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!

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!

 

Nashcon!

I’m off to Nashcon. Loving how it has been going this year! I will be running 1 game, the one you’ve seen developed here for the Old West. I will also be running the Saga Tournament. I am hoping for 8 players but may only see 4. One is officially signed up with others stating their intention to show up. I’m working like a mad man to create terrain for it!

More news and hopefully more regular updates in the 2nd half of 2014. This year has kept me busy and not doing a lot of gaming. Let’s change that!

Get the skinny on Nashcon here: http://hmgs-midsouth.org/conventions/nashcon/

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!

fr1_6_2014105431 fr1_6_2014105017 fr1_6_2014104937 fr1_6_2014104717 fr1_6_2014104809 fr1_6_2014104238

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.

Gaming the Old West

The project I started in getting figures out of boxes, painted and put on the table this year has gone well. For Old West, most of my non-Plains War figures are now painted. Terrain is getting made and the rules are almost ready for prime time! The Old West is a period that everyone gets. You don’t have to explain how to act in the scenario. The roles are so stereotyped now that people just get it. I love it myself. I haven’t played a big Old West game in a long time. I did a few play tests of the rules I plan on using in the last couple of weekends and I am really happy with them. The figures are being churned out by Combat Painter and they are all looking excellent. He is my favorite painter. I like him because he is very detail oriented. He has his own style so you may or may not like what he does but I think he is pretty good. Below is a figure he painted for me and I love it. At gaming distance all of his figures have the right amount of pop.

Marshal with Shotty

Town Marshal with 12g double barrel shotgun. Street Sweeper!