A Game Review
“Alien Fight Night” is a fun little supplement in the 5150 science fiction series of games from Two Hour Wargames. Oddly enough, it is a boxing game that fits perfectly into the New Hope City setting. Though it says that it is a supplement book, Alien Fight Night is a stand alone game and does not require any other rule book.
But why boxing you may ask? It has to do with the setting. New Hope City is the focus of 5150: New Beginnings. It is a city of contradictions. It is the only city on New Hope, a nearly barren planet on the very fringe of human occupied space. It was originally a haven for smugglers, pirates, and black marketeers before becoming a protectorate of the Gaea Prime Empire. Think of New Hope City as Vegas on steroids. It is not your typical setting of dystopia found in a lot of science fiction.
I find that a science fiction version of “hardboiled pulp” and “noir” better describe the games centering on New Hope. To me, all of the ingredients are there: hard luck, cynical attitudes, loneliness, underlying sexual motives, and a sense of style. Sure, there are martial arts bouts, pit fights, and gladiatorial combats in lots of science fiction. But it is the sense of style that makes boxing perfect for New Hope City.
Miniatures are not required to play Alien Fight Night, though I think they are a nice touch. The game comes with cardboard counters for boxers and a cardboard ring. I use a small 8″ x 8″ cardboard box as a playing surface. You do need dice. That’s not a problem for most gamers. I use different colors to differentiate between regular dice and bonus dice.
In keeping with the background of a “no holds barred” sci-fi society, there is no race bias, gender bias, no weight classes, no prohibitions of enhancements due to drugs, computer ships, or cybernetic parts. That means your boxer could face an alien who doesn’t like humans, a boxer larger than your boxer, a boxer of a different gender, or a boxer with robotic arms or high on stimulants. All of that is possible when boxing in New Hope City.
Building a Fighter
The first thing you have to do is to construct your boxer. This is similar to building a character in any RPG, but not as complicated. Each character gets two attributes, a star character or player character gets to pick one and the other is tolled randomly. A non-player character has to roll for both attributes. Some of the attributes are good and confer bonuses during the game. These are attributes such as “Quick Reflexes” and “Resilient”. It is also possible to get an attribute that is a disadvantage such as being “Slow” or having a “Glass Jaw”.
Next, you are given 15 points to spread over 5 stats such as “Stamina” and “Quickness”. There are a few rules for the stats for your starting fighter. No stat can be over 5, no stat can be under 1, females cannot start with a “Power” stat over 3 and females cannot start with “Quickness” under 3. The last two reflect that the average female has less upper body strength, but is often quicker than the average male. Once your fighter wins 3 three round matches, then these stats can go up or down after each fight.
After assigning attributes and stats, you then use them to determine the number of bonus dice available to your fighter. Bonus dice can be used at will by the player character, but the non-player character rolls at the start of each phase of the game to determine how many bonus dice he/she will use. The final thing to do for your character before looking for an opponent is to calculate the character’s skill level and fame.
You can go through the same procedure to build an opponent for your fighter, or you can choose one from a list of 83 pre-generated fighters. Once you’ve determined your opponent, you can then decide if you want to enhance your fighter with stims (chemical drugs), loops (embedded processors), or physical (cybernetic) enhancements. Enhancements give short term benefits with possible long term damage.
The final step before actual game play is to fill out the top part of the score card. This is useful in that you can use the top part of the score card as a quick reference to the stats of both fighters. The bottom half of the score card is used to track and score the fight as it progresses.
How the Game Plays
The game uses 5 tables representing different fight phases or situations. There really isn’t a linear progression from table to table. Movement from table to table is based on the number of successes a player rolls. As an example the game begins on the Stalking Table, in the top corner it tells the players to use one die for each point of their Boxing stat combined with the Aggression stat. Then various attributes add additional dice. And finally, the player adds the number of bonus dice he/she wishes to use. Each player rolls their dice and counts successes. The number of successes determines what actions have occurred, any points that were scored, and what table to move to next.
For example, my boxer, Betty Caruso, and her opponent, Sergi Vyx, have stopped stalking one another and have actually moved to the boxing table. We each roll the number of dice specified by the boxing table, plus any dice added by modifiers such as “Quick Reflexes”, and plus the bonus dice we wish to use. Suppose Betty rolls 5 successes and Sergi rolls 2, we find the line on the table where number of successes is 2 or greater than the number of the opponent. There the table tells us that Betty has scored points equal to the difference in the number of successes, 5 – 2 = 3, so Betty has scored 3 points. Sergi loses 1 Boxing die and we next move to the Taking Control table, because Betty is now in control of the fight.
If Betty rolled 5 successes and Sergi rolled 4, we are instructed to remain on the boxing table and do more boxing.
If Betty rolled 5 success and Sergi rolled 5, then the fighters have clinched one another. The referee steps in, separates the fighters and we then return to the stalking table.
Each time bonus dice are used, the bonus dice are discarded and can’t be used the rest of the game. There are some actions that will reduce stats or number of dice available. Some actions award points for the score card. And there is always the possibility of scoring a knock out or a technical knock out.
If the fight ends without a KO or TKO, then the scores are tallied and the judges decide the result of the fight using the Ten Point Must System.
There are some extras. There’s a section on managing multiple fighters, establishing the purse, and betting. Along with the betting, there is an encounter dealing with collecting on gambling debts. Finally, there’s a section on back alley brawling.
I like this game. You have to use some strategy, you can’t just roll dice. You have to decide when to use bonus dice, when to cover up, and when to go head hunting. It’s not super detailed. You don’t roll to throw a specific type of punch at a specific part of the body. Your roll instead tells you that you landed enough punches to score points from the judges and whether or not your fighter is in control of the fight or is on the ropes.
Alien Fight Night and Friday Night Fights
Alien Fight Night is very similar to Friday Night Fights, also from Two Hour Wargames. Of course there are no aliens or cyborgs. Friday Night Fights does have a mechanism where a non-player fighter (or grunt) can have one of 5 fighting styles. The fighting styles all have attributes that are beneficial to the fighter making that fighter more of a challenge to defeat. Friday Night Fights also has a campaign system where your fighter can move from rookie to champion.
If you want to add an element of pulp or noir to your 5150 gaming, Alien Fight Night is a fun addition. And if you want to add an extra element to your pulp Larger Than Life games, Friday Night Fights is for you.