Battle Report: Operation Black Box

Finally a battle report! The elapsed time since my last game session here is criminally long, and well overdue for some new content. So I wrangled together a few posses, grabbed a pal, dug up an old childhood F-14 Tomcat airplane model, and set out to play some Dinosaur Cowboys v2.6!

Also some of the inspiration for one of the posses comes from the Defense of the Ancients computer game. In other words the moba Dota 2, which just had a huge 7.0 patch update. The largest tournament for professional e-sport players of Dota 2 has a prize pool of $20 million plus. So yeah, players of that game should recognize some familiar names and roles, like Vanguard the tanky leader, or Desolator the ranged sniper.

Also I realize I mix up my past and present tense when I write these. I really don’t mean too, but it’s such an ingrained bad habit I have trouble breaking. I think it’s because I writing the session report after the fact, so I tend to the past tense, but sometimes think of new information and use the present tense. Hopefully it doesn’t throw you off too much.

Background
Rumors have started of a strange new allegiance in the wasteland: Ascendants. Some sort of sky people…old tech scientists drifting down from on high…power and concepts beyond Dusters and even Neotechnoist reasoning. Word of an artifact spreads to eager ears in the noble, wealthy circles in the city of Hope. Some kind of aerial war machine was found. Records were searched in secret, and a highly specialized and trained commando squad was dispatched to recover a “black box” from this old tech airplane.

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But the commando squad was not quite as airtight and flawless as their Neotechnoist hirelings would like. One of the members, fearing the corrupting influence of old tech, went rogue and started trying to raise a posse to fight off the commando squad, destroy the black box, and stop any war machine from being recreated.

Setup
dc-operation-black-box-0019The central feature of the table was the crashed and decaying F-14 Tomcat. I used a bunch of trailing rocks to make a slide/crash zone and hopefully give some sense of weight to the plane. The pilot was likely heading for the softer jungle at the edge of the table, but fell short and crashed into a solid stone hill. Otherwise an old corral/pen containing barrels and a sabertooth skeleton, a few hills and the usual trees, and the table was set.

A simple “Edge” deployment would be used, along the long table edges, to really start close to the airplane.

A turn limit was set: 6 turns, with a situational 7th if either the black box or engine parts were still in play at the end of the 6th turn.

Objectives
dc-operation-black-box-0016For this game Secret Objectives would be used. Specifically the Delta Commando Squad had to “Smash & Grab” the black box and engine pieces from the airplane. The Eastwood Rovers had to “Demolish” the same pair of objectives. And there was a main public Objective of “Capture” with the F-14 Tomcat being the contested objective.

dc-operation-black-box-0024The black box and engine parts were represented by pieces of actual computer RAM, which looked pretty neat and fit well! They would have DEF 2 and HP 10.

Features
As for Features a few “Weapon Emplacements” were used as part of the airplane. Specifically a Flare Gun (represented by the black minigun on the model), and a pair of Wagon Blazer equivalents (basically flamethrowers) which originated from the missiles hanging under the swing wings.


Posse: Delta Commando Squad – 130 IP, $1,700 ND, 4 traits – PDFSaloon
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I busted out some old, old figures for this posse. Like high school era Plague Marines from Warhammer 40,000. One of the few times I tried to do a consistent, matching color scheme. I also used my new-ish Dilophosaurus toy dinosaur, made famous as the “spitter” from Jurassic Park.

As mentioned above the intent was the mirror some of the functionality from Dota 2 items into Dinosaur Cowboy characters. Starting with Vanguard (a shield in the computer game) who is represented here by DEF 3, HP 14, and the Thick Skin trait (a one time boost of +2 DEF). Next up was Bloodthorn, a midrange damage dealer with a Volcanic Pistol and Coil Gun for utility. Then the sniper Desolator who has a Twin Rifle, but the miniature has a massive lascannon haha. And finally Skull Basher, a melee monster with a Claw Axe and one of my favorite close combat traits: Onslaught (+4 Attacks instead of +1 on Charge). The Dilophosaurus was bought as a Raptor, in this case named Iron Talon, who is Feral but has no traits.

The strategy and plan was to rush and capture an objective and hurry it off the table with Skull Basher. Sort of a trade off since he ideally wants to be moving forward into melee, not away from the violence. But he’s also significantly faster than the rest of the human members. Otherwise the rest would setup a perimeter, rain down fire, and let the dinosaur distract and hold off the enemy.

Posse: Eastwood Rovers – 130 IP, $1,700 ND, 4 traits – PDFSaloon
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dc-operation-black-box-0004I think this is the debut of one of my new-ish (notice a trend?) miniature that looks vaguely like Clint Eastwood from his spaghetti westerns. I mean not as much as another mini I have, but certainly a generic looking cowboy fellow. I had painted a “fan the hammer glove” on his hand, to help grip the hammer. Otherwise the miniatures should look familiar, except maybe the defector Plague Marine. He was actually from an old, old game I wrote called “Twilight” (yes, before the movies), which is why he’s customized for an RPG and on a hex base.

Also yes I know the posse picture above is washed out. I didn’t have much luck, but the rest of the photos are spot on, thankfully.

Anyway to celebrate the newly painted miniature the rest of the posse is somewhat Eastwood themed. The leader is named Pale Rider and has a massive Ranch Blaster, with the usual plan of using Fan the Hammer weapon ability then the Speed Reload trait to be ready to rock. Alexander Keith is my recurring bartender character, and a paintjob I love. He had the mighty Streetsweeper Shotgun and the dicey, but potentially life saving trait Inspire. Sister Sara is the medic, because I really like the healer type traits like Doctor. D12 times two is a lot of potential healing. Powder Monkey was a funny case, since he looks like a Savage but is actually a Neotechnoist. So a reversal of the usual “going native” empire soldier, and is instead a naturalized wildman trying to meld with the upper classes. And finally the defector from the Delta Commando Squad was represented by Dominator (from the Dota 2 “Helm of the Dominator”). He had a Cutlass but likely not enough Defense or Hitpoints to reach combat with it. The dinosaur was a Fin, one of Papo’s better sculpts (which is saying a lot considering their high quality!) who is named after a less popular Eastwood movie: Eiger.

The plan is simple: shoot objectives. Pale Rider will be the main attacker in that case. Sister Sara will move forward with Keith, Powder Monkey, and Dominator, and try to keep them all healthy. Eiger will likely shield Dominator, or try to get into close combat as a team.


Turn 1
The Delta Commando Squad setup first, opting for the right side, or east, or kitchen-ward, haha. They were able to deploy Skull Basher far enough forward that he could reach the black box objective on the first turn. On the opposite edge the Eastwood Rovers set up in a fairly tight formation, since there were no explosive weapons to fear.
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The first turn more or less nullified the Secret Objectives, which was kind of funny. Pale Rider and Alexander Keith were able to destroy the engine parts objective on their side of the table. And Skull Basher grabbed the black box on the other.

In terms of shooting at living things Powder Monkey managed a lucky hit on Iron Talon that caused Panic. The dinosaur had edged forward around the hill, but still presented a fairly big target. Iron Talon attempted a far 5″ Charge against Eiger, but failed and was a bit exposed. From on top of the hill Desolator hit Alexander Keith for 6 damage. The bartender then failed his Bravery Test and would be Fleeing. The Commando sniper had a fairly good view of the battlefield, but the F-14 Tomcat did a good job of blocking line of sight for some of the approach.

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Turn 2
This turn the dinosaurs met in combat. For all the thematic dinosaur training and discpline, and both player’s idea of using the dinosaur to distract human enemies, the beasts still went right for each other and started tearing in. Iron Talon succeeded at his much closer 1″ Charge, hitting Eiger quite handily. Bloodthorn mounted the tall hill the F-14 Tomcat had crashed into, and fired down at Eiger. The Fin dinosaur took a pounding and was quickly down to 6 HP.

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Meanwhile Skull Basher rushed the black box towards the table edge, as was the Delta Commando Squad secret objective. Vanguard mounted the plane, trying to draw a bead on an Eastwood Rover. The leader trusted in his DEF 3 to keep him safe in the mean time.

Sister Sara did her medical duty and healed Alexander Keith back to full Hitpoints, thanks to her Doctor trait and Small IRP. Keith had fallen back from Fleeing. The pair were a bit away from the plane, under the wing of which Dominator advanced to try to avoid shots from Desolator.

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Turn 3
Both dinosaurs were in rough shape after being the focus of various attacks. Dominator rushed out from under the plane wing, used his Berserker trait for +2 Attacks, and managed a Charge against Iron Talon. The Cutlass did solid work, hitting for 9 damage, which left the surprised Iron Talon with a mere 1 Hitpoint. The dinosaur Panicked at this.

