Friday, January 31, 2020

Update on MEST 2.x

It's a new year and I've got more information regarding the progress of MEST 2.x. I notice that it has been since 2013 when I started this effort, and it gets closer as time goes on. I hope to finish this one day.

These are notes regarding the draft file at


This area's core rules are fairly stable, but I'm always trying to clarify with more examples and simpler phrasing. Hard work. Many of the elements such as Movement or Combat could be made simpler and those need the most work since they'll be used the most frequently.


I've expanded the section on Archetypes to better define what they mean (page 8). Commons are now just the Average, Untrained, Veteran, and Elite archetypes. Specialist archetypes are those such as Acrobat, Leader, Martialist, Mystic, Hero, etc. I tried to clarify where possible the various entry types.
  • Untrained - One addition is the Untrained type which is basically civilians because the Average type should represent the typical combatant.
  • Healer - Added Healer archetype as part of Commons and Variant Commons
  • I've also made Variant Archetypes more clearly defined, and state that most modern genre characters would be of the Average Variants types; basically all stats are 2 and then they get a single trait.


I've better defined the use of Available Hands (page 11).
  • This can still get tricky, and I haven't yet figured out what to do with four-armed characters such as Tharks/Warhoons ... which I'll probably worry about once I get the VSF genre more completed.


I've expanded this section to make it more clear what the sequence of play is (page 17).
  • One key addition is the inclusion of End-game Trigger as the mechanism for variable game-length. This now serves as a core system rule.
  • This also prepares the rules set for use of the optional Resource cards which make reference to End-game triggers. See page 19.


I've made two additions here which I think improve the game (page 20).
  • Consecutive Attempts - +1 Modifier die, up to +2 Modifier dice, for repeating an action against the same target.
  • Move - A character's MOV attribute (normally a '2') determines how many facing changes are allowed during movement. Movement segments are all straight lines.


I've clarified that this is usually what happens when a character is in Wait status (page 23).
  • However, in order to reduce in-game exploits I make it clear that Attentive Ordered characters may react to Distracted models with lower REF. This increases the worth of REF as well.
  • I am still considering "Infinity the Game"-style automatic reacts for target models of Range attacks to automatically seek Cover. At this time, this is defined as a standard Passive Player Option.


I've clarified how often Bonus Actions can be used (page 28).
  • Also, I've introduced clarifications for Circle, Push-back, Pull-back, Reversal; must be in base-contact unless discard a cascade from the successful Combat Test.
  • Furthermore, I've introduced SIZ + STR for Push-back and Pull-back to make it easier for bigger models to move smaller models around, and smaller models need more cascades.


I changed the way we do Wounds. If Damage is greater than existing Wounds, then Wounds equal Damage. Otherwise just increase +1 Wound. This makes bigger characters last longer in combat (page 31).


I've clarified how often Fear tests are resolved (page 32).
  • It's basically once per Turn. I discovered that archetypes such as the Gryffon or Gorgon with their Fear 5 affected too many characters at once.
  • I did some analysis and ... not just for MEST but many TTWG with "Fear" or "Terror" have the same problem of just how effective and annoying that trait could be. Worst case scenario is about 1 target model per Fear X ... so Fear 5 could affect 5 target models per Action!


This section has been slowly expanding. I'm still trying out Champions, Campaigns, and the Magic System. I've got the rules ... just not happy with the rules overload because they'd be sub-systems.


I clarified these a bit more, to make it precise. (page 33).
  • ROF - "Rate-of-Fire" has a Basic Game version, and an Advanced Game version.
  • Suppression - This is a head-ache. Necessary but I think could still be worded simpler.
  • Fire-lane - This is another head-ache. I'll need to set up a large-scale session to debug it.


I added this to handle flying characters. Seems to work OK during play-tests (page 35).


This is a new classified system. Items (Weapons, Armor, Equipment) can be given a classifier keyword which prefixes it such as "Psychic", "Arcane", or "Etheric" to generally alter how it is used.
I have been using this for "Psychic" weapons. It seems to work fine, and there's no BP difference (page 36).

For example, a Psychic Shotgun or Psychic Light Armor have the same effects as a physical Shotgun or Light Armor but the character does not need to be sculpted with them.


I have been expanding and clarifying this section (page 39). I think for game-tinkerers this is a critical section. It also helps me stay consistent for designing new archetypes.


I really like this now. I've been play-testing with Visibility 4 scenarios. I've done my best to clarify and simplify. Probably needs more work. Operates using new Light X and Light X (Flicker) rules.

Friday, January 24, 2020

MEST :: Sacrificing Mary II


My opponent for this session is my nephew. =)

This was a larger version of the MEST Tactics :: Mythos scenario I presented at

That first scenario was just 4 models per player (total 8 models) and was resolved using a 2x2-foot board. This version was much larger involving 17 models (8 vs. 9) and took about 3 hours from start to finish which is including two breaks (~30 minutes and ~45 minutes).

The overall time for game-play was therefore about ~100 minutes. Predicted time was 17 models x 5 minutes = 85 minutes.

I'll provide scenario details after all of the pictures below.


These are the pictures in order according to the timestamp for the EXIF data on each file. My hands are shaky and so I needed to deblur many of the pictures.

Start of game. Cultists from the Cult of Charazon start at the far left corner. The Church of Inner Divinity ("nuns") starts at the bottom right. There are several Objective Markers (OMs) distributed across the battlefield, some of which are within buildings. Those need to be collected. We are also using the Resource Cards with their event triggers upon them. The building in the center has the Altar and one of the OMs.

Sister Maria, Sister Susan, and Abbot Price. The Abbot in this version of the scenario is aiding the nuns.

The Clancy Gang. Helps with the Nunnery faction. Big Boi is the warhound (Dog, War) here. In the distance is Sister Primin Proctor with her lantern. It is "Night, Full-moon" and so Visibility OR 4". Lanterns provide Light OR 6".

A view of the starting position from the Cultists' side of the battlefield.

The Cultists have access to a Clockwork Automaton. It requires that an Attentive Ordered Friendly model begins in base-contact with it to issue orders. It may only act upon elements it has seen prior, and any new elements within LOS.

The Clancy gang with their submachine-guns (SMGs) move up into position. The Cultists are beyond the building at the top left. Big Boi the warhound has moved up to the building. Sister Mary is within LOS of Sister Susan.

A view from the Cultists' side. Everybody is in position. The dark tokens indicate that they are in Hidden status. The guy with the stogie at the middle is also Distracted because the character was pushed to get into place from much further away.

Hmm. Sneaking up against one of the buildings. This is Turn #1.

Around Turn #2 or #3. One of the Clancy Gang ("Blarmie Gaggers") is nearby to assist. There's an OM within that building, and also the Altar. The porch entrance shown is blocked from access; I went to cover the wrong entrance! The other side is now being scoped by the Cultists. ... oops!

This is the other side of that particular building. The Clockwork Automaton is aiding another Cultist. My opponent didn't quite understand how to use that character just yet and so this was a sub-optimal choice.

Another view of the position of the Cultists.

Around Turn #3 or #4. All of the models are moving cautiously around that central building. At the left it can be seen that the Clancy Gang members are establishing fields-of-fire with their SMGs.

A few rounds into Turn #4. I didn't capture any pictures during the period up to this point. It can be seen with all of the red Wound markers that there has been lots of exchange fire and also close-quarters combat ("melee"). The Clockwork Automaton has FOR 5, Armor 6 Deflect 2 but has acquired 3 Wound markers as a result of SMG attacks against it.

A ground-view of the above. Spotty McGee is the Cultist with the torch and has been in Close Combat with Sister Primin Proctor. He acquired a Wound marker.

A closer look at the Clockwork Automaton and the gang leader Mac Ausvald and his SMG.

Top View. You can clearly see how volatile the situation can become. Sister Mary needs to be within Cohesion of a Friendly Attentive Ordered model in order to use her psionic blast ("Psychic Bolt Action Rifle").

[blurry] close-up of the Clockwork Automaton.

This is near the end of Turn #5. I didn't have the rest of the pictures on the camera since I become too involved with resolving the game-play. Essentially the Cultists won by 1 VP having established control of the Altar within the building at the right, but lost their Clockwork Automaton. It was a good and very tense game!

Scenario Configuration

Here's how the battle is set up for play.


The year is 1929 CE. Young Sister Mary Burns has been selected by the Abbot of the Church of Divinity yet again to be a vessel for the Outer God Yog-sothoth and needs to bring her to the Altar of Imdwelling. Mary's brother Stephen is leader of the Cult of Charazon and does not think that the time is right and therefore must rescue her from what he thinks may be a botched ritual incarnation. As a result, the Cultists must prevent Mary from being sacrificed and have initiated a rescue mission.

