Huckleberry Halloween Game

We had a great game of I’m Your Huckleberry this weekend. I tweeked the carbine stats just a bit to bring it more inline with the Rifle at all ranges under LOS. I then came up with a game that would feature Legends (4 skill points). Originally it was going to be a 6 player game, where a prisoner was being escorted to a county jail and all of the players were Sheriffs. 2 of the 6 were to be corrupt, though, and would try to free the prisoner and help them escape. I ended up with 3 players and in my random bits box I spotted two bags of rubber spiders I wanted to use in a game some day. I got them YEARS ago. So we did a Halloween game that was a mashup of High Noon and THEM! (Ok, THEM was ants, but spiders are creepier so there!)

 

The spiders just started boiling up out of the desert surrounding the town. At first, it seemed to be manageable. However it quickly became apparent that every turn, 2-3 spiders needed to be dispatched. Failing to do so would create an overwhelming problem for the heroes. However, there was a sort of saving grace. The spiders were perfectly willing to spend a few turns eating absolutely every civilian they could get their mandibles on! Luckily there were 15 civilian figures to munch upon! The helped slow the pace, but presented a problem for how the characters would look in the after action report. However, the problem at hand was survival. These things needed killin’!

To model the arachnid menace we made the following rule. Every spider would plot #9 Charge every turn. At first we limited the LOS vision of the spiders and randomized their movement a bit. Basically, if they were outside of 6″ of a building or a living creature, we’d roll a die and see what direction they went in. Also, the movement of the spiders was a fudge move which made them a bit more frightening!

The final rule for the spiders was that each hit required at least 2 red faces to cause a wound, unless it was a powerful weapon (rifle or full sized shotgun) at close range (3″ or less) then damage was normal. The first few pistol shots in the game just went *spang* of the carapace! 

Fast moving spiders were often on top of the cowboys before they knew it!

The game gave a false sense of hope at the spiders randomly converged mainly on the two places with the most civilians, Miss Kitty’s Distractions, a club for gentlemen, and The Old Peat, the bar! This allowed about 9 of the spiders to concentrate and spend time chasing down civilian targets. Mean while the heroes were busily trying to determine what their strategy. Jeff took the stance of remaining on the opposite side of town and protecting his sniper on the water tower! Eventually he took to the streets to apply the power of his shotguns. He had 2 of them, one normal, and one sawed-off. The other players set up a mutual defensive ring that they tightened to back to back guns akimbo in the streets of Hell, Oklahoma. It was fun, but failed to create the rate of spider incapacitation needed. Much of that was really bad die rolling. One fellow rolled 9 (nine) dice and got no hits. Here is the probability distribution of 9 dice and the expected number of hits.

What we see here is that we expected 3 hits. 0 hits is around 2.5% of the time. So that was very unlucky! (Probability was determined using a binomial distribution.) Even more of a shame, we added a new rule that will become a defacto rule of the game. Using a weapon that only causes 1 wound and can be aimed (pistol, carbine, rifle), 1 red face indicates a hit, any additional red faces improve the results by adding 1 to either location (white die) or severity (red die). This rule was really a great way of improving the game. It gave a true edge to legends, and made for a faster playing game. There were still a lot of shots that did no extra damage because the initial roll was so low, however there were some really important rolls where it made the difference between a wounded spider and a dead one!

The great hoard of spiders, mandibles dripping blood of gamblers, drunks, and soiled doves, spills out onto the streets of Hell, Oklahoma!

 

Make sure you have a sawed-off shotgun loaded when you invoke the power of Christ against these foul abominations!

 

The. End.

Nashcon 2016 After Action Report

20160527_212726Nashcon 2016 was a blast. I really had a good time overall. The staff was great, as usual, the hotel was refurbished, and there were plenty of games and gamers. There were a few hickups, but nothing really major. The bar and restaurant were combined in the hotel and the noise level was pretty high when it was packed. The marble surfaces they added looked very nice but reflected sound a bit too well. The outside deck was still nice however. The convention registration area was unexpectedly not part of the Nashcon floor plan and so the staff had to scramble to create a new registration area. Those were the only complaints I had about the convention site and the convention itself. Otherwise it was a well run affair.

20160528_221654I ran I’m Your Huckleberry twice and Devil to Pay once. I had signed up to run 4 games but there were a lot of GMs so one of my games got bumped. It was a minor blessing that Devil To Pay got bumped because, as I found out, I did not play test the scenario enough and it needed tweaks. The Union Army was so fouled up by terrain and traffic congestion that it just could not reach the target area in time to commence fighting properly. Most of the game was spent with the Union artillery plinking back and forth with the Confederate artillery, and the Confederate Cavalry making an extremely daring dash into the Union Rear area. That was when we hit a rule bug that I will discuss in the forums. The long and short of it is that the Union, following the rules to the letter, were able to use a formation change to get out of charge range and then got a favorable fire order which they used to blast the hell out of the confederate cavalry. Everyone agreed it was a sad state of affairs and didn’t feel right. I have a suggested rule modification that I think will address this problem. I saw the same problem in the 90’s when I was developing Bonnie Blue Flag so this is oddly familiar. The next game will go better as I plan on a more stringent play test of the scenario.

In complete opposition to that, the I’m Your Huckleberry games were extremely smooth playing and extremely fun! A few changes made all the difference. Nina had suggested to me that cards representing the characters would be really nice. That way people could see what they had and basic information without having to really look closely at the miniature. I added a data line for each weapon and I created a spreadsheet that made fast posse creation loads easier. Further, one places the die on the card instead of next to the character. This is a much better way of hiding what  you are doing. It made the game play go a lot smoother. Another change was to eliminate almost all of the effects in the wounding table and replace them with YELLOW (scared), BLUE (bruised and injured), and RED (incapacitated). RED and BLUE can be reduced with Patch Me Up. YELLOW can be cleared with the recovery option of action #10.

20160528_141530A few things still need a touch of cleanup. The one mounted character dismounted and remained dismounted for the whole game. That made sense in the context of their strategy. That’s a scenario cleanup. The handling of wounds for mounted and dismounted need to be carefully considered. Marking who is wounded (horse or man) isn’t easy now. I think we will assume the wound is on the man but optionally let the man lose the horse to avoid the wound. Another thing I am cleaning up is shotgun range. I dialed it back, but in light of other changes it needs to be extended from 9 inches to 12 inches. Also, sawed off shotguns need to be considered in hand to hand combat if they are loaded.

My next planned convention is Siege of Augusta in January. I did consider going to GenCon this year but when I went to buy badges, you need an account for every badge. I didn’t have time to create two accounts, get the friend’s request/acceptance passed for both, and then get back on and buy tickets. It’s really overly cumbersome, in my opinion, and they lost 2 badge sales over it. Maybe next year – though I tend to keep a sense of distaste after something like this so probably not. Any system (gaming, convention, governement, etc.) that doesn’t do it’s best to smooth the path with efficiency tends to push me away. In this case, GenCon is gaining a lot of personal information that they want, without giving anything back to the consumers other than the burden of doing this thing. Not that it’s hurt the convention. Their attendance has grown from 25,000 to 61,000 in the last 12 years. They expect continued growth this year. I think it is a good convention, from the reports I’ve heard. I just hate bureaucracy that only benefits the organization and not the consumer.

Nashville needs a Fall convention. A big one day show in October. That’s my opinion. I think we should get it going! We also need a one day show in Atlanta in the Spring. What do you think? Chime in on the forums!

 

Saga: Normans v Vikings – first game

Today I met with a friend and historical gaming affictionado to play a game of Saga, Dark Ages Skirmishes. It was our first game and I have to say, for a first game it went really well! The rules made sense and the game went exceedingly well. In retrospect the errors we made were minor and we didn’t spend a lot of time doing rules lookup. I would say this is a good sign for the ease of play and the quality of the writing in the rules.

We played with 4 point armies. I didn’t have any mounted or crossbows. He didn’t have any berserkers.  It was a straight up fight with no special rules in play. We did the first scenario which is intended to put the Warlords into an epic battle to the death. I tried to reduce him with arrows and win a cheap victory. He managed to get his Hearthguard and his Warlord within range of mne! We had an epic battle and he had epic die rolling. His Warlord shrugged off a 13 die attack from my warlord. That was not pretty! We didn’t do melee exactly right but I think the results were fair. What was obvious was there were a lot of other options we had in initial setup, choices in activation order and so forth that would have made for a much different game. The game is simple, mechanically, but there is a lot to learn and to exploit in terms of tactics. I am really glad I spent the money on this game. I think I’ll end up playing a lot of it!

My next game will hopefully feature some new figures. I ordered a bunch from Architects of War to fill out my Normans and I need to re-think how I will do my Vikings. I also plan on looking at the other armies. Next game I get in I plan on taking better notes and writing up a proper after action report!