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dc-operation-black-box-0073Unfortunately for the Delta Commando Squad player, Iron Talon had a 1A-5D claw, Eiger had 6 Hitpoints, but because Iron Talon had 1 Panic he suffered -1 Damage. Amazingly though the attack was a Critical hit, resulting in exactly 6 damage, so Iron Talon killed Eiger. But Sister Sara was quick to finish up Iron Talon, similarly killing the wounded beast.

At this point Skull Basher successfully captured the black box objective by bringing it to the table edge. Hooray for them!

On the deadly hilltop, Powder Monkey hit Bloodthorn quite hard, making the commando Flee. In return Pale Rider takes a tiny shot from Vanguard, who then ducks off the exposed top of the airplane.

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Turn 4
dc-operation-black-box-0094So far Dominator has been called a defector. But from the Delta Commando Squad point of view, he’s a stone cold traitor. The voodoo of dice agreed, as Bloodthorn lined up a pretty tough shot from his elevated perch. Then proceeded to 1-shot Dominator with an amazing roll. He hit for 10 damage, and Dominator only had 8 HP. So that was a surprising turn of events.

Unfortunately for Bloodthorn this was also his doom, as Powder Monkey returned fire and avenged Dominator’s death by killing the enemy commando. So far Powder Monkey’s Bronto Gun hasn’t been hugely needed, as he’s shooting DEF 0 or 1 targets.

Meanwhile Pale Rider hugs the rear fin of the airplane, and not to be outdone, returns the 1-shot by outright killing Desolator. There was some concern for the Eastwood Rover player whether they’d ever be able to safely advance under the sniper fire of Desolator. But a solid roll with a Ranch Blaster sorted that problem out right quick.
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In response to the unspoken leader-to-leader challenge, Vanguard boldly stepped onto the top of the airplane. He activated the Thick Skin trait, which gives +2 Defense until the start of his next activation. So total DEF 5…wow. Call the Bronto Gun pronto!

As if to demonstrate how feebly the enemy shots will be, Alexander Keith climbs up the airplane wing and tries to hit Vanguard with his Streetsweeper Shotgun…on a 13+. Needless to say he doesn’t have much luck with 2 Attacks.

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Turn 5
The Delta Commando Squad started the turn with just Vanguard and Skull Basher left, whereas Eastwood Rovers still had four survivors.

The use of Thick Skin by Vanguard was interesting, since as mentioned the trait stays in effect until the start of his next Activation. Which means he wants to delay activating as long as possible, to tank as many shots as he can.

The turn starts well in that regard as the Eastwood Rovers win initiative and have to activate first. Powder Monkey moves to the edge of the stone hill and tries his Bronto Gun, needing a mere 8+ to hit. No luck, a miss!

Pale Rider sees the armored beast of Vanguard, and decides to switch targets to Skull Basher instead. He moves to Short Distance, grips his Ranch Blaster, and uses Fan the Hammer for a brutal 6 damage hit that makes Skull Basher Flee.

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Vanguard is still trying to hold his activation, so Skull Basher runs away due to Fleeing, then tries to Hustle back. Certainly not the most effective posse member due to spending half the game herding an objective, then getting shot in the face when it’s time to chop things.

The Eastwood Rovers win the next initiative, so Vanguard gets possibly the best value out of Thick Skin ever as he maintained it through 4 enemy activations. However Alexander Keith and Sister Sara are focused and on a mission to roll some hot dice. Keith hits for 7 damage, even though he needs 11+, and this makes Vanguard Flee. Then Sister Sara hits for another 7 damage (at 10+ to hit) which outright kills Vanguard! And to add insult to injury Skull Basher fails his Bravery Test for having his leader taken out of action and is Fleeing.

Turn 6
At this point the game was pretty much over, but the Eastwood Rovers player wanted to get a bit showy in how they kill Skull Basher. First they won initiative, and moved Alexander Keith to the Flare Gun mounted on the F-14 Tomcat. The intent was to get the Illuminate effect on Skull Basher, applying a -2 DEF penalty to make the rest of the posse hit a lot easier. But instead Keith got a Critical hit on the Flare Gun attack, resulting in 4 damage which killed Skull Basher!

So a win for Eastwood Rovers by both objective and posse wipe!

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Conclusion
Quite an interesting game. The F-14 Tomcat made a great centerpiece with lots of nooks and crannies to block line of sight in. The game certainly spiralled out of control for the Delta Commando Squad player. Pretty rough having Skull Basher moving the objective for a lot of it. And of course the luck of Keith and Sara both hitting such unlikely, highly damaging shots on Vanguard. Just goes to show as intimidating as high Defense is, eventually weight of fire can bring the target down.

Anyway hopefully you enjoyed the battle report! And maybe the black box will make another plot appearance in a future session…

Battle Report: Coastal Raid of New Iberia

Background
the-bayouIn the year 2285 the small Louisiana town of New Iberia is now coastal property, thanks to the floods after Eruption Day. The location is far enough east to avoid the wasteland temperatures of the desert, and surprisingly wealthy from pelt hunting of rare bayou dinosaurs. A ragtag group of ex-sailors and dino hunters have established themselves as the Coastal Defense Force. Their leader is Ronan Cioni, a descendant of the Cioni family who were the original post-Eruption reclaimers of the town.
Although their wealth is not advertised in a flashy or grandiose way, one eager and angry man knows all about it. Dash Cioni, the only brother of Ronan, was exiled from the Coastal Defense Force and the town of New Iberia after a messy situation deep in the swamp that resulted in the death of a travelling merchant and his family. The details are hazy and rumors are whispered behind Ronan’s back about the split.
But now Dash wants revenge, and he has used the promise of New Iberia’s riches to lure Captain Pellham and his Murkfoul Raiders, a rough band of pirates and poachers.

Table Setup
I decided for this battle to use my new naval ocean looking cloth from Sails of Glory to represent the watery swamp along the outer coast of New Iberia. I used the underside of this very same cloth for my last Christmas battle report. The downside is my camera gets a bit confused and tries to balance the colors to a yellow/orange tinge, which you’ll see in the pictures. Just think of it as the gross, unbearable humidity of the southeastern USA coast.

For the table setup I went with an open ocean on one edge, where the Murkfoul Raiders would have their small sailing ship. Then inland from that a series of shoals and sandy beaches. I setup an old iron cannon on a high cliff surrounded by sandbags, which ended up looking great. Then the rest of the map is scattered islands, old ruins, a mishmash of bridges, and eventually the Coastal Defense Force “clubhouse” that is a rundown, swampy looking shack.

I decided to start this battle after the Murkfoul Raiders had left their ship and successful taken the cliffside cannon. Meanwhile the Coastal Defense Force would be responding and further out from their bayou shack. This meant a slightly modified Deep Corner deploy, in that each posse could deploy up to HALF the table width. Which made for some immediate, deadly fights.
For Features the water is Populated Water (2A-2D CTN 7 attack if you end in it). This wouldn’t affect dinosaurs who are used to living in the swamp environment, but would somewhat dissuade characters from entering the depths.
To balance this and still allow mobility I did a houserule that if you could move from island to island (across the water) you could basically “jump” and ignore the Difficult Terrain. This meant all the middle islands were easily traversable as you could hop from landmass to landmass.
For Objective I considered something fancy, but went with a straight up Shoot Out (aka kill ’em all). There is a Turn Limit of 5 for this battle.
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Posses
The first thing you might notice with the two posses are they have a lot of money, to the tune of $3,000 each. The reason for this is to play the rarely utilized “top tier” dinosaurs of Titan and Longneck. The Titan would be represented by the old crocodile toy I bought for the Battle to Seattle campaign, and the Longneck would be the Papo Brachiosaurus from the same campaign.
I can imagine the Titan crocodile swimming alongside the Murkfoul Raiders skiff, then bursting from the depths to bite an enemy in half. Similarly the Longneck would be at home in the swampy terrain, with it’s long legs carrying passengers clear of the muck.

