Ed was kind enough to let me preview a beta copy of the upcoming boxing rules set in 5150: New Beginnings. I’ve ordered boxing miniatures, but they haven’t arrived, yet. I played this first game using proxy miniatures.
This is a fun game where the components of boxing have been broken down into segments or phases. Each segment or phase has its own table There’s the stalking phase where the fighters move around one another jabbing and looking for openings. The boxing phase is where most of the time is spent. This is where the fighters are actually throwing and blocking punches. Once a fighter scores enough successes on the boxing table, the players move to the taking control phase where one fighter has taken control of the fight and backed the other fighter into the ropes or into the corner, or has landed a punch that sends the player to the Injury and/or KO table.
The action flows back and forth among these tables while the players accumulate points during the rounds. The points are used by the Judges Decision table and Judges Scoring table to score the fight.
It’s easy to build a fighter from scratch, or you can use the NP Fighters table and choose from one of 73 pre-generated fighters.
The one mistake I made was that I built my fighter during my first read through of the rules. I really should have read the section on strategy before building my character. She ended up with a glaring weakness that caused me to use a lot of bonus dice to stay in the fight. Luckily, when the game did swing in my favor, I was able to exploit my opponent’s “glass jaw.”
Two things usually happen when I play a game from Two Hour Wargames. One is that a song or movie gets stuck in my head. In this case, I watched “Million Dollar Baby” again. (And again I cried at the end.) Second, a story pops into my head. So here’s Betty Caruso’s story:
“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to fight night at Redd’s Top Event Entertainment Center and Casino. Tonight’s first match is three rounds. In the red corner, wearing solid red trunks, weighing 128 and three quarters pounds, from Svenson’s Gym, in her debut bout. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Bow-unn-sing Bet-tee Ca-rooo-so!”
That’s me bouncing up and down on my toes as the crowd cheers my name. Only, my name wasn’t originally “Bouncing” Betty Caruso. It was the old man’s idea to change my name to “Betty Caruso” because “it sings” he said. And he added the “Bouncing” because he said I have the “annoying habit” of hopping up and down when I’m excited. He said a “bouncing betty” was some kind of bomb used by the military somewhere. So I bounce, I’m explosive, and my name sings! The old man just says that I’m annoying.
That’s him standing in my corner, my trainer, my manager, and he’s more strict than momma ever was. He’s not much to look at, short, thin, gray stubble for hair, a face with more cracks, crags, and wrinkles than a Shar-Pei dog, and an ever present smelly stub of a cigar tucked in the corner of his mouth. He does growl and bark at me a lot. Wonder if he has a black tongue like a Shar-Pei?
I showed up at his gym one day after my Tai Chi Qi Bong Go class. You know, that exercise that has kick boxing, kung fu grip, and secret ancient meditation rituals all rolled into one. I had asked the instructor how to use Tai Chi Qi Bong Go to ward off muggers and rapists. He laughed and told me to buy a gun or learn to run like hell. Instead, I showed up at Svenson’s Gym, the old man’s gym, where there was a sign advertising to train fighters. At first, the old man tried to run me off saying that he didn’t allow “skanks” in his gym. I told him that I was interested in the advertised training. He scowled at me and then said “Suit up and get in the ring. We’ll see what you’ve got.” I must have looked puzzled, for then he growled “I want to see if you are trainable first, before you waste any more of my time.” After changing into my workout clothes in the locker room, which, by the way, is painted the same pea/sea-foamish pukey green as the rest of the gym, I tentatively stepped into the ring. My outfit generated a few “cat calls” from the guys in the gym and I blushed a little.
“Come over here.” he ordered pointing to a stool in the corner of the ring. “Sit down.” he barked and handed me a helmet. “Put this on.” As I put on the helmet, he looked at the crowd forming around the ring. “I need one of you mooks to get in the ring. You, Pauley, go to the other corner and put on helmet and gloves.” he growled like you had better do what he said, or else. He turned to me and adjusted my helmet. “Put out your hands.” he said. I offered my hands and he shoved a pair of heavy gloves on them and began lacing them up. “So you wanna be a fighter?” he asked. “Takes a lot of commitment, if you are going to be a real fighter and not a mook.”