However, this information as to when and how to prevent such an occurrence is scattered across the Eastwick Village at five different locations. The Abbot and Brother Stephen each need to collect that information and either use it to summon Yog-sothoth or to defeat its arrival.

The Cultists can also win if they can escort Sister Mary off of their edge of the battlefield.


Provide 9 Objective markers [ OM ].
Optionally use the Resource cards, and allow End Game Triggers [ EGT ] to affect game duration.


Arrange the small buildings and terrain into the four corners of the battlefield. Arrange the two medium buildings at the center and place walls and trees on each side of them. The idea is to make access to the central are of the battlefield cluttered and hard to traverse.

Place one OM at the center of the battlefield adjacent to a terrain element. Place one OM within each of the buildings. Doors are unlocked, windows are locked. Opening a door, locking, or unlocking it is 1 AP each. Place the remaining OMs at the center of each quadrant of the battlefield in base-contact with a terrain element, with one OM in base-contact with the entrance to the central building.

4' x 4' battle area
4 x small buildings
2 x medium buildings
8 x groves of trees
8 x stands of trees
6 x walls and other terrain


Visibility OR 4; it is "Night, Full-moon".

The Forces

There are two sides each controlled by a single player; the Cult of Charazon (the "cultists") and the Church of Inner Divinity (a "nunnery"). Abbot Price is in charge of the church and wants to take psychic vessel Sister Mary and sacrifice her at the altar of Yog-Sothoth (the "Altar of Imdwelling"). The Cultists' leader, Stephen Burns, actually is the brother of Sister Mary. He wants to get any of the cult members into base-contact with Sister Mary and escort her back to their starting side of the battlefield.

Cult of Charazon — 596 BP

Most of the models are Average Variant Commons character archetypes.

The leader model is Stephen Burns. He is psychic with a "Psychic Medium Auto Pistol" as a weapon. 

The Cultists also have a Clockwork Automaton which has a new [Tethered] trait (see below). At the start of its Initiative, if it is in base-contact with an Attentive Ordered Friendly model; it may perform actions against any target within Line-of-Sight (LOS) of both itself and its handler, or to continue a prior action against a target it had already encountered. It may not otherwise begin new actions on its own. For example, if it is attacked by another model it may continue to fight that model. Or, if is tasked to make base-contact with another model or terrain element originally within LOS; it may continue to pursue that task until completed.

  • Spotty McGee 222|222|223
    Average Cultist 222|222|223
    49 BP. 63 BP with Large Basic Torch.
  • Dunnigan Crux
    Average Cultist 222|222|223
    49 BP. 79 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Foster Frieds
    Average Grizzled 222|222|223
    40 BP. 70 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Lem Stanley
    Average Outsider 222|222|223
    27 BP. 57 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Maury Kellers
    Average Outsider 222|222|223
    27 BP. 57 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Opie Nilson
    Average Shooter 222|222|223
    35 BP. 65 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Stephen Burns
    Leader 222|322|223
    Tactics 2. Leadership.
    94 BP. 154 BP with Psychic Medium Auto-pistol.
  • Clockwork AutomatonClever Armored  300|024|416
    [Tethered][Beast+]. Armor 5. Brawn 2. Expendable.
    15 BP. 51 BP with Long Sword and Heavy Chainsaw Claw.

Church of Inner Divinity — 603 BP

All of the models are Average Variant Commons character archetypes.

The leader model is Abbot Price who also has been assigned the Fight trait.

Sister Mary is psychic with a "Psychic Bolt Action Rifle" as a weapon. However, Sister Mary needs to be within Cohesion of a Attentive Ordered Friendly model in order to use her weapon for an attack.

  • Abbot Price 222|222|223
    Average Tactican
    44 BP.
  • Sister Susan 222|222|223
    Average LeaderLeadership.
    39 BP.
  • Sister Maria 222|222|223
    Average Shooter
    Shoot. Brawn.
    35 BP. 65 BP with Light Revolver.
  • Sister Primin Proctor 222|222|223
    Average BrawnyBrawn.
    42 BP. 61 BP with Basic Lantern.
  • Sister Mary the Innocent 222|222|223
    Average Coward 222|222|223
    21 BP. 49 BP with Psychic Bolt Action Rifle.
  • Big Boi
    War Dog 2-3|-32|122
    [Beast!]. Sprint. Surefooted. Stealthy. Detect 2. Bite. Chase. Pack-mentality.
    51 BP.
  • Mac Asvalt
    Average Outsider 222|222|223
    27 BP. 98 BP with Light Submachine-gun.
  • Blarmie Gaggers
    Average Outsider 222|222|223
    27 BP. 98 BP with Light Submachine-gun.
  • Sheffield Stern
    Average Outsider 222|222|223
    27 BP. 98 BP with Light Submachine-gun.


