Thursday, March 10, 2016

FINALLY, Pulp Alley!

So... almost a year and half later... finally, Pulp Alley! Last Sunday saw my son Jakob and an old friend Steve over for a night of tabletop games.

Being our first ever go at Pulp Alley, I felt overall it went really well. We're still not 100% clear on a few things - Dodge moves, we made a meal of the Health checks the first three turns (but quickly figured out exactly what we misinterpreted thanks to Jakob), Challenges, and I still have some questions regarding Perils, but again, I thought it was a blast and can't wait to play it again. I played GM, while Jakob played what I'd created as the "good guy" league and Steve played the "bad guy" league.

While preparing for the game I found it quite difficult to come up with perilous areas for the board. These are pre-determined areas that will require players to pass challenges to move through them. Being a town board, I just couldn't come up with plausible narratives for perilous areas save for the basic jumping up/off buildings. Since it was my job to run the game, and get the rules wrong, I thought it would be fun to have all the perilous areas only known to me (kind of old school RPG like), because honestly, if you knew where a perilous area was you wouldn't go near it - and that's one question I have for Dave (who wrote the rules and is extremely active on his boards with answers to questions and suggestions) where I feel I need clarification.

I had three perilous areas only I knew the locations of - a mummy (which was an extreme peril), a kidnapping  (which I didn't end up using), and my favorite, the swarm of beetles. I was originally going to have these come out in a couple of different places on the board, but the game took on a life of its own and I only needed to use it when an attempt for the major plot point was tried.

I found it extremely interesting and really fun how the game really kind of wrote its own story. I had a basic outline, but it was really neat to see the narrative come to life within that. The perfect example of that is in the photos below with a fight on the balcony of one of the buildings between the "bad guys" sidekick and muscle of the league, Amon Sighn, and the two "brains" of the "good guy" league, Natalia Aldridge and Professor Knight.

This sequence saw Sighn jump from the streets, courtesy of that cart, up onto the balcony to try to steal back the coin plot point that Professor Knight had obtained. Aldridge arrived quickly to help get the Professor out of danger.

This part saw some Hollywood type action, with Professor Knight finally escaping with the plot point by jumping off the balcony, onto some boxes, and then out into the town center. Natalia Aldrigde just barely got away, fleeing down the stairs, only because Sighn failed his challenge to pursue (we called it a peril because he tried to jump over the side and tackle her on the stairs). The narrative wrote itself here by calling the failed roll a trip!

The muscle of Steve's league, Amon Sighn, started his deployment outside of the Lao Che Air Freight building.

I absolutely love 'Casablanca', easily in my top five movies of all time, so I had to make a Café Americain building and of course a Rick Blaine figure. We ended up with two plot points at Rick's Café, by accident really. Rick himself was a plot point and already there, and the piano ended up there too because my son doesn't know the movie :) and placed it there during the set up; which of course was ok because it was quite fitting!

It was here that the extreme peril of the Mummy came into play when Jakob used his leader, Hutton Kincaid IV, to attempt to get the piano plot point. He ended up failing the challenge badly and actually got knocked out - or so we originally thought, this was one of our goofs with Health checks. He ended up coming back in the following turn, so no problem.

Steve's first attempt at a minor plot point was with Zedlock, an Ally, who tried to grab a canopic jar that was placed near the train station platform. On his first attempt when the challenge came up he actually failed, and collectively we all realized that your plot points were going to obtained much easier with the higher ranking characters! He grabbed it on his second attempt though.

The game went back and forth, with Jakob grabbing two plot points and Steve with one. And as we neared turn six both sides made a dash for the major plot point, the Mummy's coffin, in the center of the town.

Jakob ended up placing two of his characters behind the truck to gain some cover and a better position to shoot at Steve's characters running across the town center. Similarly though, Steve set up his leader, Barnubus Perry, across the way to provide cover for Zedlock as he made his way to the coffin.

Being in open ground, Zedlock proved to be an easy target for Jakob and was knocked out right before he reached the coffin; and unfortunately lost the canopic jar he was carrying.

Jakob then made an attempt for the coffin, and that's when the swarm of beetles attacked! This was 'The Mummy' moment I'd been waiting for the whole game and I placed 10 beetle swarm models all around the coffin area. Needless to say, Jakob failed the challenge to grab the plot point. His sidekick, Natalia Aldridge, came in to pass both the peril and challenge to grab the coffin. Jakob finished with 2 minor and the major plot points, and unfortunately Steve finished with none.

Overall, I thought it was great game, and I think (I hope anyway!) everyone had fun, despite my messing up some rules. Very much looking forward to giving this a go again - I can really see where a campaign setting will be perfect for this game, especially when you can get a story to unfold over several games, or chapters as I will call them, like those brilliant Republic Serials from the '40's. If you've never seen 'Zorro's Fighting Legion', I highly recommend looking it up! Absolutely amazing, and way ahead of it's time (except for the sound effect for the Golden Arrow, yikes!). You can really see where George Lucas stole a whole lot of ideas for a certain archeologist!

