Monday, September 17, 2018

Terminator Genisys Project: 28mm Figure Report p.1

Sculpting Wars: the styles of GW v. TG v. Empress v. OG

Terminator Genisys: The Miniatures Game [hereafter referred to as TG] comes with 31 figures: more are easily and inexpensively obtained [for now].

BLUF: both versions of the box set contain 10 posable Endoskeletons and 5 Endo Crawlers in a metallic grey plastic. To fight them are 16 Resistance Soldiers in medium olive green plastic. These have several weapon choices - attached to arms - but are not really posable. The plastic's colors allow you to spend little to no time painting them up - you could just do flesh for the people, black for the weapons, and beady red eyes for the Endos, and you're done. I plan to do more than that, which is part of the fun! A few more interesting facts:
  • Sculptors are Michael Perry and Bob Naismith
  • All but the crawlers have a base sculpted on - it's the right size and I won't redo them.
  • All the figures are Perry plastic 28mm [not Heroic GW], but don't believe me...
Frontloaded Figure Scale Comparison [cause I know you wanted it]

L to R: GW IG Catachan, Terminator Genisys Resistance Soldier then Endoskeleon, Empress Taliban x2, Old Glory medieval, GW Necron Warrior with Gauss Flayer.

Pretty clearly, these are 28mm with realistic proportions that fit into the Perry ethos of plastic sculpts, unsurprising since Michael Perry was involved. These should fit nicely with any comparable range. My own plan is to get some Empress 28mm Rangers to represent my elite Resistance Soldiers [and well, be Rangers, too! Someone has to fight the above Empress Taliban].

Of great interest should be the oversize Catachen and Necron sculpts. They are a bit cartoonish but very easy to see and paint - great table presence! Note that the TG and Empress are much more realistically proportioned than the other two brands, and the Old Glory has the exaggerated head and hands for easy painting and popping appearance. All a matter of taste!

ENDOSKELETONS
Easy Assembly. The parts snap or flex together without glue [altho the arms will fall off when handling if not glued]. Endo upper bodies rotate on the spine for easy posing.

Each sprue has 3 figs, 2 Endos and 1 crawler. The Endos have two lower body types [left foot forward or right foot forward], one trunk type, two arm / plasma gun types [left hand forward or right hand forward. Endoskeletons are ambidextrous, of course!]. This makes for a wide variety of poses that far exceeds one expectations.


Each Resistance Soldier Sprue has four figs: 3 Men - running, standing and kneeling, 1 Woman - braced to shoot.

Weapon guide for Resistance Soldier sprue


RESISTANCE SOLDIERS
Easy assembly - bodies are one piece, only the arms need to be attached. This allows for five choices of weaponry, but the arms tend to fall off when handled, so plan to glue them anyway. As the plasma and assault rifles are pretty similar looking and are the basic weapons, it's not a big deal. Should be noted that the female Soldier only has two choices - shotgun or plasma rifle b/c her proportions are smaller. I'm just grateful she isn't some half-naked Amazonian she-warrior wearing high heels and tottering off-balance from her cleavage!

Working with the figures
The Endoskeletons are very easy to work with and are posable - the torso rotates 360 around the circular spine and the arms/weapon swing quite far up and down. The two leg sets give a surprising amount of variety. They assembled rapidly:

and are durable enough to be bent and shaped [I glue to reinforce if bending, usually the head which does not rotate and is molded to the trunk]

The only mold line I filed was on the base edge [it would be visible after flocking]:


Five of leg pose 1: I rotated torsos in relation to the feet and have one firing down into the foxhole of a cowering human [#1], and two firing up into your bedroom window [#2 & 5]!

Five of leg pose 2.


Endoskeleton Verdict: 9/10 for sculpting details, ease of labor, details, character [inasmuchas mindless killer 'bots can have character!] and PRICE PRICE PRICE! At $1.50 for 2 standing and 1 crawler, the price just can't be beat!

Get a bunch of these sprues if you've any interest in 28mm historical scale killer bots for Terminator, Heresy Warhammer 40K Necrons, Weird War 2, whatever. Maybe your Walking Dead characters would like a break from killing zombies? Perhaps insane Nazi scientists survive to 2029 in Brazil to wreak havoc on coffee exports? Only your imagination is the limit!

Next up: assembling the Humans, priming, cleaning, etc.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Terminator Genisys Project: 28mm sci-fi

With lead figs, they make their own Fate...the little boogers! No fate but whatever http://terminator.wikia.com/wiki/There%27s_no_fate_but_what_we_make_for_ourselves.


Thought I was done with 28mm but their Fate was "not what I would Make." groan...

Terminator Genisys reminded me that 28mm is a good scale for skirmish battles, or larger battles on larger tables [the classic 6x4' and bigger]. I could also do multi-player battles with the same big-battle system I use for my One-Hour Wargames scenarios, which is basically to "lane" players against each other until they've completely defeated their opponent and are then able to help their neighbor. 

Best of all, this game with 10-20 pieces per player is certainly a "one-hour wargame" and easily fits into a busy life. Also, skirmish always has a stronger narrative context than farther up into the Unit level. TG can easily be used as a fun sci-fi game, switching effortlessly to zombies or whatever, or be used from WWI to contemporary warfare. The TG world doesn't always make for a perfect movie, but it has lots of appealing qualities for gaming.

While I was tempted to try GW's new "Kill Team" rules, the Terminator Genisys rules are very solid and have me shelving that idea for now. The Kill Team rules appear to offer a lot more detailed development of individual "characters" / figures to get it to almost role-playing, but working with TG is more than enough for now.

TG also has me revisiting my decision to rid myself of all 28mm sci-fi and switch to 15mm. Interestingly, 15mm sci-fi figs are often nearly as expensive in the market place as 28mm sci-fi. And sometimes the 28mm are cheaper, especially the plastics. For example, the Endo and Resistance sprues are $1.50 each, coming to 75 cents for an Endo and half that for a Resistance Soldier! As plastics, they are easy to work with to modify, also, and that is fun, too. Finally, 15mm as a "project" isn't cheaper b/c it will need vehicles and more figures, which puts it into a higher price point than buying 20-30 15mm figs and using them for a skirmish game.

So, to summarize:
  1. TG is a great set of skirmish rules for any modern / firepower period.
  2. Play is clean and quick, definitely a 1-Hour Wargame!
  3. Skirmish forces paint up quickly.
  4. Skirmish gaming has a strong narrative side to it that makes for great campaigns.
  5. 15mm sci-fi isn't really any cheaper than 28mm sci-fi unless you really just play small skirmish games out - but then they're hard to see! 
With all these pluses, I went ahead and ordered a few more TG items, mostly b/c I want to game some of the characters from the films. I haven't even seen all the films and TV series, but some of the images are pretty laughable - one actress looks like she should be holding a teddy bear, not a plasma rifle, and the thought of her telling Kyle Reese "Come with me if you want to live!" is enough to have me spit my coffee. Anyway, aiming to rectify this thru my local library system which does have Salvation, Genisys and the Sarah Connor Chronicles season 1.

To me the first couple of films are the classics, especially "The Terminator" which is still an amazing film to watch. So after checking around on the internet, I broke down and bought some of the pricier figs that look like the film characters:
  • Terminator 1984: Pops [with damaged face firing shotgun], Sarah, Kyle, T-1000 [in LA Cop guise], and 3 Cops w' revolver, shotgun and assault rifle respectively.
  • 1984 Sarah and Guardian: pops with shotgun, Sarah with unidentified long weapon.
  • Guardian on Bike: Pops on a Harley w'shotgun.
  • 10 sprues ea of Endos and Resistance Soldiers [too cheap to resist!] for a total of 20 more Endos and 40 more Resistance Soldiers.
This will give me plenty of fodder for both narrative and other scenarios. With the upcoming Terminator games being released by River Horse, I'll end up with a number of 28mm figures including some classic ones like the infiltrator model from "The Terminator" flashback sequence, a pile of hunter-killer droids, John Connor and his Lieutenants, and more.

Meanwhile, I'm also reading about the modern wars in the 'Stan and Iraq, and have some thoughts about that, also. Something about going "real" that makes one think different about a game design, or a game mechanic, for that matter. That alone is interesting and worth another post!

Overall, this is developing into a set of rules I can live with in lots of ways.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Modern Skirmish: Terminator Genisys, Batrep #2

I AM BACK.


https://thepropstop.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/the-terminator-a-rare-opportunity-taken-to-acquire-stuff-that-everybody-missed/


Couldn't stay away from this game for long. Dying to try out the command rules and some alternative weapon schemes. Been having lots of thoughts on small rule mods that will make this mechanically solid modern skirmish set perfect for other periods and genres. However, it still took several days longer to get this post up than I thought!


