Friday, February 6, 2009
5150 in 59 Turns
Taking a departure from the campaign goodness that has been our 40k campaign, Andy and I sat down this week for some 5150. It's a completely different game (obviously) but it also gives a completely different feel on the tabletop. Both systems do their respective jobs well, but those jobs they're trying to accomplish are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
5150 boasts the "use any figure from your collection" motto, and in that department it doesn't disappoint. I opted to use my Necromunda Ratskin Renegades (here's their roster) to stand in for 5150's Mad Max-style "Nomads". They're a perfect match.
For the game, these Nomadic "desert savages" helped assist the more organized (and better funded!) Planetary Defense Force soldiers. Their planet has reported scattered 'bug' attacks, and contact has been lost on the outskirts of the city. The Army regulars have been dispatched elsewhere, so it's up to an ad hoc coalition of militia troops and renegades.
The planet of Macaroon Bosh maintains a comfortable existence in the overall galactic scene. It's relative small size keeps it out of the greater political quagmire of the system, and yet it is still large enough to shake the stigma of being just another backwater planet.
Desert Nomads on the left, PDF Troopers on the right
The planetary defense grid succumbed quickly to bug meteors. Armed forces were sent into the major metropolitan areas for bitter urban fighting against an unstoppable foe. This left many of the outlying areas without proper military support; enter the PDF. There has been an uneasy truce between Nomads and PDF for the past dozen or so years, and an accord was put into place for the two entities to assist one another to do their part as well. Regardless if you live in the wastes, or the cities, the bug threat endangers the entire planet. I should've taken better pics of the PDF forces, Andy had used Imperial Guard Steel Legion, and painted them in a desert motif, they looked great, and function perfectly in their militia role.
Three Dogs takes up a lookout position with his bolt-action rifle
PDF troopers cover while the Nomads (distant) check for bug holes
Our mission was simple; play a cooperative game against the system's automated adversary, the "bug". For the game, we used literal 'bugs', critters bought out of a grocery store toy aisle, for pennies on the bug. The tabletop had about a dozen or so pieces of terrain, and our mission was to investigate each piece, looking for bug sign. 'Clearing' a terrain objective was as simple as rolling two successes in a turn. Bug encounters were handled on an initiative check of '7' in a given turn. If this happened, another series of charts would be rolled on to see what kind, and how many bugs (if any) appeared. We had a few close calls (sensor blips reported, but no bugs) but didn't actually see a bug hole burst from the ground until turn 22.
While one squad searched a terrain piece, the other would provide cover and overwatch fire. Here you see PDF troopers investigate a reliquary while the Nomads keep a wary eye to the horizon.
Two successes in a turn proved to be a little too much at times. Here, Nomads fumble about for three turns in a row before finally gaining access to this C.A.N. and declaring it bug free.
Three Dogs snaps off round after round as the bugs pour from their nest
A single bug hole instantly yields 2:1 odds against the humans
Bug eyed view of dinner, err, PDF troopers
At first sighting the Nomad forces lost their nerve and ran from the sight of the oncoming horde. The PDF Sergeant held his trigger finger in check as the undisciplined band raced past, fighting the urge to gun the "savages" down. He focused his resolve on the chattering horde and barked orders to his troopers armed with assault rifles to lay down a blanket of covering fire.
Bugs advance to the nearest enemy, in this case the improvised sniper Three Dogs holed up atop the Rat's Nest. His doom was imminent, and his name would have to be changed to Sacrificial Dog. Fortunately, PDF troopers suppressed the bug's movement, and the Nomads found their courage, wheeling around to flank the carapace covered horrors.
The nomads, armed with shotguns, found some success in killing the bugs, but not a lot. The PDF troopers on the other hand, armed with higher tech assault rifles could throw out a hail of bullets each turn, each rifle shooting three times each; their volleys were much more effective.
With the bugs caught in the crossfire, their movement impeded, Three Dogs was given a turn of reprieve before he attempted his escape. The firepower of the allied troops eventually drove the bugs from their prone position, as they ran for cover in ruins further away. That's when the allied forces stalked them down.
The bugs were driven away from the stinging cloud of jacketed lead, their numbers dropping more and more each turn. The PDF troopers also carried fragmentation grenades, which they hurled into the bug's direction. The bugs sought shelter in the broken remains of a building, hoping to hide among the twisted beams and broken concrete slabs.
