. And for him it was. I'd survived some gunnery from Caesar as I passed through the gate, but once through I was clear to start running the course. The carnage behind me left the first gate littered with wrecks, making it tricky to navigate, so I soon built up an unassailable lead.

I had a hairy moment when the flamethrower armed The Anarchist got on my tail, flipped and exploded, but I avoided serious damage from the ensuing spectacular fireball.

Gate 1 pretty much saw the demise of six of the ten vehicles. Caesar and Jason lost both of theirs, but Gary and John had to leave, so handed their survivors over. Jason made a bold attempt to catch my speedster with the nuclear-engined Stationary Traveller, but misjudged his template choice at the final moment and failed to line up the ram attack that would have ended my dreams of victory. He had to resort to gunfire instead, but my driver deftly evaded damage to cross the finish line for the win. Only three of the original ten vehicles survived the race.

This game was chaotic, but people picked up the mechanisms pretty quickly and seemed to enjoy themselves. The carnage at or before Gate 1 means that we didn't get much in the way of shooting; most vehicles capable of doing it crashed not long after getting the opportunity. To be fair my designs were pretty random, based on what I had to hand and with little regard to any specific team tactics. Hopefully as more people get the rules and design their own vehicles and teams we'll see some more cautious and considered play.

Having played races in all of the games so far it would be interesting to try some of the other scenarios, as these allow for different styles of play. They also rely more on the Audience Votes system, which we haven't tried so far.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Great Race

Although I am putting in some time on Gaslands these days, I'm also still reworking Machinas as well. In the past week I have come up with ways of streamlining the points system and have also rewritten how shooting works. The original rules have it reducing Speed, on point at a time, which never sat very well with me. I changed it so that vehicles took hits, which seemed logical, but did requite another trait to be tracked. I have now altered it so that it reduces the target's bonus dice pool. If the pool reaches zero then the target must save against their size or be wrecked. This still means larger vehicles are harder to destroy with shooting, but keeps things simpler in terms of bookkeeping.

I set up a six vehicle race over four laps, with each vehicle being built to equal points. I did emphasis gunnery, and used normal weapons, flamethrowers and missiles, as they each have their own quirks.

This was the starting-grid. From left to right, front to back: The Fountain Of Lamneth, Devil In My CarBlack Dog, Bad Blood, Jockey Full Of Bourbon and Dreamline.

And away they went. Although equipped for speed, Black Dog ended up in third place, with The Fountain Of Lamneth taking the lead and Devil In My Car second place. The big, slow Jockey Full Of Bourbon brought up the rear.

Black Dog tried to pass Devil In My Car, failing on the first straight, and then failing badly on the first curve. Devil In My Car lined up its rear-mounted flamethrower ...

... and Black Dog was destroyed. Devil In My Car achieved an incredibly fluky kill in the first half of the first lap.

Bad Blood and Dreamline both only narrowly avoided the burning wreckage of Black Dog.

Devil In My Car now tried for a second kill, deploying its fearsome spines against The Fountain Of Lamneth. But the yellow car held the lead.

There was more drama on the final bend of the first lap, when Dreamline lost traction on the curve and was smashed off the road by the armoured ute, Jockey Full Of Bourbon.

Into the second lap, only a quarter of the way through the race, and already two vehicles had been lost. Jockey Full Of Bourbon pushed Bad Blood into last place.

Meanwhile Devil In My Car made another attempt at the lead, and took it.

The Fountain Of Lamneth swerved, and lost second place to Jockey Full Of Bourbon.

They jostled for position throughout the second lap.

But it was Bad Blood who put on a burst of speed to take third place.

Jockey Full Of Bourbon evaded Devil In My Car's flamethrower, and tried to use its superior weight to ram the buggy off the road. The attempt met with no success.

Devil In My Car kept up a steady fire from the flamethrower, but Jockey Full Of Bourbon was well-protected with armour.

Bad Blood also had armour, but it didn't help against a volley of rockets from The Fountain Of Lamneth. This kill closed the third lap.

The Fountain Of Lamneth slipped into second place, and engaged in a gunnery duel with Devil In My Car, rockets against flamethrower.

Meanwhile Jockey Full Of Bourbon kept up the pressure from third place.

The three survivors entered the back straight. The Fountain Of Lamneth put on a burst of speed ...

... and edged into the lead.

But Devil In My Car had some steam left as well, and quickly recaptured first place.

The Fountain Of Lamneth tried another pass, but misjudged it, ended up in the flamethrower's sights, and was incinerated. You'll have to take my word for it, as I forgot to take a photo of this particularly dramatic moment.

This now left the big armoured ute facing off against the more agile buggy. Maybe it was the time taken to fire that final shot, but Devil In My Car lost ground to Jockey Full Of Bourbon.

Coming out of the final bend and into the last straight Devil In My Car piled on the speed. But it wasn't enough!

A win for Jockey Full Of Bourbon.

There was plenty of drama in this race, especially with the high casualty rate. Some of this was caused by the changes to the way shooting works, although two kills were caused by rolls at the extreme ends of the bell curves - both target and shooter roll handfuls of dice looking for successes and comparing the difference, and in both cases the target got no successes whilst the firer got well above the average. In all cases the target then failed their save roll.

I can see more races like this in my future.

