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Author Topic: [Hell 4 Leather] The Joe Prince one!  (Read 494 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: February 16, 2010, 04:53:29 AM »

Hey ho. We were supposed to be finishing off our game of Dragon vs The Gun (a Ronnies entry by Joe Prince that is making its way to done -- at the moment it's rough but getting there) but Matt couldn't make it. So we had two playtests of Joe's other game "Hell 4 Leather" (which won the "Two Games One Name" competition run by Nathan Paoletta, its partner is Sebastian Hickey's "Hell for Leather").

I wanted to do a couple of "extreme" tests on the playing options. What if we were obtuse or just didn't use the boons? And the other end. What if we maximally helped each other out early with boons to stave off death? What effects would these have on unfolding play and the end games?

So, Russ, Joe and I broke out the Tarot cards and got a couple of quick games in.

For those who don't know, Joe's Hell 4 Leather is a game of revenge. One of you (whoever gets the Fool card) is betrayed by his buddies in the Devil's Dozen bikie gang, killed and sent to Hell. The Devil gives you one night of revenge that is played out in 6 discrete scenes where you target your former comrades for death. It is very much like The Crow and has a liberating easy-going free-form vibe to it. It also has some sharp scene resolution using Tarot Cards (you lay out a bunch of cards face down and the Fool has to find the Death card to be successful in revenge).

So, Russ gets to be the Fool first and Joe and I get to be the members of the gang. A couple of things become apparent quickly. With 3 players (the minimum) you get scenes between two characters at a time, whereas with 6 players you'd have 5 bikers in each scene. With two players you might get consecutive scenes with the same characters -- if you survive and don't change character at the end of a scene.

Russ targets me for death and I don't throw in a Boon to help my case. Russ has to pick from two cards: one is Death and the other is my character, who if picked will survive the attempt but change because of it. If Russ fails to pick Death he can spend his one Boon -- the Devil -- to get me for sure. Fine.

We play through the scenes starving Russ of Boons and taking our lumps along the way. It is still robust and because we aren't using Boons there's a higher chance of us dying. And we do! Russ carves through a decent portion of the pack and Joe use a boon in the final scene to make sure I'm finished off. I return the favour but Russ picks Joe's character card rather than Death and Joe's character lives.

For me, it's convincing that even if you don't play Boons you will get an interesting story, and there are moments in the game where you will be surely tempted to play them to save your skin. And there is always the chance of dying if the Fool can pick out the Death card.
 
So, we played the other extreme. This time I was the Fool, so Joe and Russ aided each other at every opportunity. Doing this the Emperor and High Priestess survived a number of scenes as I went about accumulating Boons for the final showdown.

In the finale I hilariously picked out Death from 8 cards (I seem to have a knack for sniffing that card out, which is slightly disturbing) and then used my Boons to carve through about half the surviving pack. Again, fun times and robust mechanically.

I really liked the fact that even an Fool with no boons could still kill everyone in the final scene if he keeps pulling Death from the assembled cards. And a Fool loaded with Boons could at best get about 4 auto-kills with their boons if everyone has survived to that point (and that would be a climactic butchering of deserved death should it happen!).

So, it looks like this one is done. Russ, Joe and I talked about how to best present the rules and show the choices available in the different scenes -- so I have high hopes for this one. And again we didn't write anything down -- everything is there on the table in the cards.

The next step is to mock up a draft of the final presentation and use it to play.

And at some point I will get around to writing about my fun game of S/Lay w/Me in Cork, Ireland from January!
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