Mortal Realms of Chaos: Lost and the Damned Narrative Campaigns for the Modern Enthusiast

I am hoping to revisit some of the Realm of Chaos scenarios that inspired me as a kid, but this time with the benefit of cutting edge 2018 playing card technology. Continue reading

Paddy Fields, Multibases and Add-Ons.

Terrain and play aids for samurai gaming, primarily suited to Test of Honour. Continue reading

“Swatters” Published

SwattersCover

I did some playtesting on the above miniature rules set earlier this year (accounts of some of the games can be seen here).  It was fun and it was a pretty painless way to get a lot of older figures back on the table for the first time for years and make some “pew pew” noises.

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If you like the Ganesha rule sets and you have an interest in any of the sort of thing that this blog covers, then I can heartily recommend Swatters.  Even if you are not familiar with the Ganesha rulesets, the PDF only costs USD$8 so its worth a punt if you already have access to appropriate miniatures.

You can get the PDF here.

Swatters Playtest 3

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I got a quick mid-week game in with COM last Wednesday, so we played the “Surrounded” mission.  The Marines/Eldar set up in the middle of a 4×4′ table with a larger force of bugs equally divided on the four table edges.

The Marines/Eldar also got an emplaced weapon as part of the scenario set up but  I forgot to put it on the table before the above photo was taken.  It features in the later snaps (for all the good that it did).

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The emplacement is still missing and the Alien queen really should have her base painted: it looks awful.

The scenario specified the 4×4′ battlefield.  Therefore the bugs were able to close quite rapidly.  Some decent reaction fire from the marines whittled their numbers down a bit, but a run of poor activation rolls meant that the marines became bug chow pretty fast.

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The Alien queen (with the embarrassingly unfinished base) flinches a little from incoming fire while the mauled xenomorphs prepare to slice up the eldar guardians.

The marine units got to fire a couple of times, but recurring activation problems meant that a lot of bug units had an easy time getting in close.

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“Tough” units (such as the “Colossal” trygon above) are particularly hard to dent in this system.  The marine power armour troops (represented by wraithguard) are very hard to shift when using rank and file bugs.  As such they tend to be a must-have unit in games, even though they are pricey.  In this game the Power Armour troopers again showed their worth by hanging around for longer than any other marine unit.

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I set up the marines in a silly fashion.  I should have concentrated them a bit more on one side or the other in the hope that they could take advantage of numbers to squish the bugs piecemeal.  Memories of a previous game where the marines set up so close that they got over run in quick succession meant that I spread my troops out in an ineffectual fashion.  They paid for my poor generalship with their tiny metal and plastic lives.

This game wasnt a drag or anything and it played out very quickly, but it ended up being a bit of a dice fest rather than a narrative generating battle like the Save the Miners game last week.

In Swatters the bugs can move very fast and forcing the marines to set up less than two feet away makes some of the engagement a forgone conclusion, which is a bit unsatisfying.  The activation system can always throw a spanner into plans of course (a good thing as it encourages maneuvering and gives more chance for narrative and the like) but I think that I would like to try this scenario out another time with the bugs coming in from either end of a 6′ table instead: I think that it could be more fun that way.

10mm Kings of War

Real life has been kicking me in the nuts a bit lately, so I havent managed to get any photos of my most recent 10mm fantasy stuff taken yet.  There are quite a few new things coming though.

In the meantime I will direct you to the blog that a long term gaming crony of mine has been getting up and running recently.

My orcs rounds the mountain into insult hurling range of TheOttoVonBismarks halberdiers.

The Otto Von Bismark (also known as SOS around here occasionally) has recently been documenting various attempts at gaming with 10mm fantasy figures.  The system that has been getting the most love has turned out the be one designed for use with 28mm stuff: Kings of War.

It seems to be suiting our group for now, with its quick and streamlined play.  Its early days yet, but it has been working better than many other systems that we have tried over the years.  Its free too (although there is a new and rather nice hardback rulebook thats worth a look).  The free stuff is available here.

Some photos of my new 10mm bad guys will be up soon.  They are fully painted and all that, so its just photography time required.

