Monday, November 16, 2020

Battle Report: Only the Strong Survive- Big Al vs. Steggie


This book has been on a slow boil since late 2018.  Like most of my projects, the initial core rules come pretty quick.  However there is much more to a game than just "Core Rules".  Therefore, once I get a set of rules up on the WIP section of the blog, they tend to marinate for a bit until I rotate back to them.  I tend to keep 2-4 games in various states of work.  It keeps me and you on your toes!  

I finally took the time to hash out the final few Dinosaur types and scenarios.  You may recall a past post about Playtesting these rules.  Well, that is all done with now.  

Only The Strong Survive is a model-vs-model dinosaur skirmish game.  It is designed to be playable between single Dinosaurs and small groups.  There is always a bit of a challenge in trying to make single model-vs-Model games interesting.  

Big Al the Allosaurus had been roaming across the savanna for a few days.  It's stomach rumbled ominously.  It was hot.  Big Al had managed to scare some smaller scavengers away form a carcass a few days ago, but that had only been a few nips of food.   He needed something a bit more substantial.  

Most of the other Dinosaurs saw he coming, and re-grouped into their herds and stayed away.  It was going to be a tough hunt.  It was too hot for a long, slow approach.    

As he crested a small rise, a pair of trees broke up the plain in front of him.  A herd of Stegosaurus were in the distance.  However, what caught his eye was one that had broken away from the pack and was closing in on the trees, unaware of the Carnivore's approach.  

In an instant, their eyes met and the hunt was on.  All thoughts of the heat were forgotten as this was the moment Big Al had been hoping for.   


Allosaurus with 10 Instinct Dice- Big Al


Stegosaurus with 9 Instinct Dice- Steggie


This will be a straight up kill or be killed type of scenario.  Steggie has wandered away from his herd towards some choice bits of foliage, when they are set upon by a roving carnivore; Big Al.  Steggie is trying to drive Big Al off, while Big Al is trying to kill Steggie for a meal.  


We are playing on the floor in a two by two space marked off with notepads.  It was a bit makeshift with what I had brought, which was not very much.  I had two plastic trees and a plastic rock, that we put near the middle of the area.  Not much to work with this time.      

Turn 1: 

Our Allosaurus, Big Al; bids 2 while Steggie bids 0 Instinct Dice for initiative.  

Big Al uses three Instinct Dice to move towards his prey and launches his attack!  He tries to Body Block Steggie, but only has a few dice to do so.  Steggie defends so it is 2 vs 3 dice.  Steggie avoids the attack.  

Steggie then reacts with 3 dice vs. 1 and wins.  Not enough for a special reaction, so he just takes over and starts playing.  He uses his last 2 Instinct Dice to get by a tree to fend off the Carnivore.  Big Al tries to react with 2 dice, but fails. 

Since neither Dino has Instinct Dice left, the turn is over.

Turn 2:

Big Al bids 2 vs. Steggie's 3 Instinct Dice.  After winning Initiative, Steggie starts trundling along behind Big Al.  Big Al reacts with 3 vs. 1 dice and wins. 

Big Al pivots and uses two dice of movement to catch up to his fleeing prey.  He then attacks with 4 dice using a standard bite attack.  Steggie defends with 3 dice.  Big Al wins with 1 hit, but it is not enough to get past Steggie's armor.  

All Instinct Dice are used, so the turn ends. 

Turn 3:

Big Al bids 2 dice to 0 again and wins.  

The carnivore puts max dice into a Hatchet Attack, but has a terrible roll.  Steggie uses Max Defense and easily avoids the attack.  

Not to be deterred, Big Al uses his last Instinct Dice on a quick bite attack, that Steggie also avoids with 2 defense dice.  

All Instinct Dice are used again, so the turn ends. 

Turn 4:

This time, Steggis bids 3 vs. Big Al's 2 for initiative.  

Steggie aggressively attacks using max attack on a piercing tail swipe.  However, Big Al uses his max defense dice to dodge the attack.  

He responds with a 5 dice counter-attack, and Steggie can not defend.  This time, Big Al tears a chunk out of Steggie and causes 1 light wound.  Only 8 more for a kill! 

Turn 5: 

Big Al bids 2 again and Steggie gives 0 for initiative.  Steggie is ready to battle it out with his tail.  

