Monday, January 18, 2021

Wargame Design: High Noon- Cowboys vs. Aliens

I came across some plastic toys from the old Star Patrol line of plastic army men.  There were various manufacturers and from various countries of origin for this line.  The most common and well-known maker was probably Tim Mee Toys. 

They were popular in the late seventies and early 80's as they had a Star Wars "rip-off" vibe to the models.  There was a low rent Buck Rogers/Luke Skywalker model, a knock-off Darth Vader, wanna-be Wookie, a female "Princess" or crewmember at a control panel, and a squared off droid looking suspiciously like a low-rent R2-D2.  Plus, there was F-16/X-wing lovechild.  To top off the line, there were also a couple of random, normal looking astronaut figures.  I am sure many of you had these as a kid or have at least seen them someplace.  

Of course, I naturally wanted to turn them into a Dexterity Game, but ultimately there were not enough "useful" models in the range for me to really make a good, stand-alone Dexterity Game like Total CARnage, Green Army Men, or High NoonThe models in the packaging just did not lend themselves to this idea.  Plus, I only had one package to work with, and did not really want to order more as the trash to useful ratio was pretty low.  

Over Thanksgiving I shared this problem with my younger relatives.  They had spent a lot of time playing High Noon over the Holiday.  They had plenty of ideas on how to add these Space Patrol figures into a Cowboys vs. Aliens scenario for High Noon.   I have to hand it to the kids, they had ingenious ideas!  

For those of you that have High Noon all ready, I guess you could call this a "supplement" to the game!  If you don't have the rules, you should head over to my Wargame Vault page to get them, and then add these new add-ons for your own Cowboys vs. Aliens battles.  

Our first model is the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon/Luke Skywalker wanna-be.  I guess he is supposed to look like a 1950's ray gun wielding space cadet.  That ill-fitting helmet makes him look SO heroic! We decided that he would have the following weapons: 

  • Ray Pistol - Direct, Hand-to-Hand, Rapid Fire                Coin: 2 Nickels

He couldn't shoot as fast as a Cowboy fanning his revolver, BUT he had bigger coins when he did shoot so it would be easier to hit his target!  

If you so desired, you could also choose to give them the "shield/armor" trait to represent a Force Field or power of mystical, cosmic energy, or just advanced armor compared to Cowboy weapons too. 

Next up is our Female Controller and Robots.  I guess this could be a crew member type figure or something similar.  However, it is clear that she is using a computer to do "something" and here is where the kids got pretty creative.  They gave her two different potential ways to use her "computer"

Option #1

  • Orbital Strike- Indirect, Blast                                        Coin: 1 Quarter

In this option, she is calling down fire from an off-board resource like a space ship or flying drone.  This would give her the ability to use "indirect" fire.  The only way to stop the rain of destruction was to take her out!  

Option #2

  • Bomb-Bots- Blast                                                        Coin: Robot Model

In this scenario, the Female Officer was using her console to move about and detonate the square little Bomb-Bots.  They could move like ordinary figure in their turn.  However, in the Female Officer's turn, should could use her action to "detonate" them as a normal Blast weapon.  If she was taken out-of-action, the Robots would also become inactive.  

We also discussed various ways to use the Robots on their own, without the Female Controller.  After all, R2-D2 and Battle-Droids do not need a controller!  Here are some options to make them fun! 

Square Bots Option #1

  • Square Bot- Hand-to-Hand                                        Coin: None

In this case, they are considered to have small shockers/tazers like R2 uses in Return of the Jedi.  They can use these like a Knife or hand-to-Hand weapon in normal High Noon.   

