I played a fast game using the Pulp Alley rules for a pulpy sci-fi encounter between Captain Psmith and his Galactic Rangers against the Space Phroggs. It was pretty easy to create the characters for the 2 sides and then set up the scenario. I used the solo card deck, which offers some advantages as well as disadvantages for whichever side has to pull cards from it each turn.
Captain Psmith (in the purple uniform)
First Officer Bassett (in the green uniform)
Chief Engineer Potts (in the gold uniform)
Spacemen Emsworth and Threepwood (in the red uniforms)
The robot, Keggs
5 Phrogg soldiers
I played the basic "Smash and Grab" scenario, in which the two sides are trying to grab the most plot points and get away. I rolled for the plot points on the tables provided (these are just for descriptive purpose and have no real impact on game play; although it might be fun to represent the plot points according to the descriptions). In my case, I used wooden counters to represent the plot points (plain wood for the minor ones and a red counter for the major plot point).
This is a view of the overall table. The "area" pieces (rounded shapes) represent perilous areas; other smaller terrain pieces represent obstacles and/or cover but are not perils.
The Phroggs arrived second, entering from the north.
Meanwhile, the Phroggs also moved forward. One of the Phrogg soldiers succumbed to the perils of the swamp (how embarrassing, right there next to his commander, to tumble face first into the swamp).
Captain Psmith grabs the major plot point (a smuggled shipment for which the Phroggs had some evil plot, no doubt). Commander Rivvit grabbed a minor plot point. Some shots rang out. Captain Psmith was hit, but it was only a flesh wound. The giant toad also succumbed to the swamp (must have some perils that the Phroggs are not used to on their home planet).
Meanwhile, the Sgt. Kroke is having difficulty with the minor plot point next to him. Although First Officer Bassett grabs the one next to her. Meanwhile the rest of the Phroggs threaten Captain Psmith and Spaceman Emsworth with gun-play all around. Some hits are scored, but most of the characters recover.
I had fun with this! I did have to reference the rules a fair bit while playing, but less and less as the game went on. The basic mechanics are pretty simple; the turn sequence isn't complicated either. The main thing that I can see a need for referencing are the various skills and things like gadget and gears, and some things like creating gangs/characters, setting up scenarios, and handling things like experience and between game effects. The solo cards also make for the unexpected to happen in solo games, throwing obstacles at you (or your opponent) as well as the occasional perk.
It's also a very flexible set of rules, with various options, so you can play straight-up pulp, sci-fi, fantasy, swashbuckling, or other genres of that ilk (WW 1 or 2, horror, gangster/detective noir, western, adventure). In other words, nearly any genre covered by pulp novels or movies.
I also want to commend the father/daughter company that produces Pulp Alley for their great products and customer service (I received my order within a few days of placing it).
Happy Winter Solstice!
9 months ago