|Martian Tripods Travel 140 Million Miles ... Only to get Bogged Down in Route 3 Traffic|
My friend, Steve Johnson (easily the smartest human I know), when not teaching physics, chemistry, French, history, working on his science fiction novel, or serving with his local church really enjoys games -- the more zany and over-the-top the better!
He's a seasoned convention gamer and is very comfortable hacking rules and adapting on-the-fly, so I was delighted when he recently invited me to join him at Saint Michael the Archangel to play All Quiet on the Martian Front ... which is exactly what it sounds like ... a War of the Worlds-WWI mashup.
However, it wouldn't be a Steve Johnson game if there wasn't a twist. Here's how he made a good idea even better:
- he kicked the timeline ahead to present day and used micro-armor scale tanks, humvees, etc. to represent elements of our local National Guard unit
- he used an eight-foot, Google Earth-style, vinyl satellite map of the Fredericksburg area for the battlefield ... many of the six players could find their own houses!
- he superimposed hexes to make movement fast and easy
- he boiled the Martian Front rules down to a 4x6 reference card (one per player)
- he pre-marked select locations on the map (Walmart, Gander Mountain, SSG Tactical (gun shop) to show where civilian defenders would spawn to take up arms against the alien invaders ... and yes, there were pickup trucks that "Bubba" and friends could use to race toward the alien attackers
- he made just enough flame templates for when things caught on fire ... such as when a Martian rolled a natural 20 with its heat ray or when a desperate national guardsman drove a fuel tanker truck straight into the leg of a tripod ... and let me tell you ... a lot of things caught on fire!
The entire game ran about four hours (including pizza) and in the end all of the "Central Park" shopping district and the Route 3 corridor were destroyed while historic downtown was virtually untouched. All of the regular Martian bots, loboto-trons, and tripods were dispatched, but nobody could dent the huge "Dominator" Tripod who scattered the remaining defenders and stalked off alone toward Quantico Marine Corps Base.
I'd love to get a similar, banner-sized map of Spotsylvania County to use with my students in our after school club ... we could stage a zombie invasion or some-such.