Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spinespur: A Game Overview

     So, now that I've gotten in enough games of Spinespur, I feel more confident writing a general overview of the game.  This will help give new players (or gamers considering picking up the game) a bit of insight into how it plays.

Them Crazy Bones... and Blood
Spinespur Book 1: Threshold     Spinespur uses a pretty unique dice method: Three six-sided dice.  No, that's obviously not the unique part. The unique part is two of one kind of die, one of another. These are referred to as "Bones" and "Blood" and are suggested to be white and red, respectively.  While all three dice are rolled at the same time, they have slightly different values.  All three are added together, then added to a Trait to determine most actions.  However, the Blood die is then used as rolled to determine the level of success, damage done, special effects, etc. No re-rolling, it's all very quick. In addition, many dice rolls are opposed, meaning you and your opponent roll simultaneously trying to get a higher total result. Should you tie, the player with the higher Blood die wins. (If it's still tied, the player with Control  wins, we'll explain that in a minute.) It's a very easy system that even novice table toppers can come to grips with very easily, but leaves a lot of randomness and opportunity. 

Fists of G.O.D.Control Freaks
     So, every games you're ever played has probably had some form of "Initiative," or "who goes first" determiner. In Spinespur, that is called Control.  You establish control the start of each turn.  Both you and your opponent roll those three dice, adding a Trait called Grit- as determined by your Central Character (Warlord, General, Commander, etc.). The winner has Control.  Control allows you to determine who shall activate a model first- yourself or your opponent.  It also means that should Blood Dice result in ties, you win the tiebreaker.

Get a move on!
Anti-Pope     Okay, you've determined who has control, and now you've got to get your models moving.  Spinespur uses an alternating activation turn method: you activate a single model, then your opponent does the same, then it's your turn to activate a single model again.  There are no "squads" or "teams" or "units" in Spinespur: it's every man and woman for themselves.  
     Each model has 2 actions they can take per turn, unless specifically stated otherwise. This is where the system really shows some creative thought: things are boiled down to simplest terms, yet still leaving a wide range of options.  All actions can be repeated in a turn, meaning there's no need for a "run" double-action option- just friggin' move twice.  Move, Attack, Use Magic (when applicable) are all straightforward single actions. "Wild Shot" and "Scrap" are both a combination of a Move and Attack action in one (ranged and close combat, respectively), both with some dangerous penalties.  
     Additionally, there are "half actions" that can be taken "around" a normal action. These include picking up weapons from downed enemies or colleagues (yes, you read that right!), opening or closing doors, priming certain weapons, and even a 1" move to step out from behind cover, shoot, then step back behind cover again.

Sex Star 6You are your Job!
     There are three model classes in Spinespur: Individuals, Grunts, and Swarms.  Indies are specific characters... "named" people of which only one may be on the field at a time.  Grunts are pretty much everyone else, from lowly Thugs all the way up to your nameless heavy hitters.  Swarms represent a group of people/animals/things that alone wouldn't be much of a threat, but in groups are dangerous.  They're all massed together on a larger base to give them a suitably mob-like appearance. 
    In addition to Class, your model will have certain type descriptors.  Those are clearly marked on your card:
  • Living, Undead, or Construct
  • Possessing a Soul, or "Hollow" (important for some forms of magic and certain effects)
  • Male, Female, or Asexual
     Following Type is your model's Traits. Seven traits, and although they have fancy scary names, they're pretty much your standard fare. Stalk (Movement), Aggression (Str), Brawl (Close Combat), Aim (Ranged Combat), Reaction (Evasion), Grit (Courage/Leadership), Mental Fortitude (Intelligence)

Up your Arsenal
Martin Greygun     Now, a lot of model cards already come with specific weaponry. That's what they're trained in, that's what they prefer/can get their hands on readily.  However, one of the joys of Spinespur is looting dead bodies for stuff.  Sure, you might generally prefer to use your lucky baseball bat, but who's going to pass up a free chainsaw laying on the ground, with one former careless owner? Snatch that puppy up and go to town with it!  For this reason, all the generic weapons also have weapon cards.  Swapping out your weapons is a grand part of this game, and I can't tell you how many times a chainsaw has swapped hands three or more times in a match.

Chainsaw ThugsClobberin' Time!
     Combat is quick, simple, and incredibly brutal.  You roll your 3 dice and add your  Brawl or Aim trait (for close or ranged combat, respectively). Your opponent rolls their three dice plus their Reaction. Highest total wins.  If you won, your already rolled Blood die determines how much damage is done, by checking on a chart according to the weapon you're using. Fast, effective, and allows for the game to continue to progress- no heavy mathematics.  It's true there's a bit of chart management involved, but you pretty quickly learn the few weapon/attack types at your disposal, and then it's off to the races.

Fear. It's what's for breakfast!
     One of the most unique aspects of the world of Spinespur is Fear. Striking fear into your enemies gives you power, and that power can make or break a battle.  For a rundown of exactly how Fear works and how important it is, read this.  For now, assume that terrifying actions (such as eating corpses, mangling people with giant chainsaws, or transforming before their eyes) can cause even the hardened criminal element of Spinespur to wet themselves. This grants you "Fear Tokens" which can be used to modify dice rolls, affect damage, even heal your Central Character.

Cardinal FalciferI've got a Black Magic Woman...
    Magic in Spinespur can be a terrifying thing. Generally it's costly to use- either in Fear, blood/health, or models dying- sometimes your own.  Each force that can use magic uses a slightly different form, and each character that can use it is limited to a few particular effects.  For the purpose of this overview, assume that they're all downright nasty. 

It's a Regional thing
     Another exciting part of Spinespur is the fact that your game can take place in one of five different Regions. Each Region is a part of the city or surrounding area, with it's own unique rules and properties.  You can, of course, choose to not play with these rules... but watching a powerful character loose health because hobos and vagrants are pelting him with bottles is just damned funny. 

Nature, or Nurture? 
Mr. Jingles     A unique aspect of Spinespur is how you choose your force. You can choose to play either an "Agenda" (what most table toppers would see as the traditional method, choosing a force all designed form the same faction), or you can choose to play a "Philosophy": a collection of models from different Factions who have a similar world view and might just find themselves needing to rely on each other- desperate times call for desperate allies. This allows a player to craft a force in many different ways, making far more utilization of the available model line than may normally occur.  It also allows for some interesting "strange bedfellows" sort of play.... although for the love of all things holy avoid using the phrase "strange bedfellows" if you're fielding Mr. Jingles, please?

ShackelersThe Devil's in the Details
     The current rule book has 15 different scenarios that can be played, and the Comfy Chair Games website's forum has many more that players have designed themselves.  This means a wealth of different game options and opportunities, to make sure that every game is a unique story unto itself. 

     So, in a nutshell, there's a brief overview of Spinespur.  A unique horror setting, fantastic models, and just a lot of fun to play.  There isn't much time left to get in on the Kickstarter (or the Kickstarter Contest for that matter!), so you'd best get to it.  See you on the other side of the table.

The Second Class Elitist

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