Saturday, 7 July 2018

Batrep: Tintin in Tunisia

Introduction

Another Thursday, another night at the Helensburgh games club.  This time, it's Pulp Alley again, with a 4-player game set amidst the ancient ruins of a Carthaginian or Greek colony in Mediterranean North Africa.  We had 2 of the same players as the last game which involved these leagues; the other 2 players were new to Pulp Alley.

The Setup


In the remote, ruined town of Hadrumetum, someone has been conducting unauthorised excavations.  According to local reports, this was a large, well-organised group - possibly from somewhere in central Europe.  Rumours suggest that they weren't interested in the archaeology but were instead looking for something very specific, though no-one knows what was their target.

It appears that the foreigners have left their camp temporarily; no-one knows why.  This would be a good time to descend upon it and find out what's happening!

The table is set up as follows:

Objectives:

  • The major plot point is the loaded truck in the middle of the site.  It's full of crates and looks as if it is ready to depart.  Perhaps the site owners found what they were seeking and it's in one of the boxes?  Got to be worth a look!
  • 4 diggers/camp servants are minor plot points.  They might be able to tell something useful about recent events, if you can speak their language (and not scare them too much!).
  • The camp radio and a packed suitcase are minor plot points; they could have clues as to the identity of the Europeans.
  • This is an ancient and interesting site: the ancient pile of skulls may reveal information about the original site's history.  There's also a rare purple orchid growing here; it's said that the pollen from this flower has medicinal properties, or perhaps it can be used for dark science.  Both of these are further minor plot points.

Dangers:

  • The camp fire is still smoking and occasionally spitting out embers; it is perilous.
  • The amphitheatre has steep side walls.  Attempting to cross these where there are no steps is perilous.
  • Climbing one of the ruined pillars (should anyone care to try it!) is also perilous.
  • The area is infested with poisonous snakes.  Swarms of these move at the end of each turn (1d6" in a random direction); any model which activates within 3" of such a swarm will be subject to extreme peril.

Combatants:

The semi-deserted site and its mysteries have attracted the attention of four leagues:

Idaho Smith (and the M.I.T. Archaeolgical Society)

Idaho Smith, Marion Allen, Kerem, Indiana (the bloodhound), Mother and Lady Constance
Idaho used his Network of Supporters to recruit Lady Constance, a keen amateur historian and accomplished shot.

The Mummy

The Mummy, and 3 fearsome Tomb Guardians.  He also has a scarab swarm (not shown in this picture)

Tintin

Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus

Doctor Demento

Doctor Demento and 4 of his Zorgl slave creatures.  The Doctor hasn't waited for the start of the game, but is already investigating the purple orchid with a view to extracting rare & deadly chemicals from it.

The Game


Before Tintin could even move, his followers were beset by horrors!  A skeletal warrior clawed its way up from the sands to attack Snowy [courtesy of a hostile Fate card], whilst a scarab swarm scuttled towards Professor Calculus.



Snowy dodged his boney attacker easily enough, then Tintin emptied an entire clip of bullets into it to destroy it for good.



On the other side, Captain Haddock ran to the rescue of Professor Calculus.  He stomped all over the beetle swarm, dispersing it temporarily.

These actions didn't injure any of TinTin's followers, but they did delay them considerably.  It looks as if someone was trying to interfere with their plans!



In another opening skirmish, a Tomb Guardian charged and felled Kerem, but was then shot down by Marion Allen.



Elsewhere, Doctor Demento wasn't even slightly bothered by the approaching snakes.  Kicking the nearest serpent out of the way, he collected the purple orchid with ease.



Not so the Mummy!  The undead lord approached the camp radio, but he just couldn't figure it out.  Hardly surprising, really: they don't have such things where he comes from...



Things were still not going well for Tintin's followers.  Professor Calculus approached an Arab digger, but the rough workman knocked him down [the Professor failed a peril when attempting this plot point].

Snowy ran up to help, but was subjected to a desperate, flailing charge by a Zorgl.  The little dog didn't jump out of the way quickly enough and took a nasty buffet to the side of the head.



