Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wasteland Raiders: Smoke on the Water

This is the fourth battle in the Wasteland Raiders campaign.

The human party currently consists of Steve [Q3+ C3, Champion, sharpshooter, pistol, SMG], Keith [Q3+ C3, Champion, savage, NBC suit, flamethrower], Alex [Q3+ C2, HtH Specialist, frenzy drug, poison antidote, shotgun] and Wanda [Q3+ C2, Savage, laser pistol]. They have 12 food points and 2 energy cells (after consuming last week's upkeep.)

The mutant party this time was: Maniac [Q4+ C3 Danger sense, psychometry, photon grenade], Kobra [Q3+ C3 Leader, slippery, superior touch, electrical gun], Hawk [Q4+ C4 Champion, flying, hero, laser rifle], Kreep [Q4+ C3 Forester, phobia (humans), shotgun], and Backup [Q4+ C3 Doppelganger, steadfast, pistol]

The opposing forces. The mutant combo of a flying hero and a doppleganger made a tough team.
 I rolled for the next scenario on the campaign: Smoke on the Water. This is a meeting engagement where the opposing forces fight for a well or body of clean water. In this case, based on the props I had, it was an old water pumping station. Since one of the mutants had the Forester skill, I used a number of forest patches as obstacles (they slow movement and block line of sight across them.)

The strategy for the humans was to have Steve, Keith and Wanda spread and fire their weapons from a distance. Alex would act as a backup for Wanda, since she would be more exposed. The mutants would move in three groups: Kobra and Maniac advancing on the left, Kreep trying to launch an ambush from the forest on the right and Hawk and Backup (copying Hawk's abilities) would fly around, trying to find targets.

Game setup
In the first few turns both forces maneuvered to find a good spot in cover. The mutants were plagued with bad rolls and yet Kreep managed to get in position and fire at Alex, knocking him down with an aimed shot.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Last Fortress

Recently, I received another brazilian board game that was produced through crowdfunding. "A Última Fortaleza" (or The Last Fortress) is a cooperative and competitive game for three players, who control the armies of evil -- green skins, undead and a dragon with a cult -- in their last stand against the forces of light.

It takes a table at least 3' x 4' to fit all components comfortably.
Gameplay is inspired by "tower defense" games, as well as other strategy titles. Over a maximum of eight turns, players must construct buildings and produce units to mine resources and fight the invaders. Each turn, more invaders enter the map and all of them move towards the fortress.

While players must cooperate to survive, at most one of them will be the winner -- either the one who completes their army's objective or the one with the most influence. On the other hand, defeat is collective. For instance, if the leader of one army gets killed, or the fortress is completely destroyed, all players lose.

There are also other game modes but in my opinion this one is the most interesting. A "campaign mode" is scheduled to be released in the upcoming months, offering the possibility of solo play.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Last weekend I spent some time reading and having fun with The Traveller Book. Released in 1982, this classic Traveller compilation predates my first contact with RPGs by almost a decade. Having read about how inviting to solo play this system was, I got the PDF some time ago but I had not made anything with it yet. It is a scan of the printed book and some pages are a bit blurred but readable. So after skimming over the book I went on to perform some of the suggested "Basic Traveller Activities" (p.122) -- in this case, creating characters.

Starting with a blank slate, then adding some rolls to find out the character's fate. [source: The Traveller Book]
My first character, with reasonable strength and dexterity and good intelligence and education scores died during his first term of service in the army. The title of this post is the "UPP notation" of the characteristics of my first surviving character, who despite the low dexterity and intelligence scores, served two terms in the army to raise to the rank of captain. UPP (universal personality profile) notation lists the character's attributes (strength, dexterity, endurance, intelligence, education and social standing) as hexadecimal numbers.

Jake Maxwell, 52A347, age 26, Captain (Army)
Skills: Rifle-1, SMG-1, Gambling-1, Body Pistol-1, Dagger-1
Possessions: 10,000 Cr, High Passage

Afterwards I created two more characters:

Mark Sanders, 7877D4, age 26, served on the Navy
Skills: Blade-1, Vacc Suit-1
Possessions: 50,000 Cr

Julie Briggs, 735856, age 30, 4th Officer (Merchant)
Skills: Vacc Suit-2, Medical-1, Body Pistol-1, Electronics-1
Possessions: 80,000 Cr, Low Passage

Character creation assumes that characters start at the age of 18. The six attributes are rolled and then the character may attempt to enlist on one of six services (navy, army, marines, merchants, scouts and other). Failure to enlist results in being drafted into a random service. After this, characters may serve one or more four-year terms, during which they might improve skills and training, go up in ranks and so on. They might also get killed in service. Provided this does not happen, at the end of a term of service the character may muster out, collect some benefits and go on to adventure.

"Mass Effect" anyone? [source: The Traveller Book, p.28]
It is fun to see this "simulation" approach to character creation, something that other games would later adopt (Fuzion and Blue Planet come to mind.) While it is miles away from more recent story-driven role-playing game trends, it does provide a "game within the game" that may itself serve as a procedural source of other character stories.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

MapTool 1.4

MapTool 1.4 was released five days ago but I only found out yesterday. Besides a lot of infrastructure changes that will probably impact future versions, they have added isometric maps. Now it is possible to play in "fake 3D" views which I think will be mostly useful for dungeon crawls.

Moving a flat token in the new isometric view. There is also support to tokens that could look like miniatures standing on the map, but I have not created any yet.

As explained in the forum thread about the new feature, to use the isometric view you should configure the map to use the isometric grid, then use the Flip: Isometric Plane option on the flat objects and tokens that you add to the map. Tokens representing miniatures can be set to the new Figure shape.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Solitaire Games on Your Table is a BoardGameGeek thread where people tell about the board games they have been playing solo. There are some fun reports and it is also a good source of suggestions for games that can be played alone.

One of the games that is often mentioned is Rallyman, a board game simulation of rally races for up to four players. You are trying to make the shortest time, by taking risks while speeding over bumps and sliding on curves. A regular game consists of completing three tracks or "special stages", which are built by using the modular board. You can combine dirt and snow-covered tracks of different lengths. I got this game last weekend and played a few races.

Two boards combined to make some tracks. The reverse side has snow-covered tracks.
Playing Rallyman solo involves setting up a track and trying to make the best time possible. This will require some luck because, for each movement you take, you must roll a die that may land on a "danger" face. Accumulating three of those in a turn causes you to lose control of the car, which may cause damage or even make you abandon the race. Curves also have speed limits and if you go above them, you lose control. Overall, there is a good "simulation" feel of speeding up and slowing down the car as you move around, and making tight curves or sliding your way around them. For those who are curious, a revised manual of the game can also be found on this link on BoardGameGeek.

Making a move: each die rolled equals moving one space.
The production quality of the game is also very high. The boards and other pieces are made of very thick cardboard, the thickness of the cards is also great and the miniature cars look good. My only complaint is that the dice are not etched but rather painted (and thus might wear with time).

Rallyman offers a good solo challenge, and the combination of short set-up time and modular board means it can be played often: if I do not have much time, I can just make a single track instead of a regular race comprised of three tracks. I also do not see a reason why I could not draw new tracks on a large sheet of paper, if I ever come to a situation when the standard tracks are not challenging anymore.