Nashcon 2013

I had a total blast at Nashcon this year! 2013 was the largest turnout for this convention in a long time. Almost 400 people were there. There were plenty of great dealers and tournaments and local activities to keep anyone happy for several days. I spent a lot on the dealer floor. About $50 more than I planned. However, for hobby expenditure I also planned out my next $300 or $400 I’ll spend over the rest of the year. There were a lot of great idea floating around. I also go ideas for my Iwo Jima game. I have a much better plan for how it will be run. I picked up “Look Sarge, No Charts WWII” and that will be the basis of the tactical game. The strategic game is already figured out for the most part. I still have some figures to paint but even there I am pretty certain I am ready to get development going. Terrain still needs to be built and that has been my theme for this year in terms of project expenditures. I also met up with some old friends and I can now say I have a tradition going with Attack of the Mutants. Three conventions in a row with two players having been involved in all three games! That is what establishes a tradition! So next year I have to up the ante and actually build that 3D board I promised!

Some of the photos show my pre-convention trip up to Fort Donelson with friends. It’s a great trip. Bring bug spray. I was picking ticks off of my legs later that evening in the bar. Yeah, I know, I’m so classy!

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Star Wars X-Wing [FFG]

This past weekend we played a game of Star Wars X-Wing by Fantasy Flight Games.
As far as games go, this one is tremendous fun. One thing I really love about it is that the complexity is quite low but it still offers great tactical challenge. You have to think several turns ahead, more so if you are the rebels. The game takes the standpoint, though misguided, that some how the Rebels are the “good guys” and thus the paragon of all that is right and true. They have better combat scores and better vehicles. Of course, being such an elite force they also cost more points. The Empire is depicted as a bunch of poorly trained and outfitted rabble, meant to be picked off anonymously. In spite of such a terrible crime, we realize that when life hands you such indignity, laugh it off and turn the tables. that is what we did.

In our game we had 3 Tie Fighters and one Advanced Tie vs. a Y-Wing and two X-Wings – one piloted by Luke Skywalker. Get this; we all know the kid was itching to join the academy and fight the rebels before he hooked up with that zealot “Old Ben” in Beggars Canyon. So, the game has the audacity to say seasoned academy graduates have a very low piloting score and this runt from Tochi Station somehow manages to be one of the BEST PILOTS IN THE GALAXY?!? Yeah, I know what you are saying! In-Sane!

OK, lets get past the obvious flaw in the game makers logic. We all know the Empire is the best so what do we do about it? Well, for one we have numbers. Quality vs. Quantity. As Stalin said once, Quantity has a Quality all of its own! On turn 1 our entire side lines up on the Y-Wing. The Y-Wing is both tough and it has an Ion Cannon. That cannon shoots 360 degrees and disables engines on what it hits. Sure enough when we finally got within range it spiked the engine on the Advanced Tie. Luckily our opponents had nothing lined up in subsequent turns to take it out. Meanwhile one Y-Wing is tough but it’s not able to take the attention of 3 Tie Fighters kinda tough. By turn 3 or 4 it went boom.

The Rebels got in their licks during this time and severely shot up the Advanced Tie and then blew up a regular Tie Fighter. Another Tie fighter was also shot up. Dancing in the sky, using barrel roles and high speed the Empire managed to divide the two remaining X-Wings. The one that wasn’t the “Moisture Farmer” was destroyed in detail which left a rather target rich environment for Luke. Then came a rather interesting turn of events. Luke aggressively got on the tail of the Advanced Tie. What you might not know is, if ships overlap in this game, you back then up along their tracks until they are just touching. Ships that are touching are considered so close they cannot combat each other. Luke managed to overlap the Advanced Tie for two turns which was all it took for the remaining Tie Fighters to line him up and smoke him.

3 Rebels shot down for 1 Tie Fighter. I’ll take that deal all day long!

One tip I would like to pass along is what I am using to store and transport these ships, counters and rules in. I am using a plano box system shown below. It is double sided so it has great capacity for future expansions. I don’t think I’ll get too many of the larger ships in it but I’ll deal with that problem when I have them. It also has a handle which makes it easy to transport.

If you don’t have this game and are on the fence about it, I have to say it is a blast to play. The figures are quite nice. The rules are clear and the system is designed to drain your bank account over a long period of time. Oh just wait. they have vehicles from at last 5 more movies to incorporate into the game. I for one can’t wait for Tri-Fighters and Jedi Starfighters.