Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween and zombies

Today I played a zombies game for Halloween. The rules are based on All Things Zombie, with some ideas from the "I, Zombie" supplement and also from the "Trick or T(h)reat" mission from Zombicide.

Two survivors, Jack (rep 5 star) and Stan (rep 4), both carrying shotguns, are looking for supplies an abandoned neighborhood. What they do not know is that a mutated zombie is also lurking around. There are six buildings in the map and upon entering them a card is drawn: a number means the building is empty; a face card means supplies have been found; the ace means the mutant zombie appears.
From left to right: Jack, the Muant Zombie and Stan. Shotguns are a blessing and a curse in All Things Zombie, as they can draw a lot of undead after each shot.
The mutant zombie has Rep 4, can move 8" (but cannot fast move) and activates after all normal zombies. When active, it moves towards the closest target. It automatically defeats zombies in melee, and rolls 4 dice when fighting survivors. It cannot be defeated; when an "out of the fight" or "obviously dead" result is rolled, it is stunned and must pass 2d6 when next active to recover.

To win, the survivors have to find at least two supply cards and get away from the board. Here is the initial setup, already with the first zombies placed.
Surrounded by zombies!
Initially, Jack and Stan fired their weapons at the zombies to their left and right, destroying four of them. This attracted more zombies and they had to fight some in melee but after a couple of turns, they managed to enter the first building, only to find it empty. The second building revealed the Mutant Zombie, but luckily they activated first and moved away from it.

The two survivors reached the third building but the mutant also reached them. Stan was taken out of the fight and Jack entered the building. Inside, he fought the mutant and stunned it, then escaped with the supplies and also carried Stan.

Jack won the melee by a single success...
Since the mutant failed its recovery rolls, Jack entered another building, finding more supplies. Later, the mutant zombie resumed chasing him, but he was already close to the exit.

This was a quick and simple game. To make the scenario more challenging, I would require the survivors to leave the board by the same edge they entered.

Today I also managed to paint and build some miniatures but that will be the subject of other posts.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

300 posts!

With the post from tuesday, this blog reached the mark of 300 published posts, in a little less than five years! I will leave a summary of post contents and frequency to the end of the year (or maybe the next anniversary of the blog.)

For the curious, post #100 was Trick or Treat, a halloween scenario for Song of Blades and Heroes, published in October 2011. Post #200 was a short first-impressions review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey board game by Reiner Knizia, in July 2013. The longer intervals between each hundred posts are a consequence of the decreasing post frequency... hopefully, post #400 will not take so long!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I recently picked up Fernewelt ("distant world" according to Google Translate), a free, 9-page story-oriented RPG system. It is a very compact and simple set of rules to describe characters and resolve actions. The rules nicely tie greater risks to greater rewards, which makes me think it is best fit for fantasy or epic stories.

There are also some tools intended to help playing without a game master: first, a creativity tool in which you generate three random letters and interpret them in the context of your game. This is a welcome addition to the solo RPG toolbox, along with Mythic tables, Universal NPC generator etc. Then there are random lists for motivation, crime, plot twists, behavior and a number of other things.

The text is generally clear and to the point. The only doubt I had was how to judge a character's competence in order to determine their chance of success. I have assumed it is evaluated based on the character's profession and nature (and thus, depends on the players and narrative, rather than stats.) That said, I can imagine players could write down important skill ratings, e.g. "average strength" or "bad driving skills", for their characters. As with other story-driven RPGs, it seems that the author assumes all players are interested in taking part in a story and use common sense, so there are no concerns about "exploits" or players trying to create an invincible character.

To try the system, I played a very quick game, in which a goblin attempts to steal a relic from the church of a village.

The story of Speedy
"Speedy" is a goblin that left his tribe to join a band of greenskin bandits. To prove his worth, he must steal a golden relic from the human settlement of Discipline. It is a small village with a temple at its center and a small garrison of empire troops. Speedy's profession is "trickster": he is undisciplined, sometimes even careless, but also very adept at hiding and misplacing things. He has a mental nature, being very quick to notice and react. His usual equipment is a dirty cloak and a knife.