Posse: Coastal Defense Force (310 IP, $3,000)
Get the PDF Roster or View in the Saloon
DC-Coastal-Battle-0011As mentioned this posse is lead by Ronan Cioni. I wanted to get the “pelt hunter” feel so I went with my newish scale cloak wearing pistol and warhorn guy, in this case a Carbine and Totem.
Ronan’s two closest friends also happen to be brothers, just ones who are on better terms than Ronan and Dash. Arnold Bridgers is a sniper who is very far from his Neotechnoist home. In his travels south Arnold discovered a bit of a medical leaning, so he has Triage. The Try Again trait he also has fits pretty well with the “all or nothing” 1 Attack rifle. Luke Bridgers is the opposite of a sniper, preferring an Enforcer Shotgun and a bit more toughness. I could see the two of them having a storied past from their ~1,700 mile trek from New Haven. Also a note on miniatures, I LOVE the old Space Marine Scout sniper that I used for Arnold, he reminds me of a Ghost from Starcraft, and I’d really like to get and paint a new one. I can’t strip the old one because it has so many memories (playing cards on the shoulder because I was obsessed with 58th Wild Cards in Space Above and Beyond, kill markers on the gun barrel cause that was 1990s cool, bright green nightvision because what other color would I ever do, cliche camouflage cloak, etc.).
The next member is an old timer named Donato the Blue who is the one true sailor, having built and used his own ships for decades. His nickname is from his love of the ocean. He uses a decommissioned Rotary Rifle found in an abandoned silo, and keeps a Clark Airgun handy to push foes away if they get too close to him and the gun.
The final member is Ali Paek, an ambitious youngster from New Iberia with plenty to prove. He wields a hand-me-down Ultra Repeater and tends to be the happiest and most motivational of the group, thus the Get In There! trait.
For the dinosaur the Coastal Defense Force got a Longneck, rightly named Queen of Iberia. I could see this gentle beast covered in streamers and flowers while parading down main street. She’d be fiercely loyal and have many years of experience hunting smaller dinosaurs as part of the New Iberia pelt trade.
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Posse: Murkfoul Raiders (310 IP, $3,000)
Get the PDF Roster or View in the Saloon
The Murkfoul Raiders have a loose ship crew feel to them with various named ranks. Captain Pellham is the natural leader with a Rustler Revolver (a suitable pirate/bandit-y gun), and wears extremely sturdy armor as a sign of his station.
First Mate Quinn is older than the Captain, but still loyal and happy with his lot in life. He mirrors the Captain by using a powerful Stampede Pistol. Somehow after years raiding and pillaging and living in muck and swamps Quinn hasn’t died yet, so the Lucky trait fit well. Speed Reload seemed like a neat story point in the sense of a quiet, unsuspecting old man who can rapidly load a gun out of reflex from some past military service.
Quartermaster Hank is potentially more loyal to his Laserbow 80, lovingly named “Starfire” from some sci-fi book he found as a child. Hank is the prime poacher in the group, preferring to use Attack – Surprise and a single arrowbolt to kill a foe in one shot.
Officer Russell is a disgraced serviceman who is dour and unhappy as he drifts from one depressing raid to another. He uses a Superior Bronto Gun, wears a dark, grumpy cape and big Witch Hunter style hat.
The final member is Dash Cioni, who motivated the Murkfoul Raiders in the first place to attack New Iberia. Unlike his brother Dash focuses on melee with an aptly named Feudbreaker. He’s ripped the Harpoon Gun from the Murkfoul ship and plans to skewer the first enemy he sees. His combination of traits is set to work WONDERFULLY in the swamp, as cliffs will be no problem to climb, especially in combination with his faster-than-a-dinosaur base Speed of 8″.
And as mentioned the dinosaur is a Titan named The Deep One (very Cthulhu vibe), carrying a swarm of ravenous young on it’s back as it waits to feast on entire villages after the Murkfoul Raiders attack.
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Game Summary
Instead of turn-by-turn notes I wanted to highlight some fun parts and then show a bunch of pictures.

  • Like a cheesy horror movie the upbeat and hopeful whippersnapper died first. In this case Ali Paek got charged by The Deep One on the first turn and died in a single hit. Thematic as heck, but sad to be Ali!
  • Donato the Blue then had an ongoing battle against both The Deep One and Dash Cioni. Dash failed a 2″ Charge up a cliff, which was hilarious. Even more so when Dash was STILL trying to be greedy and Charge (1A-9D Feudbreaker to 2A is so tempting) and failed AGAIN. Basically Donato survived an extra turn or two thanks to Dash’s ineptitude. Eventually Donato did get cornered in melee with The Deep One and couldn’t use any of his guns (minimum on Rotary, and Push wouldn’t work on a dino in melee), so he tried to escape combat and died to a Snap Attack. Donato did at least mow down Dash first.
  • The middle of the map was a bit of a positional shoot out, with Ronan doing his best to fight there while still supporting his right flank. He was against a mix of Quartermaster Hank and Officer Russell (who also split his attention until The Deep One had the situation near the shack under control).
  • Quartermaster Hank missed his Attack – Surprise shot that could have done 12 damage, and died soon after from Ronan’s Carbine.
  • Since the big dinosaurs had deployed on opposite sides of the table they didn’t end up in a massive fight. Instead they did huge damage to the lowly humans. Both were more or less ignored for return fire and took less than 10 damage apiece.
  • Arnold Bridgers the sniper was the most sniper-y sniper I’ve seen in a while. He stayed planted on top of the hill he deployed to and consistently hit his Lever-Action shots. Near the end as The Deep One closed in (after killing the entire left flank) Arnold even busted out his shotgun. By that point BOTH his guns ended up needing a Reload, but that was right at the turn limit so he survived.
  • Luke Bridgers had less luck than his brother, taking an early shot from Captain Pellham and then scrambling the rest of the game to reload, heal, and survive. He didn’t get to use his Enforcer Shotgun to it’s full potential unfortunately, as the Murkfoul Raiders had such a commanding position to assault on the right flank.
  • Captain Pellham was fearless the whole game, moving forward TOWARDS a Longneck dinosaur to secure the kill on Luke Bridgers, then Fleeing melee after getting Trampled by the dino, only to heal using his Small IRP and survive a whole extra turn. Him Fleeing was especially beneficial as the Rustler Revolver has a minimum range of 1…always keep a way to shoot people in melee! Eventually the Captain was sniped by Arnold though as revenge for the death of his brother.
  • First Mate Quinn had the best use of Lucky I’ve ever seen, although he still did eventually go down. After being engaged by the Longneck the Quartermaster managed to turn a 1-hit kill into surviving with 1 Hitpoint thanks to Lucky. Quinn even managed to Flee and keep away well enough to survive (with 1 HP) until the end of the game.
  • As for the “special weapons”, the Harpoon Gun of Dash was never used (sadly), and Ronan’s Totem was but failed to hit enough to trigger Terrify. The Rotary Rifle (in combination with Attack – Dire) did a terrific job of consistent damage though. The Bronto Gun, even with the post-BTS-campaign nerfs, was excellent as always, especially in these higher level battles with more Defense.
  • The Populated Water resulted in the only damage Officer Russell suffered. The underwater dinosaurs also tried to bite Dash Cioni (after he failed to Charge up the cliff) but didn’t manage to hit him. Jumping between islands work wonderfully and meant the middle saw lots of movement and action.

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Conclusion
In the end the turn limit was reached before a decisive victory either way. The Coastal Defense Force was down to Arnold Bridgers (unwounded but with two empty guns) and the Queen of Iberia with 27/37 HP. The Murkfoul Raiders had First Mate Quinn on 1 Hitpoint, Officer Russell with 7 HP, and The Deep One relatively untouched at 28/32 HP.
So a technical win to the Murkfoul Raiders for having more survivors, or really to Quinn for escaping death that whole time. I think given another turn or two Arnold would have been eaten, Quinn would have been shot, and the dinosaurs would have ended up duking it out. That would have been an interesting fight, especially since both still had their Attack – Inspire left (they could eat/stomp a character with it and recover HP) and the Longneck’s lower damage profile was balanced by her Big Game Hunter trait.
Regardless the Murkfoul Raiders broke through the Coastal Defense Force just enough to grab a bit of loot and damage the clubhouse shack, but certainly not enough of a rout to completely pillage New Iberia.

Anyway the game was lots of fun and I liked the varied terrain and background story (amazing how much a little story adds to the tenseness and excitement of a situation). I had these posses built over the holidays and meant to play back-to-back with my Christmas report, but didn’t find the time. So I’m glad I got to the battle report pretty soon after.

v2.6 rules are feeling terrific, no glaring changes that I want to do. I might have finally tweaked and modified the game to it’s final state?! What does that mean for this blog? Well…an exciting announcement soon will shed some light on that.

