Saturday 6 April 2013

Pulp Alley Test Drive

Last night we took Pulp Alley out for a test drive. Cory and Russ played while I took on the role of rules bi-atch.

We played a scenario I made up on the drop of a hat, borrowing from the plot point generator in the rules (with a few tweeks) and set in North Africa near Tunis in the 30s. An ancient artifact had been discovered on an archaeological dig and was being ferried back to Cairo. When the truck broke down in a an obscure town things started to go bad. The populace fled town, fearing ancient and terrible powers would visit them but not before driving off the men transporting the artifact, although they did manage to hide it somewhere in town first.

Near Tunis on the North African coast

Plot points

Mad Mullah (minor)
The only remaining person in town. He knows the location of the idol but is barely lucid. Getting him to talk will be hard. Making sense of what he says will be even harder.

Empty crate (minor)
Sitting near one of the trucks is a packing crate, clearly used to transport the artifact but now empty of all but some straw.

Old Cannon (minor)
The old cannon sits on a hill near town and the magical powers of the artifact have dragged the barrel round til it points directly at the building where it is hidden.

Tattered scroll (minor)
Hidden in the glove box of the transport truck, the scroll is magically linked to the artifact and gives the bearer a sense of the artifact's location.

Ancient artifact (major)
The artifact itself is "hidden" in one of the houses but gives off so much magical energy even a complete mook can feel it if close enough.


We declared all bridges and high walkways, the salt marches and the ladder in the old tower to be perilous areas. Players were smart enough to avoid them all so next time we'll need to enforce them a bit, maybe by making them necessary routes to some plot points.


Cory played Henri's Heroes, a band of ruthless French treasure hunters. Here's his league roster:

Henri's Heroes

Russ played the White Russians, a band of desperate ex-pats looking for anything that can help them to power at home. Here's his league roster:

The White Russians

The game

Play took a little while to get started with both players feeling their way into the rules. We made a few errors regards the fortune cards which disadvantaged the White Russians and Russ to some extent. His dice rolls were also on the poor side too unfortunately and the combo helped Cory to a 5-0 win on plot points but it wasn't a walk in the park. Both players lost followers (all of them for Russ) and no other characters were down and out, although Cory's sidekick Yvette was feeling under the weather.

Here are some staged pics from this morning. Unfortunately the light was too poor last night for decent photos... ;-(

Henri's Heroes. Listen carefully, I will say this only once!

The White Russians - fur hats and long coats in the heat of Africa? Absolutely!

Aerial view

Close-up of the main drag

The Mad Mullah sits outside the mosque, rocking back and forth. What a nutter!

Long view of the main drag

The rules

The Pulp Alley guys have done a great job with these rules. Despite this being the first game we still finished it in a couple of hours without being rushed. The rules run to just under 50 pages, are well laid out and clearly written with a solid table of contents. There are plenty of lovely pics and if you are pulp-heads like us you'll recognise more than a few of the miniatures present.

There is a real sense of two-fisted, heart pounding action and you are encouraged to think and act quickly. I can see that as you become more familiar with the cards and initiative / activation system you could become quite canny in forcing your opponent to act to your advantage when in control (active player). The switching of the active player based on successful completion of combats or tasks encourages all players to be active as often as possible. You never win anything sitting on your hands.

The opposed dice rolling mechanism is simple but effective and gives both players choices as to how best to act, whilst still producing conclusive outcomes most of the time. It ties nicely with the fortune cards to produce various types of challenges rolled against character's differing skill sets.

Creating a league is easy and great fun. There are loads of abilities and perks that help add flavour when added on top of the six skills per character (shoot, brawl, dodge, might, cunning and finesse). We created our leagues in about 15-20 minutes each.

Finally, there is a small but active forum that seems to be growing fast. The Pulp Alley team are always in there answering questions and encouraging. I've spoken to Dave a number of times over email and he seems a great guy, really friendly and happy to offer advice.

Wrap up

I have to say it's pretty addictive (for me at least!). I've already got plans for another two leagues using figures in my current collection. Stay tuned for the Servants of Meh and those crazy commedians from the British Union of Fascists...

All up Pulp Alley is WELL worth the ten bucks I paid for the PDF and I highly recommend them. We'll definitely be getting the printed rules and nice fortune cards in the near future. For now I'm working on a nifty MS Excel league roster to make creating leagues even simpler.


1 comment :

  1. Great report there, will see you around on the pulp alley forums. There is an editable PDF for creating a gang in the pulp alley yahoo group somewhere.


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