This go around, which is the second post, but the eighth time or so I've played, things are a little different; I'm still following the basic rulebook and following the designers intent. This is one of my rules, that before I mess around with a system I really try and understand how it works. One of the most common errors I see in the wargaming community is people who mess with rules they don't understand, often to fit their notions of what is "real" when they don't know much about that either - and I don't want to do that:

MARK IT ZERO, DUDE.
http://www.bostonbikepolo.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Rules_zpsbee3ab8e.jpg

Anyway, the forces are a little more complex than before as I play Scenario 2 "Hold Your Ground" at half size. Humans have eight Resistance Soldiers; one is a CPL with a Command [1] special rule, one has a Rocket Launcher. Endos are the same but there's 5 of them, for almost 2-1 odds in favor of the Resistance. It should be noted that the point lists in the main rules give just over a 2-1 advantage to Resistance Soldiers [w'Plasma Rifles] v. Endos, at 20 to 45 pts respectively.

Should also be noted that the Command [1] ability allows the CPL to remove one additional Done Marker from a friend at the end of the turn - however, this didn't come up as the Humans were usually dead, not "Done" or the CPL was out of Command Control Range [the Walk Template, or 5"]. 
So, playtests of this bigger game were great fun, BUT:

  1. Forgot that Targets at Long Range always get a Cover Save - even if not in cover. This represents "micro-terrain", or terrain that is only visible to you when you're in it - especially helpful for infantry. Oddly, I forgot this rule despite the fact that I designed it for myself in my own spin on the Wargaming: An Introduction skirmish rules!
  2. Missed that Endos have a Resolution dice of d20, not d8 - must read the QRS better!
  3. Keep forgetting to do Resolution Tests for Resistance Soldiers for some reason! Probably because they are usually dead.
Since I messed up on three key rules, I'm decided to re-do this, focusing especially on the decisions the mechanics present to the player. This contributed to my delay in posting.

Tactics - mutually opposed: stay back with the Endos, close in with the Humans! The game mat provides an Endo retreat limit; we assume Skynet demands the Endos hold the Human patrol at bay to protect a key network node off the table map North.


Game Start. I rolled off then alternated setting up each figure, starting with the Humans. Decisions: keep Resistance together at center - they could then shift left / right to cut off and overwhelm stray Endos. The Endos spread out to keep the Humans under continuous long-range fire. where the chance to hit is .375 to .17, more than double in Endos favor; BUT this is mostly cancelled due to the fact that 50% of all Hits are lost to the Human cover save while Endos are "Mindless" and never receive cover. So the tactic is to walk Endos to unobstructed fire angles at Close Range [11", same as Run Template] where there's not only no Cover Save, but your misses auto-Hit any additional Targets under your template.


Resistance Soldiers had one Plasma Rifle, the Rocket Launcher and a Corporal [CPL] with Command [1] left at the end - they outnumbered the Endos. I put the Plasma Rifle [PR] to the right, but the CPL and Rocket Launcher [RL]...I'm not sure. Choice? hide them for survival's sake or expose them hoping to get the first shot? It's a 50-50, basically.




After getting them whacked quickly the last game, Decision is to try out the second row, behind the first line of guys, using them as meat shields...statistically this works at Long Range but isn't a good idea within Short Range as a miss on a guy in front results in an auto-hit on the guy behind [It does reduce any inclination to bunch up, but it seems a bit to much to give an auto-hit. Still...].

Turn 1. Impulse 1/1. Skynet rolls FATE. Of course.



Impulse 1/2. Resistance rolls a '2', Activates the RL and CPL who uses his Command [1] to Activate an additional Soldier. Decision Choice is to either hold the CPL's Command [1] for later or use it right away. As survival is difficult in this environment, I'm "using it before I lose it". As they can't quite reach the Barrier, and the Endos to left will get a counter-move this turn [and possibly act first next turn], I decide to advance aggressively but out of LoS. Decision is to use them aggressively next turn by moving them into the Dense Terrain and be able to see / shoot out with a Cover Save. This can be countered, but I'm still thinking "closer is better" for Humans.



