Tyrannosaurus and Tiger Tanks

Today I wanted to point out a neat battle report that doesn’t exactly involved cowboys, but certainly maintains the genre mixing involvement of dinosaurs and WW2 Germans. The pictures above come from a game of Adventures in the Lost Lands from the popular Two Hour Wargames (I heard about them originally for their terrific All Things Zombie game). Anyways the actual battle report is here and is a pretty interesting read, and they have a great looking volcanic table that I’d love to play a game of Dinosaur Cowboys on to simulate the area around the Yellowstone eruption.

Some Other Links
I have a few other miscellaneous links that don’t really warrant their own post, but are still interesting.

First of all a really cool, scary, and trippy looking dinosaur: the Helicoprion. Modern day people may dislike or fear aquatic beasts like sharks, but could you imagine if something like a Helicoprion was floating around in the ocean? Especially when they are estimated to have grown to 10-15ft long!

And then a couple of unrelated games. First of all the blog of Andy Hoare who is ex-Games Workshop and is currently working on a little side project of a skirmish game. Although he doesn’t have many posts I find them interesting to see the general thought process of another person working on a skirmish game, plus the odd tidbit he drops about Games Workshop.

The final link is a pure western skirmish game that I thought I’d share called Get Three Coffins Ready. The name comes from one of the classic batch of Clint Eastwood westerns called A Fistful of Dollars, which is one of my favorite western movies. Anyways it looks like a fun system and I always like reading other amateur rulesets.

More Zombie Dinosaur Cowboys

It looks like a concept art website had a thread with several pictures of dinosaurs, cowboys, zombies, and aliens. Pretty much just a mishmash of craziness, but there were some really cool pictures. The main thread is http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=228945 and one focused more on unmounted zombie dinosaurs is at http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=179273.
Anyway here are the highlights in my opinion:

Just getting silly at this point!

Thematic desert background

In case you haven’t had the luxury of visiting the vast desert scrub in the southern US, I thought a thematic picture would help inspire players. I can really imagine a lone cowboy riding their dinosaur mount through these rocky passes. Camping under the stars, avoiding bandits and gigantic carnivores, keeping their laser pistols holstered but ready.
From: http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/details/2868/red_rock_in_the_winter_sun.html

Speaking of pictures that spur the imagination I finally picked up Dinotopia (well, I actually got it for my birthday). I got the 20th anniversary hardcover version and it’s super nice and just chock full of terrific pictures backed by a whimsical storyline. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a unique “coffee table book” or who is interested in the genre of humanity interacting with prehistoric life:

Gigantic 1860s Pony Express map

I sure do like the brief but very interesting time of the Pony Express. Such a simple and low tech way to transfer messages, but at the same time exciting. Anyways I found a great, flavorful map of the old Pony Express route. Sure would be fun to play a Pony Express campaign in Dinosaur Cowboys!
(Click for the full 4400px size!)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pony_Express_Map_William_Henry_Jackson.jpg

Rulebook v1.2 Released!

Well after some more tweaking, balances, and editing I am releasing Dinosaur Cowboys v1.2. Hooray!
Get the Dinosaur Cowboys Rulebook v1.2 here.

Version 1.2 Rules Changes
In terms of changes here are the highlights, straight from the Subversion commit log. The biggest change was around the stats of the dinosaurs, plus the two new classes (Terror and Fin), plus some new weapons.
– Increase Wrangler trait damage to +2 per stage for Lasso
– Renamed Aimed Shot to Placed Shot and made Aimed Shot now hit at -1 RMC
– Switched the Advancing a Posse and Statistic Improvement Cost pages
– Changed mx HP from 50 to 40
– Reduced Needler weapon cost from 400 to 250
– Added Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Added Skinning Knife as an alternative for Machete, and renamed Knife to Hunting Knife
– Reduced Armored HP from 22 to 20, and Plated from 24 to 23. Going to stop poking at them now
– Changed the Panic MV header to PMV in the dinosaur list to better match how the roster sheet and other abbreviations are used.
– A bunch of dinosaur changes. First of all King was moved to a new class, and the old version was renamed Terror. A new Fin dinosaur was added. A bunch of stats were modified as well, mainly HP and MV adjustments to balance everyone.
– Renamed the Game Master (GM) to the Sheriff to add a bit more flavor
– Added an Aimed Shot variant rule, made a note of recommended variant rules, re-added the brainstorming variant rules.
– Added a new rule for multiplayer games where each entity gets +2 HP per player beyond 2, to increase survivability against more enemies.
– Also added a combined image of the common weapons to the Weapon Description section.
– Cleaned up the table of contents to remove some superflous items
– Clarified some of the combat modifiers since there was a description for Crossfire but not Cover or Elevation
– Renamed the Movement Phase to Maneuver Phase, since the Action Phase isn’t called the RMC Phase, so the Movement/Maneuver Phase shouldn’t be named after a stat too. The downside is it’s tougher to spell.
– Cleaned up Charge wording
– Cleaned up Activating an Entity and the Uneven Activation example since they were written a long time ago
– In the Falling Damage example removed the specific 4 inch distance of the knockback, since it’s confusing when we just want to focus on the 3 inch fall

