7TV Pulp Weird War Game

On Saturday March 14th I will be running a participation game of 7TV Pulp at Hammerhead.  Karl from Crooked Dice kindly offered me some space on his stand to run a game and I have been preparing for this for a few weeks now.

Originally I was going to run a game based around the original core set of 7TV and make it a ‘spy-fi’ adventure.  I had a hankering to build a secret base and although I started the project (and will finish it at some point), I soon switched my focus to doing something based on the lastest Pulp setting and rules.

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Secret base project – currently on hold

Part of this change of plan was the amount of time I had available to prepare.  The day job is kind of hectic at the moment, and so I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew with respect to the table build.  Also I’m aware that there are a few Pulp releases up coming and I wanted to help Karl promote the most up-to-date range.

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Today’s episode filmed on location

To that end I looked at re-purposing the V2/flying saucer table I had taken to both the last Wargames Illustrated 7TV day and the recent event at Board in Brum.  Other than some hybrid games using casts and cards from across the 7TV sets I had not played a game solely using the Pulp rules and was keen to try out some of the new profiles and features (such as peril cards).

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My idea was to base the game on one of the classic cinema pulp serials of the 1930s, but move it forward a decade and give it a bit of a Weird War spin.  I’d picked up a nice lot of miniatures from Pulp Figures (via North Star Military Figures) over Christmas and also wanted to incorporate the excellent Danger 5 lizard men from Crooked Dice themselves.

So a couple of Sundays ago I went through a test game at our monthly Dales Wargames meeting.  Playing against my friend Darren and his son, I wanted to use to game to get a handle on some of the new rules introduced in Pulp, check out the use of peril cards to enhance the episodes and check the table layout and casting.

Having never run a game at a show before I wanted to also make sure that I made setup and play as straightforward as possible for new players and to enable folk to easily drop in and out of play.  I decided to this end to preset the placement of objectives and choose the defenders based on the ‘plot of the episode I was going to film’.

To that end, my bad guys (Stahl Mask and his evil sect of third reich fanatics) would be the defenders and my heroic adventuring archeologist and his team of allied misfits would be the attackers.  I preset also the starting positions of the the majority of the figures, only allowing the players to place their spy models.

We played a straight ‘Battle’ episode from the Producers Guide but with the addition of the macguffin using one of the new Pulp macguffin cards.  In this case, ‘The Ark of the Covenant’.  We also used a peril card to enable two pieces of scenery to be secretly (by the defender) be marked as booby trapped.

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The casts were set at 40 points each, but for narrative purposes I slightly bent the rules on one third extras for the heroes (they were under by a couple of ratings points).  I hadn’t yet finished painting the majority of the extras for Stahl Mask’s lot, so ended up proxying in some ‘Moon Nazis’ in place of Jet Troopers and Lizard Men.

On the heroes side I used a mix of models, including some of the Crooked Dice releases for Pulp, as well as a really old Peter Cushing Dr.Who as my eccentric inventor (a Harlequin miniatures release from back in the day).  In addition I added in a selection of other figures from Crooked Dice (including Danger 5) as well as some Artizan Designs and Statuesque miniatures.  These covered most of the main archetypes I wanted to use from the Pulp profiles, including my spies, a Gadgeteer, a Soldier of Fortune and others.

The main man, my archeologist, was from the Cthulhu Death May Die board game by CMON.  There are some excellent figures in here that fit the period, they are slightly larger than standard 28mm scale, but don’t look too out of place.

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Doctor Harrison Jones

Talking of larger figures, on the bad guys side I proxied in a few figures including an SA officer from the Mantic Hellboy game.  Now this fella was a bit too big – although I guess he could fit in in terms of being some sort of ‘super soldier’.

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For those of you who are interested here is the make up of the casts in terms of the 7TV Pulp cards used:

The Good Guys:

  • Intrepid Adventurer (Star, 10 ratings)
  • Eccentric Inventor (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Rugged Veteran (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Gadgeteer (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Spy (1) (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • Spy (2) (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • Soldier of Fortune (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • 40 ratings total, 6 gadgets, 7 plot points per turn (full cast), 7 figures

The Bad Guys:

  • Heartless Warmonger (Star, 10 ratings)
  • Hulking Henchman (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Ruthless Leuitenant (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper Commander (Extra, 3 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper Sergeant (Extra, 2 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper x 3 (Extras, 6 ratings)
  • Mechanical Man (Extra, 5 ratings)
  • Scientist (Extra, 2 ratings)
  • 40 ratings total, 3 gadgets, 8 plot points per turn (full cast), 10 figures

The game itself flowed well, back and forth, with some epically bad dice rolling on both sides.  The basic conceit of the episode was that as the third reich was falling and the red army closely in, our villain Stahl Mask is making a last ditch effort to escape with his collected treasures and weird technologies in his protoype flying saucer.  Would he escape to the safety of the secret Antarctic base and then perhaps on to Luna, or would Professor Harrison Jones and his gang finally catch up with him put him to justice and save the sacred artefact?

We ended up making into the finale act of the episode with neither cast being axed, although Stahl Mask was mightly bruised and was lucky he had his mask as there was a bit of an ‘open the ark face melting incident’.

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A stand in Ark of the Covenant – this didn’t end well for Stahl Mask

All in all I think the game is setup well for the upcoming shows.  In addition to Hammerhead I’ll also be taking the game to Chillcon in Sheffield at the end of the month.

It was also good to get a proper game of 7TV Pulp in for the first time too.  Although not a big fan of the newly introduced ‘one melee action’ per activation rule, I can see why this has been done as some of the new card special effects and star qualities key off this.  Another comment was the brutality of the cliffhanger deck.  These seemed to be weighted more towards bad stuff happening that the original 7TV countdown card deck, although that could of course been down the deck of cards we dealt on the day.

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I also really liked the macguffin and peril cards.  For the purposes of the show games I will probably only use the former, so there is not too much to remember, especially for new players.

Since the game at Dales I have managed to borrow some of the clubs scenery to flesh out the board and have also nearly finished painting some additional miniatures which will enable me to both tweak the casts slightly and just give me some more options……

 

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