Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Mysterious Islands - Where's Dr Wong?

Went on a journey today myself, leaving the safety of my Southern suburbs to travel out to the Western suburbs.  Thankfully the little imps trapped inside my mysterious phone of confusion actually got me to my direction without getting me lost once. 

Had two games with Glen exploring the Island of Death, because I got a shellacking, the first game I lost 4-2, the second I won 3-2.  I’ll expand on the games in more details below, Glen will write a report of our first game from his perspective and post in due course.

The Dusty Steamer - literally!
Has been sitting on a shelf literally gathering dust, shall have to give it a good clean and perhaps spend a little more time touching it up.
The above river boat I built quite a few years ago for another game system which I can't quite recall, certainly something to do with Darkest Africa I'm sure.  

A Story....

Sir Garfield sighed heavily, "What about the Mysterious God the White Apes of the Lost Inner Congo Ackers? I thought we were off in pursuit of that beastie, it would make a magnificant catch if not coat for Lady Wishart?"

"No, No, Gar old boy, just had word Wong took a wrong turn at one of those mysterious islands and has either gotten lost, been eaten by tigers or opened another laundry franchise to escape his creditors.  Either way we have to find him, he's got my library copy of Lost Worlds and it's overdue, damned if I'm paying the late fees again."

A soft knock at the door broke the mood, and the door opened to allow entry to Jabari carrying the tea, and followed by Eberhard Pike.

"Pikey, what do you know of the Mysterious Islands?" shouted Lord Wishart enthusiastically as he saw the steaming tea.

Pike looked cautious, clearly a trick question he thought and one to be avoided.  "Ah, well you know m'Lord, it's well, very mysterious.  Not a good place to go to, far better to avoid it and stay safe here, play a few hands of bridge, perhaps some cricket..." his voice trailed off hopefully, but the look he got from Lord Wishart told him he had failed.

"Nonsense man, you seem to be far to cautious these days, what's the matter, the spirit of adventure left you?  I'll have none of it.  You will at once go down to the docks and see that my steamer is brought out of dry dock.  I want her ready to sail immediately, no excuse.  There's a good man, off you go." Lord Wishart smiled into his hot cup of tea, breathing in the hot steam and sighing contentedly, wondering why the world wasn't as content as he.

Several months later the steamer Dusty hove to at the Mysterious Islands where last was seen Dr Wong.  

"You know Ackers, the overdue fine is currently over 21 quid, the book was only worth 10 pence." noted Sir Talbot.

"It's the principal of the thing Gar, no one leaves me holding the cheque at the end of the day, Dr Wong has to give me back the bloody book."

And so the adventure starts.....

The Mysterious Case of Dr Wong Take One

Glen and set up the terrain and went with 1 major and 4 sub plots to avoid ties.
The Mysterious Islands

The Mysterious Islands
A lamentable first turn for Lord Wishart and his League of Adventurers.  While winning the initiative and thinking they had the upper hand, the opposing forces two main players (ie the Leader and Sidekick) had yet to be activated.  This oversight lead to two Allies being mowed down in a vicious gunfight.  Our capacity to make Recovery rolls were horrendous. 

Eberhard and Barrington down and about to be out!

Sir Garfield and Jabari strike dramatic poses, hoping that this might distract the enemy from attacking them.

The main island where danger lurks most foul.
Throughout this game with the early loss of most of the League I struggled to keep it together.  The water was such that you could only walk through it at all times.  The fact that by playing to the concept that we had arrived by boat and disembarked from that one location hampered rather than provided any strategic strength in play.
In the photo above Jabari proved that he was faster than Bolt, dashing across the island, much to the amazement of the enemy.  The Black Flash they named him.  

It was a fighting retreat back to the boat.  
Literally I could not deal with the amount of Shooting that was coming my way.  I'm well known for my bad luck and it gets to me - but it sucked.  My League could not make Recovery rolls, Glen's League would make their Health checks or Recovery rolls without a worry.  It was severely depressing.

Lord Ackerley and his lads pulling back to the boat.
Lord Ackerley had made it to the subplot and easily obtained it.  It was pretty decent reward allowing two fortune cards to be drawn each turn.  This at least offset the opponent using his action of drawing a fortune card through an ability.

Last of the allies down, it was just Lord Ackerley and Sir Garfield left on this tiny island.
Right about turn four we started to come to grips with plot points!  Yes we are slow.  Still took us until the actual second game to get it right (we think).  We were labouring under the impression that Followers would be next to useless in undertaking plots.  No, just takes time.  Yes, we got Perils wrong.  The wording in the book is I'm afraid not that clear, the example just muddied the water.  However I think we got there in the end.  As like in our first game there was a sudden and frantic surge towards the plots in the last few turns, mostly by Glen.

