Tuesday 26 June 2012

TRWNN: The Shootout at Big Whiskey


It's the last week of the school summer term here in Helensburgh.  Since the Games Club doesn't operate during school holidays, that means it's the last club game for a couple of months.  In one way, this is a blessing - it removes the pressure to come up with something that will keep all the kids' attention every Tuesday evening.  But it's also a sadness and a disadvantage, since it cuts down on the amount of material I have for this blog.  Ah, well - perhaps you're all tired of my game reports!  Anyway, I can still play games at home, or write other types of article.

So, this week I chose The Rules With No Name (TRWNN).  These are a popular set of rules for Hollywood-style Old West skirmishes; one notable feature is that characters are moved only when a corresponding card is drawn from a deck.  Therefore, a player cannot predict when (or even if) in a turn his models will get their actions.  Certain wild cards can be saved by some classes of character and played at any point to allow an extra turn, even if this interrupts someone else's turn!

Big Whiskey

"Big Whiskey" is a rather small town somewhere on the edge of civilisation.  Oddly, the buildings are made of wood rather than adobe brick, even though it's in an arid part of the continent.  The town has a saloon, a sheriff's office, a few stores and not much else - just the usual stereotypes, really.

On this particular high noon, 4 groups of men would fight it out.  There were 2 loose alliances, but the winner would be determined as the player on the winning alliance whose group had taken fewest casualties.  So no points for hurting the opposition directly!

So, what were the factions?
  The Good side consisted of 2 Lawmen and 2 Posse.
The Bad side consisted of 3 Banditos...
...and 2 Outlaws.

The Shootout

Starting Positions

Right from the start, the Banditos retreated around the broken-down corral, probably because they were a bit nervous of the Posse's crazy preacher with the sawn-off shotgun!

First blood went to Emmett.  The notorious Outlaw (near foreground) took an aimed shot at Sheriff Roberts (far distance) at extreme pistol range and managed to graze him:

The Mexican Banditos scurried for cover as the Posse's crazed preacher Adams decided he was invincible and strode past the building, singing hymns as he came.  Jesse, the other member of the Posse, followed the minister, unsure what to do.

At the other end of the main street, Sheriff Roberts marched across the road and felled Injun Joe with a blast from his shotgun.  By rights he should then have been an easy target for Emmett, but the Outlaw was too hasty and his gun jammed.

Deputy Eddie thought this would be a good time to help his boss, but all he managed was to trip over his own feet and fall down.  Meanwhile, the sheriff calmly reloaded his shotgun while Emmett frantically tried to unjam his gun.

Preacher Adams continued round the Trading Company store, proclaiming that he was armoured in faith and couldn't be hurt!  Juan (the Bandito's wannabe) was overawed and just stood there, gaping...

...but Santos was made of sterner stuff; he shot down the ranting madman.

Emmett was in a tight spot, with his gun busted, 2 Lawmen approaching and his companion (Injun Joe) down.  However, he got lucky and drew 3 cards at once:

Emmett ran from the sheriff and round the back of the saloon.  His rather desperate plan was to attack Jesse from behind and take his gun, before returning to deal with the lawmen.  Jesse was peering round the corner of the goods store, trying to see what had happened to Preacher Adams.

However, Emmett's luck ran out when he rolled very poorly for his charge and before he had covered half of the distance, Jesse spun round and shot him.  The wound wasn't serious, but it was embarrassing to be caught in the open like that, trying to sneak up...

...especially as Sheriff Roberts was doggedly following Emmett along the street, shotgun loaded and ready!

Out of the blue, Rico (the Bandito's drunkard) turned aggressive.  He vaulted the fence and charged Jesse from behind.  Such was the ferocity of his attack that he even knocked the big man over!  Juan attempted to come and aid his fellow Bandito, but couldn't manage to climb the fence in his cowboy boots (failed the dice roll 3 times in a row, if I remember correctly).

Back at the Dry Goods store, Injun Joe staggered to his feet despite his wounds.  He tried to fire at Deputy Eddie, but missed.  The Lawman fired back, but jammed his gun.  He then charged the wounded man and was still wrestling with him at the end of the game.

