Friday, November 10, 2023

What A Cyberman!

It occurred to me that I should have an emergency game to take along to Steel Lard in case one of the scheduled game-runners has a last-minute problem attending.

For a non-Lardy event I'd happily bring along my portable Death of Gustavus Adolphus game or the figures and models to play one of my Pavis skirmishes but these both use non-TFL rules sets (The Pikeman's Lament and Song of Blades and Heroes respectively). I need something that can be set up quickly, understood by at least one of the likely players, and that comes from the Lardy stable. What A Cowboy seems the best bet.

I had an errand to run down in Birmingham this week so five hours in the car gave me plenty of time to plan something using figures I already had to hand and a setting that most people could grasp quickly. The idea for What A Cyberman was born, and yesterday I got to play test it.

The scenario involves the Doctor arriving on Earth in the 1930s to find UNIT involved in a confrontation with Cybermen. Any terrain could be used but I used my existing dungeon modules as they can be taken to the event just by throwing one additional box into the car.

The scenario has a few special rules. 

The Doctor cannot be activated normally, doesn't fight and cannot be attacked. He is pursuing his own agenda. He moves whenever a player rolls three or more sixes on their Action Dice. There are six pre-determined, numbered "Important Locations"on the board. The Doctor starts on Location 4 and moves 4>5>6>1>2>3 etc. If the next Location is blocked by another character being on it or in contact with it, the Doctor moves to the next available numbered Location. 

Initially the Cybermen are hard to kill. They treat all Wounds and Critical Wounds as Shock results. This persists until one of the UNIT figures moves into contact with the Doctor. At this point, UNIT learns of the Cybermen's secret weakness and they can be targeted normally.

In addition, Cybermen don't dodge but any Cyberman can move up to three Action Dice from any Cyberman's Shock Pool by spending a Bonanza Token. They can do this even if the Cyberman in question has been put out of action.

The Cybermen aim to capture the Doctor and take him to the transmat platform from which they can beam him up to their control ship. UNIT (led by Lieutenant Lethbridge-Stewart) hope to prevent this.

The game looks to have some interesting tactical challenges. The Cybermen can use their fast-moving Cybermats to block off some Important Locations, thus steering the Doctor closer to the transmat platform.

In my solo playtest the Doctor was fairly mobile, briefly being captured before escaping (he continues to move, even if captured, when three or more sixes are rolled.

The Doctor is captured whilst exploring
the torture chamber

Lieutenant Lethbridge-Stewart played a key role in UNIT's eventual victory. Firstly it was he who managed to reach the Doctor and discover the Cybermen's secret weakness. Some time later his action dice gave him four threes and two fives. He diced to use all four Aim dice to put a single shot into the Cyberman that was menacing the Doctor. A roll of six gave him a Critical Hit and this was followed by another six - instant death!

Later still a roll of five fours by Private Anderson gave the lieutenant the chance to deliver the classic line, "Anderson, silver chap next to the statue, five rounds rapid!"

In the end the Cybermen were forced to withdraw and Earth was once again safe from the alien menace!


Jamie said...

That game looks fantastic!

Tales from Shed HQ said...

This looks great 👍

Andy T said...

Another cracking looking game Mr C... but, just in case any proper pedants turn up, I should point out that UNIT was a UN organisation (though that might now have been retconned) and not founded until 1958. Perhaps your guys could be Torchwood operatives instead?

Counterpane said...

Jamie, Richard,

Thanks, you're both too kind.

Counterpane said...


You're right and while I was writing it I had a vague feeling that was the case. I might go with the old "alternative timeline" excuse rather than rewrite the briefing sheets.

Andy Canham said...

Great looking game. I suppose you could call them LNIT (League (of) Nations Intelligence Taskforce). Although Lethbridge-Stewart cant have had a very glorious career, rising from Lieutenant to Brigadier in c. 40 years - unless the 30's version is his Dad! I suspect that would prove a very popular game.
Cheers, Andy

Counterpane said...

Cheers Andy. I'm going to revisit the briefing sheets to make them quicker to scan for someone running the game without a full briefing from me. I'll change the UNIT stuff at the same time.

Andy T said...

Of course it's entirely plausible that none of the players will be Doctor Who nerds and no one is bothered. I love how much effort we put in to ensure precision in the invented back story for the fictitious characters in a non-historical game that may or may not be played. But standards must be maintained!

Kaptain Kobold said...

"unless the 30's version is his Dad!"

The Brigadier's father (possibly) appears as a Captain in 1914 in 'Twice Upon as Time', so he could be a 1930s Brigadier. Not sure how either he or his son could be a Lieutenant in the 1930s