Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pulp Alley - Foiling the Mi Goh

I ran into a local gamer I know at a sale, and inquired what he's been playing lately. Most fortuitously, Thomas (LINK), noted he's been playing Pulp Alley, a game that's caught my eye. A meeting was arranged for a try out game. Thomas was able to provide rules, table setup, and both forces.

I must say that I quite enjoyed the system. It plays with about a half dozen figs per side, on a 3x3 board. Turns are capped at 6 and you have to hurry to acheive results. There is a card dynamic that creates challenges for your teams to overcome, as well as induce troubles for your opponent. I believe, door to door (my arrival to leaving) was 3 hours, including socializing and setup. Needless to say if you know the game you'd probably be able to crack out a full session in 90 minutes or less. Fantastic stuff.

Objectives. Freeze ray & boxed items
The rules provide a random table to generate objectives. These included a box of xenon, a blood spattered series of letters, a freeze ray, something I forget, and most importantly, a blood stained oil painting of the professor. My crew of explorers was desperately trying to foil the Mi Goh and their robot henchmen from retrieving these works. No doubt their ancient technology was revealed by these items and they strove to retreive them from human hands.

One of the beauties of the system is that one player has initiative which allows him to choose which player moves next. This decision is made model by model. You dice off for starting initiative, and barring strange events, it is only regained by claiming an objective or winning a fight.

My gang of erstwhile (and potentially evil/mercenary) explorers.

 Bottom of turn 1. The explorers moved on from the bottom edge, the Mi Goh the top. Explorers shooting saw 2 robots knocked down in the top left. They would recover effortlessly. Green tokens note moved models, the yellow is a reduction in firepower (do to shooting and/or running), red is a wound.

Ghosts and graveyards in the centre create zones of perilous movement, which means your opponent can accost you with his cards to create headaches for you. The objectives are scattered in a rough X across the board.Top right a Mi Goh is well placed to seize a box. Bottom right my ginger fella, 'red', is ready to bound over some barrels to seize an objective himself. My leader in the red trenchcoat on the bottom left is close to the freeze ray.

 The Mi Goh used a bunch of 'gadget' points, and one received a jet pack type device. This critter (in the bottom right) would cause me a lot of heartache all game long, as he was quite resistant to gunfire and a bit of combat monster (literally and figuratively).

 Alternative view of turn 1.

Turn 2 starts with the combat monster charging towards one of my men. My first card play held him up, sitting in the middle of an open area. Thomas thought this sufficiently clever and potentially game changing to take a picture. The yellow 'arrow' shows the charge path.

 While others (fruitlessly) blaze away at the Mi Goh, red rushes over to seize an objective.

Meanwhile on the other flank, my leader (whose name escapes me) seizes the freeze ray handily and lurks behind some boxes. The robots clank forward at a walking pace (their max) hoping to get in range to use their flamer template death beams.

 Bottom of 2. You can see the ghosts have moved a bit. One of my figs is in the centre tree stand, getting ready to take the major objective (the blood spattered oil painting).

Turn 3 kicks off with a Mi Goh attempting to eat Red. A handy card play enables him to dodge away from the monster automatically, and he vaults over the barrels carrying his treasure.

Follow up gunfire finally puts the hurt on this guy (red token).

My man, Bob in the centre is working on "The long test" trying to figure out how to get the objective (carrying an oil paintin ain't easy guv'ner). The robots have been downed with a peril card, as well as some crack shooting from my leader (who is devastating at short range). The Mi Goh have seized an objective, and seem to be working on killing red, and shooting my other fellows near the centre.

An interesting thing to note about cards is that each player gets one at the beginning of a turn. One of the objectives will give you another per turn. On of my followers was able to burn his action to gain another card....this ended up being VERY useful. The cards are entirely responsible for me doing well this game. 
The game started to speed up as I learned the ropes, the model count dropped (both robots failed to recover), and I needed to agonize less about who to allow to go next. Bottom of 4. My leader in the bottom centre has gotten next to another objective.

Red, at 3 oclock, is being pursued by the Mi Goh, hungry for his......blood? treasure? At this point I realized the Mi Goh with the jet pack would always be able to charge Red, his lucky escapes were bound to end sooner or later.

 Dan is chasing after the Mi-Goh (in the background) trying to shoot him Ded.

The villain in question, armed with a fork and an apron (appropriately embroidered with a human shape).

Nick, my 2nd in command is standing by the centre tree, exchanging gunfire with the other Mi Goh. He is also blocking a charge at Bob, who is furiously puzzling out how to get that darned major objective. .

 Turn 5 sees the Mi Goh activate a teleport device, passing into an alternative dimension. Next turn (the last!) he will be able to appear anywhere within 12 inches, and then activate. Could easily assasinate Bob, now (finally) carrying the major objective. Bob will run for cover in the buildings nearby in turn 6.

Bottom of turn 5. Bottom screen, the Mi Goh continues to attempt to eat Red. My troops hold the centre, threatened by the other (leader) Mi Goh.

Turn 6 ended swiftly. The Mi Goh attempting to eat Red is downed in a hail of crack gunfire from my leader (despite being encumbered by both the freeze ray AND a box of xenon). 

The teleporting Mi Goh rematerializes near Bob (covering in the portico of a building). The fates strike as the Mi Goh pulls a card indicating the teleportation has gone awry. He takes a hit and loses his activation, thereby losing his chance to toss a fizzing grenade (or alient analog [yet another card]) at Bob.

The same card that caused the problem induces the ghosts to move, and creepily (and randomly) they end up clustered around Bob and the Mi Goh. There must be something about the blood spattered oil painting! (*creepy music*).

Thoughts on the game:
Amazing! It helps that Thomas has a nice setup of fully painted, good looking terrain and models. The rules themselves are fast to pick up, and fast to play. The ability to control who activates by the iniative player is a great feature that makes for some hard decisions, and keeps each player constantly invested.

Combat is opposing dice rolls, and the cards are super fun. It feels a bit like GMT games such as Twilight Struggle or Unhappy Prince Charles where your card hand is always a tough decision about whether to use a card to help yourself or to hassle your opponent.

I'm hoping to get some more chances to play, and intend on grabbing the rules myself in the not too distant future.

1 comment:

  1. Daveb, it was great to have you over for a game! Super write-up of a fun summer afternoon of dice rolling!

    Thanks for the props on the terrain & minis; yer making me blush.