Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nuclear Renaissance: Snatch & Grab in Hondon

During last week's Nuclear Renaissance game session, Karl set up a table using most of his newly completed urban terrain. He's been documenting the genesis of this project (almost all using kids toys and playsets acquired for cheap from resale shops) on this blog over the last few months, so it was a real treat to get it all on the table for a big game.

We decided to set this game on the Galactic Frontier, homebrew sci-fi setting we've been playing around with as a club for a year or more. It combines a little bit of everything we love about sci-fi, including colony worlds, deep space combat, urban war, abandoned science facilities, xenos and now, Necromunda-style arcologies.

The game was set on the planet Oxiddon, a so-called "Bridge World" dotted with huge, dense, miles-tall urban megalopolises, many built around the hulls of grounded starships, which are linked to their neighbors by super-strong carbon-fiber bridges many hundreds of miles in length. The desolate landscape in between these Bridge Cities is strewn with the abandoned husks of lesser cities whose bridges have collapsed over the centuries, rendering them little more than frontier settlements populated by outlaws and scavengers.

Anyway, our game was set in one of these feral cities in the Oxiddon wastes: the city of Hondon. Karl jammed all of his awesome terrain onto a 3-by-3-foot table to create a truly stunning send-up to the Necromunda battles that inspired us as teens all those years ago. Here's a look at the battlefield.

A team of scientists from Inverness, a thriving Bridge City, had been inspecting the site when they were ambushed by three gangs of raiders, each intent on capturing the scientists for ransom. Karl deployed his desert scavengers, Tim ran his Neo-Soviets, and I fielded my feral techno-scavengers. It was a race through the gritty concrete jungle of Hondon to see who would capture the scientists first!

Since the scientists (yellow jumpsuits) were scattered across the battlefield, many tucked away in nooks, crannies and towers, the warbands split up their forces to track them down. This led to sporadic gunfights as isolated scavengers came into contact with each other deep in the city. In this pic, my Killdozer (a fun little resin model from Ramshackle Games) collides with one of Tim's Neo-Soviet mutants, with predictable results. SPLAT!

Across the battlefield, Tim and Karl's factions came to blows in a subterranean tunnel running underneath a multi-level building. Karl's truckload of warriors slammed headlong into one of Tim's Neo-Soviet bikes.

Their private little war only escalated when Karl attempted to seize the upper floors of the structure, only to be met by a snarling, slavering horror straight from the Neo-Soviet chem tanks.

While Karl was busy fighting off ankle biters, Tim sent his leader down into a secluded area along the riverbank to secure one of the scientists, who had been cowering by some industrial excreta.

We really enjoyed how the battlefield setup prevented big clumps of troops from moving around en masse. Individual actions were the order of the day! Here's another perspective on the battlefield as the warbands crept through Hondon's cityscape.

Over on the left flank, near the high-rise tenement building, I sent a truckload of techno-scavengers toward a functioning elevator, hoping to use it to ascend to the elevated train station that spanned the river.

Karl's foot troops were got there too, prompting a nice, tidy little firefight. I got support from my leader and hero, both of whom had ascended some stairs to pour fire down onto the street battle below.

Grendel, the leader of my techno-scavenger tribe, then shuffled off toward the scientist hiding atop the train platform.

Nearby, a hulking techno-barbarian fought his way through a cordon of Tim's mutants and seized a scientist near an air intake station.

The game was fun, but somewhat grueling, as we were still focusing on learning the rules. By the time we had to call it for the night, we had played out three turns and things were beginning to hum along quite nicely. As each faction had captured a scientist and was threatening to seize at least one more, we decided to call it a draw. The three factions left the battlefield with their captives, already anticipating the hefty random they could expect from the more civilized Bridge Cities.

Aside from a great game full of fierce action and surprising outcomes, the best part was certainly Karl's epic tabletop, which represents many hours of hard work on his part. Here's a look at the battlefield toward the end of the game. You can see Tim's Neo-Soviet guys atop the ore processing station in the lower right, ready to seize a yellow-suited scientist.