Quick recap of my weekend games

I played two games of Dinosaur Cowboys this past weekend with my friends, which were a lot of fun. Then we went on to play some local video games like Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm for a gross amount of hours, but at least we got some tabletop gaming in too. As a point of interest the two friends involved were the same guys from the “Four Player Madness” report almost exactly 3 years ago. Back then we used wooden tokens and the v1.2 rules, whereas now we had nice jungle terrain, plastic tokens, and the upcoming v2.6 rules to play with.
We used the desert looking table with a standard 8″ Edge deployment along the long table edges. There were a few different posses (built around the upcoming v2.6 rules):

DC-Friend-Rematch-0002The first game had a raised jungle ruin surrounded by crates. Whoever had more entities on top of the hill by the end of turn 6 (with a possible turn 7) would win. There was also a nearby wagon that had a cannon in the back, facing the hill, and the weapon could be used by an adjacent character with the stats of 2A-7D, 20″ distance.
The posses involved were the Horizon Unimatics Company (me) agains the Nashkel Miners (my friend). There was a lot of positioning and clever range band usage this match. Eventually the Thickskull ended up in melee in the middle against the T-Rex (you can imagine how that went). Although Horizon got the first kill, they had a lot of damage spread around their own posse and eventually the focus fire started enough to kill almost everyone off. Having a person sitting by the wagon cannon the whole game didn’t help the situation in the middle (which really acted more like a deterrent than anything, since I think the cannon was fired only once or twice).
In the end the Nashkel Miners were able to win, both by kills and by objective.

DC-Friend-Rematch-0001The second game we lowered the raised ruin section and replaced it with a patch of crates. The objective this time was to collect a smattering of dinosaur eggs, although the focus ended up being more on killing each other.
This time the Deseret Raiders faced the Nashkel Miners. There was a lot of nervous ducking behind hills and almost getting pot shots at each other, but eventually the Nashkel Miners rushed their T-Rex forward to force the issue. The Deseret Raiders tried to respond (and if they had hit with the Riot Grenades the game might have gone differently), but eventually the T-Rex got stuck in, tore the Deseret leader apart, and eventually brought down the enemy Horned dinosaur as well. There was a lot of damage spread across the Nashkel posse, but not as many kills, and eventually the Deseret Raiders surrendered when they had a single entity left.

As I played with friends there weren’t as many pictures, just the few scattered through this text.

Battle Report: Thermopolis Outpost Raid with Lego!

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Boom, it happened, I finally sat down and played Dinosaur Cowboys with Lego Minifigs like I’ve been meaning too since September (jeez has it been that long?!?!). I’ve had all these Lego buildings sitting around just waiting to go. So last week I set everything up, scrounged up enough vaguely weaponized Lego pieces, wrote two full 5 man + 1 dino posses, and played (using v2.5 of the rules). Of course the town used here is different than the one I took pictures of in September, obviously because I’m not going to leave the first town setup for ~6 months haha. I have a few Lego fences and trees that also made an appearance in addition to my normal terrain.

I focused on playing, not taking notes, but I’ll recall the general story from memory as much as I can.

Location, Terrain, Objective, Deployment
First of all the location is Thermopolis, Wyoming, which is fairly close to the Old Faithful geyser (and subsequent volcano) as well as the heart of the Neotechnoist empire: Haven, inside The Wall.
So I thought I’d do a bit of a narrative reversal, where Neotechnoist colonists have expanded to the outpost, outside The Wall. And then Duster locals see this as an enroachment and raid the outpost to try to drive everyone off.
Side Note: Funny how Neotechnoists are “colonists” when Dusters would be “settlers” or “pioneers”, and I call it an “output” instead of “town” or “hamlet”. Just the language that fits each Allegiance.
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Panoramic view of the town from the road and horizontally (note the various vehicles are non-functional). The jungle area with the ruined motorcycle and semi-truck I saw as a kind of rusted junkyard. Then a cool little dinocart (no in-game effect), and a view of the jail building.

So Thermopolis Outpost would be the center of the conflict, with the “Good Ol Raiders” being a posse of Dusters doing the attacking, and the “Thermopolis Outpost Residents” defending. The Dusters would try to steal food crates in the hope of shutting down the town and driving everyone out, while the Neotechnoists would try to hold onto their supplies.

DC-Lego-Battle-011To achieve this I used a custom mix of the Objectives of “Capture” and “Smash and Grab”. There would be 5 food crates (pictured right) scattered around the table, each could be picked up in the Action Phase (and would be dropped on death). Whoever had the most food crates in their possession, or the most entities within 4″ of crates, at the end of Turn 6 would be the winner. To add another element I made the jail building an objective, since it represented a place of strength for the Neotechnoists, so again whoever had more entities within 4″ at the end would get the same value as 2 food crates.

To continue with the slightly custom rules, I decided to do a “Diagonal” deployment, which mean each posse could deploy in a table half made by drawing a line from corner to corner. This deployment will actually become official in v2.6 of the rules (more on that release later) in place of the current overly complex and overly pop-culture-y “Clever Girl”. Basically this:
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And to add to the Lego flavor I will be using yellow 2×2 Lego blocks to mark Moved & Acted instead of my usual tokens. If the Lego block is right side up (bumpy part up) then they Moved & Acted, if it’s flipped then they just Acted without moving. This also highlights that I REALLY need to rebuy my Litko tokens to say “Moved” instead of “Move”…bah grammar mistakes!
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Similarly I “based” each Minifig with a color coded 2×2 block to help them stand up.

Posse – Good Ol Raiders – 150 IP, $1,500 ND, 4 Traits – DOWNLOAD PDF or View in Saloon
We’re back to the classic text-names-on-posse-image era. Terrific looking group! No real plan or structure to the design, just picking a bunch of neat weapons and stuff that matches the Lego. Both Posses went for a cheap Dinosaur, and the classic approach of Neotechnoists taking herbivores (Runner) and others taking carnivores (Ripper). Also a lot of the names are not the most serious thing of all time…so a perfect fit for playing an already silly themed game with silly Lego :) You can hopefully tell I tried to put in some thought to the character of each Minifig, such as the “grumpy old man” Leader in Old Anderson. Similarly the rough bandit looking Gogocha and his “Lucky” trait since he seems like he’d survive rough patches. It’s a bit hard to see but Cool Kid has sunglasses on his face, and obviously a hip hat, and the “Inspiring Shot” trait to match his big ego. One Handed Bernard is one of my favorites, since obviously he’s missing a hand (pulled him outta the Lego box like that), but has clearly been scarred by the experience and now wears a helmet everywhere and carries only a shield to desperately protect himself from further harm (and in the game is the only one in the posse who wears Armor).
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Posse – Thermopolis Outpost Residents – 150 IP, $1,500 ND, 4 Traits – DOWNLOAD PDF or View in Saloon
Again no real plan, sort of just went with weapons that seemed to fit the character of each Minifig. Usual smattering of traits, and only a few noticeably lower Hitpoint members compared to the Duster posse. And the “SP” for the Leader Drapkin and his wife Antoinette I decided off the cuff to mean “Sergeant Primary”, which sounds like a very Neotechnoist outpost kinda rank. And yes, Mr. The Plague is a Hackers (1995) movie reference. Similarly Hank “Mars” is because that Lego chestpiece used to be the Mars faction back in the 90s. Similarly Frosty is from the ice faction. In true Neotechnoist fashion almost everyone is wearing a sci-fi helmet. I also made the Leader look more supporty (and have traits to match) by having a walkie-talkie and a “stick of command” (which is a Variable Pulse Rifle in the game, but I imagine it as sending out shocking waves or pulses from the stick).
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Starting Ugly!
So everyone deployed, with the Neotechnoists taking the “north” half of the Diagonal deployment, and the Dusters opposite that in the south. I think the Diagonal was a perfect choice for this terrain setup, because a lot of people could start right in the town in buildings, instead of having to trudge forward. I actually could see the Dusters coming into town peacefully, walking around a bit, and then BLAM just starting to shoot and sow chaos.
Here’s a bunch of pictures of how everyone setup:
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Clearly some initial setup right by objectives with the intent to secure a food crate early on. Also with the Diagonal there were a lot of nearby enemies which should make the first turn intense (spoiler alert: it did! :) ).


Turn 1 – Let’s Lego Party!
The Neotechnoists managed to get the first Initiative, so Frosty moved back to the safe cover of a hill and bonus support of Hank Mars. Bernard shifted forward behind a wall, likely figuring to hop the hill next turn and attack.
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On the opposite end of the table the Neotechnoist Leader Drapkin, astride his Runner mount “Eggy”, grabbed a food crate and moved far into town, behind the cover of a building. But guess who was waaaaaiting for him behind the building? Keel Greenpants and his massively oversized gun!
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Back to the west side and the “duel at the hills”, the Duster dinosaur crept forward and tried to Charge 3″ into Frosty. Which meant of course that I ended up rolling a 2 for distance and failing to reach combat. Nearby behind the jail building, Cool Kid did a bit better and made his Charge (funnily enough ended up being 3″ distance as well) and started Scything ol’ Frosty. Those chainsaw thingies look hugely menacing. Also ironic because the Lego set they came from was the same ice stuff as Frosty is built from.
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Meanwhile in the center of the town a duel was emerging between Gogocha for the Dusters and Antoinette for the Neotechnoists. What was really interesting is both had non-traditional weapons of a Laserbow 60 and Big Blasterbow respectively. Should be a good one! Antoinette didn’t want to be the first to leave Cover so the food crate right outside sat untouched for now. This shootout makes me REALLY want to build some roofless (or removable roof) buildings for traditional 28mm miniatures.
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Turn 2 – Outpost Firefight
This turn started with the first death of the game, and that was thanks to Cool Kid slashing Frosty down. Thanks to the deployment melee was quite viable this match. Since Cool Kid uses his Action to attack and take Frosty out, he could still Move right into his next target: Hank Mars
But Mr. The Plague, after grabbing a food crate last turn, had walked down from his hilltop perch and now had a clear shot at Cool Kid. He managed to hit and force a Bravery Test from Cool Kid, which he failed (the punk!). Bernard, having heard the muffled screams from the other side of the hill, and remembering his own horrible dismemberment, climbed up and fired down into Hank Mars.
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Meanwhile in the middle of the town the Neotechnoist Leader moved in. First he motivated his Antoinette with the “Get Up” trait, which restored her from 2 HP to 7 HP (that Laserbow 60 hurt). Then he fired at Gogocha to even the odds. But Keel Greenpants was still nearby, having fired and dropped back down from the building rooftop (otherwise he’d have a Shot in the Back at Drapkin). After grabbing a food crate the Duster Leader Old Anderson was slowly truddling his way to the fight, and actually was barely in range this turn to fire at the Neotechnoist Drapkin or his mount.
(Apologies for the wacky spacing and sizing on the images, I’m just lazily doing WordPress Medium size so horizontal vs vertical clearly doesn’t match)
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And finally the Duster dinosaur Tangy Fangy, a Ripper, figured that One Handed Bernard had Hank Mars handled (bad pun). But Mr. The Plague would keep raining fire down from a distance, so that’s who Tangy Fangy moved to engage instead.
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Turn 3 – Wait Weren’t There Objectives?
Speaking of One Handed Bernard, guess who opted to Activate first after the Dusters won Initiative? “Say Hank Mars, what’re your Hitpoints at? Hmm, ever been hit by a 3GJ Auto Shotgun at Short Distance?”
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After killing Hank Mars, Bernard was very close to a food crate (somewhat stained with melted Lego Minifig).

On the other side Eggy wasn’t looking so good, nor was his passenger Drapkin (who had taken the brunt of the Duster fire). But wanting to protect Mr. The Plague, the pair rode forward and unleashed on the Duster Ripper dinosaur. First Drapkin shot, then Mr. The Plague fired his backup 1GJ Pump Shotgun, and suddenly Tangy Fangy the dinosaur had two Panic tokens and a sliver of health.
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But like a well trained bloodhound, Keel Greenpants was still hot on the trail. From beneath the reins of the dinocart he took an almost-out-of-range shot at Mr. The Plague and brought down the sharpshooter.
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Back in the middle, Antoinette was wounded and alone. She had backed herself into a corner of the building (thankfully without windows), which meant Gogocha and Old Anderson had to advance out of cover to try to eventually reach her. Gogocha could still reach a fence at least (and look awesome behind it).
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Here’s the state of the table at the end of this turn:
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Turn 4 & 5 – The Noose Closes
First of all the Neotechnoist Leader Drapkin continued his western run and ended up in the junkyard, hoping to have one turn without getting shot. At this point he had basically traversed the long side of the table.
Also I thought I’d mention the awesome orange semi-truck is actually from a new Lego set (whereas everything else I have is from my childhood). My wife bought a pair of 3-in-1 Creator sets recently as something fun to do, so this one is from the Sunset Speeder box. Being a fan of Euro Truck Simulator 2 a semi was obviously what I’d keep the set as (the other option being a convertible sports car and an F1 racer car).
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Knowing that her turns were numbered, Antoinette decided to risk a shot at Gogocha, which meant leaving the safety of her building corner. The “Get Up!” heal from Drapkin meant she likely wouldn’t get one-shot killed at least.
The shot paid off, as Gogocha needed a Bravery Test and failed, so he’d be Fleeing.
Her husband was in an even more precarious position as One Handed Bernard, the seemingly unstoppable shield wielding, helmet wearing, disabled man fired super accurately at Drapkin.
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As expected, the much shot Drapkin finally died. With his death a ripple of panic spread through the tattered remains of the posse (which at this point was Antoinette and Eggy the dinosaur). Antoinette actually failed her Bravery Test (necessary when a Leader is taken out of action), which is super important because she’s in a building. In the case of a Fleeing character NOT being able to move their full distance, they are Stunned instead. So basically she couldn’t run backwards through the wall, so she’d lose her Action instead. More or less a death sentence, and also a lucky save for Gogocha who would have died after another shot.
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Turn 6 – Where Do We Stand?
With fewer entities left alive the turns were just flying by.

Keel Greenpants focused on taking out the Eggy dinosaur, who was trying to snatch up as many food crates as possible to try to win-by-objective. Unluckily for Keel, he missed his shot AND had to Reload.
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Meanwhile Gogocha, confident in Old Anderson to finish off the Stunned Antoinette, moved backwards to secure the jail.
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Old Anderson was also confident in Old Anderson (even if he’s a bit senile and talks in the third person), so he strode into the building and shot point blank at Antoinette. To add insult to injury he actually did “Fan the Hammer”, so +2 Attacks AND Antoinette would be 2″ Pushed. Since she had backed into the corner (again) this would result in additional damage. Even with all that Old Anderson still barely managed to kill her, but a kill is a kill.
(Actually this was a slight rules error on my behalf, and perhaps something I should clarify in the rules text. You take 1 damage per 1″ Pushed, BUT that’s if you actually go that distance. If you’re backed up against a wall you don’t take the damage. Which meant Antoinette technically should have lived. She wasn’t carrying crates so the overall game outcome would have been the same though.)
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Feebly Eggy moved to the nearest food crate (dropped a while back when Mr. The Plague died).
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Outcome
In total the Neotechnoist “Thermopolis Outpost Residents” had 2 food crates (thanks Eggy!). But with the jail firmly in Duster hands, plus 2 crates on Old Anderson and 1 on One Handed Bernard (how fitting), the Duster “Good Ol Raiders” won the day! So in the words of a Duster: “Go hide inside your Wall, ya sissy Volkies! This here is our land!”

Anyway hopefully you enjoyed the report and visuals. I certainly had fun using Lego Minifigs and terrain. I think the flexibility of building and arming your Minifigs really helps for a “what you see is what you get” match to your posse. Also it’s a terrific gateway for kids to wargaming, since 28mm minis can be a bit intimidating (especially with the owner fussing over fingerprints or damage to their little pewter soldiers).

I think this match also highlighted that objectives need to DO something immediately beneficial during a standalone game, since otherwise everyone just rushes for them in the last turn and focuses on killing the enemy the rest of the time. I mention this same issue in the rules themselves, and recommend applying a Feature bonus. So I probably should have made it that you could re-roll 1 Attack die per food crate you’re carrying, or maybe re-roll Bravery Tests, or just use a normal Feature like “Ammo Container”.

Battle Report: Birthday Bash

I had a pair of fun games of Dinosaur Cowboys around my birthday. The first was with my gaming group and the second was having my parents try the game.

First Match – Friends
DC-Birthday-Bash-Friends-0001The first match was a 4 person team game with 2 people per team. Each team had one new player, who got a melee based posse, and then another player who had taken part in the Battle to Seattle campaign.

We used a simple Edge deployment, and the objective was basically “Smash and Grab” but with 5 objectives (dinosaur eggs in this case) spread evenly across the table. Having a dinosaur egg in your possession meant you could re-roll 1 die per carrier activation. The game was set to last 6 turns with a possible extra 7 turn on a D12 roll of 7+ at the end of the 6th turn (which we ended up having). And finally the building in the middle was set to collapse one activation into turn 5 (which the players didn’t know in advance).

The posses involved were…
Team 1: Sundance Stompers and Sassy Slashers (new player)
Team 2: Death Snakes and Path of Rage (new player)

The game went well, Team 2 pushed forward early with their dinosaur and Path of Rage posse, and held back on their left flank with the Death Snakes. Team 1 had the Sundance Stompers in reserve on their right flank, and the Sassy Slashers were fairly outnumbered for the first bit of the game. In the end both teams had 2 eggs each, but the Sassy Slashers were able to dive their dinosaur into the garden to get the last egg. The dinosaur died, but the Sundance Stompers leader was right nearby to pick it up and run far enough out of range. So in the end 3 eggs and the victory for Team 1.
Since I was playing with friends I didn’t take a zillion photos, but the one above should give you an idea of how the table was setup.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the game, although one new player would have liked to roll more dice (like the fistfuls in Warhammer 40,000), so I’ll have to stick to 6 attack and up weapons for him in the future, haha.

