Zurqana Chain Reaction mini-campaign final (8)

I have new projects with Two Hour Wargames (THW) Chain Reaction 2015. Since the greens were only one step away from winning the mini-campaign, I devised a final scenario and kept playing it until the Green won: OK, I cheated 🙂

It’s a Raid scenario and they have to capture the Blue leader Yrbiz, who will appear in the first PEF (Potential Enemy Force) revealed. During the first two runs, the Greens were defeated. Here is the report of the third run.

The Greens enter from the North-East corner. I rolled all the PEFs in the central section of the board. I guess this gave the Greens a considerable advantage: in order to capture one of the enemies, they must get close to them.


The PEF at the center of the board reveals Yrbiz together with two soldiers (REP 5 and 4). The Greens have split into two teams: the grunt you can see here is with Claude, while Rayan and the other grunt are on the opposite side of the building.


The first firefight goes well for the Greens: Yrbiz and the REP 4 soldier are down. The REP 5 Blue ducks back.


The other two Greens advance on the right, revealing a single REP 5 soldier.


The newly appeared Blue puts down a Green grunt, but Rayan has taken a good position and hits him. The pink cube marks the unconscious Yrbiz as the mission objective.


Claude picks up Yrbiz, while the surviving Grunt and Rayan cover him, forcing the Blue soldier to Duck Back again.


The Greens leave the field with their prisoner.


Chain Reaction works well. The PEF system adds unpredictability to the scenario, and the different reaction rolls have a similar effect during play. I would like to add some more “story” linking scenarios to each other, but the properly “skirmishing” seems to me well covered by THW.

Zurqana Chain Reaction – The Green Grunts win a Raid (7)

GREENBLUE_2The Greens enter from the South. They must recover a case full of documents that is hidden somewhere in this area.


The PEF in the building at the center of the board resolve as Yrbiz and two blue soldiers, one of which armed with a bazooka. The objective must be inside that building (the pink cube). The terrain is favorable: all the Greens can take cover behind a car, with excellent LOS to the objective.


The first round is favorable to the Greens, who put the two Blue soldiers Out of the Fight. Yrbiz ducks back inside the building.


Claude and one of the Green grunts move to the porch on the right. Two of the other PEFs are false alarms, but on the left other four Blue soldiers appear! The leader is REP5 and the others REP3.


The enemies on the left are kept in check: as soon as one peeps out, is brought down by Rayan and the grunt next to him. On the other hand, Yrbiz resists, coming out to fire the occasional shot and ducking back inside the building.


Claude thinks that a Charge might be a good way to end the fight: bad idea.


Once again, charging an enemy in cover is a bad idea….

Claude is put Out of the Fight by Yrbiz. In the meantime, one of the Blues on the left has managed to reach the central building. One of the Green Grunts moves behind the same building to cover his comrades. Rayan tries a second charge against Yrbiz.


Yrbiz fires and puts the charging Rayan down. The two surviving Green grunts don’t loose their nerves. One of the two charges and puts out of the fight the REP3 blue behind the building. The other Green soldier finally manages to hit Yrbiz with a rifle shot. The enemies are all gone and the documents can be recovered!


New campaign score (Raids won):
Green 2 – Blue 0

Next time, the Greens will fight another Raid, with the chance to win the campaign.

Zurqana Chain Reaction – Patrol and Slaughter (6)


The Green’s objective is to reach the opposite (Southern) side of the board.


I roll to see which side activates first, and the Blues win. The Potential Enemy Force (PEF) marker behind the truck resolves as two REP5 soldiers and one REP4. One of the Green grunts is immediately put Out of the Fight. The other Greens fail the Man Down Test (which is harder without cover): Claude has to go prone, the surviving grunt manages to Duck Back into the building on the left. Rayan boldly (or stupidly?) stands in the open.