Impulse 1/3. Skynet is grateful to roll a '1', so moves aggressively from the right out of LoS also. My tactics tend to mirror each other, I'm realizing.



Impulse 1/4. Humans roll FATE. Oh well...better at the beginning of the game.



Impulse 1/5. Skynet continues the advance from the right.



Impulse 1/6. Endos run up on Left  and center - hoping to get the jump on the Humans and shoot down their line of figs on the open [at Close Range] next turn. I'm starting to realize that moving first in a firepower game may not be an advantage.  Impulse 1/7. Resistance keeps moving up to cover's edge [note they can't enter the Dense Terrain as they've moved too far - only a Walk is permitted if moving into or out of Dense Terrain].



Impulse 1/8. Endos move up the last Endo to left - this was a good Decision by Skynet. Resistance no longer has to dice, they mark remaining 3 figs "Green!" and Activate.

Armed with a "counter-move", I run all three to right - Decision was between running them all LEFT to get overwhelming force on the two Endos there, BUT they were already flanking the cover. On the RIGHT, I'd be fighting two Endo's from cover. So the Decision to aggressively run the left Endos paid off, flanking the five Soldier's Cover, pushing the overwhelming human numbers to right and spreading them out more.


Turn 2. Forgot to pick up the red "done" markers, but...Endos win Tactical Roll-off.  I'm now cheerfully looking forward to blasting the Soldiers on the right, or even better, the line of Soldiers including the RL and CPL on the left - either is a good DecisionUnfortunately, as Impulse 1 begins, they roll ANOTHER FATE! But will the Resistance do the same??


Impulse 2/2. No! Resistance rolls a '2'! With the vulnerability of a LINE of 5 Soldiers, including the RL and CPL, the Decision must be to Activate on the left before the Soldiers on the right. As both groups are vulnerable to Skynet Activations, it can only be concluded that I wasn't thinking properly about formations as I moved. Even the Endos are too linear in their grouping. Must keep this in mind!



Impulse 2/2. The end Plasma Rifle and the CPL Activate - the CPL Activates the RL with his Command [1]. The PR gets a Hit but Endo rolls '7' passing Resolution test. The CPL just plain misses, despite having lined up two Endos in the open - some example he's setting.

Below, the RL hits with HE [needs the 5] but doesn't destroy either [needs 8+ on a D10 but rolls 1 & 4]. I jack up the Resolution rolls - they are supposed to be a d20 for Endos, down a level to d12 b/c of the "Heavy Weapon" rule [RL is Power d10]. I forget and roll d8s...

...then change to d20s and both pass [the average with d12s would be that one fails - almost]. Might make a difference as to who wins, but not with this post as a play example!


Impulse 2/3. Endos roll a '1', Activate nearest Endo who advances and gets two Hits on the RL, defeats his armor with first roll, an '8' [needs 4+] - DEAD! Should've been in Cover...Note - if the Endo had missed with one or both shots, it'd have auto-Hit the guys lined up behind the RL, out of cover [dice if more than one]. "Don't bunch up!"

Impulse 2/4. Resistance rolls a '2', Activates two Soldiers on the right, hoping to destroy or at least Reel one Endo. First joker misses, second gets two Hits, no Destroy, AND no Reeling - drat! They'll probably be killed and serves'em right!

Impulse 2/5. Endos Activate one, Close Combat Soldiers in front, get Hit [no Cover save at CC Range] but totally fail the Power roll with a d10! This soldier's too tough! Soldier passes Resolution Test [6+] with a 7 on d8, and why not? Endo just failed to pound him to a pulp!

Impulse 2/6. Resistance Activates one, he moves into Cover and misses both shots.

Impulse 2/7. One Endo Activates, advances, guns down last Soldier in the open.

Impulse 2/8. Last two Endos Activate. One on right misses both shots. One in center moves left and guns for CPL. It Hits twice...
...CPL fails both Cover Saves, and both Power dice kill him - messy death.

Impulse 2/9. Last Soldier on right Activates, and Reels right-most Endo - great, but with no Soldier left to exploit it, it'll lose one Done and its next turn, but not be "HLVB!". 
End of Turn 2, Resistance has lost the CPL, RL and a Soldier. Endos have lost nothing, but they do have one Endo who'll lose a turn with three Resistance Soldier's nearby, so...

Turn 3, Impulse 3/1. Resistance wins the TRo - a good start. Soldier on right Activates, closes in and Hasta La Vista, Baby! to the Reeling Endo, BUT this is actually a mistake, as a fig with one Done marker is no longer Reeling - 2+ Done Markers is reeling. Oops.
Would've been smarter to try and Reel the other Endo first - this would allow me to make two attacks with the Plasma Rifle instead of one CC attack. 
Impulse 3/1 continues. Other Soldier Activates, gets two Hits, no Destroy and Endo passes both Resolution Tests. They absolutely, positively will not stop until you are DEAD!

Impulse 3/2. Endos get 1. With situation on the left seeming stable, the Decision is to Activate the remaining Endo on the right, looking to reduce its vulnerability by killing / reeling a Soldier that hasn't Activated. Endo shoots, two Hits, one Cover Save, one Power roll defeats Armor...DEAD Soldier. With the other two Activated, no threats remain over here - this Turn, anyway. Outnumbered 2-1 close up, this Endo should pull back, really.

Impulse 3/3. Resistance rolls '1', Decision is to pull right, where there's few Endos and try to knock out a couple more. Ergo, Soldier move out of LoS to the far side of the Dense Terrain, then shoot an Endo. Soldier gets zero hits, needing 4+. *sigh*

Impulse 3/4. Endos roll '2'. They shift both the left Endos right, getting a Hit each. One is saved by Cover, the other isn't but fails to Damage and Resolution Roll was a '7' - passed!

Impulse 3/5. Resistance rolls '1' and the lone Soldier pulls right, takes a snap-shot at the center Endo and gets a Hit. He then rolls an '8' defeating its Armor and terminates it!

End of Turn 3. Three Endos v. four Soldiers - the Resistance needs to get smart! Decision for them is to keep pulling to the right - destroying the center Endo gives them an opportunity to go around the Dense Terrain and pile drive the remaining Endo to right 4-1.


BUT Endos win the TRo and in Impulse 4/1 Activate the right Endo. Decision is to pull it left out of Point Blank Range of the Soldier behind the Barrier, then shoot the Soldier in the Open at Point Blank Range. Taking him out would leave the odds - for the Turn - at 3-1...
...and it does, rolling one Hit and a defeating his Armor with a 6 [only needed a 4+].


Impulse 4/2. Resistance rolls a '2', Activates a Soldier who Hits but fails to Damage and the Endo passes its Resolution Test with an '8'....
In the Center, I lose sight of my goal of taking on the one Endo to right and Activate down, Reeling one Endo [note that if it had been the right Endo, I'd be in a position to HLVB! it].

Impulse 4/2. Endos roll '1', Activate an Endo who gets two Hits, one Cover Saved, put easily defeats the Soldier's Armor with an '8' needing just a 4+. Take that, Human!

Impulse 4/3. Resistance gets a '1', moves Soldier just into Close Combat Range and its Hasta La Vista, Baby! for it! as the Soldier rolls a '6' to Hit and a '17' to Damage [needing 8+ to defeat the hyper-alloy combat chassis of the Endo]. Take that, Skeletor!

Impulse 4/4, the downed Endo that wasn't HLVB! uses the "I'll be Back" rule and rolls a '6' [needing a 5+] to come back as a Crawler. I accordingly crawls at the nearest Soldier.

End of Turn 4. The Humans are 1-1 with the Endos, and spread out. Due to personal time constraints, I start rolling for end of game a turn early, needing a 4+ on a d4. I get it.
Still very close, but I think the Endos have the edge, with 1-1 odds, and the Soldier who HLVB! the Endo to bottom is out in the open, with no cover, so if they don't win the Tactical Roll-off, he's almost certainly dead. 

Tactics. It is very important for the Resistance to set themselves up to HLVB! Endos by working in teams to Reel the Endo then close in to destroy it. Spreading out is certainly doom for the humans. This will be a serious problem when the Endos have Area effect weapons, as they will in the future.

SUMMARYI like this game a lot. As it is both well-written and tightly written, it neither forces you to spend time looking up vague rules nor tempts you to figure out how you can manipulate the game mechanics for your advantage. It is a medium complexity game, and it takes several play-thrus to remember each step, OR one can carefully follow along the well-organized QRS...but why would we do that??

This is a TRUE skirmish game in that you are very involved in making "in the moment" decisions for your side, mostly having to do with which figs to Activate and what to do with them. Also, where figures are in the pauses between Impulses matters - I've been using formations that are way too linear, and I need to spread figs out more.

