Tabletop Gaming

Patrol Angis: Stalking in the Forest AAR

This is a report on my third, unsuccessful attempt at the first demo mission that comes with Patrol Angis by Gavin Syme.  This time all of the figures were painted, and I thought I might have a plan.  The goal is to get as many of the Prydians (at the bottom) off the board at the top.  The Yordist battlesuits will be trying to stop them.  Trying to outrun the battlesuits didn’t work the first two times I tried it, so this time I decided to kill my problems away by attacking the battlesuits vigorously.

Let’s see how that went, shall we?

Here’s how it started out.  The three battlesuits at the top, normally locked together as a unit, get to move and attack separately for this special scenario.  At the bottom, from left to right, I have a sniper mina (two-man troop element), a sort of  assault demi (four-man troop element), a miscellaneous demi (two heavy weapons, a rifleman and a guy with a pistol for some reason), Balthazar and Jerome (the noble commander and his guy), and a pretty standard post (ten-man troop element) with rifles, a rocket launcher and a loader.

The setup.

The setup. Prydians at the bottom. Yordists at the top

Ouch.  The Prydians won initiative with a six, so there were many activation points to spread around.  The Prydians couldn’t see through the trees, so they moved forward.  Unfortunately, the heavy weapons of the battlesuits can penetrate through a fair amount of cover, and they attacked, killing the sniper mina almost immediately and putting the hurt on the Prydian post, killing half of them.  The Prydian morale held, though.  On the left, the Prydian assault demi charged forward on their suicide mission.

 

The first Duxis has a howitzer.  It’s not that nasty, but it can shoot over cover.  The third has a rail gun.  It packs a punch.  The second has a laser cannon.  This thing is awful.  It gets to roll two dice to hit, it has a large AOE, and normal troops basically die automatically if it hits them.  Yuck.

Three duxis on top, to prydian troop elements approach.

Going for the Kill

We got him!  Well, kind of.  We hurt him at least.  In this scenario, I’m finding that return fire (if you live) is pretty effective.  I’m wondering if next time I try this (because I will try again until I win) I shouldn’t go on overwatch a bunch and wait for them to come to me.

Wearing him down!

Then the rail gun battlesuit decided to get even, and just obliterated the Prydian “miscellaneous” demi.  It wasn’t really a “sneak attack”, but it did come from the flank, I suppose.  Note the yellow “remotivate” token, aka “morale failure”, aka “pee stain”. 😛  That’s OK.  That Duxis got murdered on the next turn.  Why don’t I have a picture of that?  You guys believe me, right? 🙁

Sneak attack!

The assault demi didn’t get very far through the rough terrain before they got mowed down by the Duxis.  One brave Roaz axe wielder gave it his all, though, charging alone into the face of a big, fat impact-fist.  He actually almost killed it, too.  He did one more point of damage, but couldn’t find a second, and the Duxis followed up by punching him into goo.  The howitzer Duxis did die shortly after that, though.  So… that’s something, I guess.

Go out swinging!

Finally, having lasered everyone else into atoms, the last Duxis stormed forward on six activation tokens that he didn’t have to share with anybody.  Balthazar put up a good fight, and actually managed to wound the thing, but he had to use up all of his activation tokens trying to survive.  Even his ability to shake off death (once) wasn’t enough, and eventually he fell.

They probably should have run away. They could have had a nice life together.

OK.  So my plan for next time is to optimize my defenses (but not at the cost of offense), try to lie in wait with overwatch if I can’t just shoot them, and (I just thought of this) maybe give my front-line guys extra activation tokens to soak some of that damage.  That might work.

So, Patrol Angis.  Fun and challenging with some interesting tactical levers that I don’t have enough sense to use yet.  It would probably be even better with an actual opponent.  I will find somebody and bend them to my will!

Learning how to Setup and Play: Race for the Galaxy

For the most part, everything is in the video up above, but I like to give some textual content for these things, so I’m going to elaborate a bit on our home rules.

In general, I find home rules to be distasteful.  Sometimes friends will ask to change a rule to supposedly make a game “more interesting” and it always makes me feel like if I wanted something different, I could just play a different game.  I get that some other people like to experiment with existing game rules, I just never want to participate in those kinds of shenanigans.

Anyways, one area I usually “am” willing to experiment with, is manipulations of the random aspects of a game.  In particular, the way a game is setup, such as in Roll for the Galaxy with the starting homeworld and starting faction being random.  The fact that it is random, means that in theory you could end up playing the same combination of faction and homeworld multiple times.  Heck, you could end up randomly playing the “same” faction every single time!  Because random can sometimes not seem very random, I’m willing to override the randomnness as long as it retains the philosophy of the game itself.

