Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Mars is a lie... But fetch the ride anyways

No more new games I said, well maybe Legion I said, oh yeh Blood Red Skies (but that was on pre-order from an eon ago so can't count), Firefly skirmish is really a board game and oh yeh pre-ordering Hogwarts Adventures hardly counts (it will be a gateway into getting my daughter and mates gaming, don't really want it myself) - SO apart from those NO NEW GAMES....

Oh wait, what they playing over there, templates, laughter and TOY CARS. Oh Gaslands I said, well it is cheap I said, only need a few one pound cars and I do like car fighting games... OH ok then maybe just the PDF I said...

So obviously a few days later the 'all in bundle' arrived from the designer's site. Then I saw that Hot Wheels do Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy themed cars... AND the floodgates opened, curse my lack of any self control gaming wise

But then they do look cool, even before a little touching up here and there...

So what is GASLANDS and why has it got our club frothing? I think one of the main lures of the game is that (I would say innate) desire at the back of the old grey matter to settle back into the time when a good table-top (or floor space) game was propelling your Dinky/Matchbox/Mattel/Hotwheels (delete whichever according to age) across the arena at your mate's car as they did the same. Hoping to see some air rendering, car flipping carnage - or at least banging into their knee cap or groin (depending on playing area) and making them groan like crazy.

Obviously, being grown, mature adults this kind of reprobate behaviour is beneath us (well until x number of stubbies have been downed at least) and therefore in steps GASLANDS. A game that lets you have a mature game of absolute car carnage with an elegant rules mechanic that is both satisfying yet easy enough to indulge in a few of the above mentioned stubbies (or tins/bottles of beverage depending on your vernacular) and still be able to make some awesome game play. But let NO ONE tell you those wheels should be glued or even worse put on bases - if for no other reason than that if the mood takes you one evening you can't then propel them across the table/floor.

The premise behind the game is that it is set in an alternative 'present' where the world has been screwed over by a ruling class that now live on Mars in luxury and treat the world as one big consumable resource, complete with cheap labour. Getting off world is a luxury only a few achieve and to dull the chance of any insurrection the 'on world tech system' has been stifled... Yes folks the thing that would send my class into an absolute fear induced stupor - no internet, mass communications, or social media of any sort. Cable TV is gone and the only thing to occupy the little free time people have is watching the sponsored channel on terrestrial TV which shows violent racing matches, matches that can be manipulated if needs be (think Hunger Games here) by the editors of the show. Stars of the sport tend to shine very brightly, but as the saying goes,  shine very briefly. The incentive to strap yourself into an armed metal box and hoon around a racetrack being shot at and blown up is of course the fact that if you win in the end you will get your ticket to MARS. Or so they tell you but of course - Mars is just a lie  (in game running joke).

Rules wise the game can be picked up very very quickly. according to a sequence one gets to activate a car, one chooses a template according to the speed (gear) you are moving at - the touch it you use it rule adds fun to the game - place it, sigh with relief or tremble with fear, depending on how it looks. Roll your skid dice (hoping bad things don't happen) and then fulfil/use your skid dice (oops bad things may well have happened) and then place your car in its final position. Then shoot the crap out of anyone near enough, then check to see if all the stress has taken too much toll (was that the crank shaft on the road behind you) and repeat for other players.

Make it through the final gate (or whatever the scenarios dictates is a win) and do your victory moves - yes I guarantee you WILL do this.

You design your cars how you like, there are various categories to choose from and you can equip the cars, drivers and passengers with various skills and weapons depending on your choice of sponsor who range from wasteland slimey scum, through performance cars 'runners' and tech type nerds to ex-police and ex-military types, all giving the cars and drivers access to differing abilities and equipment. Don't fret though as this procedure is simple and fun.

The above pic shows my first two 'teams' and I was geeky enough to equip them with abilities and weapons that matched their Star Wars characters - sad but true!

