Monday, July 25, 2022

Battle Report: Under the Martian Yoke - Scavenge


You may have noticed a new game on my Wargame Vault Page.  After about 4 years of development work, it has finely gotten through post-production and playtesting.  I designed this game based on a dream that I had of a Martian invasion.  After waking up, I looked at my collection of All Quiet on the Martian Front minis, and the Survival Horror games I had reviewed and set to work making a survival horror game set after the Martian Invasion of Orson Welles famous broadcast in 1938.  Under the Martian Yoke is the result of that effort.  

I spent a lot of time trying to develop a game that focused on the survival and the horror elements.  Horror is tough in miniature games since some of the things that make horror horrifying, are things gamers do not like.  Aspects like powerlessness, helplessness, and foes you can not harm.  Plus, instead of characters getting better, they tend to get worse and degrade, with no hope of winning! 

I tried to capture these elements in the game, but still keep it fun.  As part of the helplessness of the game, I decided to make the creation of your survivor band semi-random.  You do not get to pick your own starting equipment, or the backgrounds of your survivors.  However, you can still allocate dice so you have some control.  

"We need to find something to eat.  I have a few days worth of rations to share, but that won't last long," Luke pulled some canned food from his pockets and showed the group.  "Anyone got any ideas?" 

Annie had met the teenaged Tommy Wilkins late in the day yesterday.  They had both been hiding in a ditch from a roving Martian.  At first, Tommy tried to flee, but Annie re-assured him with a soothing voice and they had stuck together since.  Then, they made their way to a nearby farmhouse looking for food.  Instead they ran into John and Luke all ready there.  John had shifty, piercing eyes and a dazzling smile; but she could sense a cruel streak in the man.  Luke on the other hand seemed a genuine sort soft-spoken, with a slow-motion, easy-going style.  Neither one felt like talking about how they got to the Farmhouse, but everyone seemed to agree that sticking together made sense..... at least for now. 

Annie glanced around, her stomach growled at the sight of the rations.  It had only been a day or two since her military escort had been attacked.  She managed to escape, but not with any food.  She pulled a map of the area out of her bag and unrolled it.

"We are somewhere around here," she pointed at the map, "but I am not sure exactly."

"Looks like there is a a one-horse town close by," John smiled his easy smile.  

"Probably food there.  Maybe Martians too?" 

Annie's stomach growled again and John smiled at her, "Sounds like someone's stomach has made the decision for us." 

Luke nodded, "I guess we are on the way to..... Shyville."  

Survivor Band
In today's battle we have the following 4 survivors.  All survivor bands start with only 4 members.  Most humans were killed or horribly injured in the initial Martian assault, so small bands of survivors are all that is left.  

On the left is Handsome John.  He is a criminal archetype and survived by running for the hills when things went south.   

Activation    Aimed    Suppression    Fight    Brawn    Brains    Nerve
5+/2                6+        3+                    4+        8+            9+        7+
Cool Customer
- Pistol, Knife, Rations, Canteen of Water

Next is Tommy Wilkins.  He is just a kid, and survived when a building collapsed on his family.  He managed to dig his way out, but no one else did.  

Activation    Aimed    Suppression    Fight    Brawn    Brains    Nerve
3+/2             9+                8+               6+          4+        7+          5+
Pitter Patter of little feet, Fear of Enclosed Spaces
- Improvised Fight weapon, Satchel, Good Shoes

The lady is Annie.  Annie McCall is a devout believer, trying to process what exactly is going on.  She was part of an ambushed evacuation, and forced to flee.  

Activation    Aimed    Suppression    Fight    Brawn    Brains    Nerve
6+/2              7+            5+                   9+        8+          4+         3+
Pray, +3 Experience
- Pistol, Map, Bandages, and Knife

Last up is Luke Goodson, the leader of this little band of survivors.  He survived when he was suddenly knocked unconscious.  