“What’s a mook?” I asked. “Most of these guys.” he said pointing to the crowd with his head. I still didn’t know what a mook was, but decided I would find out later. The old man finished lacing the gloves. “Open wide.” he said. He was holding a mouthguard in his hand. I opened my mouth, he shoved it in and then backed away. The guy he called “Pauley” was standing in the center of the ring. He motioned for me to join them. “Ok, girlie, show me what you got.” he growled. “What do I do?” I asked sounding funny as I tried talking around the mouthguard. “It’s simple. Knock him on his ass before he knocks you on yours. Now, fight.”
I got into my Tai Chi Qi Bong Go stance. Somebody in the crowd laughed. Pauley began shuffling around me and then he began jabbing at me. He seemed real cautious. After a few tentative jabs, he paused. I guess he was trying to figure out what to do next. He lowered his gloves a little and I let him have it. My punch connected to his nose with a loud pop. “Oww” he screamed, “that hurt.” The onlookers all laughed.
“All right, all right.” the old man growled. “Pauley, you go sit down. Let’s see what she can do against a pug.”
“A pug?” I asked.
“A fighter.” he said. “Banks! get in here.” This time a big blonde guy got into the ring. The gloves on his fists looked to be the size of my head. “Banks, show her a couple of combinations and if she’s still standing introduce her to the uppercut.” That did not sound pleasant at all. “Fight!” the old man barked. The big guy moved a lot faster than Pauley did. After four steps, he started throwing punches. I blocked a couple and ducked several more. He connected with a glancing blow to my left ear as I tried to duck out of the way. Something in his eyes told me he was about to do something big. Maybe he was about to throw the uppercut. He changed his stance and as he stepped into me with his punch, I ducked down, kicked out and swept him off of his feet.
“Hey, none of that.” the old man yelled. “There’s no kicking in boxing! Don’t you know that?”
“No, I don’t know THAT! That’s why I’m here.” I shouted back.
“All right, you didn’t know. I’ve seen enough. Go shower and get dressed.”
I felt like I’d blown an interview or flunked a test. I was dejected and pissed at the same time. At first, I just wanted to stand in the shower and let the water wash over me until I felt better. But, the tiles in the shower were the same ugly green as the rest of the gym. Something that ugly couldn’t be sanitary. I showered as quickly as possible. There was no blow dryer, so I pulled my hair back into a tight wet pony tail. I dressed and walked back out into the gym expecting the worse.
“You sure you want to do this?” the old man asked. “If I were you, I’d forget fighting and go back to one of the big mega-gyms to stay in shape.”
“Am I that bad?” I asked.
“No. You might make a decent showing someday years from now.” He said while crossing his arms. “Thing is girlie, do you want to risk wasting years of your life for a payoff that may never come?” He continued, “There’s no class by experience, weight or gender on New Hope. You might have a fair fight one day and face a champion human hating alien the next day that gets his jollies from crippling fighters.”
“But, if I want to be a fighter, you’ll teach me?” I asked.
“Think about it tonight, and if you still want to be a fighter, be here at nine tomorrow morning.” he growled.
“But I have to be at work tomorrow morning.” I replied.
He scowled and said “I train fighters, not leisure time hobbyists. Fighting, and the training that goes with it, is a full time job.”
I worked at Mona’s Day Spa. I spent most of the day wrapping fat rich women in mud and plastic wrap, and then unwrapping them and scraping the mud off. Oh, and while they were enjoying their spa treatments, I made cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off of the bread. It paid OK, but it was boring. I also felt that it was a bit demeaning. So, it didn’t take much thought on my part to take a risk and try this fighting thing. The contract was a commission/draw type of arrangement. I could draw money for current expenses against future prize earnings at no interest. If I quit owing money, it turned into a loan with twenty-five percent interest. There were all kinds of restrictions. After I signed, the old man reiterated the most important ones. “No drugs, no drinking, no smoking, and no men!” That was fine by me, I half-jokingly told him the “no men” would be easy since I was a lesbian. He screwed up his face and growled “No pussy, either!”
