Conpulsion 2014, Battletech and Alpha Strike

This years Conpulsion was another great weekend of gaming. About 350 people attended over the 2 days and I can honestly say that everyone I met there was having a good time and had a smile on their face. They ran 40 rpg slots with 25 GM’s over the weekend 

with some truly innovative and inspired co-gm events run over multiple tables and genres. The Board and Card game hall was as always full of both games and happy gamers gaming. The rest of the building may have felt a bit quiet at times but it never felt empty. It was only quiet because everyone was off playing and having fun and really, that’s what a convention is all about. A big bunch of gamers getting together to play games, chuck dice, flip cards, share stories and most of all, have fun. In this respect, Conpulsion 2014 was definitely a success. I also got to meet some awesome people including Sarah Newton who was presenting the awesome looking new version of the Mindjammer Roleplaying Game ( http://www.mindjammer.com ) which also took home this years RPG Griffie. Andrew Harman was there launching the Kickstarter for his new game Frankenstein's Bodies, which we now have a demo copy of and it looks awesome ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/258813455/frankensteins-bodies-body-building-the-barons-way ). Iain Lowson was also to be seen striding about in as dapper an outfit as ever when he wasn't selling me a troll suit. And a zombie bear head. (Thank you).

For most of those 2 days though I was to be found in the Dining Room with the wargamers, at a table full of battlemechs, mapsheets and a giant wrestling ring. It was awesome and made all the better by the relaxed and laid back atmosphere of the wargames room and everyone in it.

So just in case you didn’t already know I’m a huge fan of giant-mech-pew-pew-bangy-bangy-stomping action and have been regularly playing Battletech and colouring the dots all day on a Tuesday in the shop for about a year. I’ve played on and off since I was 12 and much like only a 12 year old would, I decided to combine Battletech with Wrestling for the convention and try out some new rules along with giving Alpha Strike a try.

  Alpha Strike is Battletech’s faster playing, sleeker, terrain and tape measure alternative and it turns out its really good too. We threw 3 teams of 4 mechs on the table totalling in the region of 700 tons and it took us about an hour and a half to play out to the last man standing. We were playing on a 3 foot square board with open terrain which probably sped things up but equally it was my first real game of it and the first time either Rod or Alan had seen it too. I have to say that its game play was both smooth and fast yet it still felt like I was playing Battletech. There were dots to colour, charts to consult, ammo explosions, fisticuffs and death from above but everything just seemed simpler. Target numbers seemed quicker to calculate and also seemed lower. Firing and damage in a couple of rolls rather than half a dozen and a couple of tables to consult. That’s when I also realised one of the other key reasons it plays so fast. There are no piloting checks for anything. It made me want water on the board, though not literally. As my mechs strafed across the field pew-pewing anything that came in range I didn’t care that my Hermes exploded in mid-air in a most inhospitable crossfire from everything that could hit it (so basically everyone) and the 2 remaining structure points that were left holding it together evaporated off the Grasshopper because when I finally hit him and died it still took less than 5 minutes to do it all and it was funny as hell. For the record, that’s 11 mechs all shooting at each other and at me while in the air and we resolved a DFA to its bitter end in about 5 minutes. I played 1 game of Alpha Strike at Conpulsion and it left me with a taste for more.

  As for Battletech, it was time to break out the wrestling ring and test some rules. We rolled for mechs randomly out of the box  and took what fate handed us. The results of this match were far from what you’d expect given that in the space of an 18 inch wrestling ring we saw a Banshee, a Catapult and a Cicada face off against each other. From the start I figured that the mangled remains of my 40 ton Cicada were probably going to soon be used as a weapon by the 95 ton Banshee to beat the 65 ton Catapult to death but I was quickly proved wrong. Rod and Alan realised within a couple of turns that with its high movement and the added bonus of springy bouncy ropes to charge and jump off, the cicada was just going to do something stupid and potentially very damaging if they got within 3 hexes of the edge of the board. My plan became clear and the 2 larger mechs waded into the middle of the board for a good old fashioned lasers, legs and fist fight against each other rather than face being jumped on by a 40 ton luciador. In the end I think Catapult went out to an ammo explosion after taking a frankly brutal savaging from the Banshee over several turns and some pot shots from the Cicada. A lucky peppering by me combined with the Catapult’s parting volley of medium lasers saw Alan’s Banshee take a 55 point ammo explosion in his torso, his third head hit and a critical to the leg. One failed concusion check later and the Banshee hit the ground with a leg jarring crunch that saw another 2 criticals in that same leg.

 It was a furious game of guns and fisticuffs at close quarters and was incredibly good fun made possible by Rod and Alan being convinced to give it a try after having played Alpha Strike with me…

 On the Sunday things were a lot quieter yet I still found some opponents for a quick wrestling match. It had to be cut short but I can say that 3 somewhat unconvinced opponents were savaging each other like pro-wrestlers after 40 minutes when time had to be called. An awesome game. With an Awesome.

 

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