Monday, September 08, 2008

Another Sunday session

A call last week from Donald broke incommunicado, so he and Andy were round for boardgames on Sunday. A recent thread on the Classic AT board at Fortress Ameritrash (F:AT) had reminded the me classic oldie from my collection I most wanted to play after the past few month's hankering for more tactical and wargames-oriented multiplayer gaming. That game was Gunslinger.

Donald turned up well first, so Andy arrived to witness me finishing Donald off in our first game. I'd got the first hit, typically enough in Gunslinger as in its prototype. Donald therefore spent the game reeling in shock while I finished him off, which had a certain charm of its own thanks to the delights of the system. All that can be said is that I wasn't the utter cold-hearted killer, letting Donald's character pass out from his wounds instead of sending him to Boot Hill when I had him dead to rights.

Andy agreed to join in for another game, and, funnily enough although by pure chance, he and Donald ended up on the same side against me. Against 2 opponents, I figured my best bet was to go in as close as possible against 1- Andy; thus being as far as possible away from the other- Donald; this left me 2 hexes (each hex is a pace, or approx. 1 yard in Gunslinger it seems) from Andy, who'd been chosen for his role because his character had the lowest 1-handed shooting skill, which improved my survival chances against him.

All of which only served to prove the difference between probability and eventually, statistics and luck, when Andy's character nicked mine just as I ran behind him. Looking back, I suspect that the turn sequence management might've broken down a bit there. It wouldn't've changed the result, which saw Andy and Donald's characters finish me off in best clinical spaghetti western fashion. I just think that I might conceivably've been in a different hex is all!

In any event I was pleased to get this old favourite out on the table again. Andy and Donald's reaction was more guarded. Insofaras as application of the actual rules went, I was left with the impression that it was the strict attention to the peculiarities of the turn sequence that both players found most testing. Otherwise, I thought that both players found the mechanics quite intuitive, really startlingly quite intuitive when I look back on it, considering that I actually explained almost nothing to begin with.

Settlers of Catan
My past few month's hankering for more tactical and wargames-oriented multiplayer gaming notwithstanding, after Gunslinger we just had time for a quick game of guess what? Settlers.


Precisely the game from which, for quite some time now, I have been wanting to escape in favour of more martial pastures new in my mulitplayer gaming. 'Combat Settlers' is the multiplayer game I've been looking for for years now, and even as I still look for it (Nexus Ops is the closest I've seen yet), I can't help but enjoy coming back to the qualities of the original.

The main distinguishing feature of our game was there being just 1 grain region on the board. Our setup meant that we each got a corner of it. That single grain region then proceeded to come up for at least 5 of the first dozen or more turns, and then more again later!

We entered the midgame with Andy just behind. I was happy to be generating a lot of lumber and/or ore to trade through my 3:1 port. Donald however was doing much better, with more numbers and cities to generate even bigger hauls of resources. Andy was suffering at this point, having to watch a long, long series of 6's net him just 1 resource instead of the 3 his building should've entitled him to (the robber's responsibility, naturally enough).

And so we entered the endgame with Donald in front and Andy even further behind. And we barely had time to realise we were in the endgame before a series of resource rolls had come round leaving Donald with a huge hand of cards in his turn, with which he, if I recall correctly; promptly built a settlement then a city in one turn to leave him on 9VP, then noticed he could trade for a development card, so picking up a VP card for the game. Curses!

Andy. 1
Donald. 2
Me. 1

Ah well. ;b


Andrew said...

It's not so much the attention to procedure that's the issue I had with Gunslinger. It's the fact that it takes upwards of a minute, with possibly over a dozen 'actions' (play cards, draw cards, place chits, etc), to play out a 2-second turn. It just doesn't replicate the fast pace of the action it's attempting to simulate. Nothing wrong with the mechanics - adapted to a slightly slower-paced theme, I wouldn't have the same problem.

as an aside,'s take on chainsaws in 40K.

JMcL63 said...

To all of which I'm tempted to reply with a paraphrase, ah, I see; the flaw with the game is that it's not the game you thought it was. ;b

I've forgotten if the time-dilation effect was an issue among the people I used to play it with. I suspect there were issues back then though, because the game was played enough to generate some memorably games, but only Martin and myself played it regularly for any period of time IIRC.

As for the time-scale of Gunslinger? Well I have to admit I would be surprised if this, the action schedules, and the resulting turn sequence didn't turn out to be authentic. That is to say: I imagine the game's designers and developers did research showing that most wild west gunfights took place at close range and were short and deadly. I think that the result is about as good an impulse system for detailed tactical combat as any other I've seen, with great scope for rich gameplay emerging from the actions and the card draws for combat. It's one of those games I've always wanted to play a lot more of.

It's true though, that there are no chainsaws. In Gunslinger I mean, that is...

John ;)

Andrew said...

"the flaw with the game is that it's not the game you thought it was. ;b"

Not quite; it's not the game I wanted to play (alhtough once I did so, it was OK); I had no preconceived notion of how I thought it should be.

I've no doubt the simulation is accurate. I don't have an issue with the turn lasting 2 seconds of 'real time'; it's the fact that it takes a couple of minutes to play out those 2 seconds which I dislike.

JMcL63 said...

I struggled (again!) to find the gist of my reply here Andy, because I remained unsure what to make of your point.

If the simulation is accurate, the time-scale is well chosen, and the mechanics well conceived, then how long would you be prepared to spend playing out those 2 seconds of time? Two-minute turns in a multiplayer tactical skirmish wargame just don't seem unreasonable to me.

Are you really imagining a similarly detailed game with faster turns? If so, where you would you look except in a computer RTS?

John ;)