Second Match – Family
This game was a couple of days later but I used a very similar table setup. I swapped the Mordheim inn building for my new resin structure (still need to paint it), and also a hill on the side for my old aquarium terrain that looks like an Indiana Jones ruin.

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Anyway like I said this game was between my parents, who haven’t really ever played a wargame. So I left out a few rules, mostly around Traits and Dinosaur Panic, and I didn’t list all the weapon special abilities until they were relevant. They both seemd to take to the rules well and enjoy the game. I took a few more pictures during a break.

The two posses were: Sarge’s Lost Platoon vs Meadowlarks

DC-Birthday-Bash-Family-15The setup was similar for this game, using the Edge deploy, but a single Capture objective instead of the Smash and Grab approach from the previous game. So whoever had the most living entities within the resin ruin or garden (anything inside the fences) at the end of turn 6 would win. No special rules or cases otherwise.

Both posses defensively manuevered for the first couple of turns, but eventually the Meadowlarks dinosaur leapt forward with a Charge into Jim Baker. The Lost Platoon decided to focus all fire on the Fin dinosaur, who was eventually brought down after a full turn and a bit of shooting. But Jim Baker had died as the first casualty. Inside the building Preacher Pike from the Meadowlarks was the first person in, but he was charged by the enemy Raptor and slowly brought down to 1 Hitpoint.
Near the end of the game the Meadowlarks were able to bring Alizzar and Sarah Love into the building, which meant they had 3 entities inside. The Lost Platoon moved The Red Stinger from his sniper perch on a far hill a bit too late, and he wasn’t able to reach the building in time. Their leader Sarge was also inside the building, but outnumbered and unable to kill enough targets. So in the end the Meadowlarks won!
The Lost Platoon was close though, as Preacher Pike had 1 HP left, and Samurai Jack (the Meadowlark leader) had 4 HP left, so one good shot on the leader could have made everyone in the ruin Flee away. But that was not to be.
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Lots of fun all around, and nice to get some new people to try out the game.

From here I’ll be focusing on getting v2.6 of the rules done (again I’ll post details about that in the future), and maybe painting a few miniatures (although I need to rework my painting table so it’s more comfortable, right now I’m way too hunched over).

Battle Report: The Mountie Chase of Samurai Jack

Cavalier_townWell this week is my 30th birthday (gulp) so what better way to celebrate than a battle report? I mean, there are definitely better ways than tediously formatting text and images, but you know what I mean :)

So the motivation for playing a game was simple: I had 3 new miniatures, I had new fences, and I love Dinosaur Cowboys.

Of course a little narrative goes a long way for giving a greater meaning to the conflict. So I took my usual approach of choosing a random small town in the USA, thinking about the posses involved and their motivation, and making a simple backstory from that.

Location
First of all, the place: Cavalier, North Dakota. You can see it on Google Maps here, and they actually have a nice little quaint town website. Apologies if that sounded condescending, I actually really like the traffic cam of their main street, looks like a nice mellow place. The town actually reminds me of the recent Arnie movie The Last Stand (I don’t care what the critics say, I enjoyed it). Plus, simply put, the name of the town is awesome.

The Villains
DC-Cavalier-Border-Battle-0017Obviously my new samurai-with-a-shotgun mini would be used. He looked like a bandit and highway robber straight up, especially when I dubbed him “Samurai Jack”. I could see him living up in Canada (the border of which Cavalier is very close to), hiding out in the wasteland of ashes, and raiding across into what’s left of the States.
But who was Samurai Jack? Just a dude with an awesome name and a yin yang on his chest? Probably. But I figured anyone crazy (and lonely?) to live alone in a desolate, ruined, ash covered country wouldn’t like human contact much. So his only other non-dinosaur Posse member would be a robotic servant (yeah yeah I know I don’t account much for robots and androids in the backstory of the game) named Sir Javier. And to truly strike fear in his victims Samurai Jack would need an intimidating dinosaur, so T-Rex obviously.
For armament and customization I knew Samurai Jack would need a shotgun (to match the mini), and the top tier 4GJ Auto Shotgun fit well. A backup 100kW Peacemaker would give him some range (16″) until he could get to 9″ and unload with the shotgun. And even though he wouldn’t have any improvement to CTN a Short Sword was necessary for flavor and to match the mini. Then some really good armor (Mesh Armor), buncha Hitpoints, and RTN improvements. No traits for Jack though, he doesn’t need gimmicks to raid caravans.
Sir Javier was purely meant as a support type character. I gave him a Variable Pulse Rifle because it’s nice and versatile, and Boom Grenades because you never know when you’re gonna need grenades. I think of him like a robotic butler for Samurai Jack, haha. Anyway his traits really supported his supporty-ness with “Get Up” and “Retreat”.
Finally the T-Rex, “Red Dragon”, who got the “Sprint” trait. What that meant was if Sir Javier used “Retreat” on the T-Rex who also used “Sprint” the dino would be hauling it 13″ + 6″ for a run, so a 19″ threat range ignoring Difficult Terrain. Kapow!
I called the posse “Jack’s Highway Terrors”, and you can download the PDF of it here: Jack’s Highway Terrors – Roster.

The Story
For every villain there is a hero, and in this case Francis Fitzgerald (named after a real Mountie of course) would wrangle in Samurai Jack.
Obviously the borders are a little looser in the year 2285, so Francis would actually be a lawman modelled after the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with officers called Mounties for short). But he lived in the US, in Cavalier, as part of the “perimeter force”. Samurai Jack had been a constant, uncatchable thorn to the town, and finally after a farm was burned to the ground Francis had enough.
Pooling almost all the resources of the town, Francis hired a Neotechnoist sharpshooter, took his second in command Sergeant Kolden, fired up the old cop car (well, Thickskull dinosaur) named Herschel, and headed north to bring Jack to justice.
Of course as most stories are, this one would be told from the “heroes” side.

The Heroes
DC-Cavalier-Border-Battle-0022So as I said, the leader of this posse is Francis Fitzgerald, and he’ll be represented by the new red jacket wearing Mountie mini. The pistol I painted just SCREAMS Volcanic (mainly because it has a glowing orange energy chamber), so a 400kW Volcanic Pistol would do. Yes yes I know Volcanic pistols were lever-action and have nothing to do with actual volcanoes or lava, but this isn’t 1887. Francis seemed like the type of guy who could shoot the dots off a playing card at 100 yards, so “Knee Shot” and 6 RTN would be his specialty.
Next up was Sergeant Kolden, the only other Mountie in the area. I was considering just calling him Deputee or Corporal, but I could also see Francis feeling bad for “the kid”, and wanting to give him a better title and higher standing. Maybe it also helps Kolden stomach the fact that his day-to-day is saving Raptors from trees and he hasn’t had a raise in two years. Kolden would be represented by my classic Ghengis Khan / Russian looking guy.
Finally the hired Neotechnoist, a by-the-book, tight lipped sharpshooter dubbed Winter Council. The name suited the mini I had in mind, since I used the newly painted Necromunda Van Saar with his “sparkling Crest blue” armor. His stats were as by-the-book as his attitude, with 6 RTN and a 200kW Twin-Rifle. “Piercing Shot” as a trait seemed like a good pick, since he’s a sharpshooter after all.
Herschel would be a Thickskull, because I somewhat associate civilized towns and “good guys” with non-carnivorous dinosaurs. Maybe because they seem a bit softer or something? He got “Bonus Speed” to round out his Hustle distance.
So with that the Cavalier Perimeter Force was created. Grab the PDF here: Cavalier Perimeter Force – Roster.

The Setting
New fencessssssssssss! *laser show and pumping music*
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And a nice little 3’x4′ chunk of land. Considering Samurai Jack has “Highway” in his posse name, a road down the middle seemed fitting (and the fences fit so perfectly against it). Then the usual smattering of terrain, plus some of the real world fossils I used in my last report.
And yeah, I played the game solo. Which always sounds a bit sad to be playing with toy dinosaurs and rolling dice alone, haha. But I actually enjoy it quite a bit, as I get a chance to play whenever I want, without any rule arguments or stress. And on the flipside by the time this post goes live I will have had a nice team game of Dinosaur Cowboys with my gaming group of four other people (two of who have never played it before, always exciting).
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I didn’t take detailed notes for this game, so I’ll do a broad play-by-play from memory and pictures, like I did for the last battle report.

Deployment and Objective
The setup was nice and standard: Edge deploy (on the long 4′ edges) and play until one Posse is wiped out. Sometimes a nice old fashioned extermination is great, especially when there is enough of a backstory to add flavor.