In addition to finally playing Pulp Alley, I couldn't be happier with the grunt work I've been completing to get here. I've got 70+ figures almost painted completely, I made an obscene amount of palm tree plates (so much, that I actually think the table looks too crowded with them) and scenery, completed a bunch of plot points & perils (my beetle swarms), and jazzed up two buildings with some fun and throwback signs. Pretty good for the self proclaimed 'Slowest Hobbyist on Earth'.

As always, thanks for looking!


  1. Fantastic! Thanks so much for playing and posting.

    And as for perilous areas....

    Yes, it is perfectly logical for folks to want to avoid them. And that is fine, unless there is a more pressing reason to enter the area.

    In urban settings, perilous areas could be a busy street with lots of traffic, a bustling outdoor market that is unfriendly to strangers, a dark alley with a bad reputation, simply the vertical sides of the buildings (climbing), and so on...

    For example, you could say a fenced in area contains an aggressive guard dog - so it is a perilous area. Of course players are going to want to avoid it. But what if the area has tall buildings on both sides? Are you going to go around or over the fence? And what if a plot point is located inside the fenced area?

    Perilous areas don't always have to be a big problem. Sometimes you just go around, other times it is not so easy.


    Pulp Alley

    1. Great ideas for perilous areas Dave! A truck trying to run someone down is brilliant, very Republic Serial-like,much appreciated!
      I definitely have other questions, but need to figure out how to exactly word them so I don’t look too much like a goof :) !

  2. That is a truly superb looking table! I have to ask, where did you get the Rick's Cafe sign? I'd love one of those!

    Sounds like you had a fun game too. Regarding Perilous areas, we often don't have any (apart from up and down walls) and the games work fine. Although I do like Dave's suggestions.

    1. Thanks a lot! I can't tell you how many times I went back and looked at your old reports to get inspiration (especially with painting the Eureka civilian figures!) and many times I was going to leave a comment, but didn't want to be a "creeper" commenting on posts from last year! So I'll take this opportunity to give a big "thanks"!

      Regarding the Cafe sign, I just did a Google search, saved the image and resized it. Simple, anything more difficult and you probably wouldn't see it on my table :)

    2. Well,that's too easy! I thought it might be fancy lasercut or something.

      Glad you like the blog: we've had lots of fun with those games. Playing less classic pulp these days, but it's still full steam ahead with Pulp Alley. Had a game with the boy last Saturday that I need to post up, got a couple more planned for the club this weekend. It's just such an fun and versatile system.

      You must make sure you keep posting up your reports: always enjoy reading about other people's games, and yours looks fantastic.

    3. Ha! Nope, I'm all about the easiest and simplest way to build and paint stuff - and sometimes even that mucks up the works!

      Yeah, I've seen yoy guys move into more of a Sci-Fi phase recently, but again that's what is so great about these rules; and those too look fantastic! I've been quietly trying to source some Firefly figures for next phase of PA, so I'm sure I'll be there with you at some point.

    4. Firefly: that will be fun. A number of the episodes leap to mind immediately as the basis for great games.

    5. Agreed! Here's how much of nerd I am though; to this day, I have yet to watch the last episode of Firefly, because I know that when I do, the series will "officially" be over for me:)

  3. great read, glad you had a good time. my first game also had a few misreads/forgots on the rules but it doesn't hamper any of the fun, IMHO. i'm a bit slow too so don't feel bad. for a campaign - pick up perilous island.

    1. Thanks for the comments! Agreed, despite some mistakes and misinterpretations I think everyone had fun.
      I have Perilous Island, as well as Vice Alley sitting on the shelf :) What I need is more people to come over to play!

  4. A great AAR and equally great scenery and figs. Looking forward to much more. And, yes, Pulp Alley is a great game.

    1. Thanks Joakim! You've got a pretty nice Pulp Alley world going on yourself - many times I've read your posts on LAF and the Pulp Alley boards! Great stuff!

    2. Absolutely! To actually have you, Dave, and the Preacher comment on my post - I feel like I made it, like the king of the prom! You guys are definitely the benchmark.

    3. I'm humbled :-)
      I'm slowly going through your blog and I'm really enjoying it. I've come to Dead Man's Hand and that gets my juices going as it is a great game. It's bound to reach the gaming table soon.

    4. Thanks Joakim! Hopefully you can find something interesting in the old posts. DMH is fantastic, very easy rules set that plays brilliantly, really fast paced, definitely one of my favorites!

    5. I already have.
      I already have the DMH rules, figures and houses. Now I just have to sit down and actually play

    6. Very flattering to be in such august company. Keep up your reports and we could become a quadrumvirate!