Big Al launches a Max Attack Hatchet Attack, which Steggie tries to avoid with Max Defense again.  The higher target number for the Hatchet Attack does not help, and Steggie avoids the attack.  Big Al uses his final dice to move away and try to get around to Steggie's less defended front.  

Steggie uses his last two moves to get by a tree to reduce Big Al's attack vectors.  

Turn 6: 

Big Al bid 2 and so did Steggie.  Big Al upped his bid 1 to get the Initiative.  

Big Al moved towards Steggie, but then Steggie tried to React with 3 dice vs. 3 from Big Al.  Big Al won when Steggie whiffed his React roll.  

Big Al spent another Instinct Dice to move into Combat Range, and then attacked with a Body Block.  3 vs. 3 defense.  Big Al's attack worked, and Steggie is pushed back Slow distance and knocked down!  

Steggie is in trouble, but both Dinos have used all their Instinct Dice.

Turn 7: 

Steggie is Knocked Down and will need to spend Instinct Dice to get up again, however Big Al wants to attack before that can happen.  Steggie bids 3, keeping enough for a Max defense.  Big Al bids 4.  

Big Al immediately jumps in to attack!  He uses all his remaining attack dice for a bite attack!  7 dice vs. Steggie's 5.  Big Al manages to take two quick snaps out of the Knocked Down dino.  When you are knocked down your reaction and defense target numbers are increased to 6+.  

Steggie needs to get up, but both Dinos are out of Instinct Dice.  

Turn 8: 

Desperate to stand, Steggie bids 3 dice, to Big Al's three.  Again he increases it 1 to win.  

Big Al launches a Hatchet Attack against his downed foe.  This time, Steggie rolls away from the attack as Big Al got 0 successes for his attack.  

Steggie kept 1 dice, so he can stand again.  

Turn 9:  

Big Al bids 2 to Steggies 0.  

Big Al tries to bite again with all 8 dice, to Steggie's max defense.  Big Al manages to get through 1 more time, and cause another wound.  Steggie goes up to Medium wounds, and their armor is reduced from 1 to 0.  Oh no! 

Steggie Reacts with 2 dice, looking for two success so they can push back.  However, they get 0.  Big Al used their last Instinct Dice on the reaction as well.  

All Instinct is used up. 

Turn 10: 

We see the same pattern with Big Al bidding 2 to Steggie's 0.  

This time, Big Al uses 5 dice to try to body block Steggie again.  Steggie resists with 4. The two animals collide, but neither gives an inch.  Steggie tires to react again, but Big Al counters and the two stay stalemated.  

Then Big Al tries to take a quick nip and causes another wound.  Normally, Steggie's armor could have handle it, but not in their battered state. 

Oh no!  Steggie did not keep any Instinct Dice for a survival test.  Their Survival factor is coming into play.  They make an immediate move to the edge of the board and escape.   

Turn 11: 

This time, Steggie's player bids 7 dice for Initiative, while Big Al only bid 2.  

Steggie uses their last dice to move and they successfully escape off the board.  


"Big Al didn't bring down his meal, but he managed to get a few mouthfuls of meat.  If he was lucky, his prey would weaken and lay down.  If he stalked it close enough he would be there to finish the job.  As long as his prey did not make it back to its herd, Big Al still had a chance to fill his belly full."

The battle itself was relatively quick, but having more Instinct Points to start with helped out a lot.  Big Al managed 5 hits, while Steggie landed none.  Big Al was on the attack the entire time, and Steggie had a hard time dealing with it. 

For both Dinosaurs, there never seemed to be enough Instinct Dice to go around.  Steggie ran out before making their Survival Test and that ultimately caused them to flee.  In addition, any changes you can force to your  opponent's target number is a big impact.  

I really needed to add more jungle and swamp terrain to the board.  That would have added immensely to the game as their would have been places to hide, flanks to block, and movement to hinder.  That would have added more tactical depth to this battle.  

Finally, I have a feeling the game will play pretty different with more animal, and Dinosaurs ganging up on each other.  You would have to be more careful with how you use your Instinct Dice pools, because a Dino without an Instinct Dice pool is in a tough place and easily injured.

Thanks to this battle, I went back and added more "Combat Maneuvers" that Dinosaurs can do.  This adds even more options with most Dinosaurs being able to launch between 5 to 7 different attack types depending on the Dinosaur.  I think this will add more decision making to the attackers and the defenders.  That is good.  

You can find the game on the Blood and Spectacles Wargame Vault page.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think on the message board.    


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