The Perimeter Force deployed in tight formation, with the hope of using the tall hill in front of them to shoot down into the road as the enemies advanced. Herschel the dinosaur would likely end up a distraction and method of stalling the enemy approach. Meanwhile on the opposite flank across the road Kolden waited, hoping to swing in from the side as the enemy approached. So basically, lots of “do something deadly when Jack gets here”.
The Highway Terrors went for an opposite approach with Samurai Jack deployed far to their left flank, and Javier and the T-Rex on the right. The hope was to jump the T-Rex right into threatening range, while Javier hung back as support and Jack moved up to get into shotgun range (and minimums of Winter Council’s rifle).
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Samurai Jack is Found, Attack!
The Highway Terrors won first initiative, and Red Dragon the T-Rex was off to the races. Like I said base Speed + Retreat trait from Sir Javier + Sprint trait from the T-Rex himself meant he could Move and Hustle a total of 21″ (while ignoring all Difficult Terrain, as dinosaurs do). So basically a big green missile with teeth instead of explosives. You can see how awesome the dive was:
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And also how Red Dragon would pretty much catch Sergeant Kolden no matter where he went.

But the T-Rex was now unsupported and alone with a huge gap to the rest of the posse. And across the road trouble waited:
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I mean, still, it’s a 2 Defense beast with 24 Hitpoints and a 1A-8D attack:
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(And yeah the framed picture on the wall is totally the Dinosaur Cowboys cover art)

DC-Cavalier-Border-Battle-0060The Perimeter Force responded by moving over Herschel to hopefully tie up the T-Rex (and also likely become a light dinner in the process). Sergeant Kolden edged as far back across the road as possible. Then the three humans poured everything they had into the T-Rex, but the titan still stood. Meanwhile the rest of the Highway Terrors advanced without problem, since the good guys had bigger (literally) problems to worry about.

Time to Eat
As expected the T-Rex tore into the Perimeter Force. Herschel tried to ram the side of the T-Rex, and more shots were put into the beast, but none of it compared to the amazing bite attack Red Dragon got:
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In case you aren’t familiar with the mechanics of the game (although I assume every reader has read every battle report for 5 years), the T-Rex succeeded at a Charge to reach Sergeant Kolden. This meant he got +1 Attack, so his 1 Attack, 8 Damage chomp became 2A-8D. He then hit with both dice, AND got a Critical on one, for a total of 11 damage. Guess how many Hitpoints Sergeant Kolden had? 10…so…hooray one shot kill!
DC-Cavalier-Border-Battle-0071(Also I like the far left image so much I’ll likely use it somewhere in the upcoming 2.6 version of the rules)

However at this point Red Dragon the T-Rex was a mess. I think he had ~10 Hitpoints left. But Sir Javier had the “Get Up” trait, which restores 5 Hitpoints to an ally in 8″. Since Red Dragon had jumped so far ahead the initial measurement was just a scratch out of range. Thankfully Sir Javier could angle his move differently, and since the measurement is to the closest point on the ally (which in the case of a big T-Rex adds a few inches), Javier was eventually able to use Get Up on the T-Rex and heal some Hitpoints.

At the end of the turn the board looked like this:
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Fall of the Dragon
Even with Sir Javier healing the T-Rex, the sustained fire of 2-3 members of the Perimeter Force, plus the slamming attacks of Herschel the dinosaur, meant the T-Rex died almost immediately this turn.

Samurai Jack was getting quite close to the action now, and ducked behind a massive fossil left in the middle of the road. After the T-Rex had fallen Francis the Mountie moved back behind the tall hill to block line of sight to the Highway Terrors. Similarly Herschel had cut across the road and into Cover, with the hope of swinging around and taking out Javier. As for Javier himself he stood behind one of the new fences and hoped to get a shot or two on the Thickskull dinosaur before it pummelled him.
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Tensions Mount
Samurai Jack was behind the big fossil, Francis and Winter Council were likewise behind a tall hill, which meant the game settled into an uneasy tension of “who will pop out first!”. Because if Jack rushed forward he’d take two shots from the waiting Perimeter Force members. Likewise if one of the good guys hopped up the hill they’d get a shotgun to the face.
Meanwhile Sir Javier and Herschel had basically started their own deadly game on the other side of the road. Herschel needed to reach Javier, obviously, but with the versatility of the Variable Pulse Rifle (it has “Power Settings” which allow it to change the configuration of Attacks and Damage from say 5A-1D to 3A-3D) Javier could likely hit the dinosaur wherever he went.
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The next turn the tension ended and blood was spilled. Herschel managed to Charge Sir Javier and do quite a number on him. But this also exposed the dinosaur to Samurai Jack, who could simply pivot in place and pour fire into the Thickskull, all the while remaining safe behind his fossil from the rest of the Perimeter Force.
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(You can see in the right picture how invisible Jack was from the position of Francis and Winter Council, even if they had climbed the hill)

Standing Alone
The Perimeter Force managed to get the first Activation, which meant Herschel could attack Sir Javier again and destroy the poor robot. After that Herschel could still move (so nice to have rules that allow you to attack then move, instead of being forced to move and attack in a set order) so he went into close combat with Samurai Jack, in the hopes of doing a bit of damage, holding the villain in place, and potentially letting the rest of the good guys get into a spot to kill Jack.
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Keep in mind Samurai Jack has a 4GJ Auto Shotgun, which gets the “Open Choke” special ability of +1 Attack at Short Distance. So Jack was firing at 5A-4D on Herschel, who had already taken a bite from the T-Rex and a pair of shots from Sir Javier. So when Samurai Jack held down the trigger the Thickskull just evaporated into a pool of superheated plasma (Fallout 2 style! :) ).
Which meant Samurai Jack was now alone against two enemies: Francis and Winter Council. The pair had used Herschel’s attack as a distraction to climb the tall hill in front of them, so they now bore down on Jack and waited for him to move from behind the rock.
The following turn Francis actually moved down from the hill to the other side of the fossil. Again the tension returned in what amounted to a standoff. Who would move first from their unassailable cover?! I could also imagine Francis yelling out “Throw down your gun, we have you surrounded, come out with your hands up” and other such cliches. I love it when the game ends up playing out the natural progression of the backstory.
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The Final Firefight
Samurai Jack had killed dozens of people and raided and pillaged his way across the north. He wasn’t scared of an 8 Hitpoint Neotechnoist in a blue jump suit! So Samurai Jack broke the stalemate and edged around the fossil and simply UNLOADED into Winter Council.
And the Neotechnoist folded like a book. In other words, Samurai Jack 1-shot killed Winter Council.
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And so the battle came down to the classic protagonist vs antagonist match up. But the firefight wasn’t in the favor of the good guys this time! Francis could hit Jack on 10+, or 9+ if he managed to get into Short Distance, using a simple 5A-4D weapon. Whereas Samurai Jack was hitting back on 8+ (7+ at Short Distance) with a 4A-4D weapon (or 5A if he could again get to Short Distance). And Francis only had 12 Hitpoints while Jack had 14.
Having his whole Perimeter Force wiped out, and now facing the terror of the highways, outskilled and outgunned, Francis wasn’t in the best situation.
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(Keep in mind these are actual gameplay photos, not posed. So the game literally came down to a dual in the street between the main hero and villain)

Then an amazing miracle happened to save Francis’ life. He rolled AWESOME:
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Oh 9+ at Short Distance you say? Let me hit you 4/5 times for 8 damage says Francis! Samurai Jack did the complete opposite and actually had to Reload his Auto Shotgun (that’s why he has the Reload token in the second picture).
And if the first shot from Francis seemed good, look at that second one! Hit 5/5 with a Critical Hit for a total of 10 damage!

So on that cold morning on an empty street north of Cavalier, the lone Mountie Francis Fitzgerald found and dueled the notorious Samurai Jack and was victorious. Time to take the villain back to Cavalier to pay for his crimes!
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So Fun
That was fun! I said it above as well, but I’ll re-iterate it here (in case you just scroll through the pretty pictures, which is fair :) ). I really love it when game mechanics and the flow of a battle end up exactly how you hoped they would. In this case the backstory was a classic matchup of cop vs robber (more or less), and to come down to a duel in the street was too perfect. I remember one of my Windy River campaign games having a similar outcome, where I had setup a caravan raid (using the Line deploy) and it felt exactly like the frantic, chaotic mess getting attacked while spread out in the jungle would be.
I always take such gameplay-fits-narrative (or supports the narrative, however you want to word it) as a good sign for the state of the rules. I also am happy that, at the end of the day, I wrote and developed Dinosaur Cowboys to be the game I want to play. Sure I like suggestions and feedback, and enjoy hearing of other people playing the game, or showing to to friends, or whatever. But in the end my goal was to design my own favorite game, and so far it’s worked wonderfully. I mean, it took ~5 years of on-and-off work, but still!

Battle Report: Get to the Flapper!

