Daily Archives: February 19, 2019

Another Approach to LSNC: Sci Fi


I have been making a number of abortive attempts at LSNC: Sci-Fi.  I am trying to take into account the difference between directed and kinetic energy weapons, represent different types of motivations (wheels, tracks, hover, legs), RF-guided weapons, thermal sensors, unmanned systems, and cyber/EW.  The first attempt used the shooting and defense numbers very much like LSNC: WWII, but it didn’t seem like the d10 provided enough variance for sci-fi.  Then I tried to use the card-based mechanic like Combat Patrol, but it didn’t quite work for a non-skirmish game.  It seemed like we were shooting Nerf balls.  In all previous cases, the amount of information needed on the base tables was getting hard to fit.  I have been playing around with a dice progression idea that includes more than the standard D&D set of polymorphic dice.

In this example, you can see that moving to a die progression mechanism simplifies the base label, because what is listed is a base capability, which is modified by the modifiers shown on the top half of the figure.  The idea is that modifiers of +1, +2, etc. move up and down the die progression.  Combat would be an opposed die roll.  I might start with a d10 to hit, but I am shooting on a unit’s flank, so i go to d14 (yes, they exist).  Your defense might be d10, but you are in woods (light cover), so you go to d12.  We roll.  If my attack roll exceeds your defense roll, I inflict a point of damage.  If my attack roll more than doubles your defense roll, I inflict two points of damage, knocking out a base.  I specifically didn’t have a capability to inflict two hits in WWII, but I think it would be good in Sci-Fi.

The advantage of such a system is that I could attack you with a d4, and you could defend with a d24, but I might still score a lucky hit.  I was explicitly trying to prevent this in LSNC: WWII, but I think it makes sense for Sci-Fi.

Why the special dice instead of just using more than one die?  Rolling 1 die, produces random numbers from a uniform distribution.  Rolling more dice produces random numbers from a distribution that looks like the normal (i.e., bell curve) distribution.  The more dice you roll, the more the results will tend toward the mean.  So I think all rolls need to be the same number of dice, 1, 2, 3, or whatever.  I like one die per roll.

An opposed die roll for shooting and defense seems right to me.

The bottom half of the card, could represent a unit roster for a player as a series of labels, or the labels could be cut out and pasted to the bases.  I went with a darker color scheme so they won’t stand out so much on the terrain.

I like the idea of a reaction number instead of an opportunity fire rule.  This could also be used for other purposes in the game.   There is no room for it on the label.

The movement table is a recognition that as I have been working on this, there is a pattern for the different types of vehicles (and infantry), which is represented in the table now.  I figure that people won’t have to refer to it much after a turn or two.

I also think players won’t have to refer to the card to remember the defense and attack modifiers.  I wonder if the shooting and defense modifiers should be different for directed and kinetic energy weapons.  What do you think?

My biggest concern with this approach is that people will get frustrated looking for the die they need. I was careful to collect dice so that each die type is always the same color (e.g., the d20 is always dark gray), which I hope will help.  The need to purchase several sets of these dice, one for each player, means that this game will likely be commercially non-viable.   I was thinking that if I sold these through Sally 4th, we could package up sets of dice in canonical colors, but if it is annoying, people won’t play.  As I’ve not had a set of rules that fall into the “cool rules” category, perhaps I should be sweating this.  What do you think?

from Buck’s Blog http://bucksurdu.com/blog/?p=8477
from Tumblr http://harfordhawks.tumblr.com/post/182922498648

GASLANDS Game at Mass Pikemen

Mark A. Morin

Last Saturday Jared Burns ran a very fun game of GASLANDS at the February meeting of the Mass Pikemen gaming club. For those of you not familiar with the game, it involves an apocalyptic race/gladiatorial battle using Matchbox cars. The cars are armed with different weapons such as rams, machine guns, and armor, and in the scenario they were racing through three gates with the first car to finish all three as the winning car.

Each of us had two cars. Jared brought his car collection which he had very effectively weathered. Also, Scott Howland brought his cool GASLANDS cars, so we had a nice selection. Jared had also made some very nice dashboards which made play much easier.

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The game set up – it was nice as several of us were able to contribute terrain to make a fun tabletop.
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Scott Howland made a couple of very cool billboards that were very fun – including this Johnny Cab one from “Total Recall” and…
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…this one showing spaceship service to Mars.
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These are the two cars that I had in the game. The cab (from Scott) had a ram and a machine gun. The rusty car (from Jared) had a machine gun and a limited ammo mortar.

We all started at gate one, with no firing weapons to be active until we crossed the first gate. Several cars, including my cab, never made it through that first gate. My rusty car did, and turned back to attack Jared’s similarly-armed orange car. I rolled well, and Jared did not, with the result being I destroyed his car. Unfortunately, his ammo sympathetically detonated and both of my cars took damage from that blast.

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The first kill – but the ensuing explosion damaged both of my cars.

At the same time, Mike Morgan had been sidelined due to a starting box collision that left one of his cars just getting going. His other car was speeding dangerously towards the stadium wall (the edge of the tabletop), so he was not being engaged. Scott and Jared were both heading to the second gate and taking shots at each other along the way. Scott’s other car was in front of my rusty one, so I shot at it, and the dice were with me again. Boom.

At the top of this shot you see Scott’s (silver car) and Jared’s (blue car) doing a NASCAR run while heading towards the second gate. Mike’s cars are on the far right and far left trying to get back into the fight.
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Jared, Mike and Scott ponder their next moves.

Unfortunately, the act of shooting Scott’s car also caused an explosion that wrecked my rusty car, leaving me with only the cab.

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My rusty car, a victim of its own murderous aggressiveness!

This left Mike with two cars, and Jared, Scott and I with one, and mine could only ram. I saw them headed for gate two, so I headed there.

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My cab goes at the two survivors.

I did damage to Scott’s silver car, causing it to flip and hit the post, and explode. Both my cab and Jared’s blue car were caught in the explosion. This action took all three out of the game, leaving Mike with the only remaining cars and victory!

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The mashup that took out three cars.

The game ended and I think we all had a blast (pun unintentional) even though I inadvertently succeeded in destroying my own cars. Thanks to Jared for running a great game.

Our next session is on March 2nd at 2 PM during which we will be playing What a Tanker in North Africa!

from Mark A. Morin https://markamorin.com/2019/02/19/gaslands-game-at-mass-pikemen/
from Tumblr http://harfordhawks.tumblr.com/post/182916981968