Sunday, 21 March 2010

Vroom Vroom Bang Bang (x10)

A miraculous thing has come to pass - I have been to a wargames show, played in or GM'd 6 or 7 games of A&A2 (I lose count) which makes for 9 or 10 over the weekend and am not currently sick of the whole gaming hobby and am not therefore thinking of taking up other hobbies such as golf, strangling small animals and masturbation (when Coop quotes Monty Python on the Internet, you don't get the old usenet cliches such as Holy Grail and Life of Brian). Traditionally if I spend more than a couple of hours at a show/con I end up bitterly hating anything with dice and tape measures for about two days afterwards.

Also, not once did I accidentally say words along the lines of "I wrote Axis and Allies" to a confused and baffled bystander during the whole weekend. This must be a first.

The game went down well, although these days at UK shows, nobody really goes to play a game (it being a shopping trip) so most people who played were friends via club or Waylands Forge.

Again, rules keep mutating slightly. To whit;

- Taking d6 damage for landing at 18" or over is ridiculously excessive. This is now d3 instead. I've no idea why the original d6 was written in I must have not being paying attention or something.

- We didn't bother allowing faster drivers to delay their move until later in the turn. Just seemed like too much hassle with novice players but I'll keep it in the rules for playing at Stourbridge.

- We allowed shooting at any point during the turn, with moves being temporarily "frozen" to allow shooting to occur. Anybody who wanted to shoot at this point had the benefit of it all being simultaneous. This seemed to flow well, if anybody wasn't paying attention and missed their opportunity, well tough tit your driver should have been looking where he was going not fiddling with the radio.

- D6+D3 on the Loss of Control table is dumb and unworkable. Throw two dice but one is halved? Daft, so amended to D6+2 instead.

I handed out car sheets that were drawn on A4 paper and laminated. The car sheet doesn't even take up half the sheet so I drew a line under the stats and marked it "Write Your Speeds Here". I handed out a load of dry-erase markers so that I could wipe the sheets clean between games. Serendipitously the markers I used had chunky tips so the players had to write in a large hand. This was handy as I meant that even with mucky contact lenses and the effects of a liquid lunch I could read them from the other end of the table so that ordering the movement order was dead easy and worked well without having to keep asking people what they had written down.

I took a few photos, but to be honest in-game photography (more like in-game lomography with my poor shutter skills) isn't my bag as for some reason I always seem to end up with pictures of tables leading the eye up to men's crotches. In future I may insist upon higher tables or simply play on the floor. I can cope with photographing feet. Anyway, here's a few...

The Post-Apocalypse-Pre-Post-Apocalypse game. We shifted the scenic items around during the day to keep things fresh. The grey painted polystyrene packaging offcuts concrete ruins, building shells and mesas were Solid Obstacles. The hills were there to block LOS and provide ramps for Dukes of Hazzard style jumping action. In fact while we're mentioning the Dukes of Hazzard let's have a Dukes-themed picture in the interests of keeping A&A2 players warm on cold nights.

That's better.

And the scrub is just scrub to make it look good. Moved out of the way of cars as needed. Less messy than lichen.

Toys! Note, "The Blood God", brand-new car conversion based upon a Matchbox "Jungle Crawler" with a Stan Johansen gun turret atop it. This was such a last-minute job that I played with this car on Friday in an unpainted state, a state of affairs for which I risk serious censure and blackballing from the Stourbridge club. I promise it was only the once and will never, ever, happen again.

Hot in-game action, whereby Ms. Virginia Dentata dives for cover from the turreted Blood God by aiming for the ruined slum building (we were in Wolverhampton after all...). Purple Haze is immobile having been ambushed by a large lump of candy floss.

Twin Mustang and Purple Haze on tea break in front of more of the lazy wargamers sci-fi terrain standby. (And it wasn't cheap either - I had to buy a brand new LCD television and a new electric radiator to get my hands on it).

The lovely Ms. Dentata from a low angle (always her best...). Probably the most popular car on the day, showing that once again flashy colours always score over intricate and painstakingly modelled toys grumble grumble moan whinging like a Brummie...

"The Blood God" complete with not-a-pubic-hair-honest length of stringy glue between front wheel and body...

Anarch drives around more polystyrene in quite possibly the dullest photograph taken all day.


Something odd and memorable happens in nearly every gaming session of A&A I've ever played, going all the way back to 2001 and the first version of the game. Tom Jr. managed today's oddity by driving over a mine field (not advised) and taking 2d6 damage. This hurt. What hurt more than that was that the random scatter sent him into the other mine field which also detonated giving him another 2d6 damage. This was survived (just) but again induced random scatter which sent him into a solid lump of polystyrene concrete. Game Over Player One. Thanks for making us all laugh like drains, it is much appreciated.

I also managed to top myself by sailing into a textbook ram at 26" speed with both NOS charges blazing away in a Heavy weight car and still managed to lose it. Insult was added to injury when I bounced back 6" along the route I'd travelled along. On the face of it this is complete nonsense because the "Out of Control" scatter result doesn't care about relative directions. The thing is though, that it's So Bad It's Good. Sometimes it seems OK, sometimes it seems nonsense and on some occasions it seems to have the most wicked sense of humour imaginable. Sometimes it's so nonsensical that it's funnier to let it get on with it and do what it wants. It knows. It just knows when to take the piss to the amusement of all present.


Games this weekend were ridiculously quick. I was in a three-player game that lasted three turns. Another player was out on the second turn having had mines dropped about a half inch in front of him and not allowing him to turn and miss them. Once upon a time we used to play games with 8 or more players and insist upon a twelve or fifteen turn limit (fuel was the usual excuse) to avoid the game petering out.

So what's going on?

I ran three or four player games on a 6' x 6' table. I don't think that the table was too small as we have played with more numbers than that on an 8' x 8' table and the extra 2' would seem to be cancelled out by the extra players.

I think the mistake I made was to allow players to come onto the table at any speed. This creates two schools of thought as regards a sensible and Fabian approach to the all-important first turn.

The Real Gamer - "I don't have a bloody clue what I'm doing, so lets look at my car sheet. Hmmm, maximum speed 22 inches, lets say ummmm.... 16 inches."

The Real Man Axles and Alloys 2 Gamer - "I don't have a bloody clue what I'm doing, so lets look at my car sheet. Hmmm, maximum speed 22 inches, no problem, 22 inches it is. Oh and both nitros at once for a 2d6 inches bonus."

Mark U. pointed out that this is massively speeding up the early phases of the game and giving an undue advantage to the Heavy vehicles as then their slow top end and slower acceleration doesn't matter. It was letting them get in for ram kills very easily and early doors. On reflection I think I'm going to do the following;

1 - Amend the Max for the three classes. Heavies are now 18", Mediums stay at 22", Lights get faster still at 26".

2 - Cars enter the arena at 6". This should cut out kills that occur just too early (such as the aforementioned Turn 2 mine kill) and give the lighter, faster cars the chance to maneouvre around the heavier, more cumbersome cars.

Both these changes will end up in the next draft of the rulebook.

Another post-game discussion was held about Hit Points. Mark felt that five per line for Mediums and six per line for Heavies isn't enough. I think it is, and it's my name on the rulebook. I prefer a Malevolent Dictator type approach to this rule discussion malarkey. Anyway I have to concede that he may have a point when it comes to gaming outside of the "quickly in and out" nature of con/show gaming.

The potential is there to agree a bonus to hit points dependent upon what sort of game you want. So that the standard game is for con/shows and for people who want a result, well yesterday ideally, so we can pack up and go home early or perhaps people with undiagnosed ADHD. This is 3x4 for Lights, 3x5 for Mediums, 3x6 for Heavies.

But you can tweak this upwards by adding saying 1 to 3 circles per line for everybody. (Not just yourself as that would be morally somewhat dubious). This would give a longer game for, say, a club night. Alternatively you could really go for it and add 4 or 5 extra circles per game if you want a game of of drawn out maneouvring and nibbling little bits off the other players.

This likewise will end up as an optional rule added to the next rulebook draft.

Personally, for my games, I will stick with the default values. This is for speed and also because I love the look of shellshock on someone's face when they've just been comprehensively smacked in the gob and it's only turn two. That's what the game's all about isn't it? :)


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun1!

  2. How about sacrificing capacity slots for extra armour (which would then give more circles)?