Sunday, 1 January 2012

Rippers battle at StuCon 2

Right up against the back end of 2011, an opportunity emerged to do a half day's gaming which I shall designate StuCon 2 by default (largely because I got to choose what to play!) We had from about 2pm through to midnight, about 10 hours all told, although some time would be taken up with eating dinner! We spent some of that time playing Rippers - the Horror Wars, some of it playing Touch of Evil, and finished off with a game of Guillotine.


For our first game of the day, we had six players, and it occurred to me that it would be an opportunity to use my new European village terrain (bought off Duncan earlier in the year) to play a multi-player Rippers scenario, using the Savage Worlds Showdown rules as before. In this case, I decided that, following my loose Rippers campaign narrative, the Rippers were staying in a Bohemian village, en route to Prague, when they are attacked by a Cabal posse sent by the vampire lord Baron Konig to stop them.

Readers of the previous Rippers entry will remember that Professor Pruzt had hypnotised a captured Inmate to discover the whereabouts of the Baron's lair in Prague. Now, the players chose sides, with Kelvin, Dave and Jed taking the role of the Rippers, and Manoj, Ben and Sebastian playing the Cabal. I provided each player with a Wild Card/Hero and a single unit. The forces worked out as follows:

The Rippers:

Kelvin - Father Veneticus (Priest) with four Wolfen Jaeger
Dave - Professor Pruzt (Scholar) with four Police (one armed with a slightly a-historical Tommy Gun, using the Gatling Pistol stats from the rule book)
Jed - Count Von Hemming (Monster Hunter) with four Austrian Marines

The Cabal:

Ben - a Bad Nun (Witch) with a whip, and four Inmates
Sebastian - a Saucy Jack with four Wolf Men
Manoj - a Vampire with six Wolves

The Cabal had to search the village and eliminate the Rippers, while the Rippers, who began the game hidden in buildings in the village, simply had to survive. Each party of evil creatures had to enter the board from a different edge. We were using a fairly large board for Savage Worlds, namely 7.5ft x 5.5ft, as I usually use 4x4 for this game. The Rippers had an advanced planning session and hid most of their party in the church, with two Wolfen Jaeger in the church tower. The posse of Police took up position in a house next to the church.

The game began slowly, although two Wolf Men became early casualties of the Jaegers in the tower. The Wolf Men spent most of the rest of the game pinned down in the inn yard while the Saucy Jack looked for Rippers in the inn and was eventually taken out with a lucky rifle shot (29 damage) by a Jaeger!

Two Wolf Men hide from sniper fire behind the inn wall.

The game heated up once the Inmates stumbled upon the Police. Prior to that it was more a case of searching houses and staying out of sight of the Jaegers. The Inmates stormed the house the cops were defending but were all slain in the battle for the loss of one constable. The Bad Nun then entered the fray, using her Bolt spell to eliminated one of the Jaeger snipers and then casting Blast to wipe out all the remaining Police.

There was some discussion about whether these spells were too powerful, but upon perusing the current iteration of the Savage Showdown rules it seems as if we were playing the impact of the area effect attack correctly. One way of possibly dialling down the power of the Witch is by reducing her Power Points - once she exhausted her reserve of PPs she posed a far smaller threat to the Rippers.

Meanwhile the Vampire and the Wolves charged the church compound through a side gate, defended by Jed's soldiers. A scuffle followed, with the Vampire vaulting over the church wall only to find out the hard way the effect of holy ground in this scenario (loss of 1 Wound if a Spirit roll is failed). Father Veneticus used his own brand of holy magic to kill three Wolves in short order before a Freak Event deprived him of his remaining magic and forced him to spend the rest of the game cowering in the choir stalls.

The Vampire advances with her wolf pack...

At one point I had to leave the game table and during my absence two more Wolves were killed, although I wasn't sure how that occurred. One of the players may be able to shed light on this.

Meanwhile, Professor Pruzt had correctly identified the nearby ruins as a Strange Locale, and hopping over the church wall, had bumped into five villagers hiding there. Before the Rippers could press them into service they were nuked by the Bad Nun and died to a man. The Witch was using up precious PPs in the process, which would make it harder for her to attack the church.

With the Vampire wary of attacking the church head on, the Witch stepped in to unleash another evil blast into the church when Count Hemming opened the door, killing the remaining Wolfen Jaegers and wounding the Count.

We finally ended the game on somewhat of a stalemate, with the Witch and the Vampire retreating, and Professor Pruzt playing hide-and-seek with the surviving Wolf. Hemming, Veneticus and the Soldiers stayed to defend the church while the other two Wolf Men went looking for the Prof. I'd call it a draw myself, although technically there was nothing stopping the Rippers from now going on the offensive and chasing down the two evil Wild Cards. However, they would have had to use the Soldiers to do this, and their other Wild Cards - Veneticus and Hemming - were in poor shape, with Hemming Shaken and nursing three Wounds giving him -3 on his Spirit rolls (and all bennies spent).

Pruzt was still in good shape, but had a Wolf and two Wolf Men to contend with...

In terms of post-game analysis:

1. The scenario, while devised at very short notice, suffered when the Rippers concentrated their forces, sensibly, in the church. This mean much time was wasted while the Cabal searched the village. I should have restricted the Rippers to one unit and/or Wild Card per building.

2. The two Strange Locales, some Ruins and a Haunted House, had little impact on the mission. The Vampire explored the Haunted House but encountered nothing.

3. The Witch's magic was indeed powerful, and in a way did help to speed the game up. The dominance of the Rippers in terms of ranged weapons inflicted losses on the Wolf Men and removed a Wild Card before the Cabal got to grips. The Police also used their guns to good effect on the Inmates. The Cabal would have been in poor shape had the Witch not entered the fray and helped to equalise the situation. When you consider, however, that she accounted for 13 Rippers (including five Villagers) on her own, plus severely wounded the Monster Hunter (to the extent that he was almost useless, if still breathing), one could question whether she was slightly too powerful...

These observations all come with the benefit of hindsight, of course, and no scenario survives contact with the players. Who was to know that the Saucy Jack, in himself a very powerful melee fighter, was going to get picked off so early and seemingly so easily? Or that Father Veneticus was going to be emasculated by a Freak Event, thereby taking a powerful defensive tool away from the Rippers? There was bad luck for both sides in the end. Early on I thought the Rippers would dominate the game, but then I began to wonder whether the Witch would win it for the Cabal, only to see the Rippers come back into it as the Witch exhausted her powers.

Sniper LOS on inmates in cottage garden.
The game took us about four hours to play to a semi-resolution. I continue to ponder whether Savage Worlds can manage a six player, multi-player skirmish of this type. Sebastian feels Fear & Faith, by Ganesha Games, might work better, perhaps if each player had about 200 points of troops.

One Wild Card and one unit for each player seemed to strike a balance - you don't want more than this for a multi-player game of this kind, as it would certainly start to drag. Given more time I might have added personalised objectives for each player, so that there was a possibility of an individual victory as well as team victory - e.g. Saucy Jack might have to kill Father Veneticus personally.

Next time, when the Rippers reach Prague, I'll need to come up with an urban scenario, possibly featuring the crypt of Baron Konig!

Meanwhile, on the immediate wargaming horizon, I'll be painting the few miniatures that still need to be finished before the third chapter in the Orc's Drift campaign is ready to rumble. I'm hoping this will be ready to play by half term in February. I'm also pondering a Middle Earth skirmish for Savage Showdown, with the Nazgul attacking Bree to seize the One Ring. There will also hopefully be some WW2 in 2012, either conventional or Weird War Two!

1 comment:

  1. As I recall, the two wolves each took a bayonet to the gut from the soldiers in the church doorway.