In this case, Roll for the Galaxy intends for you to not know which faction or homeworld you’ll get, which I support as a strong gameplay element.  However, because as I explain in the video, I don’t like the feeling some players will have of feeling like they lost because of bad luck, I introduced the concept of receiving two random factions, then two random homeworlds.

This way, its still random which options are available to each player, but yet the players had a bit of control to nudge the game towards what they think will be an advantage.

So there you go, I think it works pretty well, and since playing this way, I can’t remember anyone complaining that another player had an “unfair” advantage.

What does everyone think? Do you enjoy messing with rules and playing freestyle? Do you dislike even my subtle manipulation of the rules?  Let us know!

How to Setup the Xenoshyft Cooperative Board Game

If you haven’t read the game review, its here.   Otherwise, if you’re ready to setup the game or merely want to know what it takes to setup the game, I setup the game, then play a sample round.

As I’m going, I talk through some interesting aspects of the game, some of the meta-meanings of certain portions, and give some advice.  Hopefully most of it is correct! 😀

If you haven’t picked it up yet, you can pick it up here (affiliate link).  Thanks everyone!

Shadowrun Tabletop Gameplay – Prequel to Claustrophobia

Joshua "Blackfeather" SapaThis is a prequel to the live game. For that video and continuing narrative, go here.

***

Joshua Sapa opens the box tentatively. It had already been checked for poisons and traps, but its lead-lined structure means that the contents could be more dangerous than it seems.

The box had come in earlier in the day, an Aztec ceremonial box found in a museum crate stuffed away a century ago. It was definitely interesting, and more than one artifact has been found lying around in some museum thought to be just a trinket before the world’s magic came back.

Subconsciously holding his breath, he pushes in the last button and at the same time, pushes on the lid. It resists for a moment, then as the lid slides back, the lights in the office go dim. At the same time, his AR contacts start showing weird symbols before even the weird symbols fade out. Inside the box, he finds a very small Spanish journal along with a golden disc.  Just by instinct, he knows that the disc is obviously the source of the disturbance that affected his electronics. He can hear curses from across the lab, the other two magicians he works with are experiencing similar issues with their electronics.

He realizes in a flash that if his contacts are rebooting, the magical pulse may have affected other electronics. Looking up in the corner, he can see the yellow light of the NeoNet camera rebooting. In a flash, he gets the idea that he could take the book and no one would know. He doesn’t know why, but he slips it into his belt satchel.

A few minutes later, as all of the electronics come back on, he carefully records in his NeoNet official record the contents of the crate.
“Total contents of crate – One Mayan disc: Magical effects unknown, powerful enough to temporarily effect electronics”

***
Two days later, Blackfeather, as Joshua likes to be called when he’s on a “Run”, is sitting in an old transport plane that has been retrofitted with modern electronics.  In some ways, the loud vibration of the old plane was relaxing, putting him in a trance most of the trip as he thought back over what he had pilfered from the box.

For the past few nights, he had worked almost feverously, deciphering the ancient Spanish writing found in the journal.  It was the private journal of a Spanish conquistador, Henrando de Elmagro.  He described where the Mayan box and disc had been found, an underground Mayan temple! The conquistador had found a cave near the heart of the Aztec empire, what had in modern times, become Aztlan! An amazing find for any anthropologist, but so much more amazing now with knowledge of the kinds of things these temples often held. Hernando de Elmagro himself had died before he could return, then the box and disc had been moved around between museums for decades. The journal described strange runes, traps, and a “weird” feeling. All of this lead to his decision to take some time off work and head deep into the Empire of Aztlan.

A particularly bad rumble brought him back to the present.  He looked around, but no one else in the large cargo plane seemed to be worried by the turbulence.  “MadM@x”, as the coyote rigger likes to be called, prided himself on the old plane. He swore that Azlan would allow them to land safely in Tenochtitlán in as he regularly delivered UCAS steel and machinery and had the proper permits. He claimed that he intentionally kept a low-tech vehicle because he was viewed as less of a threat. Blackfeather didn’t particularly care, the rigger’s references were good, if not prime.

The other two he had brought along, a troll, Bastion and an ork, Smashup, he was less comfortable with. He knew their combat qualifications were up to par, but if anything, that was part of the problem.  The troll had a reputation with a rocket launcher he liked to carry around that gave the troll a reputation that few intentionally wanted to mess with. Smashup likewise had a talent with two heavy pistols that Joshua more than felt certain would help deal with any native fauna they were likely to encounter.

No no, it was their reputation for brashness that he was most concerned with. He talked them out of the rocket launcher, but he couldn’t get them to give up their grenades. He made it very clear in their contract that if the magical artifacts were damaged by their carelessness, there would be no pay unless he authorized the weapons. They looked at him like he was an idiot, but agreed.