After a couple of turns, this is how things stood:
  • Tintin himself had moved only a short way before he was attacked by a pair of Tomb Guardians.  Someone really has it in for him!
  • Zorgls advanced quickly; they seemed to be everywhere; chasing Snowy, grasping at an Arab digger and uncovering a pile of skulls!  One of them was even reaching for the door of the truck in the centre of the campsite.
  • The Mummy was still struggling with the new-fangled technology of the radio.
  • Idaho Smith and most of his group were conferring on how best to avoid the spluttering camp fire on one side and the nest of vipers on the other.  They did at least pick up the luggage which had been left nearby.


The Zorgl continued to chase Snowy, but this time the little dog evaded the clutches of the hairy monster.  It was then attacked and knocked down by an unlikely alliance of Captain Haddock attacking it from one side and a Tomb Guardian on the other.  However, the Zorgls in our games have an incredible reputation for passing health checks for recovery; the creature just stood up again.



Tintin evaded the other Tomb Guardian and ran towards the truck.  As he did so, he heard the crack of a rifle - but the shot wasn't aimed at him.  Instead, it bowled over the Zorgl who was on the other side of the vehicle [I told you that Lady Constance was a fine shot...


  
...and that was her last bullet.  Things were looking up!]



Tintin's optimism was short-lived, though:
  • The Mummy finally figured out the radio; he then decided that he was now familiar enough with machinery to approach the truck.
  • Tintin was still under threat; this time it was a Zorgl which left the Arab digger it had been pestering in order to attack the boy reporter.
  • Snowy, newly recovered from the ringing in his ears, raced around the ruins towards the now-unclaimed digger.
  • Doctor Demento strode purposefully into the centre of the amphitheatre and unleashed a mind blast on all those around.  Whilst this affected a goodly number of foes [i.e pretty much all of The Mummy's and Tintin's leagues!], most of them were stout enough to avoid any ill effects.


Indeed, Doctor Demento spent pretty much the entire second half of the game amusing himself in this manner; standing in the same spot and issuing blast after blast to discomfort all those within the central area.  There were usually at least one or two enemies each turn who just couldn't take the pressure in their brains, though the repeated blasts of psychic energy were probably an irritant rather than a game-changing tactic.



Idaho Smith and his group had finally plucked up courage to pass by the campsite snakes.  However, Mother wasn't careful enough; she was bitten by a particularly aggressive asp and collapsed immediately [a "3 successes or take 3 hits" peril is almost impossible for a mere follower to pass; she was very unlucky to draw this].



Once past the snakes, Indiana charged the nearest enemy.  This happened to be one of the (many!) Zorgls who were clustered around the truck.  The wily dog showed several moves [Old One-Two, One Way or Another] before sinking his teeth into the hairy monster's leg - only to find that his best bite had no effect after all [Hit or Miss]!



Finally, one of Tintin's group attempted a plot point!  Snowy grabbed at the hem of an Arab digger's rode - only to find that the "digger" was just a dummy, a crudely-made scarecrow.  Strange...



After his initial rush, Indiana was unable to keep up the momentum.  He was knocked down by the Zorgl, but Idaho Smith raced in to help his beloved dog and flattened the Zorgl in return.

Meanwhile, the nearest other Zorgl had recovered from its bullet wound and was trying again to get into the truck's cab.

At the back, Marion Allen had decided to start up the other, unladen truck in the hope of ramming & disabling the laden one in case anyone else looked like they were going to drive it away.  It was a good plan, but the door to this second vehicle seemed to be a bit stiff...



In a desperate attempt to talk to one of the last unclaimed Arab diggers, Captain Haddock sucker-punched the Zorgl who stood in his way, before playing a "Stay Down" card to prevent it from recovering immediately.  However, the good Captain then had an attack of the vapours [i.e. one of Doctor Demento's mind blasts got through to him] and by the time he had recovered from that it was too late to complete that plot point successfully.



The Mummy's scarab beetles approached another Arab with a view to carrying him off for a terrifying questioning by their boss at a later stage.  Only here's the thing: this "digger" was also a scarecrow, a poorly-dressed imitation of a real man.  What on earth was going on?  [No, seriously - there aren't many Red Herring cards in the rewards deck, so how did we manage to draw two of them so close together?].


