Monday, June 13, 2016

Blast Pistol

It seems shaking my habit of buying rule sets is harder than I thought, as I have added a few to my collection, including Blast Pistol. This is the new game from Nordic Weasel, and intended for quick pick-up games in sci-fi settings.

One interesting thing about Blast Pistol is that it is published as a "living rules system", meaning it will be updated as time goes. Right now the rule book is very bare-bones, and I would normally be wary of this proposition (having purchased rules that were later abandoned in a bad state by other authors). However, considering how Five Core has evolved in a relatively short time, I think it will work well.

Right now, Blast Pistol is a very simple rules system, with an alternate activation turn sequence in which players select and activate a number of units at a time. Miniatures are single based and grouped into squads or act as individuals. There are some unit templates for squads, heroes and vehicles. The writing is clear but since the document is very concise, it requires attention. For instance, in my first read I was hunting for the definition of damage in vehicles, which is presented in a bullet point on the section about big models.

As a pick-up game, battles are played as meeting engagements, fighting four turns and counting how many points in units each player has destroyed after that. Here is one simple example with balanced forces: on one side, three colonial militia squads, a gunsliger and a hero (302 points) against 3 precursor squads (300 points).
Board setup: a virtual 4'x4' table with some obstacles. Precursors at the bottom of the image, colonial forces at the top. The grey patches are rock formations that are impassable and block line of sight.
Turn 1: the colonial forces go first but don't kill anything. The precursors cause damage to one of the colonial militia squads.
Turn 2: colonial forces keep advancing and the hero and gunslinger move. In the exchange of fire, both sides lose some units.
Turn 3: the colonial forces move to a position where they can fire more effectively, but miss most shots. The precursors are then able to shoot back and cause lots of damage. Two colonial squads flee the battlefield.
Turn 4: the precursors defeat the gunslinger and hero. The last colonial squad only hits one enemy. The game ends with a clear victory for the precursors.
After this battle, I played again two more times (that is the beauty of a virtual tabletop: you can set up a scenario, save it and then quickly replay it several times.) On the second, the precursors won by 146 vs. 120 points (point costs of defeated enemies.) The third was also won by the precursors, 210 vs. 120 points. I guess the terrain favored the longer range of the precursor weapons, although I also had some terrible rolls for the colonial forces.

These are only my first impressions, as I have not tried battles using vehicles or other big models. I also want to try other board sizes and setups. So far, it seems to work well for quick games. Based on the rules for activation and morale, I think smaller squads (of 4-5 troops) are better than larger ones.

There are no solo rules, and I do not think this game is aimed at solo play. That said, I think it would be simple to adapt the solo rules from Five Core or No End in Sight if one wanted to.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The ruins of Algor'nas: a 4 Against Darkness adventure

I picked up 4 Against Darkness (by Ganesha Games) a few weeks ago and played my first adventure this weekend. My party of four adventurers consisted of the following, in marching order:

Stegmo: level 1 warrior, equipped with light armor, mace, shield. Carrying 1 bandage. 7 life.
Kernas: level 1elf, equipped with light armor, sword, bow (default). Spells: blessing. Carrying 1 bandage. 5 life.
Abugol: level 1 wizard, equipped with a dagger and spell book. Carrying a lantern, 1 bandages and 10 gold. Spells: 3x fireball. 3 life.
Sharnas: level 1 rogue, equipped with a sling (default), dagger, light armor and lock picks. Carrying 1 bandages, rope and 10 gold. 4 life.

The entrance to the dungeon was a large room with two doors and a poorly lit corridor. Before trying the doors, the adventurers decided to move down the corridor. They found a closed door and beyond, another room with an alchemist in it. They did not have enough gold to purchase the strange potions he had, and so he moved on.
Starting a dungeon. I opened the provided graph paper template in Gimp and scribbled the rooms there.
They opened the next door to find a weird bug-like creature with four claws, dripping a green goo from its mandibles. "Iron-eater!", Stegmo shouted and leaped at the creature, hitting its head with his mace. Kernas hit a weak spot of its carapace with an arrow, and Sharnas exploded one of its eyes with a good sling toss. The monster dropped to the ground. After the fight, Kernas found a magic sword that somehow was not eaten by the monster. [Besides finding the treasure, Kernas gained a level.]