The single most important factor for deciding Activations for me is "which figs have a chance to Reel an enemy fig that hasn't yet had a chance to act?" because pre-empting a figs chance to act can make a difference. This is a bit "gamey" in the sense that it doesn't replicate how we think in small unit actions. In fact, it is MORE likely that an active Soldier  will attract enemy fire than one which is laying low, whether busy or suppressed. 

The classic challenge of Quantity over Quality is in these forces. Usually the Humans get to move a few pieces last, sort of a "counter-move". However, altho they act last, if they are left vulnerable they've a 50% chance of being caught out as the Endos win the TRo and Activate first [assuming they don't blow their FATE roll].


Meat Shields...use'em for important models, BUT:
  • friendly figs block friendly LoS and act as Cover, 
  • are auto-Hit when firer has multiple Targets in his Template within Close Range.
Should be noted that the Command [1] ability allows the CPL to remove one additional Done Marker from a friend at the end of the turn - however, this didn't come up as the Humans were usually dead, not "Reeling"!

Forgot to roll some Resolutions tests for the Humans, which they'd likely fail. I like the Resolution Test [morale test] since it is easy to remember and one can play with the dice up or down to reflect Soldier quality. 

Hope these detailed batreps are of use to both players and those who contemplate purchasing the game, which is now on sale. It has SOOOOO much potential as a solid, generic modern set of rules, that it's really a no-brainer to buy it, discounted or not. In any event, let me know if I've missed or overlooked something, and I'll correct it. Thanks!

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

CHANGES? Few if any needed to play the game according to its design purposes. A few that have to do with making it a bit more "realistic" do come to mind, however, and I'll be tracking them here for want of anywhere else. I'm not saying these should be done, just that they're some thoughts as I contemplate modern "reality" more than a movie genre.
  • more advantage for not moving and shooting? There is some w an advanced rule.
    • reverse could be true - penalty for Moving and Shooting?
  • no fast move for Exos - doesn't seem in character for them to move fast. It also usually isn't a help, since moving closer is a disadvantage for them.
  • Cover save for Exos when Cover obstructs shot? Can be argued either way, e.g. that they're so oblivious to Cover that a Human can always get a clear shot, OR that sometimes you accidentally find yourself "Covered" despite your stupidity.
  • 2 Close Combat attacks for Exos seems more in character for the movies. If their hyper-alloy combat chassis can take most firepower damage, then it should be more dangerous up close than just a bigger dice. OTOH, they have a gun in one hand...
  • Tie TRo? Could be my much-loved "Tactical Pause" rule: All pieces lose one Done Marker, no other Actions allowed [except unstoppable things from off-board like Air and Artillery attacks], then the Turn ends.
  • Weapons. As is often the case with this type of rule set, there's lots of weapon load-outs available - especially the Resistance in this case. Some of these don't appear to be quite cross-referenced or balanced in the point lists. Not a big deal.
  • Remove the auto-hit for penetrating shots on the same template?
  • Enhanced Save for figs that are Reeling? But they should also have no LoS?
I will hold off on any changes for now, after all, just getting started after all and trying to remember basic game mechanics!

Meanwhile, thinking of movie genres makes me think of Arnold [even tho the T-1000 was an amazing Terminator, too]. So here's a link about the 25 worst ways for Ah-nold to kill you:
http://www.vulture.com/2015/07/25-worst-ways-killed-arnold-schwarzenegger/slideshow/25/

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Modern Skirmish: Terminator Genisys, Batrep #1

Fighting for the Future is easier than you think!

Components busted out of the box - I was playing in 15 minutes of leisurely examination.


All I needed for scenario 1: three Resistance and one Exoskeleton - easy assembly.

