Sunday, 28 March 2021

Gaslands - best of 3


Lockdown is nearing, if not an end, then at least a change in England's restrictions and the prospect of a proper game is on the horizon.

In the meantime my son and I have been digging out smallish games we can do at home,,, we haven't a decent sized table for a large game.  Luckily we both like skirmishy style games played in a relatively small area so we have plenty to choose from. The game of choice over the last couple of weeks has been Gaslands, which we played a lot last year but which hasn't been out for a while.

In previous games we haven't really used the rules around Sponsors and Perks properly and so we wanted to test these out.  In the rules there are a number of Sponsors... factions which give you different bonuses and skills but which can limit or influence how you play.  For example my son played a couple of games using the Mishkin Sponsor.  This is a group backed by Elon Musk a high tech masternind which gives the cars access to lots of flashy experimental tech, while I used the Highway Patrol who are good at pursuit and whose sirens can cause opponents cars to slow down or take hazard counters.  These defintely add a lot to the game.

We also tried some different scenarios: we've generally just stuck to the Death Race scenario which as it suggests, is a race around a track.  This time we tried a couple of scenarios, both set in an arena.  The 1st couple of games were using the Saturday Night Live scenario.  In this players gain Audience Votes by a changing rota of tasks (eg being the active player and deliberately choosing a move which gives you a hazard, or crashing into something)... votes are generally useful and can be spent throughout the game but in ths scenario they also give you victory points.   Thanks to my inept driving skills and repeatedly accidentaly crashing into things, I found I was somehow racking up points and somehow won the game.  

As we hadn't played for ages it took us a while to get going with this game so we stage a rematch using slightly different cars.

This proved a closer game but again I was able to win... partly because my son had concentrated on flashy high-tech wizardry at the expense of guns that actually caused damage, but also because he had opted for faster but more vulnerable vehicles which didn't stand up to being rammed.

A near miss by 2 trucks

A crash about to happen!

And another crash!

Wrecked vehicles everywhere!

Our 3rd game used a similar scenario... this didn't have the changing menu of audience votes but did have a selection of gun turrets deployed around the arena which indiscriminately attacked any car which came close.  This proved a very close game with us both being reduced to 1 vehicle each after a turn and the game ending in a hail of rocket fire as both our trucks blasted each other, with mine coming off worst.

The games were great fun and increasingly close as we got to grips with tactics.  I'm now feeling inspired to add some more vehicles into the mix and paint up the Lorry and Trailer I have waiting on the paint table. 

Monday, 22 March 2021

Gamma Wolves


So I have a couple of projects on the go now... the 54mm Paper Soldiers and the 28mm Arthurian figures.  Both have slowed a bit, mainly because work is incredibly busy.  Obviously the last thing I need is to be distracted by something new and shiny that comes along and screams "look at me!!!  You know you want to play me!"  And of course you know what's coming next....

I'm at that age where in have a hankering for games I played in my youth.... as most of my wargaming was with WRG rules, thankfully I have little urge to go back there (although 6th edition weren't a bad set of rules, were they?).  Usually this Proustian nostalgia takes the form of role-playing games or boardgames and, thanks to reading an article online I had a bit of a moment recalling games of Battletech, something I haven't played in 30-odd years.  

It's always a bit of a gamble revisiting games like this...or indeed other old memories.  I'm still scarred by a return trip to a childhood seaside favourite haunt in Ayrshire which was a very, run-down disappointment a few years ago!  Similarly Starfleet Battles wasn't the game I remembered when I was tempted by it a  few years ago.

I only played a couple of Battletech games...this must have been sometime in the mid-80s.  But I remember them fondly and had been beginning down the slippery slope of just having a look on eBay.  Obviously not to buy anything you understand.  Just having a look.  I had a suspicion it would be quite clunky, like a lot of 80s games seem today.  But while I was looking into the world of big stompy robots I came across Gamma Wolves, a relatively new set of rules from Osprey 

These sounded like a simpler, more accessible game so, after a bit of delving into reviews and Facebook groups I picked up a copy of the rules.  The good thing about Osprey rules is that they are pretty affordable so even if they aren't what I'm after I don't feel like I've had to sell a kidney to buy them.  Gamma Wolves come in a hard back format, similar in style to Gaslands.  In fact there's a lot about them which felt like Gaslands... not in terms of actual mechanics but in the style of the rules and the writing.

The setting is a post-apocalyptic world with roaming bands of mechs traveling around, fighting it out for assorted reasons, or gathering in neutral zones for resupply and competition fighting.  Like Gaslands party of the fun is in designing your own Mech (or Frame as they call them in GW), adding in your own choice of weapons and systems.

Movement and combat seems pretty straightforward and its all d6 fancy dice (unlike Gaslands).  Frames acquire reactor stress if they try to do too much and may temporarily shut down and similarly pilots may also acquire stress which affects their ability to fight and manoeuvre.  Frames are initially deployed as blinds until they are spotted or they do something which causes them to power up their reactor (eg firing).  Like Gaslands there are a selection of Factions (or Arcologies) which mechs fight for and these influence the style of Frame, weapons and abilities you can deploy.  As you'd expect there is a campaign system and various scenarios included.

I haven't played them yet so this is all based on a read through but hopefully we'll get something on the tale soon.

So now I'd got the rules I obviously needed some robots to stomp around with.  I've had a look at various posts on the 2 main Facebook groups and become even more confused.  One of the good things about rules like these is that players are encouraged to make use of whatever models they have in their collection and this means that there are all sorts of mechs in all sorts of scales being used.  The rules do suggest some standard base sizes to differentiate between size of Frames but even these can vary depending on what you have handy.  I'm no expert on the whole Stompy robot genre and there are lots of different styles of mechs being used... from the Battletech style robots I remember, to a whole world of Japanese mechs and even Games Workshop models repurposed as robot mechs.  These models come in all sorts of scales and at all sorts of prices... many of them are eye-wateringly expensive (even by GW standards) !!

I wanted something cheap to let me try the rules out and came across some figures from a company called Joy Toy (which sounds like a budget range from Anne Summers!).  These are based in China and offer a ridiculously cheap set of mechs...about £8 including shipping from China. They arrived within a couple of weeks and came in an oddly shaped box

Inside were 12 clip together Mech models.  To be fair these aren't the greatest models in the world but they look pretty good and, for the price, can't be sniffed at.

From the discussion online, the models are...erm...heavily inspired by... kits from other ranges including AT-43, Dust and Games Workshop.  I'm not familiar with the first 2 but the mech below clearly has a lot of love for the GW Dreadnought models....

The box claims these are 1/35 scale... they clearly aren't although I knew this before I bought them,  I reckon these are somewhere between 1/72 and 1/100 scale.  I also suspect that there is more than one Joy Toy company... one producing the more expensive detailed models and one knocking these out.  The models themselves aren't bad... a bit lacking in detail and the arms and legs need gluing rather than just clipping together as some of the fit isn't great.  They also don't take paint well... my 1st attempt at base coating them failed as the paint just wouldn't take: I guess there must be some kind of coating on them which will need to be scrubbed clean.  

There's a bit of an ethical debate here about whether it's ok to buy cheap, knock-off models.  My excuse is that these are just a small selection to try out the rules... if I like them then I'll look at better (and more legit) models.  So the next steps are a test game and some quick painting of the models...