Sunday, May 16, 2021

Mean Streets is back! Demo games ran at Drums

    The Santanas and the Mohawks rumble in the Mean Streets of Columbus at my demo at Drums 2021
Prior to this weekend's Drums at the Rapids convention at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg, OH, my last convention I attended was Cincycon 2020. At that con, I ran the final playtest for my Mean Streets rules. It is only fitting that I ran demo games of my gang warfare rules in my first convention after COVID-19. In the ensuring year-plus off, the rules were published and are now available for purchase in print and PDF download.

    The Indianola Mohawks cruise past the graffiti-spattered streets, ready for a fight
Although COVID restrictions are easing, some were still in place - including a 4-player limit to games being run. I set up a game featuring four of my newer gangs that I have painted up -- the Indianola Mohawks, the Santanas, the Franklinton Flippos, and the Eastmoor Kings. Each gang had its own separate primary mission to complete on the opposite side of the board from their starting point. They also had identical secondary missions of "tagging" buildings with their gang logo. I had printed up little foam circles with each gang's logo that they could lean up against the building they were tagging. They were even permitted to come along and tag over a rival gang's logo! And finally, the standard victory points for knocking out rival gang members (plus negative points for those of your own gang knocked out) were in place. 

    A look at the urban tabletop I set up for my demos at Drums at the Rapids
I was running the game on the Friday afternoon session and the Saturday morning session. Normally, Drums features evening sessions, too, but COVID restrictions eliminated those. I like to schedule the final Friday session and first Saturday session when I go to cons to run games to ensure I have to set up my game only once (and can leave it set up overnight on Friday). I had a full table both sessions, along with great, fun-loving players who certainly got into completing their missions. I also normally add a secondary mission of double points for knocking out gang members of a particularly bitter rival on the tabletop. This is to encourage them to "rumble" and not just run around the table tagging buildings and avoiding the other gangs. I'd left that out this time, which I personally think was a mistake. 

    The Franklinton Flippos spy a Mustang that looks ripe for ripping off from the Shell Station!

In both sessions there were gangs who minimized the fighting and instead focused on stealing the car, going on the beer run, or roughing up the restaurant owner (to get put on the "protection money" take). So, next time, the rivalries will be back in play. Of course, if this were a campaign game between players in a regular club, those rivalries will come about naturally. You will want revenge to beat down those low lifes who roughed up your gang members last time! So, next time I run it at a convention (currently scheduled for Advance the Colors and Cincycon in October of 2021) I will put those rivalry bonus points back in place for knocking out members of certain other gangs. 

    Julio, Gang Boss of the Santanas, leads Ramona and El Lobo (two Punks) down the street
I was pleased to see how quickly rules explanation went. Mean Streets is meant to be a fast, easy-to-learn system that lets you get started playing at the convention or club game right away. I gave each player six gang members, a Gang Boss, Warchief (second in command), and four "Punks" (normal rank-in-file). There are a number of Skills they can be customized with, so I gave each Gang Boss, Warchief, and one Punk a skill. The other three had none to minimize the learning curve in what would be most players' first games, I assumed. Once you've played the rules, you could easily handle more than six member gangs. However, I have found in convention games, it is better to err on the side of simplicity and small than go too big.

    Kira, Julius, and Iggy jump a member of the Eastmoor Kings as he trespasses on their turf

The games were, in the words of one of my players, a "hoot" and there was a lot of laughter and ribbing as one gang put the beat down on another. My favorite moment of the two games was when a husband and wife team played in the same session. The hubby sent one gang member across the board by himself into his the territory of his wife's gang. He confessed they had discussed a "truce" beforehand, knowing I love to run free-for-all type gangs. However, when his wife saw this gang member show up in her turf, she had her gang jump the poor Punk and he was quickly knocked out of action. This started a gang war as Wifey put the beat-down on Hubby. A third gang joined in, and it was a wild and woolly melee that raged across one street corner for most of the game.

