28 February 2013

Demo Games Day

I ran a day of demo games with a group of tabletop gaming fans showcasing their favorite "alternative" games in a store devoted to the top couple of miniature companies.  I set up a basic scenario which could accomodate 2-5 players. 

On the "starboard" side of the table I had a rocky cove set up, flanked by some crumbling ruins and centered around a lighthouse; on the "port" side was deployed a damaged Elven flagship with only a single squadron of destroyers running escort duty.  The objective for the Elven player was simple--get the flagship with the First Sea Lord to any place between the ruined pillars behind the lighthouse where Elven shore batteries could drive off any attackers.  Other players would either play allied squadrons of Elven ships helping to ward off attackers or Dwarven, SM, or BG squadrons attempting to sink or capture the Elven flagship.

I had two very interested players, and although one was interested in playing the Bone Griffons, the other really preferred to play Dwarves, particularly the "magic" Dwarves in the cast iron ships.  They also wanted to play against each other.  So, I quickly modified the scenario, removed most of the other squadrons, and the SM player had the objective of moving the "heavy cruiser" (yes, it's a SM battleship but I had a card printed out with stats for a heavy cruiser) to the safe haven behind the lighthouse while the BG ships attempted to sink or capture it.

I restricted the space on the table, and the Shroud Mages started 12" in from one corner while the Bone Griffons started 12" in from the other corner on the same table edge.  The fleet of Iron Dwarves among the STAR cards deck marked off the 12" out of bounds, so the players were effectively playing on a 3x3 foot area.  All the better to get them to the meat of the action, and by the end of turn 1 we had the heavy cruiser firing at submerged undead whales (to no effect), and a squadron of SM frigates closing on the squadron of BG cruisers.

The center of the board represented shallows, and I explained that only small surface models could move across that area, between the volcano and rocky island.  The BG player, on turn 2, surfaced his orca, deciding not to circle around to intercept the heavy cruiser (especially after the heavy cruiser changed course to follow the frigates and take chances with the oared galleys), and moved across the shallows to head directly toward their objective.

 The sea monsters, by the way, are only obstacles in this game, like terrain.  Turn 3 was quite exciting:  the squadron of orca moved to ram and board the heavy cruiser, but only 2 managed to reach the SM ship; a fast and furious boarding action damaged the target, but the boarding parties from both orca were absolutely destroyed.  The heavy cruiser moved to trade broadsides with the squadron of oared galleys:  all ships took some damage, but no criticals.  During the 4th turn the heavy cruiser moved to a stern raking position on one oared galley, and a double critical hit damaged the propulsion and rudder both, leaving it to drift ahead only 2".

The last remaining orca moves to collide with 2 SM frigates at once; it was a gamble, and it didn't pay out--one frigate was lost to the ramming, but the other managed to resist the boarding action and destroy the last of the undead crew on the whale.

Finally, with only 1 cruiser limping in the water with a single hull point while the heavy cruiser still had more than 50% hull points and was within sight of the harbour, the player of the Bone Griffons conceded the game.  The two new players had completed 5 turns in under an hour with fewer than 300 points worth of ships per side.