Issue: 31
System: Bog-A-Ten
Publisher: HLBS Co.

Back to Bog-A-Ten
by Malcolm Randle
with additional material by Dr David Westwood
(from an idea by Richard Kemp, Mark jones & Alan Thompson)

How Bog-A-Ten Came To Be:

In l995 just after Salute, Richard Kemp phoned Mark, Alan and myself. He told us to prepare ourselves for a marathon HLBS get together to discuss the new game for 1996. Personally I nearly died of shock, as most years we usually leave any planning of games until the last possible moment.

That very night we sat there around Marks' dining room table and created a monster. It had eight arms and was great fun. The beginnings of the game had us drawing on A3 sheets of paper and sailing small torn scraps of the same around the hastily drawn islands, in millimetres.

Laughter was frequent and rules were adjusted. In the end we had a very workable game system based around cards, straws, ping~pong balls and silly questions. Things gof modified, some things gof scrapped, but most things gof used and that became our game for '96.

It was showcased at Salute '96 for the first time and won "Best of Show" as well as "Most Innovative Game". And yes we were proud as punch. But then again, we did change rules during the day to make it a bit more manageable. At Salute '99 it returned as Bog-A-Ten II and again won "Best of Show" as well as "Best Terrain".

The Background:

The year is 1976 In an alternate reality, Earth is still in the age of Colonialism.

The Great Powers employ infernal steam devices such as airships, armoured trains and tanks in conjunction with cavalry and infantry. The airship is one of the mightiest weapons of the time, but there are very few of these mighty ships abroad in the world. A massive plague devastated the world some one hundred and fifty years before this time and put scientific development along a more tried and tested course. You can always rely on steam after all.

The European States, United States and Confederate States were amongst the worst hit and only just beginning to recover. Vast tracks of Europe are still covered in dense forest, and North America's West Coast is only just beginning to be explored. An exploration contested by the Triple Alliance Kingdoms of the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans.

The Great Basin on the Western American Continent seems to offer wealth to any brave enough or fool hardy, to make their fortune and so it is that our game begins. With the first adventurer on the scene. They wonder at the riches they may find, and just what the bally hell is Bog-A-Ten?

What Its The Aim Of The Game?

Basically, each crew has to try to recover the idol of Bog-A-Ten from the central island. There is a temple upon the central island primed with many a trap. Players visit the other islands of the lagoon to find clues to navigating the safest route in and out or said temple. These are represented by red and black tokens, that counteract a trap of that colour when drawn. The team must then escape from the map, through a pre-determined exit point. The exit point must be in a deep section of the playing area.

The Game Mechanics:

The Game Turn:

Always start the game turn from your left as you face the players.

Phase 1 - Movement
Phase 2 - Encounters - watch that Ace of Spades.
Phase 3 - (a) Combat - Adventurers fire.
                  (b) Combat - Dinosaurs attack, if there are any left.
                  (c) Search - only if no encounter.
Phase 4 - End Turn - start again.


This is the first phase in a game turn. The players choose the direction of travel for their Steam Launch and may travel up to the Launch's current remaining structural integrity in centimetres. Maximum allowable movement is thirty centimetres, which surprisingly enough is the Launch's starting integrity. Always measure from the same point of a Launch in a game turn. ie. the Bow or the Stern.

Once any part of the Launch touches land, usually the Bow if you're steering right, the crew can land. On this turn they count as beached. In the next turn the; climb a nearby Island, can choose to remain there until two successful searches have been made then leave. Moving between islands on the same sand spar must always involve at least one turn on the beach.

Encounters and Combat:

These phases are handled by drawing cards from a couple of standard playing card decks with the Jokers removed. Too make this more difficult for the card counters amongst us; you should remove the Ace of Spades from bofh decks. Shuffle the two decks together well, then taking three-quarters of this immense deck reintroduce the two Ace of Spades.

Encounters are determined by the turn of a card for each player.

The picture cards and aces mean that an encounter has occurred, this and the position of the teams Launch shows which monster to inflict on that specific team The Ace of Spades meant a special encounter that could be inflicted on anyone in deep water.

Once each encounter has been determined in terms of type of creature (refer to quick reference sheet below) and how many thereof. Combat could begin.

A nofe about multiple encounters: when a picture card or ace is turned in the encounter phase, turn anofher card. If the next card is an encounter apply that one in addition to the first (add bofh encounters together and indeed all). Continue to do this until a non-encounter card is turned. in the case of pack animals, when finally a non-encounter card is turned, use that card as the number of creatures in the first pack and so on. The reference table underneath the encounter table shows you how many creatures are in each pack. As soon as a non-encounter card has broken a string of encounter cards, for one player, resolve the number of creatures in pack for every remaining encounter that that player received.

e.g. If a player had three encounters and two of them were pack creatures the first no encounter card would tell you how many creatures attack in the first pack and the next card would be the number for the second pack (even if it's a picture or an Ace this includes the Ace of Spades).