The PEF on the left resolves as another REP 5 Blue. The other two luckily turn out to be false alarms. Rayan reaches the grunt in the building. Claude moves forward towards them but must go Prone again. The firefight also forces the Blue to Duck Back.


The Green grunt and Rayan take down the Blue on the left and the REP4 guy who had climbed on the truck.


Claude is put Out of the Fight when still prone. The Green grunt takes down one of the REP5 blues near the truck. Only one enemy still stands.


With the help of Rayan’s suppressive fire from the building, the Blue is kept in Duck Back. The Green Grunt runs throw the square to the porch on the left.


The only surviving Blue ducks back

The grunt runs behind the porch and is now quite close the truck. The Blue is distracted by the ongoing firefight with Rayan.


Finally, Rayan is hit, but now the Green grunt is hiding behind the truck.


When the Blue comes in sight, the Green is faster and takes him down with a well-aimed shot.


A tough victory for the Greens, who will try to Raid the Blues in the next encounter.

The campaign score (Raids won) is unchanged:
Green 1 – Blue 0

Zurqana Chain Reaction – Detailed Defend AAR (5)

Gamer Fabian Khalil asked on G+ for a more detailed report of a Chain Reaction game. So here it is.

Ed Teixeira’s Chain Reaction 2015 rules are freely available on the Two Hour Wargames site.

A handy single-page QRS by Zoran Bosnjak is available on BoardgameGeek.

Stats for the figures in this game:

Claude & Rayan have foolishly lost the previous Patrol mission, so they must now Defend against the Blues, who have the chance to tie the current campaign score. I decided to only include a single Green Grunt together with Claude and Rayan and 3 PEFs to keep things smaller for this more detailed AAR.

For the terrain, I don’t use CR tables: I just put a few buildings and vehicles on the table. I then roll for a random table side for the Greens. Then I use CR rules to place the PEFs: there’s a stripe free of enemies near the Greens’ table side. The rest is split into 6 and a D6 is rolled to place the PEFs. More than one PEF can be in the same area, as in this case where I got two PEFs in area 1 (top left).

Another of the several things I don’t use are activation dice. You should roll one die per side. The highest goes first. Only figures with a rep higher than the roll activate. I simply activate each figure once in each turn. Until now, I have used card based activation, but things work well if you just alternate activating the two sides: the reaction system makes activation order less crucial.

Since the Greens are Defending, I decided to first start the Blues.

The game is made of turns, in which each figure has an activation phase. Typically, when a figure activates, it has no enemies in side, because it Ducked Back (decided to completely hide behind cover) or the enemies Ducked Back. An activation phase usually goes like this:

  • the figure begins its movement
  • it comes in sight of enemies
  • an In Sight test is taken and only one of the two sides fires
  • the other side is put Out of the Fight, Ducks Back or Returns fire (Damage or Received Fire rolls)
  • repeat the previous point, alternating the firing side, until one of the two is put down or ducks back
  • if the active figure Ducked Back, its activation ends
  • if the active figure won the firefight, it can perform the remaining part of its movement
  • if there are other other enemies in sight, it can fire once again (at any point of its movement)

Round 1 – Blue

PEFs have REP (i.e. reputation = quality) 4. You start from the PEF furthest away from your squad (the one at the top left in this case). You roll two dice (CR only use D6 dice). To succeed, the PEF must roll 4 or less (this is how you check REP in general). If you roll 2 successes, the PEF moves 8” toward your squad. On a single success, it moves 4”. If it fails both dice, it does nothing.

The first PEF passes two dice and comes into view between the large building on the left and the blue car. I resolve PEFs with a custom table which on the average generates 1 figure per PEF. In this case, I got a single REP5 rifleman. He immediately takes cover next to the building.

The enemy just came in sight of my squad: an In Sight test must rolled. The idea is that only one of the two sides will immediately fire. The test requires that you roll as many dice as the highest REP in the group, with rolls of 1,2,3 counting as successes. The side with more successes fires, and ties are treated in favor of the non-active side (Green, in this case).

