Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mars Needs Women

For the Saturday evening slot of GZG ECC, I was in the Mars Needs Women Victorian Science Fiction game run by Steve Barosi and Martin Connell. The rules were StarGrunt, somewhat modified when handling vehicles--the aerial gunboats had hull sections, with hull boxes and systems like Full Thrust.
The premise is that a Martian ship had crash landed near an English village; Martian and British forces were each trying to capture the ship, as well as any women to be found in the nearby village.
On the Martian left, I had a squad of regular infantry, a flight of three veteran manta-riders with beam weapons, and an aerial skiff with a bow gun and a squad of melee-only veteran infantry. The other two Martian players had about the same, except the right had eight or ten manta riders with rifles instead of beam weapons--quite a handicap, since with rifles you have to get within their rifle range--and in the center we had a General and a Martian spider walker tank. The British had an aerial gunboat, larger than our air skiffs and carrying several squads of infantry; a tank; and armored walker; and several squads of infantry plus a couple of gun crews.
On my side, things went pretty much according to plan. My air skiff was plagued by a faulty engine but I managed to bring it forward enough for my raiding party to fast-rope down into the village. The skiff's bow gun blew up the British tank before it could do anything, and then traded shots with the British gunboat, although it came off the short end of that exchange--my gun was destroyed by return fire. My manta riders added to the fire against the gunboat, then moved forward to attack the British walker. Their beams sliced up the walker but also caught the attention of a nearby Maxim crew; the hail of bullets killed two riders and the third decided that he'd done enough in that battle and it was time to leave. Meanwhile, my raiders started searching houses and capturing women, working their way back to our baseline. My infantry took up a protected position, ready to give fire support; unfortunately another player's raiding party ambled across my front and blocked my field of fire. My raiders discovered three women )of the seven on the field) and made off with them, so my part of tings was pretty much successful. On the other side of the battle, however....
 Stuart had a couple of squads of Hang-glider Highlanders on board the gunboat. When the aerial skiff from the Martian right got close, the Highlanders flung themselves over the rail, spread their wings and glided in to assault the skiff. They handily defeated the Martian "veteran" raiding party, dropped the wounded over the side, and forced the surviving crew to pilot the skiff for them. When ordered to bring the skiff alongside the gunboat, our pilot tried to ram, but the bloodthirsty Highlanders detected his intent and cut him down, whereupon a budding Montgomery Scott figured out how to work the alien controls and brought the skiff safely alongside (This was handled by a series of opposed rolls, with the Martian player failing every one.  The GM told him "I'm trying to hand you the game, but your dice have to cooperate!"). One squad then went down to take control of the crashed Martian ship (and the women thereon), while the other tried to hang glide onto a unit of mantas. The rifle-armed riders manged to beat back the assault, which was the only effective thing they did; they spent most of the game suppressed by British fire.
In the end, my raiders got away with three women and the Brits ran off with four. The Martians had a unit of mantas and an infantry squad on the downed ship; the Brits had two or three squads and had crash landed their captured skiff on the ship to bring reinforcements in an attempt to gain sole control. The two remaining Martian skiffs circled overhead. The game was ruled a tie, although the GMs ruled that the Highlander officer who led the hang-glider attack got a VC. A very fun game with lots of handsome minis, which are tempting me to get back into collecting figures again.

Hammer's Slammers

Stuart Murray ran two sessions of Hammer's Slammers, with two mercenary forces contending for an urban area. The set up had a city in the northeast corner of the map, with two east-west ridges on the western side of the map (forming northern, central and southern valleys) and some hedged fields in between, with rough terrain and a road south of the city. Our job was to get units onto or adjacent to the crossroads in the city; their job was to stop us. The fire-resolution part of the game is pretty simple: most weapons have unlimited range, so if have line of sight you roll a d6 against your quality to see if you hit, roll a d6 plus your weapon vs his armor to see if you penetrate, roll a d6 plus any excess penetration to see what damage you do. What you have to pay attention to is your command points. Each turn you roll 2d6 plus your Leadership to see how many command points you have; it costs 1CP to move one element, 2 more to move it again, and 4CP to move it a third time. You usually have 6-10 elements in a unit, so you can usually move everything once; but if you're trying to rush into a city, you need more than that. In addition, you can use CP to boost your unit's shooting, and to retry quality tests (such as "passing over a hedge").
In the first game, we though the defenders were coming in from the north instead of, most of them, starting inside the city, so our axis of advance was off; in addition, we were using cm instead of inches, and it was our first time playing. Consequently, our attackers never really got close to the city.
The second time around, I was in charge of he attackers and Indy (the other round-two player who'd been in the first game) took charge of the defense. This time, or forces came in from the west. In the south valley, Steve Barosi's recon formation tangled with and destroyed the defender's screen, although our unit was pretty battered by the end. Damond pushed some heavy tanks up the center. Our recon unit on the north was broken up by infantry buzzbombs but my heavies came on and knocked out their armor, forcing them to withdraw. We pushed hard in the north and center and managed to force a single tank into the objective area; nine infantry squads close-assaulted but failed to do more than immobilize it, so we eked out a draw. A very close, hard fought game with lots of burning armor on the field.
The rules are quick and simple; the book is fairly long but most of that is fluff and unit TOs, with the actual meat being only about sixteen pages. By halfway through the game, pretty much everyone had a handle on the basics of how to move and shoot and could manage without having to ask Stuart for help.

Friday, February 21, 2014

GZG ECC: Jedi vs Droids

   Stuart Murray ran a homebrew game Friday night at ECC; his five year old son created the rules and Stuart polished them a little. The game was Jedi vs Droids. The droids are defending a facility with three shield generators; the Jedi have to reach and disable all three generators, after which clone trooper gunships can sweep in and wipe out the rest of the droids.
   Figures are Troopers (droids, clones), Leaders (padawan, Sith assassins), or Heroes (Jedi, General Grievous), which get 1, 2 and 3 dice respectively. When firing at close range, add a die; if you have a Big Weapon or Great Big Weapon, add one or two more dice. Troopers hit on a 6, Leaders on a 5-6, Heroes on a 4-6. Getting hit means you lose a die. Clearly a droid trooper going up against a Jedi is going to lose (1/6 chance of a hit, vs 7/8 chance of at least one hit); of course, there are a lot more droids. In melees, whoever rolls the highest single die wind, so if your droid rolls a 6 and a Jedi rolls a 5,5,5, then the droid wins (until the Jedi uses his Force points to change things). And--because the game was created by a five year old--you have to make the appropriate weapon noises if you're going to have any effect, so a blaster shot that doesn't get an accompanying "pew pew!" doesn't hit.
   Jedi don't have ranged weapons but can use their light sabers to reflect incoming fire. When a squad fires on a Jedi, the Jedi rolls an attack; if he gets any hits, all the "successful" droid shots go back and hit droids instead. Example: nine droids at close range roll 18 dice and get three hits; the Jedi rolls three dice and gets 1, 1, 4, so one success; that reflects back the three droid shots and the droids lose three troopers. Jedi also get 1d3 Force points per turn, usable at any time, with which they can Force Jump, or Force Push, or Force Escape From A Melee They're Losing, or Force Reroll A Die (which means if you thought you hit one, they can make you reroll your hit, or reroll theirs), or Force Whatever They Can Persuade The GM To Go Along With.
  Droids get reinforcements; every turn, when the droid player (or leader, if it's a multiplayer game as ours was) activates, he rolls 2d6 and gets that many reinforcements. The new droids must come on the table closer to their baseline than the farthest Jedi forces, so you can't use that to pop out behind the Jedi lines. The Sith assassins and Grievous don't have Force points but they do have 1d3 Hero points (per game, not per turn like the Jedi); Grievous also has four light sabers, so in melee he rolls 4 attacks at 3 dice each.

In our case, the Jedi came on and pretty quickly killed the first two shield generators while mowing down hordes of droids. And then our special units started getting involved....Jon Davis had a bounty hunter, who had an assignment to capture a Mon Calamari Jedi. The Jedi advanced beyond his supporting clone troopers (or droid fire took out the clones, who Stuart described as "ablative armor for the Jedi"), and then Boba Jon attacked. They dueled for a couple of turns, then Jon got the upper hand, summoned his Slave 1 ship and took off with his captive. And General Grievous got into a duel with a padawan; the padawan was about to die when she converted to the Dark Side, and became a Sith! In my case, I had a Sith assassin, who dueled a Jedi, getting a couple of hits in before he got bisected; that was good enough for my next droid squad to fire on the Jedi and finish him off before he could destroy the last shield generator. A Jedi then Force carried a Jedi droid to the shield generator, and the R2 unit tried to shut down the generator, but our droids figured out what was going on and opened fire. Finally, Obi wan Force Jumped over an intervening droid squad, doing a face-plant on the side of the building when he didn't roll well enough at first; but then he scrambled up the side and did the final hit on the final shield generator. Triumphant music ensues and the surviving Jedi look very heroic...but off to the side, the new Sith infiltrator glowers....