Speedy reaches the outskirts of the village as the sun is setting. Keeping behind bushes, he observes the villagers and guards. He decides to wait until later to start his mission. [I rolled for a small chance for him to be detected while waiting. It did not happen.]

Carefully, Speedy sneaks through the village, avoiding the attention of the guards. At one point, a dog starts barking but he manages to hide behind a wall, undetected. Finally, he reaches the temple. [In my judgement, sneaking across the village at night was a "normal move" for the goblin, as he was alone and unencumbered. I also judged his sneaking ability at a "trained" level. These corresponded to a "possible" chance of success, corresponding to a difficulty rating of 4 (on a six-sided die.) I decided that the consequence of failure would be a wound, not to end his adventure right away. Since I rolled a 4, I decided to add the barking dog -- although the rules do not discuss degrees of success.]

Speedy peeks into the temple and sees nobody. On a table by the far wall rests the relic that he must steal [I rolled to see if there would be anyone inside, with a 50/50 chance.] He sneaks in, then crawls up to the table. The goblin unties his cloak and uses it to wrap the relic, and crawls back to the entrance. At this moment, a dog starts barking again -- but it is on a leash held by a guard on patrol. He releases the dog and shouts, calling for other guards. Speedy starts to run, grabbing the relic. He gets out of sight of the guard but the dog catches up with him and a gruesome fight happens. When Speedy's knife stabs finally kill the creature, his face and arms are torn and his leg is deeply wounded. [Given Speedy's story, I decided he would also have a 50/50 chance of taking the artifact and sneaking out of the temple unnoticed. Since this was his main goal, I decided he would need a reward of "find an artifact". This implied a risk of being disabled. Unfortunately I failed.]

Weak from the fight and the wounds, Speedy tries to crawl out of the village but guards find his trail, and then his twitching body. They recover the relic, and in the following weeks, increase their patrols in and around the village. [Due to the circumstance, I decided that escaping the village was a special move at average ability (thus reflecting the goblin's wounds.) The consequence of failure would be death. I needed to roll a 1, and instead rolled a 2.]

I found that the action resolution system worked well when used to resolve the outcome of a scene in a story. It is interesting to note that the consequence of an action (wounded, disabled) can be physical, mental or social. So, for instance, I might have opted to make Speedy socially disabled when he failed to sneak out of the temple: he might drop the relic and flee, and then be kicked out of the bandit gang and mocked so much that he gets a local reputation of being a coward. It is a matter of choosing what works better in the story.

I think that interpreting degrees of success and failure may be helpful to add details to the action resolution rolls. It may also reduce the problem with using only a six-sided die, which causes large steps in the chance of success between difficulty ratings. For instance, since I failed the last roll by 1, maybe Speedy could have escaped but become permanently scarred, rather than die.

In any case, Fernewelt was a welcome surprise and should be checked out by anyone interested in solo RPGs. The various generators may also come handy for miniature gamers playing campaigns or other story-driven games.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Laser (printed) Mechs

After a while, I came back to building 6mm Armor Grid miniatures. Following the suggestion from Wouter on the comments of my previous post on this subject, this time I colored them using color pencils. These are also scaled to 40% of the original size, but I printed both the uncolored and gray versions -- the gray ones give a nice, not too dark shading on a laser printer.
Left: uncolored (line art) painted green, right: gray (shaded) painted blue
The process of cutting, painting the edges black and building them was not hard, and the new models from the Mech Factory set are even easier to cut as the legs and torso come in separate parts.
Another view. These models stand about 3/4" tall
Up close, the shaded version looks better. From a distance, the line art-only version is brighter and thus, more readable. Even then, though, I would probably use the shaded version to build an army.

Hand-coloring paper miniatures takes away (at least part of) one of their advantages, but I was curious about how good or bad they would look. I am satisfied with these results, so I will probably keep trying this with other models and miniatures -- especially in 2mm, 6mm and 15mm scales.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Flash Point

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my copy of Flash Point, a cooperative board game of firefighters trying to rescue victims trapped in a house on fire, before they perish or the house crumbles.

