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.

I’m Your Huckleberry #Nashcon 2017

You know it’s the end of a long editing cycle when the biggest problems you are encountering are kerning issues with your font on the charts! I’m Your Huckleberry has been in a long development processes for a little over 3 years. The first edition was in March of 2014. The biggest impact it has had has been on the development of The Devil to Pay, actually. For myself, its also been a great learning experience. At all times it has been a process of improving the game theory present in gun fighting games and improving the gaming experience. I was first driven to write it because just about every other game I came across did not scale well at all as players were added. So I set out to create a system where people had fairly atomic choices of action, and all players went simultaneously. The rules are the system that makes it work, because otherwise you’d think it would explode instantly into chaos and fist fights among the players. 

Taking careful notes about how people played the game gave me good insight into how to set the levels of certain modifier and in which order actions are resolved. The latest version that I’m running at Nashcon will be the last version of the chart updates. I am confident the game works as intended. The next phase, which I’ve already started, is the writing of the verbal description of the rules. Thankfully I have an editor who has worked with me before and is excellent at technical writing.

As stated in previous articles, the damage has been changed to remove all of the markers and many of the special states models could get into. It made the table top ugly moving all of the markers and it did really lend itself to a more immersive experience. In this version there are 4 wound states that have an impact on the game.

I’ve also changed the dice up. There are now equal odds for hit, unloaded, and no effect. Basically 2 red faces (hits), 2 blue faces (unloaded) and two blank faces (no effect.) The benefit is that the game is more dangerous. Its more likely you will get wounded. It’s also more likely you’ll be out of ammo. In many ways this is more realistic. Before you could take great chances and get away with them. We had a game, in the past, where someone took two aimed shots at someone in the open with 11 dice and missed both times. The odds of missing with one roll of 11 dice was actually 43% back then. Now, with the new system, it’s only 7.5%. So still possible, but far more unlikely. Once you start taking shots is much more likely to get deadly if you aren’t in cover.

We have also cleaned up the way shotguns work. The way blazing away with a repeater works. We’ve defined the difference between blazing away with two guns verses fan firing a six shooter. It’s realistic and cinematic. That doesn’t make sense. No, it’s cinematic because, honestly, that just isn’t a good use of ammo. It’s realistic because that shit happened and a lot of unintended people died which is in the rules.

The campaign rules are coming along. I’ll write more about them as we play test them. Just like the way the gunfight rules are not your grandfather’s Old West game, the campaign system is going to stir up things quite a bit as well. See you on the range next time!

New Items added to the Yard Sale

It’s been a busy day. A couple of days ago I was in a car accident and my car was totaled. Luckily no one was injured and we both had insurance. I spent today looking at cars. It wasn’t a bad experience. There are a lot of models out there but the technology has changed a lot over the years (my last car was 9 years old) and it struck me that this sale is the same thing. These miniatures are WAY better than the miniatures I had growing up in the 80’s. Also there are now a lot of brands. Some people have their favorites. So far I am just lucky to make enough room to get around in my office. So the selection of figures is just what I randomly pull out of my over stuffed storage and bring into the house. But as the sale progresses, more breathing room is created and I am able to open up the collection some more for special requests. Right now the boxed miniatures are the easiest to sell because they are highly labeled and I know what the retail price is on them. Once they are moved then it’s on to the metal miniatures. Let me tell you – there are a lot of them. Its crazy. I don’t even know what they are. I am dumb when it comes to the period. That is when I will need the help of you folks. Someone will help me figure out by visually identifying the figures so I can come up with a decent description.

I implemented weights for everything so the postage should be more fair. The first wave was shipped at rates I just don’t think were right. It’s all part of the learning process. My day job is as a data scientist for casinos. I can tell you a lot about the exponential curvature of the histogram of run length for similar balls called in bingo games. And my own interests are in ACW, Dark Ages, Old West, and WWII. I think the Napoleonic period is beautiful – but I am going to depend upon you experts to sort this thing out!

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Western Gunfight Teaser photos

I’ve been working hard on my games for Siege of Augusta. So far I have 7 buildings assembled and several dozen miniatures ready. While I doubt the buildings will be fully painted in time, the game will be ready to play and I am certain people will have fun. I have to say, it’s almost a shame to paint these buildings. They look amazing! I have a very wide variety of figures and I plan on running pickup games to help fill some of the time slots if they need games. Work left to do includes filling in the bases and painting them, organizing the lot of them so that they can be taken to Siege and easy to set up once I get there, and the construction of a few more buildings.

Here are the photos. Enjoy!

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Ranchers vs Rustlers

I’ve been modifying The Rules with No Name [also see this free version] so that the game can be played quickly with a lot of players. Basically I made as much of the game simultaneous as possible with additional rules on handling some events out of sequence, such as calling people out onto the street for a challenge. I still need a few more play tests of the rules. I’m waiting for some custom Litko token sets to come in to help manage the game. I also recently got a large number of buildings from 4Ground and Sarissa Precision. I will be reviewing those and displaying pictures of them. If you have looked at them and though they look like they might be hard to put together, let me assure you they are a piece of cake and they look amazing!

