Saturday, August 20, 2011

Perhaps I was too hard on Archibald

My first impression of the Archibald, the human cannonball hero in Invasion From Outr Space was that he was a hard hero to use effectively. His talent of "Fire Me!" would likely see him stuck in the middle of a bunch of angry Martians every time it was used and he'd die a quick death without accomplishing much.

Well, he proved me wrong Friday at a game session of the Central Connecticut Wargamers.

We were playing a four-player scenario of Abduction. Two opposing players handled the Martians, while Mark Kalina had Angelica the bearded lady and R.J. Flanagan, the ringmaster. I started with Lucrezia the contortionist and Cassidy the trick shooter.

The first half of the game went passably well for the heroes, as the novice Martian players had some trouble marshaling their resources effectively and the initial board configuration was favorable to the heroes with four of the six allies in a clump on the Ferris Wheel/Trapeze Tent board. The Purple Martian player also had early bad luck in getting his troops beamed down.

Eventually the Martians started to get their act together and the heroes became hard-pressed. Bosley the elephant and Jimmy the stable boy were off by themselves and picked off by the Martians, although Cassidy did pick off a few Martians headed for Jimmy. Soon it became clear that the Heroes had to concentrate their forces to protect the clump, though, as the Martians gathered a large force, including the Zard beast, nearby.

Despite some heroism that saw Lucrezia defeat the Zard Beast in hand-to-hand combat and blast a full back of Martians with a bomb, overwhelming Martian numbers finally told. A Saucer blast took out poor Cassidy. While this brought in Jo Jo, the dancing bear was too far away to be an immediate help. And immediate help was what the Heroes needed as Lucrezia finally fell to an assault by a full Martian pack led by the newly arrived Martian Leader. The full back was stacked with two of the remaining allies (the twins and Doc Mesmer) and was just two squares (one move by the Martian Leader pack) from a saucer. Neither Angelica nor RJ was in a position to intervene. It was basically game over on the next Martian move barring some amazing turn of luck -- as the Martian players noted gloatingly.

Well, that amazing luck arrived in the form of Archibald, who arrived nearby. He rolled just enough to movement to make it to the cannon that's next tot he trapeze tent, climbed in and fired himself through the tent (oh, and that part of it was on fire) to land on top of the Martian leader's pack. Bam! All three regular Martians were killed and the Leader was wounded -- and Archibald promptly boxed him into oblivion as well. RJ and Angelica also had good turns knocking off Martians and suddenly the worm had turned.

The Martian regrouped and brought in a new wave and redirected their efforts against the Ferris Wheel, where Texas Jack and the Fuji Merman were hiding out. JoJo came to the rescue here, battling back the Martians, for a few turns. Angelica and RJ, who were guarding the twins and Mesmer, were trapped by fire covering both exits of the Trapeze Tent at a critical moment, and suddenly it looked like Jo Jo was about to be overwhelmed by a new Martian Leader-led full pack. Archibald rolled up a Power Token and dashed to another nearby cannon. Again he fired himself through the Ferris Wheel and right into the Martian Leader's pack. Bam! Three dead regular Martians and a wounded Martian Leader were the result. And once again Archibald boxed the dazed Martian Leader out!

Now time was running out for the Martians -- with just a couple of turns left they couldn't abduct allies in time so they had to concentrate on killing heroes instead. Poor Archibald's number came up and the big galoot of a Hero fell in a barrage of ray gun fire. Hannah the fire breather rushed onto the scene, but she was on the other side of the board and there simply wasn't time for her to reach the action.

It came down to a final turn's assault on Jo Jo, the dancing bear, by five Martians, including a full pack in the bear's square. The ray gun blasts left Jo Jo hanging on by a thread -- one more wound and the Martians would win! In a card-enhanced 4-die to 2-die fight JoJo rolled a 6 and with the bear's talent and a power token to boost it to a seven and the game was saved. (In the Hero turn JoJo would simply step back out of range so there wouldn't be a fight in the Hero turn.)

While they didn't survive, Lucrezia and, especially, Archibald were clearly the heroes of the fight. Archibald took out two Martian leaders and two full packs and several other Martians as well. Lucrezia killed the Zard beast and a full pack as well as a couple of other stray Martians. Cassidy did quite a bit of damage before she fell as well, taking out pairs of Martians three or four times. Jo Jo was also devastating. Angelica was effective when she finally got into the fight, but she had a lot of low movement rolls. RJ Flanagan did his thing, although he's not much of a fighter. Hannah is normally a powerful Hero, but she showed up on the next-to-last turn this time and played no part in the outcome.

Everyone agreed that it was a highly entertaining story -- and that the Martians had the game in the bag until Archibald's timely appearance and amazing heroics. It was very B-movie cinematic.


  1. Hilarious. I admit to loving experiential games, but most of this genre falls flat for me in general (Last Night on Earth as well). That said, if I had a 50% chance in every game of having this sort of hilarity ensue, I would play them a lot more often.

    Although I am afraid of clowns... ;-)

    Great writeup, Seth.

  2. I've played 2 games of this using the basic rules so far, and both games were close. Archibald did fairly well in both games. I'm glad I re-read your blog posts about the game, because I had been neglecting to pull a new hero when one was killed. That could have been a game changer! Great fun, though, even for the loser.