Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Simple Trade - a Pulp Alley Game

It should be a simple exchange: cash for treasure. But human nature being what it is, you can never be sure. Best to bring some back-up to help things run smoothly...
I ran this scenario as a Saga game at the Brisbane Muster back in 2012. Back then it involved warlords trading a bride for pigs. It was a hoot, so I thought why not bring it into the twentieth century?
We had four players. Dr Veruckthaar with a treasure to sell, Jack Sampson with the crates of money to  buy it. Theoretically, they are there for a straightforward exchange. Veruckthaar is supported by the cultists, and  Jack has brought the tramp steamer crew with him. Each player had two secret objectives - a major one worth two victory points and a minor one worth one victory point.

The game began with Jack and Veruckthaar facing off across the market: Jack with the crates (middle bottom) and Veruckthaar with the treasure (upper right).
Everyone else was scattered across the table - at least 6" from any opposing character. Four players plus scattered deployment means that the first couple of turns are hard to summarise - a whirlwind of activity.

Jack faced multiple attackers early on; the scientist's robot and then cultists.
This cultist managed to trip over the boxes and impale himself on his own blade!
At this point both Jack and Dr Veruckthaar pull back out of the firing line. The sailors move up to support Jack, but the mad scientist continues to press his attack via rodent.
Meanwhile the cultists have been moving up in force.
A protection detail for the good Doctor?
Only if protection somehow involves suddenly unleashing a barrage of fire at their erstwhile ally!
The Doctor dodges away with his treasure, but he doesn't last long.
In one turn, the mad scientist league lost its three best characters.
The robot, so often a model of metallic menace, was particularly ineffective this game. Poor Rhys was reduced to controlling a solitary rat by turn four! Next time he'll pick a better 'ally'.

At this point, Jack and the cultists opened tentative negotiations over an exchange of cash for treasure. The negotiations never really went anywhere - the voices were generally drowned out by a steady fusilade of fire the two leagues were trading!
Ultimately, weight of numbers won out as the adventurers and sailors queued up to fire on the cultists.
You can only take so much of that before you need a good lie down. A just reward for treachery!
Jack and his crew move in to secure the treasure.
But wait on, what's this? Last turn of the game and the sailors begin firing at Jack!
They're making a move for the money and the treasure! It is, though, too little to late and Jack holds on to both.

So, who was doing what? Dr Veruckthaar's primary objective - grab the cash. His secondary objective - kill the leader of his ally (if the card doesn't make sense, it's because of a last minute change of leagues). His score: 0! Rhys never recovered from the completely unexpected duplicity of his 'friend'.
The sailors' primary objective - grab the cash. Their secondary objective - get the treasure. Their score: 0! Ann was new to the group and to the game. She was very apologetic about her treachery! Next time she may not be as nice!
The cultists' primary objective - kill Dr Veruckthaar. His secondary objective - grab the cash. His (posthumous) score: 2! Mark had actually played this scenario three years ago in its Saga guise. He had a good chuckle when he realised what was going on.
Jack Sampson's primary objective - grab the treasure. His secondary objective - keep the cash. His score: 3! I expected Jack to go down after the first couple of turns, but once he'd weathered those, he was able to watch his opponents tear each other to pieces. He benefited from Ann's niceness too!
So, all in all, about as much fun as you can possibly have while carrying a knife between your shoulder blades!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! It was a fun game to watch unfold, so glad that comes across!

  2. That looked like a really good game. Great report

    1. Yes, there was a suitable amount of skulduggery and subterfuge!

  3. Looks really great! I've been tempted by this game for some time, I must give it a try!

    1. You should definitely give it a try. The rules are straightforward; they're a little abstracted (for the most part you kit out your figures with general abilities rather than specific weapons). You can build pretty much any character you like from the rules. And the games are fast, fun, and memorably heroic! They have been my most played rules since I bought them, and I reckon they'll work for pretty much any genre of heroic skirmish.

  4. A great game report! It looks like a lot of fun.

    1. Thanks A J. It was a lot of fun to watch the different agendas gradually be unveiled and the angst that caused! Bill.