Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SABG In the Navy!

Back again for another episode of SABG at War. When we last encountered our heroes, they were steaming off the coast of northern Africa as part of a carrier battle group, ready to put the hurt on Col Qaddafi and friends. Yes, tonight we're kicking off an epic session report on DVG's Hornet Leader: Carrier Operations, with SABG as the pilots flying the Libya 2011 scenario.

Here is the roster (using the callsigns generated by the game, to keep me from going crazy) with their assigned aircraft:

Steve (Ranger) - F/A-18E, Veteran, Squadron Leader -- As the actual military pilot of the group, he gets the top slot.

Michael (Caveman) - F/A-18E, Skilled -- Gets the next top slot due to his outstanding performance fighting xenomorphs last game.

Dennis (Brick) - E-2C, Average -- This pretty much the cleric class aircraft of the group. You can thank him when he saves you from a SAM with his electronic warfare prayer powers.

Rob (Scout) - F/A-18E, Average -- Rob gets a prominent role in this game due to being shuffled into the background last game.

Brian (Bear) - F/A-18C, Average -- Brian is flying an older version aircraft, but his kamikaze flying style will make up the difference.

Chris (Hunter) - F/A-18C, Average -- Ditto. Pretty much another red shirt.

Sean (Panther) - F/A-18C, Average -- Sean wasn't in last game, so I expect a strong showing during this one.

Jon (Alien) - F/A-18E, Green -- Sorry, Jon. At least I paid to upgrade your ride.

The campaign will consist of five fun days of hot action, during which time we'll try to inflict maximum carnage upon the Colonel without getting anyone's aircraft shot out from under them. Sounds easy, right?

Day 1:

For the first day of the campaign, everyone is fresh, well rested, and happy just to be doing something besides sailing around with a few thousand of their closest friends. Unfortunately, Libya's air defense and intelligence suppression capabilities are still maxed out. We only get two potential targets to choose from:

Major Airfield -- Pretty much the hardest target in the game right out of the shoot!
Convoy -- A minor target.

If we don't go after the airfield, it will put extra two bandits over every target each turn until its destroyed. It's going to be a bear, but, hey, we're bad ass, right?

Sadly, we're only allowed to take seven aircraft on this Death Star run, so I leave the Green recruit, Jon, back at the base to keep the beer cold. We arm up, and we're off!

Inbound on the target, we encounter some random troops with shoulder launched SAMs. Dennis fails to jam their targeting (here we go again...). They lock on to Rob and Chris, who both evade the missiles, but both take one stress each. Don't worry, guys! Plenty of clean underwear back on the boat.

The desert rushes by at high speed as the miles to the target tick down quickly. Catching the enemy airbase off guard, the team comes screaming out of the sky like a pack of steel birds of prey! The attack set up is shown below.

Tomorrow, the first day's attack run!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

SABG Goes to War!

Well, timing is everything. I had already planned to run a solo scenario Hornet Leader: Carrier Operations, featuring the familiar cast of SABG Classic filling the billets in the squadron. Given the current events in Libya, I was going to run the 1980's Libya scenario included in the basic game. Then today I noticed Dan Verssen games, the publisher, released an updated 2011 scenario for free on their website. Cool.

Okay, so fire up your Top Gun soundtracks and expect a full report later this evening!

The picture above is from the New York times, showing what I believe to be a Libyan Mig-23 Flogger having some severe fire containment issues. Note the ejection seat and parachute in the background.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mansions of Madness - First Look

We played two complete games today of FFG's new Mansions of Madness. The forces of ancient evil one both times, perhaps a tiny bit more than narrowly. Still, it was easy to see how more familiarity with the game and sound strategy by the good guys would have given them a chance.

My take: It's all the fun parts of Descent and a good bit of the fun of Arkham boiled down to a two hour experience; probably even quicker with repeated play. The good players need to be ready to get continually pummeled by debuffs, attacks, and "Hey look! Here is a card that kills you!" experiences cast at them by the DM, aka, The Keeper.

Yes, there are printing errors, but these are minor. Overall the components are amazing, the spectacle of the game on the table is suitably impressive. The game cries out for future expansions, of which I am certain there will be many over the next five years or so. A solid Ameritrash purchase. Two tentacles up!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Get to the Chopper!

At long last, here it is. The exciting conclusion to our epic session report of SABG's journey through GDW's classic board game, Intruder.

When we last left our heroes, the remaining crew was huddled back in the ship's Command Module. Killed by the Alien xenomorphs: Ben, Steve, Jon, Ted. Still alive, but feeling very nervous:

  • Michael - First Officer; the Ripley of our story
  • Brian - the one remaining Engineer, the Yaphet Kotto / Parker of SABG
  • Mark - the spunky, loyal ensign, the Kif Kroker of this rust bucket
  • ...and three sneaky androi.... I mean scientists: Chris, Rob, and Dennis
At the end our last episode, Michael, realizing the futility of trying to take on the Aliens, now estimated to be fully grow, immune to pretty much everything except blaster fire, and at least four in number, decided to punch the self destruct.

The ship's computer, "Mother," started the countdown, sounding loud klaxons, venting hot steam, and making the whole ship rather unpleasant. The ship was equipped with two still fully functional escape shuttle craft. Each shuttle could hold four crew. Michael ordered the computer to energize both shuttles and start the engine power up sequence. This would take four turns. The main ship would blow up in 8 turns.

The shuttles were each located in a separate shuttle bay at opposite ends of the ship. Motion trackers showed big, swiftly moving, angry blips around both bays. Reaching each bay required a mad sprint down a long corridor do-able in roughly two turns. The crew divided into two teams: Michael, Brian, Dennis, and Rob in one (safety in numbers); Mark and Chris in the other (the diversion?).

The path to Michael's shuttle cleared of blips for just a brief instant as they moved into an adjacent room, perhaps to go kill the last remaining house cat scurrying about the mess hall. The four crew sprinted down the corridor, popped open the shuttle bay doors, and jumped in the shuttle, slamming and sealing the shuttle doors.

Mark's and Chris' run was a bit more exciting. Two big, angry blips lay directly between them and the shuttle bay and would not move. The two knew to try their luck killing an Alien at this point would be suicide without some crazy luck. The ship grew ever louder and hotter as the failsafe point for turning off the self-destruct came and went. The ship was going to blow!

On the last possible turn, the blips briefing moved away, and Mark and Chris made a mad dash to their shuttle, hopped in, and punched it just as they ship was starting it's final countdown.

Both shuttles screamed away from the ship at top speed! They had to get outside the nuclear detonation radius before the ship blew. BOOM! The ship blasted itself apart.

Luckily, both shuttles escaped. But wait.... there's more!

First, Mark and Chris finally let go of each others hands and decided perhaps it was best if no one ever mentioned this entire episode. Suddenly, out of the corner of their eye they see an Alien crawl out from behind a pile of survival gear crates. Alien stowaway! Argh! The Alien launches himself at Mark. Mark bravely fires his blaster pistol defensively (D6, needed a 1 to kill). Miss! Mark is picked up and ripped in half. Gross! Chris backs up against the wall, sobbing. He grabs a pistol points at the Alien and shoots (D6, 1-2 needed) and hits before he realizes the rules forbid one of the Androids from making a lethal attack. Doh! Chris instead watches as his white-blooded body is splatter all over the inside of the shuttle. The shuttle eventually careens back into orbit of the planet where the Aliens were first found. The shuttle crashes, setting the Alien free. Whew! What a ride!

In the other shuttle, Michael, Brian, Dennis, and Rob breath a collective sigh of relief. In another 2 months time they'll be in communications range of an outer rim outpost and be home free. Not so fast.... Throwing aside a pile of space suits, another Alien stowaway is aboard this shuttle as well! (D6, 1-5 chance based on the number of live Aliens on the ship at the time the shuttle punched).