My Name in Lights

I recently got credit as a playtester in a couple of miniature games rules produced by Ganesha Games.

This was a first for me.  While it isnt a massive deal (I know a guy who works full time writing role-playing game sourcebooks for example), getting a credit in a gaming rulebook is a nice thing to tick off my bucket list.

Image from Ganesha Games

The first ruleset was Flashing Steel written by Andrew at shichitenhakki.  Flashing Steel is a swashbuckling variation on the Ganesha game engine, designed for games featuring dashing, moustache twirling, chandelier swinging, roguish types.

During playtests I played using Star Wars stuff.  It turns out that France in the 1600s bears a lot of similarity to a galaxy far, far away when it comes to the mechanics of tales of derring do.  I had fun testing Flashing Steel out, as the emphasis was squarely on cinematic, story driven action, rather than sterile slaughterfests.

Image from Ganesha Games

The second game that I got a playtest credit for is Mighty Monsters.  Another variant on the Ganesha Games engine, this one is about kaiju (with a little bit of mecha thrown in).

I have a lot of interest in pretty much anything that involves giant monsters or robots hitting each other or blowing things up, so I was glad to be involved a bit in its production, even though I wasnt a very big contributor to it.

Mighty Monsters rather well titled sister game “Samurai Robot Battle Royale” is coming up soon.  I might try to get involved in the development of that if I can squeeze it into my rather spartan gaming schedule.

The Day the Law was Tried

MT, PB and I got together for a days worth of miniature gaming last Saturday.  We decided to focus on the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game this time. Continue reading

Deadlines: Hostile Corporate Takeover of the Living Dead Pt 2

This report follows on from last Wednesdays post, visible here.

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In advance of the Regenerator the zombies lurched forward, wounding Anderson and Symes with their filthy clawing hands.  With the hissing Regenerator twitching forward on its palsied limbs things are looking bleak for Sigma Squad.

The Regenerator moved suddenly and with a spasm spikes erupted from its body, eviscerating Jerabeck.  With cold efficiency Anderson riddled the body of the Regenerator with rounds from her MP5 killing one of the Regenerators parasites, while weaving between the zombies all around her.

With skills honed by years of training Symes broke right, in the opposite direction to Anderson while putting three rounds into the nearby butane cylinder.  The cylinder burst sending zombie and Regenerator offal flying in all directions.  “Hasta la muerte” she uttered pithily as chunks of bloody, rotten flesh rain down around her.

(When setting up the table for the game some cinematically minded player decided that the best place for a butane cylinder was next to a Spawn Point, and he was probably right.  On this occasion it likely kept the wounded remnants of Sigma Squad in the game).

On the street between the Cinema and the rear of the Police station, USS Squad Gamma crossed paths with USFU Squad Sigma, the first living things that they had encountered since deployment.  Under strict orders to keep their noses out of each others highly sensitive business, a curt nod between fully masked sergeants was the sum of their exchange.  Gamma proceeded North while Sgt White went South.  Squad Epsilons  Ingram climbed the extendable ladder to the roof of the Police station to give covering fire over the vehicle holding the vault keycard.

Squad Gamma proceeded towards the milling throng of confused corpses that was trying to locate its last target, Squad Epsilon.

As Epsilon Sgt White rounds the South side of the police station, Ingram gives cover from the rooftop by detonating a fuel barrel, turning a handful of zeds into sub-human torches.  This cleared the way for Sgt White to get the vault keycard in the blue Porche.

Kaplan pauses from the rhythmic headshots and dismemberments to reload, and is caught unexpectedly.  Although he dies quickly from arterial blood loss, Gamma has no time to grieve as the Squad struggles to keep the mounting horde at bay.

Eerie wailing is heard as a Witch shows up near squad Epsilons keycard objective location.  Luckily, the Witch is inclined to keep itself to itself.  As it spawns a distance away from the main routes travelled by the forces, it remains undisturbed for now.

Squad Gamma, rattled by the loss of Kaplan get some payback on the large mob that has congealed near their objective, the Umbrella Corp local HQ.  After some unnecessary risks, some touch and go hand to hand where they were kept alive only by their kevlar, they get their heads back in the game…

…and tactically withdraw around the rear of their target building.

Meanwhile the wounded Sgt Anderson has procured the incriminating documents.  Now Symes (at the front of the fire truck) has the unenviable task of drawing the zombies away from the Sarge.

At this point the unmistakable howl of a Hunter is heard not far from the Police Station and the Umbrella building…

… and the pressure builds as a Licker shows up even closer to both buildings than the Hunter, next to the still crying Witch.

That doesnt bother Anderson and Symes of Sigma Squad. After reaching the chopper Anderson covers Symes sprint from where she had been heroically drawing the cannibal corpses away from the access point.

With a whine the helicopter begins to lift off, which is enough to agitate the Witch into action.  It also satisfies Sigma Squads mission objective.

Meanwhile Squad Gamma has procured Dr Braga and the vital information that he has.  The hordes are getting nearer however and the extraction chopper has to execute some fancy manoeuvring to get close enough for them to board (the Hunter can be seen approaching on the right, next to the game card).

At this point disaster struck.  Pvt Ocampo had been delayed while punching a couple of zeds tickets at ground level, where she has already seen the approach of the Hunter and Licker plus the large encroaching horde. “Get out of here!” she cried, “Don’t wait for me!”

As the chopper delayed the vital extra seconds for Pvt Rain Ocampo to get up the ladder, the brain dead hordes struggled out of the stairwell onto the roof, dragging the pilot and Pvt Symes of Squad Sigma from the vehicle.

The helicopter tilts, rotors spinning in slow motion, Michael Bay sty-lee.  Across the slow motion image of the chopper crashing into the roof the Hunter leaps screaming onto Pvt Symes, who is subsequently torn apart  while his limbs are used to beat the pilot to a mushy pulp.

The only survivor of Squads Sigma and Gamma is Rain Ocampo, and she is surrounded by zombies on a rooftop with her back to a flaming helicopter wreck.

Sgt White, the lone survivor of squad Epsilon has fought his way through the hordes to his objective, despite losing two good men en route, the last of them only moments ago.  Shoving the final zombies in his path aside he uses the key card to enter the bank and to lock himself into the vault.  There he must locate “the package” in the pitch dark before being extracted.  The vault lights dim and the power cut out.  An inhuman voice screams in the room that Sgt White is locked into behind inches of steel.

Credits roll.

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I was very pleased with how the game worked out.  The revised elements of the system functioned better than I could have hoped.  While a handful of minor issues were quickly recorded during the game for inclusion in future drafts the game trundled along quickly and cinematically.  Importantly the other players were able to work out the rules and mechanics of the game from the cards and rules document without the author (me) having to translate.  I have hopes that this system will regularly get played at Sho3box Castle.  Which will help me to justify my compulsion to paint even more zombies.

Deadlines: Hostile Corporate Takeover of the Living Dead Pt 1

Preamble

After last weeks diatribe regarding the build up and preparatory work for the zombie apocalypse segment of a recent gaming weekend, the report of the game itself follows as promised.

For info regarding the terrain and why it looks the way it does check out the previous zombie game report as I want to avoid repeating all of that stuff here.  All of the Survivors, Special Infected and Spawn Points plus many of the individual zombies themselves are pictured throughout this blog.  Use the tags to the right of the post if you want to see something in particular close up.

Objectives and Deployment

“Day 9.  Infection has not progressed further than 8km beyond the original release site, due to Umbrella containment at principal choke points.  Manipulation of political, media and other information sources has provided enough time for the virus to be tested in non-laboratory conditions and without interference from the authorities.

Final data must be gathered before Governmental intrusion becomes inevitable.  Your squad will be deployed directly into the hot zone.  Objective is priority.  All other considerations are secondary.  As a result all non Umbrella personnel are to be terminated with extreme prejudice.  Any contact with other Umbrella personnel is prohibited without express permission from your CO, due to the sensitivity of individual objectives.

Squad size is reduced to three to accommodate easy extraction and to minimise disruption to the test site”.

MT, PB and I picked a small force of Umbrella Security Service or Umbrella Special Forces Unit each.  PB picked USFU Squad Epsilon while MT and I each picked three members of USS Squads Sigma and Gamma respectively.

We had access to many more survivor figures, often with more esoteric equipment and or characteristics.  As this was a playtest game we deliberately choose not to use those and to each field very similar three man teams.  This was deliberate and intended to keep our focus a little more on the basic game mechanics.

Shade, Kaplan and Ocampo of USS Gamma Squad deployed on the roof of the bank…

…with orders to locate and evacuate Dr Braga from the roof of the Umbrella local HQ building.  The information that Dr Braga holds regarding the development of his ZG620 (zombie repellent) formula is of incalculable value.

White, Ingram and Hoffman of USFU Squad Epsilon are deployed on the roof of a local retail outlet (“Strangerous Liaisons”, a sex shop).  From this point Squad Epsilon must acquire the code key from the corpse of a deep cover Umbrella agent…

…in his blue porche (lovingly offset here by the wandering flesh eating remains of Michael Jackson).  The Umbrella agent used to work undercover in the bank where he concealed a sensitive package in the vault before being dismembered by Whiskey Deltas.  After acquiring the code from the car Epsilon has to progress to the bank vault to secure the package without destroying it (even if it bites).  Once there they need only wait for extraction.

Anderson, Symes and Jerabeck of Squad Sigma were airlifted to the Police Station roof in a locally acquired helo.

Similarly to the Gamma mission, Squad Sigma must reacquire potentially incriminating documents from the police vehicle shown (again being modelled by Michael Jackson) and return to the extraction vehicle.

Resistance is factored at Level Orange (that’s eighty zeds plonked down at random plus nine reinforcements per turn, plus a handful of randomly determined Special Infected showing up throughout the game, on a 6 x 4’ table, in case you were wondering).

The centre of the target area, just before the action begins

The Action

Squad Gamma proceeds with covering fire, by the numbers.  They encounter a still armoured ex-USS colleague.  The Sergeant puts a shotgun round through its head without a second thought.  “If necessary I expect each one of you to do the same for me” he rasps through internal comms (tough guys always rasp, they never just “say”).

Squad Sigma proceeds slowly and efficiently, clearing a path through the dispersed undead.

In stark, bloody contrast to the advance of the other Umbrella units, the overconfident Hoffman of Squad Epsilon gets too close to a mob of ex-police as he rounds the first corner.  Although he takes a few shamblers with him, he is torn limb from limb in moments, his screams of agony being heard through each Epsilon earpiece.

Squad Epsilon continued to advance.  The longer they stayed the more biters were going to be drawn to the area, so they grimly pressed on.

(This was an alarmingly sudden and early demise for one third of PBs forces, much to our amusement.  Despite being 100% lethal upon contact with Survivors, Zombie mobs move rarely and are very unlikely to move rapidly in succession before Survivors get to react.  At least that’s what Hoffman thought anyway.  This unpredictability is part of the appeal of card driven miniature games for me, even if this is an extreme example of things going not so well for a player.  Don’t feel sorry for Hoffman (or PB): they knew the odds)

Squad Sigma rounded the abandoned cinema, taking out the closest threats all the while.  Their gunfire had drawn zombies in the area towards them however and their firepower was not proving to be sufficient to clear a path…

Squad Gamma gave the horde nearby a wide berth, but still ran into to some opponents that could not be dropped at range.  Kaplan and Ocampo dealt with their targets, while the Sergeant dropped a zombie with the butt of his shotgun and blew its brain remnants out on the ground.  Having become separated from his squad by a small distance by a number of hostiles he confirmed rendezvous at the far side of the park.

Even while Hoffmans remains were being devoured Epsilon came under more pressure from the encroaching dead.

After a struggle that was touch and go for a while they blasted their way through the throng and proceeded towards their objective.

Sigma was finally making some headway when the first of the less common undead threats appeared alarmingly close to them.  While not especially fast, the Regenerator (square base, standing next to Spawn Point) is very dangerous up close and very resistant to gunfire, as the combination of T-virus and Las Plagas parasites work to knit its dead flesh beck together after trauma.

Will the Regenerator tear squad Sigma limb from limb?

Will Dr Braga be rescued?

Who will live?

Who will die?

What will explode?

Tune in next week for the thrilling (well somewhat amusing and entertaining in a well-you-had-to-be-there kind of way) conclusion of…

Deadlines: Hostile Corporate Takeover of the Living Dead!


Mostly Space Hulk to Aliens Rules Conversion Ideas Mostly

WALL OF TEXT WARNING

I am finally making some progress on the miniatures side of the Space Hulk to Aliens project, of which more will follow.  Funnily enough, in one of those weird internet-ty ways it seems that lots of other people are dusting off their Colonial Marines, Aliens and Predators to tackle the same or very similar projects on both Lead Adventure Forum and Frothers.  Mikko at Dawn of the Lead has been doing some very solid work too, elements of which I intend to rip off use to inspire me.

To go along with the miniatures I want to hammer out the basic rules conversions required.  I mostly intend to game with these figures in Space Hulk (mostly), simply because it is such a tight and satisfying system.  Ideas for many these rules have been going around in my head for years while others have been as a result of talking to similarly interested Aliens and Space Hulk nerds and and I want to write them down somewhere.  That somewhere might as well be here.

The intention is to translate existing rules for various elements in Space Hulk into their Aliens equivalent and not to write new rules unless absolutely necessary.  Eventually I plan to write up a simple Force List in the style of the Force List in Deathwing that allows players to pick a simple Colonial Marine force for playing any Space Hulk scenario.

Finally, while I like the idea of Predators I have never really enjoyed the movies that much.  I really think that they are pretty shitty to be honest, even though even suggesting that to most of my colleagues tends to send them into a fit of nerd rage, complete with bad Schwarzenegger impersonations.  So, while I have a pile of Predators waiting to be painted they are not a priority for me in terms of rules conversion.  It will happen eventually but not for a while as I dont really care that much about them and they will be harder to legislate for anyway due to their stealth and all that.

So here goes.  Everything is as in 3rd Ed rules unless otherwise specified:

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine = Storm Bolter Terminator Marine (ignore the Grenade Launcher part of the M41A.  It is considered to be intrinsic to the weapons standard effect in the game.  Consider it represented by the sustained fire bonus if that floats your boat).

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Sergeant= Power Sword and Storm Bolter armed Terminator Sergeant (+1 in assault is fine for a veteran NonCom.  Parry from the sword can be seen as whatever you like, kung-fu grip, sixth sense, Riddick levels of badass-ness: whatever.  Regardless, Sergeants have it.  Just like they allow the CP redraw).

Shotgun armed Corporal (Hicks) = Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield Armed Terminator Sergeant (this one is a bit of a fudge.  Assuming that the shotgun is only effective at point blank range is pushing it, but it does make the shotgun very deadly at that range, just like in video games.  The Block given by the shield is explained away just like the Parry for the other Sarge.  It also makes Apone and Hicks different, but similar which is cool.  The utter absence of Hicks Pulse Rifle (Storm Bolter) is a bit counter intuiticve, but as it will then slot in cleanly to all of the 3rd Ed missions I think that that has to be way to do it.  Finally, this ties in with one of the few extra rules that I intend to use, Acid Splash.  If it works out then having the Shotgun guy run the risk of acid burn will feel just like the movie 🙂 ).

M56 Smart Gun armed Colonial Marine = Assault Cannon Terminator

M240 Flamethrower armed Colonial Marine = Heavy Flamer Terminator

M41A Pulse Rifle armed Colonial Marine with Welder and Electrical Equipment (Hudson) = Storm Bolter and Chainfist Terminator (both troopers open doors/bulkheads that are otherwise difficult to open. Simple and accurate conversion).

Caterpillar P-5000 Powerloader = Lightning Claw armed Terminator (I was initially hesitant about this but the more that I thought about it the more that I liked it.  The LC Terminator has no ranged capability and will shred most opposition, most of the time.  It will also have a decent chance to best the dangerous Alien Queen (Patriarch/Broodlord) in hand to hand, which is reasonable.  It is a neat solution I think).

Company Man Burke, Newt and Jones the cat= C.A.T., Relic or other scenario objectives (I might try to come up with rules for Burke at a later date but having to rescue his sorry ass seems just as appropriate I think).