Movement is done as mentioned with templates and you win some and you lose some lol. The interplay between the template chosen (you have to be in certain gears to pick certain templates) and what can happen after the roll the handling dice for the skid check (basically to move up or down gears you have to roll these dice although technically it is optional) is very subtle. You always want to avoid rolling and gaining a HAZARD token (too many, well 6, of these and you are screwed for a while) but skids and slides can at times be very helpful, obviously at other times not! But amazingly, especially if you have played Car Wars, all this is kept very quick and easy to do. Below is our dear little R2 under Shaun's expert handling taking a corner like a pro... The photo after is what happens when said R2 manages to get a lot of Hazard markers, blow up Kylo with a flame attack, only to blow up Kylo a bit too much as he then gets damaged, flipped, lands on top of said explosion and well, explodes himself courtesy of the amount of flamer fuel (ammo tokens) he still has on board!

Board layout is easy and can be made as scenic as one desires, all you really need is some 'stuff' to mark the gates, solid obstructions and removable obstructions. Want a city race - get some buildings and you are done,

Wasteland race - get some rock stacks - done.

Want an arena race - get the obstacles - done

The sky is the limit and 0 scale 1/72 model railway scenery and 20mm wargames kit is your new best friend.

 My first game table was a race out of the city walls and into the post apoc surroundings. Tables can be from 3x3 foot to 4x4 foot for standard 50- 100 'can' games and we went with 4x3 as it fits nicely on the table in the living room.

All in all I was incredibly impressed. I had read the rules and watched some game play Youtube videos and we really only had to look a few things up that were not obvious from the quick play sheet.

Time wise it took about 80 minutes I think but we were slow as we were learning and having a good natter about the game as we went on and at one time had an Indian take-away to keep the spirits up, Mad Max and Fast and Furious soundtracks playing in the background (courtesy of Amazon Music).

Although the two teams were not armed up to the extreme there was still enough carnage to go round and the drivers can always shoot out their windows as well. And don't forget the good old tactic of ramming!

In the end Ruke took the honours flying over the finishing line his pretty good driving round the course courtesy of the perks and abilities he had plus the fact I think I used the slide ability coupled with the sponsor perk of being to re-roll the skid dice without taking a Hazard to good advantage.

There are rules in the book for lots of things I haven't mentioned and the on line support from the designer and the community is nothing short of awesome! If you have at least a passing interest in car racing, demolition derbies, post apoc wasteland motor gangs or even a hankering for the good old Death Race 2000 (although the scenario in the book replaces kids in prams and old people with good old zombies) then you will want to pick up this game. If you have a lingering desire to smash your toy cars against a mates but in a better way than when you were 7 then you HAVE to get this game!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Those droids? Really, you sure?

A day of escapism at Wayland Games...

Today I went down to Wayland to play SW Legion with Neil (Darth Shuck) and we got in an awesome two 800 point games in-between general catch up chat etc. I had knocked up a back story (using mission cards from the core game) revolving around Neil's podcast:

Table set up used my terrain from Gamemat and Plastcraft and looked like this:

These were the droids we were looking for

Deployment was the very entertaining opposite corner one which meant that the commander was going to be out of command distance for quite a number of units. However, the dropped in reinforcements negated some of this angst until turn 3. 

AT-ST opposite a AT-RT, Air Speeder and Luke - I was determined to take it down and didn't rest until I did, although it took a few turns. Highlights of what turned into almost a game within the game was the Air Speeder harpooning it and spinning it like a top to keep it from being effective (I think people are underestimating this effect) and Luke eventually chopping its legs off...

Meanwhile the game went on... 
Jabba was surveying his prize while R2 (with data chip objective) watched on...

An ion weapon equipped squad try and sneak up on the AT-ST - FYI it didn't work as a pair of speed bikes roared around the building and shot them up!
Don't worry though - Wedge sorted them out after playing spin it around with the AT-ST.
Mind you one squad of Rebels were brutally picked on by Vader and his trailing rocket laden squad and decided to go home for a glass of blue milk and the odd cookie...

So, the Rebels (well Luke after enticing C3-P0 behind the rock by using the force) had one of the 5 droids when it came time for the air vehicle insertion of the reinforcements which enabled Lord Shuck to drop onto two objectives! The rebels had to settle for dropping behind the Stormies and one squad into Jabbas hut (see what I did there?) 