Michael steps forward, coolly drawing his regulation .44 magnum blaster sidearm. The Alien attacks him first. Michael rolls his defensive attack (D6, hits on a 1). Michael rolls a 1! Boom! The Alien is hit square between the eyes and falls dead at his feet. Hooray! Michael saves the day.

The official tally:

4 dead Aliens (the fifth from the first shuttle survived): +28 VPs
5 dead crew (not counting poor Ben): -25 VPs
Ship detonated: VPs cannot be >0.

So.... not a loss, but not a win either. Whew!

Final thoughts: A tense, bloody game that is remarkable for the "historically accurate" feel it provides in comparison to the original Alien movie. It is possible to kill the Aliens, but very tough with the improvised weapons the non-military crew possesses. More than likely the brave attempts to confront the Alien end up in very bloody death scenes. Sure, its a light dicefest, but a nice, nostalgic diversion as well. Well worth the $10 I spent on it via E-Bay.

Next up: SABG takes to the skies in Hornet Leader!


Sunday, March 06, 2011

So Long, Ted!

(This post continues perhaps the longest running session report on SABG ever: GDW's classic game Intruder).

Alright, space fans, we're headed towards the dramatic conclusion. The current score is: SABG 1, Aliens 3. To move things along towards the finale, I'll be a bit more concise in my reporting.

After Brian's dramatic airlocking of one of the Aliens, the team regroups to consider their options. There are still at least two Aliens out there, and each turn brings the possibility of more appearing, plus each of them growing stronger, more aggressive, and increasingly immune to the crews weapons, even if they actually decide to roll some hits.

First Officer Michael points out that one of the remaining command officers must stay alive to preserve the last ditch option of blowing the ship and escaping in one or both of the shuttles. Since Michael is the senior ranking officer, he says it completely makes sense that he be the one to stay here in the Command Module to keep an eye on things.

Brave Engineer Ted steps forward. The music swells as he gives an impassioned speech about what he believes is best in life: To crush the Aliens; to see them driven before us; and to hear the lamentation of their women!

Ted runs yelling out into the darkness wielding a blaster pistol. Brian and Mark trot along a bit further back. The three unscratched scientists skulk after them a few minutes later. Michael gets comfortable in the command chair and uses the time to do his daily WoW heroic instance and a bit of fishing.

Soon enough the group runs smack into one of the now quite mature Aliens. Here is what transpires:

Alien decides to attack Ted (random determination within the group).

Defensive attack: Ted misses

Alien kills Ted. Ted is lifted from the floor, screaming at the spearlike tail of the Alien protruding from his chest. The Alien brings him closer to regard him face-to-face. The SABG members wave goodbye to him, then in a flash the Alien's inner jaw shoots forth, ending Ted's all-too-brief membership with the group.

Counter attacks:

Brian misses.
Chris misses.
Mark misses.
Dennis misses.
Rob misses.

The crew runs screaming back to rudely interrupt Michael's herb gathering.

Michael takes one look at the monitors. There are now five Aliens out scurrying within the ship, and only six quite nervous crew left. Screw it! He punches the self destruct activation button! They now have eight turns to make it to a shuttle (or shuttles) before the ship detonates.

Next episode: Get to the Chopper!


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Brian!

(The saga of SABG's foray into the world of GDW's Intruder continues....)

Now three crew down, the crew retreats back to reconsider their options. Luckily there is no evidence of the Aliens either growing or spreading at this point, which is good considering the toddlers seem to be vicious enough!

The party decides to split up into two main teams to chase down and locate the two Aliens quickly before they become too tough to handle. In addition, the two remaining Engineers, Brian and Ted, resolve to split off and go construct two more shock prods in hopes at least one of the Aliens can be frozen alive (i.e., big VPs).

At this point with two Aliens at Life Stage 2, the crew is not yet sufficiently motivated to disobey the Company and break out the heavy weapons.

