On Saturday afternoon I got a chance to play a pirate themed game using the Pulp Alley rules. These had been favorably reviewed on Meeples and Miniatures and I was excited to give them a try. In a sense it would also be interesting to compare the game to the Muskets and Tomahawks game, which was skirmish wargaming but with a good taste of adventure gaming as well.
|Marines Face a Scary Hill|
On a positive side the game was well thought out and a lot of fun. There were swamp creatures, colliding ships, cannon fire, people falling off of masts, sword fights, gun fights, and foggy graveyards. The royals got off to a miserably slow start and barely made their way across half of the terrain due to falling down hills, getting trapped in swamps, and probably being too cautious. Eventually we ended up in a mammoth brawl on the outskirts of town but the sun was at that point setting and our mission a bit of a failure. Still, both pirates and royals had a good time.
|Hill 1, Marines 0|
It's also noteworthy that I felt like Muskets had as much or more of a narrative through the game. My vaguely defined Indian party had a wild adventure without detailed special rules and characteristics. The narrative flowed from the game play itself. In the Pulp Alley game I spent quite a lot of energy trying to remember which figure was good in a fistfight, which was a sharpshooter, and which was hard to hit. In the end keeping track of all that was more of a distraction than a game enhancement.
In the end, though, my critique is with the rules, not the game and the people who ran it. I'd certainly play it again and they did a bang-up job setting up the adventure. But I didn't walk away wanting to buy the rules.