May 082016
 

Martin (of Shamutantis fame) and I got together for another game of Pulp Alley a little while ago. Once again, good times and many laughs were had so it’s looking to become as regular a fixture as our child laden family lives can allow. Next time, I’m heading to Copenhagen for some Rogue Trader skirmishing. Looking forward to that!

 

It was early morning yet, as Conrad Moon and his bruteish entourage made their way through the underbrush. It had been a long search, but it finally seemed like he would be able to lay hands on a fabled idol of the Raizze, the indigenous race of the forest moon Luis Rey Prime.

 

Unbeknownst to Conrad, scoundrel Morton “Balls” Fieldmann had overheard the drunken boasting of Demp and his ork goons at the space port cantina. Hoping to claim the idol and deliver it to the dreaded Blacksmith on McKemmler IV, Balls was now being escorted by the local Raizze chieftain and his closest warriors, under the false pretense of him wanting to help them fend off the outisder raiders and save their valuable cultural heritage.

 

An overview of the table.

An overview of the table.

 

Both groups have the same goal – get their mitts on the golden idol (the major plotpoint). A few generic boxes of supplies make up the minor plotpoints, together with a white crate containing a jetpack (extreme peril to take off and then an extreme peril to land anywhere on the table) and a stone statue with ruby ingots for eyes.

 

 

6

Balls ascended the ziggurat on one side, while Conrad Moon and his closest “men” approached it from the other side. The raizze tried to block off Demp from the divine statue in the clearing, but fell in the ensuing firefight. In the meantime, one of the orks was left behind to fiddle with the jetpack while the other two headed for a crate of supplies.

 

7

One of the raizze made the mistake to bum rush Demp, who was a very adept brawler.

 

8

Ork muscle Gumbah and Larma rushed to secure a box of… supplies.

 

9

Balls reached the summit first, and managed to uhm… “rescue” the golden idol – much to Conrad’s chagrin.

 

10

Demp was so tempted by the ruby eyes of the sacred statue that no amount of raizze could stop him from prying them loose.

 

11

With a bit of luck, Balls manage to put the ziggurat summit between himself and Conrad Moon – eager hands clutching the golden idol.

 

12

The last one of the three raizze troopers (and their lizard dog) standing tries to bring down Demp, with little luck.

 

15

Balls and the raizze chieftain defend the golden idol against the orks Gumbah and Larma, managing to fell Gumbah.

 

17

In the last turn, Conrad and Zyph attempt to take down Balls, while Demp continues schooling space lizards in the fine art of pugilism. He managed to take out three troopers and the lizard dog all by himself. Fenk is (very bravely) hiding behind some shrubs with his shiny new jetpack toy.

 

18

Despite a heroic last effort from Conrad Moon and his henchmen (henchorks?) Balls and the raizze chieftain manage to slip away. Not much later, the raizze leader surprisingly finds himself abandoned in the wilds with Balls travelling back to civilization all on his own.

 

We played a generic smash and grab scenario, which I feel really shows hos the game work. Dash for the plot points with your strongest guys, throw the weaker red-shirts under the bus as speed bumps. We had a good time, and decided to play a quick follow-up to this game the same day. A short report on that will be up next. In the long run, I’m still undecided as to whether PA is a game to stick with or not… It’s fun, but I get a feeling that there’s not enough consequence to the in-game action. Especially the leaders are nigh invulnerable and recover easily. Also, after a game there’s very little chance you’ll get any form of increase on any model (or the league itself) which means a campaign is pretty slow going.

Feb 202016
 

It’s been a long while since I played a game, but today I got the opportunity when fellow Oldhammer Forumite  Martin visited from Copenhagen. Since it was our first playdate, we figured something light and easy would compliment the obligatory rummaging through Mount Lead, shuffling through old rule sets and general nerd banter.

We decided to go for Pulp Alley (albeit in space), and I had a scenario half prepared.

