Monday, August 5, 2019

Mean Streets: First Playtest of 28mm Urban Gang Warfare

Gangs battle it out for control of Columbus' Mean Streets in our first playtest of my Urban Warfare rules
It was a busy week and weekend getting ready for this Sunday's playtest of my new Urban Gang Warfare miniatures rules. I picked out a new groundcloth, finished painting a bunch of plastic civilian figures that Keith had given me, and even bought new dice. On Saturday, I spread the ground cloth out on the carpet in my house and set up the board to make sure I truly did have enough terrain to create a 28mm inner city.
Allen moves his Bexley Blockwatch on the tabletop loaded with the urban terrain that I have been building
One thing I really liked was my charcoal gray "wool felt" ground cloth. Rather than finding a material to represent roads, I thought why not have the tablecloth be the roads? And place terrain to be the city blocks on top of that? I really like the look of that felt -- it has enough of a pattern that it looks like asphalt. I may even try to cut strips from the material and paint the dotted yellow lines to place in the middle of the streets to give the effect even more. I am of mixed opinion about my mottled light gray felt for concrete. The long-term plan may be to actually create those out of flocked styrene or something.
My Eastmoor Kings prowl down the street where the Bexley Blockwatch has staked out the intersection
It was really fun to get nearly all of my urban terrain out onto the tabletop -- my MDF buildings I'd been making, my scratch-build basketball court, 3-D printed billboards and market stalls -- it looked great, I thought. The gang figures looked good, too. Since one of our regulars couldn't make it, I ended up playing the Eastmoor Kings and really thought they looked cool on the tabletop. Same with the other gangs, including Mike S and his Japanese schoolgirls gang. He was the only one of my players who supplied their own gang. I fielded the other five.

Each gang had their own individualized mission (ahem, finally typed out on Sunday morning!), with multiple ways to earn (or lose) victory points. There was a primary mission which would earn the gang 15 victory points if they completed it. My Eastmoor Kings had to cross the board to the Shell station and steal a car from their service department. I sent my Warchief and three punks to accomplish the mission, but had to peel off the three punks when we started getting attacked by two other gangs. We also had to protect our turf -- the park -- and keep anyone else from entering it. We could earn victory points for "tagging" our logo on other buildings, which I supplied in the form of round stickers for players to actually place on the structures to keep track of...!
The Linden Daos were super-aggressive in the game, charging into contact with the Blockwatch's leader on Turn 1
In a free-for-all, multiplayer game like this, I want to give players some choices. Each gang had two other gangs on the tabletop that they needed to settle a score with, too. They would earn extra victory points for each gang member from those groups that they put out of action. This lets players who just want to fight mix it up. It also allows players who want to be strategic and divide their forces to accomplish missions do so, as well. What's more, I generally made their objectives a good amount across the table. This forces the players to mix it up and encounter (and possibly fight) other gangs. For example, Allen's gang, the Bexley Block Watch, jumped my group headed to the Shell station even though we had not intention of entering their turf. We were "too close," he said. That was the kind of randomness I was trying to allow to happen.
The Hilltop Highlanders, in their starting turf of the weekend market, prepare to move out to accomplish their mission
Of course, the Bexley Block Watch took it on the chin the worst of all, ending up with a negative seven victory points! He was jumped on almost immediately by Keith's Linden Daos (Why? Allen's gang was in his way...ha, ha!). For some reason, Allen had left his leader all alone, guarding a narrow alleyway. He did a good job playing Herodotus at the bridge and holding off the Dao's leader and two other of his punks for several turns, but eventually was knocked out. Shortly after Allen jumped my four gang members, the Japanese Schoolgirls -- showed up in the street and joined the fray. With the Block Watch beset by three gangs, it was only a matter of time before his eight gang members were whittled down, and they began to flee off the table.
Our mission was to get past these guys - the Sons of Thor - and steal a car from the gas station
The Hilltop Highlanders proved the most cautious, completing their mission, tagging a number of structures, but backing down from mixing it up with any other gangs. Even when he had a chance to jump several members of his hated enemy, the Sons of Thor (German Village Chapter), he decided not to engage. Once my Warchief's group got attacked, I quickly brought my leader and his three punks over to help out. We lost one punk to both the Block Watch and the hated Schoolgirls. It galled me, but when a lull in the fight occurred, I backed the Eastmoor Kings off and let the Blockwatch and the Schoolgirls fight it out. I was waiting for Mike S to split his forces -- he had all eight of his gang members together. Once that happened, I was going to jump them. Meanwhile, we formed an arc to protect the park and prevent other gang members from sneaking in or tagging our turf.
There were two main complications to my plans -- the Blockwatch, and these mean-spirited, Japanese Schoolgirls
Amazing, the Warchief actually completed the mission on his own. He raced across the table into the Shell station. Snatching a set of keys from the wall, he ducked back outside and hopped in the matching car. Squealing the tires, he sped off and raced off-table, garnering me 15 victory points. I knew I wouldn't win the game, but that kept me in the running. As it turned out, Mike's Schoolgirls racked up the most points. After the Blockwatch was defeated, they sauntered in, beat up the manager of Jack and Benny's Old Time Diner, forcing him to pay them protection money. That was the Blockwatch's turf, and they were supposed to prevent that from happening. They also tagged a goodly number of buildings, and knocked out a good handful of gang members (including one of mine...grrrh!).
Mike W's Hilltop Highlanders racked up a lot of points "tagging" structures, like this billboard
The Hilltop Highlanders came in second, mainly by maxing out victory points and minimizing losses. My Eastmoor Kings came in third, barely edging out Keith's Linden. They did not achieve their mission, but racked up points -- chiefly on the strength of them causing the most carnage. They decimated the Blockwatch and followed that up with a massive dustup with the Sons of Thor. Although neither were his main rivals and earned big points, his steady knocking of opposing gang members out of action racked up the points for him. The final score was:
Luckily for my Warchief, the Sons of Thor were elsewhere when he showed up at the Shell station!
  1. 40 points - O-renishii School of Finishing (Mike S)
  2. 28 points - Hilltop Highlanders (Mike W)
  3. 25 points - Eastmoor Kings (Mike D)
  4. 24 points - Linden Daos (Keith F)
  5. -1 points - Sons of Thor (Joel S)
  6. -7 points - Bexley Block Watch
The Linden Daos at the start of the game, deployed in front of their turf (named after Keith, who was running them!)
Everyone seemed happy with the rules. Next game, we will introduce some of the special skills that gang members can have. I wanted to ease into the new set of rules, and playtest one bit at a time. I think I may even split the board into two halves, with no more than four players mixing it up on each half. We'll see, though. For now, that means I need more buildings...good thing I have another Sarissa Factory assembled on my desk right now!
The Daos at the end of the game -- still kung fu fighting, this time in a knock-down, drag 'em out with the Sons of Thor


  1. The mat looks really effective. It all looks great together!

  2. Interesting battle report.
    Nothing better than a mat for street ground.
    What kind of game system do you use for the rules ?

  3. It all looks great. Using a dark mat is easier than laying out roads.

  4. Why can I get the gang minis? I am going to download the PDF rules.

  5. There was a Kickstarter for a New York City 1970's Gangs Street Fighting inspired by the movie "The Warriors." The gent who ran the KS has subsequently added a few additional gang figures. Pretty sure he sells the minis on their own now that the KS is done. He's a decent guy.