Synthetic/Artificial Person = Terminator Librarian (I know, I know but bear with me for a second.

Having watched Alien 4 last weekend, the idea of a synthetic with potent, situation based powers like Prescience (some sort of CCTV based thing) and Force Barrier (overriding a blast door or similar) seems fine to me. Psychic Storm might be pushing it a bit but whatever: maybe Bishop/Cole/Ash has overridden the Liquid Nitrogen spraying thing or activated the sprinklers after causing a short or switching on sentry guns in that area or something else just as Deus Ex Machina.

The Librarians close combat prowess is a bit at odds with Bishops performance but not so much with that of Ash (super-strong, but not super-tough). Considering that Bishop is three laws compliant, the idea of the synthetic going to extraordinary lengths to beat up potentially harmful Xenomorphs is ok with me.  Apparently the comics had combat synths that used to get stuck in quite regularly too, although the three laws tell me that Bishop would be compelled to help whether he was built for it or not.

Funnily enough the thing that doesnt sit well with me is that the Librarian has a Storm Bolter.  It doesnt seem right that Bishop should have a rifle (and the figure that I have to represent the synthetic has a piece of technical equipment in place of a weapon too.  Does Cole use a gun at any point in the 4th film?  I dont think so.

Reluctant Badass Lieutenant Ellen Ripley = Space Hulk First Edition Captain (another fudge.  The Captain in 1st Ed is very potent: he adds +2 to the CP total every turn, adds +2 to combat rolls and has a Power Sword, Grenade Launcher and Storm Bolter.  I have found that the Captain is roughly equivalent to the 3rd Ed Librarian in potency and I have swapped the characters when playing 3rd Ed quite successfully.

I suppose that Ripley is shown to have leadership qualities in the movie so ok to the CP bonus. The Storm Bolter/Pulse Rifle is perfect and the Captains GL can simply be seen as an alternative way of using the Incinerator that Ripley carries.  Thats OK with me.  The +2 combat plus Parry is harder to explain away but in the interests of keeping the rules standard I think that I can live with it.  I will justify it to myself as Fate or Hero points: the things that make the Hero, the Hero.

So, thats the Humans dealt with.   Bugs now:

Xenomorph = Purestrain Genestealer

Alien Queen = Broodlord

Face-hugger or Chest-burster = First Edition Unarmed Hybrid (these guys will get wiped out by fire very easily.  Once converted from Blip to model they move more slowly too.  They will be a fun, straightforward way to add some variety to the Alien players forces without much additional complexity and the rules are already written.  As I will use the 1st Ed blip sets, including the Hybrid blips it will be easy to throw in a few small aliens.  I havent decided on a way to incorporate it into the standard 3rd Ed blips yet.  It will probably be something similar to how the Patriarch can be brought into play, except that a “1” Blip can be exchanged for 3 Face-huggers twice a game or something like that.)

Lastly, Acid Splash.  Some players have added rules for this.  In many ways I think that it is an unneccesary complication for little gain.  Still, after mulling it over I had an idea: rather than roll to hit any/all adjacent models when an Alien dies (which would be tedious and could easily spoil the rapid flow of the game) I want to try out an idea based on the Scatter rule from Blood Bowl.

See Mikkos comments below.

Acid Splash: Acid Splash occurs when an Alien is hit from a shooting attack and that attack rolls at least two “1”‘s rolls at least two “6”‘s. If the target Alien is adjacent to one or more non-Alien figures then one of the non-Alien figures is chosen by the shooting player.  The chosen figure is removed from play.

As noted below this gives only a 1/36 chance of damage and is incorporated into the existing rolls and game mechanics.  It also makes point blank shooting a tiny bit risky which is both thematic and entertaining.  It also means that a blast from an Assault Cannon/Smart Gun is more likely to cause Acid Splash while the Heavy Flamer cannot ever.  Quite satisfyingly accurate to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the weapons as I see them.  Nice one Mikko.

Phew, that was a long one.  Congrats if you endured it this far.  Comments and thoughts on that much are welcome.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash idea with Mikkos version from comments below.

EDIT 02/06/10: replaced Acid Splash “1” with “6”.

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