When the players arrived they were each handed a character record sheet for their soldiers. Each player would command one hero and four grunts. These were the elite special forces of some unknown agency in the near future. (Backstory was quite light as I had too much work going on over the weekend), and given they were special each trooper was able top choose his own weapons from an array of assault rifles, lmgs, flamers, grenades shotguns etc.
The game rules are very similar to my predator set - each turn a figure can perform two actions (eg move twice, fire twice or any other combination of other actions) - this does mean that rapid firing can quickly exhaust ammo.
Unlike my Predator game each team dices for initiative. The highest player including the Umpire goes first. The players automatically get +2 to their die roll but they lose -1 for each figure killed. Clearly as the game progresses the initiative potentially passes to the Umpire.
The umpire commands all the hostiles...more on this in a second.
So as the players arrived they were confronted with my Egyptian temple set against the sandy cliffs of the Valley of the Kings. All they know is that a party of scientists have gone missing and that their mission is one of rescue.
|Very Stargate...now where's Kurt Russel|
Behind the temple and the tomb entrance lie a series of tunnels and catacombs. Initially these are all covered and only revealed as the players pass through each zone.
|Behind the cliffs lie the catacombs|
Each of the cave boards is 30cm x 30cm square with entrances, tunnels and mini caves carved out of foam. I have around 60 of these built allowing for any number of permutations. They are very basic but provide a great setting for cave exploration. As I said these were made sometime ago and could probably do with a major refurb.
The table had been laid out earlier and covered. Unbeknownst to the players the tomb entrance would lead to a dead end and the temple entrance would lead into the hive proper.
However all the zones could hold creepies or by empty. I have created a deck of cards indicating what's in each zone. Over a third of the cards are empty caverns/tunnels whereas the rest contain anything from spawn (face huggers) to giant spiders, hive warriors (think aliens) through to some bigger beasties.
|The Cards - numbers denote how many|
Each of these has different attributes and reacts in different ways
- Spiders drop on characters sucking up their innards in seconds - but are extremely vulnerable to fire
- Hive Warriors are fast, very vicious and splash acid when blown up
- Bigger Hive Guards are heavily armoured, still fast, acidic and very violent.
The rules are still very much work in progress but they do deliver a quick thoughtful and tactical game in an atmosphere that has a great deal of suspense.
As the games master I get to randomly play 1 or two cards per zone next to the areas the players move through. I may then look at these and can either elect to move them (even if they are blank) or leave them there - best for ambushes. If the characters fail their recon roll they don't know what's there. If they are successful and depending on the rolls success they can either learn the nature of the terrain ahead, are there any lifeforms and potentially the number.
It does pay to recon in my games as all sorts of horrors can happen to the unwary or just plain right foolhardy.
To give the players something to think about before the entered the caverns they discovered a rather large beast rampaging through the scientists camp. This took two squads combined firepower to bring the beast down and in the process got a number of men badly injured from acid splash.
|Whats that Sarge...over there in the ttents...|
|Don't know Son but lets fill it with lead....lots and lots and lots of lead|
From this point all the players knew they were in for a tough fight.
|fortunately more ammo was found in the tractor unit|
The rest of the evening was an enjoyable romp for me as the umpire - for the players it was somewhat different. However they soon quickly learned that grenades were particularly effective in the confines of the caves and that going on overwatch as mysterious blank cards started to approach them was worthy .
|Sentry Guns provided some rapid fire support|
|f**k the flamers run dry|
|its a dead end...in more ways than one|
Sadly we ran out of time to complete the game and the players didn't meet the Hive Queen who was using the scientists bodies as incubators ...but that is another story.
If you are interested in reading one of the players accounts head here...