Emmett skirted the punch-up between Rico and Jesse, now intending to go for the preacher's shotgun.  Santos had just made sure that Preacher Adams was out of action for good and was hovering indecisively, wondering how to intervene in the fist fight.

It looked as if the bad guys might win, when 2 things happened one after the other.  Firstly Rico, the drunk, backed out of his fight with Jesse and passed out.  Then, the sheriff came marching up and aimed his shotgun at the cluster of bad guys between the outhouse and the store.

He fired at point blank range (Sheriff Roberts had collected a wild card that permitted him to take another turn immediately) and this one shot changed the balance of the game completely.  Emmett was killed outright and Santos was wounded severely and knocked out.

Final Tally

So, who won?  Here are the standings of the factions at the end:

  • Outlaws: Emmett (dead), Injun Joe (badly injured)
  • Banditos: Santos (badly injured), Rico (passed out), Juan (unharmed, but stuck half-way over a fence)
  • Posse: Preacher Adams (badly injured and tied up), Jesse (lightly injured)
  • Lawmen: Sheriff Roberts (lightly injured), Deputy Eddie (unharmed)
By my reckoning, the Good side won.  Of the Good factions, the Lawmen had less severe injuries and are therefore the winner. Order is restored in Big Whiskey, if only until the next game!

Sunday 24 June 2012

Army Showcase: Zombies!

I've not written much about ATZ or Zombies recently.  This isn't because I have forgotten or given up, but rather because I'm trying to use the momentum I've gained from all your earlier encouragement to prepare something new.  I'm working on producing models for a sheltered housing complex (as mentioned in my ATZ campaign games, parts 2, and 3), so I have the option of playing the next game there.  Of course, this is taking a long time; longer than I predicted...

In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to show photographs of my zombie collection.  This is partly for my own benefit, as I then have a permanent record of which models I have.  But, hey - you might like to take a look too!
These zombies are from the idiosyncratic Golgo Island range.  I've added the walking stick to the old man, but otherwise they are unmodified.

Zombies from Tengu Miniatures.  Because I host games with a lot of teenage boys, I don't like to have too many naked female miniatures (it distracts them too much!), so some of the nudes have been "dressed" with green stuff.
Cold War Miniatures.  Lots of character!

More Zombies from Cold War Miniatures

Wargames Factory multi-part plastic zombies.  Yes, the one in the middle does have a portion of chips (on the ground, in the brown paper), to go with the foot he is carrying!
More figures from Wargames Factory.  I'm quite proud of the surf shorts that the centre guy is wearing.
Another small group of Wargames Factory zombies
Victory Force zombies.  Some of their huge range.
More zeds from Victory Force
Another group from Victory Force.  Mostly Star Trek crew (or re-enactors)

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Full Thrust: Destroy the Planetary Stabiliser!

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away...

Federation spies have learned that the Empire has nearly finished construction of a gigantic battlestation, capable of destroying an entire planet!  If this is completed then it will be a massive setback to the Federation's plans.  So, a makeshift force of starships has been gathered together; they hope to catch the Empire napping and destroy the unfinished Planetary Stabiliser!

Special Rules

  1. Fully Operational!  The Stabiliser is much more complete than the Federation imagines; apart from undergoing last-minute systems checks it is complete.  At the end of each turn, the Empire player rolls 2 dice to attempt  powering up the battlestation; these can be assigned to any of 4 different areas.  For example, he/she might decide to roll 1d6 on WEAPONS and 1d6 on SHIELDS.  If desired then both dice could be rolled for the same area.  The number of pips rolled is scored off the track for that area; when the total passed one of the given thresholds then the benefits listed for that area are gained.
  2. It's a trap!  The Empire isn't quite so foolish as to leave their newest project defenseless.  There are Empire ships (to the value of 50% of the attacking forces) lying in wait.  These are "running silent" and cannot be detected over 12".  The Empire player places 10 numbered "blips" anywhere he/she desires around the board and secretly writes on each ship record with which blip it is associated.  When revealed (either by a Federation ship within 12" or at the Empire's wish at the start of any turn), the ship is placed on the board at the blip's location, initially at speed 0 and with any desired heading.

