Monday, November 9, 2009
Last year (has it been a year already?) I headed north to attend our buddy's birthday mini-con appropriately titled "Ruchtcon". Well, he's going to have his hands full come this spring, so Ruchtcon II was bumped up to November of this year, it's subtitle being "Thanksgaming". Unfortunately, I was the only local to travel up there this time around, but the flipside of that was that I could stay for much longer than we did last time, and not that I thought it possible, but I had even more fun this year than last to boot.
A gaming schedule was set up again this year, but it wasn't quite as packed full and time sensitive as last time. Also, many people (myself included) brought stacks of boardgames and other "pick up" games for people to pull out on a whim. A few food runs were in order to local restaurants and such, and snacks and drinks were kept simple at the house. Sleeping arrangements were scattered and sundry, and I'm thinking Rucht needs to invest in an addition to his house in the form of a barracks! All in all, it was a blast.
3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars
Last year I was set to run a game of Spirit of the Century, but personal reasons cut my trip short and I had to bail. I felt bad, 'cause a lot of peeps had "signed up" to play it too. I made up for it this year by running 3:16 on Friday night for a group of four. I am now convinced that 3:16 really is the perfect con game too; character creation is a breeze, everyone can make their own from scratch and after explaining the process you're still looking at twenty minutes, tops. The rules mechanics are slick, fast, and easy, and you get thrown right into the action and it doesn't let up until your time slot is over. Plus, prep work on the GM's part is minimal, if you know the rules, and have half an imagination, you can put on a good game everyone will enjoy. I overheard conversations all weekend long about the game, so I think the players genuinely had a blast and would probably play it again.
I should do up a post just on the night of 3:16 I ran. As you can see I broke out the Lego troops again, and coupled with an excellent Brickarms arsenal, there were some absolute tough hombres created for the game. I made PC "construction" part of the process and at first my players were caught off guard, but got into it quickly. How can you not, it's Legos! The 3:16 rulebook is always talking about how the game is a chance to let the GM's imagination "shine" and I had the troopers facing down a host of nefarious aliens. These were the hairless Mer-Apes of Brinkwater 9 armed with mollusk spine gauntlets that could stop technology, the shadow Rays of the Haxtes Belt, with their uncanny ability to isolate the troopers from reinforcements, and finally, the short proto-bears of a forest moon, armed with third-party slug guns and a penchant for guerrilla warfare (and suicide bombings).
Although not on the "official schedule", this little gem made a couple of appearances. We've played it quite a bit locally, and I guess Rucht liked it after playing it a few times here, because he went and picked his own copy! As far as a quick pick-up RPG goes, that's accessible by pretty much anyone you'd put around a table, this one's got it. Plus, it's got zombies, which would make a very unexpected theme of the entire weekend. I played it once, had a blast, but on the second night a large table-full got together and ran through a great sounding sessions. I only got pieces of it, but hardcore gamer and casual passer-by alike were having a rousing good time, judging from their laughter and excitement.
My character, a skater youth, got off the board pretty quick, but that allowed me more time at the helm of the zombies themselves. A recently divorced washed-up athlete, a withdrawn family man, and a mentally unstable health care worker rounded out the survivors. Zombie dogs made their appearance and added a terror element we haven't had before in Zombie Cinema, and by the end, with our survivors at sea, we had, yes, zombie sharks! The sharks weren't bitten, they turned of course after eating the zombies who were swimming after the survivors on the boat. As always, good stuff abounds.
Well sheesh, I've been hyping this game here at Mik's Minis how long now? Forever it seems, well, I finally got a full-fledged game under my belt. The verdict? Good, pretty good. I'm not rushing out to buy it tomorrow, but that may have to more with a tight budget than anything else. The collectible aspect is a turn off for me, but everything else about this game was pretty cool. It offers all those great "pro wrestler" types of moves you'd expect of giant monsters smashing a city (and each other) and a neat die allocation strategy that keeps it interesting. Your giant monsters are of course the stars of the game, and the little units form part of a secondary game that's all about controlling objectives.
Well, very recently I told you about my brief tenure with this amazing little game. I did take my copy back, and much to my chagrin. Having a game under my belt now, I've got to figure out how to talk Miller into running it back home! Obviously, if you've read the comics, you know what a great world MG exists in, and the RPG is even better. It is a roleplayer's dream game to boot. There are a lot of players in the world, and for those that love character development, in-game dialogue, and interaction, this is their game, it's just that good. For con games you usually run some dungeon crawl type adventures, but the players at our table got a game steeped in not just action, but story and atmosphere too.
