Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall-In! Day 2: Some Games Played

Inside my head I'm screaming, "Please get out of my personal space!"

Right off the bat is the space battle game I signed up for. I know, it's a historical gaming convention, but spaceships are cool! The rules were were the Tabletop Battle System, which really interested me. It's engine could drive both a space fleet battle game, as well as the sci-fi ground combat game on its sister table, and purportedly other genres like Romans, pike/shot, modern, and the like. The one thing about is I don't really like the Battlestar Galactica universe, I know, shocking. The old show was all right, but the new one everyone raves about just never grabbed me. Fortunately this game was set in the original setting where Starbuck pees standing up and the head human used to live on the Cartwright ranch.

For a space battle system the rules were very easy to grasp and pretty intuitive by the end of your first turn. The only tricky thing for the colonial (my) side was remembering which weapons of yours were not actively fired on your own turn so they could used as "held" weapon on the enemy's turn. Different firing arcs meant different weapons to bring to bear. Now for the Cylon side it was much more headache inducing because their ships had multiple missile bays and could 'spin' as they moved to always keep fresh, unfired bays at the fore. A simple counter system here would've saved a lot of time and confusion though.

The minis were all resin, and looked pretty nice. Not being a super fan of the setting I didn't know about things like colonial frigates and cruisers and the like, but they were cool. My side of four players started with a gameplan (stick together pick on one target at a time) and stuck together for the whole game. I manned one cruiser and one escort frigate.

Here are the two tables side-by-side. The other thing that drew me to this game is the one thing that never happened. Both tables, the space game and the ground combat game, were supposed to be able to influence one another. There were planetary defense guns on the planet, a unit (friendly or enemy depending on who controlled them) would be able to fire upon ships in orbit. To do this though you had to dedicate one of your ground units to sit in the defense gun station, and a target on the space table had to get within six inches of the planet marker. Well since my side had a solid plan and stuck to it, no enemy ships ever got close and the colonials on the ground held the guns at all times.

Two of the Cylon ships had firepower enough to affect the planet, as long as they were within range with their 'big guns', they could target the planet instead of one of our ships. As the battle was going fairly well for my side, the Cylons were playing catch up the whole game and had to concentrate on the immediate threat rather than worry about the other table.

Here's the colonial ground combat table, it was a good looking board with lots of contour and an innovative tree system. I believe this board is also used for Napoleonic battles and the like, but power armor marching across the countryside seemed to suffice here.

All in all, not a bad game, I enjoyed it and that sometimes illusive "spectacle" was definitely there. Following up on the sci-fi trend however, and the genie was out of the bottle at this point, I switched tickets, gasp!, and traded French-Indian War for Giant Stompy Robots...

The name pretty much says it all. I was expecting more comical, four color figs when I got here but no, despite the name this is pretty much your basic easy-to-play giant Mecha game that puts you in the action kicking and launching missile instead of checking off heatsinks and laboring over hardpoints. The rules are free and if you've got a box of old Battletech mechs laying around like I do, this is what you need to breathe new life into them.

My mech on the left moves in, fires its Siege Gun, its Missile Launcher, and as if that weren't enough, also throws a kick at its target. Combat is very easy to come to grips with, and other than firing arcs, simple to figure out on the fly. The d6 in the picture is a marker, for the most part the game is d10 based with different weapon damages running in multiples of all the different die types.

Terrain is easy to negotiate and for the most part you can climb hand over hand, or just fire your jump jets if you have them. The premise for the game itself is a nice, light-hearter (if a bit dystopian) one. Basically you're all gladiators in six story robots fighting each other and it's all televised for the masses.

What this means in-game is that everything you do will score you points and the more carnage you do, the more points you get, 'cause fans just love carnage. It's all about the ratings you know. In multiplayer games this could lead to sneaky kill-stealing and the like, it definitely makes you think what you can next to cause damage and earn points. Obviously the one standing (and with the most points!) at the end of the game is the winner.

The other thing I like about the game is that you are dealt an action card each turn, or you can hold onto one of yours. These action cards grant more movement, more firepower, guarantee critical hits, deny hits, cancel out other cards, and more. The cards keep all the players in the game, and you don't have to necessarily play them on yourself or your immediate opponent, anything goes. At one point in the game a mech on the other side used a card to narrowly dodge a massive attack. I played a "deny" card just to make sure that attack actually did hit home, even though the combat had nothing to do with me. It gave another opponent more points, but it also weakened an opponent I may have to face later.

I've got another day two game to report on, and ironically enough it's not historical either! I'll have to upload some pics first; it's a Babylon 5 ground combat game using the older Ultimate Warzone rules. I played Narns, there was a hidden bunker underground, it was cool.

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