Monday, 29 September 2014

Playtesting the 'Anything Goes' Sci-Fi/Fantasy Skirmish Game

So I've recently been more serious about my home-brew rulesets and have actually been buying miniatures and play-testing things. Because my mind is a constant mess of deciding on whether to go Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Historical I decided to produce a skirmish game that allowed for all, and not only that, but that also had rules simple and direct enough that people brand new to gaming could easily get their heads around it.

Don't worry too much about fluff for now, but I'll just say the game actually takes place within a virtual world (kinda like the matrix) which allows for odd things, like a knights armour withstanding SMG fire! Here are the two forces I play tested today:
An Allied force of Orthodoxy and Security Sciences.

The Bishop - A powerful Magic user.
The Killbot Sergeant - Agile and good at range.
The Inferno Killbot - Armed with a Flame Thrower.
The Paladin - A tough as nails close combat specialist.
The Brawling Mechanic - Good in hand to hand and able to fix the killbots.
 The opposing force - The Lamented
The Necromancer - Another powerful Magic user.
The Young Vampire - Agile and deadly.
The Blood Knight - The toughest Warrior in play, and with a few screws loose.
The Fallen Knight - The third toughest Warrior in play, who occasionally lapses back into his noble ways.
The Dead Jester - Capable of causing organ rupturing laughter.
The table (2'x2') is simply set up with a good spread of terrain features, since board edges are randomly determined you want to keep things even, or you may fall prey to your own traps! Once both players are happy with the terrain objectives are placed alternately, there is 1 objective in the game per miniature, I was playing out a 5 vs 5 so there are 10 objectives, with 5 on the table at the beginning of the game. To keep things really tense the objectives are not designated a number of points but are added to your objective dice pool, which at the end of the game is rolled, with the winner being the player that rolls highest. You will lose 1 die from that pool each time one of your miniatures is killed. The five objectives on the table are placed alternately and must be at least 6" apart (rolling off to see who places the first), again you want an even spread because starting board edges have not been rolled for yet, so you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot. Board edges are then rolled for - a player rolls 1D10 (it doesn't matter which, roll off for it if you want) going clockwise from any board edge - 1,2 = first board edge, 3,4 = second, 5,6 = third, 7,8 = fourth and if a 9 or 10 is rolled the opposing player chooses the edge. The player rolls and gets the edge rolled for. The opposing player does the same (re-rolling if they get the edge already taken). The first player rolls again for the remaining two edges. Then the game begins - miniatures do not begin on the table but move in from one of the board edges of their controlling player. The game is over when all the models on one side have been killed, or all the objectives have been claimed.

