No Turkeys on Mars – #TurkeyGameDay17

The RockyMountainNavy household is a bit busy this holiday with family visiting. Unfortunately, this means the last weekend Game Night was cancelled due to travel. However, this week (and especially thanksgiving Day) saw some games landing on the table. For some reason, the Red Planet Mars seemed to be our theme….

IMG_2055Thanksgiving Eve the RMNBoys and myself played a 3-player game of The Expanse Board Game. The game was slow with some analysis paralysis as the boys tried to get their heads wrapped around the game. The game ended a bit early when the sixth Scoring Card came out before the fourth or fifth had been played. At the end of the game I was a bit worried because Middle RMN Boy (on the Autism Spectrum) reacted a bit negatively to the ruthless play of his brother. I (belatedly) realized that The Expanse Board Game is a bit more on the “ruthless” side of gaming and not like other games we have played recently. The contrast was all-the-more apparent since the previous games Middle RMN Boy had played were the cooperative Ghostbusters: Protect the Barrier Game or the very family-friendly Ticket to Ride. To further exacerbate his loss, he had played the OPA which probably has the most “indirect” asymmetry of the three factions. Maybe I should have encouraged him to take the more militant MCR or the diplomatic UN. Thus, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to another play of The Expanse Board Game on Thanksgiving Day. Middle RMN insisted that he play the OPA again and I did not get in his way.

After the first game, we had talked about how the game encouraged being ruthless and how it was not his brother being mean, but the design of the game. I was hoping he understood. After the game it was very apparent that I had little to worry about for he was just as ruthless as his brother. In the end, Little RMN ran away with a victory but Middle RMN and myself were in a virtual tie. The boys both want to play again, and I too am more comfortable playing with them as Middle RMN Boy now seems to “understand” the game and not take it personally.

Courtesy BGG

Thanksgiving Night ended with a full game of Terraforming Mars. Little RMN again proved to be ruthless and gave us no mercy with another runaway win. This was the second full-play of Terraforming Mars using the regular Corporations and the boys are exploring various strategies and getting better at playing Action Cards. As we were putting away the game, we looked at the Corporate Era cards. The rule book states that using the Corporate Era cards will result in an extended game; elsewhere I have read using these cards results in a more “confrontational” game. For that reason I was not planning on introducing these cards until after a few more plays. However, after The Expanse Board Game the RMN Boys are in a bit of a “confrontational” gaming mood and want to play the Corporate Era variant.

Although our Thanksgiving games ended well enough, it reminded me that playing with Autism Spectrum must always be in the back of my mind. When introducing a new game, I need to ensure that the tone of the game is presented up front to avoid negative emotions. I am happy to do this because – at the end of the day – I get to game with two of my greatest gaming partners.

(Featured image courtesy

Christmas Games 2010 – Savage Mars RPG

Courtesy RPG Geek

The Game:  Mars: A Savage Setting of Planetary Romance

The System: Savage Worlds RPG

The Setting: This item is a Savage Worlds RPG sourcebook for a Swords & Planets setting.  It draws heavily on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series and HG Wells’ War of the Worlds.  It is not either one of those, but rather draws upon those works to create a unique setting.

The Appearance: Full-size hardcover.  Cover art is subdued but evocative of the setting.  All interior content is black & white.  Interior art is all-out pulp with swashbuckling males in loincloth or little armor and buxom females, some without clothes!

The Content: There is alot of material stuffed into the 192 pages:

  • Part One: Mars is much of the background.  A map is included but the greyscale used makes interpretation difficult.  Download the full-color version from the Adamant Entertainment website (part of the pdf version).
  • Part Two: Characters helps you generate your Martian characters in the Savage Worlds system.
  • Part Three: Gear is the obligatory equipment lists (get your Radium Gun here!).
  • Part Four:  Setting Rules is where the changes to the standard rules are detailed.  Most importantly, Wild Card characters cannot die but are incapacitated.  Actually, they can be killed but it requires a finishing move against an incapacitated victim.
  • Part Five: Gamemastering is hints to running a Sword & Planet genre game but also includes a Random Adventure Generator.
  • Part Six: Beast of Mars not only includes a Beastiary but also a “Marsifier” that assists the GM in making just about any beast into a Martian version!
  • Part Seven: Slavers of Mars is a five-part Plot Point campaign that is useful for ideas on how a Sword & Planet adventure may go.
  • Part Eight: Encounters includes easy tables and pre-generated NPC’s for use.
  • Throughout the book there are short stories to help set the mood.

The Verdict: Mars is a comprehensive product that presents a Sword & Planet setting about as completely as one will ever find.  Adventures are easy to produce based on this material.  There are not many changes to the basic Savage Worlds rules making it easy to introduce to new groups.

That said, to play a Swords & Planets setting you really need the right group.  Frankly speaking you probably need all males.  Let’s face it, the source materials itself (especially Barsoom) is sexist.  I am sure you can get around this issue but doing so likely loses the core of Sword & Planet genre.