Training was hard at first. It must have also been a religious experience for the old man. For at least twice a day, if not more, he would stare up to heaven and howl “Gawd, I hate training girl fighters!” He said the main difference between training men and women was that if he told a guy to do something, he would do it, but whenever he told a girl to do something, she would ask a question. I asked him “why?” and I’ve been doing 30 minutes of extra rope work ever since. Throughout the training he would give insights on the business end of boxing. He once said that if a manager had a two syllable name, he was probably connected to the mob. “Ed” would be a straight up guy you could trust, “Eddy” would have loyalties to the mob. I asked “What about more than two syllables, like Belvedere?” He called me a “smart ass” and I’ve been running an extra mile every day since.
There were two main groups of people at the gym, “pugs” and “mooks”. There were lesser groups, bookies, other managers, “skanks” and the occasional police officer looking for a “person of interest”. The old man hated the “skanks”. The “skanks” were filthy slutty girls who trolled the gyms looking for guys to meet their current needs whether drugs, sex, money, or a just place to stay. Many of them did recruiting work for the gangs. The gangs were always in need for muscle with low intelligence. “Pug” was slang for “pugilist”, another name for a fighter. The old man trained two other fighters other than myself, Banks and Edwards. “Mooks”, as I later learned, were incompetent, insignificant, and often unlikable guys. They were jerks with no ambition. On other planets, these dropouts would have been prime candidates for government rehabilitation programs. For some reason, the old man had some sort of soft spot for the mooks. Twice a week he would order pizzas or burgers and feed them all. He’d have them do odd jobs around the gym for a little money. He also used them from time to time to spar against the fighters. He picked the ones that didn’t like me as my sparring partners, it was a long line, but I got to where I could beat every one of them. I wish he’d pay some of them to repaint the place.
After a year of training, here I am, my first fight. There were three fights available to me. One was against a Xeog. The old man instantly ruled that one out. He said that with me being a “lezzie” after one look at her blue skin I’d wet myself with desire. Besides, she was out of my league with twelve wins and one loss. The second available fight was against Mike “Supercop” Rizzo. He was a street cop who boxed on the side. He was an up and coming fighter who had already won four fights, but word on the street was that he was a real sadist in the ring. The old man settled on the third option. A fight against Brad Taylor, a relative new comer. Word was that before becoming a fighter, Brad had been a home maker. The old man thought he’d gotten bored with the domestic life and wanted to do something to impress his lady. I told the old man that my gaydar said he was gay and wanted to butch up his rep in the community. The old man immediately said I was sick. I shot back that no sugar momma was going to risk letting her boy toy get hurt. The old man shook his head and growled “Gay or not, this is going to be a tough first outing for you. He’s got seventy pounds on you and two wins under his belt. He’s fast, he scored his second win in the first round.”
With the introductions over, the referee gave us final instructions and sent us to our corners. I bounced over to mine where the old man said “Calm down, or I’ll calm you down.” I could tell from his eyes that this wasn’t an empty threat. Stims and other performance drugs were not illegal on New Hope. However, once a fighter started taking them, the risk of a prolonged career-ending stay in a mental institution became a part of life. I closed my eyes, took some deep breaths and centered myself. I could hear the old man say “That’s better.” as I sank into a bed of pink flowers.
My eyes popped open when the bell rang. It seemed as Taylor was already in the center of the ring before I’d taken a complete step away from my corner. He moved fast. We danced around the ring, feinting, bobbing, weaving. I couldn’t get outside of him. It was a good thing we were the first fight of the evening and people were still being seated. Otherwise, we would have been booed for no action. It was a nightmare of ballroom dancing, he led and I followed. Halfway through the round, he began stepping into me and we finally began exchanging some punches. Though he had the advantage, I landed a good combination, but not enough to take control. The bell rang ending the first round.
“He’s faster than me!” I said in the corner. “No.” the old man quipped. “He’s not any faster than you, he just moves smarter. You gotta wake up and start thinking, girlie.” His words stung. They made me a little mad, but he was right. I had to get my mind into the fight.
No sooner than the old man had shoved in my mouthguard, the bell rang to start the second round. Again, Taylor was in the center before I had cleared my corner. It was just like the first round. I couldn’t maneuver him and where he went, I had to follow. Well, I didn’t come here to dance. I stepped in and started punching. It paid off. I scored with a jab and a moment later, I landed a right cross. In the meantime, he had danced me to the edge of the mat. The moment I felt the ropes against my back, he lit into me like a jackhammer and began pounding my chest. He had taken control of the fight and if I didn’t do something soon, I was going down. In blocking one of his punches, I managed to push his arm aside and I got a good jab into his chin with my left. The punch stunned him enough that I was able to get off of the ropes and move back toward the center of the ring. He didn’t seem as focused, but before I could land another good one, the bell rang.
I slumped down onto the stool and exclaimed “Oh, god, my titties hurt.” I looked up at the old man and he was grinning. It was a big ol’ pie eating grin. He changed his expression when he noticed my indignation. He said “You found his sweet spot with your jab. If you can hit him there again a time or two, you might pull out a win. Can you get in there and do it?” I said that I could try and then he growled “You better do more than try girlie, or he’s gonna knock off one or both of them tits.” He grinned again as he stuffed the mouthguard in my mouth.
The bell rang. I looked up and Taylor was in the center of the ring before I got my butt off of the stool. He started the dance again. One-Two-Three, Cha-cha-cha. His dance was giving him an advantage. It was time to stop dancing. One-Two-Three, Cha-Pow-Pow. I got in a quick jab to the chin and a right cross above the eye. He stepped back, I crowded in punching as fast as I could at his face. He was blocking most of my punches, but I got another left jab in, right on the nose. He backed into the ropes. This time, Betty was in control. He concentrated on blocking my left jabs and I landed another right cross on the left eye. He stumbled into a corner. The eye was swelling. I continued to use quick rapid punches until he opened up just enough. I launched an uppercut with my left, caught him on the chin, and he went down.
The referee told me to go to my corner. I got to my corner and started bouncing up and down. The referee didn’t even get to five before Taylor was back on his feet. The referee shouted “Fight” and we both went to the center of the ring. This time I was there before he was. The dance was over. He wasn’t going to move me anywhere I didn’t want to go. I rushed in and landed a big right cross to his left cheek. He moved sideways into the ropes. I landed another good jab before he grabbed me and hung on. The referee separated us and sent me to the center of the ring. When the referee stepped out of the way, I stepped back in. He barely blocked a combination. I feinted a left cross and followed with a right uppercut right into the chin. Taylor went down again.
Taylor was trying to get to his knees, but kept falling to the mat. The referee was counting. Taylor got to one knee into a three point stance. He tried to stand, but fell again. The referee got to ten and signaled the fight was over. The crowd erupted in cheers as I bounced up and down with my hands over my head. The referee called me to the center of the ring and raised my right hand. It was over, I had won!
With the adrenaline rush from winning, I didn’t feel any pain until the post-fight medical exam. I had bruised ribs, bruises on my arms, shoulders, and my poor boobs. The doc chuckled and said I might need a larger bra for a week or two. He said Brad Taylor would be fine. It would take a day or two for the swelling around his eye to go down, but he’d have a good shiner for the better part of a month. Evidently he had the proverbial “glass jaw” and I had rattled the cage enough to shut him down.
I showered and dressed. The old man came in to see me. He actually looked pleased underneath all of the cracks and wrinkles. “Well, you won the first round on a split decision, the judges scored the second round as even, and you won the third round with an unanimous decision. You did good tonight, Betty.” Wait, did he actually use my name? He gave me that name a year ago and this was the first time he’d called me by it. “Thank you, sir.” Wait, did I just call him sir? “You’ve got a lot a work to do before your next match.”
“Yes, sir.” I answered. “When will the next one be?”
“I’m thinking a month to six weeks. Depends.” he growled.
“Depends on what?” I asked.
“Depends on if you can stop being a smart ass and do what I say. Meanwhile, take off a few days and celebrate.”
“Yeah, find you a girl and do whatever you lezzies do. I don’t want to know about it, it’s disturbing to even think about it.”
“That’s not the way lesbian relationships work.” I protested.
“Relationship? Girlie, you got three days to have a little fun before the ‘real’ training starts.”