Group 1 (Michael, Chris, Rob) and Group 2 (Mark, Dennis) each locate stray lab animals and over the course of the next couple turns successfully get them locked back up into Laboratory. This helps the team by reducing the motion tracker blips on the board.

Brian and Ted make their way to the workshop and crank away on the prods. Brian hears something outside. They try to concentrate... working fast, but trying not to electrocute themselves. They hear something run past their doorway down the hall into the main airlock. Brian pokes his head out, as Ted continues to work. Brian sees the distinct outline of an Alien inside the airlock, poking through spacesuits. He sneaks up and then in a final mad dash punches the emergency airlock release! Boom! The Alien is shot into space! Score one for the good guys.

The team reassembles back in the Command Module. Dennis studies the camera footage of the decompressing Alien and notices its exoskeleton seems to have evolved, with a new layer of thick goo on the outside. He tells the crew there is now a high probability the goo provides further thermal insulation, making the creatures essentially resistant to the ultra cold temperatures in the ship's freezer. Not good!


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

They're coming outta the walls!

Hello, Space Fans! Here is the next episode of "SABG in Spaaaace!" a.k.a. a session report of GDW's classic solitaire game, Intruder. We last left our poor heroes weeping in the Command Module, distraught over Ship Commander Steve's slicing / dicing at the hands of the baby xenophobe. Now, counting Ben's original chest burst, they were left without their two most valuable players.

Cue the reality show style house meeting. After lots of shouting, crying, finger pointing, etc., the crew resolves to set out to track down the two nasty, pointy critters moving about the ship before further evolution or multiplication occurs. All the ship's lab animals are still on the lose, so there is plenty of fresh meat out there for any stray face huggers to jump on. Looking at their motion trackers, the crew sees blips, real and otherwise, moving all about the ever deteriorating ship.

Dennis, who for some reason seems to know an awful lot about these Aliens, tells the crew that his analysis of their latest encounter with the Alien indicates it has now developed some form of gill-like organ, rendering it immune to their poison gas grenades. He actually seems to admire the Aliens. Great...

First Officer Michael steps forward to take charge. He picks up one of the recently constructed electric shock prods and prepares to go back out into the adjacent corridor where Steve was killed and motion trackers show something scuttling about. Michael is followed by Engineers Brian and Jon with dart guns. Still adhering to Company orders, Chris follows them in, more than a few steps behind, with no weapons, but carrying one of the very non-weapon-like lab cages. Hey, maybe the Aliens are just misunderstood...

Fellow Science Officers Dennis and Rob slink out the back door, insisting they need to instead head to the Lab to get two more cages. Michael orders Ensign Mark to follow the two scientists with a blaster and keep an eye on things.

Lastly, Engineer Ted follows Michael's group with an some spare tools (a.k.a., improvised weapon, in game terms), determined to make his way to the workshop where he can assist the effort to construct flamethrowers.


Michael's team bursts into the dark corridor. Sure enough, sitting there picking through the bloody remains of Steve's space suit is one of the Aliens. Jon runs forward, shouting, "One rabbit stew coming right up!" Famous last words.
  • Does it attack? Yes!
  • Who does it attack? Jon
  • Determine mutations that occurred during the last life stage progression: Immune to flame!
  • Jon's self defense attack with dart gun: Miss!
  • Alien attack vs. Jon: Jon is killed!
Crew counter attacks:

Brian fires dart: Miss
Michael uses shock prod: Miss
Ted strikes improvised weapon: Miss
Chris soils himself: Hit; No effect on Alien

Nice rolling, guys!


Next Chapter: Seattle

Just wanted to let the SABG know that I'll be moving to Seattle in a few weeks.

Strangely, my wife's family has all gravitated to Seattle, so when I saw relevant job opening I applied, and the rest is history.

I have not been a participant in the last, what?, 1.5-2 years? Nevertheless, I fondly remember many hours playing games either at DL or someone's house.

Best wishes, and feel free to drop a line every now and then.