Nuclear Renaissance gave us another fun game, and we are excited to play it again (especially now that most of the club's post-apoc regulars have at least one game under their belts). Look for another Nuclear Renaissance game at next week's game night!

-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nuclear Renaissance: Leggy O'Gee's Watering Hole

Last week we gathered at Karl's house to play some more Nuclear Renaissance. We set up two battlefields, and Mattias and I faced off in a scenario from the Tome of The Tridlins expansion called "Leggy O'Gee's Watering Hole."

Leggy O'Gee (the chap with the sweet suit in the photo above) is a flamboyant entrepreneur running a bar in the post apocalyptic wasteland. Here's a look at the battlefield. The Watering Hole is the fortified structure in the center.

 Plenty of room for hijinx, right?

My group of ragtag farmhands has been hired on as enforcers to protect the bar during the crop offseason. They were tasked with preventing any undesirables from entering the bar. They were also all "drunk," which in this scenario gave them penalties to shooting and driving, but bonuses to stumbling out of harm's way.

Here are the undesirables, the Slagscape Conservation Collective. This community of anarchists makes their home in the molten wild, and will do anything to protect the 'natural' beauty of their homeland of twisted metal... but sometimes they get thirsty, you know? Mattias' crew was prepared for the attack and started every turn with the initiative.

As the game began, Professor Percival Blythe, the hyper-intelligent primate (specialist in critical deconstructivism!) charged forward brazenly.

Starla Kneely takes careful aim and...

Headshot! Starla quickly eliminates the raiders' sniper, Lucy Havoc. Starla was taken down shortly after, but was revived by Doc miner. In fact, she died and was revived 4 times during the course of this battle. Don't leave your doctor at home, kids!

The slag raiders' driver, Stripe Dreggs, revved Tar Eater forward, and Strag Moxie advanced, using the car as cover.

Bob Kneely took careful aim and...

Another headshot! Bob Kneely was one of the two MVPs of this game. He never missed a shot!

Here is another Kneely casualty, brawler Hard Joe Grubber.

Moxie flew into a rage, and ran out of cover into the middle of the road, flamethrower spitting hot death.

Steve Dave jumped off the cliff face, into combat with Janx Moogin. Tell 'em Steve Dave!

Well, he told 'em.

Meanwhile, Commander Pitchfork and Sloth snuck out of the bar and hopped into the bambulance and roared off, heading straight for Strag Moxie. Luck was with the raider, as he rolled into the dust, then miraculously stood up!

Spritely Jyles, manning the Tar Eater's HMG, poured firepower into Steve Dave, but he dodged every round, Matrix style.

Commander Pitchfork jumped out of the bambulance to deal with Moxie, while Sloth slammed on the gas to ram into the Tar Eater. Unfortunately, the driver was drunk and slammed into a pile of tires.

Meanwhile, Steve Dave prepared to unleash fury on a car... He hit his target, but caused no permanent damage. At this point, we had to call the game.

Since neither of us managed to officially complete the scenario requirements, I'm calling it a draw (ed.- I had three guys left and Josh had eight. I'm calling it a loss--Mattias). Even though we only played 6 turns, so many exciting cinematic events happened! It was a great game.

I really enjoy Nuclear Renaissance. We are discussing some house rules to help speed the game up a bit and resolve some questions that came up, but overall, it is a smooth playing game. I am planning on exploring more of the options in the Tome of The Tridlins expansion for our next game.

-- Josh, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quake & Mourn Campaign Report: Session 6, the Epic Finale!

After a summer spent playing out our Quake & Mourn campaign -- more than a dozen Song of Blades & Heroes games played out over five sessions -- we geared up for one final, epic finale earlier this month. Our chosen venue was The Gaming Goat in Oak Park, IL, and they graciously provided plenty of table space on a busy Thursday night.