The Game

 The Planetary Stabiliser is in orbit around the class-M planet Paxis.  There are some localised asteroid/debris fields nearby and a number of (triangular) sensor blips can be seen in the middle distance.

The Federation fleet came hurtling in between the asteroid fields, trying to close the distance as quickly as possible.  The light cruiser Los Angeles and the destroyer Antelope broke right, hoping to turn back later and end up directly behind the Stabiliser.  The rest of the fleet headed straight for the target, inflicting very minor damage at long range as they came.

At this point, the Federation were dismayed by a couple of things happening.  Firstly, the Planetary Stabiliser showed energy readings and its shields came partly up.  Obviously it wasn't quite as unready as they had been led to believe!  Secondly, a trio of Imperial ships (the cruiser Goliath and the destroyers Despot and Monarch) fired up their active sensors, right in the path of the Federation flanking move.

The Imperial ships barely moved as the Federation fleet charged forward.  Goliath launched a squadron of TIE fighters; these attacked Antelope but were almost completely ineffective and lost 3 of their number to lucky PDS fire!  Federation ships concentrated their weapons on the small destroyer Despot which blew up before it could fire a shot.  However, this did save the bigger Imperial ships from much damage.

The fast-moving Federation ships scattered in all directions as they (mostly) overshot their target.  The depleted TIE squadron switched its attack to the Ibex, but was still no more than a minor nuisance.  Ibex reduced the Imperial destroyer Monarch to a drifting hulk with a lucky first strike at point blank range.  Both heavy cruisers exchanged fire as the Danube swept past at high speed, though with both ships' heavy weapons unable to fire at those arcs, damage was limited.  By this time, the Planetary Stabiliser had all shields up and was starting to bring weapons and engines online.

The Toronto and the Sable headed off into the distance, having turned away from the planet (but not slowed down much).  On the other hand, the Los Angeles and the Antelope turned towards it; at the speed they were traveling it would be touch and go whether they could make it!  Ibex was the only Federation ship that was in a good position to target the Planetary Stabiliser, having been neatly positioned right behind her.  Unfortunately for the Ibex, the Empire had the heavy cruiser Goliath right behind her!

The Beast Roars!

Up till now, the Federation ships had been only lightly damaged.  But now the main batteries of the Planetary Stabiliser came on line.  Even with her fire split between the Sable (at long range) and the Los Angeles, this came to a terrifying number of dice in each salvo.  Although neither ship was destroyed immediately, both started to take some significant hits.

The Los Angeles scraped the top of the planet's atmosphere as she barely managed to turn in time.  However, this put her at point blank range for the Planetary Stabiliser's broadside; with massive damage taken she was unable to make any effective reply.  The Planetary Stabiliser's frontal armament was now targeting the Toronto; again significant damage was done even though the firing was at a considerable range.

Now things really started to go downhill for the Federation.  The Antelope failed to make her high-speed turn.  Her captain ordered "abandon ship!" just before she smacked into the planet's Southern Ocean (no doubt causing a considerable tsunami).  A few escape pods managed to pull free.

Even as the Danube came round to try to rescue the stranded Ibex, the Goliath hit the crippled Federation destroyer with a massive salvo (20 points of damage!).

The already-battered Los Angeles took further critical hits from the Planetary Stabiliser as she overshot.  Out of spite, the Federation cruiser used her last remaining weapon to destroy the ravaged Imperial destroyer Monarch, which had been creeping away slowly for some time.  At the same time, the Planetary Stabilier's other batteries continued to rack up serious damage to the Toronto and the Sable as they tried to turn at high speed.

A vengeful Danube got a lucky warp core hit on the Goliath; she blew up almost immediately.  Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles couldn't take the close-range pummeling from the Planetary Stabiliser; she was also destroyed.


Unluckily for the Federation, the 2 ships that had flown across the front of the Planetary Stabiliser had both taken warp core hits (as well as much other damage); neither of them survived.  Which left just the Federation heavy cruiser Danube on one side, versus the fully operational Planetary Stabiliser on the other.  Even though neither ship was heavily damaged, the odds would have been heavily in the Empire's favour, so the Danube beat a hasty retreat while the ponderous battlestation tried to turn round.
The Empire may have lost a few smaller ships, but they didn't matter.  The Planetary Stabiliser had all but obliterated a surprise Federation attack on its own.  This was obviously a massive Imperial victory and and immense propaganda coup!

Saturday 16 June 2012

Lost Lands: Klingon Holiday (part 2)

(continued from part 1)

Prehistorica: Day 2

After a night's rest, the bridge crew returned to the same spot of the planet for another day's hunting.  "I want those targ" exclaimed captain Mor'tah.  "Nobody is to scare them off this time!"

Once again, the captain heard noises on the far side of "Dead Tree Hill".  However, when he and Sira climbed to the top to investigate, there was nothing there.  Mor'tah shook his head in bewilderment, but said nothing.  Although his crew were very loyal, it wouldn't do to show any weakness in front of them by admitting that he was getting jumpy.

"Hah, I thought so!" he shouted as a huge creature lurched slowly from the trees just ahead of him.  Sira just gaped, stunned at the size of the animal, but Mor'tah was quick to react.  He took careful aim and fired once, hitting the creature directly in the brain.  With a tremendous crash of breaking branches, it collapsed to the ground and expired.

The crew clustered round and gazed at the corpse.  "Captain, congratulations."  "That's...very impressive!"  "Look at the size of that beast!"  "Good shot!"
Only Sira, the medical officer was muted in her praise.  She had her suspicions that despite its fearsome appearance, the anatomy of the creature suggested it to be a slow-moving and dim-witted herbivore.  It would only be dangerous if you got close enough for it to stand on you accidentally.  However, she kept her thoughts to herself - now wasn't the right time.
Mor'tah thumbed his communicator.  "Transporter chief, I have a job for you!"  He turned to the rest of the hunters.  "I think we'll get a big enough pelt from this to cover the entire command deck with fur rugs!"

Once the first kill of the day had been dealt with, the party advanced in a loose line towards the river.  Since there had been animals there yesterday, perhaps they would have the same luck today?

As they advanced, Ensign Leyra wandered off on the flank.  The other Klingons hadn't noticed how far she had gone from the rest of them, but they weren't the only ones who were watching.

Peering out of the bushes at the river's edge, a huge bird waited for the moment when Leyra's back was turned.

Without making a sound, it sprinted from its hiding place and caught the young officer by surprise.  She was felled before even being aware of its presence.

Her comrades saw all that happened, but were too far away to intervene during the initial attack.  However when the bird paused to adjust the grip of its enormous foot, the other Klingons opened fire with everything they had.  Bolt after bolt hit the bird, leaving it as a smoking ruin of a corpse. [Incredibly, 9 out of 10 shots fired were hits.  Even given the size difference (Leyra: size 1, bird: size 4) I would have expected some incoming fire to hit the unfortunate ensign - but no, she was unscathed and the bird took a pounding!]

Amazingly as the hunters ran up to the corpse, Leyra was clearly conscious.  Indeed, she was trying to struggle out from beneath the bird's body, more embarrassed and angry than hurt [that 'resilient' attribute was handy!].  She had barely a scratch; just a small trickle of blood flowed from her shoulder.
"Right, back to the ship, everyone!" ordered Mor'tah.  "Leyra, you will report directly to sickbay".
"But captain!  It's just a scratch - I'm OK really."
"No arguments!  I want a proper checkup done.  And let's all think about what just happened.  P'rang - beam us up!"

Prehistorica: Day 3

 On the 3rd day of their holiday, the captain ordered Leyra to stay on board the P'Rang and catch up on some paperwork.  The rest of the hunters left the sullen ensign and returned to Prehistorica for some more trophies.

This time, they decided to start a bit closer to the river and work their way back.  Perhaps this would reduce the risk of ambushes from that direction?

 Caprain Mor'tah, Vagh and N'Kara were a little way ahead of the other two when they turned a corner in the river and came across a strange sight.  A huge beast with a domed shell was being pursued by 2 dog-like animals.  These in turn appeared to be associated with a small group of people who had almost bumped into the Klingons [it's not often that 3 PEFs are so close together and none are resolved as "nothing there"].

The three Klingons approached the strangers.  "Tell them to leave.  This is our hunting ground" hissed N'Kara to her captain.
Mor'tah called out "Who are you?  What are you doing here?"
"Kion vi faras?" responded the strangers' leader.  "Ĉu vi komprenas?"
 "I don't think our automatic translators are working on this dialect" muttered Mor'tah.  He paused and thought for a moment.  "Klingons.  We are Klingon" he said, as slowly and clearly as he could.

The strangers' leader had obviously lost patience.  He reached for his gun...
 ...but this was a language that the Klingon captain understood.  As quick as a flash, Mor'tah brought up his disruptor and shot the stranger dead.  Immediately, 2 members of the now-hostile party raised their own guns and shot back.  The other 2 charged forward as they drew their swords.  Mor'tah fell to the ground, temporarily stunned [the 'resilient' attribute proves its worth again.  These Klingons are tough!], while his companions drew their own weapons and shot down the swordsmen.

 One of the two remaining gang members turned and fled, but the other was made of sterner stuff.  He continued to fire wildly at Vagh and N'Kara; they both took shelter behind nearby bushes.  Although the stranger forced Vagh to keep hidden with a number of bullets that nearly hit him, the captain was able to recover enough to shoot the gunman dead. [Wow!  The THW reaction system means that when things kick off, they happen fast].
N'Kara approached the wounded man.  "What was that about?  Answer!" she shouted, as she shook him roughly.  The wounded man made a bubbling sound and expired.  "Weakling!" she muttered as she dropped the corpse.

Mor'tah got back on his feet groggily.  "Treacherous vermin!" he called out.  Then he set off at a run after the survivor who had fled.  He caught up with the the man after a short distance and shot him down.

Meanwhile, the strangers' 2 "dogs" were attacking the giant armadillo, although they weren't making any impression on its armoured flanks.

Vagh unsheathed his bat'leth and charged into the melee.  The nearer dog was taken completely by surprise and received a deep gash on one flank from the Klingon's attack.  It immediately whimpered and fled.  The other dog rounded on Vagh, but after being fended off once it also fled.

The armadillo was trying to make its escape whilst the dogs and the security chief squared off.  It didn't managed to get very far on its short legs before some of the other trigger-happy Klingons started to shoot at it.  Almost all of their disruptor bolts just bounced off its thick hide; only one grazed a leg.
When captain Mor'tah returned and saw this, he called out "Leave it be!  This animal is not dangerous and I see no honour in shooting it at point-blank range.  We are Klingons!"

With that, the hunting holiday ended; any other game in the area must have been scared off by the noises of the fight.  Most of the crew were very satisfied with the 3 days of sport, though Leyra was mortified to have missed out on the big fight at the end.  Both Maal and Mor'tah had impressive trophies and all had plenty of tall tales to tell!


I was hoping that these games would be a good test run for my "Attributes for Animals" amendments to the basic Lost Lands rules.  However, these games weren't really a very fair test.  Here are some observations about how they worked:
  • The hunters were so heavily armed (and comparatively numerous) that the first reaction test for many of the animals was "Received Wound".  This isn't a test that was altered by my amendments; wounded animals will typically flee in the base rules.
  • Even when the animals reacted ahead of the Klingons, most contact occurred at fairly short range.  This meant that they had only a small range of reactions (typically "charge" or "flee"); some of the more interesting middle-distance possibilities of a predator stalking its prey or a herbivore backing off slowly didn't come into play.
  • The glyptodon ("armadillo") had the ARMOURED attribute; this was surprisingly effective against gunfire, though by no means did it make the creature invulnerable.