Version 1.2 Saloon Changes
Also The Saloon received a bunch of bugfixes which I’m really happy with, plus of course all the v1.2 changes were ported into it.
– Added an asterick after a weapon name if it has a special ability. Also added the Spine Blade (Motor Blade equivalent)
– Fixed a really annoying bug around Bonus RMC trait, where it would miscalculate the IP cost
– Fixed a silly mistake where the wrong ‘I’ was being cut because I did indexOf instead of lastIndexOf, so something like ‘Inspiring Shot I’ would cut the first ‘I’ instead of the proper stage ‘I’
– Glaring remote url load error where the 4th member would be ignored (used < instead of <= in the loop)
– Changed the PDF export so excess weapons (over 2) are listed in the inventory instead of being lost to the ether
– Lots of changes around Traits. Previously some of the non-stat Passive traits weren't being applied, such as Clear Sight which modifies ranges of weapons. This actually ended up being a bit of a hassle because we needed to clone the Weapon object, manage string based range brackets, etc.
– Improved some title text for weapons and the allegiance/breed
– Ensured we have an author in the field
– Put version number in intro message

Next Step
As before I don’t have any drastic plans for the rulebook. Maybe some tweaking and formatting and editing here and there, but as I promised with v1.0 the core mechanics will stay the same. I’ve been thinking of adding some items that have more of an in-game effect, like a Bugle or Trumpet that let’s a non-character use the Yeehaw! ability. Maybe various types of alcohol that can be used like drugs in other games to provide bonuses for a turn.
One goal I do have is to make a standalone campaign module for Dinosaur Cowboys, complete with Hexographer maps, scenarios for each location, general plot twists, etc. That might be more of a pipe dream than a goal, but I could see it being fun and adding a lot of value to the game.

Drastically different posse approaches

So far the posses you’ve seen are built in a fairly standard, natural way. They have a reasonable story behind them, a good variety of weapons and roles and mix of dinosaurs.
But what about if we threw all that to the wind and tried to built super extreme posses that stretch every rule and are so drastically different from the norm?
Well…we’d probably get something like this:

Longneck (or Titan) in a $1,000 ND / 100 IP Posse
The Longneck (MV 5, PMV D6, AR 2, MMC 5, DIS 10, HP 37, 10A-1D) is considered the king of the herbivores. Heck anything that can grab vegetation nine meters off the ground is deserving of that title in my opinion. But in Dinosaur Cowboys it’s normally considered a later game purchase, considering it costs $1,000 and a standard posse begins with exactly that much money.
But with the Leader and first member being free to recruit, a posse could technically have two humans with no weapons and a Longneck. Crazy? Maybe. But it’s exactly what The Herd Mothers do. With plenty of IP to go around each member could be improved to a fairly solid point, with 12 HP a piece, 1 AR, and MV 6. They’ll be focusing on Brawl attacks (Punch, Kick, Shove, Trip), which won’t do a ton of damage but could disrupt enemy forces. For example each member could Trip an enemy to apply Stopped, so then the slightly slower Longneck could get into combat and stomp them into the dirt. Or perform a Shove and use the 2″ Knockback to send enemies into combat.
Another feature to remember is that every human gets a Rope Lasso for free, so someone could mount the Longneck and use the 1-6″ range to apply Stopped to a nearby enemy just in time for the Longneck to barrel into combat. The Leader could be the rider and use his “Get Up!” trait to heal the Longneck when the going gets rough.

Anyways the alternative build is to have a Titan in a $1,000 ND / 100 IP posse. Pretty much the same idea but slightly different traits, and of course, the best carnivore instead of the best herbivore. I call them The Pack Fathers.

Two Super Soldiers
The next posse takes the idea of extremely well trained and well armed members to the extreme. Instead of settling for a few good guns and statistics, this posse dumps all the IP and ND into two members, with the third (mandatory to meet Posse composition minimums) basically being dead weight.
I made the two “super soldiers” as Neotechnoists, as I could see them being from a dark sect inside The Wall that experiment heavily with human improvement, drug stimulants, etc. Perhaps they have even skewed their views into worshiping dinosaurs, and tried to alter their appearance to match with drastic implants and body modifications. Their third member, a Savage weakling, could represent a sacrifice they keep for the dinosaurs.
Anyways I call this posse the Supersoldier Legion, and here’s a quick glance at their basic statistics: MV 5, AR 4, RMC 6, MMC 8, BRV 7, HP 15. The best part of that statline (besides the ridiculously high HP) is the 4 AR, thanks to expensive $300 Mesh Armor. That should hopefully give each super soldier terrific survivability, as we’ve seen with the Armored dinosaur in the past. They are wielding a Light Repeater and Heavy Pistol, which are both good weapons in their own right.
Oh and of course The Sacrifice (the low stat Savage who weakened himself to free up IP for the super soldiers) has this for a laughable statline: MV 1, AR 0, RMC 9, MMC 8, BRV 2, HP 1. Haha.

Veteran 400 IP Posse
I had put a reasonable cap on IP at 400, which corresponds to $4,000 ND and 13 Traits. But I decided to actually build a Posse with those stats and see what kind of awesome weapons and equipment I could come up with. The result is The Deadly Half Dozen who had a Titan dinosaur, the full 5 members rife with Grenade Launchers, 1MW Scoped Rifles, etc. I think this Posse might expose a slight problem where Hitpoints become too low and damage outdistances what each target can absorb. I mean someone with RMC 4 and 1A-10D 27″ range rifle is going to hurt, a lot.
I think in the future I’ll give two 400 IP Posses a shot and see what kind of chaos ensues.

Anyways those were just a few of the extreme and different Posses I could build within the limitations of the rules. Interesting to try to take each concept to the max and see if it breaks the build process.

Litko plastic tokens and markers

So as you’ve seen from my battle report pictures I currently use a set of wooden discs, hearts, and stars to mark the figures with various status effects, like Moved, Fleeing, Panic, etc. Yesterday’s report had some good examples of these. Well I was thinking of improving the existing tokens a bit, like painting the Fleeing/Panic hearts red, the Reload stars yellow, and writing “Moved” and “Moved & Acted” on the round circles after painting them some color (probably blue).
And then I remembered Litko (after feebly searching for “Lithko” for far too long). They have a huge selection of plastic tokens. I had looked at them in the past for torpedoes for Silent Death, but never ended up buying anything.
Anyway they have the terrific option of ordering custom tokens. You can choose the plastic color and type (opaque, transparent, etc.) and shape (star, round, etc.) and then have custom text written on them (up to 12 characters long). The price is great too, as you can get 10 custom text tokens for $6.99 + shipping (which looked pretty cheap up to the frozen Canadian north).
So I thought I’d link and show some of the tokens and markers I’d be interested in getting. First of all the premade tokens:

Token: Reload
For reloading I have a few options. I could just get a custom token or two, but they also have a great set of bullets and empty magazines. I’d tend towards the magazines since they have the word Reload on them and are slightly less “gunpowder-centric”.

Bullet Counter | Magazine Counter

Token: Force Fields!
There totally aren’t shields or force fields in Dinosaur Cowboys, but these tokens honestly make me want to add them, haha. They’d be great for a one off scenario or for protecting an objective or something, since figures hiding behind them would look pretty neato.

Force Field

Custom Token: Acted, Moved & Acted
So far I’ve been using the same wooden circular disk for both Acted and Moved & Acted, and just sort of remembering who actually moved or not. But Litko has some great shapes that would really help players see who has done what. First of all the general colors and shapes available:

So for Acted I think I would use “Circle” in Fluorescent Blue with the text “Acted” on it. Then for Moved & Acted I’d still use Fluorescent Blue but with the “Circle Arrow” shape, since the embedded arrow would help visually clue players into the fact that movement was involved. I think to be on the safe side I’d get 20 of each.

Custom Token: Fleeing and Panic
I like the fluorescent colors and think they’d really stand out on the table, so I’d stick with Fluorescent Pink with the Heart shape for Fleeing and Panic tokens. 10 with the text “Panic” and 10 with the text “Fleeing” would work well. Too bad they can’t be double sided so I could just get 10 with one word on each side.

Custom Token: Stunned, Stopped, Slowed
I wouldn’t need too many of these tokens, so I think I’d use Litko’s Custom 20 option, where you can get 20 individual tokens. It’s a bit pricier (because it’s such a small run of tokens, and it’s probably popular so it’s an easy way to make money for them). There are a few more shapes available for these ones, which is nice:

For these I think I’d get all Fluorescent Orange (again to keep the color theme) with different shapes for each condition. Stopped would probably be the “Gear” shape. Stunned would be “Burst”, and Slowed would be “Splat”. Either that or just all “Burst” shape, but I think being able to visually tell them apart would help.
Anyway I’d grab 5 of each condition, which leaves me with 5 custom tokens. One option for the leftover 5 tokens is to get a test run of each of my custom token plans above, instead of just blindly ordering 10+ of each. Otherwise there aren’t anymore required tokens for Dinosaur Cowboys, so maybe I’d just make something saying “Objective” or red skulls saying “Taken Out of Action”.

So these look like a terrific option to really class up the look of my games. I’ll be placing an order sometime this week I think, and I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the tokens in use once they arrive.

Battle Report: Four Player Madness

Encounter Overview and Posses
Well the four player game yesterday went really well and was tons of fun. I had previously shown the table layout, but it looked even more prehistoric once my friend brought over some extra jungle trees. This was using the v1.2 rules (especially the dinosaur changes) and we played from 8:30pm or so until 10:45pm, mainly thanks to the usual socializing and time spent considering moves.
Everyone chose Posses and we rolled for setup position. The Posses involved were Hope’s Wardens in the top left, The Death Snakes (but with a Terror instead of a King) in the top right by the cabin, Drylands United Cattle Company (but with a Ripper instead of a Runner) in the bottom left (played by me), and Tribe of the Blood Pact in the bottom right. We all setup within 4″ of our deploy location, and the locations were evenly spaced from each other.

The two objectives were a Laser Tower (middle left) with 5A-1D and a max range of 19″, and a Cannon (middle right) with 1A-5D 2″ Explosion and a min range of 4″ and max range of 14″. Whoever had the most characters (dinosaurs didn’t count) within 6″ of either weapon could fire it as their Action Phase. Multiple people could fire it, and if the number of characters was tied both teams could fire it. The Cannon ended up getting a ton of use (but not a ton of hits…) whereas the left side mostly had better equipped characters shooting at each other. Also whoever “captured” more objectives would technically win the game by the end. Really though the weapons were placed to try to stop people from hunkering down and avoiding combat.

Skirmish Pictures
Here are a slew of pictures from the game!:

General Recap
Anyways the Drylands Posse split their forces with their dinosaur and Dallas going left, and Quidel and Trista going right. Hope’s Warden kept Glowstar with his Autoshotgun mounted on their Ducky dinosaur and they flanked to meet Drylands dinosaur, while the other members edged towards the gun. The Death Snakes held back their sniper Ice and sent everyone else forward, tending to shoot the Cannon more than their actual guns. Their dinosaur got into melee combat early on with Tribe of the Blood Pact. Speaking of the Tribe of the Blood Pact posse they focused mostly on the Death Snakes, except for sending their Pike armed Illit’taex member left to meet up with the Spear armed Quidel in a fight to the death.
Eventually the Hope’s Wardens player had to head home a bit early (after killing the Drylands dinosaur and losing one of their own number). So we just removed their forces. Then the game became more of a “pick on Tribe of the Blood Pact’s freaking brutal Armored dinosaur”. Basically just pouring fire from Ice and Trista into the Armored dinosaur until it dropped dead.
After Tribe of the Blood Pact was eliminated we called the game. Quidel for Drylands was technically the closest to the turret, but The Death Snakes might have had Drylands if the fight went on. They hadn’t been hurt at all (besides losing their dinosaur) and were in pretty good shape still. Trista and Dallas for Drylands were fine, but Quidel was down to 2 HP so it likely would have ended as a 3vs2 fight, and perhaps eventual victory for The Death Snakes.

