Attack of the Mutants

My latest project is coming all well. I had a long hiatus with gaming and I am coming back to it now that the end of the year is here and my job search is naturally slowing. While I am still plugging away at it every day I’ve decided for mental health reasons to take some time off once a day to put some work into this game.

The game is Attack of the Mutants. It first came out in 1981 and was one of the first game purchases I ever made. There was a great game store in Fanueil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. I loved going in there. I rarely had the money to afford the games but my two favorite game purchases came from that store. Attack of the Mutants was one of them. The game sold for $8 back then. It is a simple game about the survivors of a nuclear accident near a college attempting to perfect the science of teleportation before mutants overrun the building.

One of the major aspects of this game will be to recreate the science building. To do that I envision 28 wall sections laid in an interlocking grid, surrounded by 4 outer walls. So far that work is going well. I did a prototype interior wall and I am please with the results.

  1. Some interesting notes from this test:
    Most of what you see is taken from real life. The doors are photos of real doors. The same goes for the clocks.
  2. The chalk board is a photo of a real chalk board from the Fermilab! Yes, those are real physics equations.
  3. I toyed with the idea  of doing the game in 15mm since there are a lot of science fiction miniatures in that scale but I decided that for a 4 person game that was too small.
  4. The wall images will be pasted onto foam core and the doors will be cut out. They can be put back into place or removed to show if they are intact or smashed.
  5. By printing a prototype I discovered the single doors needed to be scaled up. The double doors however were correct scale. It was hard to tell on the computer screen as I was creating the wall.
  6. There will be 3 or 4 dozen posters, diagrams and other interesting “props” on the walls to reflect science and the political positions of professors.

The 1944 US Marines I have in the picture are stand-ins since I don’t have all the miniatures for the game yet and none of them are painted. The zombies I found cheaply on the internet are sadly on back order. Hopefully they will come before the end of next month.

I’m really jazzed up by this initial prototype. It tells me the look of what I am doing is going to work. I am sure it will be a lot of fun and this building can be used for a wide variety of scenarios and game types. Reuse is big for me. Any project I build I consider ways in which it can be used over again.

One question I am sure a lot of people will have is if this will be a faithful reproduction of the game. The answer is no for a few reasons. The main one being that I don’t want to have a copyright violation on my hands. The game is themed after the first one with some noticeable changes. I’m adding a card driven element to the game to better tell the story. Each card will present a rule change and a one-liner as if this were a film. The 1950’s B-Horror film style will be updated to more reflect 2010. The jokes in the original game had a strong liberal bias – half the defenders were ROTC and depicted as expendable morons whose descriptions lead one to believe they were former Nazis. I am getting rid of the ROTC element entirely. I am adding two other professors and spreading the jokes around a bit more. There will be pokes at left and right, plus nerds and hippies. Penny Applewhite’s boyfriend Buck will go from being a jock douchebag to a statement about diversity on campus since he will be a Tea Party supporter. Professor Applewhite will be the sterotypical liberal professor. The two other professors will represent the right and the nuts. In fact the Ad Astra project is the brainchild of Professor Trip Moonbeam this time. Professor Applewhite and Professor Richardson will be the robotics professors, with Richardson being the one responsible for the military grants that have kept the project alive.

The overall flavor of the game will remain the same though. The humans have to cooperate vs. the mutant menace! There are 10 turns until Ad Astra can be turned on. Can they hold out? In the original game the question of holding out was simply a matter of how many barricades the humans got at the beginning. The number varied for 11 to 15. At 15 it was a shoe in for the humans. At 11 it was a win for the mutants. Anytime a game is determined before the first die is rolled turns me off. So I am trying to make the game more dynamic and less deterministic.

New Games in the House

I noticed that my favorite company was going out of business; Boulder Games. The owner was retiring. This was sad but I am happy for him. So my retirement present to him was to buy up some of games! I got the following:

Columbia Games Napoleon, Waterloo Campaign 1815: I opted for this as my first block game. I’ve played them before but never owned one. This is a subject I’d always wanted in an easy to play format. The complexity is fairly low but it is a well known battle and a good way to get new gamers started.

This is the third edition of the rules and I have heard they are quite good. Ultimately there are only a couple of actual strategies but I am not expecting to play this game dozens of times. Ideally it will give me a feel for the campaign and inspire me to consider doing something in miniature…

Next up was another Columbia game, Liberty, The American Revolution 1775-83. Again, for the same reasons. I am interested in the period but I don’t do any miniature gaming in it. I like a nice simple introduction to the whole period. Again with Columbia games, the Fog of War element makes the game play really engaging. The blocks make record keeping simple too.

I picked up Price of Freedom from Compass Games. This is a card driven game of the Civil War. It looks great. I tore into it first and the components are very nice and the cards are very interesting. You keep track of a lot of political states and have to choose when you change them. For example the emancipation of the slaves. In real life that was carefully timed for when the war was losing support in the North. I think this is brilliant and shows the game authors are quite well read on the subject.