    The Franklinton Flippos move out from their turf near O'Brian's Pot O' Gold Motel
I was really happy with how the miniatures and buildings and other terrain looked on the tabletop. I still have tweaks that I want to do to my urban battlefield, but I really like my Sarissa Precision 28mm MDF buildings. They look perfect, and provide a variety of settings for missions, such as Wallace's Brewpub lets gangs go on "Beer Runs" or Sams Quickie Mart lets another initiate a gang member by having them steal something from the shelves. Lately, I have been buying Terrain Crate plastic/resin terrain from the local game stores to stock the interiors of the buildings. This will only give me more ideas and options for gang missions to perform.

    The Eastmoor Kings move past the kiosks on the roadside, looking for some rivals' heads to beat in
On Friday night, the Eastmoor Kings (controlled by Jim W from our HMGS Great Lakes group) narrowly won the session, scoring 24 points (edging out the Indianola Mohawks and their 23 points). Saturday, the Franklinton Flippos (controlled by Mike S from our Sunday night gaming group) parlayed their intimidating looking creepy clown masks into a comfortable victory with 22 points. It was really fun to see the miniatures that I had spent so much time on and tried to breathe so much personality into interacting on the tabletop. I have named each miniature. Players were given a roster with pictures so they knew who was Sid, Iggy, or Julius from the Mohawks, or Julio or Cruz from the Santanas. I am contemplating attaching something to the base of the figure itself to help identify them, but still not sure about that. I normally don't like figures running around the tabletop with labels on them. So, it needs to be somewhat unobtrusive if I decide to do it.

    A very busy street corner in the Saturday session saw three gangs rumbling in front of the brewpub
In evaluating the missions, I think I made the Flippo's "Steal a Car" too easy with my tabletop setup. Both players succeeded. The other three missions succeeded at about a 50% rate. So, in my opinion, they were "just right" -- not too easy. I will adjust for future missions. Other tweaks that I would like to make with future runnings of Mean Streets demos include jazzing up my streets themselves. I have an asphalt-looking gray-black felt groundcloth I use for my games. However, I may purchase additional lengths of it and paint on yellow road stripes. My center medians with flowers look okay, but can't carry the street look themselves, I feel. I certainly need more of my sidewalks, made from gray ballast flocked MDF boards. I should have a good variety of them in more standardized sizes so that building blocks line up to create streets better.

    In their first rumble on the tabletop, the Indianola Mohawks proved they were up for the fight!
I know I am probably being too picky, but part of any miniatures game is the "Wow!" factor of an excellently staged tabletop. I think I am partway there, especially with the Sarissa buildings and their graffiti-splashed walls. I also need some more scatter. The dumpsters and the gas pumps and various WizKids pieces look great. I need more, though. I created some street lights that I forgot to pack in my boxes, and also need to paint up those electrical poles I have obtained from the local train store. Plus, my friend Tim P sold me a bunch of cool resin pieces like newspaper vending machines, trash bins, and more that need to be finished and added to the tabletop scenery.

Close up of one of the foam circles I created to mark spots gang members (like Ramona) had "tagged"
Despite all of this to do, I was very pleased with how the game looked on the tabletop. I was even  more pleased with how it ran. Both games flowed quickly and smoothly and finished in a reasonable amount of time. No one seemed to feel cheated that it finished too early, and no one looked like it was dragging on and on. Good sign! So, if you are interested in recreating wars in the streets between rival gangs, I encourage you to check out my rules. They're only $20 print, or $10 PDF, and include LOTS of background information. 

    Jenny, playing the Santanas, sends a gang member into Wallace's Brewpub to steal some beer
I hope you enjoy the photos, and feel free to comment on here with questions. If you are on Facebook, join the page I created for the rules, here:

   Manana of the Santanas shows no fear taking on Julius and Iggy of the Mohawks

Warchief Archie leads a contingent of the Eastmoor Kings, tagging buildings at they roam the streets

All caught up on the news, the Frankinton Flippos set out to bust some heads on the streets

    And it looks like the Flippos have found a fight with the Eastmoor Kings behind Wallace's brewpub!

    Manana, Jeffe, and Cruz of the Santanas prowl the streets looking for a fight

    Mike ran the Flippos on Saturday, while Heidi in purple ran the Mohawks, and Jenny the Santanas

    Close up of one of the biggest rumbles of the weekend with the Mohawks, Santanas & Kings


  1. Everything looks fantastic. I like the tagging tokens, they are a good idea.

  2. Thanks, Simon and Jason! I appreciate the kind words. :)