Captain Morley and his crew have returned to McKemmler IV with some contraband to unload. In their cargo hold lurks the most recent addition to Morley’s menagerie; an astro badger! Alas, the astro badger somehow manages to escape the Chaste Magpie and skedaddles off into the ruins of Foundation City (the inaugural colony set up when the first colonists came to McKemmler IV). As they set out to find the lost pet, they’re alerted to the presence of another crew. Marty “Balls” Fieldmann and his cronies from the Blacksmith’s crew! What a surprise, considering Astro Badger Crock is the Blacksmith’s favourite dish.

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The two groups deployed in opposite corners of the table, for the Trail Of Clues scenario.

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Morton “Balls” Fieldmann (hiding in the shrubbery) is joined by sidekick Bodnia and three allies Franke, Tonny and Radovan. The follower “That” have just acted, moving towards the first plot point. I commanded these guys.

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Captain Morley (in blue) and co-pilot Stickney (sidekick, in red) are backed up by clone brethren merc Wagoner, Cuera and Dawleen (allies). At their side, trusty radipus Bil (follower). Martin played these.

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Perched on a roof near the Morley crew was Vuk the snitch. If anyone had seen the animal, he’d be one to know.

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Near the other gang was an old security droid which (if hacked) could help in tracking the badger down.

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Morley and Stickney wasted no time and in their first turn, they charged forward guns blazing. The nameless horror from the rad wastes only known as “That” fell and was knocked out.

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Radovan soon repaid in kind, and Bil the radipus was dispatched of.

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With one plot point secured, the wasteland raiders started applying some pressure on the battle clones, but they held their own long enough to allow Dawleen to climb the ladders and reach Vuk the snitch.

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With neither team managing to secure more than one plot point each, and the game coming to a close, Balls charged Morley for a clash between the two leaders.

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Near the end, the gangsters and smugglers can only look on in dismay as one of the plot points wanders off with the much coveted astro badger!

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Paulie Papers, ever the opportunist! Only you would be so bold, absconding with the prize right under the nose of the warring factions.

In summary – we had a great time! Plenty of old lead was fondled and oogled, Martin managed to liberate me of some junk… err, treasures I’d been hoarding and an exceedingly even game was enjoyed. Though I did manage to do rather well with the dice for a while, which probably saved my hide more than once. We both lost a single ally and our respective followers. Both of us secured a minor plot point each and neither of us were in a position to try and claim any sort of moral victory over the other. In other words, a perfect introductory game!

Hopefully, we’ll have opportunity to soon revisit McKemmler IV for the next thrilling chapter in the quest for the delectable but ever-elusive astro badger! I have been painting orcs for a rather famous old scenario pack for Warhammer too… it might be we get to play the first scenario from that before we do any more Pulp Alley.

Jul 072014
 

I recently played my first game of anything at all this year, and with my recent shift to science fiction toys it seemed appropriate we’d give Pulp Alley a trial run. We decided to do a simple Smash and Grab scenario, with four scattered minor plot points and a major plot point in the middle of the board. As I haven’t played scifi games at all for more than a decade, I’m not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to scenery so we used mostly repurposed fantasy terrain. I have made four pump stations, power generators and/or general processing units that are more or less finished (save for some detailing). Those were arrayed around the central pyramid to scifi things up.

Captain Morley and the lawmen of New Haights have ventured out into the wilderness on the far side of McKemmler IV. The legends of ancient ruins from a long forgotten civilization seems to have been proven correct and a rumoured doomsday device have attracted unwanted attention. Master of disguise Abdul Goldberg and his ne’er-do-wells have made planetfall and plan to trigger the activation sequence, threatening not only life on the planet but also the lucrative mining facilities of Armasec in the whole McKemmler system.

Atop the ancient pyramid rests a weathered, ominous statue of elder horrors. Can it be used to bring system wide destruction or is it just old superstition?

 

The game started off with a lot of movement as both sides jockeyed for position on plot points, and since there was no shooting allowed the first turn. The forces of law and order decided to split up, with the disposable ASOLE droids charging up the centre of the table, in cover of the pyramid. Commander Skroob noticed something hidden in a nearby cluster of trees, while the co-pilot covered Morley as he made his way towards some hidden explosives, hoping to use it in the prevention of any evil plots, plans or schemes.

And we’re off!

 

Captain Morley quickly gained access to the explosives hidden away near one of the flux capacitors while the two ASOLEs scaled the pyramid. When they got to the top, they were quickly disposed of by the villains. I had hoped they’d have a bit more staying power.

 

Queue Wilhelm-screams. In the upper left corner you can see a blurry picture of the elusive Abdul Goldberg, in disguise to boot!

On the other side of the pyramid, Abdul Goldberg and his cronies moved up to the base of the pyramid. Goldberg’s second in command had somehow become separated from the others, but being faster than most people he gained on them and could get in contact with the maintenance access hatch.

 

The villains, lead by Goldberg, rounded the base of the pyramid and the blast shots started flying. No matter how many rounds the two pilots fired at him, Goldberg emerged unscathed and could esily dispose of Stickney who had exhausted his rocket launcher amunition and had to resort to his side arm.

 

In the meantime, commander Skroob had uncovered a jade dagger in the small cluster of trees, tucked away in a smaller version of the monument at the top of the pyramid. Without this dagger, the villains would hopefully not be able to activate the device.

 

Unfortunately, one of Goldberg’s crew decided that could not go unpunished and the two came to blows causing Skroob to drop the dagger in the struggle. Goldberg made an attempt at charging captain Morley but slipped and fell. Morley saw his chance and ran to the top of the pyramid, where he uncovered the truth about the pyramid. It was in fact not a device to lay waste to the planet, but a large cache of precious gold. Could it be that this ancient civilisation fell when they discovered gold and were destroyed by warring tribes and colonists?

 

Morley, realizing the cache of golden artifacts could come in quite handy when renovating his ship, attempted to steal away with the gold but was subdued by the dastardly villains. Instead, Abdul Goldberg had once again dodged the long arm of the law. Morley could do nothing but shake his empty fist at the sky when Goldberg’s shuttle craft took off.

 

In conclusion, we had fun with Pulp Alley and it’s still a strong contender for my system of choice for scifi skirmishing. There were a few things that didn’t really sit well with me, however. I’m curious to hear other people’s opinions on them. These are mere observations and shouldn’t be considered a bash or any form of advocating for people to not play Pulp Alley. It’s a solid system with many a benefit.

1. What incentive is there to attack someone, when there is no added benefit from it other than being the one who matches the dice?

2. Hardened Veteran seems like a rather powerful skill as it negates a core mechanic (ie ignoring multiple combats) and as such a Leader or Sidekick with that ability will be very, very hard to get rid of. As a matter of fact, it almost looked to me like a “must have” skill which in my opinion is a bad thing in a rules system. I’m thinking of banning HV from our games.

3. Plot points and the turn limit makes it a race game. I’m not saying this is a fact, but to me it felt a bit like the strong focus on plot points makes this less of a tabletop war game and more of a tabletop race game. Throw a few speed bumps in front of the opponent while you’re running for the plot points with your strongest guys.

4. Plot points can make a scenario idea hard to implement. In the same way the plot point system makes it easy to avoid the old “line your soldiers up and gun it out” it also hampers straight out confrontations.

5. Allies and followers felt a bit too generic and I think part of the charm with scifi gaming is alotting equipment to characters. It’s hard to (stats-wise) differentiate between a space marine in power armour carrying a missile launcher and a colonial marine type of guy with a lasgun, within the confines of ally and follower. One approach is “it’s not important, they’re all just mooks anyways – the leader and the sidekick are where it’s at”. I’m not sure that approach appeals to me in full. I’m a sucker for systemizing my miniatures collection into rule sets.

I had enough fun for me to decide to shell out on the physical product though, so I’ll order the printed rule book and the deck of fortune cards from Statuesque Miniatures shortly. Give the game a spin, I can definitely see myself having some fun participation games with this when I have a few mates over for a game night!