Friday, 3 August 2018

King And Parliament

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a fan of gridded games, especially The Portable Wargame, and I've devoted time recently to adapting it for the English Civil War. So I was keen to play King and Parliament when it was on offer as a game yesterday. King and Parliament is the ECW adaptation of the ancients rules To The Strongest; grid-based and with relatively simple mechanisms, designed to give a quick, smooth game.

Gary set up the Montgomery 1644 scenario from the book for us and adjudicated whilst Caesar took the Parliamentarian forces and I took the Royalists.

The grid is very subtle, but easy to use. You can just see an intersection to the front-right of this unit of dashing Royalist horse.

Activation of units in King and Parliament is by playing cards. You play a card to do something with a unit; generally you need anything better than a one (Ace) at the start, but there are some modifiers. You can keep activating a unit within a turn, but each attempt needs a result higher than the score for the previous activation. Thus if you make your first activation with a 9, you're unlikely to get a second action. If a unit in a brigade fails an activation, then all activations for the brigade cease, so you have to pick the order you do things carefully.

Anyway, we started off by both getting stuck in with our cavalry. Combat also uses playing cards; the better position you are in the more cards you draw, and you need cards above a certain value to hit. The target unit then gets to save the hits, also by drawing cards.

The card draws are fast and furious.

Units generally take two or three hits. They can evaporate quickly.

Caesar got lucky early on and had foraging cavalry return on my right flank. Flank attacks are nasty - you get double the number of cards, and the enemy unit doesn't fight back.

Cavalry also pursue and have to be rallied. Our cavalry action saw about two-thirds of our horse eliminated, whilst the survivors chased around pursuing stragglers. That seemed to be a cue for the foot to get stuck in.

The game uses tokens to track ammunition (for foot and horse) and dash (which allows horse to do proper charges). These were less fiddly to use than they initially looked. For foot the ammunition is a neat mechanism; units are generally better off shooting the enemy whilst they have the ammunition to do it, hoping to disorder them. A unit with no ammunition can still shoot, but it's less effective than simply charging. So basically foot the foot engage in a firefight for a couple of turns, then switch to cold-steel and clubbed muskets.

My foot neither shot nor charged, since I failed to activate any of the units three turns in a row.

Caesar did a little better, and took out one of my foot units with a salvee charge - combined fire and attack. Very nasty. This allowed him to turn my left whilst his cavalry, returned from pursuit, turned my right.

So that was it for the Royalists. Their horse did OK, and the supporting troops put on a good show, but the main foot brigade suffered from inertia and paid the price.

We loved this game. The mechanisms were very simple to pick up and, whilst I can see from a cursory glance at the rules, we missed a few modifiers here and there, we were basically playing the game smoothly and confidently after a turn or two. The chrome isn't overwhelming, but there's enough period flavour to satisfy our group who are, it has to be said, ECW newbies for the most part. I initially had a concern that it was designed for very big battles, and I can see that it would cope with them admirably. But it looks like it will scale down quite happily to cover most popular actions.

This is a game we'll be trying again.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Return To Wacky Raceland

Having played a Wacky Race using Gaslands, I set up the same vehicles for a race using Machinas last night. I ran three laps, using a three-lane track with an inner and outer shoulder lane as well. The vehicles were built to equal points, but using some changes which I hope will streamline how vehicles are designed under my current house-rules. So it was a test game of sorts.

From back to front:

Dick Dastardly had wheel-spikes and a range of dirty tricks to make him more difficult to pass.
The Anthill Mob were equipped with a big gun and caltrops, plus the option of a surprising burst of speed.
Peter Perfect was all about his powerful engine and some cool driving.
Penelope Pitstop was more of an all-rounder, with a decent engine, a ram and some cunning strategies.

And they're off! Penelope Pitstop took the lead, closely tailed by Peter Perfect. The Anthill Mob took third place, and Dick Dastardly bided his time at the rear.

I played all vehicles using a mix of AI and common sense.

The positions held on the first straights, but the Anthill Mob took second place from Peter Perfect on the first turn where his mighty engine was no advantage to him.

They then slipped to the inside, and engaged Penelope Pitstop with their machine-gun, putting a few holes in her car.

She dropped back, giving them the lead. Seeing an opportunity, Peter Perfect overtook her as well, pushing her back into third place.

Dick Dastardly failed to overtake her on the inside ...

... but a second attempt on the final bend of the first lap was more successful. He closed in with his savage scythes ...

... and Penelope Pitstop was wrecked.

The first straight of the second lap saw Peter Perfect take the lead.

The other two racers pushed him hard, but he held them off again ...

... and again.

And again. He even put a bullet or two into Dick Dastardly's vehicle.

This was the position going into the final lap.

Dick Dastardly erred on the side of caution for the first part of the lap, but came under pressure from the Anthill Mob, who consistently evaded his caltrops and oil-slicks.

At this stage I was joined by the latest addition to our family, Miller.

Into the final bend and straight, and Peter Perfect was holding a steady lead. Dick Dastardly made one more attempt to take first place, but failed.

On the final straight The Anthill Mob came up on the outside ...

... and whilst they couldn't hope to catch Peter Perfect they just edged across the finish line ahead of Dastardly and Muttley to take second place.

Drat, and double drat!

The survivors!

Even running solo at the end of a long day this took no more than 90 minutes to play, including putting together the stats for the cars. The changes I've made seemed to mostly play out OK; I need to make a few refinements to how personal weapons operate, but other systems I've had issues with in the past seemed to play out OK with the changes I've made to them.

A pity about poor Penelope Pitstop though.

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