INTRO & SETUP
I recently ran my 1st game of Strange Aeons at our local weekly club night. Strange Aeons is a skirmish level game where government special agents fight against Cthulhu cultists. Think Necromunda in the 1920s/30s with Tentacles.
Usually Strange Aeons (SA) is a 1-on-1 game. But due to our club nights having up to 6-8 people, I doubled the number of gangs, so there were 2 per side. & I made the gangs a bit larger than normal so they could be split in half to support more players.
The scenario had a Treasury Man with military support investigating a possible moonshine operation. At the same time, Threshold agents (a secret government agency to fight supernatural threats) were investigating reports of some sort of backwoods sacrificial rituals.
Here's the Treasury team with the lead investigator (Character), Sgt w/ SMG(Agent), 2 riflemen & a reporter to record taking down the moonshiners (all 3 Civilians).
& here's the Threshold Team with the main Investigator in the center (Character), a professor of ancient languages & his daughter/assistant to the right (both Agents), the local farmer who reported the rituals & a police office for protection on the left (both civilians).
Here's a picture of the board layout. The flat terrain pieces outlined in brown in the picture are what I call "terrain blinds" & are explained in a prior post.
Normally, an SA game is played on a 2'x3' board. But because I doubled the number of gangs, I doubled the size of the board. So the board was 4'x3'. The 2 "good" gangs (Treasury gang & Threshold gang) entered the board from the left. The 2 "bad" gangs were in hiding as part of the terrain blinds.
I allowed both good gangs to do a single group move, activating their whole gang at once to get them within conflict range of the bad gangs. This allowed the moonshine operation to be seen & put on the table.
With the moonshine shacks on the board, the Treasury men made an immediate attack against them. Unfortunately, the police office was the caught in the crossfire and the 1st casuatly of the game. The weight of the Treasury gang's fire started taking its toll, and the moonshiners took their own casaulties. This allowed the G-Men to clear out the front shacks.
But unbeknownst to the G-Men, something had been scuttling through the underbrush & was about to pounce. [I used one of the extra terrain blind pieces to allow the 2nd "bad" gang to move unseen (or at least unidentified) across the board. & again, until they were in direct visual range, I allowed them to activate & move as a whole group all at once.]
Finally, the GUST (Group of Unknown Scuttley Things) broke cover & the Treasury men saw the full horror of what had been stalking them. [These were run as Vermin from the Shocking Tales #1 suppliment, with 1 Cultist Henchman as their Pied Piper. Because the GUST were just Vermin, they didn't actually cause any Resolve checks. "the full horror" just sounded good in the narrative.]
Here's a shot from the other direction showing just how vulnerable the G-men were to the gnashing beaks of the GUST.
Luckily, the head G-Man quickly & calmly started gunning down the horrible GUST as they rushed his team. Below is evidence of the GUST's unfortunate luck for one of the few that got into combat. The 3 white 6s was the melee roll for the head G-man, while the 2 purple 2s was for the GUST (& that was even on my special cthulhu dice).
Finally, one got past the Treasury gunline & attacked the reporter who had gotten too close trying to take pictures of the horrible GUST. The Sgt in the background recoils in surprise.
The reporter's lack of formal combat training was telling, and he was ripped apart. He did win a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his final picture.
The rest of the GUST were killed in their tracks, and with over half of the moonshiners taken out, Good prevailed and both the moonshiners and the cult were cleared out.
But the Threshold Agents thought certain references to Moon-tree Shine found in the shacks indicated a connection between the moonshiners and the cultists.
What else, other than providing moonshine to other-worldly beings, could explain the size of such a large still?
Unfortunately, my design of the gangs kind of led to difficulties during the game. Having the cult gang be all melee-only figures meant the moonshiners (shown below) had to face all the fire from both gangs on their own. Also, since the leader of the cultist gang didn't have the Command skill, each GUST was being activated one at a time, meaning it was very difficult to allow the GUST to support each other in melee.
Also, I probably didn't explain the significance of the Command skill to the moonshiner players. They hid the head of the gang (classed as a Cult Leader) at the back of the moonshine area to protect him. This meant the moonshiner gang was only activating 1 figure in a turn facing to the good gangs activating 6 figures a turn (I allowed both gangs on a side 1 activation each turn, & the good gangs would always activate their leaders with their Command skill. This allowed each good gang to activate another 2 figures, for a total of 6 for the whole good side.)
Therefore, between the bad side having half the number of guns, & not being told how to effectively use the few skills they did have, the game wasn't terribly enjoyable for the bad side. The good side players loved it though 8).
But a few of the players enjoyed the concept of the game, & were able to look past my bad game design, to be willing to try it again. & one player not only specifically ask to play again, but bought some of the rule books. So, he & I are planning more 1-on-1 games to try to work the kinks out more before trying another large game.
& before I get deluged with questions about the GUST figures... I got them off ebay, from a seller who's name I don't remember. He'd had them custom made & was just selling off the extras.