Here's the game after the first player turn. The Orthodoxy and SS have the right hand edge and the bottom edge, the Lamented have the top and left hand edges. The SS Killbot Sergeant has moved in from the right hand edge.
 Each player is given 2 action tokens per model, when they want to activate a model they spend action tokens to do so. The first time a model is activated it costs 1 action token, from then on each activation costs the number of action tokens already spent on the model. Once both players have spent as many action tokens as they are able the game turn is over, they get all their action tokens back and a new game turn begins. When a model is activated it goes through 4 phases - 1) Special Abilities 2) Shooting 3) Running 4) Fighting, you can claim an objective if you are in base contact with it instead of performing a special ability. I'm aware 'phase' systems aren't too popular, however I have found they are great for first time players or people entirely new to this kind of gaming. Combat is designed to be simple and decisive - each weapon has a range and power, and you can only use ranged weapons if an enemy is not in base to base contact. Pick up a number of D10s equal to the power of the weapon and roll them, you're aiming to roll equal to or under your relevant stat - fight for melee and shoot for ranged attacks. The dice that hit are then re-rolled - this time attempting to roll higher than your targets armour, each dice that rolls higher causes 1 point of damage. Models usually can take between 8 and 12 points of damage before they are killed.
The Dead Jester moves in from the left hand edge.
The Orthodox Paladin moves in from the bottom edge, and the Jester moves into base contact with the objective.
The Inferno Killbot runs in from the right getting into base contact with the top right objective, and the Necromancer runs in from the left to get near the top left objective.
The Killbot Sergeant claims the bottom right objective and dashes for the centre.
The an objective is claimed a new one is placed by the opposing player anywhere in play provided it is at least 6 inches from any objective currently in play. Here a new objective had been placed on the far left, and the Young Vampire has run on to claim it.
The Paladin uses an ability called 'Smite' on the Dead Jester, and then shoots magical energy from his sword, and then charges in and attacks him from behind with a devastating strike, in total scoring 5 damage, the Dead Jester only has 3 health remaining.
The Fallen Knight lumbers in from the left and attempts to cause the Paladin some harm, but alas, his armour is just too good!
The Blood Knight moves in from the top and takes some fire from the Inferno Killbot, who then inturn is wounded by the Magical attacks of the Necromancer.
The Blood Knight continues his charge and the Inferno makes a hasty retreat, no point dying and losing the objective he just claimed.
On the left the vampire leaves the objective behind an tries to put pressure on the centre, and not pictured is the Bishop moving on from the right.
The Fallen Knight fails his special ability test and 'lapses into nobility' unfortunately for the Lamented this means he charges the nearest Vampire or Necromancer and tries to kill them.
Here's the table at the end of the first full game turn.
With the Mechanic still not in play the Inferno retreats further from the Blood Knight hoping the Mechanic can get on and heal him in time.
The Dead Jester attempts to do harm to the Paladin, but again his armour is too strong.
The Bishop smites the Blood Knight and moves into cover from the Necromancer.
The Vampire moves nearer to the centre, putting pressure on the objective.
The Mechanic moves in on the bottom right, near enough to heal the Killbot and claim an objective, but he can't do either on the turn he comes in.
The Dead Jester attempts to flee the Paladin...
But fails.
The Inferno is felled by a Magical attack from the Necromancer.
The Killbot Sergeant moves into the central objective.
The Vampire charges it too and a fight ensues.
On the far left the Necromancer is throwing everything he's got at the Paladin...
But can't stop him getting near the objective.
The Blood Knight makes a move on the right.
I forgot to take a couple of pics here, but it seems the Killbot Sergeant claimed the central objective and then backed off from the vampire, the Blood Knight loomed even closer, and the Mechanic claimed the bottom right objective.
Here's an image showing the two new objectives - another one in the centre and another top middle.
On the left the Paladin has claimed the objective and is caught between the Necromancer and Fallen Knight. This spelled the end of the second full game turn.
In the centre the Killbot Sergeant made a dash between the Blood Knight and the Vampire, putting pressure on the central and top mid objectives.
But on the left the Paladin is felled by the Necromancer.
The Vampire gives chase.
Leaving the central objective open for the Bishop to claim.
The Vampire beats the Killbot to the objective, and readies for a fight.
The Bishop attempts to cause as much damage on the Blood Knight as possible, but with his high armour and invulnerability special ability little damage is caused.
The Necromancer opens up on the Bishop...
And a Magical shootout begins. From this point on the Lamented were way behind, their new strategy being to hold onto the final objective and kill as many enemies as possible reducing their opponents objective dice pool, before claiming the final objective and ending the game.
Top mid the Vampire claims the top mid objective and charges into the Killbot.
The game turn ends with a bloody duel between the Mechanic and the Blood Knight, both are battered.
With death looming for both the Mechanic and Blood Knight, the Bishop attempts to use armour ignoring Magic to bring the Blood Knight down...
But he misses allowing the Blood Knight to deliver the final killing blow to the Mechanic.
The Bishop fires again, this time hitting his mark and bringing down the frenzying Knight.
The Necromancer, feeling all is lost, claims the final objective, the one he sat on for most of the game. I could have played on, hoping the Vampire, Fallen Knight and Necromancer could bring down the remaining Killbot and Bishop, but I ran out of time.
A blurry pic of the models still in play at the end.
The two objective dice pools are rolled scoring a clear victory for the combined forces of the Orthodoxy and Security Sciences.
The play test went really well, and was also really enjoyable, I was consistently presented with tough, game changing decisions to make and it really held my attention; which is especially good, since although I was playing solo, I wasn't playing a solo game. Also despite there being no points system to speak of (because I'n in the really early stages of play testing) the game really came down to the wire, had I had more time, who knows what the outcome might have been.

Thanks for stopping by!