Star Schlock Alpha Test at Scrum Palace

Meta note: The crappy pictures are my own from my Ipad.  The nicer ones are courtesy of Ms. Ellen Levy who did a fantastic job of recording the game as usual.  Permission was granted up front.

Friend and fellow Scrummer JOHN SEARS (whom you may know from the 1000 Foot General blog) is working on a labor of love called (at least for now) STAR SCHLOCK.  John will correct me if I get the particulars wrong, but Star Schlock is a small unit skirmish game, with units roughly being 5-10 individual figures plus individually based special characters.  The setting is .. hmm.. well, the kind of B tier science fiction movies from the late 70s or early 80s you would associate with being Star Wars rip-off genre films in a science fiction setting.  Battle Beyond the Stars would be a perfect example. John is working on transitioning from design to development so he requested the able assistance of the Scrummers to do a little Alpha testing.  Four active players showed up so each of us got a small command.   There were two “Evil Empire” commands and two “Rebels and local Alien Freedom Fighter” commands.

Doc Owens was the hapless leader of the Alien Freedom Fighter command.  Originally a xeno-anthropologist, he ditched that career to fight the empire.  His daughter, space cadet Owens, was also attached to his command

I also had two groups of the rather hapless looking local aliens.  These were based on a limited series created by Lead Adventure Forum, now sold by Magister Millium.  I love their clunky look.  I’m going to have to get some.

Doc Owen’s native militia, sporting their war gear.  They were mostly long range snipers, as seems evident from how the miniature is armed.

My Alien snipers didn’t look too enthusiastic

The teams were “The Duchess” whose goal was to escape the board. She had two units of household guard in bright red capes.  Doc Owen’s goals were to get one of the opposing leaders (Captain Vrock, or the Alien Overlord) to become a star crossed lover with Cadet Owens, (the Doc’s daughter).  That would make the leader defect to our side.

Goals, objectives, special cards, and a little back story.. for my “Doc Owens” faction

This John’s game design for science fiction skirmishing and it had a lot of moving elements to keep track of. An interesting feature was the command deck each faction had available to them. Each card had a numerical rating up top and a symbol.  These would come in handy for initiative and game mechanics.

Mechanics were a mix of theatrical and practical– John unabashedly borrows from a lot of sources. If you’ve ever played a card driven wargame you’ll figure out the initiative system reasonably easily. You get a deck of cards. The cards are color coded for type of action, with a symbol code that breaks ties and gives you a special interrupt chit for the next turn.  I started thinking this was a bit clunky but I ended up liking the idea a lot, since I was using it to attack in advance of my opponents.

Hapless Alien Militia watches the Duchess’ guard engage
Evil Overlord in suspensor chair with his storm trooper analogues

The combat was relatively bloodless.  I say “relatively” as it was mostly morale based.  Units get eliminated by making them head for the hills (breaking morale).  Actually killing a figure is kind of tough but when you do it impacts on the unit morale (which if I’m remembering it right, can be fixed with one flavor of those interrupt chits)

Even big shooty and splodey things weren’t exactly deadly lethal.  The Evil Overlord had Orbital batteries he could take advantage of, but even a close to direct hit only shook my guys and made them run.

Yikes.  We need to be leaving..  (see the red shiney marker?  That indicates a morale hit.  If you get 3, you break.  You can remove these through game mechanics.

What I liked about Star Schlock was that it was a true cinematic game. The mechanics are a little thorny at first but really they are just there to make the narrative work.

Storm Troopers and the Guard mix it up behind cover

For instance, if you look at the unit sheet I posted above, you see that I have two characters, Doc Owens and Space Cadet Owens, fighting at the side of the resident aliens.  Doc’s pretty cool, he has a big space gun that’s vicious at close range– but his daughter, space cadet Owens, has this whole romance sub plot thing going on that was infinitely cooler than pew pew pew laser fighting!

Essentially my character had an ability to make a leader from the opposing side swap sides and run away with her.  For big, big points!  You just need to be in the same grid quadrant as the target, roll against something (it was a very hard roll to make) and if you win, they lose a leader.

She’s a star crossed lover, alright.

Of course, my targets were sparse. You’ve seen the Evil Overlord. This was my other choice. Well, the forehead bridges lent him a certain nobility. SO it’s ON, baby!

Hey, with a few drinks, you never know, right?

So I spent a good deal of the game leaping around with my jet pack to flank around Captain what’s his face and try to charm him to our side.

My luck was spectacularly bad in being charming.

Fortunately while I was busy being a good target and hapless and all that the Duchess exited the board, achieving HER victory goals.

Time to say.. Peace OUT!!!  You can see my pile of interrupt chips in this shot, BTW

My luck had been pretty bad all night.  I barely hit anything I shot at, but did cause some morale casualties.  If we had pulled off the Romance sub plot, I think we might have pulled out of there with a victory.  As it was I had a great time.  John Sears did a fine job of designing this game and even better making it system independent– ergo it’s not written for a line of minis.  You should see the artwork on the cards and such, all designed and laid out by John.  Space Schlock communicates its ability to not take itself seriously and be entertaining.  I can’t wait to see it as a commercial product.

More kinda storm troopers in action!

Note: I took some crappy IPad pictures myself, and Ellen took the really good ones.  I’ve put most of them here on Imgur if you want to see more from this session.

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