The "bad" British grabbing the plot points.

Brave Jabari, spent two turns earning his plot point, braved the gun fire and survived (thanks to some cards).

Lord Ackerley and Sir Garfield did a runner for the boat with the one plot point they had won.

The board on the last turn.

The man of the match Jabari!  
The Wash Up:
Hmmm.  Still finding that at this point in time the game is very much a shooting match, with not much else happening except the odd plot discovery.  Now this is not a complaint at my opponent, I look at games differently from many other people.  I have viewed Pulp Alley as a narrative storey telling game, and have essentially attempted to pick abilities to suit stories I have crafted for my League.  I'm struggling to work out if it's whether I'm not making use of the terrain, missing the mechanics of the game or some other factor I don't know but at this stage it seems to me a very shooty game, which I'm on the loosing end of.  I could of course go armed for bear, but what point is that, that defeats the purpose of a narrative style of gaming which is what I want.  
As you will see from Take Two we still hadn't worked out Plot Points and Perils properly.  So we will continue to struggle along with our games until we hopefully and finally understand what we are doing.  The basic game mechanics I think are right, it's just, I don't know...

Lord Ackerley Wisharts League  2vp
Belgians masquerading as British 4vp

+2 Tips

The Mysterious Case of Dr Wong Take Two

"Right lads, let's wade in and catch these Belgians disguised as true Britains.  How dare they think that dressing in our brave boys uniforms would give them the right to prance around and claim everything?  Who do they think they are!  British!" Exclaimed Lord Ackerley as he waded testicle deep in cool (rather) ocean waters towards the island shore.

"Damn right Ackers!  Only us British have the right to do that, bugger the rest of that rum lot," chortled Barrington Mallory. The sea spray was already misting his glasses and he was in danger of wading back out to deeper water if it was not for the timely intervention of Jabari.

"Looks quiet m'Lord... oh dash it I just spotted a flash of red over there, sure I heard some dago speak as well, must be them." Eberhard made his way ashore to a tent and surveyed his surrounding.  Why couldn't they have stayed at home and played a few hands of bridge, far safer than being here and being shoot at by bloody foreigners he thought.

A peaceful island chain... or is it?

First turn, ashore, Jabari looks at a plot, Lord Ackerley and Sir Garfield look on.
Jabari found a plot!  A simple one.  It then got difficult.  Here's where we floundered and were confused for two games.  In the end we finally realised that you either played a Peril from your hand for the Plot or drew a random from the deck.  Yes, finally worked that one out!  Then we "discovered" the playing of Perils on attempts to complete plots.  Not realising that you do take hits from these.  Sigh.  Yes we well and truely stuffed this whole thing, but I think that after two games we think we know what we might be doing now.

Belgians disguised as British advancing!  It was the accent that gave them away.

Slightly better shoot of first turn!  Happier days for the League...
Turn two saw Lord Ackerley and Sir Garfield wade across the water to the main island.  Jabari continued to solve the plot, not well though.  The Belgians masquerading as British advanced on the flank attempting to steal a plot, but also fell foul of our complete cock up of understanding the playing of Perils.
Looks so peaceful, no shots fired in anger.

The problem of taking photos with the light in front of you, nice effect though, it seems like it's late afternoon.

Turn 2 activities.

Very little I could do to stop the Belgians masquerading as British from pillaging the plots on this side of the board.  Again, it was our misunderstanding of the rules that stuffed up this play.  But you live and learn.  Mind you a 1d test needing 1 success, and two Followers failed it for two turns straight!

Just prior to grabbing the main plot!  Go Lord Ackerley.

By this stage I was down to just Lord Ackerley and Sir Garfield.  Lord Ackerley had just done the the bolt to put as much distance between himself and anyone else so that his Harmless ability would kick in.

Here he is, brave Lord Ackerley looking for some rocks to hide under.

Yes I had a man on this flank, but a card had been played on him stopping him from making a recovery roll.  Rather unsporting and with the inevitably result of my bad dice roll the only outcome.

Sir Garfields Bodyguard skill came in very handy... for Lord Ackerley.

Lord Ackerly looking very perturbed and wondering who is going to pour him his next cup of tea, all the while looking for a nice rock to hide under.
The rest of the shots are views from the triumphant Belgians masquerading as British.

The Wash Up
All right as you can see from my previous Wash Up report, there is much we got wrong.  I'm still feeling that there is something not being done right, but I'll sort it out eventually.  I do like the system, it works and I'm having fun, even if it's frustrating and depressing (but that's me as a person and probably doesn't have a lot to do with things).

Lord Ackerley Wisharts League  3vp
Belgians masquerading as British 2vp

+1 Backup

I apologise for the brevity and lack of depth I'd usually put into my report.  Hopefully the next one will be better quality.


Cpt Jack

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