Each player's crew has one hero, judged to be themselves and three hangers on or loyal retainers. The hangers on (or "moving targets" as we liked to call them), each have a Combat Value of four and a turn of a card. Deuce = two extra firepower points Ace = fourteen extra firepower points (combat and token awarding are the only ofher times the Ace of Spades is classed as a normal card for this game).

The Hero has an attack rating of six plus the turn of a card. The players always get to fire before the nastiness befalls them and all attacks are point blank there are no range modifiers. The player can group or split his party's fire in any way that he chooses, but he may nof engage more creatures than he has crew. To drive of or kill the attacking monsters the player must exceed the particular dinos hits (refer to the encounter reference sheet yet again). As you can see some take more killing than ofhers.

If the player fails to drive off or kill all of his opponents the remaining dinos try to eat lunch. Turn one card for each remaining nasty, any picture cards or aces means one chomped crewman. The hero is always the last to die.

Normal number cards are treated as misses, when the adventurers are upon land. In the water however the number turned is the damage inflicted to the Launches. Don't forget to deduct this from their movement.

Basic Encounter Table:

 TerrainDeepShallowsBeachIslandHit Points
SharksPack1010  7
PteranodonPack JackJackJack/Queen8
ElasmosaurSingleJack/QueenQueen/King  32
TylosaurSingleKing/AceAce  48
VelociraptorPack  Queen/KingKing/Ace8
T-RexSingle  Ace 48
Bog-A-Ten Ace of SpadesAce of SpadesAce of SpadesAce of Spades10 pre tentacle

Dinosaurs In Pack Attack:

Dinosaurs that attack in a pack may vary in number. Use this quick card turning exercise to determine the number in a pack.

Card drawn - 2-4 1 animal
Card drawn - 5-7 2 animals
Card drawn - 8-10 = 3 animals
Card drawn - Jack/Queen = 4 animals
Card drawn - King = 5 animals
Card drawn - Ace = 6 animals

Encounters And Trap Tokens Of The Isles:

The whole point of visiting the smaller Islands of the Lagoon is to gather clues to the safest roof into the mystical Temple of Bog-A-Ten. These are represented by black and red tokens.

One of these items allows the team to bypass a booby-trap within the main temple. To find these extremely useful bits of kit, a team must first occupy then search an island. They must stay on the island for a turn without having an Encounter in their encounter phase. If no encounter is made then they are allowed to search that island.

Turn anofher card and this time it counts toward Tokens found. Again refer to the quick reference sheet below for what each card represents. Each player can only have up to two successful searches on each island, and we found it best for speed of play to only allow each team to search two different islands.

Tokens Found:

Card Red 1 to 10 = 1 Red token.
Card Black 1 to 10 = I Black token.
Card Red Picture = 2 Red token.
Card Black Picture = 2 Black token.
Card Ace Red = 3 Red token.
Card Ace Black = 3 Black token.

On The Main Island Ducking The Darts:

When someone enters the Temple of Bog-A-Ten, move him or her forward one stepping stone or trap marker. There should be five stones on the way in and five on the way out. This is where having those handy bits of doweling comes in, Every time the player moves on get him to choose the short straw. Whatever coloured piece he chooses means that he has set off a trap of that colour, and that he will need to pay a Token of that colour to escape losing a crewman. If he runs out of crewmen and heroes, it's time to start again. The blank dowel means safe passage for one turn. If they make it in give them something to represent a Golden Idol of Bog-A-Ten.

The Ace Of Spades And Bog-A-Ten:

Here's where I spoil the fun and tell you what Bog-A-Ten is. Whenever an Ace of Spades is turned in an encounter phase, all encounter either before or those yet to be resolved are ignored. Only Bog-A-Ten's encounter is dealt with.

Bog-a-Ten will only attack boats in the Deep Water. Determine which poor unfortunate gets the pleasure of his company. Yes that's right it isn't only the poor schmuck who was dealt the encounter that might catch it. We used small pieces of dowel, one of which was marked with a red tip. Then played find the short straw with all the players who had their team in the Deep Water.

Whoever was the unlucky punter gof to draw a Ping-Pong ball from a black felt bag, to find how many arms Bog-A-Ten wished to shake hands with. The balls were marked 2, 4, 6, 8, 8, 8, 8 and 8. Who said we played fair?.