"Everybody was Zorgl fighting..."
As the end of the game approached, the Mummy decided to stop the Zorgl who was trying to make off with the truck.  The undead lord ignored the other nearby squabbles (Tintin vs a Zorgl, Idaho & Indiana vs a Zorgl) and instead marched towards his chosen victim.

Firstly, he moved close and issued the Mummy's Curse [because otherwise that turn he'd have had to charge the closest enemy - Tintin].  The curse incapacitated the Zorgl temporarily; when the creature stood up again at the end of the turn, the Mummy charged into combat and felled the hairy beast [he used a "Finish It!" fate card to make certain that the Zorgl wouldn't just get back up].

Incredibly, the Mummy took some hurt himself from this encounter!



Idaho and Indiana backed away from the remaining Zorgl, freeing it up to attack the Mummy.  Between this melee and Idaho's shooting, the Mummy took another hit and started to look a lot less tough than he had before.  Importantly, this had preventing him from reaching the truck door - so far.



Sensing an opening, Idaho set his dog on the stumbling Mummy; if Indiana could just clear the enemy out of the way then Idaho would have one chance to reach the truck.  He even made the fight a bit more vicious by playing a "Rivalry" card - but nothing came of it.  The bloodhound and the reanimated corpse remained locked in combat with neither side prevailing.  There was no way past for the archaeologist to claim the prize.



Marion Allen had managed to start up the second truck, though she hadn't yet had time to move it and achieve the rest of her plan (to block the laden truck & prevent it from leaving).

Finally, there were only two characters left to activate in the very last turn of the game.  The last Zorgl attacked Tintin, but this time the young man fought back.  He slammed its head against the side of the vehicle and the monster slumped down, temporarily unconscious.

That left Tintin as the only character still to have a go in the last turn of the game.  So far, his league had failed to claim any objectives, but he now had a clear route to the truck.  That's a major objective; if Tintin could claim it then the 3 victory points would be enough to win the game.  No other league had more than 2VP at this point...



Nothing could stop Tintin now!  He leaped into the truck and looked for the button to start the engine.

The truck's controls were smashed and broken.  Glancing behind him, Tintin could see that all the crates and boxes in the rear were empty and torn.  The whole thing was a setup!  But who had known they were coming, in order to populate such a ruse?  And why?

[Another Red Herring?  What are the odds of that?!   Hmm, it looks as if there is more to this than meets the eye...]


Final results


It's a tie for first place!  Doctor Demento achieved 2 plot points (the purple orchid and the pile of skulls)...



...and Idaho Smith also had 2 minor plot points (the luggage and an Arab digger - a real man rather than one of the scarecrows used to confuse everyone else).



The Mummy's crew had just a single plot point (the radio)

Lastly, Tintin and his followers didn't achieve any plot points at all.


Conclusion

That was a thrilling game, but with a totally unexpected twist at the end!  Of the 8 minor and 1 major objectives, only 5 minor plot points were achieved.  3 of the rest were Red Herrings; the final minor plot point was not attempted successfully.  It seems that there are other forces at work here.  Perhaps those mysterious central Europeans who set up this dig aren't all they seem?  But then what are they trying to achieve?

Zorgls are tough!  They passed every single recovery roll that they made; if they were knocked down then they just got back up; I lost count after 5 recoveries in a row.  At 50% odds, you'd think they would fail some of these rolls occasionally, but in this game the only time a Zorgl was knocked out permanently was when someone played a Fate card to prevent it from even making a recovery roll.  Something very similar happened in the last game too [and this is how reputations born...].

Maybe another game is needed to settle this once and for all?!

Saturday, 30 June 2018

7TV2: Eternia Base and the Daleks

Introduction

To my everlasting regret, I've only played 7TV once before (here), though I've played its precursor - the Doctor Who Miniatures Game (DWMG) several times.

The one previous game of 7TV was fun, but it wasn't a total success for two reasons.  Firstly the forces were too small for the table (or if you prefer, the table was too large for the number of figures) and secondly the objectives were too easy to collect very early on (and that took away much of the point of playing the remainder of the game).

Last Thursday, I decided to revisit the game at the Helensburgh games club, but with some adjustments which would hopefully improve the experience.


The Setup


Somewhere in Federation space, on a remote and otherwise uninhabited planet is a top-secret research establishment called "Eternia Base".  There, scientists are conducting dangerous experiments to establish the nature of anti-photons.

A cross-dimensional rift caused by these tests has allowed universes to collide; Davros and a group of xenocidal Daleks have been sucked through.  They would like to take the secret knowledge of Eternia Base for themselves.

However, all is not lost.  Another dimensional traveller (who calls himself "the Doctor") and his assistant have persuaded the nearby starship USS Matakishi to intervene.  Captain Bellamy is leading an away team to try to rescue the scientists and save the base.

Special Rules

This would be a regular 7TV2 battle with 60 ratings per side.  The only alterations that we made to the standard rules were concerning objectives:
  1. An objective wouldn't automatically be claimed just by spending a special action.  Rather, the objective would be successfully claimed only if the model making the attempt could pass a Mind test.  Of course, for the Doctor and for Davros (both with a Mind rating of '6') this was just a formality...
  2. The central objective is the plasmatron, which splits photons or something like that.  For the heroic side, claiming this objective means that the experiment has been shut down safely; the structure of the base will be saved (even if its inhabitants are overrun by Daleks).  On the other hand, if the evil side claim this objective then they set the experiment to overload and eventually suck the base (and maybe the planet too?) into anti-space.  Either way, once this objective has been claimed the effect cannot be reversed.
  3. The other 4 objectives are scientists.  Claiming one of these objectives allows the successful player to add the model to his cast (though note that the scientist's Gadget special effect will be of limited effect: it won't allow any more gadgets to be claimed as that's a pre-game effect only) as well as gaining the usual 2 plot points immediately and 1 victory point at the end of the game.
    Once in play, the opposing player can try to knock out the scientist, or can claim the model for their own cast by following the rules for taking an objective.  In theory, a scientist could change allegiances every turn, as the two sides plead, threaten and trick them!

The Game


At the beginning, the Federation advanced as quickly as they could.  Both the Doctor and Captain Bellamy manage to talk to a scientist and convince them that safety lay in joining the good guys.

In contrast, the Daleks were afflicted by a nasty Countdown Card which effectively restricted them to half speed for a turn.  Since they weren't exactly fast movers to start with, their progress was distinctly sluggish!

Davros took out some of his frustrations by shooting and injuring Brook Aria, the Doctor's plucky assistant.



In their second turn, the Federation advance continued.  The Doctor ran up to the plasmatron, though he didn't have an action left with which to try to defuse it.  Also, the redshirt squad advanced, firing for all they were worth and actually hit one of the Daleks.  [They were shooting at Davros, but he has a 'Sacrifice' special effect which can redirect hits to a nearby friend].  Sadly for them, each Dalek can take 3 hits before succumbing and even worse, this was one of only two times in the entire game where a redshirt hit anything!

However, this single hit did change the results of the game, as you will see...



In one of those "I did not see that coming!" moments, the Daleks then drew a Script Editing countdown card.  There was a weird continuity error as Davros was suddenly next to the plasmatron (and was immediately able to set the device to overload before scuttling back to his own lines)...



...whilst the Doctor found himself in the midst of a bunch of angry Daleks, who proceeded to zap him.  It took all the plot points they had for the Federation side to keep him alive, though injured (and then there was some luck involved as well)!



Never underestimate the Doctor!  On his next turn, he ran up to the red Dalek and did something with his sonic screwdriver, thus adding another wound to the battle machine [he used a "Pen Gun" gadget, but I imagine this was just a setting on his normal device rather than a separate piece of kit].



On the other side of the base, two grey Daleks had tried - and failed - to claim the 3rd scientist/objective.  In a moment of sheer coolness (or perhaps utter madness!), Captain Bellamy transported in and rescued the terrified scientist from under their blasters [in game terms, these Daleks were hit with a Countdown Card which prevented them from activating for a turn and then Captain Bellamy used a "jet pack" gadget to move up for free before claiming the objective and scarpering]!



The Federation wasn't the only side to have gadgets, of course.  One of the Daleks produced a noxious cloud [nerve gas canister] that sent most of the redshirts coughing and reeling; it then exterminated a couple of the hapless humanoids.



Things started to get a bit hectic at this point:
  • The Doctor used a disguise kit to prevent the red Dalek from disintegrating him.
  • Davros threatened the 4th scientist into submission...
  • ...but just as he did this, a Federation shuttlecraft landed nearby and disgorged another squad of redcoats.  Two of them were promptly shot by the grey daleks, sadly.



The other two redcoats brawled with Davros, but had no effect whatsoever [honestly, they'd have done better to stand back and shoot him - though even that probably wouldn't have achieved much].  Fortunately for the heroic side, the Doctor was having a much better turn:
  • A Countdown Card allowed him to retrieve a gadget; the Doctor re-tuned his sonic screwdriver and inflicted the 3rd & final wound needed to destroy the red Dalek [with the same "Pen Gun" gadget as he had used before].  One down, four to go.
  • To cap this, the Doctor also persuaded the scientist that he didn't want to follow Davros after all...
So at this point, all four scientist objectives had been claimed by the Federation/heroic side - though the Daleks had set the plasmatron into irreversible meltdown.



Right, time to leave!  The Doctor and his new scientist ally ran from the enraged Davros, whilst the shuttle relocated to the centre of the table to pick up Captain Bellamy, his scientist and a stray redshirt.



The evil side wasn't going to take this lying down.  Only one grey Dalek was in range of the shuttle, but it hit the craft squarely and inflicted heavy damage [i.e. 2 of the shuttle's 3 damage points were gone].  However, if that was the worst they could do then it looked as if the heroes might escape after all...



...but the Daleks chose this moment to Steal the Scene and take a double turn.  All the Daleks that were at all close converged on the shuttle; it was rocked as bolt after bolt hit it.  The Federation side was all out of plot points and so there was nothing they could do except hold on and hope for the best.

Amazingly, the shuttle's armour [shields?] held.  It made every single saving throw needed and then flew off into the sunset with its precious cargo!


There goes my armed astronaut!
 The Daleks' fury was intense!  They spent the last turn or two shooting down anything that moved.

I spent my last four plot points trying to save this scientist!  Didn't work, though...

Another redshirt bites the dust.



I had spent all my remaining plot points trying to save the last fleeing scientist, forgetting that the Doctor was also threatened.  A single hit would knock him out easily, but this time the rolls went against the Daleks and the Doctor survived & escaped.

At this point, the Countdown Cards ran out and the game ended.  Whew!

Victory


At the end of the game, after the Daleks' last minute shooting spree, the Federation cast was axed.  The Doctor, Brook Aria and one scientist had escaped on foot, Captain Bellamy, a redshirt and a second scientist had escaped in the shuttle and another two redshirts were still on the table - but all the rest were dead.  +1VP to the Daleks for axing the opposition.

Against this, the Federation had possession of 2 objectives/scientists.  +2VP to the Federation.

Hmm, Davros set the plasmatron objective to overload: +1VP to the Daleks.

So far, that's a tie at 2VP each.  However, we need to add in the points for cast members killed.  Nothing for extras (for which the Federation were extremely grateful), but +3VP to the Federation for destroying an enemy co-star (the red Dalek).

The final tally:
  • Evil side (Davros and the Daleks): 2VP
  • Heroic side (the Doctor/Federation): 5VP
So, who'd have thought it?  The Federation won; even though virtually all their shots had no effect at all, the destruction of the red dalek was the key!

Conclusion

Well, that was a thrilling game and no mistake!  There were so many moments where it could have turned - Davros swapping places with the Doctor was a masterstroke, the Doctor seemed like a goner in the midst of his enemies but somehow survived, the Daleks were all but invincible, the shuttle's escape under fire was very cinematic...and so on.

Both players enjoyed the game tremendously.  A number of other attendees at the games club wandered by during the evening to try to figure out what was going (there were mutterings such as "there are Daleks - but that looks like Star Trek?!", though nobody actually asked).  From this, I anticipate that there's plenty of latent interest in 7TV - even if many of the club members don't yet realise it 😃.

We'll be back...