He didn’t like being both the Johnson arranging the job and a participant on the Run, but it was satisfying too. Thrilling even.

***

Three days into their journey, the trip no longer felt thrilling. Angry red welts covered him where the mosquitos regularly seemed to target him and madM@x.  The ork and troll seemed uninteresting to the bloodsuckers as long as the succulent humans were around. In fact, the troll hadn’t been bitten even once, and the ork perhaps only once or twice. The chuckle from the troll every time he slapped at one of the unusually large pests feasting on his blood didn’t help. He wanted to pull rank, threaten financial consequences, something… But then he looked at the challenging glare of the 3 meter troll and thought maybe the troll wanted him to try something like that.   His skill with assensing made him suspicious that perhaps the troll was looking for any excuse to turn on him and head back to civilization. Maybe..well it doesn’t matter, it was his run, and he’d suffer through it all for the kinds of magical power the trip would deliver into his hands.

His irritation with the troll almost made him laugh when the troll fell into that pit with the webbing. The 3 meter long spiders that quickly leaped onto the troll shook him however, ending his chuckle before it could start. The troll suffered several bites before they were able to put the creatures down, though the venom leaking from the wound didn’t seem to faze the massive warrior in the slightest. Either from his size or from the obvious implants, Blackfeather wasn’t sure.

Bastion didn’t laugh anymore, though, so the bites must not have been painless. In many ways, the massive puckered red rings on the troll’s arms and neck were grotesque mirrors of the swollen red scabs on the mage and rigger.  From that point on, the group stomped through the jungle mostly without speaking…

When they found the boulder in the shape of a crescent moon, the group’s excitement returned. Visions of magical foci for Blackfeather and shares of Mayan gold for the warriors swam through their heads. It took some digging to uncover some loose stones that had collected debris over the centuries, but it was exactly where De Elmagro had specified. De Elmagro had intended to return with more men and hadn’t wanted his find to be discovered before he could take all of its treasures. Blackfeather hated the Imperialist Europeans who had decimated his people, but he could appreciate the irony that the Spanish explorer’s selfishness had probably saved the artifacts from being pillaged by other Europeans and would now fall into his, a Sioux’s hands.

Once they had uncovered the pit, they lowered themselves with smart rope to a cavern floor nearly 10 meters down. From there, they took a tunnel through some twists and turns more than a hundred meters in length, which lead deeper into the nearby mountain. Here and there, they could see ancient markings, the meaning of which were unknown to any of them. MadM@x complained about a lack of matrix access down here, he wanted to do a few searches to try and see if he could get some translations.

Blackfeather put the kibosh on that idea straight away! That’s the kind of newb move that got you caught by Aztechnology. No, they’d keep everything locked down tight for as long as possible, months or even years. He had no desire for someone’s random curiosity getting him black bagged.

The jaguar creatures were their first threat inside the cave. Just as they came out into a larger cavern, shadowy creatures leaped upon them. MadM@x’ drones took it the hardest, two scouts being wiped out and the dog drone being severely damaged. Bastion took some bad wounds too, but he assured them that while they looked bad, they weren’t significant. The GM-Nissan Doberman drone ended up getting left behind, causing the rigger to complain bitterly, but the drone just couldn’t walk right and was making a huge racket.

As the last of the growling creatures were put down, they looked closer.  The critters turned out to be large muscular quasi-humanoid jaguars.  They fought with almost primate intelligence, somewhere between sentients and pack animals.  They weren’t awakened and used no tools, but could be dangerous if their technology wasn’t preventing them from being ambushed.  Smashup claimed that he had fought some lab-built chimps that seemed similar, combined with the instincts and natural weapons of large felines.  Blackfeather suspected the creatures might be engineered creatures by Aztlan released to make the jungles less hospitable to would-be explorers like himself.

Blackfeather assensed that the spirits of the place being both curious of them and protective of the place. He didn’t feel unwanted, however, which he took as a sign to continue going. As they continued going into the cavern, they came upon what De Elmagro had described, the top of a Mayan pyramid buried here underneath the ground.  The journal said that the structure was called “The Temple of the Closed Eye” by some natives.  Blackfeather suspected the Spanish explorer was being a tad creative, if locals had known of the temple, surely it would have already been pillaged.  Then again, perhaps the conquistador had slain anyone who still knew of the story to prevent anyone else from finding it.  It surely wouldn’t have been the first time.

They approached the Mayan temple with hesitation, but no further threats leaped out at them. The temple seemed like the ground had simply swallowed the temple hole, leaving only a small space for the top. In decades past, it might have been deduced that the temple had been only built to appear that it had been swallowed, but with what was known now, Blackfeather was sure that the temple had indeed been built on the surface, then somehow taken underground.  Definitely some magic was involved! He was trembling with excitement just thinking about what wonders might be found!