Activation    Aimed    Suppression    Fight    Brawn    Brains    Nerve
5+/2              7+           6+                    4+       8+           9+        3+      
Do As I Say, Do Not Be Afraid
- Knife, Revolver, Rations, Canteen of water 

Annie used her map to find this small sleepy, out of the way town for her fellows.  Luke is hoping this is a good place to scavenge up some supplies to keep pushing west.  Being out of the way, perhaps other looters have missed the place, and better yet the Martians may not be around either.  

This scenario has 5 loot markers randomly placed in the town.  There is also a randomly determined danger, which in this case is a pack of 5 wild dogs.  

The objective is to gather as much loot as you can before you are forced to scatter, all go unconscious and possibly dead, or the danger level gets too high.  

The town is a small, dirt T-intersection with 3 businesses on one side of the road and three houses on the other.  A smoking ruins indicates that the Martians did not leave this place completely alone after all.  The loot seems to be centered around the old snuff shop and mechanics shop.  The dogs are roving around the street by the mechanics.    

Handome John and Annie stick to the ruins by the roadside.  Tommy is on the other side of the ruins.  Meanwhile, Luke is on the other side of the road, eyeing the loot outside the snuff shop.  

Turn 1- Danger 0
Luke immediately runs for the loot outside the snuff shop, and tries to activate again to grab it.  He fails to do so and the danger level immediately goes up to 2.  Failing the second activation would turn play over to other players in a Versus or Co-op game.  However, as this is solo, the Dangers wait until the danger phase to go.  

Handsome John moves up and passes a second activation to fire on the nearest dog.  He gets two pins, and it is suppressed, cowering in fear from the attacks.  However, this also raises the Danger 1 point.  

Annie aims at a second dog, and kills it with a precise shot.  However, the shots raise the danger to 4.  

Tommy gets out of the ruins, finds a good line and runs for it across and behind the houses.  Since he is a kid, his running does not raise the danger level.  

There is only 4 danger at the moment, so no new dangers arrive.  

The remaining dogs rush towards Handsome John howling and barking, but can not get there this turn.

The scared dog stays pinned.  

Turn 2- Danger 4
This time, Luke uses his activation and grabs the loot.  He has 3 of four equipment spaces filled now.  He passes a second activation test, and fires on a dog after Handsome John.  However, the gun misfires from bad ammo and his Revolver is useless now.  Bad luck Luke! 

 Handsome John takes careful aim, and fires twice, but only wings the closest wild dog.  It is still up and going to attack him! Annie also takes aim and shoots. She manages to put one of the dogs unconscious and possibly dead.  However, all this shooting has raised the Danger another 2.  

Timmy skulks forward, and then uses a Dynamic movement test to hurdle a railing to move towards a loot marker amongst the houses.  This raises the Danger up 1 again. 

No new dangers appear yet, but the Danger level is at 8.  The last remaining wild dogs circle and bark at Handsome John, but can not attack until next turn.  

The last dog becomes unpinned.  

Turn 3- Danger: 8
Handsome John grapples with the wild dogs, and kills one with a close range shot.  However, his attempt to activate a second time to fight again fails.  His failure to activate and his fight increases the Danger to 10.  

Luke moves to the back of the store to avoid any further dogs.  There is a closed door there he can use to get into the loot in the shop.  However, Luke also fails his attempt at a second activation!  One more Danger point, taking them out of Green to Yellow.  That means second activations and Fear/Nerve tests are going to be harder now.  

Annie takes aim at the last dog in the center of town.  She takes careful aim and squeezes off a shot that kills the dog there.  Only one dog left, and it is fighting with Handsome John.    

Tommy double activates and walks up to some loot between the houses.  Next turn he can scoop it up.  

With all the shooting and failed activations the Danger level is 12.  The Danger roll has no new Martians arrive yet.  

However, the last dog attacks Handsome John.  It lunges at John, but misses his arm by mere inches.  This raises the Danger Level to 13.  

One of the dogs that the survivors thought was dead, stumbles back to its feet; merely scratched and momentarily stunned and not killed after all! 

Turn 4 - Danger 13
Handsome John continues fighting with the last dog on him.  He knocks it unconscious and possible dead! He takes a moment to catch his breath and does not try to activate further.  

Annie has had good luck shooting, so aims at the last dog.  However, she fails to activate a second time and does not take the shot.  

Timmy scoops up the Loot, and takes a moment to catch his breath without trying to activate again.  

Luke Goodson walks up to the door at the back of the shop, and finds it is locked.  Luke activates again to try and open the door.  He decides to try to make a Brawn test to open it up, but he is not that strong.  He bounces off the door uselessly.  

It is now at 16 due to 1 fight action, 1 failed activation check, and 1 failed Brawn roll.  

Oh no, all the commotion has attracted a new Danger!  3 more wild dogs enter the table!  They immediately move towards the center of the board, looking for someone to eat! 

The wild dog that was stunned moves to attack Handsome John.  

Another dog ends up just being stunned and not killed!  That makes 5 active dogs still!      

Turn 5- Danger 16
Handsome John takes some quick shots at the closing wild dog, and causes the closest one to cower from suppression fire.  He activates a second time, and moves back away into the ruins.  

Luke decides to leave the locked door, and head towards some loot he saw behind the Mechanics shed.  He fails a Dynamic action test as he tries to struggle over the bushes.  He gets caught up but manages to thrash and curse his way past on a second activation and get to the loot.

Annie fires wildly at the furthest away dog, and causes that one to cower with suppression as well.  For her second activation, she starts falling back, and parallel to Handsome John.  

Timmy sees the wild dogs in the street in front of him and decides to get out of there.  He falls back to the railing, but fails to activate again to try and cross it.  

The Danger is now up to 20 now, at the edge of going to Orange! The three fresh dogs see Tommy and start racing after him, easily able to get over the bushes with Dynamic action tests and running straight for him.  The two suppressed dogs get back to their feet.  

The Danger roll is 21, and just safe enough to keep more dangers from appearing.  

No more dogs get back up.  
Turn 6- Danger 20
Luke grabs the loot behind the mechanics shop, and manages to activate again and starts heading out of town.  He doesn't have room to carry anymore stuff. 

Handsome John skulks back to the edge of the ruins, and decides not to try to activate again.  Things are starting to heat up, and shooting may attract worse than wild dogs.  

Annie decides to retreat from the battle and off the table, waiting to catch up with her friends after things die down a bit.  She makes her way to their farmhouse hide-out.   

This time, Tommy easily makes it across the porch, and then runs for it.  

With Tommy out of sight, two of the dogs stop and sniff the air.  The third runs up to where he was and tries to see him.  The dog chasing Handsome John catches up with him, and pins him in a fight.  Meanwhile, the one closer to the center of town, dashes off between two houses towards Tommy. 

The danger roll is a 10, and well below the Danger level of 20.  That attracts more foes!  This time, a Martian Gunner stumbles to the town square.  Its metal helmet, encasing a once human head searching for targets with its weapon.  There are none in sight. 

All downed dogs stay down.  

Turn 7- Danger 20
Luke stumbles to the edge of town, and gets hung up on the bushes as he tries to flee the town.  He failed a second activation check.  That puts the Danger Level to Orange! 

Tommy sprints for the edge of town, with the howl of dogs behind him.  However, he also fails a second activation check! 

Handsome John is locked in combat with a dog, and must fight!  He manages to down the beast,  Then, he activates again and makes for the board edge.   

Annie has all ready fallen back.  

The dog chasing Tommy fails to get past the railing.  Meanwhile, two other heads back to the center of town.  The last one gets the scent and goes after Tommy again.  Meanwhile, the Gunner sees the dogs and opens fire at them, missing.  

The Danger level is 23, and the roll is lower than that, so more foes enter the board.  

Oh no!  A Black Dust launcher armed Tripod enters the board.  Those survivors better scatter! 

One of the downed dogs simply dies.  