More details to come. In the meanwhile enjoy these game photos.

Attack of the Movie Heroes

I’ve actually gotten some painting finished. Tomorrow I’ll put on some final touches but these are tabletop ready!

They will be used in a variant for Attack of the Mutants, only this time the threat is on the inside! Movie heroes are appearing in the Science Building after Percy downloaded 80’s and 90’s film to the wrong hard drive! Will the Professor’s and TAs or MSTU save the day by teleporting these lost heroes to another plane of existance where they can do some good or will the Science Building be destroyed for good this time?

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Finished figures. Alas the photo is underlit. I’ll take a better lit version later.

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Dark Ages Wargaming with Saga

 

DSC04780I’ve started playing Dark Ages gaming again after a long hiatus. What brought me back in are the rules published by Gripping Beast called Saga: Dark Age Skirmishers.

The rules are a hoot to read. The writing style is presents clear rules but with a great sense of humor. It makes it fun to get through them. The game is pretty simple, mechanically, but the mechanic of the Battle Boards is where it takes on a deep strategic flavor that I think most veteran gamers will really appreciate. The basics flow of the game is I Go, You Go with individual unit activation. A unit activates, does all of its actions then the next unit is activated. All of your units go, then your opponent does the same. The combat is also quite simple, with figuring out attack dice, trying to meet or beat the armor value, then defense dice to try and avoid wounds. If you’ve played any of the Warhammer games, it will seem very similar but not exactly the same.

DSC04772Where the game moves into it’s own greatness is with the battle boards. Each army has it’s own battle board. You roll Saga dice at the start of your turn and these dice help you figure out which of your battle board options you can choose. It’s based upon icons on the dice, with a 3, 2, 1 distribution.  The more powerful options require the icon that only comes up 1 in 6 times. Some options can activate on multiple dice but others REQUIRE multiple dice.

These Saga dice also determine what you can activate. This is where it gets rather interesting. The strongest troops (hearthguard or knights) can use any Saga die. The Warriors aren’t as flexible and levies are much more difficult to activate. AS it should be!

DSC04778Another innovation I like is the armies are really easy to pick out. All armies have three tiers of troops (Hearthguard, Warriors, Levies). Each faction has a few basic rules that allow you to equip your troops differently than the other factions. The benefit here is that army generation is really quite simple and there isn’t a lot of gaming the point system.

Overall, the game looks to be easy to explain, reasonably fast play and has lots of period flavor delivered through a clever mechanism. There is more to it than I’ve written here. I am certain that many gamers, the first thing they will think about is “how can I adapt this system to X” with X being one or more of the following:

  • Zombies
  • Other Ancient periods
  • Star Wars
  • WWI
  • WWII
  • Modern Afghanistan
  • Pod Racing
  • Giant Monster Games
  • Aliens

Ha, you think I joke. Read the rules. You will love them and you will want to find as many uses for the concept as you can. It’s that good!

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Treasure From the Basement: A.T.A.C. APC

A.T.A.C. APCAlready my first project done. I found this model in my basement this morning. I’ve had it, what, 15+ years? How many times did it hit the table in that time? Not one that I recall! I got Woodbine Designs Not Aliens Colonial Marines at Historicon so I’m keeping this baby and putting it to work. When I found it, it was missing 3 wheels and the turret. Some digging and luck turned them all up. A bit of glue and she is good to go!

This is what I’m talking about. This baby you can still get here online. Who wouldn’t want 17 quid in their pocket all for the cost of 3 drops of superglue? I know I would and this is a pretty doable project – right up there with several of the others I have planned to finish. The key is – are the elements of this project that can combine with other projects? The more overlap you can find the better as it maximizes your work. A one off building only good for one project? Don’t waste your time. A building or model you can re-use in many projects – that is a winner!

This model could use some more paint. It looks cool, though, so it will be a popular piece to have on the table.

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.

Playable Attack of the Mutants game done!

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I could not be happier. The game is ready to play. All required components are done. The only thing left to do are the cards. I got through 5 turns of my first solo play test. I was reminded of some problems from the original game. It’s hard to remember which stacks moved. I may solve that with markers that let the mutants plot their moves before executing them.

Overall I love the look of the printed aluminum. The boards are printed at photographic resolution and are very glossy. The original graphic I created contains photos of actual floor tiles so this works out great.

The game is totally green. The inks and paints are all water soluble. The aluminum can be recycled. The paper used for the transfer was recycled. The figures are made of non-toxic metals. The only non-green aspect are the bases on the figures which are plastic.

You may notice the door smashed counters are an homage to the original game.

The combat system works neatly. It’s a little more complex than standard Risk(tm) but on par with the later Risk based games.

More to come!!!

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