Over the next few hours, they carefully worked their way down into layer after layer of the temple. They followed the Spanish explorer’s guide leading into where the case and disc were found, rarely veering off of the path as they didn’t want to encounter anything before retrieving the treasures.

The Treasure of the Temple of the Closed Eye

The Treasure of the Temple of the Closed Eye

If they had followed that strategy all the way to the end, things might have turned out different. Just prior to the heart of the temple where treasure could actually be seen, they stopped to rest in an antechamber. They had already dealt with more jaguar creatures, a giant anaconda-like snake with fire abilities, and several small but mostly simple traps. They had come through everything mostly unscathed, but Blackfeather was starting to have a bad feeling from all of the noise they were making. At one point, down a side chamber he had seen what looked like a rainbow patterned feathers fluttering away.

Blackfeather froze at the sign of what he most DID NOT want to find here, a feathered serpent. The last thing he wanted to deal with, was a dracoform. He started taking to talking out loud, saying he would like to meet anything that called this place its home. Doing everything in his power to not offend any great being that might still live here, while continuing to move forward in case it was just a case of paranoia.

It wasn’t the feathered serpent (which might not exist, nothing responded to his calls to greet the thing!) that was their downfall, it was the damned antechamber! They were resting, reloading, preparing to go into the treasure room they expected to have the most defenders when Bastion started fiddling with the wall. Blackfeather was in a corner sitting cross-legged, his body left behind while his spirit was tentatively exploring the next room. The next room was the first place where the spirits seemed to balk at him moving any further. Perhaps if he had kept his focus on the antechamber, maybe he would have stopped Bastion from prying a large gem out of the wall.

A great rumble shook the temple as his spirit was snapped back into his body. He staggered to his feet only to slam his head onto a great slab of stone that had fallen inward and now encased him in the small corner he had sat himself down in. He was unconscious for at least a few minutes, because when he woke up, the dust had mostly settled to the ground. He was gasping for breath a little, which wasn’t helping him to think clearly. It was terribly dark, and even with his contacts night vision, there wasn’t much to see, just rubble and debris from some sort of trap that had mostly filled in the antechamber.

His teammates were dead, killed so fast they had no time to react. He cleared out a bit of debris to increase his airway to the outside tunnels but knew he had no mechanism to move the heavy plinths that had fallen into the room. He had five days of food. He was mere meters away from perhaps the greatest magical find of his life, but he couldn’t even approach it safely due to spirits that threatened violence if he did. He could probably handle the spirits, as long as something else would cover him from any mundane threats he might draw by messing with them.

He couldn’t talk to any of his colleagues at NeoNet for help, if any of them turned in, they’d either leave him or come here to kill him and take everything for themselves. He couldn’t ask for local help, Aztlan would probably sacrifice him to their blood magic and take everything for themselves.

It was time to setup a second run, this time for the same rewards but with a second objective, the rescue of himself.

Let’s Play – Ghostbusters the Board Game

Our normal tabletop gaming group gets together to play Ghostbusters the Board Game by Cryptozoic. Anna replaces Lydon because she is so passionate for ghostbusters and because the game is specifically a 4 character game.

We play the first scenario which uses the basic rules.

Ramsey is Bryan Welsh, ghostbuster rookie.
Anna is Kylie Griffin.
Richard is Dr. Ray Stantz.
Steve is Dr. Egon Spengler.

We realized midway through, that ghosts moving around can easily block line of sight, so there was at least one point towards the beginning where a ghost blocked line of sight for a proton stream and we cheated a little bit. We don’t think it affected the game very much, but don’t let it affect your game when/if you play.

You can get your copy of the board game from Amazon:

To view the original kickstarter, go here

If you want to look at the kickstarter for the sequel, here you go. Both are obviously closed, but it can give you an idea whats coming up!

The Ingredients – How to Setup Ghostbusters the Board game

Open up your game and be ready to pause as Richard walks through setting up Ghostbusters the Board Game by Cryptozoic step by step.    Or, put the video on while you wait to receive your game to help be ready with an understanding of what the pieces like and where to position them after you DO receive the game.

This time, Richard only manages to make 3 mistakes and manages to catch two of them halfway through!  Don’t worry, the editor (Anna) catches all of them and has added notes where they happen.  If you see any others, please post a comment!

Whatever you do, try not to get slimed!

The Ingredients – Game Setup Guide for The Big Book of Madness

Just posted the first in our Game Setup series “The Ingredients”, a follow up to our review of The Big Book of Madness.

The intention here is that people can take out their copy of the game and set it up, or can watch it in preparation for getting a copy of the game. Enjoy!