Excited to finally get this game on the table after owning it for a months [interrupted by 1:1 Army time]. Broke items out of the box, started punching and assembling, and trying to remember to think of this as a "Board Game without game board movement." Quick points:

GETTING STARTED
  • heavy card pieces solid, nice printing, punch easily.
  • figs assemble easily - if unglued, arms can be switched out allowing you to change weapons on Resistance fighters [but arms fall off w'handling].
  • diagram explaining weapons on Resistance sprues a nice touch.
  • no prob starting play with intro rulebook and QRS.
FIRST GAME, scenario 1 "Firefight": This intro scenario from the short booklet of Basic Rules pits one Endoskeleton with Terminator Claws [Close Combat Weapon] and Plasma Gun [a powerful d8 RoF2 gun] against a small patrol of three scattered Resistance Soldiers armed with combat knife [a medium-strength d6 CC weapon - by comparison, fists are a d4 and Endos are a d8 in CC] and Plasma Rifle [a powerful d8 gun with RoF 2 w'in Short Range and 1 at Long Range. So, not as good as the always RoF2 Plasma Gun of the Terminators, but they have a stabilized combat chassis, so I'm good with this]. The Mission is to Survive by eliminating all the enemy.

Turn 1. Skynet wins Tactical Roll-off [TRo], but rolls "Fate" result and gets no Activation Markers. Humans then do the same. I mistakenly proceed to Turn 2. I should have kept alternating Impulses of Fate Dice rolls untill all pieces had activated. Oops!


Turn 2. Humans win TRo, get 2 Activation Markers which they use on flank fighters. These close in at a Walk and Attack, but miss. At Long Range they get only one shot and need a '6', so unsurprising. Skynet goes and roll one Activation Marker [all it needs] and the Exo fires at the right fighter, needing a 6+ and getting a '6'. However, the Barrier gives him a Cover Save of 4+ and he rolls a '5', so the plasma blast takes a chunk out of the Barrier.

Finally, the last Resistance fighter at center Activates, he moves forward to the Barrier and misses his shot. Turn over.

Turn 3. Skynet wins TRo but rolls a 'FATE' result [1/6 chance] so no Activation for its Exo.

I then give all humans Activation Markers. That's a mistake - I should've rolled the "Fate" dice and kept alternating Activations until one side was done.

I close in with the Resistance and fire, getting two hits [another error, they should get 2 shots each]. Exos are "Mindless" so get no Cover Save, and I roll to Damage but neither dice is an '8', so no Damage is inflicted.


On the Resolution rolls, one per Hit, the Exo gets a '5' [Reeling, lose one turn of Activation] and a '1', which means it Retreats from the board.

Exo marches off to get its circuits recalibrated. Or, perhaps, to report to Skynet that the Humans are patrolling this area and need to be dealt with by a larger force!


Game 2. I shifted the Exo left on Turn 1, running it [they don't feel right, running] left to gain distance from the right-most Resistance fighter, and hoping to knock out one or both of the others, first. As there's no cover advantage for the Exo, terrain only helps if it blocks LoS.

Resistance shifts left and closes in to get two shots a fig, and gets enough Hits to cause the Exo to "Reel" from the Hits [sort of a suppression feel for human targets and a system shock / overload for machines, good mechanic] and lose ability to act. Resistance keep pressure up and add more Done markers [red] so Exo is effectively helpless [suppressed]. One brave fighter closes in and caps Exo in face, "Hasta Ha Vista, Baby!" [HLVB!]

Game 3, Turn 1. Humans win TRo, roll 1 Activation, shoot center Resistance fighter, but he misses [needing a '6']. Exo then also rolls a 1, Activating and Fast Moving towards the Dense Terrain. This puts it out of LoS of the right Resistance fighter, and at Long Range from the left one. Once again hoping to take on only two humans and eliminate one or both.

Exo being done, remaining Humans activate. Left human runs up to Dense Terrain, out of LoS, as does the right one. They're both out of LoS, so it is a 1-1 fight, between the Exo and the Human Resistance fighter in the center - the best chance I can think for the Exo.

Turn 2. Humans win TRo, get one Activation, fires center Human at Short Range with two Shots, Hits with one, fails to inflict Damage, but causes Exo to Reel [it now has two red "Done" markers]. This means it can't Activate, so the Humans will now put an Activation Marker on all remaining unactivated Humans, and get to work finishing off this Exo!

Only choice is should I move/shoot with left Human first, or just go straight to try and eliminate the Exo with the right one using HLVB! special rule.

Playing it cautious, I move / shoot the left human, but he misses. The right human moves up, is at Close Combat Range and needs a 2+ to Hit. Of course, he rolls a '1'. Apparently, getting close to Terminators makes him nervous.


All figures lose one Done Marker [leaving one on Exo, who can't Activate]. Turn over!


Turn 3. Exo can't Activate, but at end of Turn will lose one Done Marker, so could Activate next Turn if it doesn't acquire more Done Markers by more Reeling results. Good luck!

