Saturday, December 20, 2014

MEST 2.0 low-fidelity version [ DRAFT ]


So ...

I've changed jobs yet again and now I work a bit closer to my home.  However, the effort of digging into my new opportunity - including the effort of job seeking in the prior weeks - takes a great toll upon me insofar as my available time and my ability to focus on this hobby.

Nevertheless; I have posted the low-fidelity draft for the MEST 2.0 rules!  This is a Google Drive share location which will remain in place while this blog (and the share point) lives.  The draft has numerous sections highlighted in yellow to show critical additions and portions that have changed since version 1.5.x.

see here for access to the 2.x draft:

see here for 2.x draft minus the yellow highlighting and the strike-out text:

see here for an overview of the revisions within the 2.x draft:

To Do List

I've got way too much to complete and nearly zero time to do it.  What I will do is start creating posts as to why certain sections were changed or added.  Eventually I'll get more time and start providing the remainder of the 2.x elements.  

At that point I'll replace all references to the 1.5.x rules and assets with 2.x stuff.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preview of MEST 2.0

The CelestiCon game session that we hosted a few months ago solidified some thinking on the MEST System rules.  There I encountered several very inquisitive and observant players - more so than normal - and I realized that the existing version 1.5x rules needed to be updated and revised ASAP.  And so Aggro and myself decided to update it using many of the concepts we've been stewing over for the past couple of years.

Here's a few of the changes that made the cut for version 2.0:

New Features

  1. Group Actions made it in!  This tremendously speeds up the game during the maneuver portion of each battle.  This is an evolution and complete simplification of the Trooper concept posted as a MEST Group entry nearly two years ago. It behaves more like what I created for the Soldiers! game.
  2. Go Points made it in! This works well with Group Actions. Its a bit more limited but cleaner than the MEST Group entry..
  3. Reacts made it in! This works well with the Group Actions. Its nearly the same as the version on the MEST Group entry.
  4. Suppression made it in! This works well with Group Actions. Its nearly the same as the version on the MEST Group entry.
  5. Magic System made it in! This is a cleaned-up version of the system we used for our Mythos genre from many years back. The Basic Rules with its vanilla genre comes with 9 spells.
  6. Custom Archetypes made it in! This is a relatively flexible way to generate new archetypes for the vanilla genre.  It is an improved version of what was posted to the MEST Group entry.
  7. Many new traits made it in to support the new custom archetypes.
  8. Many new weapon made it in the list. I finally corrected Blunderbuss and Coach Pistol, and brought in Automatic Rifle (like the BAR) again.  Many new Archaic Melee weapon were introduced, each of which receives the Impale trait.  This includes the Long Bow which also has that trait.

Critical Changes

  1. Hidden status is now more powerful.  The 1.5.2 rules have it so that Hidden status awards a die to the Defender for Range Combat.  The revised rules disallow targeting a Hidden model for Range Combat; it needs to be Detected first.
  2. Base dice now carry-over as bonus Base dice.  The Rule-of-Three for cascades is gone.  This simplification of the math for the main rules makes the game play much faster.  I ran the numbers through my Simulator project and basically its a wash; so simple is better.
  3. "Night, Clear" Lighting is now renamed to "Twilight, Overcast" Lighting.  I found this cool link on Wikipedia that I was able to convert into the MEST Visibility scale.  As a result, "Night, Clear, Full-moon" will become Visibility OR 4" ... but that is for the Advanced Rules.
  4. I've discovered that certain traits such as the Leader, Tactics, or Stealthy are very powerful and so I altered point-cost formulas for them.  Same goes with the INT (Intelligence) attribute.  There were several dozen tweaks to the existing traits and reformulation of all BP values.  As a result, for example; being a Leader is now very costly but will be in alignment with its benefits.
  5. We've expanded the IP spending list to include the equivalent of a "Oops! That's on Wait status" option, and to facilitate the Group Actions concept.
  6. The Pack Mentality and the Leader traits have been altered to work with the Group Actions concept correctly.

Organization & Edits

  1. Lots of stuff was moved around. Many rules were edited for clarity.  Exceptions were simplified or made very clear. There were lots and lots of edits to make this stuff readable and understandable.
  2. I tried my best to close loop-holes in concepts and in phrasing.  For example, the WYSIWYG concept also applies to terrain.  If you can't fit a model into some place upon the battlefield, maybe it shouldn't be there. Also, for example; I did my best to make it clear that any test involving POW is a Morale Test. Rally Tests, Fear Tests, and Bottle Tests are all versions of Morale Tests.  
  3. Friendly Fire has been simplified, as has Multiple Weapons.
  4. I got rid of a lot of the "rules as written" versus "rules as played" stuff.  There were a lot of rules that we no longer used.

Hi-Fidelity Version

The full-color Basic Rules document will need to some more effort because it is an Adobe InDesign file and take a lot of time to edit.  What I've learned is that because I did parallel edits with the low-fi version at the same time as the hi-fi version I had been limiting myself by trying not to affect page-count or page-layout too much.

Anyhow, along with the hi-fi version of the rules I'll need to update all of the optional downloads such as the Fantasy Gladiator stat cards, the Retropocalypse stuff, and a few more things. I hope to have all of it posted before the end of the year so that 2015 is the year of MEST 2.0.

Low-Fidelity Version

As for the low-fi (concise) version of the rules, I'll post the draft of that for download in a few days.  The final version of it will require that Aggro and myself double-check with a few more play-tests.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

CelestiCon 2014

EDIT: 2014.11.02 I the pics that I got from Kyle! 

CelestiCon Pictures

Alrighty.  I've finally got some time to write something.  Here's what it looked like at CelestiCon 2014 with our Retropocalypse offering using the MEST 1.5.8 rules (or so).  We had two 4-hour sessions and the first one was a rough start for me; I misremembered some rules and called them incorrectly during game play.  You know the deal; what you remember play-testing is different than what is written in the rules.  It made for some stress and some grumpiness for the players especially since - as a practice - I hand out free copies of the rules book.  Otherwise I think it went okay.  

As always I didn't get a chance to take photos during game-play.  I'll just need another 8 years for my eldest child to get old enough to responsibly shoot pictures for this blog.  Until then, here's what I have; the start of the first session;

I'm setting the character cards up.
Giant man is admiring my precision.

This is one of the faction cards and the top
of one of the character cards.

A close up of the Cultist character cards.

Here's Anika from the She-wolves.  Her faction wasn't used.

Here's a better shot of the entire set of minis
and character cards.  There's a total of 7 factions
with about 10 minis each.

View from the far side of the table.  CelestiCon organizers
were very generous and gave us a humongous set
of tables.  Any how, from this corner the Vault Dwellers
faction was used and they pinned down the Survivors faction
across the board at the left.  `should have been there.

This corner had a father and son? team each playing
as the Red Army faction.  They pretty much caused
problems with the Mutant Hillbillies across the board
and at the left. The Survivors at the right were
also limited in mobility as a result.
Here I am trying to be precise.  I actually confused
myself numerous times.

The Red Army team.

We tried our best to keep everybody involved.

Actually might be early during game set-up.

This is from the Survivor's faction view point.

I tried something new with this leaderboard concept so that
I could track Resource Points.  I will need to redo the
concept a little because I had a hard time moving around
the magnets which I used as pins for scoring as they would
continually stick to each other.

Simple AAR Session One

Five players arranged as so:

MH|  |VD

From the arrangement you can see that the Vault Dwellers (VD) have a lot of breathing room. Their Comm-link equipment and AI/Bot characters allow them to dominate during any action.  The Survivors (S) are literally cornered within some ruined building walls because of the nearby presence of the Red Army (RA) as well.  Some activity occurred at that half of the board to pick up objective markers for Resource Points but there wasn't otherwise a lot of movement.

At the left side of the battlefield the Mutant Hillbillies (MD) had to deal with the remainder Red Army team. From what I remember, Leroy (the mutant gator thing) finally got to rush into the fray at the center-line of the battlefield to acquire some more objective markers but during this process Ben (the mutant critter thing) got kild-ed.  The middle Red Army player placed a soldier atop the gas-station building and that essentially created a large area with which he could cover.  

