Archives for August 2011

Dr. Manbender Comes a Knocking

Ah yes, another game of Attack of the Mutants. This time we had High Roller Ken*, Chemical Dave** and Lord Al*** as the humans. I, Whitey, was once again entrusted to the bad evil Doctor. There were some interesting moments in this game but it still needs a hint of tweeking. One of the tactics tried was an aggressive push by the Humans to get the robots into the fight early. This produced the most serious robot losses I’ve ever seen. By the end of the game the human’s had one Grip-Bot, shown in the picture above.

What should have made the human tactic work was the so-called wall of lead a lone Gun-Bot can throw. Frankly, the way it is in the game right now its more like a wall of snowballs with rocks in them. Yes, sort of daunting but no real match for the natural tenacity of the Mutant. So I am doing two things to the next version of the rules. 1st, the number of dice thrown will double. Get lucky and you can wipe out even bigger hordes! The other thing is I am now going to make it possible for the Gun-Bots to “go dry” as they say. After a wall of lead, roll a D6. 1-3 = low ammo. After the first round of the fight is over the robot must retreat and be resupplied (does it need a human or grip bot to resupply… that is an interesting question.) It is a bit of a gamble, which suits me fine. There is no such thing as certainty in life! It makes the Gun-Bots more independent but also retains their vulnerability such that independent operation requires a risk vs. gain evaluation.

Dr. Mincy still doesn’t have a special ability. I’m working on that one. The professors are locked in labs until turn 4 as per the original game (well in the original they were in the Tech Center, now they can be in 1 of 3 labs outside of the tech center. I’m considering that if they want, they can stay in their labs an additional turn. For each TA, Grip-Bot and Scientist in the lab on turn 5 the Humans get a D6 to roll. A roll of 6 on one or more of those dice produces an advancement. The Ad Astra Lab produces a faster startup of the time machine (one turn can make a world of difference.) The quantum lab produces the quantum gun – a strange contraption that allows one upgraded Gun-bot to act as support (+1) even from a different room or while in reserve!

“My god, it only took 30 years to weaponize Special Relativity… now we’ve done it with quantum mechanics!”

Finally a breakthrough in the Robotics lab will allow one Grip-Bot to be improved to CV 6. I assume that means the TA’s raided Archaeology and welded a Lombard shield and lance to the poor machine!

Tonight’s game went pretty smoothly. It was close. Dr. Manbender and 3 Leader Mutants crashed through the door on turn 10. One of the mutants took a hit and went down, but then Dr. Manbender got into the action himself. Because he was the attacker all of the ties went to his side instead of the human side. I wonder if it would have been better for the humans to have counter-attacked before he was in the room. The only problem with that plan was the mutant’s had a formidable pincer attack going with another set of mutants waiting at the only other un-barricaded door. So, I don’t blame them for not wanting to take a chance. It was an opportunity to produce a hit and run attack which is what the retreat rules are for. I understand their reluctance at that gamble.

I think the loses of the robots early on and the weak performance of the Gun-Bots led directly to the human loss. The strategy wasn’t bad, not knowing the odds. However I’ve played the game 7 times now and the Gun-Bots need the above adjustment.

In the next day or two I will post the rules here.

As for the quote above – I should point out that it is actually not correct. QM/QP has been weaponized for decades – the advances in transistors, chemistry and lasers all rely upon quantum mechanical understanding and the neutron modulators in nuclear weapons rely upon the understanding of the duality  of photons as waves and particles. But it sounds cool and would and should be a line from a B-Movie!

*,**,*** and yes, I know, I game with people who have funny nicknames.

Runebound: Class Decks

I played a long game of Runebound using the Isle of Dread variant and class decks. If you have not tried the class decks yet they add several interesting mechanics to the game. There are two components of each deck. The first is a group of 5 talents, labeled 1 through 5. The rest of the deck are cards you can form a hand of that either can give you bonuses or give your opponents some serious trouble. You also get 10 malice tokens. Use of the cards depends upon the amount of malice you’ve built up. For example to throw a really strong challenge at an opponent they will have have to have built up a good deal of malice. You can build up your own malice by playing cards that benefit you. When you play against an opponent you reduce their malice.

I found the cards and abilities to overwhelm the game. The extra steps seem to slow it down far more than general game play is benefitted. Sure, it gives players who are behind a chance to take down the leader (their intent I guess) but the talents add such a new level of power that there isn’t an excuse to not use them every turn. As a result not one character was ever knocked out during a challenge. While this can happen when one is playing very conservatively it wasn’t the case here. The extra talents just made the characters that much more experienced. There was one knock out, with the first player to try the final challenge on the Isle of Dread but even that was partly due to bad dice and not bad strategy.

I think the decks would be great – in a totally different game. That game would be about the players dueling or fighting each other and not about exploring the land and getting into adventures. As is they add too many mechanics to remember and handle during the game play of Runebound to be really useful. They also overwhelm the actual game and dominate it.