And Humans provide the luck...Right Resistance guy rolls another '1' [REALLY??] and left misses shot again. Center guy shoots, gets two Hits but neither damages [needs an '8'], but gets another "Reeling" result, putting another Done Marker on the Exo, who now can't Activate next turn, either. This doesn't look good for the Exo. All the humans are now free to close in and HLVB! it at their leisure, and only very bad dice could prevent this.

Turn 4. Human luck takes a turn for the better even as patience runs out. Right fighter hits on a '3', then rolls 8+ to damage Exo, rolling a '19'. HASTA LA VISTA, BABY! Finally!

Took a bit of play, but I'm getting the hang of it.THOUGHTS
  • as a medium-complexity game, one should respect the advice of the designers and start with the intro scenarios. I found myself making numerous errors of play for the first several games [with just 4 pieces] until I got into the swing of things.
  • game provides reasonably expression of firepower combat, while providing a "fluffy" reason to close in - easier to destroy the heavily armored Exos if you do. This makes the Exos sort of like a tank, which infantry find easier to destroy at close range. This is fine, and "realistic" for the genre. It also provides more excitement when playing.
  • traditional 4-stage dice mechanic of rolling: Hit -> Cover Save -> Armor -> Morale a bit dated; different dice types [d6, d8 and FATE in today's playtest] further slows combat resolution down, especially as pieces in play increases. So in a straight-up shoot out with all four pieces, there can be as many as 8 dice rolled PER attack, assuming that the weapon is RoF2, for a max of 32 dice rolled per turn.
  • However, if one wants to express many aspects of weaponry, targets, terrain, etc, this mechanic is still one of the easiest ways to do it and it "feels" logical to both new and long-time gamers. It also makes it easier to express subtle differences in training and tactics thru various special rules, useful for other genres and time periods.
  • Game could easily be simplified a bit more for young and newbie gamers. Subject matter [extermination of mankind] probably not suitable for children, however!
  • The matchup of 3-1 Human v. Endo is too easy for the Humans. That, or I'm not playing the Endo well! I tried 3-2 and the Endos still lost.
TACTICS
  • Exos want Long Range. 2 shots @6+ is 2 x 3.75 chance to hit w' a d8, v. 4+ Armor is .625 chance to wound OR 3.75 chance for Resolution test w'd8 and a .625 chance for a Reeling effect, and .325 for no effect.
  • Exos need support. This reduces risk of "Hasta La Vista, Baby!" on them.
  • Humans want to close in. At Long Range, they get 1 shot for 6+ or .17 to hit, v. 8+ armor is only .125 chance to wound, and Resolution [also at d8] is 3.75 chance for no effect. Also, the "Hasta la Vista, baby!" is a Close Combat Range rule.
  • Turn Sequence very interactive, a bit random. So there's a random factor in the order of play, but I believe good planning and tactics will balance that out, i.e. the better player should still have an edge.
  • Generally, players will want the first Activation if they win the TRo, and they'd use it to shoot up enemy figs who have not yet Activated - if they cause them to Reel, they lose a turn. This will result, in scenarios with more pieces in play, in more pieces losing their Turn to Reeling results unless they've Commanders who can Activate. It is possible at the start of some games that one would want to force the opponent to Activate first, either to take shots at long range or see where they move.

CHANGES? Few if any needed.
  • more advantage for not moving and shooting? There is some w an advanced rule.
  • no fast move for Exos - doesn't seem in character for them to move fast. It also usually isn't a help, since moving closer is a disadvantage for them.
  • 2 Close Combat attacks for Exos seems more in character for the movies. If their hyper-alloy combat chassis can take most firepower damage, then it should be more dangerous up close.
I will hold off on any changes for now, after all, just getting started.

END THOUGHTS
  • Outstanding skirmish rules, tightly written, well organized!
  • Lots of applications in the firepower era - Afghanistan, Bladerunner, heretical 40K obvious next steps for me, but zombies and WWII equally possible.
  • Easy to get started for any gamer. Might take more effort for total newbie to get things figured out, but excellent organization of game a big help.
  • Looking forward to the advanced rules and variety of units, especially the Command abilities which will add a lot to both realism and tactical choices.
FINAL VERDICT:
MrT

"I pity the fool, that don't play these rules!"