We pulled out all the stops for this game and hauled much of our best terrain to the Gaming Goat. Karl set up a visually gorgeous scenario set in Vildeburg, the main city in our campaign world. A city wall split the table down the middle and provided space for two side-by-side games, with Karl and Ian (a new player who was joining us for his first game) controlled a city militia faction defending the walls. These defenders played a role in both games. Here's the battlefield:

Though a little less experienced than the most battle-hardened campaign warbands, Pat's and Josh's forces nonetheless got down to business as the campaign finale. Both warbands deployed in the mercantile district of Vildeburg, with its towering guild houses and cobbled streets.

Across the battlefield were the objectives: two oak-and-steel doors guarded by the very best militia that money could buy. These stalwart fighters were commanded by Ian, who brought his gorgeously painted Warhammer Empire figures to the table as town guards. They occupied Vildeburg's walls and towers as the game began, but they moved down to the street level as the game progressed.

As Josh and Pat sent their warbands racing through the neighborhoods toward the castle gates, Karl sprang his trap! The grim undead legions that had been creeping north over the course of the campaign had finally breached the city walls of Vildeburg! These vassals were the advance force of Lord Kalessin's host, which had been moving slowly up out of the southern deserts over the course of the campaign. The skeletons now poured into the streets as the warbands fought their way through the city.

Josh and I avoided any big fights until we reached the base of the city walls, where Ian's stout brigade of city militia stood shoulder to shoulder, armor gleaming in the flickering firelight of the ravaged city. A huge fight developed as the three warbands crashed into each other.

Behind us, the undead continued their implacable advance, gobbling up Josh's warband in a tide of rusted steel.

In the end, only Volstag, Horseman of the Wastes, managed to escape through the castle gate...

Across the table, the Tharks and the Dire Men rode on the Citadel of Vildeburg in haste. Fulgid Glim's wild cavalry -- unused to fighting in the closed spaces of the capital city slums and whose horses were easily frighted by the discharge of musketry -- met stiff resistance from the street fighters of the City Watch.

The City Watch was no match, however, for the efficiency of the Thark's advance. The creatures from beyond quickly seized command of the slum's square and stockyard. While their vicious mounts tore the Knights Protectorate to shreds, the warriors dispatched their adversaries with an eerie serenity.

In the end, the Thark's command gained the tower with ease while their comrades turned to face the implacable undead  for the good of the collective. The Tainted Thegn and his remaining captains on the other hand, readied to make a desperate attempt to escape the cursed city, and to leave the land of Qaarra that had claimed so much from them.

As the defenders turned to face the relentless undead horde, a precious few had scaled the heights of the tower parapets and now prepared for a duel to the death high atop the chaos in the streets below. Tim's Tharks clashed with Pat's chaos horseman (allied with Mattias's sneaky wyrdwolders) in a brief, bloody skirmish, before the green-skinned aliens brought down the wrathful chaos warriors.

Tim's Tharks had won the battle, but faced with a tide of skittering undead warriors in the streets below, it seems all but certain that they have lost the war!
And thus ended Quake & Mourn, our third fantasy campaign! For those keeping track at home, here are the final win/loss/tie tallies.

  • The Druids of Vitu Daru (Josh) 3-2 
  • The Scourge of Longrieve (Pat) 3-4-1 
  • The Tainted Thegn and his Dire Men (Mattias) 2-3-1 
  • Tharks of the Wyl'st Horde (Tim) 6-4-2 
  • Deep Woods Vengers (Karl) 4-5-1 
  • The Unnamed Orcs (Terrence) 1-1 
  • Nobanga's Ronin (Jon) 2-1

As you can see, Tim was the big winner with the most games played at the most victories. He was one of only two players with an actual winning record (the other being Josh). You can re-read all the session reports (as well as background on the game world) right here.We'll certainly continue to play Song of Blades & Heroes here and there through the long Chicago winter, and you can expect another full-fledged campaign come next spring and summer.

-- Karl, Pat and Mattias, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club members