Saturday at Gencon 2016 brought more games…eventually. Jumping right into it with:
That I did not play. Oh, I had a ticket, but from long experience I knew Saturday morning would dawn with me an exhausted wreck and once again I was proven correct. So I intentionally chose a game that would be fun, but I would not shed any tears if I missed. So I slept in instead. Gencon newbies need to learn the value of simply dumping their tickets when the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Pace yourself.
I eventually roused from my coma and made it in time for:
“DoW” is my current favorite in the co-op board game genre. Survivors move around the board, gathering supplies and trying to beat the scenario. In this case, it was “Too Many Mouths to Feed.” We needed food and lots of it. We actually did well, completing most of the crisis cards with minimal consequences. We had a few bad draws and one case of cannibalism to make the food requirements, but we did make it. The last round rolls around and we just needed to complete a couple of objectives to win. We each take our turn. Almost there! Just a couple more cards…and the last player started shooting survivors.
The game has a traitor mechanic and the last player, the one that could win the game killed everyone so he could be a cult leader in what is left of the world. Lovely. I was zombie-chow. Oh well, better luck next apocalypse.
After dying in a zombie apocalypse, my next game was more zombies in Fantasy Flight’s
ZA is a rules light take on the end of the world, but with one interesting character generation quirk. You have to play yourself, with your statistics and skills.
Here is the character sheet. You get 10 points to allocate to each statistic and you must add one good and one bad feature beneath each category. In my case I put “crossfit” as a benefit under the physical stat and “clumsy” as a drawback. ZA is a dice pool game, so you get good dice and bad dice with identical numbers from each cancelling out each other and the remainder determining success. You may get extra good dice or bad dice depending on the applicability of your personal benefits you listed. Success is rolling a d6 lower than the applicable stat. As I said, rules light.
We started out by introducing the players, which were also the PCs. We got lucky because we had a good mix of real-world skills. A European Doctorate of Physiology, a roller-derby aficionado ( no kidding) and my cough…tactical genius…cough. We jumped right in by watching our GM’s throat ripped out by a nearby player and spending the next four hours trying to reach the escape hatch under the Fantasy Flight vendor hall booth to escape the carnage. Fantasy Flight maintains the escape hatch in case the lines to buy products gets out of control. It was almost funny, except I have seen those lines and I totally believe someone might go psycho in them!
We used pens as weapons, threw garbage cans, ran like scared children and finally made it to the one place that had what we needed to survive.
Albion Swords‘ booth in the vendor hall
The only place in the building with real weapons. After arming up and grabbing some leather vambraces from another booth, we charged the Fantasy Flight booth. It was under siege by the horde so we cut our way through and reached safety!
I liked the system, but the game is lethal. Mechanically it is very easy to hurt yourself, just like in the real world. Running a campaign for any length of time strikes me as very challenging given the slow healing in the world as well. Overall I like it though and will likely pick it up as a PDF.
After dinner I went to my final game of the day:
If you have not read “The Laundry” series from Charles Stross, I suggest you start now. It is a great take on the “secret organization protecting us from extra-dimensional horrors” trope. “The Laundry” is filled with skilled agents, but it operates like any over government bureaucracy, poorly. One day you might travel to another world through a portal and the next your supervisor is berating you for not doing your TPS reports. Call in an air strike on a demon? Well, you better have your paperwork in order to get it past accounting.
Into this world my table dropped. The GM explained that random people started developing super-powers because the walls between the worlds were breaking down. This is very, very bad. Most people just thought it was a “miracle” rather than the sign of the apocalypse that it actually was. Regardless, the Laundry sent a couple of agents (one of which was me) and some of these recently empowered people to investigate strange happenings at a newspaper office. The agents know all about the coming Cthulhu invasion, the supers know nothing.
Somewhere in this universe a Delta Force operator got superpowers and continued to provide excellent service to the government.
We did not get that person. We got former criminals, a nut job and a marketing guy. Wonderful.
After sneaking up to the building, the crazy basically ran in and started a fight. We got past the fight and ran into a locked door. One of the PCs was a teleporter, so he bounced into the guard shack, grabbed a key and let us in the locked door. This broke the adventure. The GM had a “quest for the key” setup and that all went out the window. She tried to recover, but some people are just not good at ad hoc adventure design and the adventure went off the rails. We fumbled through it and eventually an orbiting satellite killed the angry building. Yes, the entire building was a monster.
It was not awful like “Outbreak: Undead” and a good way to kill a few hours, but nothing memorable.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer