Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: Ronin/En Garde!- Osprey Games

I actually wrote this review a long time ago, before I had a blog.  For some reason, it never really transitioned over here?  I have no idea why, but now I want to rectify that situation!


These are two different sets of rules put out by Osprey in their “Blue” wargaming series.  Each booklet is only about 64 pages long.  Therefore, concise, streamlined rules are the order of the day.  The two books En Garde and Ronin cover two distinct time periods, but they run on the same basic game engine.  This is reminiscent of the Lion Rampant/Dragon Rampant with modifications being in the way the rules are tweaked for the different settings.  En Garde! deals with the Renaissance in Europe where Ronin is focused on the samurai period in Japan.

One of my favorite things about the Osprey rulesets that I have reviewed previously was that the author clearly laid out their goals and objectives in the Introduction of the work.  Therefore, it was easy to determine if they succeeded in their purpose and helped me understand some of their design decisions.  Sadly, neither of these rules has the courtesy to talk about the designer process, not even in a Design Notes section. I guess if you only have 64 pages, some of that might get left out.

Things I Liked

The game system that runs these two games is most famous for its Combat Pool system.  Essentially, each player gets a certain number of chits, and then uses them to determine how much to use to attack or defend with.  En Garde! is much clearer with how these rules work when multiple models are engaged against each other than Ronin but both games use the exact same system.  Essentially when multiple models are engaged, you pool their combat pool together and all models can pull from the pool.

This adds resource management and tactical decision making to the rules.  This is the highlight of the game and the key to its innovations.  Plus, it allows for some of the “chrome” of sword play with parries, ripostes, disarming, mighty blows, etc by paying more or less chits to be able to complete them.  In addition, models can specialize in certain weapons to differentiate between a guy who is a trained duelist and warrior versus some ruffian who picked up a Yari.  This is the big “idea” of the system and it is pretty cool.

Things I Do Not Like

The Combat Pool is really cool and borderline revolutionary, BUT I feel it could be carried out a bit better.  In the game, they try and streamline the process down to a single dice roll to determine hit, damage, and armor results.  However, this leads to a somewhat cumbersome level of mathematics and modifiers that will require a reference chart for a bit.  I feel it would have been more intuitive with a simple opposed dice roll to determine winner, and then any rolls above the opponent would equal hits, that would then be saved in a separate dice roll by the defender.  Both players can still participate, but adds a bit more agency for the defender and less arithmetic to determine results.

Also, the system is a bit vague on who attacks who and what is a combined melee and what is an individual melee.  In a combined melee, Combat Pools are lumped together so knowing if you are in a combined melee or not matters.  In Ronin in particular it is especially unclear as the Combat Example makes it sound like a model can only use as much of the combat pool as they have contributed, BUT in En Garde! it does not seem that way.  Therefore, I am still a bit confused on how it works exactly in larger combats.  The system is great for one-on-one encounters but undoubtedly, someone will try to gang up on someone else.

Finally, I am unclear about the Morale system.  Warbands can be in three categories, Steady, Wavering, and Routing.  When they are Wavering and Routing models do not always act as you the player intends and a basic activation roll is needed.  It seems clear that when a Wavering model fails activation it is a temporary and one time failure.  However, I am less clear about if a Routing Warband model fails the activation?  Do they keep running away, or can you make subsequent activation rolls?  If there are subsequent activation attempts, then there is no clear “end point” for the game.

Meh and Other Uncertainties

Each model is ranked between 1 and 5 and this sets the level of their skill.  In addition, they can have certain skills to help boost them in one area or another.  This allows you to build more characterful models and help them feel like individuals.  After all, this is a small scale skirmish game!

The game seems like it uses a pretty standard alternating activation system, but again the rules do not lay it out clearly to me.  They talk about Priority and alternating with players, but for some reason it was still a bit foggy after reading the rules.  I consider this due to space limitations in a 64 page booklets or me being a dunce.  Both are possible.  

One other big difference in the game is how missile weapons work.  In Ronin missile weapons have two opportunities to fire.  In En Garde! this does not seem to be the case.  Since bows are in both games, this was a bit perplexing to me but it might have been simpler in En Garde! to avoid it since most of the weapons are black powder weapons.  However, such weapons have a Reload Mechanic so I don’t know why the change.  

En Garde! covers things like climbing, falling etc.  However, the damage resolution is a bit tough to figure out and a reference guide for such circumstances will be needed.  However, how often is that likely to happen?

It has fun and characterful army lists for both periods.  I liked the idea of Conquistadors vs. Aztecs in En Garde!.  They both come with scenarios, but the ones in Ronin are less generic and there are more of them.  They are not the same, but most of them are close enough.  Both also offer a simple campaign and progression system as well.

En Garde! has three appendix that cover simplified mass battle, fantastical elements, and inspiration.  Ronin only has the inspiration section.  It is clear the author has good taste in films!

Final Thoughts
These rulesets have a lot of good ideas, but the writing and editing needs to be crisper.  Perhaps I am just dense?  However, the core idea is really strong and I recommend folks give them a try.  I am a big fan of Combat Pools in skirmish games, even if I think this one is a bit futzy in an attempt to make all combat resolution occur in a single dice roll, the attempt is still well-worth checking out.

The rulebooks make brief mentions of tournament use, but this is more of a campaign/one-off style of game.  I think some of the abstractions make it unsuitable for tournament play.  Perhaps if it were expanded a bit in certain key areas, it would be ready for such a challenge, but in its current 64 page streamlined version with scenarios, army lists, and everything else it will still be a fun game and worth buy and painting up models for.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Aeronautica Imperialis: Battle Report- Assault on Launch Site: Blak Perch

This was a stand alone battle played in 2012 using custom aircraft and scratchbuilt models.

***************************************************

Assault on Launch Site Blak Perch
6x4 Table

Special Rules: Terrain is height 1, with chaos mound being height 2 and arch height 5. The walls of the launch area are height 1. 

Cabal of the World Walkers
Locust= 10 pts- Pilot: Gre'Val
Locust= 10 pts- Pilot: Tamor
Locust= 10 pts- Pilot: Vind
Hydra= 12 pts

Reserves:
1 Hell Razor+Ace+Load 1= 29 pts- Pilot: Blakroe The Aspirant
1 Hell Razor+Load 1= 24 pts- Pilot: Ve'grath

Da Skrapperz
1 Buzz'Ard+Jump Troops= 22 pts- Pilot: Bloobeard
1 Warkoptas= 8 pts- Pilot: Gobruk
1 Warkoptas= 8 pts- Pilot: Mo'Klaw
Ork Fighta+Load 1= 16 pts- Pilot: Dakkablitz
Ork Fighta= 14 pts- Pilot: Skumbo
Ork Fighta= 14 pts- Pilot: Badgob
Ork Fighta Bomma= 14 pts- Pilot: Klawgutz

Deployment:
The Locusts are deployed as if launching from the landing pits of the Blak Perch. They are at min speed and altitude 2, the lowest altitude needed to clear the pits.

 
Scramble, Scramble, Scramble!

The Orks come in on the opposite side. Their Buzz'Ard anchors the center with the Warkoptas to the left, and a Fighta-bomma riding herd above them. The fightas deploy to the right, with the rokit fighta in the lead. 

Here They Come!

Turn 1
Initiative= Orks

Movement:
The Ork aircraft press forward to try and get to the base as fast as possible. The fightas begin to pull ahead and move in front of the transports. Meanwhile, the Fighta-bomma stays to provide top cover for the Buzz'Ard and Warkoptas. 

The Locusts desperately try to gain altitude to try and intercept the oncoming greenskins. They begin to vector towards the warkoptas. 

Shooting:
None

Turn 2
Initiative= Chaos

Reserves: The Hell Razors are not available

Movement:
The fightas and the Locusts set themselves up for a furball in the center as the Chaos planes vector back into the center of the board. The fighta-bomma also moves up to join the party. Meanwhile, the Warkoptas try to move to go behind the Locusts, while the Buzz'Ard breaks away the opposite direction. 

Shooting:
Locust 3 fires at Fighta 2, but misses. The Fighta-bomma fires its quad big shootas at Locust 2, but also misses. Fighta 2 returns fire on Locust 3 but misses. A whole lot of fire and noise, but not a lot of results. 

Turn 3:
Initiative: Orks

Movement:
Flying in a tight formation, the Locusts close in on the unarmed side of the Buzz’Ard carrying the bulk of the Ork assault force. Meanwhile the Warkoptas race along the opposite edge. The Ork defenders try to get behind the Locusts, but fail to get the angle. 

Shooting:
The orks do not have any shots.

First, the Hydra on the ground takes aim at the incoming transport. The shots find their mark and damage the craft. Locust 2 and 3 open fire on the Buzz'Ard at close range. Heavy Bolter rounds rip through the Buzz'Ard. Locust 2 gets credit for the kill as the Ork transport explodes spectacularly; killing everyone on board. 

Transport Down!

Turn 4
Initiative= Orks
Reserves: The Hell Razors enter play

Movement:
The Warkoptas set up for their attack runs, but the Hell Razors are moving to intercept. Ork Fighta 1 and 2 move to intercept the Hell Razors, but will they get there in time? Meanwhile, the Locusts turn back towards the base. 

Fast Movers Inbound

Shooting:
Fighta 2 opens fire on Blakroe the Aspirant in Hell Razor 4, and hits him. In exchange, Blakroe takes aim at one of the Warkoptas and destroys it with a burst from his Auto-cannons. 
Scratch One Kopta!

Hell Razor 5 takes a snap shot at Ork Fighta 2, but misses. 

The fighter-bomber uses its ball turret and fires on Locust 3, but misses. The hydra targets the Figtha-Bomma, and auto-cannon rounds rip through the plane’s fuselage, but don't down it. Black smoke billows from the Ork craft. 

Locust 3 is just in range to fire a Burst at Fighta 3, and does so. All his shots miss the target as the Ork Fighta jinks around wildly. 

Turn 5
Initiative= Chaos

Movement:
The last Warkopta attempts to close in on the Chaos base. However, the Locusts and Hell Razor 5 attempt to stop him. However, it looks like he may have split the gap in the Locusts, who are unable to slow enough to get good shots. Meanwhile, the remaining Ork aircraft try to provide cover, with some success. 
No Shot, I reapeat; No Shot!

Shooting:
Hell Razor 5 goes weapons hot and fires on the Warkopta. Several auto-cannons shells stitch the side, sending Ork hanger-ons tumbling ground ward, but it isn't enough to damage the Kopta. Curses! Those Ork bodies must have absorbed the incoming fire. 

The Ork Fighta-Bomma blasts Locust 2 from the sky, but the Chaos pilot safely ejects as his aircraft gently inclines towards the ground, where it meets an explosive end. 

Blakroe in Hell Razor 4 opens fire on Ork fighta 3 at close range, but fails to cause any damage. 

Ork Fighta 3 is able to get a bead on Locust 3. The shoota shells slowly tear the craft apart, but the pilot ejects in time. The Locust slowly and methodically disintegrates as the Big Shoota rounds eat it up.

The Hydra attempts to punish Fighta 3, but its shots miss; tracers arcing uselessly skyward.
They Came At Us From Behind!

Turn 6
Initiative= Orks

Movement:
The Warkopta moves over the drop zone. Meanwhile, the The Aspirant gets a bead on him, but at the cost of getting in front of the smoking Fighta-Bomma. Locust 1 moves to cover him. The other Orks are out of position. 

Shooting:
The Ork Fighta-Bomma unloads on Hell Razor 4 piloted by Blakroe the Aspirant. Big shoota fire reaches out but fails to cause damage as the Ace pilot jinks his craft expertly. However, the chaos Ace is less successful as a rokit slams into his all ready damaged fighter. With a scream of rage, the champion ejects successfully, as his rare aircraft plummets down into the earth below.

The Aspirant is Downed! 

However, Locust 1 is in position on the Fighta-bomma, and opens fire at close range. The Ork pilot ejects just in time as his fighta-bomma's internal bomb bay is hit and detonates. Revenge for the Cabal of the World Walkers! 

Vengeance! 

The Warkopta unloads its Jump troops from alt 1. They all land in the Chaos airstrip successfully, and begin attacking anything that moves. 

Turn 7= Chaos Disengagement
Initiative= Orks

Movement:
All aircraft scramble away.

Shooting:
The Hydra takes some parting shots at Fighta 2, but misses. 

Result:
Narrow Ork victory, with the successful troop landings making the difference! Man that was close! 

Here are some of my post game thoughts. The game was originally planned for the Investigation of Bin Mazar, but the Holidays made it difficult for me and my regular opponent to connect for gaming. By design, this game used a lot of custom aircraft from the Airspace Aircraft Compilation. It seems only fair to talk about how they did. 

The Locusts did surprisingly well flying close together and using barrages of Heavy Bolter fire. They aren’t as maneuverable as the Hellblade, but they are still more than a match for an Ork Fighta. However, they are very vulnerable, and one mistake maneuvering them can lead to them getting blown away pretty easily. 

The Hell Razors were pretty fun. I liked them better than the Hellfang. Perhaps it was the scenario, and how they were used. Overall, they had a lot of firepower at Medium range with auto-cannons and Missiles. However, the fighting in this game got tight, and they clearly suffered at that range band with restricted shooting options. Too bad I let my Ace get shot down. D’oh! Their goes his reputation. 

Ork Buzz’Ard didn’t get to do much this game. However, I like that the sides have a clear vulnerability instead of possessing all around shooting power. I feel it gives the plane a more tactical style of play. I’m sure my opponent disagrees right about now, and would prefer the firepower of a Bomma. 

The Warkoptas were a bit of an X-factor. They flew low and slow, making them more challenging to take down than I expected. I guess slow and steady won the race this time. Overall, a nice cheap option. 

Sadly, I lost the battle due to my focus on killing the Ork transports. This kept getting in the way of my pilots sense of self-preservation. At least they all managed to eject this time, and no one crashed into a mountain. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: Mad Dogs With Guns- Osprey Publishing

It feels like it has been ages since I have written a review.  The last one was what…. Chosen MenPikeman’sLamentPulp Alley?   I honestly can not recall.  Instead my attention has been focused on other goals.  You may recall that the summer is a pretty busy time for me professionally so getting the time to read and write this review was a treat. 


That brings us to today’s offering.  I am not 100% sure, but I think this game has been around longer than Osprey would have you believe.  I find reference to a purchasable PDF version in the past also called Mad Dogs With Guns about the same period and genre.  It may have even been released in a Soldiers and Strategy magazine.  However, I have not been diligent enough to confirm this. 

Osprey seems to have used a similar pattern with HorizonWars.  First, it was a successful self-published set of PDFs before being picked up/licensed to Osprey to publish.  If this is true, it is a shrewd move by Osprey and could give those aspiring game designers out there a solid avenue to expand.  I hope that is there model. 

Mad Dogs With Guns is a campaign skirmish game focused around gangsters in the 20’s.  This has been an interesting period to me for gaming even though I have few miniature or models for it.  It appeals due to a small number of models, campaign potential, and the “Rule of Cool”.  In addition, gangster activity was typically not in the city but in rural parts of the US so any terrain will do including desert canyons, forests, or even river mouths/beaches.  However, there is something appealing about the city boards used for gangster games.  When it comes to Gangster games you are looking for colorful characters, bullets everywhere, corruption, tommy guns, cars, and dolls.

Does Mad Dog With Guns deliver the goods? 

Things I like
As always, I start with the things I liked in the game and build my review from there.  Mad Dogs With Guns follows a similar ethos as Frostgrave.  The actual mechanics are simple and easy to perform on the table, but the meat of the game is in the Campaign.  That is where Mad Dogs With Guns can stand above other wargames.  It is loaded with period flavor and concepts.  There are rules for Italian, Irish, Tongs, etc.  There are city officials to bribe, when cops will get involved, and even the Feds.  It even has a made-up campaign city in Illinois to use as your template that sounds suspiciously like Chicago.  The feel for these campaigns is about right. 

When it comes to gang creation, it is surprisingly loose.  You can get your gang “off the Rack” with no upgrades/changes for a quick 1-off, randomly roll each gangster up for unique abilities and personalities, or get them “Off the Rack” and purchase upgrades or personality rolls.  All the methods are valid, but allow the players to decided how “custom” they want each gang to be.  For a 1-off throw down “Off the Rack” will work.  For a club campaign then Upgrades will allow quick and unique gangs, while for a full narrative experience you can roll up each model. 

The Mechanics themselves are simple and straight forward.  There is minimal tracking and not much in the way of If This/ThenThat rules.  Each gangster has basic stats for the 4Ms.  You consistently try to roll below your stat for success, the higher the stat the better you are.  More powerful weapons roll more damage dice and reduce your gangsters hits, which degrades their ability to fight all the way from small injury to dead.  In practice hand-to-hand weapons are less lethal than shooting weapons.  This makes sense since Sean Connery always taught us to never bring a knife to a gunfight.

There are also rules for doing narrative actions like negotiate, taunt, give a deadly stare, etc.  This allows a light RPG experience that is important in these small scale skirmish games.  Fighting and shooting may not always be the best way to get the job done.                                

Things I Do Not Like
The game uses a card draw activation mechanic.  Each gang member gets a card in the pile, and when a gang’s card comes up they can either act or hold.  Hold allows you to interrupt later in the turn if you wish.  Some cards allow multiple gangsters to act.  The advantage of this is that it randomizes action so you never know exactly what you will get to do, and forces you to improvise according to the fog of war.  This is all good.  My quibble is more around adding extra “stuff” to play the game beyond the dice and outside of the game’s core mechanics.  Make no mistake, it is a minor quibble.  A simple alternate activation would have worked or alternate activation by type so all gangsters would go before thugs, etc.   

Throwing dynamite and grenades uses a “flick” mechanic.  I have nothing against “flick” mechanics, I have used them myself in TotalCARnage.  However, this one goes against the flavor of the rest of the game and simply seems like a bolted on bit of silliness.  Instead, a simple dice mechanic would have been preferred.  The game includes one as an alternative and should have stuck with that one.  The “Flick” again adds more “stuff” to the game outside of what it needs.   

Injury and Injury results can be a bit too table heavy for me.  About half of all “hits” will either be avoided or force a fallback instead of shooting.  That may make sense since gangsters are not that good of shots.  I mean even and artist with a Tommy Gun is still spraying shots everywhere.  I also do not mind a “defense” roll used to negate a hit.  After all, no one wants to stand there and simply remove figures.  However, I do not enjoy cross-referencing tables to find out if I hit the deck, stumbled back, lost a minor hit, etc. 

This is also intended to be a club game.  It is not “tight”.  In fact, it is rather loose.  Gameplay and rules are basic and straightforward.  There are not a lot of in-game bonuses to be manipulated or stacked.  The tactics are simple and straight forward without a lot of depth or complexity to them.  There are not a ton of tough decisions to make based on the mechanics.  Instead, they rely on the scenarios.  The fun of the game is the story that it allows you to tell about the game, more than the game play itself.

However, if the fun of the game is the scenarios, these are also rather loose.  The basics for scenarios are there, but it is not tight regarding the mechanics of setting up the board, terrain placement, deployment, numbers, etc.  Each player is assumed to use common sense, which is harder than you would think.  The scenarios fit nicely into what we “know” about gangsters thanks to media, history, movies, etc; but do not always lead to well-balanced or tight scenarios. 

Meh and Other Uncertainties
The game has cars and all the rules you need for cars.  They seem functional, but not that compelling to me.  There is the basic stuff you need like speeding up, slowing down, turning, etc.  They introduced a lot of tables.  However, automobiles felt more fiddly than fun.

