Sunday, 10 April 2016

Play Update: Space Hulk, Zombicide & Star Trek

So, I haven't given you guys a game-based updated in a wee while.  So, let's recap some board gaming I did a few weeks ago as well as current RPG and wargame plans.

First of all, let's talk Space Hulk!

Pretty Genestealers vs bare plastic Terminators.

My good chum Priestly Paul came round one day to keep me company while Sister Superior was away overnight at work.  We busted out Space Hulk and he even brought his newly painted Genestealer Horde to use.

We went to Mission 3, which involves two squads of Marines meeting up and handing off a robot to safely bring it out of the combat zone with sensory data.  Unlike previous Space Hulk games I had 10 guys on the table, including multiple heavy weapons.... Surely I would finally put in a better performance?

You guys stay there and think about what you've done!
...did it buggery.  A promising start very quickly fell apart as the Genestealers charged through the chaos, getting up close and nomming their way through the Marines.  Once one side had collapsed, it was mostly a matter of time until the Genestealers wiped the board clean of gene-seed.

I've commented before confusion at my failure to win at Space Hulk as the Marine side, since I've played the computer version and with the same rules I do much better.  I wonder if the problem is that dumb AI doesn't know how best to use the Genestealers but a smart human player and easilly catch you out?  It might be worth me trying to think up some sort of Space Hulk fusion with Ghostbusters so that we can try automated Genestealers at the table and do a more "Space Marines working together" style experience.

Speaking of co-operative board games...

Paul also brought along Zombicide Black Plague along with him.  A medieval fantasy variant on the modern day original, Zombicide is a simple little co-operative board game in which hordes of automated Zombies come at the players who must complete their mission without getting nommed.  

There's a lot of similar concepts to the Ghostbusters Board Game - Zombicide seems to have pioneered this style of game.  Whereas Ghostbusters doesn't really give you choices over what characters to play, Zombicide has an excess of player character types with various strengths and weaknesses which adds to the replay value.  What it perhaps lacks is as interesting NPC movement, since they just move towards you (and on a comparatively smaller board) whereas the Ghosts of Ghostbusters have more random elements that keep the options surprising.

A look at a standard character card for Zombicide will reveal just how similar the two games are...

One of my two PCs on my first game - Ann the battle-nun.
So you can probably recognise the XP track that lets you level up as you play, though here there are multiple possible advancements in 3rd and 4th level.  There's also space to put equipment collected.... but finite space, so you can't just pick up everything.

One thing I really liked about Zombicide is that, while NPC movement is much predictable, at times it's much more logical.  Some actions are "noisy" and leave little bell symbols on the ground which Zombies home in on.  Therefore some actions are dangerous because they bring the monsters coming, which means it isn't always as straight forward as using your hardest attack or what have you, sometimes you want to take things carefully.

The end of the Game: Paul is more interested in cleaving through zombies for XP than in exiting the board!
The game was alright, albeit a little slow because Paul was also newish to it so we were both learning as we go.  I'm confident we'd rattle through it a lot quicker this time.

Now, let's move back to RPGs for a second and the Star Trek game, which finished it's penultimate session on Thursday.  In grand George tradition, I couldn't help but taunt my players and put a sort of clue in an earlier post as to where the campaign was going - one most of them didn't get.

Never give them enough to work it out in advance; but always give them enough so afterwards they'll think they could have worked it out in advance

If you look back at the previous post on Star Trek you'll see I start and end it with a picture of the Enterprise-F.  There's something different about the ships, though - their colouration is slightly different., red splodges in inappropriate places  It appeared after the implication that I was hiding somethign from the group, too, which suggests the Enterprise itself is in some way relevant.

More importantly, the picture has been taken from a different angle.  You might go as far as to say...


One of the better Star Trek novels I've read.

Yes, our grand season finale is the appearance of the Mirror Universe, something which Trek has played with since 1967.  It's become a cliche to have alternate universes with evil versions of the main characters, preferably with some odd facial hair/eye patches/sexy uniforms to help mark them as EVIL, but Trek is one of the notable early example of the trope.