Three hours passed very quickly at 4 Turns into play.  I started this session without declaring all of the rules and abilities for the players in order to not bore them but apparently I spent a lot of time during the session clarifying rules and re-playing actions in order to be fair to each player.  I corrected this failure in my communication in the next session.

Simple AAR Session Two

Two players arranged across each other at the middle third of the battlefield as so:

  | C|
  | S| 

I remember it was Cultists (C) versus Survivors (S).  This was a surprisingly tense session as both players seemed to be tactical game veterans who quickly grasped the rules.  Not so!  The Cultists player was experiencing her first tactical miniatures boardgame and was doing a phenomenal job of keeping the Survivor player - a veteran of many game systems and battles - tasked with tough decisions.  

In this session I did my best to inform each player of their various options and character or faction abilities as soon as I could.  It came back as a reward to watch very interesting game-play unfold.  The Survivors rushed to areas near the center-line road to cover large fields of fire which forced the Cultists player to eventually make the hard decision to risk penetrating that line with a few characters in order to acquire more Resource Points.

About two hours passed and the game concluded with a hand-shake.

The young guy sitting down is a veteran of tabletop affairs.

Our lady opponent was surprising in her tactical
acumen being that this was her first meeting engagement!

Aha! A chance to explain a rule! I think these two
enjoyed their game, and if so; I'm happy about that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

CelestiCon 2014

Quick update about the MEST effort; we've been whacked over the head several dozen times since our last post.  Work, family, ... the boring stuff that consumes nearly everything involving minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months.  Sorry about that.  Unfortunately life happens and hobbies come last.  Good news; just 20 more years before retirement!


This year we decided to check into CelestiCon 2014 which is running in my home town of Fremont,
CA.  Here's the Web site URL for the Events search page;

Enter the keyword 'MEST' and you'll find two Retropocalypse events each 4 hours long running on Sunday starting at 10:00 AM PST.  We will be pleased to receive each and every one of you that stop by.  Just like our previous entries for PacifiCon and DundraCon you'll discover that we'll do our best to take care our guests; we provide the minis, dice, rules, terrain, and hair-loss inducing GMing and you provide the tactical brilliance to play and win.

Files worth reading are duplicated here for quick access:

MEST Basic Rules version 1.5.8
Retropocalypse Character Cards
Retropocalypse Faction Cards
Retropocalypse Agenda Cards
Retropocalypse Mission Brief

Monday, February 17, 2014

Retropocalypse at DundraCon

Aggro and myself ran the Retropocalypse scenario at DundraCon just yesterday. Our first session ran for nearly three hours and we had 6 attendees. The second session ran for 1.5 hours and we had a repeat attendee and a new intrepid player. Our attendees demonstrated mastery of the basic rules very quickly. We did not expect such a large audience for the first session and it required the doting care of the both of us to ensure our guests experienced maximum enjoyment. Something had to give and we soon forgot to get enough sequential pictures to build a proper AAR.  However, in all cases our intrepid gamers did express to us that their time was well spent.

The six players in the first ran one team each of the various available factions issued at random.  The Red Army was not selected. The second session was two mini-games with two players each  (me + one, Aggro + one) at different ends of the battlefield.

At the start of each session I laid out the rules booklets with gamer card attached.

Booklets removed.

Those yellow stars are the Objective Markers. We didn't have time to build a thematic set.

Sometime around Turn 2?

Pa just took down a Scavenger.  "Get off my lawn!"

Sort of blurry.  You can see Herr Maske at the left with the She-wolves moving up towards the middle.

Done and Distracted.

Deep in the mix.  Those little bowls helped us corral the numerous dice.

From the second session, my one-on-one game.  Princess is Hidden and Ready.

A little blurry. 

Leroy about to move a bit closer to Princess and Onyx.

Ben is protecting the Object Marker.

Leroy by his lonesome.

Pa and kin Hidden.  Pa looks a bit Distracted.

Leroy caint really be hidin past them barrels.

Long view of the situation.

I think here my game was called.  Leroy took out Onyx, Princess looks out of it, and Moondog has no ranged weapons.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

VSF Battle Revisited


Wee Aggro, Aggro84, and myself had a chance to re-run an earlier battle from last year.  The time we've had has been spare and so this was a welcome match-up!  Aggro84 decided to mentor Wee Aggro and I was the opposition.

Here's the previous AAR:


Aggro's Assembly included many Beasts with Elites, Marksmen, and a Heroic.  My assembly had many Average with Melee weapons and my Elite and Heroic were given Pistols and Heavy Armor.


We used the same rosters for our assemblies but we decided to go urban this time. Gamekastle in San Jose had a decent street board that we overlayed our terrain. Our mission was the Treasure Hunt one found in the full-color MEST Basic Rules .  We deployed 9 Objective Markers [ OM ] and placed them hovering within 8" near the center of the 48"x48" battlefield and no closer than 3" to each other.  Afterwards we deployed our assemblies at opposite edges.

Resource Cards

For every Objective Marker retrieved a player can draw from the Resource Cards deck which is an Advanced Rule feature.  Each card might award additional bonus Resource Points [ RPs ] to augment the collection of the OM or have some game effect that can be good or bad.

Victory Conditions

The player with the most RPs is given 1 Victory Point [ VP ]. The player that KO'd or Eliminates the greater number of enemy is given 1 VP.  The player that crosses the mid-line of the battlefield with the greater number of models is given 1 VP. The player that forces the other to bottle-out is given 1 VP.  These incentives shaped our game-play strategy.

Aggro's starting line-up. There's four OMs within view.

The starting line-up had three Beasts.  You can see
 in the back one of the OMs near those quick models.

Those little black/purplish tokens identify the models
 as being Hidden.  Hidden models receive many
 benefits, one of which is that they can't be
 targeted for Range Combat unless first detected.

Here's some of my forces.  My Elite is that all-black
 steam-punk guy with dual Pistols from LAF minis.
There is an OM nearby.

A high shot of the starting conditions.  My forces are
 way in the back near the top. 
This is one of my blurry smartphone pics. Sorry. 

One of the Beasts makes a run to carve out a
 tactical position near the skull-pile OM; it goes into Wait.
 Another Beast runs to the barrel OM.  The two other
 OMs are taken by a third Beast at the jalopy and by a
Marksman near the south-west wall at the street-lamp.

From this angle you can see that Wee Aggro
 has secured 1 VP for most objective markers, and one
 more for crossing the center with at least one model.
 At the left his quick beast is fighting my Turk Marksman
 for the bone-pile OM.  My forces at the right are bit slow
 but they have been moving into position.  The Elite
 with the pistols is in Wait to cover the skull-pile OM.

Here's my Turk Marksman and the Beast.  It doesn't look
 good; he's been Wounded and is already Nervous

Aaargh! Turkman down! Apparently the Beast is
 now Distracted and this may slow it down.

Meanwhile across that particular wall you can see
 that I've got another shooter in position and Hidden.

Across the street in the courtyard I've bean able to
 maneuver several of my characters into position.
This particular area becomes a critical choke-point because it
 is also at the mid-line of the battlefield.  The Beast
 already took the other OM and so I'm stuck trying to
 acquire VPs by other means.

Back near the Turkman I've been able to bring into my
Elite and Heroic to acquire the bone-pile OM.
Another Beast was fielded to prevent that and
 also Wee Aggro decided to bring in one of his shooters.
 I got the OM for myself when I brought in the Heroic.

You can see that my Heroic with the Sword and the
 Elite really kicked some butt.  Though it looks bad
for my Elite this little Scrum was mine to own.
OK. This is back at the other courtyard.  You can see
 that I've been able to bring about my Leader and
 begun getting closer towards the mid-line.

Here is my last picture.  I've been
 doing mop-up work in that courtyard.
At this point Wee Aggro forfeits
 knowing that it is a matter of time.
I win with achieving the most KO'd and
 Eliminated, and with the most
 models crossing the mid-line.