Thursday, May 19, 2022

Playtest for Drums Mean Streets Game


    A tense night in Bexley - members of the Blockwatch await the feared invasion of street gangs
The next wrinkle planned for my Mean Streets gang warfare miniatures game was to add a completely new class of character: the masked vigilante. Or - if you prefer - crime fighter....or hero. This is not to be a comic book character of the stature of Thor, the Hulk, or Iron Man. This is more along the lines of the gritty, dark characters from the Watchmen (minus Dr. Manhatten). 

    Brave members of the Bexley Blockwatch gather on Main Street to face off against the street gangs
For those who have played Mean Streets, you know that in ascending order there are troop types known as Wimps (civilians), Punks (ordinary gang members), Warchiefs (second in command of a gang), and Gang Boss. Their base Combat Ratings (CR) are 0, 2, 4, and 6. Well, I planned to make Heroes an "8." Would that break the system? It *IS* a d6 system - mean you roll 1d6 and add your CR. However, there are enough modifiers that it should be mathematically possible for a Punk to win a combat against a Hero. Unlikely, yes, but possible. So, I was eager to see if adding in 8's would break my system, so to speak.

    Sid leads the Indianola Mohawks across Main Street and into Bexley to bust some heads!
The scenario was that three local street gangs had called a truce to invade the wealthy suburb of Bexley (Columbus near East side). It is Saturday night and there is a police convention, with many of Bexley's boys in blue attending. The gangs figure it's a perfect night to invade and put the squeeze on various businesses. The local residents of Bexley have formed the Bexley Blockwatch -- middle aged men armed with golf clubs, pool cues, and walking sticks -- to fight back against the increasing wave of gang violence showing up on their formerly quiet streets. They have gotten wind of the planned invasion and a few brave souls have ventured out to face off against the street gangs.

    The Green Ghost appears and descends the stairs to haunt the plans of the street gangs
The Bexley Blockwatch is outnumbered and outclassed. They are all "Punk" class, with no Warchiefs or Gang Bosses. So, they're doomed, right? The bad guys are going to win, right? Well, my new twist on Mean Streets postulates some determined and frankly pissed off souls wanting to strike back against the hoodlums trying to take over the streets. These brooding men (and women, maybe one day?) have trained themselves to peak fitness. They have no real super powers, but use equipment, martial arts, and even fear to aid their one-man battle against the scum of the streets. I am creating a few new Skills to cover "heroic" abilities, such as leaping off a building and landing on an unsuspecting enemy to make a dramatic entrance (and essentially a double attack, with the unwilling human cushion taking the hero's falling damage).

    Surrounded by four punks, Dark Crusader is battered into unconsciousness
The classic hero is Dark Crusader, who wears a deep purple cape, blood red and gray costume, and has the Blackbelt Skill from Mean Streets. He also has Heroic Leap/Climb (mentioned above, but also allowing scaling buildings at twice the speed and the ability to leap across alley ways from rooftop to rooftop with no Tricky move roll. I also gave him Sprinter from the rules, giving him a 50% faster move. For his miniature, I used a Sgt. Major Miniatures post-apocalyptic figure that I added a cape to with green stuff. I painted his mohawk as part of his mask and think it turned out fairly well.

    The Green Ghost and a Blockwatch member are swarmed by members of the Franklinton Flippos
Another hero who received the Heroic Leap was Green Ghost. I used a spooky, cultist-type miniature I'd picked up at the Guardtower on one of our Saga days. His ghostly green mask and gloves radiates in a haunting way, which along with his immense size, make him a "Scary Mutha" - another Skill from Mean Streets but upgraded for Heroes. Anyone who tries to move into melee contact with Green Ghost or attack him must roll a Morale Check. Failure means the action is wasted.

    The Mohawks enter the Shell Station to knock out some civilians for easy victory points
Finally, the man who has bought the best equipment to augment his hand-to-hand combat skill is Captain Steel. I used a miniature of a policeman in riot gear but painted in metallic colors instead. He carries a heavy steel shield, truncheon, and wears a bulletproof vest reinforced with metal plates. I created a new Heroic Skill called, "Armored/Shield." It allows the figure to roll 2d6 (instead of 1d6) when attacked by an enemy and choose the best result. Note that it does not come into play when Captain Steel is attacking. 

