Monday, October 25, 2021

Gangs Taking Over the Streets of CincyCon 2021

    A half-dozen Flippos surround a couple Eastmoor Kings while the Santanas get ready to wade in

Sporting their leather jackets and colors, rival gangs took to the Mean Streets to rumble for control of turf and put a beat-down on their rivals at CincyCon 2021, Oct. 22. The Franklinton Flippos, Indianola Mohawks, Hilltop Highlanders, and other gangs brought clubs, blades, chains, and bare fists to take control of businesses, steal cars, and help themselves to brews on a day of mayhem and urban warfare. Just as often, the gangs ignored their planned missions and threw themselves into spilling blood of their hated rivals when they felt they deserved a little payback.

    The Linden Daos martial arts gang gathers by a building splattered with graffiti by them previously
The last time I had been able to run my new gang warfare rules had been the previous Cincycon, 20 months ago in March of 2020. A long, Covid-induced layoff of cancelled conventions had kept me from taking my rules on the road to promote at gaming shows. I was actually scheduled to run it three weeks earlier at Advance the Colors 2021, but my dad's passing that week led me to cancelling both events. Here I was, though, nearly two years later at the same venue where I had done my final playtest prior to publishing the rules in summer of 2020. 

    I had 5 players for my four slots in the evening game, and six in the afternoon one...scheduling oops!
I planned small, shooting to run it in the afternoon and evening on Friday for four players each time. Cincycon's website and scheduling woes led to both games being oversold. I had six players for the afternoon game and five for the evening. Luckily, I had brought most of my gangs along so had spares that I could toss out on the table. The hardest part was where to place their starting areas, as the table was 4'x4' and each gang was supposed to start in a corner. My players would good sports and understood I was making changes on the fly to keep from turning people who had registered away. 

   Jeffe, El Lobo, and Julio of the Santanas spot rival gang members and get ready to rumble!
It felt good to be running games at a convention, again. I felt bad that the stresses of the last few weeks had caused me to forget that I hadn't done certain things to prepare. Gone were the cards with pictures of the gang member that I'd created but forgot to print out. That meant I had to scrap the Special Abilities for the gang members and ran all figures as "base" Gang Bosses, Warchiefs, or Punks. Also gone were the gang member's names I planned to write with the Micropen on the edge of each miniature's base. Sigh. At least the player's didn't seem to notice or mind that missing touches. Everyone said they had fun and enjoyed the rumble.

Franklinton Flippos stalk past Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner intent upon Friday night mayhem
The planned scenario had each gang -- the Flippos, Highlanders, Santanas, and Mohawks -- starting in their respective corners. They were given a mission to achieve that was diagonally across the table. It might be stealing a car from the Shell station's service department, beating up the owner of Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner to get put on the "take," or similar missions. In addition, each was given two secondary missions. One was to give some payback to a rival gang who'd recently put a beat-down on them. That target gang was the one to each player's left. Gang members were also supposed to "tag" buildings with their gang logo to get the word out on the streets that they were there.

    Patrick and Andrew's gangs mixed it from turn one, both ending bloody and battered
In the first game, most players made an attempt to complete their missions. I doubled up on one mission, and gave the sixth player a different mission. Both had their objectives across the table from their starting points. In the evening game, all but one of the five players abandoned their missions and immediately barrelled into melee with each other. The Hilltop Highlanders ignored the provocations of the Santanas and continued to move through the streets till they arrived at Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner. Poor Benny (or was it Jack?) had no chance as he was mobbed by the street toughs from the west side of Columbus. Josephine, who was playing the Highlanders, scored double the points of her more belligerent fellow players who simply beat the snot out of each other instead.

    The bitter end of Archie of the Eastmoor Kings, encircled by both the Flippos and Santanas
I like to give players some choices when setting up a game. I did leave out the "home turf" element that I sometimes throw in. Often I will task a gang with the secondary mission of protecting their home turf (a designated building near where they start) from being tagged or harassed by rival gangs. This will tend to force players to consider splitting up their gangs. Each gang has a Gang Boss and a Warchief, so players are given the resources for doing so if they desire. Most of the gangs in both games kept themselves in a fairly cohesive group, this time around. So, I will probably add that back in the next time I run it.

Santanas pay a visit to the kiosks -- are they looking for some smutty magazines or some robbery?
This game also featured the unveiling of my new "streets" for Mean Streets -- vinyl 1' square floor tiles that I'd purchased this summer that conveyed the look of a faded asphalt street. The mottled gray pattern looked good, I thought with all the buildings, scatter terrain, and miniatures on it. I got some nice compliments on the look from players and passers by alike. Yes, vinyl floor tiles are heavy, but I thought they looked better than the charcoal gray felt I'd been using and a lot better than my scratch-built MDF concrete squares I had previously placed buildings atop. The tiles were the "peel and stick" type that Jenny attached black felt to the bottom of to make them sit well on the tabletop and stay in place. All in all, I was pleased with both the look and functionality of the new tabletop.

Flippos check out a cool convertible before sauntering down the street to engage in some mischief

As intended, the rules were taught quickly and questions were at a bare minimum. Mean Streets was written to be a fast-play rules set that is easy to learn for a convention game. The system allows you to tailor your gang how you like and individualize the figures with special abilities. There is a campaign system included in the rules, if players want their gang members to grow in experience and become tougher as the games progress.

Flippos jump a couple of Eastmoor Kings who they suspect of messing with their building 'tags'

I hope to run more Mean Streets games, but likely will not be doing so at any conventions over the next few months. School has been keeping me ridiculously busy (as usual), and my Dad's passing and helping my mom deal with it has been consuming a lot of my free time. So, I would love to hear from anyone who purchases Mean Streets ($20 print, $10 PDF) and how their games are progressing. It might give this stressed gamer a chance to live vicariously through your gaming opportunities. The links to purchase Mean Streets are on the First Command Wargames website.

    The Santanas and the Hilltop Highlanders mix it up when the two gangs bump into each other
I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the gangs and their rumbles! Feel free to comment either on my blog or on the Mean Streets: War in Gang-infested Cities facebook group. Hope to hear from people soon!


  1. The tiles look good in the photos, I noticed your board looked different. Glad the games were a success!

  2. The tiles were Jenny's suggestion. I like them a lot, and will likely use them for Wars of Insurgency city fights, too.