In Sight Test: Blue:4 Green:1 (the Blue side wins)

The Blue guy fires at Rayan with his rifle (two dice). To hit an enemy in cover, you must score a 10 with D6+REP. The two dice are treated individually. Since the guy is REP5, he has to score at least a 5.
He rolls 6 and 4. A single hit. An additional damage roll will tell us what happens to Rayan. The damage roll is 6: Obviously Dead. This was quite a lucky shot (two 6s with three dice)!


The Blue puts Rayan Out of the Fight

The surviving Green figures must now take a Man Down test (basically a morale check). They roll two dice and compare them with their REPs. They roll 4 and 2, they have REP5 and 4, so they both pass two dice (equal or less than their REP): Carry On (the best possible result).

Reactions are over: the Blue rifleman can end his activation, firing another shot (the previous shot was a reaction to the Insight Test). He fires at the Green Grunt: 5,1. One hit. Damage roll:2, less than the Grunt’s REP: the grunt Ducks Back behind the cylindrical structure at his left.

The second PEF passes a single die and moves 4” forward towards the yellow car.

The third PEF passes two dice, comes into view and is resolved as a “false alarm” (no enemies).

Round 1 – Green

Claude moves behind the cover at his left and fires at the Blue rifleman. He has a pistol and rolls a single die: 1 (a miss). Claude and the Blue are now locked in a firefight duel that can only end with one of the two figures going down or Ducking Back.
The Blue takes a Received Fire test. When you are in cover, you roll an additional die for both Received Fire and Man Down tests. So he rolls three dice; 3,3,6. Two successes. He returns fire: 1,1 miss.
Green Received Fire test (Claude also is in cover, so three dice). 3,2,2. He returns fire: 1 (miss).
Blue Received Fire test: 3,4,6. Return fire 2,2 (miss).
Green Received Fire test: 1,3,4. Return fire 6 (hit). Damage roll: 5. Since this is the same as the target’s REP, Claude has put the Blue Out of the Fight.

I could have moved the Green Grunt to an in cover firing position. But I forgot and he remained Ducked Back.


The Green Grunt Ducks Back
Claude puts the Blue Out of the Fight

Round 2 – Blue

The single remaining PEF passes two dice and is resolved as two riflemen: REP5 and REP4. They take cover near the yellow car.

In Sight test: Blue:2 Green: 3.
Claude fires to the REP5 Blue: 3 (miss)
Blue Received Fire test: 1,4,5 Return fire. The REP5 Blue scores 6,2 (one hit). Damage 4 (less than Claude’s REP=5). Claude is forced to Duck Back next to the Green Grunt.


Both Greens in “Duck Back”

Round 2 – Green

Claude and the Grunt move to firing position. Since they had been invisible (in Duck Back), an In Sight test must be rolled:

Blue:3 Green:1

The Blue REP4 Soldier shoots at the Green REP4 Grunt: 2,3 (miss)
The Blue REP5 Soldier shoots at Claude: 6,3 (one hit). Damage: 3 (Claude Ducks Back again)

The Green Grunt was missed by the Blue Grunt: the two figures are again locked in a firefight duel.
The Green Grunt takes a Received Fire test: 6,5,4 (a single success, Rush Shot, which is a less effective shot if the target is not in cover, but irrelevant in this case). The Green Grunt rolls 2,3 (miss).
Blue REP4 Grunt Received Fire test: 3,4,5. He returns fire: 5,4 (miss – he must roll 6 to have a total D6+REP=10)
Green REP4 Grunt Received Fire test: 5,5,2 (Rush Shot again). 6,3 (one hit). Damage: 4 (same as target REP) – the Blue Grunt is Out of the Fight.


The Blue Soldier behind the yellow car goes down

Since Claude Ducked Back, his turn has ended. But the Green REP4 guy still has to conclude his activation. He shoots at the surviving REP5 Blue soldier. 6,4 (one hit). Damage roll: 6. Obviously Dead.


