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I have been playing the StarGate1900 setting for a while now, developing that inter-war pulp thought. Greg, meanwhile, has had in his mind the Anubis Gates: a setting that uses gates to travel primarily in time. The recent LittleWars 2010 games Jurassic Reich specifically introduced the Anubis Gates as the reason for the Nazi’s possession of extinct creatures.

As usual, Greg and I have been thinking about the same thing and not realising it. The time/space thing is an idea that is easy to shape, and so it seems obvious to me that the two ideas will come together.

The following is the start of a set of instructions for a multi-player conference game that Eureka Miniatures may or may not actually run. There are a few other options for this event (coming… when? Sometime this year), and I’ll be happy to help in their design as well. But my initial heart is in this Anubis Gates set up.

Here are the initial notes; note that I have removed the gate codes, just in case any actual players for the event check this site to improve their knowledge.

Anubis Gates Conference Game outline

Introduction

This is a conference game designed for a number of players operating in teams. For the purpose of this description the assumption made is that there are a minimum of 8 players on two sides (16 players in total). Once specific numbers are known appropriate adjustments can be made.

The setting for this game can be anything, with the science fantasy addition of the idea of Anubis Gates. These are objects that allow instantaneous travel between locations separated in time and space. Teams take the roles of rival powers utilising the gates in order to seize resources from their opponent, reduce their opponent’s store of resources, and to discover the ‘address’ of the opponent’s home planet in order to attack it directly.

This is a resource management game as well as a tabletop wargame. Each team has a defined store of McGuffin which is used to recruit more troops: the more you have of it, the more you can recruit. As it is lost, so your capacity to field troops reduces.

This is an investigation and a strategic game as the players have the option to search for clues that, when pieced together, will allow them to mount assaults directly against their enemy’s mustering table.

Room arrangement

The gate ‘addresses’ are printed (sticky label?) on the bottom of every Anubis gate model. Players may only observe these labels if they spend an Action to do this investigation, with the exception of the Home gate, which they can see for free at any time.

Table description

Each Location table is a wargame set up, decorated in whatever pleasing way the umpires have chosen.

Importantly, on every table is an Anubis gate. This is the only way into and out of the table. It is placed within the first third of the attacking side.

Secondly, 20 brightly coloured marker cubes (McGuffins) are placed in a stockpile within the defending third of the table. At the start of the game they are in one spot, but the defender is free to distribute them during play.

Thirdly, on each of the 8 tables there will be hidden clues (a symbol on a sticky label on the bottom of a terrain item, for example) – one per table. Four of these clues make up a pattern that, when verified by an umpire, will allow a team to attack their opponent’s Home territory [malicious thought: my team finds a symbol under a ziggurat. What is to stop me dynamiting the ziggurat to prevent the opposition finding the clue? Answer: nothing.]

The Home territories are each team’s deployment zones. All potential figures that may be in play start here. An Anubis gate also appears on these tables. At the least they are the way we are suggesting the troops go to the location tables. Ultimately they are the way the Home territories may be attacked directly.

Economy

Each McGuffin cube is worth 10 points. At the start of the campaign, therefore, each side has 800 points (20 cubes on 4 tables).

Points are used to buy figures to attack or defend locations.

The simplest model soldier has a point value of 10. Therefore, at the beginning of the game a team could claim 80 standard soldiers, and these would be placed on the Home territory, ready for deployment. However, there will be a pick list of soldier types ranging from a standard grunt with a bolt action rifle, through SAW, sergeants and other leaders, and heroic characters.

In order to maintain some kind of force parity (but not enforce ‘fairness’) each squad can be no more than 150 points strong.

As squads of soldiers are sent to locations they may capture McGuffin cubes and transport them home. This increases the attacker’s stockpile, and appropriately reduces the defender’s. They may destroy the McGuffins, reducing their opponent’s without increasing their own.

At the end of the entire session, the side with the most McGuffin cubes wins. Alternately, the team that successfully invades the enemy Home territory wins.

Outline of play

Play is divided into two distinct sessions. Both are strictly timed.

Preparation time (20 minutes) is when the teams:

  • Add up how many McGuffins they own – this is their running score
  • Spend the McGuffins to recruit soldiers (or confirm that the soldiers they own are still capable of being paid for in the case of a loss of McGuffins)
  • Decide the Locations to be visited by squads in the coming Combat turn
  • Create squads of models by combining them and placing them into deployment zones in their Home territory
  • When time is up, squads in the deployment zones are ready to go to the tables. Any figures not correctly accounted for and in deployment zones (including the deployment zone to stay and defend the Home territory) are removed from the Home territory

Combat time (45 minutes) is when:

  • Squads are moved to the Location tables
  • Combat is carried out between opposing players using an appropriate version of Flying Lead. Should there be no opponent, no combat occurs and the player with the squad is given free reign in the Location
  • McGuffin cubes are collected, destroyed or moved
  • Clues are searched for that, when pieced together, will give the ‘address’ of the enemy Home territory. Once the address is believed to be known, the team approaches an umpire, who confirms or denies the code. Once confirmed, at any Combat time thereafter, the team can send forces directly into the enemy Home territory
  • When time is up, an assessment is made by an umpire. A clearly losing side is automatically evacuated out of the gate to their Home territory. A balanced situation allows both sides to remain on the table, unless one or both sides wish to evacuate, in which case they automatically do.

Necessary components

Aside from the obvious such as players, figures and terrain, there are a number of items that will be either essential or will greatly simplify management. These include:

  • A large number of printed cards with the basic statistics of all soldiers, in quantities such that the players can use them directly to make force selection choices – that is: reduce pen and paper work by giving them cards to count.
  • Sufficient umpires to move around the tables (there could be 10 in play).
  • Efficient, transparent and obvious timekeeping. By keeping the screws on time you add tension. Tension translates to frustration and excitement. Further, since most people will be new to the game system, the first games will go slow: by keeping the game turn over rate quick, you allow them to learn from their mistakes quickly, rather than agonise over losing situations for long periods of time. The objective is to get through as many Combat sessions as possible, not to have one long combat session.
  • Observation of the Anubis gate address labels on the bottom of the models must be strictly adjudicated. Players should be actively prevented from wandering around and picking up the models, willy-nilly, to see the labels. Finding out what is printed on the gates is the key single element of exploration of the game.
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