Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mythical Animals of Afrodesia?

Native legends abound with tales of all sorts of strange creatures. How many of these tales have any basis in truth is a question some intrepid explorers hope to answer as they delve further into the wilds of Afrodesia. Here follow artist's rendition of a few of these creatures, with a figure of a man for size comparison.

The creatures are all from Reaper Miniatures, a great source for animals and monsters, as well as various characters and such.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Combat in Afrodesia

Furt asked about the seeming static linear nature of the combat in my previous report using the Adventures in Jimland rules. I decided that question deserves a fuller response and further consideration than I could fit (or wanted to fit) in a comment.

First, the two instances of hostile encounters I had in that game involved a fair bit of luck of the die. First, the scouting roll succeeded both times so the expedition was able to better organize to face off against the attacking natives. Second, I forgot the natives could be split up and attack from 2 sides. Third, I only ended up rolling 1 animal. Fourth, the expedition had a good number of armed figures and I rolled well on shooting, so no natives ever made it close to getting into hand to hand combat. Also, the duration of the encounters is fairly short, so there isn't a lot of time for maneuvering.

Having said all that it does seem to me it's often a good idea for the expedition to line up and fire their weapons as soon as possible and hope to take out enough of the attackers to make the rest run off. It also seems like the rifle-armed attacking natives are better off if they stand and fire. Natives armed with hand weapons should probably rush in and try to engage in hand to hand combat as soon as possible. This does seem like it would lead to combat encounters without a lot of finesse happening. I could be missing something here, and maybe more games will bring more finesse to the encounters.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is the game isn't about combat as such. It's about exploration, with some danger along the way. So a typical hostile encounter probably shouldn't have much of a chance of wiping out the entire expedition (or even a majority of explorers, soldiers and askaris).

Still, one could introduce more finesse into the combat as desired (at the risk of making things too deadly for the expedition, making the games take much longer to play, and/or changing the focus from exploration to combat). This could range from simply adding some house rules to the game's rules for these encounters all the way to using some other combat rules instead. As for house rules, a few ideas that come to mind (untested as yet) include:

  • Increasing the length of the encounter (the rules state an encounter lasts 4 turns). Possibly only ending the encounter when all natives are dead or have run away, and possibly any creatures are also either dead, have run away, or are not fighting.
  • Placing natives in terrain features anywhere on the table as opposed to having them enter from a table edge. This could mean they are closer, and/or in cover when they are first spotted.
  • Including the possibility of more natives showing up as the encounter wears on.
  • Including native encounter cards with tougher opponents (this could be something more "historical" like battle-hardened veteran natives or more war-like tribes with higher stats, natives armed with bows or blowguns, possibly even soldiers from a belligerent nation; or more on the pulp/fantasy side, like lizardmen or swamp trolls or skeletons).

Adventures in Jimland was designed to make for quick games that could see an expedition (or a few expeditions run by different players) complete one "there and back" game in a couple of hours or so. To that end a lot has been kept fairly simple while still offering plenty of scope for a fun and interesting game. It seems to me one of the strengths of Adventures in Jimland is that is plenty of room for adding whatever complications one wants to add. The Jimland Reports are a great source of inspiration. These can be found at the NAGS website under Jimland Reports.

The above are my thoughts and opinions, not the game's designer. And I have only played one game so far, so I could be missing plenty.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ballyfoole Expedition to Afrodesia

The Illustrated Ballyfoole Gazette
"Where we never let the facts get in the way of a good story"
First Expedition Explores the Interior of Afrodesia
Sponsored by the country of Ballyfoole, the first expedition to explore the interior of Afrodesia recently set out from the capital of the Sultanate of Marzbar on the east coast. The expedition was led by Captain Flynn, with O'Ryan the hunter and McGillicuddy the scout. They were joined by 2 soldiers from the Gunderland Highlanders, 4 askaris and 12 bearers.
The expedition sets off. At the head of the column, from left to right, are O'Ryan, Flynn, and McGillicuddy
Day 1: They march forth and north into the jungle. They discover a mountain. No villages found. McGillicuddy spots some hostile natives, armed with hand weapons and rifles. The expedition prepares to meet their attack. The expedition fires and kills 2 natives. The rifle-armed natives return fire, but score no hits. The natives with hand weapons move forwards. The expedition fires and kills 2 more natives. The remaining natives decide to run away.
First encounter with hostile natives (apologies for the fuzzy picture! For some reason the battle shots came out a bit unfocused)
Day 2: They discover a new animal species. The terrain is still jungle, no villages found. They encounter friendly natives.

Day 3. They discover a new plant species. The terrain has changed to savannah, no villages found. They encounter 10 potentially hostile headhunters, but after giving the headhunters some trade goods the headhunters ignore the expedition.

Day 4: They come across a sinkhole. 1 askari falls in. The terrain is still savannah, no villages found. They encounter 8 slavers, but the slavers remain neutral towards the expedition.

Day 5: 1 food load has turned bad. They turn eastwards. The terrain is still savannah, a village is found. 8 tribal warriors are encountered. The expedition gives them 1 trade good, but the natives become hostile. McGillicuddy spots their attempt to ambush the expedition, which arrays itself for battle.
The expedition arrayed for battle against hostile natives
As the natives approach shots ring out from the expedition, killing 4 natives. The rest of the natives decide to flee. But the noise has aroused a dire crocodile, which apparently had been laying in wait in the tall grass. More shots ring out as the crocodile charges towards one of the askaris. The expedition turns to face this new threat and Flynn manages to score 1 hit on the huge beast. The crocodile fights the askari, while 1 of the Highlanders tries to help. More shots are fired, with Flynn scoring another hit and the Highlander finishing off the beast.
Day 6: Fever strikes down 1 askari. Apparently he had not gone unscathed in the previous day's fight with the dire croc. The expedition turns south. The terrain is still savannah, no villages found. Natives are encountered but they are friendly. Perhaps they heard of the expedition's dispatching of the dire croc.

Day 7: Strange drums in the night. Morning reveals 3 bearers have run off (1 trade good, 1 food, and 1 empty). The terrain has turned to jungle again, no villages found. No natives encountered.

Day 8: They discover a waterfall. The terrain is still jungle, no villages found. They encounter friendly natives and buy 1 food load for 5 dollars to get them through the day.

Day 9: They discover the ruins of an ancient city. They turn west and return to their starting point with tales to tell and discoveries to reveal.

It appears the expedition was blessed with the luck of the Irish and beginner's luck all at once. With the discoveries made and encounters had the next time they head out to explore further they can be even better equipped and with some experience under their belts.

Game played with the Adventures in Jimland rules. I actually played twice because the first time through I had forgotten to keep an eye out for animals during the fighting against hostile natives. The rules make for a fun game, not too complex, and yet very versatile. Much of the game is played out with pencil and paper. The encounters are played out on the tabletop (on a 30 inch by 30 inch space). Counters are provided with the rules, but I preferred to use miniatures. The rules also provide several charts for rolling up natives, animals, and events. Knowing the original game used cards I made up my own cards based on the charts, so I was able to add in an event or 2 of my own, as well as several animals not in the charts, while dropping some that are in the charts, but not in my collection. Further cards can be added as I get more figures painted up or have more ideas for events.
Total play time was probably about 2 hours, with some time spent consulting the rules, trying to take pictures and writing stuff down.

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Native Peoples of Afrodesia

Finished painting more natives for the exploration of Afrodesia. I should have enough natives, explorers, askaris, bearers, and creatures to start playing some games using the Adventures in Jimland rules. I also made up cards for the various encounters. I don't have all of the animals listed in the charts that come with the rules, and I have a number of animals not listed in the charts. That's the beauty of making cards. I can include just the animals and other figures I have, as well as any events I want to include to customize things for my collection and ideas (I could also see customizing the game for other genres. For example, for fantasy, of which I have quite a few figures, or sci-fi. Any period/genre where you want to play as expeditions exploring some new area.). I also got a few more Reaper creatures over the holidays, ready to be painted.
Most of the following figures are from Foundry - their Darkest Africa collection. The one exception is the Pathan sitting on his haunches, he's from Old Glory.

 Same figures as above, from the other side so you can see the shields.