    The Flippos strut through an alleyway headed towards Main Street and a night of mayhem
So, how did the heroes fare in our playtest? Only one hero went down and was knocked out of action -- Dark Crusader began his crimefighting career on a low note. Green Ghost, on the other hand, almost single-handedly held off the Franklinton Flippos. The player controlling him (and his three Bexley Blockwatch extras) was incredibly bold. He had his three Blockwatch members charge across the street the moment any of the Flippos showed their clown-masked face. Green Ghost appeared in the motel across the street, descended the stairs and had to hurry to catch up with Bexley's bold defenders. The Ghost was immediately mobbed by a number of Flippos, but in true superhero style, he knocked out one after the other. When he knocked out the Gang Boss, the clown-faced thugs scattered. At that point, it was pretty obvious Green Ghost had made his mark in Bexley.

    A giant melee breaks out in the middle of Main Street, with Captain Steel inspiring the Blockwatch
A huge melee broke out involving two gangs against the Blockwatch and both Dark Crusader and Captain Steel. Pity the poor El Lobo, the Gang Boss of the Santanas, when he got "ganged up" on by both heroes. It was long before he was face down and out of action in the middle of the street. But the Indianola Mohawks poured in their gang members, too. The fight raged back and forth, and mighty Dark Crusader was pummeled into unconsciousness. I have added a feature for my convention games that if a player's figures are mostly or all knocked out of action, I have them appear on the board as a police car with two troopers. I warned the heroes that these cops don't like any costumed freaks -- whether gang members or illegal vigilantes. Luckily for me, Allen lost pretty much all of his troops and brought the police car onto the table so I could playtest that, too.

    Dark Crusader has joined the huge melee and gang members begin to fall
I had also placed about 20 civilians in the businesses across the street from where the gangs enter. Only the Mohawks made it a priority to send a few punks after the civilians to rack up easy victory points by knocking them out. On the other side, only Captain Steel's player sent one of his Blockwatch members to warn the civilians to flee the buildings and go out the back doors. I told the heroes that the civilians won't move unless instructed by either a Blockwatch member or a hero. One budding Bexley Paul Revere ran from building to building warning the timid civilians to flee for their lives. 

    The Blockwatch member heading into the brewpub is playing Paul Revere and warning civilians out
All six of my players seemed to be having fun. The game moved VERY fast, since I abandoned the Initiative phase for this scenario. Since it is a two side game, I had all three players of one side move, then their opponents, then the first side, and so on. I think quick-moving games are important for conventions, so I was happy this made it go faster than the normal free-for-alls that I run where each player dices each turn for initiative order.

    The arrival of a police car with two troopers prompted most of the street punks and heroes to flee
Who won? Well, the gangs scattered when the cop car's flashing lights appeared on Main Street. The heroes also beat a hasty retreat into the shadows, now that law and order had been reestablished. As the two police officers chased a few gang members, no one noticed two gray-clad figures sneak onto the table. They picked up the unconscious form of Dark Crusader and carried him off-table before the cops returned. Were they saving him? Were they kidnapping him? And what did their gray, ninja-like robes emblazoned with a red shuriken mean? Stay tuned for more episodes of Invasion: Bexley to find out!

    Time for some action! The Mohawks cross Main Street to join the fighting


  1. Great battle report. Good to see the caped crusaders worked well.

  2. Thanks, Jason! I hope you like the comic book style one I just uploaded!

  3. Hey,

    Huge fan of this rules and I was thinking of doing them on a fantasy setting(lots of D&D minis laying around and all). Do you have any tips for doing that? Figure fantasy city would have street gangs. Going to do mixed fantasy race gangs (just cause). Thanks in advance.

  4. Thanks for the kind words! Well, my first thought is you need something for armor. One thing I did for the recent superhero game was give Captain Steel the ability to roll 2d6 when attacked, and using the higher roll. He would still roll only 1d6 when he was the attacker. That simulated his heavier armor and him being harder to wound. I think you could use the gun rules for wizard's ranged spell. Just use the throwing things rules for ordinary missile weapons like bows and slings. Does this help at all?

  5. Helps a lot actually thank you