Luke had got another objective and with the Stormies securing two it came down to who could get to R2 before the end of the game. I thought my squad overlooking the droid in question would be able to hop down and win the game... Vader had other ideas as he dealt out his fear inducing card and ladened them with suppression tokens, threw his light saber at them and force choked a wookie!

Wedge, obviously incensed by what he had just seen, dove in and shot the bantha poo out of Vader leaving him annoyingly on one hit point left.  

And Neil's stormie squad swooped in to set up getting the data slice from C3P0, surely winning the game for Neil as I was down to Wedge and Luke left and it was turn 6.

But the force is strong with these two... Luke (getting the initiative drop) leapt over the walls and into melee with the stormies. SPOILER - it didn't go well for the men in white!

But, although they couldn't withdraw and claim the objective Neil had Vader lurking and made a dash for C3P0. But as Neil issued curses as he couldn't quite reach far enough Wedge saw his moment of glory appear... As it looked like ending with 2 objectives each it would be down to points left (or killed whichever way you want to look at it) maybe taking the one hit left Vader down might help.

PHEW PHEW and down Vader went... 

Stormies outside the main action had managed to take out my other rebel squads and it was down to a point count.

REBELS took the game 270 - 217... Wedge would get a kiss from Leia for sure!

The game showed how good and cinematic the rules are and we had an absolute blast all day... The second game was also a win for the Rebels but I didn't take any photos as we were rushing to get through it before we were asked to leave (yes we were, like always, first in, last out). 

The game attracted a stream of interest all day long which was cool but rather annoying in the end as Neil is a nice enough chap to get engaged with the onlookers and their questions...

Until next time, and there will be lots of 'next times' ... May the Force be with you!

Monday, 26 March 2018

In a living room not that far away... Empire strikes back...

I wasn't going to... Honest I wasn't but then it is Star Wars and it is a skirmish game and...
********** EXCUSE MODE OFF **************
Fuck it it's Star Wars what other excuse does one need.

I must admit the game play videos I had seen did not inspire confidence, figured I would just be using the figures with other rules after an initial fling with the official. Looked long winded and convoluted with most games ending in a shoot fest and killing sprees by Vader or Luke. It was if the objectives probably wouldn't matter much as one side was normally dead and off the table. I was harbouring the hope that this would was just because most were demo games and/or limited points. But even with reservations I still dreamt of fielding this type of table...

Or this even....

The game is by Fantasy Flight Games, the company who already have wildly popular SW games out. So the presentation and components are always going to be very good to top notch. There has been various whining around the net by people moaning about the size of the minis not being the same as Imperial Assault (forgetting that in the end the company is, well a company, and needs to keep a revenue stream. Why would they bring out a game where someone could use the plethora of already produced figures? It's not like you can change the look of them to make them different). Figures are 'restic' (my term for something inbetween plastic you can use plastic glue on and fine cast resin) multi part but part built and arrive with you in a few bits and not loads on a sprue with very defined shapes on the joints - easy for the novice but harder to customise. One issue which is coming through is there seems to be a good amount of mispacks - but then you only get to hear about mispacks. No one tends to flood the net with 'OMG I got all my pieces....' posts so this could be deceiving as to how big a problem it is given the amount of sets that are already out there.

Not going to go into the game play in any detail as plenty already have. I put together the minis from the core box and two troop expansions in about an hour and then Shaun and I had a bit of a bash. Each side came out at nearly 600 points and a normal game is 800, the starter box being around 450. With smaller games it is easier to keep the fog of war at bay as the semi random troop activation isn't really when you know the 3 chits in your bag you can draw on to use instead of the ordered units on the table are 3 of the same thing... In larger games this will add more I imagine.

We went for a simple set up and ended up with clear conditions and victory being determined by how many leaders you got into the opposition deployment game at games end - nice and simple and almost a shoot out but OK to learn the rules.

Pretty simple table set up with the base taking up about a 1/4 of the table with some doors to get through etc. Scatter cover for the rest.

Shaun and I rarely mess around and this was soon happening....

While inside the base... opening the door and firing seemed to work well. That was a squad of Stormtroopers.

And then Luke was going to pop in and finish them off when Dad came out to play. Apparently he didn't believe in letting your kids win to build self-confidence...

