Saturday, August 5, 2017

Agent Carter, Pulp Alley Historicon AAR's

For the next big game project I'm working on I really wanted to do something that had a Hollywood feel to it. And I also wanted to have a connecting story that would carry over to several different boards, so was born my Agent Carter game.

I was able to complete part one of a three part story line for Agent Carter and HRF 13 at this years Historicon convention. Parts 2 and 3 will take place at the manor and the facility hidden underneath. Basically I now have created a cliffhanger game where hopefully next year I can have players come back to continue Carter's adventure to stop the evil Red Skull.

For the game itself I wanted to have some gadgets available to each side - if you have Howard Stark in the game, you absolutely have to have some neat gadgets and the Pulp Alley Gadgets pack provided everything I wanted! Each side had two gadgets available to them to start the game.

And to make it even a bit more fun I also had two pieces of technology hidden in plot points on the table. Once a team successfully obtained the plot point they would also have the gadget available to them to use whenever they wanted. I put the experimental jetpack in the Stark crates as it just seemed appropriate :) 

I also placed the mysterious "Gadget X" in the Isodyne Energy boxes - this gadget allowed a plot point to be taken without passing a challenge, the perfect card to play when going for the major plot point, the artifact in the church.

Each side deployed at different sides of the table.

The five plot points - the map to the manor, Captain America's shield, the stolen Stark technology, the Isodyne Energy boxes, and the altar hiding the powerful artifact - were placed throughout the table.

With the major plot point, the altar, being placed at the back of the bombed out church.

The game had a total of four players, two for the SSR side (Gabriel and Jakob) and two for the Hydra side (Nelson and Francisco). Each player had four models in their league that they controlled. Below is Peggy Carter with Mr. Jarvis, Dr. Jason Wilkes, and Agent Ryan.

I had planned to have both SSR leagues in "commando" style outfits (like Peggy is wearing below bottom right) but unfortunately wasn't able to make that happen before the deadline - which is why everyone is in 1940's style civilian clothing. It did make it a bit easier to identify models that were in outfits you'd have seen them in on television or the movie though. Stark for instance, with his mustache and white jacket, was easily recognizable anywhere on the table.

Red Skull and Dr. Armin Zola.

To start the Hydra villains lined up to head across the road towards the stolen Stark technology and the church.

Perilous areas (challenges had to be passed to continue movement) were all the areas of debris from the bombings. This made getting around and across the board a bit more difficult. I also had several random and hidden perilous areas that I threw into the game just to give it a bit more flavor.

Background on part one - it is near the end of WWII in France and the SSR has been informed of Red Skulls intentions of stealing an ancient artifact hidden in a destroyed village. The artifact could bring ultimate power to Red Skull so it's a race to see who can get to the artifact first. But the SSR also have to find the map that will lead them to Red Skull's hidden manor and underground facility where he plans on using the artifact - parts 2 and 3 to the continuing story.

Both sides made their way towards plot points as turn 1 was all movement. One of the hidden perilous areas did come into play though, as the truck in the photo below started up and both Agent Thompson and Howard Stark had to pass challenges to jump out of the way of the truck, which unfortunately Stark failed and got knocked down! Thankfully he passed his recovery check at the end of the turn.

Gabriel made quick work of moving around the back of the buildings with Dr. Wilkes and Jarvis on his way to attempt to grab the map plot point.

Jakob moved his team with Agent Thompson, Agent Sousa and Howard Stark up to try to sneak through an alley way to the stolen Stark tech and the Isodyne boxes.

Gabriel was almost on the map by the end of turn two, but I couldn't let it be that easy for him :)

Another one of those hidden perilous areas that I had come into play was a wandering German patrol, complete with a dog :).  This patrol came in through the plowed field to attempt to stop Gabriel from grabbing the map that would lead him to the hidden manor.

Some unbelievable dice rolling from Gabriel ended up taking out the entire patrol! That cleared the way to the church, as well as allowing him to secure the map plot point with no opposition.

Meanwhile on the other side of the board, Francisco made quick work of getting Dr. Zola over to the stolen Stark technology.

He successfully completed his challenge for the plot point and now had Starks experimental jet pack!

What was really fun about this was the look on Francisco's face when he read the card, and then of course everyone else's reaction when he told them what he'd just got! That's the thing that is the most important to me when running a game, everyone laughing and having fun, and I think we succeeded :)

Nelson had Red Skull and his group move forward on the street towards the Isodyne Energy boxes, trading shots with Carter hiding next to the fountain.

It was here that I sprung another one of the hidden perilous areas. The bombings had disturbed some kind of beetle nest that exploded up through the ground to attack anyone within 3 inches of the crater area. To make it fun I rolled scatter dice to continue to have the beetles move on the table through the end of the game. Nelson had a bit of trouble securing the Isodyne boxes at first because of these little guys, but ultimately grabbed them with Red Skull.

I didn't want the major plot point to be taken too easily, so as a last minute addition to the game I had a figure I named "Protector of the Artifact" placed in the church.

I think it was a neat narrative addition to the game, but in hindsight I made him way too powerful - being a last minute addition I didn't have stats ready, so I used one of the leader cards from the Pulp Alley Horror Deck and that was a mistake. Those guys are incredibly tough as Francisco quickly found out as his first figure was knocked out of the game by him.

Gabriel had Peggy race past the fountain in the street, taking shots at Red Skull on the way, and onto Cap's shield for his second plot point secured.

With Carter close to getting to the church Francisco attempted to have Dr. Zola use the jet pack to try to get over to the church - to safely use the pack he had to successfully pass an extreme peril, which was passing two different challenges - and he did!

This is absolutely my favorite photo from every single one taken of the game and table! Francisco sent this to me as part of the several photos he took and honestly I think it looks like it came right out of a magazine! This was just as Peggy Carter had entered the church to attempt to grab the ancient artifact from the protector.

Dr. Zola landed just outside the church, waiting for the right moment to try to sneak in and grab the artifact while Carter was taking on the Protector. Much fighting went on with the Protector from both sides, but he was ultimately able to keep anyone from taking that final and most important plot point.

The guys absolutely blew through the Fortune Deck and it was the first time I've actually had to reshuffle! I think it was turn five where 7 or 8 cards were all played within a few minutes of each other. One sequence had all the guys cancelling each other out several times by throwing down cards which brought much laughter to the table!

Gabriel ended up having the Fortune Card that extended the game to a 7th turn and everyone made one last ditch attempt to either knock an opponent out or grab that last plot point. The game ended up as a tie - four points each -  with each side securing two plot points and both sides knocking out two figures, but ultimately I think everyone had fun playing.

I had changed how initiative worked, as I tried to make it as simple as possible (I used playing cards, each suit represented a league, and when I flipped your suit you could move a figure), but in talking with Francisco a few days later during the convention about the game he suggested going back to how Pulp Alley actually does the initiative, as it will add a whole different dimension to the game. I think he is absolutely correct and it's a great idea for next time. Maybe I'll even use a prop, a red hat like Carter wears perhaps, to help everyone know who has control of initiative :)

I had another fantastic game on Saturday night and one of the players in that game, John Sears, wrote up a really great review of the game with several fantastic photos, so I won't go into detail as you can read about here in John's excellent blog

What was absolutely crazy about Saturday nights game was that the Hydra players had the game won, done and dusted. They had more plot points and had knocked out more figures than their opponents did - until the very last two rolls of the game that is!!!! On their recovery rolls both John and Harry failed and that meant that both figures were out, and both were carrying plot points so those were lost as well! Victory to the SSR -  the reactions from everyone at the table was absolutely hilarious, and I honestly couldn't believe what I just witnessed!

In my opinion the only way that you are ever going to have a successful convention game is if you have great players - and I couldn't have asked for a better group of players in both games, so much thanks goes to those 8 guys! And extra special thanks to Gabriel and Francisco for the photos used in this report, as usual I forgot to take pictures during the game. Almost all that you see are courtesy of the two of them. And a big thanks to John as well, as mentioned above. I really hope to roll some dice with these guys again in the future.

I also want to give a tip of the hat and huge thanks to all the GM's who put on games and demos over the course of the convention. It's a Herculean task to run a game; from the idea stage, to the build, the travel to get it there, and then set up and actual play. Much thanks to all!

As always, thanks for looking!


  1. Great stuff Ivor & your table looks amazing.

  2. Sounds like heaps of fun, and once again looks superb! The scattered rubble is really effective.

    1. Thanks Bill! I think everyone had fun which is mission accomplished in my book :)

  3. Looks awesome! Wish we could have been there.

    THANKS for playing and sharing Pulp Alley!

    Pulp Alley

    1. Thanks Dave! Appreciate you taking a look at the report!

  4. This would be cool to make with comic book maker.

    1. Agreed 100%! I tried a few of the free comic maker software that is available and it didn't work out to well, so purchasing the good software is definitely on my short list of "to do" ☺

  5. Try Comic Life, it is fairly inexpensive and it pretty easy to use. Here is a Pulp Alley comic that I made using it.

    1. That looks great! I'll definitely look into that, thanks a lot!

  6. I want to play!!

    I'm running a "serious" Pulp Alley game at Fall In this year. A WW2 commando raid.

    I may have to borrow some of your ideas for upcoming games. I'm actually working on a game with Peggy Carter, Captain America, and The Howling Commandos.

    1. That sounds awesome! Do you any photos or a blog? I'd love to see what you've got planned.
      I actually had a Captain America ready in the wings if things went bad for the Carter team during the Historicon games :) I also have about 4 of the Howling Commandos all set to hit the table - hopefully I'll get something posted soon!

  7. Great write up Ivor, and thanks again for running such an awesome game. Table, figures, scenario and GMing were top notch! I'm looking forward to the next chapter of your pulp saga. Dr. Zola will have his revenge!

    1. Thanks John, really appreciate it! Hopefully we can get both you and your son into the next one :)

  8. Looks amazing! Count me as another who wishes he could have been there! Maybe you should take the game on tour....!!

    1. Thanks Gordon! "Chaos Tour 2017: Where we'll try to complete projects and stay focused...but don't hold your breath!"

  9. I agree that the picture with Peggy entering the church is outstanding! But, the rest of the pictures are AWESOME as well!! Well done sir ... and the whole story, background, and theme for the game is top notch!!! Congrats!

    1. Thanks my friend! I always have the most fun with the narrative parts of a game, the other stuff may end up being mediocre, but at least it'll have fun storyline :)

  10. Which Bases did you use for your evil guys? They look red and green at the edges.

    1. You are correct, they are same clear bases I use normally except that I painted the edges - I found in multi player games it's much easier to keep track of all your figures if they all have the same color bases. So all the green bases were one players, the red another players, etc.
      What's really nice about it is that the paint just rubs off the base with a fingernail so it's not a permanent thing.

    2. Your stuff is awesome. Thanks for the inspiration.

    3. Extremely kind of you to say! And really appreciate you taking the time to leave the comments 🙂