26 June 2015

Clash on the Fringe - First Game

Adam and I tried a game of Nordic Weasel Games' recent addition: Clash on the Fringe last night. Ivan at NWG admits this is unashamedly a return to the days of Rogue Trader and the like. CotF shies away from huge battles where special rules, maths and metagaming win the day and attempts to play out something narrative with sound tactical considerations.

This will be more of a light battle report than a review of the system (which I will do at some point). Even so, I'll interject with some system related observations as I think they really affected our enjoyment of the game (in a good way!).

My force, The Jury, has interpreted the law such that advanced AI is illegal. They are aware that a scientist is developing an intelligent droid and will hunt it down and destroy it. The prof has called in mercs to defend him but they too, are unsure where he is exactly. If I find the droid, I win; Adam must defend it.

The droid is in one of the four low buildings.

Adam has a mech behind shed 2 (right) and has a string of infantry along the far table edge. I have a small unit out of shot to the left and a team with ant-vehicle capability to the right.

My plan was to send the leftmost team past the cylindrical towers and on to the front of the left objective building with the team by the barrels supporting them (maybe scaling that building then searching the middle building). The teams on the right would hold the mech at bay, while advancing to the look inside the comms tower building.

Stag beetles are a group of about 1,200 species of beetle in the family Lucanidae...

The team on my left flank were weakened by some luck long shots (CotF has unlimited ranges but higher chance of failure over the the weapon's optimal distance - nice!).

With the left team pinned and at half strength, their support team decide to search the middle building instead. The droid is not here. The team also has a plasma weapon so moving them right might position them better to deal with the mech.

These are the swines that took out my left flank. Adam advanced half of them, as the game went on meaning I had to focus on the centre of the table for my advance.

My anti-vehicle team are still out of shot below the image. They do hold the mech up but the missile launcher has a heavy rail gun fire at him. A nice feature of the game is that there are very few auto wins/fails due to a natural roll of x. If something hits you that should kill you, you will die!

My anti-infantry team (by the three containers) move up slowly and heavily suppress Adam's chaps under the walkway of the comms building. They cover the advance of the team above them who will search the comms building then move onto the building X5 (by the distant satellite dish). It nearly works.

The lead man checks out the comms building. The Prof and his droid are not there.

The team drop from 5 to 2 men. Luckily their resolve holds - the word of the law is with them!

Adam had given up on his unit below the walkway. CotF makes use of Heads Down markers to represent pinning and suppression. I had thoroughly suppressed them. However, the presence of an inspiring leader and a well-timed regroup action brought them back from the brink and allowed them to halt my advance.

One of my survivors peeks from the behind the far cylinder. Adam's team stay here. This is the back of building X5. If they go forward and turn left, they set up a crossfire with their team under the walkway (mentioned above).

On my left flank, my beleaguered unit are pinned behind cover. Adam's "under the walkway" team and the those pictured above effectively cut off off my two depleted teams from searching the last two buildings.

I lost.

So, what did we think of the game? We really enjoyed it. Some highlights of the system that stood out for us:

  • No unit coherency. Although it benefits you to stay close to the team leader (as Adam's suppressed team discovered), you can make proper use of cover instead of "stringing" your self across gaps.
  • Automatic rifles have a template. This means if you shoot a "conga" line of targets, your rounds don't miraculously stop in mid-air just behind the last man. Bunching up and advancing through narrow gaps is lethal...as it should be.
  • Deciding who activates a unit next is random but heavily influenced by the training level of your force's best unit(s). This means you might have alternating activations or runs of the same player activating. There is a strategic element in deciding whether you use the better teams early on since their bonus to the roll is lost once they act. There is also the chance that both players will have to select a unit that "failed to activate". This is a nice "fog of war" element.

What I've written above fails to convey how well the game works for casual and narrative scenarios. It certainly does achieve this and I look forward to using it for all sorts of skirmishes and dust ups in the future. I'll cover this more when I write my review along with a look at the other content such as force generation and scenario ideas.

The game we played here was to get our head around the rules and use some much neglected figures without an oppressive ruleset spoiling our fun. We succeeded. We've found only a couple of very slight issues we'd like to tweak but, this is a very capable system with rules that seem sensible and "right".

20 June 2015

Stealers in the Hive

I've not posted in while but our game last week has re-motivated me. We revisited Necromunda of which we had a handful of games at the start of last year. There were four us playing a mini campaign. But that isn't what this post is focussed on.

After our campaign finished, we still had a couple of hours spare so decided to hook out the rules for 40k second edition Genestealers and have them invade the hive world (Necromunda rules are based on 2nd ed so they work well together)! Our gangs were left as they were at the end of the campaign and had to get from one end of the table to the other...presumably out the hive and in to the wastes...a marginally better fate than being torn up or impregnated by the stealers.

The gangs started just ahead of the cranes and had to get to the gaps in the elevated walkway in the distance.

It's difficult to write a battle report in any meaningful way. We ran headlong forward as a random number of aliens entered from random table edges each turn. They had to enter at ground level so the only tactic was to get off the floor as soon as possible!

Dave's Chaos Cult join the central walkway from the right flank. Ross's gang do so from the other side.

My poor gang, the Rusty O's, took a route down the left flank (mainly because I was stood that side).

Dave's zombies held up the Genestealers for a short while but didn't put up much resistance.

The central gangway became the main stage for the massacre fight. With both gangs crammed in, the aliens headed for this area and were able to cut through man after man (after mutant!).

My own team survived longer than expected with my heavy stub gun maintaining overwatch and a lot of luck.

I knew the writing was on the wall as these stealers approached...my heavy stubber (top right) and shotgun jammed. My leader's plasma pistol was recharging :(

A stealer looks down from from its entry point, ready to join the feast. But, in the distance, some of the Chaos cult are making a getaway.

Dave wins as one of his Chaos mutants gets to an exit (top right) with the Genestealers nipping at all three of his heels.

I just love it when we say "hang the rules and any hope of balance" and get on with it. This was such a fun, tense and cinematic game. It finished off a great day.

Next time, we are going to send 2nd ed Teminators in to the hive to see if they can clear out the bugs. If not then there's always exterminatus (Digamma, Decimatio, Duodecies).

Other pics: