Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bedtime Battles: Part Two

In my previous post, I mentioned that my daughter and I have been playing Star Wars or super hero themed skirmish games. These are very rules light, d20 roll-offs with (sometimes) a bit of story to them. But often they're just quick excuses to pick out cool minis and roll dice back and forth.

Earlier this evening however, I thought I'd try (or retry, to be accurate) running an actual mission with a goal. 

She played the heroes (Rebels) and I played the bad guys (Imperials). We kept the rules super streamlined, using a d20 for most things, and a d12 for special circumstances. 

Mission 1: Rebel Retreat!

My daughter chose five rebel-esque minis from my collection, including a stand-in for her favorite Star Wars character "Princa' Leia" and two well-known droids. I tossed a few Paizo Gamemastery map tiles down (Ambush Sites pack) with a bridge and told her it was her job to get the droids safely across a stone bridge over a fast-moving river. 

Imperials cut off the Rebels' only escape!

As the Imperial commander, it was my job to capture the droids before they got away aboard the Millennium Falcon on the other side of the bridge.

A giant, mini-chomping monster lurks behind our heroes!

I started with four Imperials on the board with three more in reserve. She started with all five of her characters. The droids didn't have weapons and had to be protected, so they essentially were non-combat characters.

Victory conditions: 
Rebels win by crossing the bridge to the Falcon. Imperials win by capturing the droids. Eliminating all your enemy's forces is an automatic win.

Here are the basic rules:

Activate 2 characters per round (d20)
Each player could move and fire (a single action) with two separate characters per turn. So two characters got to something for each team. The reason for this is simple--we were nearing bedtime so it kept things moving! 

Minis could only move 3 squares at a time. 

Weapon types determine your attacks
Any mini with a blaster could shoot from a distance. Minis with a weapon in hand had to be right next to their target to attack. A Jedi with a lightsaber could deflect blaster fire. 

To hit roll results and critical fails/successes
10+ is a hit
1 is a missed turn 
20 is a double hit (choose a second target to take out)

We never had either type of crit. In retrospect, having so few characters on the board would have been devastating to have 2 taken out with one hit. So maybe a 20 should be a hit and the attacker gets to move again (but not shoot). And maybe the 1 means you get to move but not shoot next turn (weapon malfunction, etc.). 

What happens when your character is hit?
They go to "jail" which is the other player's area on the board. Rebels are captured and can be rescued. Imperials are taken out and can be replaced with fresh recruits. (See below on both.)

Refresh your faction (d12)
Once per round, in place of an action, a player could rescue a captured comrade (Rebels roll 11+) or call for reinforcements (Imperials roll 8+. A refreshed character respawns back on their team's side of the board.

Using the Force (d12)
Any side with a Jedi or Sith (basically a character with a lightsaber) could use one of their two actions to use Force Push (8+) to take out an opponent. 

When attacked by blasterfire, a Jedi could immediately defend themselves by rolling a 4+ or higher. This was way too easy, so I'd suggest making it at least a 6 for future games. Alternatively, it'd be fun to use whatever the blaster bolt roll was as a roll under target. So the higher your opponent rolled to hit you (10 or higher), the better chance you have to defend!

How'd it go?

Victory dance!

She won! Handily, I might add. It's no small feat either as the game was weighted in favor of the Imperials since they had more combat-capable characters (just like in the movies!). Then again, I never chose a force-wielding character, so she got to use the Force powers (at least in the first game). 

Turned out having a Jedi was a boon, though I captured "Obee Kenobee" before the game ended. She had great rolls though and the Force was ultimately on her side.

Mission Two: Starship Takeover!

Whomever designed the innards of this vessel should be expelled from the Academy!
This was a pretty standard capture the flag mission, with each side starting out on separate sides of the "ship" (Paizo's Starship Corridors maps). Here, I was looking to see how well she could move around the board--esp. one that didn't have a straight forward layout, like the bridge. Results were mixed, owing to what I'll chalk up to a confusing layout and a increasingly weary toddler.

Moments before this stormie went airborne...
One new element with the corridors was the idea of line-of-sight when shooting. We've toyed with that before (quite literally--shooting around Star Wars toys as terrain) but this was a little harder to grasp because everything is on the map, so the corridor pathways were less discernible to her. There were no three-dimensional items to work with.

We also tossed in a new rule for movement. That if you had one character left on your side, you could move twice. Again, this sped things up, especially when you're hopping through long, convoluted corridors--and by the end of the game we both only had one character left.