The Green Grunt brings down the last Blue soldier

Note that I roll a single blue damage die together with the “shots”. I use one (pistol) or two (rifle) white dice for the shots, so I can distinguish them from the damage die.

It’s a considerable number of rolls, but I don’t have to refer to the tables. I have removed several details, so that I can keep everything in mind. In the future, I could decide to add some of the details I left out (e.g. the “outgunned” condition that basically implies that a guy with a gun reacts poorly when targeted by enemies with rifles).

The game resulted in a Green victory. Raid campaign score is still unchanged:
Green 1 – Blue 0

The next game will be a Patrol mission.

Zurqana Chain Reaction – Yrbiz stops a Patrol mission (4)

Fourth game in my Two Hour Wargames Chain Reaction Final Version mini-campaign.

The Green squad lead by Sgt. Claude has been stopped in the last Raid mission. They are now back to patrolling. The objective of the mission is to patrol the right side of the board.
Four PEFs (Potential Enemy Forces) await near the two small buildings and the two vehicles.

The squad move forward, and the two PEFs near the vehicles turn out to be false alarms. Carry on.


Also the PEF near the building with the gray roof disappears, but the last one, in the building on the right, activates and resolves as the Blue Leader Yrbiz with three REP3 Grunts. The Green squad has split: Claude is moving towards the red pick-up, while Rayan tries to reach the yellow car.


The first firefight is favorable to the Greens: Rayan sends Yrbiz in Duck Back and the Green grunt next to him kills one of the Blue grunts.


Claude and the other grunt have reached the pick-up. Claude Ducks Back, while the grunt kills a second Blue soldier. Now the Greens are four against two: this looks like a very favorable situation!


Rayan and his grunt comrade boldly Charge into Melee. The grunt charges Yrbiz, who fires and kills him. Rayan kills the last Blue grunt.


Yrbiz is the last Blue figure, yet he manages to kill the Green soldier in the pick-up and Rayan with two consecutive shots. Yrbiz and Claude are left alone: a long and tense pistol duel. Finally, Yrbiz hits Claude and obtains a well-deserved victory!


Next time C&R will face their first Defend mission.

Raid score (unchanged):
Green 1 – Blue 0

Zurqana Chain Reaction – Failed Raid for food (3)



Claude and Rayan are sent to a second Raid mission, with the objective to capture a large quantity of food that has been recently brought into Zurqana by the Blue army.

In the encounter area there are four small buildings, with four PEFs (Potential Enemy Force markers) scattered among them. The Greens enter from the South.


Rayan activates first and, together with one of the two grunts, moves towards the nearest building on the left. In doing so, he comes into sight of a first PEF, which is resolved as a single Blue sniper. The sniper shoots and kills the grunt. Rayan fires back and puts the sniper out of the fight.


The PEFs activate and move into site. From behind the yellow car, four Blue soldiers appear, including their Leader Yrbiz. The Green win the In Sight test and Rayan is again infallible, putting Yrbiz down. The three blue grunts (REP3) fail the Man Down test and Leave the Battlefield.


Three more Blue soldiers appear behind the mimetic vehicle at the North of the area (two REP5, one REP4). The vehicle must be loaded with the food the Greens are looking for. The Blue soldiers aim at Claude and the grunt next to him and put both down. Rayan is forced to Duck Back and, given the situation, decides to leave the field.


Next time C&R will have a Patrolling mission.

Raid score (unchanged):
Green 1 – Blue 0

Zurqana Chain Reaction – Raiding for forbidden weapons (2)

After the first successful Patrol, Claude and Rayan are sent to Raid mission, in which they will have to collect proof of forbidden chemical weapons allegedly used by the Blue Army (GameMaster’s Apprentice cards: “Sacrilegious Weapon”).


In the encounter area there are several small buildings, with four PEFs (Potential Enemy Force markers) scattered among them. The Greens enter from the left.