After which, obviously cheered up by the this the Stormtroopers managed to pick most of the squad off and then Vader force chocked the squad leader.

At this point it was the end of turn 4 and I realised that I could still win by running for the end zone and scoring points, avoiding having to tally lost troop points up if we had the same VP amount.

Smug mode was cancelled as Vader showed what a beast he could be and stopped the squad that would have won me the game from getting there.

Oh well... Next time

All in all a great game and the mechanics are way better than I thought they were going to be. We did get some things wrong with how weapon skills stack (never through a grenade as they didn't seem worth it until I realised the abilities stack AND abilities count to the WHOLE dice pool, not just that weapon etc).

The only downer for me was the realisation that my 40K armies may never break the light of day again, even though I do really like 8th ed. Necromunda may survive as that is a different level and feeling, but mass skirmish 40K V Legion? For me there is no contest, unless the expansions manage to FUBAR the game.

For now I guess I have just put a load of toys on the painting list.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

It's FOOTY time - this time you really do use your feet...

I'd had a couple of months of NFL action, both on and off the field, both real (not for me obviously unless you include semi coaching the kids at school for our LA Rams flag team) and in mini on the tabletop. But as the off-season turns to the Combine and the Draft we have been playing other things. Mainly Necromunda and Firefly skirmish games so can't really complain. But,  tonight there is another FOOTY KickStarter launching. On a side note it is nice to see KS actually being used by small groups of people trying to get their ideas off and running (rather than big companies just using it to keep their cash flow healthy). This time its a group run out of the area I grew up in (Derby) with a 6 aside fantasy football game.

It's called WarBall and is footy with a fantasy twist... Now, the obvious comparison here must be with Guild Ball, which again is a basically 6 aside medieval/fantasy football game which, I must admit, I loved playing for a while (until it got too fiddly and gamey due to all the special rules and power creep teams and rl players).

Must admit when I first saw the game advertised I gave it a miss as I had Guild Ball sitting there and was fully into gridiron for my sports fix. Then as more info came out I got sort of drawn into looking at it due to the fact the fantasy animal and human teams seemed to be the old rivals of my youngster hood - Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Interest was peeked...

Obviously it has a fantasy slant but it did seem to want to stay more like footy than it did rugby or gridiron. I read that the designer said it was aimed to be more of a passing line game than a game of skills of an individual player (like Guild Ball tends to be). Pitch wise it wasn't a footy pitch:

BUT it was obviously based on one and once the rules were available to look through it was easy to see the first 2 semi circles as the penalty box and the outermost like the line on a Subbuteo pitch for shooting. SO with no more ado I set about sabot basing some minis I had lying about with the different size bases (which is important) and having a few test games. In fact the first test game was using my Guild Ball kit which worked fine. But as I had a football pitch which was the perfect size (once a bit was chopped off the sides) I decided to go with footy players.

Draft rules can be found on the games Face Book page and are the bare bones. Enough to play with two vanilla teams without any special skills etc. We were using two human teams consisting of a goalie, two defenders, a midfielder and two strikers. The models are on different size bases and each player has a zone extending 1" from the base edge. Defenders and the goalie have big bases which make them hard to pass/run past etc but not so good as weaving through and breaking away (strikers have the smallest base). All the humans move 6" standard with strikers able to sprint further and defenders able to move and foul as one action.

Each manager gets three base actions to try and move up and score. The actions are as you would expect in soccer: move, pass, shoot, cross, tackle, foul etc and most are automatic unless someone is in the way or marking the player - at which point you make a roll to see if you succeed. A nice touch is that in all of the roll tables involving opposing players there is a result which makes the managers roll off against each other... Thus keeping you involved even when it isn't your turn. In fact for a basic IGO-UGO mechanism it feels very interactive and the phases (three actions) before it's your go are very quick to pass. The twerk in this mechanism is what brings the game alive - WARBALLING.

Every action phase both managers mark one player as their Warballer for the next phase. Basically you can think of this as being the playmaker for that move. This player can make extra actions, but to enable them to do this they have to make a Warballing roll. This starts at 3+ but increases by one each time it is attempted/used and if you fail your action phase ENDS. One would imagine this might just mean the old Bloodbowl, 'do everything important first' type affair, which can be fairly dull. But it doesn't seem to, firstly you only have 3 actions so every one better count and secondly you may want to risk the Warball actions first so you still have 3 actions with other players left and then risk some more flashy git stuff with your young stud of a wallballer after that. Never said being a manager was going to be easy!