I have had other, monster sized games of the Civil War. This is a lot more compact and faster playing. The appeal for me is I might actually get to play it. Most of the time it is hard to get interest in a boardgame in my circle of friends. However so long as they aren’t likely to take several sessions to play and can be explained in short order they can happen. 3 hours with 132 pieces seems just about right to me.

Finally I picked up Okko: Era of the Asagiri. This is a Japanese myth based game that is very miniatures like. I am not really sure how it plays but the figures are awesome and have colored high quality cardboard stands for use as well. I’m still waiting for the main game to show up. I got the supplement first, Yakuza Hazu Akai, which adds lawless and godless mercenaries to your clan. OK sounds good! The game is based upon a comic produced in France. I expect it to seem a little weird but in a good way. I love the AT-43 and Confrontation worlds so I know the French have what it takes to interest me. I like weird games in general. I thought once of doing an RPG set in Japan with a theme similar to “Delta Green” where the players are quasi-official forces combating the supernatural. This game seems to be more about clans fighting clans with supernatural forces. Check out the website for more details.

Morituri Te Salutant analysis of Attacks

I took a hard, statistical look at the attacks in the game Morituri Te Salutant which depicts historic gladiator fighting in the 1st century. My group has been playing it at Wargames in Nashville this year and have started a campaign this past Saturday. It did not go well for my school as I lost two gladiators in the two fights I was in. So I took a look at the complex combat matrix that determines the results of comparing attacks and what I found was eye opening and useful. In one game I chose a “kick” attack even though I had many others available to me. When looking at its level of difficulty and expected damage I found it is truely one of the worst attacks in the game! This kind of understanding will help me better choose my attacks in my next game.

Difficulty is an absolute number derived from the total difficulty of the manuever and it’s likely hood of being blocked. Damage looks at all possible damage outcomes and the likelyhood the attack will be damaging. This is an absolute number. Finally the best vs. is useful to see where the attack can get you an easy hit with greater damage.

This information doesn’t preclude you from knowing an opponents weaknesses and it only looks at attacks. For example if you are up against a Sagitarius with a bow your best bed is to block all of their incoming fire with a Shield manuever if you have a shield. The Sagitarius is going to be hesitant to close with a better protected gladiator such as a Samnite.

Attack Difficulty Damage Blocked Best vs.
Lunge 61 25 33% Getup, Charge, Cut
Swing 57 32 24% Cut, Getup
Slash 59 26 29% Ssmash, Lasso
Cut 61 26 33% Swing, Slash, Getup
Thrust 52 31 24% Cut, Charge
Jab 57 18 33% Move F/Stand
Charge 56 30 24% Cut, Getup
Sh. Smash 62 17 38% Cut, Getup
Butt End 64 16 43% Jab
Lasso 55 Special 14% Getup, Reclaim
One/Two 60 26 29% Jab, Swing, Getup
Riposte 64 16 43% Lunge, Charge, Entangle
Hook 67 17 57% Lasso, Entangle
Entangle 53 Special 14% Swing, Charge, Getup
Kick 73 10 62% Getup, Reclaim
Throw 49 38 5% Getup, Cut, Reclaim, Move Back
Shoot 46 29 5% Getup, Reclaim, Move Back

Victory Points almost open for business

I’ve been busy getting things ready for the new website. Right now the only thing that isn’t ready to go are the Forums. I am using Disqus to moderate the comments and I am hopeful they will eventually add forums. I would hate to have members work with two different membership systems. It is too much work to “invent my own” so I am dependent upon a third party solution. I’ve also been working to weed out spammers who seem to really love attacking Word Press sites.

I’ve already started to put content up. I need an RPG editor. I’d like to have other secondary editors as well. I’ve taken the mantle of Wargames Editor since that is 90% of my gaming anyway. If anyone is interested in being an editor (which consists of blogging, completing gaming projects and documenting them in photos and essays) then contact me here.

Lately my interests have swung to WH40K, HOTT, DBA for primary play and various boardgames for intermittent play. I have at least two boardgames I’ve gotten this year that I would LOVE to play if I can find opponents.

Once Victory Points is up this site will become inactive. It will be redundant. You can sign up for the Victory Points RSS feed instead!

So far things are progressing nicely on the site. Let me know what you think. Thanks!


Games Workshop / Tau pages added

From Tau

I am starting to fill out the site with the projects I have completed or am presently working on. The Tau army is my first foray back into 40K in a long time. I plan on adding lots of other things under the Games Workshop banner such as my love of Legends of the Old West. I am also getting Space Hulk this weekend so watch for that.

Check out the Tau Page

My dream is to get all of my projects cleaned up, photographed, written up and shared with you in the gaming community. I’ve had a lot of fun over the last 19 years of wargaming and while I have a lot of projects that never saw completion I do have many more that did. This site is also inspiring me to complete half-done past projects. It is amazing how many out of print miniatures I’ve found in my collection. Some have been sold on EBay to pay for this site. Others await new life. For example my original 1980’s Fimir from Games Workshop will end up in a HOTT army!