Every gang has a Boss, Gun Moll, and Accountant.  I like the inclusion of the accountant in the rules.  It allows for some fun scenarios of the type we have all seen in the movies and on TV. 

The game is in a nice hardcover book.  However, it still has a lot of whitespace, large font, and is spaced out.  I think Osprey may have stretched it a bit to get to a Hardback version, and could have slammed it into a Blue Wargames Series instead.  However, there are some great images of Copplestone Casting gangster models in action as well as a couple of nice art pieces too.    

Final Thoughts
If you read Mr. Whitehouse’s Design Notes in the back of the rules I feel he mostly succeeded in what he was trying to accomplish.  That makes the game successful.  However, some of the mechanics just feel a bit dated now and the rules themselves simple resolve the 4Ms.  The rules are not what drive the game's fun.  The fun comes from the campaigns and stories that the campaigns lead to. 


As a stand-alone 1-off game this would be a bit of a dud, but as part of a campaign with multiple gangs at club night it would be great!  Multiple games could be played in an evening leading up to a big gangland raid with all the players working together…. at least at first.  The game gives enough of the guidelines to create a fun campaign experience, and that is the type of gaming I like.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rampant Stars: Battle Report- Executive Extraction: Battletech

Welcome to my RAMPANT STARS battle report.  This is a generic ruleset for Sci-fi games that are miniature line agnostic, scale agnostic, and usable in any sci-fi setting from a grim dark universe, to Vietnam in space, to the war against the machines.  Rampant Stars uses relatively broad unit types and Sci-Fi traits to allow you to customize for the game you want.  In addition, Rampant Stars uses a three tiered scenario generator that allows for countless variations for the games you play.  Finally, it is designed to be played in one hour of game time.  

Today, I wanted to try the rules out using Battletech miniatures for a different style of game.  Instead of unit sof 10 Effectiveness Points, each Mech will have 10 Effectiveness Points.  This will be two mercenary units in the employ of rival Corporate States.   Let’s see how it went.     

Polanski’s Lancers have been hired by Lacstar Industries to grab some rival Klan Enterprises executives from a corporate off-site on the Low-Grav world of Toth Secundus.  The executives are travelling under the protection of Thor’s Hammers.  Thor’s Hammers have been contracted to protect the Klan executives while having their off-site team building excursion.  Trust falls on low-grav worlds are so much safer.     

Polanski’s Lancers
Enforcer
Elite Infantry      Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 4 (+2 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              2+                           2+                           3+                           2+           1
Traits:
Commander
Rapid Fire- 2 Points

Trebuchet
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+3 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1(+1)
Traits:
Blast Radius- 1 Point
Armored- 2 Points

Quickdraw
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+4 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1(+1)
Traits:
Armor-piercing- 2 Points
Armored- 2 points

Assassin
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+2 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1
Traits:
Rapid Movement (+1 Point)- Roll 1 d6 for Double time
Enhanced Senses (+1 Point)- Ignore battlefield conditions

Total= 24 Points

Left to right: Quickdraw, Enforcer, Trebuchet, and Assassin

Thor’s Hammers
Dragon
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+3 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1 (+2)
Traits:
Commander
Power Armored (+3 Points)

Dervish
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (+3)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1(+1)
Traits:
Armored- +2 Points
Blast Radius- +1 Point

Hunchback
Regular Infantry                               Effectiveness Rating: 10                                Points: 3 (+6 Points)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              3+                           3+                           4+                           3+           1 (+1)
Traits:
Heavy Weapons- +4 Points- 1 Hit counts as 3.
Armored- +2

Whitworth
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (+2)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1(+1)
Traits:
Armored- +2 Points

Total Points= 24 Points

Left to Right: Dervish, Dragon, Whitworth, and Hunchback

Mission
Missions are generated by rolling 3d6 three times and consulting a mission, complication, and Location chart.  Of course, you don’t have to roll any at all, but for a test game we might as well go for it!  

Abduction Mission
The attacker sets-up the terrain per the guidelines.  The defender places one unit in the approximate center of the board.  Place a single “NPC” model with the unit.  The defender deploys the rest of their force on any one other board edge of their choice with one model touching the edge.  The Attackers can deploy on any other board edge touching the edge as well. 

The attackers must secure the  NPC.  They can take the NPC by eliminating the Unit accompanying it with shooting or assault and then moving  the NPC into their Zone of Control.  The unit with the NPC may not leave the board and if they retreat/rout the NPC is left behind.  The NPC can be passed off between enemy units this way many times.  The game last 8 turns, one hour, or until one side is destroyed/routed.  If the attackers have the NPC they win.  If the Defenders have the NPC they win. 

The Attackers are Polanski’s Lancers.

Rain
Tut tut, feels like rain!  The entire board is considered difficult terrain as a wall of blizzard like snow hangs across the battlefield. 

Location
Outdoor, Low Gravity

The battle takes place outdoors, but is on a low-gravity world.  All units have their movement increased by 1d3 inches, and Double Times roll 2d3 and add the results together.  You can really move in this gravity! 

