Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tiny Trouble in Greater Bavaria

I finally had a chance to play my first game of Pulp Alley this past weekend.  I've been eager to try out the game, after reading through the rules and determining that the core system may offer the skirmish game experience that checks all my boxes.  Friend Joe agreed to give the game a whirl during our semi-monthly gaming group meetup at the Rocket Republic microbrewery.

The Bloodstained Plans are stored in the central chest; the Shrink Amplifier looms majestically in the upper right (they don't build 'em like they use to); the Contragrav Cell in the upper left holds the key technical component; the Gas Box in the lower left contains the power-generating but poisonous Onesterrian Gas; and the Nervous Scientist in the lower-right corner maniacally threatens anyone with his hypodermic needles, filled with Rhino tranquilizer.

As I described in an earlier post, the game is heavily narrative-focused.  There are 5 objectives called 'Plot Points' that are either randomly generated or simply chosen.  One of the fun parts is tying together the Plot Points into a coherent story, which, in turn, can inspire a larger story arc for linked scenarios or campaign play. 

I randomly generated the Plot Points:  Bloodstained Plans, Shrink Amplifier, Contragrav Cell, Gas Box, and Nervous Scientist.  I originally devised a story where a British special force launches a rescue operation in a hidden Bavarian lab.  But when I realized that my newest models were all German, no British ones, I changed up the story to be between two opposed, German factions.

Heinrich's Sidekick, Cujo the Great White Ape, defends his home from the invaders, accompanied by his loyal, pet puppy-dog, Lucifer.

I based the scenario in the universe of Konflikt '47, with an eye towards perhaps linking skirmish games with the squad-level game.  So the scenario goes like this...

In the pre-war years ahead of the Konflikt, the Kaiser still leads Germany, desperately trying to advance arcane technology in order to maintain the balance of power. Unfortunately, the SS seek to unseat the Kaiser and capture his tech for their own. The elite SS Fallschermjager Falcon Squad, led by Lars Heitmann, invade a hidden Bavarian laboratory, intent on stealing the Bloodstained Plans for the top secret Shrink Amplifier!  Can Captain Heinrich Von Kampf, with the help of The Lab Rats security detail and a few vat-grown beasties, protect the Kaiser's secrets from the dastardly rocket rangers?.....

"Confounded Contragrav Cell!"
6 attempts to detach the key, critical no avail. Stupid, stupid Fallschirmjager.

The game played as I hoped, with an easy flow and with the rules fading to the background, so that we could focus on the narrative.  Fortune Cards add random wrinkles to the game, and it was fun to imagine what the result of each card represented in the scenario.  For example, Joe's leader suffered damage from a "Peril" near one of the industrial pipes, so we imagined Lars taking an unexpected blast of hot steam to the face.

The Nervous Scientist was tugged back and forth between the battling factions, until Lars and Heinrich finally settled their differences, mano a mano, with Heinrich emerging the victor and preserving the Kaiser's hidden treasure. For now!

Joe's forces started out strong, and I felt like I was on the back foot as the rocket rangers swarmed the laboratory.  But Joe's dice failed him miserably (or, rather, the dice that I lent him...heh, heh, heh), and the momentum began to turn in my favor.  Luckily, though, the game ultimately hinged on a showdown between the two leaders -- a classic, pulp device and a very satisfying way to conclude the game.  Down to the last Health on both sides, a surprise Fortune card sealed the deal and sent Lars packing.

The game certainly met my expectations.  I like it for its narrative-driven and quick-paced gameplay.  Pulp Alley has two expansions:  one is an adventure module, and the other provides rules tweaks to tailor the game to other genres.  I'll be tweaking this scenario to run it again, and then I may venture into setting it up in campaign mode and/or expanding into other genres.  Fun times!


  1. The narrative element seems to really transform the results of numbers. Us semi power gamers get a bit involved with damage this and damage that. A narrative element of the ork walker losing hull points because a grot tripped and fell between the cabling is a lot more fun!

    1. Yeah, man, I had a whole scene planned out, if the Gas Box was ruptured, but one of Joe's troopers managed to disable it. Or should I say, "The resourceful Rocket Ranger successfully down-ticked the Pressure Regulator Servo Plunger".....

  2. Looks cool man .. nice move with the dice 8)

    1. I plan to bring the setup to NOVA. We'll have to play a game!

      (might want to bring your own dice, though.....bwahahahaa)

  3. Fantastic! THANKS for sharing. If you are not familiar with our Phantom Agent promo, please check it out. You already did the hardest part. ;)



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