Hardwired: a free cyberpunk game

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Anyone remember the PC game Syndicate? The little trench coat and mirror shade corporate cyborgs running around causing mayhem? Well, I played far too much of it back in the day.

Wanting to offer more fast-play options at our weekly game sessions, I wrote up a set of rules in hommage; a cyberpunk skirmish game where you and your friends play a team of Agents tasked with various missions of questionable legality and high lethality.

It’s called HARDWIRED. Click there to grab the pdf. We’ve play tested it. It works. It’s easy to learn. Plays fast once you get the hang of it. And it’s fun.

If anything, it’ll give you an excuse to paint up (or buy and then paint up) some cool cyberpunk figs, gather your gaming buddies, and infiltrate the nearest top secret, gene-tech research facility.

Good Luck, omae

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Pix from some of our Cyberpunk games below.

 

HARDWIRED

A little side project I’m working on. A cooperative game where players are jacked up Agents sent on corporate black ops.

Guess who played way too much Syndicate back in the day…

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An All-Nighter

 

Someone tipped off Han Chou Telemetrics.

 

04:17 in the Shunyi District, HCT Corporate Zone, you and your crew slipped out the back door of their secure server facility ninety seconds ahead of schedule. That minute and a half saved your life; you caught their Rapid Response Team by surprise. They came at you fast and heavy. You came back faster and heavier. When it was over, they were down but your driver was dead and the get-away was totaled. So the four of you took off running.

 

Han Chou management won’t call the police – which is good. They’d have to admit to the breach and that would translate into a huge hit to their reputation, as well as their stock values. So they’re handling this in-house – which is bad. That means every HCT Security Specialist and Rent-a-Cop in New Kowloon is gunning for you.

 

You pulled an all-nighter on this one and there’s a trail of bodies, blood, and bullet casings in the dark alleys of Shunyi to prove it.  Less than an hour of night left, you’re still on foot and low on ammo, but you’re nearly home. Asian-Pacific holo-ads glow in the sky over the buildings just ahead.

 

Your uplink squirted ‘Package Retrieved’ the second you stepped outside the HCT building, so you know your company will back you when you reach the Neutral Zone. With the UN-enforced ceasefire, Han Chou won’t risk an open confrontation. They’ll have to eat the loss. The nearest checkpoint is just seven blocks away, next to the Yintai Shopping Center.

 

All you have to do is get there.

ZONA ALFA Crew

Other Pat is currently running a one-of DnD dungeon crawl for our weekly game night, so the next couple weeks won’t feature many table top photo ops. In the meantime, I managed to get some color on the first of the ZONA ALFA demo figs.

A Military crew with a Guide, a Medic, and a Technician, this is a solid, general purpose team. Lead Adventure figs on 32mm mdf bases.

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Some individual pictures.

 

Settling into the new game room but the LED lighting and the small basement windows make it difficult to get decent photos. Anyone have small, portable lighting ideas?

Have an excellent day.

Za Zdaróvye, STALKER!

New Terrain and ZP pictures

Coming off the holiday break, last night’s game session was more shooting the breeze than miniature foes. Everyone was more intent on hanging out and chatting than getting serious about a game. That said we did a quick brawl that let me put two new terrain pieces on the table: a ruined apartment building and a swamp. The building is an MDF kit, the swamp pieces scratch- built with wood bases, foam core, water effects, flock and Woodland Scenics tall grass.

We used Zona Perestrelki – our STALKER-flavored skirmish rules – for quick combat.

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The battle ground: a refueling station eleven kilometers inside the north perimeter of the Zone.
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The swamp
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“Look behind you!”
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Stalkers and scientist make it to the fence.
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ZERTs (Zone Enforcement and Recovery Team) facing down a pack of feral dogs.
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Bandits scrounging for petrol
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ZERTs at an old supply truck. Something valuable inside, perhaps?

There’s more ZP in the pipeline, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing old-school RPGs (both Interface Zero Cyberpunk and straight up DnD) and a short ASOBH campaign, “The Treasure of Sagra-Bayar.” I’m finishing the brushwork on the character figs this week and will post photos later.

In the meantime, corny as it sounds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude when the guys walked in last night; it’s a great hobby with great people and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Have a good day.

And if you’re in a STALKER mood, A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available for your reading pleasure. Spasibo!

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Games that stick.

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I’ve been thinking about games that have durability, replay-ability, longevity.

As anyone familiar with hobbyists and the hobby industry knows, “Shiny” comes and goes. Indeed the hobby industry is built on ‘shiny’ and every gamer worth his salt has a lead/plastic pile that bears mute witness to the fickle siren song of new figs, a new range of figs, a different scale, genre, time period… Let’s all admit that most of the war games on Kickstarter are miniatures-driven – not rules driven. Coming to my ‘end-of-year’ game room clean up this week, I’m definitely guilty as charged.

But between tidying the game room and some recent attention to my home-brew rules, I’ve been thinking about the war games that last after the shine fades and asking ‘What games do I/other gamers return to and keep playing year after year? And why?’

I know the answers are different and flavored by individual experience and preference. Some people started playing DnD decades ago when they were Stranger Things kids and have stuck with it through all its editions. Others move on to Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 because they scratch that Neon and Mirrorshade itch and there’s no need to look elsewhere. (Ain’t that right omae?)  Some sink their teeth into 40K early on and cling to it like a Pitbull all their days. ( I think that’s what GW wants) When I posed this question on TMP, nearly 50 historical gamers listed rules like DBA, HoTT, Johnny Reb, Lion Rampant, Dragon Rampant, and so on.

For a SF/F gamer like me: in no particular order and off the top of my head, I’ve played VOR, Void, Celtos, Chronopia, Warzone, CAV, Stargrunt 2, and Full Thrust. I did a stint with THW’s Bugs, 5150, and After the Horsemen. I’ve tried 40K, Necromunda, Inquisitor, and Space Hulk. Then there’s Warmachine and  Hordes, Iron Ivan’s Disposable Heroes and Ambush Alley games. (I know I’m forgetting some.) Now add Board Games, RPGs, Quick Start versions and Indie rules like One Page X, and the locust swarm of games I’ve read but never played/played once, and the trail of game rules behind me looks like a the footprints of an epic quest or an addict’s detritus. (a bit of both, I suspect)

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As far as I can discern, a game’s ‘longevity’ factor has multiple ingredients ranging from brand loyalty, local availability of players, and personal experience/associations, to the quality of related miniatures. But there are also underlying currents of simplicity and versatility. Those seem to be crucial.

Across the board, the common denominator in rule sets that seem to stick is that they are a reliable, straightforward framework to hang the action/story on. Sure, there may be particular flavoring and a degree of crunch/gritty detail, but the appeal seems to be that a player can plug in their force and play the game, not the rules. Combat, Movement, Morale, Special Abilities and Genre Specifics are resolved in the background while the battle, the story, is allowed to come front and center. IMO, the primary reason DnD and RPGs remain so popular is they provide mechanisms for players to participate in a common adventure, in a story.

The challenge is to translate that robust, functional dynamic to a war game, into a mock battle. The hitch is that most miniature war games seem to have been built on the back of RPGs and the detail level that’s so enjoyable and necessary for a player character in a dungeon crawl doesn’t scale up to platoon, regiment, and brigade level. Defeating Nash-Zaroth the Liche King requires the same kind of ‘combined arms’ flexibility as taking Istvaan IV in the Andromeda system, but the fine detail needs to be abstracted and smoothed out. Otherwise, the flow of the game/battle grinds to a chart consulting, modifier algorithm factoring, special rule quoting halt. CLUNK – players are disengaged, thrown out of the story, and there goes the fun. And I contend FUN is the real reason we’re still playing with toy soldiers and making up cool stories.

So as I approach Game Room Cleaning Day, not only am I going to take a hard look at the clutter, (expect a new batch of items For Sale) but in refining Zona Perestrelkimy STALKER-flavored, home brew skirmish rules –  I want bake in the brooding, dangerous, specifics of the Exclusion Zone but always remain mindful of honing the mechanisms to support the story, the mission, the game play, not bog it down.

It’ll take time, some sweat, and not a little bit of play- testing, but whether or not ZP gets picked up, that’s going to be a goal for 2018.

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Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to you all.

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PS: the short story A Prayer to Saint Strelok is available at Amazon if you feel like getting in the mood. Enjoy.

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Review: Umarex Legends MP 40 BB Gun

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Well it’s not as if I don’t already have a decent selection of BB and Pellet guns but the history geek in me had to pick one of these up when Pyramyd Air had a sale and I had a bit of extra coin.

A full metal construction, full auto replica firearm with bolt blow back, the 30-bb magazine is powered by 2 regular CO2 cartridges. On full-auto, the blow back uses a lot of air, but I was getting two full magazines at good strength per 2 CO2. Not incredibly accurate (it’s a BB gun with a smooth bore barrel) the MP40 is really made for fun. You want a .22 or .25 caliber pellet pistol for varmint control or tack-driving. This thing shreds paper  targets, makes tin cans dance, and perforates soda cans. You can read the specs and specifics at the PA site or check out some of the YouTube video reviews for more info. ( I like ReplicaAirGuns in Canada)

It’s not a target gun but it’s a great conversation piece and the perfect shooter for a warm afternoon of plinking with friends.

Pick one up. You won’t regret it.

Shoot safe. Have fun.