Set-up
This board is 6x4 in size with trees, two hills, and a pond.  The Trees are covering the center of the board with hills on both sides.  The Executives are placed in the center of the main forest.   

Thor’s Hammers’ Dragon mech is accompanying the executives as close protection for their team building exercise.  It is during their trust falls that the Dragon detects Polanski’s Lancers coming in from the west.  They are approaching in groups of two, using the hills as a screen for their approach.  The rest of Thor’s Hammers respond to the Dragon’s call for aid and arrive on their board edge.  The rain obscures visuals and targeting computers, but not the high powered early warning detection scanners equipped all of the machines of the future. 



Turn 1:
The Lancers all Double Time forward, but the blizzard is hampering the speed of their approach. 

The Dragon detects the approaching Lancers and shephards the executives away at full speed.  The Dervish moves forward to assist at double time, but the other two mech pilots nervously scan their sensors instead of moving up. 

Turn 2:
The Lancers pursue at max speed, but the Trebuchet is momentarily blinded by a gust of snow and falls out of formation.

The Dragon continues moving out of the forest, but poor communication and blinding snowfall cause the others to miscommunicate.  The Hunchback rallies, but the others are shaken. 

Turn 3:
The trebuchet rallies.  Meanwhile the Quickdraw forges ahead at double time.  The Assassin gets momentarily confused as they approach the woods edge.  The command Enforcer barely sees the Drgaon through the woods and snowfall, and opens fire with is gatling blaster.  The few shots that find the mark ping harmlessly off the Dragon’s heavy armor.



The Dragon ignores the fire and moves leads his wards closer to safety.  The Hunchback moves up to support the Dragon, while the Dervish stays shaken and the Whitworth rallies. 

Turn 4:
The Lancers charge forward into the woods and close on the Dragon. 

The Hunchback double times up to support the retreating Dragon.  He is in a good position to cover the retreat now.  The Whitworth is again shaken due to the inexperienced pilot, and the Dervish rallies. 

Turn 5:
Both the Quickdraw and the Enforcer move and fire on the Dragon, but fail to penetrate its heavy armor due to the range and terrain.  The rest move up as fast as they can to support the attack, but so far things look grim for the Lancers. 

The hunchback drew a bead on the Enforcer, and opened fire with his heavy weapons on the much lighter mech.  The heavy weapon on the Hunchback does its worst and shreds 7 Effectiveness Points from the Enforcer despite terrain and range.  This causes the Enforcer to fall back out of the fight after a completely failed morale test.



The Whitworth stays shaken, while the Dervish rallies.

Turn 6:
The Assassin races forward towards the enemy lines.  The Trebuchet opens fire with a barrage of long range rockets at the Hunchback, hoping to retaliate.  The blasts catch the Hunchback, but barely damage it.  The Quickdraw also riddles the Dragon with armor piercing shells, and a few manage to penetrate the Mechs armor and reduce it 1 damage point.

 
This time, the Hunchback targets the Assassin, and again a light mech takes horrendous damage to the Hunchback’s heavy weapons.  The Assassin loses 6 effectiveness and is force to retreat shaken!



The Dragon keeps moving to safety but has to bypass the confused Whitworth. 

Turn 7:
The destruction caused by the Hunchback causes the pilots of the Trebuchet and Quickdraw to hesitate, and they are shaken.  The Assassin rallies. 

The Whitworth final decides to double time towards the fight.  Meanwhile, the Hunchback targets the Quickdraw at long range and opens fire.  This time, the Mechs firepower is much less effective against a heavier target.  The shells ping harmlessly away or outright miss. 

The Dragon’s detail cause a moment of hesitation as he regroups his executive wards.    

Turn 8: Final Turn
The Trebuchet and Quickdraw rally.  The assassin darts forward and fires some parting shots at the Hunchback, who easily absorbs them all. 

The Hunchback is shaken from the incoming fire and fails to return fire.  The Dervish and Dragon both rally.  The Whitworth opens fire on the battered Assassin, trying to claim a kill.  The shooting manages to peel off one armor from the light mech, and forces it to retreat again. 


Conclusion:
The defenders, Thor’s Hammers win the battle.  Polanski’s Lancers failed to even shake the executives loose from the Dragon. 

Using the heavily armored Dragon Commander as the escorting unit was a good idea.  He rarely was going to fail Command Checks to escape and methodically moved away from the attackers.  Plus, his heavy armor shrugged off my pursuing shots.  Once the Hunchback got in position between the Lancers and the Dragon it was all but over. 

The heavy weapon upgrade on the Hunchback made short work of the armor 1 targets in this game.  The lower skill of the Dervish and Whitworth pilots made them non-factors, and I forgot to use the Enhanced Senses on the Assassin to move him faster.  However, that would probably of just gotten him shredded faster. 

The combination of Rain as a Complication and Abduction made for a tough combination.  Thank goodness we had a Low Gravity world and no one would have been moving anywhere!    

I think I want to try this Battletech version of Rampant Stars out again with a different set of complications, terrain and mission.       

     

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Rampant Stars: Battle Report- Exploring for Crisps

Welcome to my RAMPANT STARS battle report.  This is a generic ruleset for Sci-fi games that are miniature line agnostic, scale agnostic, and usable in any sci-fi setting from a grim dark universe, to Vietnam in space, to the war against the machines.  Rampant Stars uses relatively broad unit types and Sci-Fi traits to allow you to customize for the game you want.  In addition, Rampant Stars uses a three tiered scenario generator that allows for countless variations for the games you play.  Finally, it is designed to be played in one hour of game time.  


After losing the Grav-match championship to the humans, the Xeno fans leave the stadium disappointed and angry.  However, they are also hungry and are out looking for the best place to buy some crisps  Being rowdy Xeno Hooligans they naturally get in a few fights, burn down some local establishments, and cause all sorts of chaos as they muck about.  The Pink Spaz Marines deploy to keep the Xeno Hooligans from doing more damage and keep them from finding the best crisps on the planet.      

Pink Spaz Marines
Command Assault Unit= 10 points
Elite Mounted   Effectiveness Rating: 5                  Points: 6 (+3)= 9
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10”         2+                           2+                           3+                           2+           2
Traits:
Commander- 0 point= +1 Command Check to units in 12 inches
Jump gear- 2 pt= Unit can ignore difficult terrain and move over friendly units
Combat gear- 1 pt = Double assault, short range only shooting

Tactical Squad Alpha= 8 points
Elite Infantry      Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 4 (+4)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              2+                           2+                           3+                           2+           1(+1)
Traits:
Armored- 2 pts= Armor +1
Rapid Fire- 2 pts= Short range roll double shots, long 1.5 shots.  May not be used for move and shoot

Tactical Squad Beta= 6 points
Elite Infantry      Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 4 (+2)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              2+                           2+                           3+                           2+           1(+1)
Traits:
Armored- 2 pts= Armor +1

Total= 24 points

Xeno Hooligans
Regular Mounted Commander- Trukkerz
Regular Mounted            Effectiveness rating:  5(10)                          Points: 5 (9)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
10           3+                           4+                           5+                           4+           2
Traits:
Big Unit (+4)- Double Units initial Effectiveness Rating
Leader (Free)

Hooligan Band- Stomperz
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1
Traits:
None

Hooligan Band- Romperz
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1
Traits:
None

Hooligan Band- Basherz
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (5)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1
Traits:
Fierce (+2)- Re-roll misses in an assault
Combat weapons (+1)- Shoot close only, double dice for assaults

Hooligan Band- Big Bang-Bang
Irregular Infantry             Effectiveness rating:  10                                Points: 2 (6)
Move    Command           Assault                 Defense               Shoot    Armor 
6              4+                           4+                           5+                           4+           1
Traits:
Armor Piercing (+2)- Shooting reduces armor rating of target by 1
Rapid Fire (+2)- Short range double shots, long 1.5. No move or shoot.

Total Points= 24
Mission
Missions are generated by rolling 3d6 three times and consulting a mission, complication, and Location chart.  Of course, you don’t have to roll any at all, but for a test game we might as well go for it!  

Explore
The defender sets up the terrain per the guidelines and places 6 number tokens on the board face-down.  The attacker chooses a table edge, and the defender deploys his units on the opposite table edge within 6 inches of the edge.  The attacker deploys on the opposite side.  When a unit puts a token within its zone of control, the token is revealed and placed on the players side of the board.  The game lasts until all tokens are revealed or 1 hour has passed, whichever is first.  The side who revealed the most tokens wins  

EMP Storm
The world is clouded in swirling EMP that threatens communications and disrupts electronics.  The Commander can not use his +1 Command Check bonus due to the disruptions on the comm. channels. 

Location
Outdoor, Desert (In this case an ice world)

You are fighting outdoors on a desert world.  It is covered in dunes, barren rocks, and scattered watering holes/oasis.  The terrain could be sand, snow, or worse!  Moving up and over dunes /hills is considered difficult terrain. 

Let's get started.

Set-up
This board is 6x4 in size with two hills, a forest, and some walls.  The objectives were scattered roughly across the center of the board, some on hills, in forests, and behind walls. 

The Xeno Hooligans were going to have more units to spread across the board and move towards the objectives than the Pink Spaz Marines.  The defenders are the Pink Spaz Marines, and they set-up their mobile unit to go out wide right to pick up some objectives, while the center is defended by Beta squad.  Alpha has the far flank.

The Xeno Hooligans place the Trukkerz on the flnak opposite Alpha squad supported by the Romperz.  The center has the Big Bang- Bangerz, who are supported by the Stomperz and the Basherz.


Turn 1:
The Basherz and Big Bang-Bangz try to double time forward but are too busy squabbling with each other to move forward.  The Romperz and the Stomperz both double time it forward.  The Trukkerz race off into the woods and manage to explore a section of the board. 


The Command squad moves towards an outlying and unexplored part of the board, trusting in Beta to move up and secure an objective. Beta gets confused by their orders and mills about instead.  Alpha double-times up to cover the central valley.