The game was lots of fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The rotating activation still worked well with 4 players, as did the bonus +4 HP (+2 HP per player beyond two) since it meant characters could actually reach combat and fight a bit.

The Question of the “Armored” Dinosaur
So as with the last battle using the Armored dinosaur, the feeling came up of “Is 4 AR too powerful?”. There were two characters in the whole match with RMC 6, and even then it was base 10+ to hit. Throw on In Melee and Moved penalties and you’re needing 12s to hit. On top of that the Armored dinosaur was the Feral Breed so his HP was at +2, with an additional +4 for the four player game. But even with all of that the dinosaur wasn’t smashingly effective. Sure the 3A-3D attack hurt a bit and it locked down a few people in melee, but not any more so than the Terror (or even the Ducky).
As it stands (with v1.2) the Armored statistics have been nerfed and look like:

Armored (Large Herbivore): MV 3, PMV D4, AR 4, MMC 7, DIS 5, HP 22, 3A-3D, $500

I want to avoid the Armored being the best and only choice for the $500 dinosaurs, and at the same time I don’t want to nerf it so badly that no one will ever use it. As a ponderously slow tank it is terrific, since it draws (and survives) a lot of fire, slowly wanders around the field, and generally just distracts the enemy from the rest of your team.
But at the same time it’s a bit…dull to fight against? Missing with most of your shots is terribly annoying and frustrating, and moods rapidly change from “Wow he’s a tough one!” to “Ugh won’t he just die already?”.
If I drop the DIS from 5 to 4 the dinosaur is basically stuck going D4″ an Activation because it will be fairly easy to Panic. I could raise the price slightly, especially when you consider an AR 4 suit for humans is $500 on it’s own. I might end up doing that, and also creating or changing a carnivore dinosaur to be in the $600 range as well.

Anyways that was the only real question to come out of the game. That and trying to indicate special abilities of a weapon somewhere on the Posse roster. I might just put a star (*) beside weapons that do something cool, and then that will hint to players to check the rulebook for what feature it has. I had thought about adding a “Special Ability” column to the weapon statline, but there really isn’t space (plus I don’t want to touch the sheet after this much time).

New Jungle Terrain and a Four Player Game

I thought I’d share some of the new terrain I got, as well as the four player game setup that I’ll be hosting later today.

All this terrain is just basic stuff from a pet store for aquariums. I find it’s pretty obviously for fish unless it’s mixed in with standard terrain, in which case it just spices up the table and gives it a jungle feel. I especially like the sabertooth skeleton because it’s such a perfect fit.

I also have a wooden cabin that I just finished spray painting today, but it was drying while I was taking photos so those will have to wait. Anyways I won’t be doing a turn-by-turn battle report for the game, but I should have a general summary and some (awesome?!) photos to share. I’m going to try a different camera too so hopefully they won’t be too blurry.

Dino Storm Key Contest – Results!

Here are the entries for my little Dino Storm Closed Beta Key Contest, in order received. As I mentioned in the original contest the idea was to send in the best Dinosaur Cowboys related tabletop pictures or artwork. Unfortunately I thought there would be more overlap between computer folks and tabletop people, since all the entries were just found on the internet. All it would have taken for someone to really sweep the contest is an original picture of some figures and a dinosaur, but alas!

The first entry was from Paul, who came up with some art from what looks like Dino Riders:

Then Yawar who took some Dino Storm screenshots and concept art (in fact I had posted similar concept art in the original contest):

And finally Ferran, who grabbed what looks like forum signature avatars.

The Winner Is…
After some consideration and deliberation the winner is Yawar! I’ve emailed him the closed beta key and hope he will enjoy Dino Storm.

Anyways back to your regularly scheduled tabletop programming after this. I’m playing a 4-person game of Dinosaur Cowboys tomorrow so that will be thrilling.

v1.2 Dinosaur Changes

I’ve been making some minor changes to the current rules, and as I’ve mentioned in the past this will eventually result in a v1.2 release of the Dinosaur Cowboys rulebook. The most recent change was adding two new classes of Dinosaurs, a $400 herbivore (to match the Raptor) called “Fin” (aka Dimetrodon). The second big class change was reworking King to be Tyrannosaurus specific, and cost $700 (to match the Horned dinosaur which also costs $700), and then I made the old King class into “Terror” and had it focus on the Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, etc. So basically more options for the “in between” priced dinosaurs.
I also added a note to the start of the Dinosaurs section in the rulebook stating how totally scientifically inaccurate everything around the dinosaurs are. I made the tough choice a while back to not try to be too accurate in my representations of dinosaurs, I went for the popular culture view of the main ones instead of getting into nitty gritty differences. I think for a game with cowboys and lasers it should be fine though :) But yeah, the Dimetrodon especially highlighted this since it’s not even a dinosaur! Haha, yeah.

Anyways I also made a bunch of other stat tweaks, so let me talk about them below in detail, and then show you how the new Dinosaur List looks!
Plated HP 28 to 24, Armored HP 26 to 22, Armored MV 4 to 3, Horned HP 24 to 26: Basically tweaking the $500 herbivores to be a bit fairer. Previously Armored was clearly the best choice because that AR 4 just DOMINATES. Now he’s a bit weaker to compensate for that.
King (now Terror) HP 24 to 20: With the “nerfs” to the herbivores I thought the King (now named Terror) needed to be reduced a bit. I figured changing any of his other stats would give him a different feel, so I opted for reducing the HP.
Ducky HP 17 to 18: With the new Fin class and a close look at the Ducky vs the Raptor I thought he needed a slight boost, so +1 HP it was. I mean his DIS 3 is already crippling enough, but what can you expect for $300!
Ripper HP 11 to 12: This boost was done to differentiate the Ripper a bit more from the Runner. Previously the comparison looked fair on paper, but in practice the Runner’s MV 10 is a significant advantage, similar to how the Armored looked fine until you really start thinking about AR 4.
Raptor attack from 2A-4D to 1A-6D: I changed this to make the Raptor act similar to the other carnivorous dinosaurs, with one single attack that does a lot of damage. I really think that helps distinguish their style from the herbivores. I visual it as the herbivores stomping and slamming the target, whereas the carnivores go for the neck in a powerful bite or claw.
Thickskull HP 18 to 21, MV 7 to 8, DIS 7 to 6, MMC 7 to 6: I needed to make Thickskull a viable $500 alternative, and still give him a unique feel. Due to his smaller size I figured making him an “advanced Runner” (aka slower but buffer) would be an interesting approach. So he got a few more HP, a bit more MV, better MMC, and slightly worse DIS.
Renamed King to Terror and made a new $700 carnivore and Fin ($400) class: I wanted a $400 Herbivore and a $700 Carnivore so an option was available for each price bracket, so these guys were created. I had a tough choice finding a way to split King and Terror, but focusing on the Tyrannosaurus a bit more doesn’t seem like a particularly unpopular choice.

And here is the list from the upcoming v1.2 rulebook. Eventually The Saloon will reflect these changes as well, and have the new classes. I imagine once I actually release v1.2 I’ll do that, since there is no point having new rules that are different than the PDF.

So as you can see some minor tweaks, and some exciting new additions. I don’t think anything of these changes really modify how the game is played, which is great because at this point (really since v1.0) I just want to make minor tweaks and improvements, and save anything drastic for a Variant Rule.

Website News
In other news my recent posts about Dino Storm have really helped traffic (some of which came from Facebook, which makes me consider making a Facebook page for Dinosaur Cowboys sometime in the future?). Most importantly today beat my all time record for “Views Today” with 193 (previous record was 132), and best of all my total views broke 10,000 late last night! Hooray! Thanks to everyone for their support and interest in the game, I’m happy to report that this blog is now dominating the search results for “dinosaur cowboy”, which makes me quite happy!