Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Galactic Rangers vs the Space Phroggs

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.

Galactic Rangers:
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

Space Phroggs:
Commander Rivvit
Sgt. Kroke
5 Phrogg soldiers
Giant toad

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 Galactic Rangers set up first, entering from the south.

The Phroggs arrived second, entering from the north.
The Galactic Rangers had initiative, so Captain Psmith ran forward to the major plot point in the middle of some swampy ground. Chief Engineer Potts moved off to the left to try to grab the minor plot point there. He tried to use his latest invention, the sonic spanner, but it blew up on him and ended up knocking him out for the rest of the scenario. The explosion must have rattled First Officer Bassett a little, as she moved more cautiously towards the minor plot point on the right.
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.
Captain Psmith and Spaceman Emsworth pull back to the minor plot point in the swampy area to the south. First Officer Bassett and Spaceman Threepwood pull back, too. While most of the Phroggs surge forward and Commander Rivvit pulls back to retrieve the plot point to the north. Another flurry of shooting occurs to little effect.
First Officer Bassett and Spaceman Threepwood pull back out of the conflict, while Captain Psmith grabs the last minor plot point. The Phroggs try to shoot, but it's a case of too little, too late.
In the final tally the Galactic Rangers have collected 2 minor plot points as well as the major one. While the Phroggs have gathered 2 minor plot points.

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).


  1. Sounds like fun. Did the guys in the red shirts survive?

  2. Thanks, Ross!
    They actually did (because they had names?). It was the guy in the gold shirt who got knocked out of the fight this time (by his own invention!).

    There wasn't a lot of direct conflict between the 2 parties, other than some desultory gunfire. Most of the perils and injuries happened because of the hazardous terrain. ha! (I think that's partly due to the nature of the scenario and partly due to my lack of experience with the rules. I could've had the Phroggs go after Captain Psmith right off the bat and would probably have had a better chance of them catching him.)

  3. Replies
    1. Phanks! I think it is. I will play more and hopefully get the rules down better and figure out what kinds of strategies to use and all.

  4. Nice looking table and sounds like a fun game!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks! For this game/scenario I used figures and scenery I already had. I need/want to make more terrain for other kinds of scenarios in the future.

  5. Looks like a really fun game,thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. Thanks!

      I think one thing I should have done is not allow grabbing the major plot point until the side (or character?) had a minor plot point, which are supposedly clues to the major one. But then, I couldn't see any difference between the major plot point and the minor ones (at least not in this scenario).

  6. Very cool to read this. I just bought the game at GenCon and haven't really had a chance to do more than thumb through it. I look forward to more of your reports!

    1. Thanks! I was watching the recent videos from the Pulp Alley people where they did a playthrough, 3 videos. Good to see how they do it. I guess it's not necessarily a very bloody game. Even when you manage to eliminate a character they are just basically knocked out of the fight, not necessarily killed (unless you want to play it that way and say elimination is death). It's not that there aren't perils, there are plenty of them, just not lethal ones. Which I think is true to the spirit of many pulp adventures, especially the old cliffhanger series, with recurring characters who manage to come back time after time. I like it that way; for me, that's part of the charm.

      It's also a pretty flexible system, as witnessed by various supplements that give you options for all sorts of groups, from the standard hero/sidekick/followers, to gangs of minions to "terrors" (single horror-type character as its own "group"), and so much more. But at the heart the rules are still pretty simple. A lot of stuff you would need to reference in game are things you would put on character cards or sheets (you can buy blank character cards or simply use something like index cards, which is what I did for this playthrough).

      I hope you will posts some reports if/when you give the rules a go, too.

  7. I wanted to add this - I went in for the kickstarter Lemuria supplement (with robot minis) and received the products well before the expected date given in the kickstarter. They have more playthroughs up on youtube as well. One is a co-op horror game.

    The Phipps and their team are a class act. Pulp Alley looks like a labor of love and their customer service has been top-notch in my experience!