About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Dirk Drake and the Case of the Stygian Idol

Ladies and gentleman, brace yourselves for the pulse-pounding heroism and derring-do of Dirk Drake and his Daredevils!

Tonight I played Pulp Alley for the first time* with George and Nick at the G3 club and it was a total blast! I can honestly say that this rule set is right up there with the best of the recent skirmish games I've played, such as 7TV and In Her Majesty's Name. There are some mechanisms in here that really appeal to me and totally bring out the story-telling and narrative aspect of a game. In fact, I'd say it's probably the strongest of the lot in that respect! So, onto the action, but be warned - animals were hurt in the making of this game!!

In this, the first episode of the "Adventures of Dirk Drake and his Daredevils", we find Dirk leading his brave chums to secure the precious Stygian Idol that has just arrived in the country and is ready to be shipped to the newspaper tycoon that has paid for it's retrieval. However, the Idol holds the secrets to a terrible power that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands, so Dirk has set out to steal it and deliver into safer hands. However, he is not alone in his quest to seek out the idol! Closing in on the treasure is the crooked Detective Lt. Chuck Chance (played by me) and his cronies, and Mr Stamper, the head of an evil crime syndicate simply known as the Executive (George's league).

The table. The Stygian Idol is being loaded into the trucks outside the warehouse. There are also some experimental cylinders, a scientist, an engineer and a footpad as plot points.
The crooked cops pile out of the patrol wagon, ready to move on the warehouse.
Warehouse workers are ready to move the crate into the truck. The workers were made into an extreme peril, to make things more interesting.
Janssen, Mr. Stamper's henchman attempts to accost the footpad for information on the whereabouts of the Idol. However, the thug pulls a knife and Janssen has to dodge back!
But Stamper simply moves up, swats the knife aside and subdues the informant.
Dirk Drake bounds up the steps to the rear entrance of the warehouse, but his girlfriend, Lavinia Love, breaks a heel on a broken paving slab and falls over (she failed a peril as a result of a fortune card played by me! Teehee!). Lavinia would later attempt to climb in a window to snatch the experimental canisters, but failed the peril challenge and fell back out and was knocked out! 
Billy Priest takes the first shot of the game as The Executive come into view.
Officer Muldew moves up and catches sight of Dirk's faithful bulldog companion, Chomper!
The squat little canine proves a hard target to draw a bead on and a hail of bullets all miss him! He scampers forward and leaps at the police officer, chomping down on his tommy gun! (Yes, he survived all the defensive fire!)
Dirk Drake spots the engineer who has some knowledge of the construction of the Idol. Despite the intervention of Officer Kripkey, he easily persuades the engineer to accompany him to work on the Idol.
Lt. Chance moves near the prize and guns down one of the crooks lurking in the buildings across the street who windmills into the street in dramatic Hollywood fashion before falling prone!
Professor Lawrence Love, Lavinia's father, runs up to the crate and dodges the attentions of the warehouse workers, before prizing the crate open and seizing the Idol. A burst of gunfire causes him to dodge back behind a truck clutching the treasure.
Officers Muldew and O'Mally attempt to cut off Prof. Love's route of escape after a titanic struggle with Chomper held them up for half the game! Finally, they managed to beat the dog off, which crept under a nearby truck to lick his wounds.
But in a moment of inspiration, the Professor leaps into a nearby truck and gets it running. Billy Priest also leaps in and they make good their escape with the Idol!
I...Love...This...Game! Pulp Alley has so many interesting facets, from the Fortune Deck to the Plot Points and the constantly switching initiative. Normally I would go into some detail about the mechanics, but I don't actually have to! You can download the quickstart rules here! I thoroughly recommend that you check them out and support the authors as they are just a small, independent father and daughter team, and I really think that our hobby is better off for these kind of innovative games developers. Any visitor to the Lead Adventure Forum or TMP will find that they are very active in supporting the community and showing off their excellent game. The main rules are only $10 for the PDF and are pretty much all you need as you can print off the fortune deck. For such a cheap entry price I can't recommend them enough! If you're looking for an extremely strong narrative game that is incredibly easy to pick up (we hardly referred to the rules) but has masses of tactical nuance, you can't go far wrong with Pulp Alley. If we weren't already down to play Fireball Forward next week then all three of us would readily play it again then, but we'll just have to wait till the week after.

So, roll up your sleeves and stub out your cigar, as Pulp Alley bursts onto a tabletop near you!

* I umpired a playtest of my Mr. Vampire game using Pulp Alley the other night with my brother which helped me learn the rules. It went really well and I'll blog the rules and report soon.


  1. Nice report. The table looked great and it looked like a fun game.

  2. I've heard a great deal about Pulp Alley, and your game looks like fun. I just downloaded the trial version so I can try it for myself.


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