Forces start within 8 MU of opposite corners of the battlefield, with the Cultists setting up first.

Victory Conditions

The game-length is 6 Turns. 
  • Collection (+1 VP to most OMs collected)
  • Elimination (+1 VP if have fewest KO'd or Eliminated models)
  • Escort (+1 VP to Mission Defender if an Objective Marker identified as the “Coveted Asset” has exited the battlefield with a Friendly character.)
  • Aggression (+1 VP to the Side with the most models crossing mid-line of battlefield during the course of the game.  If there is a tie in the count; award each count +3 Resource Points. Award the Side which had a character cross first an additional +1 Resource Points.)
  • POI (+1 VP to the Side “In Control” of the Point-of-Interest.  A Friendly character within Cohesion of the center of the POI but with no Opposing models within Cohesion of that character is considered to be “In Control”.)

Special Rules

Here are some clarifications;

  • The Cultists are the Mission Defenders.
  • At the center of the battlefield is a building which contains the Altar of Imdwelling; it is the POI and awards +1 VP.
  • The character "Sister Mary the Innocent" is a Coveted Asset for the Cultists and is worth +1 P.

These are newly introduced traits.

  • [Tethered] — On its Initiative, it may not start new actions not already assigned to it. At the start of its Initiative, if it is in base-contact with an Attentive Ordered Friendly model; it may be assigned a new set of action and perform them against any target within Line-of-Sight (LOS) of both itself and its handler, or to continue a prior action against a target it had already encountered. It may not otherwise begin new actions on its own.
  • Psychic — See Psionic. Any Armor, Equipment, or Tool may be prefixed with this classifier as part of its name and will function as though the character has that item.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Game Day at Work

I waited about a year for this event at my new workplace.  On this day I introduce my hobby to my co-workers. This is apparently the standard delay time I've set myself to follow for the last three (?) companies at which I've been employed.  Usually I get a good balance of men and women. This year my three male coworkers were joined by a female one.


These were all boardgame enthusiasts but I would classify them as Eurogamers because they've had little exposure to wargaming or tabletop miniatures gaming.

I brought in most of my ready material and gave a history of tabletop wargaming, my pursuit of the hobby since childhood (some 45 years ago) and why this sort of pastime is interesting to me.  I explained the concepts of thematics, verisimilitude, crunch, fiddlyness, and heavyness.

  • thematics - game design and game-play which tightly conveys theme. Desired.
  • verisimilitude - game-play which seems "real enough".  Desired.
  • crunch - simulation of process in support of verisimilitude.  Need to minimize.
  • fiddlyness - over-design of components or labor-intensive game-play steps. Need to minimize.
  • heavyness - large amount of decision making opportunities. Need to balance

The Games

I showed a few of my wargame designs; Barbarian Suns, Barbarian Suns II, Swashbuckling, Giant Robots of World War II, and then MEST Tactics. This show-and-tell portion took about 90 minutes and I think my colleagues were impressed, which makes me happy. 

MEST Tactics Demonstration Game

This is where I set up the MEST Fantasy Gladiators demo session.

The Participation

There were 4 players, and I gave each about 600 BP worth of characters which comes to 3 models each. I estimated about 90 to 120 minutes maximum, but it took about 150 minutes. I think this is because I didn't factor in multiple newbie players. Lessee ... 12 models x 10 minutes for 2 new players = 120 minutes.

The Response

I think the players were shocked that the game involved so many rules. However, the game did make sense to most of them. One of the questions was why did players have to "roll-to-hit" and then also "roll-to-damage". That's fair, and I stated that it was tradition to know the difference between accuracy and effect since MEST Tactics is a tabletop wargame with it origins in simulating combat.

Gaming Day Pictures

Here are the pictures of that day!

Barbarian Suns. This is version 1 from 1998 or so.
Giant Robots of World War II. This was completed in 2010 or so.

MEST Tactics: Fantasy Gladiators. This is the starting arrangement.

Medusa. Key feature is Fear 5. Models within 5-MU are affected!

Akeleb. Spearman.

Leonidas. Spearman.

The character profile card for Leonidas. This is about 3 by 5 inches.


Learn more about these various designs here;