As the humans moved in, guns blazing, it looked like the game would soon be over with a rousing declare of success. We were a good thirty or forty turns into the game, and our planet had a low bug rating of '2', so this was the only bug hole to show itself. There were a few "sensor blip" moments, but they didn't yield anything. The game was basically over, we had rolled very few encounter initiatives of '7', so after the last bug or two were killed (they were cowering and open targets, except for their cover) the game would be over. That's when things turned for the worse.
Another bug hole opened up while we were just standing there, our tactics were pretty lax, and we weren't really covering one another anymore. This time however there weren't teeming masses of bugs, but a single, behemoth 'puker' bug appeared. Our shotguns could barely put a bug down, the assault rifles were better. Ironically enough, the leader of my Nomads, armed with twin machine pistols, had no chance of his 9mm bullets penetrating them at all. Now this giant shows up, and I'm sure my Nomads wouldn't have had any weapon that could come close to scratching it's surface, so we had a real fight on our hands. The thing about 5150 too is that battles aren't always fair, you may not always be able to go toe to toe with the enemy, especially if power armor or the like is involved. In this respect it's more "realistic", well, as realistic as one can get in a science fiction battle anyway. If you eschew points values, you can focus on scenario type play too, where sides were certainly not always even. It keeps things interesting.
One puker was bad enough, but it really hit the fan when the very next turn we rolled another bug sighting, and got a contact result...AND rolled another puker bug! Obviously the bugs had laid a cunning trap for us, giving a good forty turns to get complacent before it was sprung. Well, now we had no option but to perform a "tactical withdrawal".
Then, on the third turn in line, we rolled a third bug sighting, and a third encounter, haha. We were all doomed, this time warrior bugs didn't spring from an underground lair, nor did a giant puker bug show up...this time they were winged. The winged bug mechanic works a lot like a fly-by attack (appropriately enough) and we had a ton of these beasts to deal with. So, with two pukers, a fresh twenty four fliers, and we didn't completely kill the first brood, well we were in dire straits, our egress was in full effect.
I'm proud of my bug horde, these were the winged bugs from the same grocery store packs that my crawlers came out of. I took GW clear flying stands and epoxied them to metal washers. For basing I just used dirt and rocks, and then super glued the bugs to the tips of the stands, voila, instant flying bugs that look great on the table. The only real cost associated with them was the washers themselves, which was next to nothing. The bugs came twenty to a $1 pack, so a nickel a bug basically. I had plenty of clear flying stands left over from my Tau army, but you could easily just use cut down bar-b-que skewers or the like.
Run! PDF and Nomad alike fast move towards the table's edge
In cinematic fashion, the last stretch of table was just in reach, but bugs were on our flank, and their fly-by attacks had a long range to them, our troops would definitely get hit before they escaped.
The combined firepower kept the first wave of fly-by attacks at bay as the PDF troopers were able to exit the table edge. They had the information they were looking for, and I think it's safe to assume that the bug rating of Macaroon Bosh is now squarely a '3', which means next time we'll be better prepared and bring along goodies such as LAW rockets, body armor, and the like. Maybe even a Grath or two. The Nomads would suffer one more fly-by attack, but the hale of pellets from their shotguns were able to buy them another round. They would've been able to move off the table with the PDF, had they not failed part of their 'fast move' Rep check.
Overall, the game was a lot of fun. 40k plays in a very concise, turn based manner, that has a definite beginning and end. It's designed to facilitate a tournament scene, and works wonders on the game table in a crowded game store with a wide range of ages. 5150 is about kicking back and taking your time with the game, which can be an amorphous, nebulous affair that changes direction mid-stream at the roll of the dice. Filling in the gaps of action with your own fluff and story make for a nice overall package, and game play itself is fast and fun. Having reaction tables and the ability to always be on virtual overwatch make for a more tense affair where each player is always in the game, regardless if it's their turn or not. Lastly, Andy and I played alongside one another, not in direct opposition to each other, against a foe that was largely on auto-pilot. This was another boon to the 5150 rules, and also they work just as well as a solo game if desired. I already have some ideas for an solo campaign using the Adventurers section of the rules. The rulebooks could be clearer at times, but the game works great on its own and easily earns a place in the regular rotation of games.