They move towards the turned over car. Doing so, they come in sight of two PEFs that reveal no enemy force.


The wrecked car also turns out to be clean, but Ybriz’s Blue squad peeps out from behind the blue wall, after moving forward in cover from the building on the right. They have the mission objective with them (the pink cube).


The Greens split into two groups, with the grunts taking cover behind the car. Claude and Rayan move forward in the open. Yrbiz aims at Claude, who Ducks Back on the opposite side of the blue wall. Claude fires back and puts Yrbiz out of combat.


The Grunts put out of combat the Blue rifleman and Rayan kills the one armed with a bazooka before he can shoot his first rocket. The forbidden weapons are successfully recovered and the Green side scores the first of the three Raid successes needed to win the campaign!


Chain Reaction – The Zurqana campaign (1)

Since my test game with Two Hour Wargames Test Reaction have been positive, I have decided to start a skirmishing campaign.
The Greens and the Blues are fighting for the control of the town of Zurqana. The Green side is lead by Sgt. Claude and his sidekick Rayan. The team also includes a few REP4 grunts (typically 2).


The composition of the Blue squad is variable, since it is determined via PEF (Potential Enemy Force) resolution. The leader of the Blues is Yrbiz, with the same stats as Claude, but he will not show up in all games (this depends on how the PEFs are resolved). I use a custom PEF table that on the average provides a squad as strong as the Green squad, but with a lot of variability which can result in a much weaker or much stronger Blue squad.


My current idea is to end the campaign when one of the side has won 3 Raid missions. This will likely require 6-10 games, but we will see.

The first mission is patrolling the square in front of a long building. PEFs (white chess pieces) are lurking in the building, and one is near the yellow car at the center of the square.


Claude’s men move forward and they find no opposition near the yellow car. Also two of the PEFs near the building are resolved, revealing a single Blue REP5 soldier, who is readily put down by the Greens. A last PEF is hidden behind the Porsche near the building.


The last PEF turns out to be Yrbiz escorted by three REP3 soldiers.


The Greens move forward, but Rayan and one of the two Grunts are taken down while crossing the gap between the yellow and the blue car. Also one of the Blue Grunts goes down in the firefight and the other Blues are finally forced to Duck Back.


Claude takes advantage of the favorable moment and moves forward in the open, reaching the goal of the Patrol mission.


The REP 3 blue soldier shoots at Claude who, luckily, dodges the bullet by going prone in the open.


Having accomplished the mission, Claude moves back to the blue car. The Green grunt takes a couple of excellent shots and puts Yrbiz and the last Blue grunt out of the fight.


A great Green victory! The next game will be a Green Raid, with the possibility of scoring a first point towards the campaign’s goal.

Vancian Blackmarsh

I am planning to use a pre-made fantasy module for my Eve of Tschai solo campaign based on Jack Vance’s Planet of Adventure.
The candidate is Blackmarsh by Robert S. Conley.
I found this work mentioned on a 2013 blog post on tenkarstavern.com with the following description: “I’m not sure how many freely available campaign settings there are in the OSR, but this is professionally done and has the makings of one heck of a hexcrawl if the DM so desired.”
I have read the booklet and I found it well written. It has a small hex map with eighty locations and adventure seeds described in the text. There is no plot: it really is a setting detailing the history and geography of a small region. This is a fantasy setting and I will have to adapt it to Vancian SF, but I don’t expect this to be too difficult. I am thinking of the following conversions (but I will improvise as I go):

  • evil wizards fond of crazy dungeons: Pnume and Pnumekin
  • orcs: Dirdir (man-eating humanoids)
  • elves: Wannek and Wannekmen (I know this is far-fetched, but it should be fun)

All magic will be translated to some kind of alien technology.

In preparation of the game, I have redrawn the map adapting the names to Vance’s style. Blackmarsh is now Bamarsa. It is situated on the East coast of the Kachan sub-continent. Eve is sailing to Bamarsa from Vord and the journey will require her a few more weeks / game sessions. So I still have time to think if there is anything else I can do to get ready for her arrival in the area.

