Williamsburg Muster #1 Running LAND OF THE GIANTS

Gar and I are having a wonderful time at the Williamsburg Muster.  I’ll post more tomorrow.

Fez wearing wargamers
Fez-wearing Novagii, father and son

I’m a little too tired to do more than put a few pictures of our LAND OF THE GIANTS game we ran at 1300 today.  Just two players, but we had a great time and Gar Won!!!

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LAND OF THE GIANTS is a game with a simple premise:

The land of Arcana has two problems. Too Many royal heirs and too many danged giants. About once every other generation, the ruling monarch holds a contest to tackle both problems.  You play a royal heir running one or two chariots as a team in a race that takes place in a valley that is desert on one side, and forest on another side of a narrow river.  There are four famous temples in this valley: The Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Sky, The Temple of the Forest and the Temple of Fire.  Each of these temples attracts many visitors on pilgrimage every year (and fills the coffers of local innkeepers and local vendors of icons and fake holy relics, by the by).  This valley  is called the Giant’s Dance because of the many rocky outcroppings on both sides of the river.  Oh yes, it’s also called that because of the many GIANTS that live and play there.  There are two kinds: The Forest giants who are are green and cyclopic, and like to fight with two giant scimitars attached to their arms.  The other, more dimwitted kind are the Desert Giants.  These creatures were early on dominated by a clan of chaotic evil dwarves who use them as a walking platform for their steam cannons. Both kinds of giant and their dwarven parasitic friends are usually low in number but every once in a few generations increase in numbers to become a nuisance to the holy pilgrims (and impact the sales line on holy relics).  By sheer coincidence,  the increase in giants usually corresponds with an increase in the number of heirs to the line of the King of Arcana, King Boniface XIV, an amazingly fertile and energetic family.  Long ago, Boniface’s ancestors arrived at an interesting solution to the giant problem: holding the Giant Race.  Each claimant or heir puts together a chariot team, one heavy and one light.  They race from temple to temple in the valley of Giants, in an order that is known only to the racer.  As a reward for killing or wounding, or driving off a giant, the racer may change the order in which he visits the temples (or even more fun, the order in which OTHER racers visit the temples).   Doing well in the race (if one survives it) is a guarantee that the aspirant to the throne will have jockeyed ahead of some of his or her cousins in the daily struggle for dynastic succession.

The Game: LotG came about in a remarkably short time period.  As I have related elsewhere in this journal, I discovered a huge supply of ultra-cheap Mageknight chariots, steam tanks, and giants at Balticon early last summer.  I stored them, thinking “there’s a game in there by crikey”.. and sure enough there was.  Trying to come up with a scenarios that fit giants, evil dwarves, holy pilgrims and chariots was easy enough, and since this was a game for the Game Camp I like to put on in the Summer time, I tried to make the mechanics as simple as possible.  Players can play either individual chariots, or a team of heavy and light chariots.  Heavies are more heavily armored and go slower as they are pulled by a giant ox.  lights are faster and are pulled by a giant horse.    I removed the mageknight figures in the back of the light chariots– they looked like elves into bondage to me.   And then created a force of variously armed figures with roughly a late medieval, early renaissance feel to them.  I used Warhammer’s Empire militia figures, some Perry Twins English Civil war types and a few War Machine figures armed with large “hand cannons”.    Players can choose chariot types or if they are running a team, one of each type.

The system is pretty simple.  Movement and combat range is measured in “Sticks” (painted coffee stirrers).  A red stick indicates regular speed, a blue stick half speed (for going up and down slopes and melee or shot range).  A chariot starts off going one stick distance.  He can break by half a stick, or increase speed by one stick.  The maximum a light can go is three stick’s speed, a heavy two.  You remember current speed by leaving the number of sticks next to the chariot as it moves around.  Combat is determined by weapon type (missile or melee).  I know the trend for this kind of game is simple combat systems, but I’m a lover of variety and I wanted the various weapons sculpted with the driver figures to mean something, so there’s a weapons table that indicates damage, range and reload times.

Each player has a range of actions per turn and can do TWO of them.  They are Fire! Fight! Drive! Run! Brake! Aim!  If the player is in a heavy chariot, it comes with an organic driver that only “drives!” leaving the warrior figure free to engage any way he pleases.  The LIGHT chariot needs to have two figures in it, a driver and a warrior.  The driver performs one action (driving) and can perform one other (usually melee if pressed).  The passenger warrior figure can do a range of things.   Combat is bloody and impressive, but can be slow as giants have a lot of points.  If the team manages to get a lucky head shot, dazing the giant, it tests for beserk, and if it fails, it could stampede right out of the valley (which is easier than killing it as results have demonstrated).

Our game went well, even if nobody showed up to play it but us!  I took the red team of a heavy and a light, and Garrett (my son) took the green team.  We engaged against four giants (an accident in the parking lot killed two green giants, so a desert giant had to pull double duty in the forest).  My goals were Red-Yellow-Red-Blue for the heavy and Red-Yellow-Blue-Green for the light.  Gar played a few Game Changer cards on me that changed that order (to make it easier on me, but he didn’t know that).  I did the same thing to him.  I like this “nomic” element of the design– you can change victory conditions as you play.

In the end, one of the cards I played on Gar spared him a trip back up to the Forest area and he ended up with a color sequence that went BLUE YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW, winning the game for the Green Party.  Congrats to Gar, he played a great game.   I was glad he came along, because I didn’t want to set up with no takers!   As a prize, I bought him MAD SCIENTIST UNIVERSITY and bought INN-FIGHTING for myself, which we later played over dinner at the IHOP.

A great early afternoon to evening.  I will post more on the Muster (including the evening chariot game– Saturday Night at the fights), later

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