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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Final 28mm map done for AOTM

Well I got my map done. It is very similar to the map that came with the original game. I am pretty happy with it. My original intent was to print it out on my printer, stick it to some MDF and then build the wall using foam core. Problems with warping (both with the MDF and the foam core) led me to consider alternatives. Finally I decided to just have the map printed to aluminum sheet. Yes – printed on metal. A local printer does incredible work and one of their specialties is printing to just about any surface. How – I don’t know! But I saw their work and its incredible. I now am having them do this to two 12″ x 24″ sheets of aluminum. It is a better option for me in that it won’t warp, it is unique, it lays flat and will look great!

*** Update! *** Here is the map, again, this time in much nicer PNG format, divided into two sections 12″ x 24″ each.

 
 

Something that can be done with miniatures that wasn’t easy to do with the paper counters in the original is that I can control the number of mutants per room simply by area. This will limit the massive super stack of mutants that used to make it easy for the mutant player to win.

They also do 12″x12″ aluminum tiles. I may consider that for my next game. Once can make them geomorphic or semi-geomorphic. I like the geomorphism of Carcassonne. Now, doing that game in aluminum titles would require a Donald Trump like budget, but doing something that required only a dozen tiles would be doable.

Mainly the durability is what I like. It is possible to get it done just on vinyl and that would have saved me a ton of money but I felt the advantages of being printed on metal plus the uniqueness were good advantages.

Room List for Attack of the Mutants

There are only a few changes in the physical layout while many in the room names from the original game. Gone are some of the wackier things that were on the map like the room with pentagram and candles. Gone also are the ROTC barracks and armory.

Classrooms:
Room 102
Room 104 (101 and 103 were turned into labs)
Room 201
Room 202
Room 203
Room 204
Room 205
Room 301
Room 302
Room 303
Room 304

Offices:
Professor Applegate
Dean’s Office
Professor Richardson
Professor Mincy

Labs:
Ad Astra Lab
High Performance Computing Center
Robotics Lab
Quantum Engineering Lab

Misc.:
Storage Room
Science Exhibit Hall
Lavatory

Of course the center of the building is still the Tech Room – the ultimate objective of the mutants and the place where Ad Astra will allow the humans and their brave little robots to escape.

The card system will be keyed off of characters and locations. So a card may specify “Any robot in the Robotics Lab fights at +1 CV.”Another may state that if the villian, Julian Manbender is in the High Performance Computing Center the game’s end is delayed until he either retreats or is defeated and removed from play. There is a lot of room for creativity here. I have about 1/3rd of the cards figured out. The rest will come as I do play tests of the game.

Currently the only thing left to do is build the building. I have the design done so it’s just a matter of decorating the walls correctly and building the foam core forms. Once it is final it should look great!

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.