Square Bots Option #2

  • Square-Bot- Protective, Blast OR Area                    Coin: None 

In this Option, the robots are not offensive, but Defensive.  They can choose to project a force field to act as the shield/armor as either a Blast radius around themselves OR as a Shotgun spread in front of themselves.  This gives any model under the effect the "Shield/Armor" keyword for the rest of the turn.                                      

Our next figure is the dreaded Space Knight who totally isn't a Darth Vadar wanna be!  Honest!  This guy could either be a "Big Bad" individual, or a bunch of faceless thugs to an evil warlord!  Depends on how many you have!  Either way, here is what we came up with for these guys: 

Evil Space Knight #1

  • Evil Space Knight: Hand-to-hand                                            Coin: None

Like the Space Cadet, you could also give him the "Shield/armor" ability to represent his magic, space powers, better armor, or just carrying around a force shield.  

You could also say that his "Beat Saber" could send out an electrical pulse similar to many video games.  This would give him the following profile:  

Evil Space Knight #2

  • Evil Space Knight: Hand-to-hand, Area                                      Coin: None
Now that makes them a bit tougher and scarier.  As the Big Bad, you could also give them multiple "hit" that they could get up from where ever they ended up.  Therefore, he might have 5 hits before being taken out!  So, a penny hits him and he flies back two inches.  In his turn, he gets up where he fell and has 4 hits left!  Scary for those Cowboys to face off against him then! 

Our next set of models is the Nottawookie Alien with Rifle.  These guys seem pretty straight forward to us.  They are dudes with rifles!  Not much else to say, and if you have multiples would probably make up the bulk of your "alien" force.  Here was some quick thoughts on them! 

Nottawookie #1

  • Nottawookie: Direct, Rapid Fire                            Coin: 3 Quarters

With Rapid-Fire, if they move they can fire 1 Quarter.  However, if they stay still they can fire three Quarters!  That is some big firepower compared to Nickel and Penny throwing Cowboys! 

To make them extra tough, you could add Hand-to-hand, Shield/Armor, and replace Rapid Fire with Area to make their guns more like Shotguns.  To make them extra tough you could also give them more than 1 Hit too.  You can flavor them to taste depending on the difficulty of the scenario or how many Cowboys and Indians you bring to the table.    

The next batch of models from the Star Patrol set is a weird looking clawed alien with an inverted shell.  I have no idea what to make of these guys.  They are some odd looking creatures, and I am unsure if they are suppose to be sentient aliens, or more like alien animals.  Either way, here is a shot at how to play them.

Clawed Alien #1

  • Clawed Alien: Hand-to-hand, Shield/Armor                        Coin: None

In this scenario, they are more like simple shock troopers that run towards the enemy and attack them up close.  Not much of a threat on their own, but they could be used to mask more dangerous enemies or charge an objective.  

Alternatively, look at those crazy alien eyes!  Clearly, they can shoot death rays!  

Clawed Alien #2

  • Clawed Alien: hand-to-Hand, Shield/Armor, Direct            Coin: Penny

Again, if you want them to seem extra tough against Cowboy weapons, you could give them 1-3 hits for that alien durability.  They will seem almost immune to primitive Indian/Cowboy weapons then!    

Finally, we have the astronauts from an Apollo mission.  I honestly have no idea what to do with these guys.  They look very unthreatening.  Perhaps their suits give them protection and strength?  At a stretch the guy with the portable oxygen tank could be wielding some sort of Area weapon?  Maybe..... The other guy just looks like he should be planting a US Flag into the moon.  We didn't have much for these guys.  We thought maybe they could be objectives for the aliens to try to capture while the Cowboys/Indians tried to protect them.   

So, here is some half-hearted attempts to do something with them.

Astronaut #1    

  • Astronaut: hand-to-Hand, Shield/Armor                                Coin: None

Astronaut #2

  • Astronaut with Tube: Hand-to-hand, Shield/Armor, Area        Coin: None

If you have something better for these guys, feel free to post it below in comments or on the Messageboards.

Final Thoughts

I didn't think these Star Patrol models would be enough for a new Dexterity game, but it sure could be fun to add them to a game of High Noon in some Cowboys vs. Aliens type scenarios.  Give these rules a go and let me know what worked for you! 

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