Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas War Notes

I decided to take up Chris K's challenge and play the Christmas War along with the other readers of Dropship Horizon (you ARE taking part, aren't you?).  I put my own quirky spin on it, of course. 

When this started, I thought playing the Assassination scenario made a better start to the campaign, and I was just starting out with 5150: Star Army so I wanted a small scenario to start with.  But now I think I have a neat idea for the Assasination scenario that will really bring the Colony 13 mythos into full play, so I think this first game will turn out to be a bit of a prequel.  We'll see.

Scenarios will center around Colony 13, the unluckiest colony in the galaxy.  Poor thing is set at the EXACT point where every sci-fi movie/tv universe intersects -- creating a pocket universe.  That's why it's 15mm -- everything gets shrunk in the pocket universe.  (Told ya it was quirky)

In this case, the scenario at start features a scenario that you might recognize from the Battlestar Galactica reboot pilot -- the representatives of mankind and the Cylons meet for the first time in decades.  The war starts when the Cylons kill the human ambassador. 

To start the scenario, the representatives and their bodyguards are meeting in front of the sacred square.  Squad A (the Red Hats) (a Star Army force in 5150 terms, Rep 4) are playing honor guard and are lined up 18" south blocking the path up to the sacred square.  Just south of them are where the Cylons have just landed their shuttle.    Squad B (Rep 3) is off to the west.  Since I rolled them up as Rep 3 I decided that they were a militia unit and were off  playing a little Pyramid.  After all, the Cylons never actually show up for these meetings....
So for this first game, again to learn the rules, I incorporated a very simple Wild West style gunfight at the beginning.  The Cylon Ambassador orders his centurions to kill the humans.  Do the humans have time to react?   I decreed the Cylon active and let the human bodyguard take an In-Sight test.  They passed!  Clearly on the ball, these Secret Service types.  Unfortunately, they missed completely and the Received Fire resulted in an Obviously Dead result.

Ok, I think I get the reaction test.  On to the rest of the game!  Normal activation rolls result in the Cylons (Rep 4) going first -- a 4 man unit  disembarks and trigger an In-Sight from the Red-hats.  The rest of the game flows as the comic indicates -- the Red Hats manage to put a couple of Cylons stunned but never quite out and are slowly whittled down and driven into cover.

At that point the Milita get involved, though, and their fire combined with the Red Hats manages to kill off a Cylon.  Unfortunately by that time Gold Leader and his bodyguards had returned from the meeting and in a pincer move annhilated the Red Hats.  The Milita fired a few more shots before being massacred, and the Cylons escaped with 1 Obviously Dead and 3 OOF.  (Out of the fight means the suits are damaged but reparable -- I need to come up with a recovery chart for the Cylons).

System Notes
I used the Bugs QRS for the Cylons, unchanged except where the bugs charge the Cylons fire instead.

I used BTA armor for the Cylons.  Way overpowered.  I'm moving that down to Hard armor BUT keeping the roll on the BTA penetration chart.  It seems to make sense for autonomous soldiers.  We'll see in the next scenario -- Breakthrough!

Chapter IV: A Newbie Hope -- Designer's Notes

Designer Notes and Comments

Basically I needed a MacGuffin to get the campaign rolling.  And what better macguffin to use than the original -- little lost robot just trying to accomplish his mission. What is Luc (Luc Skywalker -- pronounced as John Cleese doing a French accent) doing in that shuttle and what is the droid carrying?  Ah, that's what the campaign will seek to discover! So after the crash, the Rebel contingent has to get the bot off the board and to civilization -- such as it is on Colony 13.

My first idea for this scenario was to massacre the Rebels so that the droid could be sold by the tribesmen into New Hope City -- there to be fought over by all the colony's factions.  So it was going to be a bit of Rorke's Drift.  But then I realized that it didn't matter to me who won -- and the results were more interesting than I could have hoped for!

I didn't use Stars -- the Rep 5 Rebel is referred to as Luc.  I wanted the miniatures to tell me who the stars were.  Certainly the way things turned out Luc should get the Cheating Death rule!  (Note this changed in the comic writeup to Luke Starpower)

Since this was an outdoor scenario I used the Colonial Adventures for PEF movmement and resolution.  However I reversed the resolution list so that the main body was more likely to occur later -- this worked well in this small scenario to build up the tension as the game progressed.
Sigh -- it has to be said -- there was the usual struggle with understanding the THW rules and applying them.  I love the spirit of the games and the reaction system is great (especially for these solo games!)  but for me the rules explanations are lacking and the writing style just really throws me.  Luckily I've been playing the game since Legends of Araby that I usually can figure out what is meant -- and if I can't I make my own rule.  It's solo gaming after all.  Still it's very frustrating and I will be working on some game aids to assist -- because despite the frustrations the games are worth the effort.

Very fun and a surprise ending with Luc and Biclighter injured and being treated by the village shaman while the tribal elder contacts his trading partners in the city to see what they will give for a little lost robot....

I enjoyed that aspect as well -- seeing the game through the eyes of both parties.  I mean these tribesmen were just trying to quietly worship when these hu'mans barge into the sacred circle waving guns about....

Heh...thing like that could start a war....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas War: Prologue - Assassination

I decided to kick my Christmas War off with the assassination scenario to give a political impetus to the rest of the fight.  Other than lifting scenario three and playing it as a kind of prequel I'll be following the rest of the Christmas War guidelines.

(Best read by double-clicking on an image for full size)