Thursday, April 22, 2010

After-Action Brief & Scoreboard Update

I didn't get pictures of last weekend's games, and I don't have the time to write up a full after-action report for each of them, so I'll just do a quick recap and scoreboard update:

On Sunday the gang got together for a spaghetti dinner followed by a game of Strange Aeons. The scenario was "Treasure Hunt," and this time out the players reversed roles: the Threshold players from the previous two sessions took the role of the Lurkers, and one of the previous Lurkers players brought a Threshold team to the table. The other previous Lurkers player (my fiancee) used this opportunity to test out some house rules we've introduced, bringing a new faction to the table: the "Society of the Jade Lili." (Although the Jade Liliy and Threshold are ostensibly enemies, the players decided that the two groups had settled upon an uneasy alliance for this outing.)

The game went very quickly, and before the allies could move into the second pair of search zones (this scenario has the teams searching the table in sixths for treasure) they were descended upon by Lurkers. My group of Lurkers, composed of several cultists and a winged minion (a house-ruled creature - essentially a winged creature with cultist stats) fared well at first, inflicting heavy casualties on the Jade Lily force. The Jade Lily soon returned the favor, and before long both forces had annihilated each other.

On the other side of the table, the Threshold team found themselves facing a ghoul, a cultist, and - oh no! - another maniac. True to form, the maniac waded through the entire force until, finally, it was down to only a female Threshold agent and the maniac left on the table. When the dust from that little scrum settled, only the maniac was left standing.

Although the Lurkers (barely) won this one, I'm counting it as a draw, since even though the Lurkers won the game, my force was wiped out first. (The Jade Lily herself was still standing when my last model went out, so I didn't even beat my fiancee.)

Once again, I can't help but be left feeling that the maniac is one of the most cost-effective Lurkers a player can field.

For the second game of the day, it was down to three players (since my fiancee retired early). We decided to give Spinespur a go. We've been chomping at the bit to try this game since I picked it (and many of the miniatures for it) up several weeks ago. (Calling people "Jack" and mimicking Mr. Jingles' trademark "mee-hee" noise has become a recurring joke in our group - if you have the book, read Jingles' intro and you'll get the joke.) The three forces we settled upon were agenda builds: Institution, G.O.D., and Slaughterhouse. Oddly enough, despite the fact that he's one of the most talked about characters amongst our group, no one opted to field Mr. Jingles.

I was playing Slaughterhouse, and I quickly lost a gormie to Doc Akron and his Trauma Hounds, and a pair of shacklers to the Men of G.O.D. I also found my leader, Pigskin, locked in mortal combat with the Institution's heavy hitter, Hack. These two are pretty evenly matched, but thanks to my forgetting to do retributive strikes (one of Pigskin's special abilities) and losing blood every turn from wounds inflicted by Hack's chainsaw (one of that character's special abilities) I soon found myself in danger of losing that battle. I lucked out and managed to put him down, but Pigskin was left standing with only three wounds remaining - and three bleed tokens on him. As a result, he bled out at the end of that very turn; the two psychos had killed one another.

Oh, and I lost yet another game. /sigh

Although the setting and characters of the game are an unqualified hit with our players, the Spinespur system itself was not quite as popular. It's very unwieldy, and at times downright tedious. Just about every character has a half-dozen or more special abilities. Keeping up with these and what - especially when contrasted to Strange Aeons - is a complex system leeched the fun out of what would otherwise have been a really enjoyable game. Also, the alternating activation system made it difficult for the teams to act tactically, essentially forcing models that should act as groups to act independently. Although I've used this sort of activation system to good effect in the past (in fact, all three games I've written myself use alternating activation), I've made sure to make allowances for models to activate simultaneously to allow units to act as they should. (Such a rule may exist in Spinespur - but with the sheer bulk of the rules I may have missed it.)

I really do think Spinespur has a lot of potential - and, as I said, the setting and characters are brilliant - but the system needs a lot of paring down, in my opinion.


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A Hard Won Thing Scoreboard:

0 wins / 1 draw / 4 losses

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