Let's have a closer look at this in action. Kick off time and the blue team wallballer (marked with the token) moved to take the pass. Deciding to move past the opposing player rather than passing the ball through the opposition's 'skill zone' he had to make a skill check or let the opposition make a marking test and follow him. He decided to make the skill test and passed it. The second action was an easy pass.

Third action was spent moving the striker up. Out of actions but with the ball on the wallballer the manager could let the yellow team start (risk being tackled) or try and warball it for another action. The striker was already in shot range (albeit as crap shot with him rolling 3 dice and the opposition choosing the one to use on the shot table) or he could risk trying for 2 more actions - moving in and then shooting.

Shooting has to have a line of travel to the goal area (black dots on the field as my goals were at school) and if it passes through an opposition skill zone they can try and intercept it, if it goes through an outfielders actual base it may be blocked or intercepted.

Mute point as he failed his Warball roll (although by even attempting it it makes it harder next time this phase) and the defender pounced with an excellent tackle and sent the yellow team on a good break. All this action took probably less than a minute and suddenly it was end to end.

Yellow's break ended in another brilliant tackle and the blues broke - it was like watching Liverpool and City play!

Quick break down the wing and a nicely slotted pass to the striker... (the defender missed the intercept roll of 3+)

A pass on the Warballing roll meant the striker lived up to his name and  STRUCK. The goalie was slightly slow getting down to the shot (as in they failed their intercept roll which they could make as the shot had to go within an inch of their base). The crowd roared (really they did as I had footy on in the background) and a shoot roll was made.

Best result for the manager to use was a 4 which meant that the goalie got to it. BUT, could he save it... A roll off would decide...

OOOOOOOooooo the goalie managed to scrabble block it and then smoother the ball.

Again this action was really quick and even 10 minutes into our first real game the rules, rolls and action were getting intuitive...

In the end my yellow team won 3-1 (game is up to 3 goals) and we had been playing less than an hour and this included working through the rules for some very dirty fouling by my opponent and a few corners etc. As you hardly ever reset the players (think playground footy real life wise - Dreadball board game wise) the game is very, very fast paced. The rules are easy to pick up and very intuitive (caveat being I have no idea what difference skills are going to make - hopefully it will be just the odd reroll and +1 here and there) and feels like football, albeit playground or Sunday kick around style rather than Champions League. In fact I would love to get some figures of 1970s playground kids to use...

The fantasy version teams have a few different stats here and there with the humans being the normal 'middle ground', 'jack of all trades' type team.

Below you will find some other shots from our game but first the burning issue... How does it stack up to Guild Ball and is it worth shelling out the 65 quid on the kickstarter (which is basic - you are pre-buying the game really - there are a number of stretch goals mentioned - star players etc but no real different pledge levels apart from getting your kit painted or getting a figure of you in the game. Wish I had the money lol).

It is a very different beast than Guild Ball, not as complex and fiddly and doesn't rely on you buffing up a super player. In fact the ease of play makes you have to rely on setting up passing patterns and hoping you can make a break. Not saying this necessarily makes it better the GB obviously and many people would miss the chance to micro manage and build up the momentum for your stars etc. But the fact I can get an exciting end to end game with no book-keeping and tokens everywhere and play it in way less than an hour (it seems) means I will end up playing Wall Ball A LOT, as where I have played Guild Ball twice in the last year I think. I can see it being great for a quick club tournament - games being played at the end of the normal night perhaps. I am already planning having a league for my class at school...

Sports games (even fantasy versions) often feel slow and clunky having a lot less action than in real life (obviously the same about any game really I suppose but sports games always seem to feel worse - perhaps as we are used to watching them or playing full speed on the PS4) but somehow WB feels good and fast. May be an individual thing perhaps but I can only suggest you give it a go... Click the link below:


After surviving a couple of corners...

My striker hit on a quick break and showed them how it was done..... GOOOOOOAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL