Saturday, October 11, 2014

Get to the Chopper! and Aliens

It was a relatively light evening planned for the gang, as we were several members short of full complement.  I "dangled the carrot" in my email invite by only using a quote from the movie Predator to entice the players.  It worked.  John Mark and Bill arrived, ready for...whatever.

Get to the Chopper!
This little print & play game is a recreation of the events in Predator.  It features the mercs running for their lives from the predatory alien that's bent on killing them and mounting their heads as trophies in its spaceship.  Classic stuff.  Here's the game's BGG link: Get to the Chopper!!!

The game's board.
Instead of using the print and play's map, I decided to use Heroscape tiles.  They are bigger and give a prettier vibe to the game. 

The players, from left to right: Blain, Dutch, the alien, Billy and Mac.
I used some WH40K Catachan  jungle fighters for the mercs and even added a hat to Blain.
We wound up playing three games of this, as it is a quick filler.  I played the alien in the first game, John Mark took the honor in the second and Bill was "it" third.

Game 1:
The mercs started down the path, which gave them a slight advantage when rolling.  The alien came on early and often, wounding the mercs with some great dice rolls.  Mac dropped claymores (the little red dice) in this and all subsequent scenarios like they were Hansel and Gretel's bread crumbs.  They did do a good job of keeping the predator on the fringes of the fight...barely.


It wasn't long before the mercs were feeling the alien's bite.  As they neared the river, the fighting got more intense.

Surrounded?  No worries.  The humans will be dead soon enough!

The endgame came down to Dutch barely escaping with his life and the rest of his crew lying dead on the jungle floor.  Game mirrors movie.  Perfect!

He got to da choppah!
Game 2:
John Mark followed my example on how to run the predator, but there was a difference: his dice rolls stunk and ours were hot!  It didn't take long before the big sucker was dead.  Victory to the mercs!

He's dead, Mac!
Game 3:
We tried a slightly different tactic when Bill was the alien.  Our mercs scooted down the far side of the jungle, away from the predator.  It took him an extra round to get to us, giving us a little more time to maneuver.  Soon enough though, it was back to the violence of the game.  Dutch kept scoring improbable hits on the alien by taking running pot shots.  Meanwhile, Mac made a dash for the path and freedom.

Finally and at the expense of Billy and Mac, the alien was once again killed.  Final score?  Mercs 2, predator 1.  Great game!

The games ended early, so I continued with the theme and got out my home brew of Aliens.  The gang loves this game as well as the movie, so it didn't take much convincing to run the first scenario, the Reactor Room.

Pardon the poor recon photos taken of the Colonial Marines' foray into the room.  I'll let the pics tell the story, with a batrep at the end.

The initial set-up
What's that up ahead?
They're closing in fast!

Hold the line!
The Marines are getting away!

A Colonial Marine happy dance!
The Marines got out of the room with 8/9 of their squad intact.  The only one who didn't make it was Hicks.  He fought valiantly, but was eventually pulled through the ceiling by a rather insistent xenomorph.  I think this was possibly the most successful try at this mission I've ever experienced.  We got reeeeally lucky with our hand-to-hand combat rolls, knocking three aliens off of struggling Marines and then crisping them with flamethrowers.

A special thanks to John Mark and Bill for making such a rainy night enjoyable.

End report.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

AAR: Axles and Alloys, Recruits 2014

My running of Axles and Alloys (aka A&A) at Recruits convention was a success.  I had 13 slots available and 12 grown men answered the bell to play this little slice of chaos in action.  If the amount of laughs and whoops when things went sideways (literally and figuratively in this game) were indicators of fun, then fun was had in spades.  I want to thank Mike, Lee, Andy, Ken C., Ken V., Joel, Hal, Max, Scott, Jamie, Paul and Pat for playing.

Now, on to the game...

The plot (as written for the convention's website and program):  "Fuel. Fuel is everything. It's so rare, you'd do practically anything to get it. When you hear there's an entire truck filled with fuel heading through the Dead Zone to Summit City, you round up your posse and head out to intercept. Problem is, you're not the only gang with that thought. Who will leave the Dead Zone with the fuel, you or another gang? Will the fuel truck survive to deliver its goods? Not if you have a say in things! Axles and Alloys is a quick-playing, over-the-top sci-fi vehicular combat system based loosely upon Full Thrust rules. Think Mad Max meets Car Wars, but with simpler rules."

The gang, waiting to begin (sorry for the blurriness)
The board, sans vehicles, filled to the brim with quick reference sheets and high hopes.

The Blue Angels started strongly, as the gangs pretty much started on the other side of the table.  There was one group that entered from the same side of the table as the convoy and they tried to take full advantage of this, but the heavy weapons on top of Motherload kept them at a distance.

The Blue Angels (from L-R): Tall Boy, Lead Sled, Motherload and Flash.  Would they successfully get the fuel to Summit City?

There was one Blood Runners speedster car that finagled the ultimate "tight squeeze" maneuver in between a deadly rock formation and a burned-out husk of a car.  With his sport suspension, the rough terrain wasn't an issue.  That was the first little "test" by the players of the game's coolness factor.  Needless to say, it passed.

TIIIGHT squeeze!

As the game proceeded, it became clear to me that these players would stretch the game's rules to their full extent and create a totally different experience than my group's play test.  For one thing, droppers were heavily used, resulting in fantastic skids, wrecks and much laughter.  Let me add that these guys were great players.  They had most of the rules down within one turn of play and were calling out speeds by themselves.  I was relegated to answering rules questions and watching the mayhem unfold.  Perfect for a convention game!

Blowback, dropping oil.

The first vehicle to zip across the front of Motherload and drop some mayhem was Blowback, a straight-line, nitro-burning speedster with a turret gun.  He set the tone for others as for how to stop the fuel truck from reaching its destination.  After the above aerial shot was taken, Blowback, already weakened by some gunfire and traveling well beyond what would be considered "safe", lost control in a turn, flipped and burned.

Another blazing fast car dropped spikes in front of the big rig, effectively ruining its ability to turn.  It moved so fast that my camera missed it entirely!  Fortunately for Big Blue, it was already pointed in the right direction to safely leave the board when it ran across the spikes.

Turned and barely avoiding the oil slick, Motherload was then confronted with another problem: his own outrider was in the way!  There was a lot of speculation on whether Lead Sled would be able to move out of harm's way before the big truck t-boned him!  It did, but there was a lot of joking as to what would happen if it didn't!

Oh, poop!

On the other side of the table, the heavies of the Anarchists and the Blood Runners were approaching the slowest collision ever recorded.  Hanging back in order to cause more chaos for Motherload later, they met in a non-rush of metal and fury....which is to say they barely bumped each other after shots were exchanged.  Literally speeds 2 and 3 (10-15 mph), respectively.

In the end Chopstick, the Blood Runners' heavy, was soon on fire and taking more damage every round.  The driver succumbed to the flames and wound up doing a wonderful job as a roadblock to Motherload's escape off the board.

Meanwhile, the path in front of Big Blue was choked with mines and destroyed vehicles.  The carnage that had already been dealt was minor in comparison to Motherload hitting mines.  Not able to avoid them, the big rig lumbered across them, blowing a hole in the cab, killing the driver and damaging the vehicle's fuel tank.  Not the cargo fuel tank, the actual truck's fuel.  As those tanks sat directly below the cargo, I gave the truck a 50/50 shot of not exploding.  With baited breath, the remaining players watched the roll....


Motherload went up like a fireworks factory, killing anyone within 12" of the blast.  The table erupted in laughter.  It didn't matter to them that they all "lost".  As one fellow put it, "it's all the crazy, chaos sh*t you see happen in the movies, but on a gaming table!".

Well said, sir.  Well said.