Turn 2:
The Romperz jump a nearby wall and explore a new location for Crisps.  The Trukkerz on the opposite flank do likewise.  The Xeno Hooligan have 3 tokens to 0.  However, the Pink Spaz Marines are going to make them work for the last 3, as the Stomperz climb the hill and move towards another marker.  The Big Bang-Bangz re-group after a stern talking to by the boss, but the Basherz are still arguing amongst themselves about the finer points of Grav-ball. 

Seeing the Romperz in the distance the Command squad freezes in their tracks.  However, Beta pulls itself together.  Alpha squad also scales the hill, but is just shy of the marker.  Things are about to get real on the hilltop as both sides move to claim the marker. 



Turn 3:
Instead of shooting, the Stomperz on the hill rush forward and reveal the exploring marker.  This gives them 4.  They brace to get plastered by Alphas firepower.  The Romperz move and fire on the Command unit at long range.   Their firepower is surprisingly effective and two marines go down.  The Trukkerz come smashing through the forest to the top of the hill as well.

Beta squad gets moving and hoofs it to the center marker.  Too little, too late.  The Command squad does likewise to secure the last one.  Alpha squad rapid-fires into the Stomperz and predictable turns them into a fine mist.  The Xeno Hooligan squad has been destroyed. 

Turn 4:
The Trukkerz barrel into Alpha squad and attack up close and personal!  The Trukkerz kill 1 Alpha Squad Marine, but lose 5 in return.  They flee away from the carnage!   

The Big Bang-Bangz open fire on Beta squad with long range shooting.  Three members of Beta squad go down thanks to rapid-fire and armor piercing.    

The Basherz rally and the Romperz fallback out-of-sight in a defensive move.  The only thing that can stop the Xeno Hooligans from losing now is a route/wipe-out.    

Alpha squad moves forward firing at the Trukkerz, but they are in cover and long range so only take 1 casualty.  Beta also returns fire, and causes 2 effectiveness point losses on the Big Bang-Bangz.  The Command squad races towards the Xeno Hooligans while in cover.    


Turn 5:
The Bing Bang-Bangerz open fire and reduce Beta squad down three more points of Effectiveness!  Perhaps they should take cover! 


The Romperz move around the hill to add their firepower on Beta squad next turn.  The Trukkerz fall back away from Alpha squad, and the Basherz start arguing amongst themselves again. 

Alpha squad pushes forward in pursuit of the Trukkerz, and dashes across the top of the hill.  Beta moves to cover behind a wall, and the Command Squad tries to sneak up on the back of the Xeno Hooligan lines. 

Turn 6:
The Basherz re-group, while the Romperz fall back.  The Big Bang-Bangerz are startled by the arrival of Alpha Squad on the hill and become disorganized.  The Trukkerz fire on Alpha squad, and reduce them 1 effectiveness rating. 

Beta squad fires on the Bg Bang-Bangerz and takes out one.  Alpha squad realizes that the Big Bang-Bangerz are the bigger threat than the Trukkerz and rapid fires them at long range.  They take several casualties and then flee the board.  Their went the biggest threat to the Pink Spaz Marines.  The Command squad takes shelter behind a wall and closes in on the enemy.


Turn 7:
The Basherz charge the Pink Spaz Marine Command squad.  The ensue melee leaves the Pink Spaz Marine commander dead, and lose the Basherz two boyz. 



The Romperz and Trukkerz focus their firepower on Alpha Squad, and drive them back with two more casualties.  They are shaken!

Beta Squad moves up in cover, while Alpha rallies. 

Turn 8- Final Turn:
The Basherz fall to squabbling immediately after their big victory. 

The Romperz move forward laying down firepower and kill a Beta squad Marine, forcing them to withdraw from the fight due to a failed morale check.   The Trukkerz are shaken!



Seeing their comrades flee and their commander killed, Alpha squad is shaken and can not act. 

Conclusion:
Xeno Hooligans win with 4 markers to 2! 

The Xeno Hooligans find the best crisps on the planet and descend there en masse.  The Pink Spaz Marines stand back and let them feast to feed their sorrows and talk about next year’s Grav-ball championship game.  After a few destructive days of partying, the Xeno Hooligans get back on their ramshackle starships and fly off back to where they came from.  They will return, but not until the next season of Grav-ball starts up again. 

So far, the Pink Spaz Marines have an even win/loss record.  That tells me that the elite only armies are not overpowered.  Much depends on the scenario as their low numbers were telling in this game.  They simply could not spread out and pick up markers the way the Xeno Hooligans could.  In addition, mass firepower saw a unit of them routed from the field by irregular troops.

The Xeno Hooligans did what they needed to do this game.  The switch to defensive play helped them to keep from getting routed like the previous game.  They simply do not have the armor to stay in the open long though, so getting behind stuff and focusing firepower paid off.  When the first unit got vaporized in a round of shooting, I got a bit nervous.  However, my strategy to go for the objective first paid off.         

You can try the game for yourself here; Rampant Stars