ChoppaFirst of all, how has it been over 6 months since my last post?! Well, after the Battle to Seattle campaign and v2.5 release I took a bit of a breather from Dinosaur Cowboys. Then before you know it Christmas came around. And then here we are in 2015. Like I mentioned in my last post my wife and I had a kid, so that’s also been a big factor. Also getting into the computer game Euro Truck Simulator 2 (of all games?!) and back into Awesomenauts also took some time. Regardless my apologies for the lack of posts here.

But I finaaaaally took the time to sit down and play Dinosaur Cowboys yesterday, which I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while. I used a single 3’x4′ board covered with a lot of terrain, as well as some real-life fossils that I collected when I was a teenager. The Flapper area was designed to look like a small landing pad/airport with crates and a wagon nearby.

There aren’t a ton of pictures or notes because I ended up playing with my wife, so there was less time to catalog every turn.

Deployment and Objective
First of all for the sake of simplicity no Features were used. The Objective was “Escort”, where a Civilian has to basically traverse the board and escape. The Deployment was “Layered” to give the impression of fighting through a series of enemy lines (with the unspoken exception that the Civilian would be deployed in the further region from their escape area).
To add a bit of narrative flavor I figured the Civilian is an Archaeologist who found a rare fossil in South Dakota. Before he could return to the nearest city with his find the Black Hill Raiders descended on him and took him prisoner. Now the Raiders are trying to move him to a Flapper (aka the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Get to the chopper Flapper!”) to escape the area, return to their hideout, and ransom the fossil (and Civilian) to the highest bidder. Local homesteaders the Birkshire Family get wind of this plot and assemble to stop the kidnapping. So a fun little twist on what’s normally “good guys escorting through bad guys”. Remember that Flappers are Pterodactyl replacements for airplanes in Dinosaur Cowboys.

Posses
Now the posses involved might sound familiar, and that’s because they are pulled directly from the 9-page Quickdraw Rules. Both posses have $1,000 and 100 IP, so pretty standard. The Black Hill Raiders use a Raptor and focus on melee, so the Layered deployment really helped them. The Birkshire Family have quite a few powerful guns like an Ultra Repeater, 500kW Walker Revolver (when explained to my wife she said “That seems like it does a lot of hits”), etc. So the match up should be interesting. I played the Raiders and my wife played the Birkshire Family.

You can get the PDFs here:

Setup and A Few Pictures
The game lasted 5 turns.
The Layered deploy REALLY made a mess of everything. There were some possible “Shot in the Back” moments right from the get-go, due to later groups ending up behind enemies.

For the Black Hill Raiders, Betty One-Eye (Necromunda Escher Juve figure) and The Blade (Dark Sun Mul figure) deployed far to the north of the Flapper, with their Civilian nearby. The plan is to use the mix of melee and firepower to escort the Civilian and distract enemies as they went. Opposite them from the Birkshire Family is Brother Jerrid (preacher figure) and the trusty Ducky mount Drake.
The final deployment zone belonging to the Black Hill Raiders consisted of Maynard Dereus, the shotgun wielding leader (Necromunda Ratskin Shaman figure). Behind him is Malice, the Raptor dinosaur. I had wanted to use the Papo “alternate” paint scheme for this dinosaur, but I think it got bent in the storage bin as it wasn’t standing up properly.
And the last deployment zone for the Birkshire Family, which included the Flapper, had Mama Hanna (Warhammer 40,000 Schaeffer’s Last Chancers figure) with her Ultra Repeater on a hill, and nearby Papa Jonas (bartender figure) blocking the east flank.

Here you can see a few views of the deployment:
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From left to right: View from the southern Flapper end of the table, focus on the middle deployment zones, high level view looking west (you can see how everyone ended up pretty much on one flank).

I can’t speak for the Birkshire Family, but I know my plan with the Black Hill Raiders was to split my enemies up. So the Raptor would move south towards the Flapper zone to lock down and distract foes there (classic dinosaur move really), while Maynard would flank into the northern split of Birkshire Family. The Civilian would Hustle every turn in a desperate attempt to stay in cover and not get killed.

Here are a few more pictures of deployment, since like I said once the dice started rolling the photos stopped coming.
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On the left you can see the northern deploy, with the Civilian visible (he’s the Prospector looking fellow in the blue hat). Notice how close the Ducky is…could get ugly right away.
On the right is the Flapper “end zone”, with a few supply crates and a nearby wagon. For the purposes of this game the Flapper and wagon dinosaur are just scenery and not something you interact with.

If you’re into fossils, well, here are some zoomed in shots of a few. They make great, thematic terrain pieces, just a bit drab in color (maybe they need a gloss spray). In general they vary from nice cover pieces to full on line-of-sight blocking hunks o’ rock.
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And finally some cinematic shots, first of the Black Hill Raiders leader Maynard overlooking the battlefield from his perch. Then a shot of Mama Hanna awaiting her foes in the Flapper area.
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DC-Flapper-Escape-0019After Action Report
As for the game itself, Birkshire started by Charging the Ducky into melee with Betty One-Eye, thankfully avoiding the Civilian for now. The Blade counter-Charged into Brother Jerrid, who was nearby on the hill. Of course he then promptly got blasted backwards when Brother Jerrid did “Fan the Hammer” with his 500kW Walker Revolver, followed by a Speed Reload. Maynard had a terrific Saber weapon, so in the interest of utilizing that as soon as possible he climbed down the cliff and moved towards the Ducky. Meanwhile the Civilian ran forward as much as possible. On the backline the Raptor moved towards Papa Jonas but couldn’t quite reach him and didn’t want to risk a Charge. Mama Hanna fired at the Raptor to begin whittling down his Hitpoints.

Turn 2 saw the start of some long dinosaur combats. The Ducky did consistent, but LOW damage to Betty One-Eye, while she alternated between pistol fire and using her Flail depending on what the best odds were. Meanwhile the Raptor Charged at Papa Jonas, but ended up missing nearly all of his 1A-5D attacks through the course of the game. The fact that Mama Hanna used “Get Up!” on Papa Jonas meant he survived the initial Charge and then stayed in combat to futilely try to use his Scattergun.
First blood went to The Blade, who Charged in again and managed to kill Brother Jerrid before being shot down by Mama Hanna in turn. A worthwhile trade as the Civilian had a nearly unobstructed run to the Flapper now, with just Mama Hanna standing in the way.

Turn 3 was much of the same, with the Civilian taking a shot from Mama Hanna. But his substantial 14 HP pool meant more than a few Ultra Repeater hits would be needed. Eventually Maynard Charged into the back of the Ducky, and the pain started…like really, really started. The Saber hits at 3A-6D, with +1 Attack on Charge, so you can imagine how long the Ducky lasted. He basically never cleared Panic and took 11 HP of damage on the first Charge. Unfortunately the Black Hills Raider player (me, haha) didn’t use the “Berserker” Trait for a glorious 6A-6D attack (which likely would have one-shot the Ducky, combined with the existing damage from Betty One-Eye).

Turn 4 saw the Raptor and Papa again fail to hit each other. Papa unfortunately needed a Reload on his pistol fairly early on in the fight, otherwise he could do more reliably done damage that way instead of a risky 1A-5D Scattergun shot hitting on 8+. Luckily the Raptor is hitting on 8+ as well. The Civilian is within a turn of the Flapper now, but took another shot from Mama Hanna on the way and is down to 5 HP. As expected the Ducky didn’t last another turn against Maynard’s wrath, freeing up the two Black Hill characters to move towards the Flapper area.

Turn 5 wrapped up some of the attacks. After killing the Ducky last turn, Maynard had moved south, and this turn could move again and Charge at Mama Hanna. The successful Charge dropped her like a sack of bricks. This left Papa Jonas alive, and the Civilian one Activation away from the Flapper. Summoning his courage the Birkshire leader left combat with the Raptor (who failed to Snap Attack, which would have killed Papa), and angled his line of fire to get one last shot on the Civilian.
Annnnnnd promptly missed! Because he is the Leader he can’t “Yeehaw!” himself, so with that, the Civilian activated, moved to the Flapper, and the game was over. Victory to the Black Hill Raiders!
Here you can see the final, desperate shot of Papa Jonas as the Civilian rounds the hill towards the Flapper.
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What’s Next?
Great fun all around! With deployment and rules explaining the game still only took about an hour. As you know I’m so happy with the state of the Dinosaur Cowboy rules. I do have some very minor tweaks (this is literally one of my TODO items: – Fix capitalization in Quickdraw rules for “100kw” instead of “kW”), but otherwise it’s all good.
I won’t make any promises of getting another game in on this table, or doing the Lego town I mentioned in my last post. Instead I’ll just say hopefully I talk to you again soon!