The astute reader of this blog will have noticed that the number of Free Wargames has grown on this page! When I first started there were 6 games available for free there. That selection has grown a lot in the past year and a half. It is now a whopping 11. Not bad productivity for 18 months or so.
The newest addition to the Blood and Spectacles fold is Turf War a game of 1930’s Gangster battles. I like this game since it is a skirmish game that allows for campaign play and RPG-lite style scenarios. It uses the Combat Pool system for combat found in The Games: Blood and Spectacleand Tournament Pageantry and Pain. However, it also uses pools for other non-combat actions such as smooth-talking, safe-cracking, and other RPG-lite options. Not everything has to be solved by a flurry of Tommy Gun fire…. but it can be.
In addition to the Core mechanics of everyday gang warfare Turf War also has a strong campaign system built on the model of some of my favorites such as Necromunda, Strange Aeons, and TheGames: Blood and Spectacle. Lowly gangsters can gain experience to earn skills, get injured, or improve their abilities. In addition, the game uses a Turf bidding system prior to games to represent the give and take of territory based on the results of a game. Resources for your gang are managed such as Reputation, Take, Turf, and Favors. In addition, the Boss has to manage the recruitment and retention of his gang too. The game also uses a Most Wanted rating to gauge relative gang strength that allows for catch-up mechanics for those just entering an existing campaign or who have had a run of bad luck.
Overall, I wanted the game itself to force decisions making, and reward good gameplay. Sometimes, campaign games focus too much on the campaign and bolt the gameplay on as a secondary concern. That is not the case with Turf War. I wanted the game to be full of decisions. The theme of Turf War is to try and force decision making on a risk vs. reward continuum. This is primarily accomplished through resource management of dice pools for combat, non-combat, and even activation. Combat Pool is bid and used to attack and defend, but it will not be replenished until the following turn. Therefore, as the player you have to decide when is the right time to use it, and how much of it.
Activation is also a push your luck system as a model can only do one thing per activation such as move, shoot, perform and action, etc. You can risk trying to chain activations together as well. I used a similar activation system in Combat! Starring Vic Morrow as well. Failure to activate multiple times risks losing the initiative and allowing your opponent to start activating. Therefore, additional activations are another risk vs. reward decision point.
The biggest sticking point in completing these rules was coming up with interesting Scored (scenarios) to play. In the end, I used some “generic” wargames style scenario with some added period flavor. Inspiration came from StrangeAeons, Mad Dogs with Guns, Pulp Alley, Rogue Trader, and Rogue Stars. However, there is room to combine or modify the scenarios in the rules and adding more RPG-lite elements is strongly encouraged.
To help kick-off the game, I of course made some paper templates that you can use to get your gangs started. I also put together a couple of gangs for playtesting. These should give you a good quick start into games. They can be found Here on the Messageboard.
Of course, I have also started picking up a few gangsters here and there to paint. You probably recognize these Pulp Alley figures from the Painting Desk. Well, I have one doen to get a start on one of my gangs!