We went back in time a couple of years before the time period in the comics and were sent on a mission by Gwendolyn herself. We set off to the Dark Heather to determine what new weapon the Weasels were developing to wipe out the mouse territories. Along the way, our patrol occupied their time in mentoring the tenderpaw with us by teaching him all manner of skills and lessons. Our party consisted of two older veterans with a long history (ala partnerships like Riggs and Murtaugh), the tenderpaw who had a strong sword arm and was well on their way to earning a place in the Guard, and a loner scout who was as quick with her blades as her tail was long. The weather proved to be our worst enemy, and in the final leg of our journey, the snows came and buried us (literally!) in our tracks.
I now know why I saw this game being played last year, and why it was still brought out this time, it's just plain fun and has a strong replay value. I sat in on it this time, and wasn't disappointed in the least. I must admit, I couldn't get past the pilot episode of the new version of the show, so many of the nuances of this game flew right over my head. I played the Apollo character, but not seeing Richard Hatch on my stat card was still unsettling! It's a co-op game, but there is a hidden traitor element that exists as well. Even though we found the traitor early on, it was still an uphill battle as we struggled to the end game. Sadly, we weren't able to pull it off, but it was definitely a fun journey getting there.
Spirit of the Century
We've played a lot of SotC here at home, but those games are becoming more and more in the past. My task is now two-fold, get Miller to start up Mouse Guard, and get Andy to take up the reins again on SotC, which might be hard since he's running both Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader right now, but I will still try my best!
Playing SotC with a large group and a new GM was a great experience and showed me this pulp action RPG in a whole new light. The main difference was the fact that the PC's all had access to the "stunts" feature of character creation, something we've been playing without. Stunts work a lot like feats, and augment your skill checks considerably. I've never seen so many success rolls in the range of 9-12 in my life, and it really accentuated the over-the-top cinematic feel that is the nature of the game. Also, the PC's had access to lots of gadgets, such as their own biplanes and dirigibles, which was pretty cool, and even better was a PC who was a complete artificial lifeform, an automaton named "Owen". One PC not chosen, which I thought was a neat idea, was a Century Club member from one hundred years in the future, trapped in the past. It was a good mix of characters, backgrounds, and power types.
The GM was cool enough to let me bring my own character, the jungle lord Altarrock along too. Given the serialized pulp nature, I thought this was great, allowing my guy to kind of wander into a guest role with this other party and then wander out when it was over with. This game was one for the books, it had plenty of solid roleplaying and pulp action, great storyline and plot, and a whopping seven players at the table!
Late Saturday night Zombies!!! was broken out as a pick-up game. I had heard of it before, seen it on the shelves, but never played it. Wow, it was a lot of fun, incredibly easy to pick up on the fly, and something I may just have to pick up. No, make that something I will pick up, now when that is, I don't know, but it's on the wishlist now!
"Badges? Yeah, we need some stinkin' badges!"
In 3:16, your characters earn 'badges' in between missions. I mentioned I thought the game went well, but personally, I had a blast running Friday night's 3:16 game. Afterwards, as a total joke, I drew 3:16 "badges" on the cups of the players who were all seated at my table once the game was over. Well the trend picked up, and whenever a game was finished, the sharpie would come out and more badges were drawn. The next thing I know, players wrapping up games in other parts of the house that I wasn't even a part of were bringing me their cups between sessions looking for their next badge, haha. It was great, and added just an extra fun element to an already great weekend. Cleaning up a little on Sunday morning, I found several cups that had badges on them that I didn't even draw, rock on!
On my cup above, starting with the top row my own badges were as follows: Zombie Cinema, 3:16, Monsterpocalypse, Mouse Guard, Battlestar Galactica (that's supposed to be a Cylon head, forgive me), Spirit of the Century, and Zombies!!! (the exclamations are part of the title), the last badge is the "three day badge" for attending the whole 'con'. Rucht got a 'host' badge, and Dave got a 'miles' badge for having driven the furthest to attend. I'm hanging on to mine, as a trophy, and I think I just got a new pencil holder to boot.
I had about an hour and a half drive to get home, and all I could think about was A) how much fun I had and all the cool people I got to meet and game with, and B) how I was going to incorporate a lot of what I saw into the next Mikmas (its tenth anniversary this year). If you can't tell, I had a blast, and am glad Rucht has put this shindig together two years running now. Also, and its hard to put into words exactly, but I'm glad to see that since Rucht moved, he's got a good group of friends to hang out and game with.
Okay, there was more than just a couple of things, truth be told, there's also a "C", and that's how to get Andy and Miller to run Spirit of the Century and Mouse Guard respectively. All right, there were a lot of video gamers there, and since Dragon Age Origins just came out, there was a lot of positive hype being talked about it as well, so I guess there's also a "D" in there, and that was how to scrounge up sixty bucks to snag a copy!