I don’t think I have ever used an adventure module for my solo games before. I am curious to see how it goes….


Eve is currently in Azez, on the Vord strait. She still has to travel about 2000 kilometers before she arrives at Bamarsa (as I have renamed Blackmarsh).


Solo Grail – Ivana vs Magic

I played a second game with the informal set of rules I derived from Archipelago, A Grail Epoch and Storyleaves. I provisionally called these rules “Solo Grail” (download link).
I made a few changes from the first game:

  • “Destinies” have been replaced by simple goals for the Protagonist and the Antagonist;
  • I introduced a count of the challenges won by the Protagonist; basically, if the Protagonist wins most challenges, he reaches his/her goal; else, the Antagonist reaches his/her goal and the Protagonist looses the session.
  • I will also change how the initially empty sheet is used: a 3×3 grid seems too much. I guess that 3×2 (with at most 6 locations) in enough.

The game went like this:
Elements: Love, Rivalry and the Grail.


Main Characters:
Protagonist: Duchess Dulcina, whose goal is to use magic to increase her power.
Beloved: Manlius, Dulcina’s astrologer.
Antagonist: Ivana, Dulcina’s maid of honor, whose goal is to fight all forms of magic.

Ivana and Manlius are characters from the previous game.

Initial Locations:
Dulcina and Ivana are at Dulcina’s palace.
Manlius is at the Library (location from the previous game).


Round 1.

I drew an Archipelago fate card for Ivana:
“This character does something rash that causes them a lot of trouble with the element you own [the Grail]. An unwise sexual liaison; insulting an ally; destruction of property”.
Cino, King Wilfred’s Geomancer, is staying at Dulcina’s during a journey. Ivana insults him, accusing him of having made a pact with the Devil.
Are Dulcina’s excuses accepted by Cino?
“Yes But in order to succeed you must sacrifice something dear to you”.
Dulcina has to send away Ivana in order to prove to Cino that she will not allow similar episodes in the future.

Manlius the Magician reaches St.Vitus Monastery, where Abbess Virtuosa is keeping a council about the boundaries between magic and heresy.


Round 2
Ivana travels South and stops at the Blue Dragon Inn. There she meets are ex-fiancee Sir Leo. She asks him to help her take revenge on the mischievous kin of magicians. Does Leo accept?
“Yes But your success has dangerous and unintended consequences”.


A Fate card for Dulcina:
“Something important is stolen from this character by someone connected to the element you own [Love]”.
Dulcina and Cino travel together towards St. Vitus, to assist the council. While crossing the Burnt Hills, they meet Sir Florian, a nobleman who is in love with Dulcina. He is so jealous of Cino that he captures the magician in order to take him as a prisoner to his castle. Dulcina asks Florian to inform Abbess Virtuosa of his action, so that they can decide if Cino has committed some kind of heresy and if he has the right to imprison him.
Does Dulcina convince Florian? “No, but your failure helps another succeed.”
Cino manages to magically inform Manlius that he has been imprisoned and asks Manlius to look after Dulcina.

[Dulcina has scored a success in R1 and a failure in R2, so in the final challenge both sides will have the same chance of winning]

Round 3: Leo and Ivana reach St.Vitus. Ivana is under disguise as Leo’s sister Igina. At dinner, Ivana attempts to poison Dulcina, so that will stop helping the treacherous plans of magicians. Does Dulcina’s survive Ivana’s attempt to kill her?
“No, and someone or something dear to you is harmed, lost or destroyed.”
The conditions are particularly favorable for Ivana: she kills both Dulcina and Manlius.


[Fate cards are very powerful, but playing one in each of the first two rounds, you get an unexpected story line. They also help introduce new characters. I like the fact that you quickly build a whole range of minor characters that can be reused in future games]