Mad Maximillian 1934: I should have sparred!


As I have mentioned in this journal, I signed up to run a Mad Maximillian 1934 game at COLD WARS 2019.

F: 183: 19 – JUNKWAFFEL: A Mad Maximillian 1934 Adventure – Theme
Friday, 7:00 PM, 3 hrs, Players: 10, BF86
GM: Walt O’Hara
Sponsor: none – Prize: none
Period: Pulp – Scale: 28mm – Rules: Mad Maximillian
Return to the world of fragile deadly jalopies armed with instruments of
peril! Everyone KNOWS about the Apocalypse, right? The one that took
place back in 1934? Junkwaffel takes place in a world that has already
suffered collapse, sometime directly after WWI. Players pilot their armed
motorcycles, buggies, jalopies and junkers through a war-torn landscape,
full of traps, ambushes and the greatest danger of all, the other players.
Rules easy to teach, glad to have youngsters from about 13 up, younger
must have a parent in attendance.

I was planning on this game being a reprise of the race I ran at ScrumCon 19.   There’s an old saying that goes something like “You want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans”.  For starters, BF means “Ballroom Foyer”, or the lobby at the base of the stairs on the bottom floor in front of the Distelfink.  There is no table 86 there– there are five at most.  So I went to my helpful events desk, who were stumped, and they suggested it was a misprint, e.g., BF is really DF.  I shrugged and went over to table DF 86.  Oddly enough, that’s the table Jon Lundgren, who I had ran a version of this game with at Fall IN! was finishing his Empire of the Dead game.  Since he was already set up and set to run another game on the same terrain in the morning, he assumed I would run the Max 34 race on the setup terrain.  Okay, I said, blithely.. not realizing the effect the terrain would have on the race.

Here is the table for the 1900 race, using Jon Lundgren’s Afghan table. It actually worked pretty well and added a whole other element of risk and danger.

And here is the complete fleet.

Left, front to back: Blues Magoos, Hot Shot, the Blue Omega, The Red Baron, Brutarian 999, Green Machine, Leyat Exagon, Little Red Devil, and a Touch of Elegance 09. Right, Bottom to top: Here Goes Nothing!, Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, The People’s Collective AC, The Yeoman, Leyat Fan Dancer, Old Number 11, Puffing Billy, Borough Police, Rickety Racer. 3 on the far right, back: Blue Horizon 13, Tom Mix Sidecar, and The Singular (monowheel, far back right).

Strangely enough people found me, despite the mixup in the events database.  I was set to run a game with ten players but ended up with eight.  One of them I had advanced notice about cancelling from Facebook messenger.  A good group of players — I had played with many of them before this.

These Cars were chosen:

The Red Baron: A very long roadster (Eureka custom kit) that had trouble making tight turns.

The Green Machine: A low to the ground roadster (another Eureka kit) with a rack of rockets (4) and fixed MGs.

The Blues Magoos: (kit) a smaller two seater roadster with a pintle twinned MG and fixed forward MGs.

The Blue Omega: a top heavy cruising machine  with two (2) spar torpedoes, and a fixed forward facing MG.

The People’s Collective AC: a heavy, slow Junkers class vehicle recently captured by Anarchists.  One LMG in a 360 turret, also forward fixed Flamethrower.

The Yeoman (Canada): a WWI vintage armored troop transport with two swivel MGs in limited arcs.

The Hot Shot: (kit) Similar to the Blues Magoos, but red with a skull on the hood.

The Singular: A monowheel motorcycle with a MG gun.

Like the last race, this was another variant of the “Southern Cross” where the player cars would divide in  half, one half on one gate to the right and the other on the left.  They cross in the middle, and interact accordingly.  No shooting on the first turn.  As before, I used the initiative and dirty tricks cards to run the game and I was able to get a lot of turns done.

Initiative Cards and Dirty Tricks Cards

I took a few minutes to explain the basic system of challenge dice (Fortune versus Fate dice) for everything. That mechanic is the key Max 34 concept to learn.  I also went over how to turn using the gauge, how to shoot and how damage works. They were a smart bunch, and wanted to get going.

The Lower End past the Pyramids, which are the signal to start making your turn. As your are in the rough most of the way, it should be called Dead Man’s Turn.

I knew immediately the terrain was going to force a lot of road jams and ramming. There was too much rough terrain and obstacles (in the form of cliffs) and forcing a single file in few places.

Add to that, I was using dirty tricks, so would sometimes use a “Ambuscade-Ground Forces” card to have one of the Ambush Bugs take a potshot at a passing racer:

Note the sniper in the foreground.
… and they’re off. Blue Omega sped out, as did Red Baron. Red Baron got to the first Cross first, and zomed past, aware he was now a big target.  Meanwhile Blues Magoos and Yeoman duked it out as soon as it was legal to fire.  Ahead, Green Machine joins the donnybrook at the Two Devils crossroads.
More Ambush Bugs getting ready to engage if their card is drawn from the DT deck.
For God’s sake, move OUT!
Early in the race, and the situation at the first Cross is pretty dire. Green Machine fires one rocket at the Blue Omega and does more damage to himself than the Omega. Omega tries the spar torpedo on Green Machine (I think) and it hurts both of them in the ensuing explosion.  People’s Collective AC speeds up to Speed 3 and gets out of there as fast as it can. Hot Shot moves out firing behind them as fast as possible.  Yeoman would like to shoot but can only fire behind and to the side.
Slightly out of sequence (one turn earlier) the rocket has fired and the spar torpedo (right side) on the Omega is armed and will detonate here. I have a house rule: every explosion, no matter if it’s a rocket, a spar torpedo, or what, makes a big dusty fireball cloud that lasts one turn. You can’t see through it briefly so it adds a fate dice to fire going through it. People’s Collective AC burst of speed will move him up the road and give the Omega the room it needs to vacate and let the cars on the left speed through.
Meanwhile, the Red Baron and the Singular have escaped the mess at the Devil’s Cross relatively unscathed, and are hurrying to the lower Cross.  I can’t make out what dirty tricks card has been played on the Baron, but he doesn’t seem too happy about it.
Looks like the People’s Collective AC took a hit on its rear armor on this one. I think it was a rocket from the Green Machine.
Nancy, piloted the Blue Omega, has to shift to get a better angle for her car.
As the cars clear the mess at the Devil’s Cross, the Ambush Bugs scramble to get a bead on the cars roaring through the canyon.
Games are all about people having fun. You can see the crowd was well lubricated for this one!
Nancy continues to bedevil the People’s Collective AC. The driver pulled out his hip flask, took a swig and shrugged stoically.
I swear, a Monowheel ought to be able to shoot right through there.. feel free. No, after you sir. No.. after YOU sir..
Spar Torpedoes are a great new addition to this game and I intend to add them to vehicles that seem a little undergunned from now on. Here, Blue Omega rips the People’s Collective AC back armor off in a magnificent explosion
Oy vey, I don’t want to go down to the lower cross.. that seems like suicide.
Green Machine tries the relatively safer Western Pass
Red Baron would learn the mistake of trying to corner the Lower Pyramid Cross at speed 3, but not right now he wouldn’t..
Here’s the problem with an extra long car, making a sharp turn (not being allowed to make a red turn on the gauge), and trying to slow down enough not to skid… even in amber zone this was a hard turn to recover from, and Red Baron (Tim) slid sideways down the hill, which counts as hitting an obstacle. Fortunately he wasn’t out of the race yet. As you can see the Singular keeps on trucking.
More people join the party as The People’s Collective AC lumbers into view. He’s not going to have it much better in the curve. Right behind both of them is Blue Omega and Hot Shot.
Blue Omega aims at the curve. Red Baron frantically tries to regain traction. The Singular glides past them both speeding up to 3.
Another view as Hot Shot dashes into the fray.
Things are rapidly going pear shaped down at the Lower Cross. The People’s Collective AC endures some serious final damage which actually kills the driver.. it glides to a stop, it’s nose in a ditch. Meanwhile Al Einstein in the Hot Shot is whizzing by.
The now torpedo-less Blue Omega takes a stab at it, but it, too, is out of control and careens into a skid after having taken final fire from the Hot Shot. The People’s Collective AC has nothing to say on the matter, being dead.
The valiant Blue Omega meets its fate shortly thereafter, crashing and rolling, killing the driver instantly.
The Singular meets Yeoman and the Blues Magoos coming in the opposite direction, late to the party
The Singular is out of the firing arc of Yeoman and manages to avoid a crash with some incredibly lucky dice rolling. To simulate this we took a picture of the Singular driving up the side of Yeoman and jumping over!

At this point, we were down a few cars and most of the remaining contestants were shot to pieces and barely drivable.  Singular had driven past the major roadblocks and was on his way to a clear victory.  We graciously conceded due to the hour and death count.  Singular won the race, and I actually had a few gauges to give away as prizes.

Summary: I had a great time running this game, and people seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.  I admit there’s some nits to these rules that will have to be solved through good judgement and a house rule here and there, but the core of the rule set (opposed dice rolls– fate vs. fortune) is still easy to grasp and easy to teach.  I really enjoyed the recent additions both from Wargames Soldiers and Strategy issue 95 (with some extra rules for various weapons– that’s where I picked up spar torpedos) and some stuff I wrote  (see previous post).  I think I will continue to use initiative cars and dirty tricks for future convention games– it just keeps the game going really quickly and adds a quirky element to the game narrative.

I will be running this game at Historicon, with a different scenario.  Watch this space.

And now, a final word from Nancy:

(bad audio note: “I should have sparred”)

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