Written by Noah Allington of Michigan Megagames
Den of Wolves is an interstellar chase megagame about difficult political, military and survival choices in a long-term crisis scenario. Players take on the roles of starship captains, officers, engineers, as well as politicians and military personnel as humanity tries to survive while fleeing from its pursuers.
My tenure as the captain of the Lucas began quite abruptly. I was at GenCon 2019, volunteering with the MegaGame Coalition, a collective of regional organizations from around the country whose goal is to promote Megagaming in the United States. I was expecting to observe Den of Wolves on Thursday morning, then cut my teeth on moderating Watch the Skies! later that evening (for an overview of Watch the Skies! check out the wonderful “Let’s Play” video put together by Shut Up and Sit Down here: https://www.shutupandsitdown.com/videos/susd-play-megagame/). However, the Lucas was under-crewed and in need of leadership, so when one of the moderators of Den of Wolves asked if I wanted to play, I happily obliged.
I took my seat at the helm of the Fleet’s last remaining water-producing vessel. Of course, I wasn’t really in a starship. I was at a table on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium, with around 35 other people, who were milling about, negotiating and trading resources via shuttle ships in the form of pencil boxes. For the next six hours, it was my job, in conjunction with my counterparts commanding the Shepherd, to ensure the fleet had enough food and water to supply the scores of civilians we were protecting from the Wolf threat that was pursuing us through the galaxy. I made sure our ship made the water, and shipped it over to the Shepherd in my own shuttle-box, where they used it to grow food. Easy. Or at least it was, until the Wolves unleashed their first salvo.
Were they eavesdropping on our fleet radio communications? We had been broadcasting our jump coordinates for the whole fleet to hear through the lone remaining journalist among us. It was just easier that way. Or was our admiral a double agent? We were never sure, we just knew that very soon after we began our attempt to outrun the Wolves, they were right back on our trail.
The Lucas was hit hard when the Wolves first attacked. On the first round of combat, we lost ⅓ of our water production. I soon realized that I was going to be in the unfortunate position of rationing the majority of the fleet’s quickly dwindling water production capacity. In addition to producing water, the Lucas was the only place in the fleet where ships could send their generalist crew to specialize in Engineering. Engineering is quite a valuable skill when you need to repair water production, fuel mining, and just keep the fleet afloat.
That was my role, supporting the fleet through nourishment and repair. We were keeping our heads above water quite well. But then I started to hear whispers. The ship full of scientists, the Endeavor, was working on a bomb, which the scientists christened “Big Boy,” and they needed Engineers and supplies.
“We’re going to give it right back to the Wolves!” I heard scientists shouting. So whenever I had spare engineers or spare material or water, I diverted it to the scientists. It seemed like the bomb was our only way to escape their relentless pursuit. If we could cluster all of their ships together and set off one big bomb, surely we’d be able to escape for good.
Eventually, the time came, and the Admiral made the call. We were going to nuke those bastards. The flagship of the Fleet, the Aegis, loaded up humanity’s secret weapon and launched it.
It detonated too early. We only took out half of their attacking force, and whatever was left unleashed everything they had on the Aegis, crippling her. Military leadership had to take refuge among the fleet until a sufficient replacement craft could be constructed. More resources, more engineers. The Lucas was producing at approximately 33% capacity at this point. One more salvo, and she’d be done for.
But the whispers started again. Another bomb. Bigger. Let’s put all the chips on the table for humanity’s last shot. We’d do it better. Make the bomb right, find where the Wolves live, and send it right into their nest.
So the process began again. Diverting resources and personnel to the scientists whenever we could spare it. We heard word that the military had captured a Wolf spy and tortured him to reveal the coordinates of the Wolf home base. Or, at least what he said was the Wolf home base.
The Wolves attacked again. The Lucas took the brunt of the barrage. She was lost. My crew and I took refuge among friendly ships in the fleet. Once we knew there was a spy among us, it was hard to know who to trust. Our crew fractured. I took refuge on the Icebreaker, while the rest of my crew assisted the Salvador, our hospital ship. The injured were beginning to pile up, and the Salvador could use all the help they could get.
More whispers. The Aegis was gone, and her replacement didn’t have the means to launch the Big Boy II. I had been considering giving the order to scuttle the Lucas and strip her for parts, to get one last use out of her. But then the Vice President approached:
“We need a ship, and a crew to deliver this bomb to the Wolves,” he said, “We can’t risk a failure like last time.”
“It would be the honor of the Lucas and her crew to go on one last mission,” I replied.
The Big Boy II was loaded into the husk of the Lucas. Armed and ready to go. We sat at the helm again, and set off toward our target: a Wolf basestar. Hopefully, by our sacrifice, we could put a stop to the Wolf threat, or at least, provide a few months respite for the rest of the fleet.