She won again, but not nearly as easily. She opted not to use a Jedi and her forces were picked off over time. One of her three "Chewbaccas" was the sole survivor for quite a while. But she eventually wiped out the Imperial forces. Her last  hero made it fairly deep into Imperial territory as well--so she could have won that way too, had she not mopped up every guy on my squad!

Oh, and I couldn't resist another new rule for the Wookiee clan: If they were in an adjacent square, they could roll a d12 and have the chance to pick up an hurl a bad guy (11+). And of course, she rolled a 12...

That's my girl!

Bedtime Battles: Part One

My daughter (age 4 and 1/2) and I play with minis and dice quite frequently. We usually play "Star Wars" or "Super Heroes" which means hauling out the appropriate minis (about 10 per player), lining them up in teams, and moving them one at a time to "challenge" each other.

Sometimes we use terrain (Little People furniture, Imaginext or Star Wars spacecraft, etc.) but a lot of the time it's just figures. 

Essentially, we just roll off with d20s and the highest number wins--meaning the winner gets to put the opposing foe in "jail" (behind their figures). 

How to play...but also be a good player

This--I've learned--is an ideal way to teach a few basic concepts. Nearly as important as counting and learning numbers is the idea that some numbers are "higher" or "lower" than others. Last summer she was only just beginning to understand sums and how there are more or fewer amounts of objects. But the idea that more = higher took a little while longer to sink in.

Another important concept is the idea of fair play. From the very beginning of our gaming escapades, I told her that she will lose more games than she wins. While that might not be statistically true, I think it's important not to expect to win. And it's likewise essential that every game can be good--even if you don't win--because you still get to have fun!

I worked hard not to fudge dice rolls for her or let her off easy so she understood what that meant (and believe me, it wasn't easy! I want her to win!). It's more than just playing nice. To me, playing to have fun means you have respect for the other player(s) and respect for yourself enough not to take losing personally. 

I grew up with kids who would scream and cry--even as old as 13--if they felt like they were losing a game or being treated unfairly.

Plus, I want to play games too, and the sooner she gets this concept, the sooner we can get on with just having fun together! 

Anyway, we now have a solid track record of shaking after every finished skirmish, just like it were a Little League T-ball tourney: "Good game!"

Ready to use d20s!

She's grasped numbers up through 20 faster than I thought, so a few months ago we switched from using d12 for everything to d20. That's a pretty big step! It means we have a lot more latitude when it comes to probability and we can finally start building on some of those early sessions. 

We'll still play "story mode" without dice. And we'll do the opposite and ditch the plot and just have gladiatorial roll-offs. But tonight we worked on running through a simple scenario as it would be presented in a miniatures wargame or RPG that uses minis. 

It wasn't our first attempt at this, using maps, minis, and dice to get from point A to point B. But it's been, by FAR, our most successful. 

It's heartening to see her come around on some concepts and finally "get it" not just because she understands, but more for the fact that she WANTS to play the more challenging game. 

A mission-driven play session was a little daunting to her before. She'd say she was bored or didn't like it. But now, she's definitely pushing to stay up past her bedtime in order to get more game time in. 

As it turns out, Dad is a bit of pushover if you ask to play more Star Wars!

I kept this one light, but I'm working on a second post to cover the game we played using some simple, impromptu rules.

Read Part Two for play report of tonight's game and the rules we used.

Monday, October 9, 2017

TRAILER: The Last Jedi official trailer is here! And a new poster too!

Behold the latest poster for The Last Jedi. Let there be no question that this is still a Skywalker clan story!

And this now is THE trailer--not the teaser or a commercial! And it's squarely focused on Luke, Rey, Leia, and Kylo. Beware, there's mild spoilers.

This is the point of no return!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

TRAILER: Annihilation with Natalie Portman

Based on the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation hits US theaters, February 23, 2018. I've not read the books (sshh! no spoilers!) but it appears as if they're in the sci-fi/horror camp.

Fellow RPG pal o' mine, John Till says they've got a lot in common (intentionally) with The Zones highlighted in the film Stalker.

If that weren't enough, the author's journey to publish the series all in one year sounds about as strange as the story itself!

Book synopsis from publisher, Farrar, Straus and Company:
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
It remains to be seen what translates to the big screen, but that sounds positively fascinating Directed by Alex Garland (Ex MachinaAnnihilation also stars Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez.