Monday, February 21, 2011

We're all Gonna Die, Man!

Screaming like a banshee, Commander Steve, followed (right behind him every step of the way) by Michael, Chris, and Dennis, charges headlong into the dark corridor. The brave Spacemen are stopped in their tracks by what they see. The corridor is ripped apart, with wires, pipes, and cables dangling everywhere in the dim emergency lighting.

In one corner they spot one of the laboratory animals, a small dog, a Pug, to be exact, laying twitching in the corner. All of a sudden its chest bursts open in an explosion of canine gore, and a second Life Stage 1 Alien (we'll call this one Simon) launches forth, hisses loudly, then shoots off into one of the many exposed ducts. I guess now we know what happened to the missing egg from the Lab.

But that's not all... Suddenly from beneath a pile of rubbish appears the first Alien (Scott). Still in its first life stage, the critter is still somewhat bashful (attacks only on D6 1-3).

Commander Steve is not afraid. He steps forward, pulls out his Sleep Dart pistol, and prepares to take down the xenomorph. To inspire his nervous followers, Steve tells the Alien exactly what he thinks.

The Alien does not appreciate this and promptly rolls a 2. Next, we determine which of the four he attacks. Yep, you guessed it, he rolls Steve's number. Brave Commander Steve gets one defensive attack. He misses! The Alien at this puny life stage only will kill on a D6 1-3. He rolls a 1.

Steve goes down in a Tasmanian-devil style flurry of claws, teeth, and shredding. Michael reacts first, just a tad late, of course, and plugs the Alien with a sleep dart, knocking it out temporarily. Dennis runs up, nervously clutching the cage he carried from the lab. With a knocked out Stage 1 Alien, he can successfully cage it on a D6 1-5. Dennis rolls a 6.

The Alien wakes up, jumps out of Dennis' hands, and shoots off into the labyrinth of pipework. The three remaining crew stand there, covered in the spray of their Commander's insides, and start to freak out.

In this game when either an Alien or crewman is killed (assuming no other Aliens are captured), it triggers a panic sequence which sends all remaining crewman back to the Command Module for a Reality Show-style team interlude meeting. All blips are reshuffled and reset. Of course, now two of the blips are real Aliens. In the harder core variant, one random crew runs off on their own to hide in the recesses of the ship, becoming one of the uncontrolled blips until found and slapped back to their senses. I opted to not do this option during this first go-round.

Next, what happens after the Reality Show team meeting.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Coming Right At Me!

Turn 1:

Our brave cast of Spacemen fire up their motion trackers and note nine indistinguishable blips moving about the ships. One is the Alien; the rest are either the "escaped" lab specimens or just sensor echos within the spaghetti bowl of pipes, shafts, and wires within the ship. One blip moves quickly into the lab, where Dennis is innocently figuring out how all the lab animals escaped and noticing one of the Alien eggs brought aboard now seems to be open and empty.... Uh oh! Luckily, the blip headed towards Dennis turns out to be a sensor glitch.

More ominously, four of the blips move in unison towards the blue collar portion of the ship where Ship's Engineers Brian and Jon are diligently preparing to whip up some better weapons from spare parts. Better work fast guys!

(Note: Blip movement, the first phase of each turn, is via somewhat random face down counters).

The highly motivated humans move as follows:

  • Rob (medical) beats a hot foot from the Infirmary to the Command Module with no incident.

  • Ship's Commander Steve (already in the Command Module) unlocks the Arms Locker and picks up Nerve Gas grenades and a Sleep Dart Gun. "I like to keep these handy, for close encounters!" Note, while the Alien is at life stage 1 and 2, the obedient crew tries to follow the Company's orders not to kill the alien, so Steve won't be able to use the grenades just yet.

  • Deputy Commander (#1) Michael and Science Officer Chris run from the Mess Hall (leaving his barely eaten lunch) to the Arms Locker with no incident, but aren't able to lock 'n load this turn.

  • Ensign Mark and Engineer Ted both run from the Living Quarters to the Command Module, wanting to arm up as well.

  • Engineer Brian dutifully begins work on an Electric Shock Prod weapon, which will be quite useful coaxing the Alien towards the carbon freezing chamber. He successfully completes 50% of the project.

  • Engineer Jon runs in from Ship's Maintenance and prepares to begin work on a flamethrower next turn.

  • Dennis scoots out of the Lab with one of the empty, portable cages and runs to the Command Module. He'll be able to catch an escaped lab animal or stunned Life Stage 1 or 2 (i.e., baby) Alien in the cage.

Turn 2:

The four blips continue to converge on the Engineers! Work faster, Brian and Jon! One is in the main corridor outside their workshop. Luckily this corridor is also adjacent to the Command Module, so backup is on the way.

  • Brian completes and arms the electric shock prod, ready for anything that might peek through the hatchway.

  • Jon works feverishly on the more complicated flame thrower, completing 33% of the project.

  • Ensign Mark runs into the Arms Locker and loads up a Sleep Dart Gun and Blaster.

  • Brave Captain Steve gives an epic speech worthy of Henry V to the gathered crew in the Command Module, and leads a brave charge into the corridor to take on the sensor blip about to move on Brian and Jon.

  • Michael (with Dart Gun), Chris (with Dart Gun), and Dennis (with Cage) let out a rousing battle cry and follow Steve into the breach.

  • Rob runs to the Lab to fetch another cage.

  • Ted spends the turn arming up with nerve gas and a blaster.
What happens next? Read the next post, dear friends.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

They Mostly Come at Night... Mostly.

When we last left our intrepid heroes, Ben was spread out on the dinner table, his innards splayed across a formerly mint copy of Star Wars: Epic Duels. The Alien (aka, Scott), had burst forth from his chest and shot out of the room. Now what are we going to do? (Special note: Hard drive failure on my primary PC last night drastically cut short my gaming time, so this report is a tad abbreviated.)

The Alien shot out of the Command Module, leaving a red floor streak and nine shocked crew in its wake. Here are the starting positions of the crew:

Command Module: Steve (command)

  • The Command Module is adjacent to the Arms Locker, so Steve's first priority as one of the three command officers will be to unlock the weapons for the other crew. He and the other two command officers will grab blasters, tranquilizer guns, and nerve gas grenades. The Company has issued strict orders that the Alien be captured, not killed. So, no lethal attacks are allowed until the Alien reaches life stage three (and the crew apparently realizes what they are really up against). If the crew can manage to knock out, cage, then freeze the Alien before it grows to powerful, decisive victory. We'll see...

Ship's Mess: Michael and Chris

  • Michael (command) and Chris (science) were apparently having a long, slow lunch at the time of Ben's chest burst. Thanks for the help, guys! They will both proceed to meet up with Steve and arm up. For some reason, Chris, like the other science officers, flatly refuses to equip anything but non-lethal weapons. Does anyone else notice how his reflexes seem a bit unnaturally fast?

Infirmary: Rob

  • Rob (science) is off on his own in the ship's infirmary. He has a ways to go to meet up with one of the other crew and arm up. Let's hope none of those blips near him are anything he needs to be nervous about...

Living Quarters: Mark and Ted

  • Mark (command) and Ted (engineer) are sacked out in the ship's living quarters. Ted thinks he can whip up a reasonably effective flamer some spare parts, but he needs three turns in the workshop to do it. Hopefully nothing will interrupt him. If this all works out, the engineers are going to want to renegotiate their bonus shares. Mark decides to head to the arms locker with the others.

Maintenance: Brian; and Power: Jon

  • The two remaining engineers will also head to the workshop to build some weapons. There is safety in numbers, right? Brian, rather than focusing on building a flamer, will whip up an ad hoc electric shock stick weapon, taking only two turns to build. It won't kill the Alien, but it can be used to force the Alien to follow a particular path. The Alien has a chance each turn to shrug off this control, with expected very negative implications. However, if control is maintained, the Alien can be pushed into an airlock or the carbon freezing chamber.

Lab: Dennis

  • Last, but certainly not least, is Dennis (science) in the laboratory. Somehow... either in the excitement of the situation or perhaps... well, let's not jump to any conclusions... someone in the lab "accidentally" released all the lab animals (dogs, cats, and monkeys), which promptly then bolted into the adjacent ventilation shafts. Unfortunately, now ship scanners aren't just showing one blip from the Alien, but now nine blips, all moving wildly through the bowels of the ship, adding to the confusion and frustration of the already terrified crew. It's almost as if someone on board wanted to study the Alien as it evolved...

Tomorrow... A few turns.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Space No One Can Hear You Whine About Unlucky Dice

This is the first in a series of posts covering a solitaire session of Task Force Games' Intruder, originally published in 1980. Characters represented in the report are completely fictitious and in no way represent any current or classic members of the San Antonio Board Gamers...

The master computer aboard company mining ship, Spirit of San Antonio, awoke its hibernating crew in response to a faint distress beacon from a distant, barren planet. The ten groggy spacers crawled out of their cocoons to see foggy probe images of an ancient, wrecked alien ship on the planet's surface.

You know the rest... away team... pulsing eggs... face hugger on Crewman Ben... Ben is brought aboard... Ben seems to recover. Then while gathered in crew breakroom playing a particularly tense game of Star Wars Epic Duels, Ben launches the board, flies down on his back, and.... Chest Burst! A viscious baby alien explodes forth from Ben's chest then shoots out of the room! Gross!

OMG! The rest of the crew are in big trouble, and the trouble is getting worse as the Alien continues to grow, mutate, and grow ever more agressive and hungry. Here is the roster:

Command Officers (faced with the responsibility to lead the crew to kill or capture the alien or, if necessary, blow up the ship to keep the Alien from traveling to Earth):

  • Steve
  • Michael
  • Mark

Engineering Officers (They have the skills to assemble powerful ad hoc weapons, but can they work fast enough?):

  • Brian
  • Jon
  • Ted

Science Officers (Can they be trusted? Or are they just out to bring a live Alien back to the Company?)

  • Chris
  • Rob
  • Dennis
Next, episode, the initial set up and Turn 1!


War Never Changes...

Steam holiday sales are fun. I blow $2-$10 dollars on a game I am somewhat interested in or perhaps played to death 10 years ago, just to lock it in as part of the library. Occassionally I get around to actually firing these games up and playing them.

Last night I finally did so with DEFCON. Wow! If you've watched the 80's film Wargames or perhaps remember the scenes in Dr. Strangelove involving the "Big Board," then you have the concept of the game. Essentially 1-6 players gather to fight WW3, nuclear style, at the strategic level. There are several game modes, some adding diplomacy and different scoring modes (kill the most, save the most, etc.).

Anyway.... DEFCON: $10 very well spent. I highly recommend it. Shall we play a game? Post a comment here.

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