DS9 ran several episodes on the theme but I'm a little mixed on them, partly because of some lazy writing that says "The evil version of a character is obviously bisexual" but also because, in true DS9 style, the line on ethics is thoroughly blurred - the nazi Humans are suddenly a poor oppressed people who deserve help and the Cardassians who are villains in the real world are... um... villains here?  This doesn't sound mirrorer, this just sounds fucked up. 

I actually really like the Star Trek novel "Dark Mirror", from way back in the early nineties, which puts forward that in the TNG era there's a whole Terran Empire still in operation - that the Enterprise-D finds itself drawn into the intrigues of this universe again and discovers horrifying things about it, like Troi being a sort of Commissar/Political Officer and Worf being a slave with his honour crushed out of him.    That makes me think more of DC Comics Earth-3: good guys are bad guys and vice versa,, the whole word is backwards yet somehow still oddly familiar.

OK, OK, so I did give the Mirror Universe people leather uniforms with exposed skin for the women.  But I'm definitely not making anyone a different sexuality just to show they're EEEEVULLL.
I spent a bit of time working on a weird Mirror Universe timeline, flipping the ethics of various things and coming out with a twisted alternate retelling - one in which the Vulcans eschewed emotion to become better conquerors, one in which the Ferengi Collective are a species united behind socialism and one in which the Gamma Quadrant was united behind a peaceful organisation called the Unity until the Terran Empire invaded.  Their timeline ends in such a way that the Mirror Universe people have found a way over to us, and think they can take us in a fight.

So the Romulan Civil War is in part being influenced by the Mirror Universe people, for reasons which I will expand upon in the last session but which should make a twisted sort of sense.  They've been arming the D'Eran State terrorists - the "neural inhibitor" style weapon that was seen before is in fact a mirror universe Agonizer, hiding in plain sight. Their actions will mix up the situation here in what they call the Invert Universe - and then they'll be poised to take advantage of the pieces.

As the last session ended, the players are slowly working out this is the case, but they have multiple factions of Romulans who think they have video evidence of Starfleet giving weapons to the D'Eran state.  Can they explain the reality of the situation to them?  Will they be able to stop the Romulan Civil War?  And what will they do when they realise the Mirror Enterprise is in fact cloaked right next to them?

Praetrix Sela does not look like she's buying the "it wasn't me, darling, it was a mirror universe duplicate!" defence.
There'll be one-offs following the conclusion of Star Trek, but there will also be Warhammer.  40K Dave has had an urge to play a Warhammer campaign of late and he asked if I could help him.  Even though he's much better on the rules side of things, I think my RPG expertise means I was considered a good man for coming up with more plot-based inspiration.
He has managed to get six people to agree to take part in a wee campaign, which would have a campaign map but a fairly light set of mechanics based on the 6th Ed Crusade of Fire book.   I knocked together a rough and ready campaign map for him, which will hopefully see use when the campaign goes ahead in May.
A rough key: Castles are bases, planes are space ports, factories are industrial hubs, nuclear symbols are power stations, guns are aerial defences and the big city looking thing is a Hive.
Our plot is a bit gonzo even by Warhammer standards, but when I rattled out a few suggestions it was the one Dave was most interested in.  He wanted to be able to get Horus Heresy players to take part alongside their modern day Warhammer 40K equivalents so asked that I come up with an idea that they could both take part in.... and it so happens there is some unpredictable time travel in Warhammer 40,000 so I decided to use that as the heart of it.
Basically I came up with an evil plan by a Chaos Cult to make a warp in time and space, intending to go back in time to the 31st Millenium and fuck with history at the rather pivotal point of the Horus Heresy.  The Imperials realise this is happening and fly into the rift to try and prevent the incursion.  If Chaos are allowed to operate unchecked, who knows what vital thread in the tapestry of history they will pull out? 

I will post more about this at a later point, since I've written quite a bit on the campaign Facebook page.  For now, I'll close off with this picture and assure you that it'll be relevant to my next post.

One for the old timers.

1 comment:

  1. Nom nom! I think you are bang on that the AI on the electronic version is not clever with the genestealers...A clever human opponent makes it lots harder for the marines. In fact, I got my tactics for this game with you from the way that I noticed the AI in the computer didn't run the stealers into the middle of the board until near the end. Instead I ran them into the middle as soon as possible...