Monday, 29 March 2010

Weekend Gaming

OK, we all know that the reason that every 11 year old child (like me) picks Spess Mehrens is that they need no tactical nous whatsoever because they have 3+ SAVE!!!!!1111

Tactics, such as they are, revolve around that 3+ SAVE!!!!!1111 and laughing as your opponent's best shots all bounce of 3+ SAVE!!!!!1111

Except that if for some reason beyond the very ken of man your dice for saves only roll 1,2,5 and 6, well you may as well be fielding Space Marines in Flak armour. Or guardsmen.

Combat Patrol Friday. Again. Three games. Again. Complete failure to make more than 2 or 3 armour saves in a game. Again. Sums it all up when I roll five 2s in succession to pathetically attempt armour saves against cruddy Space Elf Guardians (playing against another refugee from the Old Skool who even has the Space Elf Musician With Bagpipes model, so we don't call them Eldar - none of this modern rubbish thank you very much...). Also sums it up when all the other 7 players were noticing how bad my saves are. Out of 9 combat patrol games that I have played, I have been crippled in 7 of them with an inability to save Mehrens, my sole victory on Friday against Alex's Witchhunters came from the cunning tactic of NOT GETTING SHOT by facing an army that couldn't shoot - i.e. a fluke of a game in which one of his units of Veteran Stormtroops ran off PDQ.

In fact in one game against Blood Angels I was wiped out to a game (all 398 points of them) by just two Death Company marines that were free and, if mathematical probability, should have just been an irritant in assault for the first couple of turns being before being killed off.

So, what to do? I have no idea. I'm clearly not a match for the other guys (experienced veterans and in two cases guys who only play 40K) but when the Marine strength doesn't work what do you do? It's getting to the point where I'm considering another, lesser armoured army, just so I can play with something that isn't getting hammered because the saves they are supposed to make just keeping failing and frankly, ruining the game for me.

Facing imminent retirement/abandonment/melting down for fishing weights.

Saturday at Waylands Forge was Bog-A-Ten. I've tried several times to succinctly explain this cult game from the UK show circuit of the late nineties/early noughties but failed each time so go off and read Malcolm Randle's account of his game over at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Wargamers Society site.

Put as simply as I can this was a strange game hybrid of a Victorian wargame, Cluedo/Clue, H.G. Wells' "Floor Game" and something with card-driven random encounters like Talisman. In the original, players explored a huge lagoon in steampunk boats visiting islands to search for "clues", basically Jokers to help disarm traps in the central temple. Get as many clues as you think you need, race to the central temple before the other players get there and hope that you have the right colour coded clues to disarm the random colour-coded traps. Do this, grab the Idol gee-gaw and escape from the lagoon. All the time the GM is pulling a playing card for each player and a face card is a random encounter. Encounters consist of a single round of combat, in the original these were all dinosaurs.

Malcolm recast the game as exploration of a desert with pulp-style characters in motor vehicles. The rules are abstract and boardgame like enough to do this, also with all vehicles being identical and all adventurers being identical, the design was strong enough to support all manner of weird player groups such as Nazis in Kubelwagens, Nazi Zombies in Schwimwagens, Indian Army Sikhs on Elephant-back and yours truly with more traditional Pulp protagonists in a Model T Ford.

So why the odd name? It's from Road to Bali where it was a giant squid. In the original lagoon setting the Ace of Spades drew out an attack by Bog-A-Ten upon a random player. For our rematch Malcolm borrowed Wayland Forge's mightly Heroclix Fim Fang Foon - a hugely impressive model that looked very intimidating towering over weedy 28mm figures and their pre-war cars.

I bought a copy of the rules and think that with the rules being so abstract and clearly able to be used in a unmodified state for many a setting I think there could well be potential for a Bog-A-Forty-Thousand game with a sci-fi setting, perhaps at Christmas as a one off game.


  1. Perhaps you should use something more shooty, so you can get them before they get close enough to get you? I haven't played 40K since the second edition, so I don't know which army would fill that niche nowadays.

  2. You need new dice. I would suggest getting some game science dice. With the way you've been rolling, it sounds like you got a bad set.

  3. The weird thing about the dice is that all the other dice rolls are OK. Shooting, Assault, Leadership - all fine and as would be expected. Armour Saves? Falls apart straight away. That's what's annoying - my dice aren't bad, just very, very bad in just one very, very important facet of the game.