Sunday, 31 May 2015

Inspired By ...

... Fury Road!

I have a couple of vehicle projects on the go inspired by the latest Mad max film, and I'm sure they;ll get posted here once they're completed, but here's one that is just at the 'Wondering How To Start' stage. I'm not even sure how Machinas will cover it yet. But I it will, even if I have to batter the rules into submission in order to do so.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you - the excavator on a truck!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Alternative Size Rules for Machinas

I have recently been playing around with the vehicle size and weight rules on Machinas, looking to streamline them and make the penalties and advantages consistent and easier to remember. Off the back of it I also ended up changing the way vehicles take damage from Shooting, removing an oddity where faster vehicles were harder to destroy and adding in the chance of knocking out weapons and defences on opposing vehicles. I am still testing them, but I think that the basics are good to go, so am posting them here for comment and criticism.

Vehicles have a size from 1-6:

1 - Bikes
2 - Buggies, Sports Cars, Subcompacts
3 - Sedans or similar. This is the size I use for standard games.
4 - Large pickups, Vans
5 - Bus or Camper Van
6 - Trucks

A vehicle can carry weight equal to twice its size. The penalties for exceeding this are as given in Machinas


You'll notice a column for Hits. I felt that Shooting causing Speed loss and Speed therefore equating to a vehicles capacity to take damage didn't really work for me. So now Shooting no longer causes direct Speed loss. Instead 2+ Successes on the Shooting table cause a loss of Hits.

The more Successes you score, the more Hits you score - if you score more Successes than the target you score Hits equal to the difference -1. So +2 Successes scores 1 Hit, +3 Successes scores 2 Hits and so on.

When a vehicle has lost at least half of its Hits then it is damaged and automatically suffers a -1 Success on all Passing attempts. Then roll 1D6 for each 'system' on the vehicle - on a 1-3 that system is considered lost for the rest of the game. 'Systems' are any Car Feature, Weapon or Defence which has a positive cost. In addition all vehicles have an Engine system; on a 1-3 that system is damaged and the vehicle suffers and additional -1 Success on all Passing attempts.

Example: A van can take 5 Hits and has a Grenade Launcher and Sloped Armour. It takes fire and the attacker scores +2 Successes on the Shooting table, so the van suffers 1 Hit. It has 4 remaining, so isn't considered damaged. A second shot scored +3 Successes on the Shooting table, however, so the van suffers 2 more hits. It has now taken 3 of its 5 hits, so is considered damaged. It now automatically suffers -1 Success on any passing attempt. In addition it rolls a D6 for the Grenade Launcher and Sloped Armour, losing each on a 1-3. Finally it rolls an additional D6, and receives a second -1 on all passing attempts if the score is 1-3.

When a vehicle reaches zero Hits it crashes as described on the Shooting Table.

You'll notice that sports cars and subcompact cars operate the same, unlike how they work in Machinas. To this end I have added a new Car Feature:

Underpowered: Vehicle gets -1D6 in all passing attempts - Cost -1

So a sports car is considered the 'default' Size 2 vehicle, whereas a sub-compact is the underpowered version; only as good at passing as a sedan, but more vulnerable to bashing. The trait, however, can be applied anywhere on the scale rather than just having a special rule to cover subcompact cars; I have it earmarked for a large vehicle I'm currently working on, for example.

Comments: There's less granularity in the sizes of vehicles than those described in Machinas, but more consistency and logic in how things are applied. I did try and come up with a means by which smaller vehicles couldn't exceed weight capacity as readily as larger ones, but couldn't get it to work, so abandoned it. You'l notice that I have dropped the Control Roll modifiers for vehicle size. This is basically because it didn't make sense to me that a bike was more able to survive the Box of Nails attack than a truck - if anything it would be other other way around. I have assumed that the ability of smaller vehicles to avoid things which cause loss of control is offset by the ability of larger vehicles to just plough through those things, so the roll is always made at the same odds, regardless of size. Small vehicles are now vulnerable to shooting as well as bashing, although it is, of course, generally harder to line up shots on them because of their passing bonus. Conversely getting a shot on a big vehicle is easy, but it takes several hits before the vehicle will notice.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Boxers On A Thursday Night

I had my Boxers and Foreign Devils out again last night for a game of HOTT against Geoff. In the first game I took the Boxers and Geoff ran the Foreign Devils.

The Foreigners set up based on a hill - Russians and Japanese on their left, with Americans and Italians defending their artillery.