Turn 8- Danger 23
Handsome John tries to scramble out of the ruins, but can't seem to find a good path.  He fails two Dynamic action tests!

Luke manages to curse and swear his way past the bushes and run off out of town.  He and his two loot are safe.  

Tommy gets to the bushes at the board edge, activates again but also fails to find his way through.  

The wild dogs scatter around the board, looking for targets.  The Gunner fires on a dog, and sends it whelping away.  The Tripod stalks forward towards the center of the board, then turns and looks to where Luke just fled. 

In addition, two more wild dogs appear on the right hand side, top corner of the board.  

Another dog dies, and one gets up again.  

Turn 9 - Danger 26
Handsome John fails his first try, activates again and manages to scramble out of the ruins to safety.  

Tommy also has a tough time, but eventually breaks out of the shrubs and gets to safety as well. 

The humans flee, leaving the Martian tripod and the swarming dogs behind them! 

Luke and his survivor band managed to escape from the Martians!  They fall back to their Farmhouse hide-out.  

I take a look at the loot the band collected and find I have, 1 Scrap, 8 food, and 4 water.  Not bad!  Nothing unique but that will help us all live to see another day and avoid debilitating effects! I need to probably find more scrap via scavenging though.   

Post-Game Sequence
All my survivors managed to get out of there before they were downed or suppressed.  No Serious injuries or psychological trauma this time! 

For Experience our survivor's got the following: 
Handsome John = 13 Experience
Annie McCall = 7 Experience
Tommy Wilkins = 4 Experience
Luke Goodson = 7 Experience

If I wanted, Handsome John could try for a skill...... which I think I will try and get for him.  He is a criminal, so decides to choose one from the agility table, after all he had tough time trying to get out of the ruins.  Maybe a skill can help.  He rolls on the table and earns:
  • Duck and Weave- Shooting attacks have a -1 TN when he has moved.  
This lowers him back down to 3 Experience,

Luke decides to scout for Martians, Timmy, Annie,  and Handsome John all go to scavenge.  They need to find some scrap or they may become deprived.   

Luke sees the Tripod leave the town, but it doesn't seem to have found the survivor's hide-out this time.  Timmy stumbles across a farmer's old scrap yard and snags 4 Scrap and 1 Flare.  Handsome John finds an old and abandoned cave someone use to hide-out in before.  Inside there is enough stuff for 4 Scrap.  Finally, Annie finds a basement speak-easy that was partially destroyed.  Looting it nets her 1 food, 9 water, and 1 scrap; plus a bottle of alcohol.

Before calculating Deprivation, they have:    
9 Food
13 Water
10 Scrap
- Flares
- Alcohol

This is before going into Luke or John's Rations and canteens.  That is 7 food and 2 water.  

To avoid deprivation, they need a total of 8 food, 8 water, and 4 scrap.  That leaves them 8 food, 12 water, and 6 scrap in their stash.  Handsome John grabs the bottle of Alcohol, while Luke takes the Flares.  The group avoids any deprivation this time, but Luke is still down a Revolver until the group can replace it. 

Annie gleefully cracked the top of the salted pork can.  It popped with a satisfying crack, and she dove in and fished out the meat.  She was sure it wasn't a pretty sight, but she unceremoniously fished the pork out and hungrily bit into it, holding the meat with her bare hands.  Tommy was just as eagerly chomping down on a carrot, with a half loaf of bread sticking out of his satchel.

"Heh, what's the deal Pops?" John smacked Luke's hands away from his pile of food.

"We need to sit on some of this food for later.  There is no guarantee we will find more food and water."  

John ground his teeth, then quickly flashed his smile, "Good thinking Pops.  Tommy, Annie.... slow down a bit there.  This has to last us a bit."  

Annie reluctantly handed Luke a can of Pork and Beans and a bucket of water she had managed to fill up while out scavenging.  Tommy handed his food over even more slowly.  Luke nodded and put it into a cabinet in the Farmhouse.  

Luke, still smiling said what was on everyone's minds, "So..... now what?"  

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