Combat was handled in exactly the same way as normal, with the player firing first to try and drive off the Tentacles if he failed or there were any left over they gof to attack. Again number cards were damage to the Launch and picture cards were men overboard. You don't want to be Bog-A-Tenned. Incidentally he's an Octopus, that can't be killed.

Equipment You'll Need (and Alternatives):

Optional and Advanced Rules

It's amazing how many people love to cause ofhers distress. This game is difficult enough without interfering with one anofher. Yet we constantly had to tell people that they couldn't shoof their mates, nick their boats, swap trap tokens or steal each ofher's Idols - if on the ofher hand you'd like to partake of this kind of violence, here are some loose guidelines.

Maximum shoofing range is twelve inches.

A hit is scored on the turning of a picture card or an ace. Chose between Steam Launch and crew.

Each man can take two hits.

The Ace of Spades is an Instant Kill to anyone (the Dead Mans Hand!).

Idols and tokens can only be stolen by engaging in hand to hand combat. Each crewman gets a card turned and for every picture card turned by one crew that is unopposed by the defender they get one item of the winners choice.

Damn Naughty Actions That No Gent1eman Would Consider

We've included the Joker in this section. Basically as with the rest of the Bog-A-Ten deck however many of these cards you include in the play deck is up to you.

The Joker a Wild Card option. It can:

  1. Be used to pass on a new encounter to any player along the line. e.g.. anyone still playing at any time.
  2. As fifteen firepower points in combat for your crew. e.g. If held from a previous turn and played instead of a turned card in combat. Or if turned in normal combat.
  3. To repair your steam launch. e.g.. Pay in your Joker and the next card turned allows you its face value in points restored to your steam launch.
  4. As four Red or four Black tokens on a successful Temple search result. e.g. the player gets the choice of either four Black or four Red Tokens.
  5. Losing one crewman and fifteen points of damage to your steam launch in a water attack. e.g. On combat in the Shallows or Deep. If a Joker is turned on the creatures attack.
  6. Find a piece of salvage?

How To Go Shouty Crackers With Even More Encounters:

The original encounter table was limited to the Dinosaurs that were available at the dawn of Bog-A-Ten. Since then the range of miniatures has expanded, nof to mention people have noficed an absence of Sharks.

The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company, of which I am an unashamed member, produce now a much more expanded range, since those early days. So here in its current and possibly expanded by the time this booklet sees the light of day are my thoughts on Hit Points and Encounters with the new HLBS Co's nasties.


Should only be a problem to swimming crewmen. They should only appear in the Encounter Phase, on the turn of a ten of any suit. Other Encounters still count. Treat them as pack hunters the same as Deinonychus and Pteranodon.

Swimming Crewmen:

If a steam launch goes down and the crew are nof taken with it, (picture cards in the attack) allow them to swim six centimetres in any direction. Remember Sharks. Have you armed your crew with knives?

Dinosaurs and ofher Denizens of the Lagoon:

Here the Stats for the new and impending HLBS Co range. Please note that two-thirds of the points to kill the larger dinosaurs will drive them off, so they don't get to attack. Basically anything with ten points or less still gets an attack it nof killed.

The Natives Are Restless:

Cavemen? Who mentioned cavemen? Well just about everyone has actually. So here are some quick rules for their use.

If your game lacks the encounters that so stimulate your players. Throw some low-brows at them. Make the ten card of any suit an encounter with Neanderthals on the beach or island.

Neanderthals are fairly intelligent opponents and employ weapons that allow them ranged attacks. So during the combat phase the Games Master turns attack cards at the same time as the player. This makes the combat simultaneous. Again the cavemen only score a kill on picture card or aces. Each caveman has seven points to kill.

Who Did What and How?

Richard Kemp was the creator behind Bog-A-Ten. He was to blame for all of the monstrous opponents within the game. Tentacles, Deinonychus, T-Rex, Pteranodon, Tylosaur and Elasmosaur. To name but a few.

Alan and Richard created the playing area. Alan concentrating on the Temples that dofted our islands while Richard made the islands.

Mark created and converted many a figure to give us a right mofley collection.

And me? I chronicle it all. Plus, add in a few rules and ideas along the way.

Dr Dave added many an insight as he later came on board hosting the game at many shows when the rest of the crew became to exhausted to run it.

Thanks Dave and the rest of the Gaolhouse Generals in fact. You were great! Mike and John Ellson, Marky Voles, K-Boy and nof forgetting the fifth member of HLBS Co. Mr Nigel (Man of Beer) Savage.