The Boxers charged. Despite the depth of the bases, their army is mostly Warband. When the attack hit the Russians and Japanese held off charge after charge.

The Peking Boxers and the Red Lantern attacked the Foreigners' right, which was covered by a Royal Navy landing party and the Bengal lancers.

The Foreign Devil himself, Bishop Favier, went into the attack against the Peking Boxers, supported by the lancers

Destroying them, he turned his attention to the Red Lantern, killing her and giving the Foreign Devils the victory.

In the second game I took the Foreign Devils.

The battle centered around a hill. Unfortunately despite the uphill advantage the Devils found the Boxer charge hard to resist, and having their lancers shot down by the Chinese regular army contingent didn't help either.

Only a group of magic-resisting naked women resisted the Chinese attack (how often do you get to write that, eh?)

The Italians and Americans seemed unable to make an impression on the Peking Boxers on the other flank. The game ended in a victory for the Boxers, and another defeat for me.

I'm not sure I've won a game of HOTT this year.

On another table Gary and Caesar played the Game Which Cannot Be Named. It's ancients - that's all I'll say.

There was also a 24 element per side DBA game I didn't get any pictures of. And by the time Peter and Caesar pitted Burgundians and Tudor Rebel English against each other in a basic 12 element game, my phone was out of power, so I couldn't take any pictures.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Miss Murder's Monday

Meet Miss Murder. This is the car I decided to use in my latest Machinas road chase. She has a grenade-launcher plus several boxes of big spiky nails which can be dropped to discourage overtaking.

The initial pursuers consisted of a motorcycle, a car with a flamethrower and a ram-car. The motorcyclist got in an early shot with a molotov cocktail, but it had no effect. Otherwise we can discount al three of these vehicles - indeed the first two hit obstacles on the road, and crashed, which would have left the ram-car on its own except ...

... a gun-armed car also joined the chase, and ran me close.

I tried to bash it out of the race, but couldn't quite manage it.

The ram-car seemed happy to sit back and accumulate bonus dice, which it never used. Eventually it withdrew from the chase, having never really set itself up for a decent attack. A good job really.

The gun car kept up the pursuit, whist I tried my best to avoid being shot at. However when it finally got a chance to shoot, the in-game AI decided to have the vehicle pass me instead.

Being in front extended the chase, of course, but it soon decided to try and drop back to sit behind me again. Failing, I got a clear shot at it with the grenade launcher...

... then, as it wobbled over the road, severely damaged, I put in a second shot, and it crashed.

Unfortunately another bike had joined the pursuit. It moved in for a pass, molotov cocktail at the ready ...

... but I had one box of nails left, and the motorcyclist rolled ... badly.

Miss Murder survived to fight another day. The toll was two vehicles taken out because they failed to negotiate obstacles on the road, one that chose to drop out voluntarily and two straight kills for the driver of Miss Murder.

I played the AI more sensibly this time, with shooting and bashing being almost the sole option for most vehicles if they won a challenge. I also put some limits on NPC cars spending precious bonus dice just passing each other; I set things such that they would generally only 'choose' to spend dice if  their move could bring them into a position to challenge my vehicle that turn. When passing each other, no vehicle would contest the passing of another, although I rather like the idea of a multi-player road chase, with one payer being pursued and several other player competing to see who can get the kill; there may be some additional competition there.

I tried a damage system for the weapons fire which had vehicles taking hits rather than just losing speed, with a threshold check on speed and all weapon and car systems at half-damage. I still need to work on this, and will probably try it out in a race rather than another chase.

I did buy some more vehicles today (not that I've converted or painted any of the ones of bought in the past nine months yet). But showcasing them will be for another post.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Mad Through The Darkness

'Mad Through The Darkness' is a display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales of artworks by nine Australian artists that are either of or about the Great War. The artists range from official war-artists, through serving soldiers, to men who visited the battlefields after the war or were inspired by the experiences of others. It consists of paintings, prints and sketches of a variety of sizes and in a range of media. We visited this exhibition today, and I thought I'd showcase just a few of the pictures.

'The Enemy In Sight' from 1916 is by Septimus Power who was acclaimed for his wartime depictions of horses in action. He served as a war artist on the Western Front, but was later commissioned to paint a series of works depicting the campaigns of the Light Horse in the Middle East.

Here's a closeup of one of the troopers.

And here's my wife and daughter posing in front of it. They waited very patiently whilst I took my photos.

We all liked 'The Pigeon Loft' (1917) by Fred Leist, both because of the execution and because of the subject. The picture shows a courier about to depart from a mobile messenger pigeon loft behind the lines, with a basket of pigeons for the front line.

Here's a closeup of the motorcyclist.

For terrain buffs, here's 'The Road To Jericho', painted by George W. Lambert in 1918.

And as a contrast this is 'Villers-Brettoneux' by Arthur Streeton, painted after the key battle of 1918. This painting is due to be restored to mark the centenary of the battle.

The background detail is simple but effective. Here's some stretcher-bearers.

And in the distance, the village itself. I loved the colours and texture of this painting.

This striking portrait is 'The Smiling Sister (Miss Helen Lawson)' painted in 1915 by George W. Lambert (who did the Jericho picture above). Lambert has enjoyed some success as a portrait painter, especially of women, in London before the War.

Here's Miss Lawson's smile.

Finally a more modern work - 'The Galaxy' by Sidney Nolan (1956-57), which was inspired by a visit to the Dardanelles, scene of the Gallipoli landings. Part of a series it depicts shadowy figures of dead soldiers projecting into the future.

The exhibition continues until 11th October 2015.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Bus Trip

We went to see 'Mad Max: Fury Road' last night and it was everything I hoped for, and more. Mind you, I wet with low expectations, so having them exceeded wasn't going to be hard, but it more than lived up to the very favourable reviews it's been getting.

I came away with loads of ideas for things I can do to model cars to use in Machinas, although I also came away with a view that my efforts so far have been paltry compared to some of the vehicles in the film.

Anyway, I decided to try another road-chase today, mostly to try out some tweaks to the AI for NPCs and also to try out some modifications I'm looking at to the way vehicles are classified in terms of weight and take damage from shooting.

I ran my Big School Bus. It's slow, but heavily armoured and fitted with machine-guns and a big spiky ram-plate.

I randomly selected some pursuers, and this is what I got. The two cars are gun-armed, with one being fast and the other armoured. The bike is also fast, and the rider has molotov cocktails. I'm still using my improvised paper bikes, because the ones I ordered haven't arrived yet.

The chase is on!

All of the pursuers moved out to pass the bus.

The lead car lined up its quad machine-guns, and bullets raked the length of the bus.

The bus's armour prevented any serious damage, but the bus swerved and its attacker was now ahead of it.

The other car, and the bike, also passed the bus, leaving me with the strange situation of being the pursued vehicle, but being at the back of the pack. However this position would lengthen the chase, making it more likely that other vehicles would join.

Some changes of position in the pursuers saw the grey car in front of me, so I piled on the speed and moved into the attack.

Big metal spikes tore down the length of the car ...

... and it was out of the chase.

I sat behind the attackers as the jostled for position. The bus is too slow to really make a serious attempt to pass on a straight, and the road didn't generate any curves. Neither the car nor the bike showed any inclination to drop back either; they were obviously playing for time, hoping for reinforcements.

A near miss.

We kept running. No reinforcements appeared.

The car gave up the chase.

The bike swerved, and I almost ran into the back of it in a savage display of the lack of scale of some of my vehicles.

We scraped as the bike ran down my side.

And I ended up in front.

Gunning his engine the bike moved into the attack, but in a perfect display of how fickle the game's AI can be he chose to pass me rather than hurl a molotov cocktail ...

... and ended up back in front.

He the skidded, and we almost went through the whole process again. However the bike maintained control and our positions were maintained.

Frustrated, the bike ran away ...

Leaving me to continue my journey in peace.

The pursuers were unlucky not to get any reinforcing vehicles, despite the chase running for several turns longer that it would have normally done. Their AI-chosen tactics of maintaining a position in front of me, rather than dropping back, didn't help either.

I still need to tweak the chase mechanisms in Machinas, as the games don't seem to flow as well as the races. The rules for dropping back become more important, for example, but they aren't very well-defined and don't work that logically. I tried a second game with slightly modified vehicle responses, and that played a little better. But owing the the bashing and shooting results including the target dropping back a space I still ended up with most of the vehicles in front of me as they closed up from behind, shot or bashed me, the swept past. Once in front they seemed incapable of forcing me to pass them.

I'll get there though; the position mechanisms in Machinas are too good not to be used for this kind of game. It's just building the right rules around them that's tricky.
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