My first solo game of Flash Point, in "family mode": fires raging, building about to crumble...
In 2011 (time flies!) I wrote about non-combat scenarios in miniature games and sketched some house rules for emergency response teams in Chain Reaction. Flash Point does that very nicely with a modular set of rules: there is a basic set of actions for the "family game" that are supplemented by advanced rules. Players have a number of action points to spend moving their units, opening doors, putting out fires, and rescuing victims.

Playing in advanced mode: the building crumbles while I was rescuing the fifth victim (out of seven).
The board is used as a scenario for this rules framework -- It should not be very hard to create your own custom boards and the game designer encourages players to come up with new rules and variations at the end of the manual. Overall, a fun and challenging, solo-friendly board game.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wasteland Raiders - Campaign Summary

This is a summary post for the Wasteland Raiders campaign. With it, you can easily access the five battle reports of the campaign.

Intro - the campaign proposal.

1. Battle in the orchard

2. Wasteland rustlers

3. Military installation

4. Smoke on the water

5. Finale.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wasteland Raiders: Finale

This is the fifth and last game of 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], Marcie [Q3+ C2 Slippery, laser pistol, SMG] and Roland [Q3+ C2 Sharpshooter, assault rifle, sonic grenade], after the massacre in the last game.

The mutant party this time is  Omega [Q4+ C3, leader, energy feeding, sharpshooter, laser pistol], Green [Q4+ C3, fear of fire, savage, defoliant grenade], Hack [Q4+ C3, telekinetic push, HtH specialist, powered sword], Scope [Q4+ C4, superleap, savage, laser pistol] and Shadow [Q4+ C3, telekinetic push, stealth].

The opposing bands.
This time I rolled the artifact hunt scenario. The opposing parties fight each other and may dig for items in piles of rubble. However, there is a risk that the digger gets infested with lethal bugs. To make it worth the risk, I decided that whenever an item is found, it is a grenade. Otherwise, since this is the last game of the campaign, I would find no sense in possibly losing a unit only to find food or energy cells, for instance.

Furthermore, I decided the following rules for the mutants:
1. The mutant leader never digs for artifacts.
2. If the mutants have already found an artifact or lost a unit to the bugs, they will no longer dig for artifacts.
3. Otherwise, when a mutant activates, he will prefer moving towards an unexplored pile of rubble, keeping behind cover when possible, except if already engaged in combat with enemies or within 1 medium distance (enough to fire most weapons or charge) of them.

Board setup
The strategy for the mutant party was to spread around the board, with Omega and Scope shooting even from a distance due to their high combat scores, while Hack would try to engage the humans with lower combat score and use the melee attack + telekinetic push combo to land two attacks in a single turn. Green would keep away from Keith and try to use the grenade at any spot with two or more enemies and Shadow would generally keep away.

My own strategy was to shoot the mutants also using the longer-ranged firearms and to try to chase Green with Keith if possible, to get an easy kill or morale failure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Race report: Machinas

This weekend I had my first game of Machinas, the post-apocalyptic racing game from Two Hour Wargames. This was a three-lap race. I printed a racing oval to use with the micro cars from Rallyman. I picked up the red car for myself and used the others for the NPCs.

The cars set up after the first turn of the game
Following the instructions of the game, I built my driver with 9 attribute points: Savvy 3 / Tech 2 / Speed 4, 9 bonus dice. I then rolled an eight-sided die twice for my signatures: Focused (+2), Frenzy (-1). Then it was time to build my car. I rolled d6's for car equipments, and picked these to stay within the weight limit: Twin .50s (wt 3, +1), armored seat (wt 2, +2). Finally, I calculated my total Entry Cost (useful to gauge NPCs and for campaigns): Driver cost = 9 + 2 - 1 = 10. Car cost = 1 + 2 = 3. Entry cost = 13.

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.