We still haven’t announced the Grand Opening of Victory Points yet so if you have come here via a google search – welcome! The site is underconstruction but I am aiming for an October 2009 grand opening!

If you want to see my prior work check out my old blog.

More reactions to Hero System book 1

I’ve read further, and it turns out I was 1 page from where Steve describes the major differences between 5th and 6th. Honestly, I expected more changes, but it looks like some changes negated the need for other changes. There are fundamental changes – to be sure. A standard Hero is built upon 400 points now. This does not mean they are more powerful, but that the things are a bit more expensive in 6th edition.

This book does a HELL of a lot better job at describing character creation than the 5th edition book. I am enjoying reading it and I think new players to the system will have a leg up on the Grognards. The description of the guidlines for creating characters exists in both 5th and 6th but I think the version in 6th is better written. It gets more to the point about how to develop your concept before delving too deeply into the mechanics.

Package Deals have been replaced by Templates. Compared to the 5th Edition these seem a bit watered down with a suggested maximum of 15 character points. Eh? Some 5th edition package deals were North of 50 character points! Funny how on the next page (6E1 p.37) the two examples given show 17 and 27 character points each! Now they also come with complications (the new Disadvantages) and these are within 2-3 points of the benefits given.

More to come as I plow through the books!


Hero System 6th Edition is available now!

Anyone who knows me knows I am a fan of the Hero System. Started in the early 80’s as Champions, this role playing system has evolved into a powerful game that handles more than just superheroes. While there was a decade where I didn’t play it at all, when the 5th edition came out in 2003 I picked it right back up. Now in August of 2009 the 6th edition is here. I am currently reading the PDFs and waiting for my printed copies. I also have the newly updated Hero Designer software (one of my favorite software packages for character design.)

I haven’t finished reading it yet but I still wanted to let everyone know it is out there and available to purchase and download. The books are on a slow boat from China. So here are my first impressions:

  • Improved Layout: While very similar to 5th Edition the use of color and more consistent artwork is a huge improvement.
  • Crystal Clear Prose: Steve Long is an excellent writer. So far I like what I am reading. He gets to the point and uses his skillful writing to carefully explain the system. I am forced to read all of it because there have been some fundamental changes and so far I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen.
  • Streamlined: It appears so far that a lot has been done to streamline the system. I’ll do a full write up on this when I’ve finished reading V1 and then again on V2.
  • What I haven’t seen is a page on “You’ve been playing for years, here is what’s changed.” I’ve been keeping up with the discussion boards on Hero Games but I’d still like to see it in the book. Perhaps I just haven’t reached that point yet.

I’m planning on running a one off game with the system as soon as I’ve read both books and had time to create a couple of characters. My partner in crime here, Vincent, will be involved so I’m sure we’ll both be able to give separate accounts of how the game works. I plan on doing your very basic 4-color Supers scenario with a mix of fighting, rescuing and disaster aversion! All to be reported here!


Back from Historicon – see the video

I am back from Historicon but I won’t blog much until I’ve caught up with real life. I’ve been really busy the last 2 weeks and I’ve fallen behind on a lot of stuff I need to get done. However, in lieu of reading me yakity-yak about it check out the news coverage! All in all it was great. I gave a lecture that was well attended and had some great questions thrown my way. I got interviewed twice, once for an Oral History project and once for the Weider History Group’s podcast. When I can finally figure out where they keep their podcasts I’ll post here – there are at least two that they did that weekend I want to hear and from my discussions with Dana Lombardy there are many more I will be interested in. Check out, and for more information.

"District 9" – creative Sci Fi

If you were disappointed by Transformers 2 (visually great but storywise a complete mess) then you need to get off the Hollywood Habit and start looking around the globe for creative upstarts that, while rejected by Hollywood, had found a home in other areas.

“District 9” is Neill Blomkamp’s first feature length foray. After getting so much priase for his Halo 3 advertisement work (previously featured here) he was considered too much of a risk for a feature length production. Many fans disagree with that sentiment, feeling his prior work, while short, was so compelling it begs for longer treatment.

Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, who worked with Mr. Blomkamp on the Halo work has once again opened up WETA studio to him and together they have produced “District 9” which features a storyline somewhat similar to Alien Nation but with a darker, South African twist to it. All we have so far on District 9 is a prior short film and the new trailer (presented below). Trailers are a terrible place to judge if a movie is going to be good. Many times a trailer is many times better than the original film. However, they can whet the appetite. So, without further comment, enjoy the District 9 trailer.

New Wargaming Video

Done with 1/285th scale GHQ miniatures – this combines standard video, stop-motion, animation and other techniques. It is quite interesting. It has a pretty interesting look to it. I highly recommend watching it. It depicts Brits vs. Germans contesting a bridge head. It has quite a bit of “humour” in it.