Friday, March 13, 2009
5x4 table with a central highway and plenty of wilderness
So we kicked it into high gear again this week with some more of Aberrant's Warlands. Andy and I got a taste of it last week, and this time we added three more vehicles and a third player, Chris P. We're still using the vehicle stats from the starter rules, and the battlefield? (I don't know what to call it in Warlands) had the strewn debris of wrecked cars as added obstacles. We were going to count these as AM5 wrecks in terms of smashing into (and through) them. I used the leftover pieces from my car bits box.
Andy was chided about being the only player to show up with unpainted minis, haha. He was using all the Warlands box set resin vehicles; two dune buggies and a utility truck. After the game we were looking at the truck and we're pretty sure it was computer drafted first, then modeled from the 3D model. A note to scale, the truck is large, quite beefy even for a "dualie", but the dune buggies on the other hand are spot on considering you are also using 1:64th scale cars...which we were.
Chris P.'s Pillagers
Chris went with the store bought Matchbox and Hot Wheels combo. These Matchbox dune buggies can't be beat in price for .99 cents, and they'll look excellent once banged up and painted. The Hot Wheels Baja race truck is great too, and it's also a buck. Any car along the lines of off road racers will be better suited for conversion work. They'll already come roll cage equipped and usually have spare gear or tires on the back.
I had the biggest departure in terms of proxying. I used my Hot Wheels dune buggy (center) slightly painted and weathered as, well, a dune buggy. The Hot Wheels Volkswagon on the far right has a lot more conversion work done to it, and it's also proxying as a dune buggy. On the left is one of my oldest, a 1974 Hot Wheels Redline Van. It was acting as my truck, and thinking back on it, it's kind of neat that I am using a toy car that I've owned for over thirty years in a war game.
Sandwiched between enemy buggies
The rules were even easier to get to grips with this time around, and we got stuck in the action fairly quick (those dune buggies can haul). In a three player game it's always interesting to see how the sides will play out, will someone get ganged up on? It was a fairly even mix in our game, but it did seem that I got flanked by two opponents pretty fast. We're going to make some new speed counters too. Looking back at these pics, they seem static, and without knowing exactly what's going on in-game you don't really know who's coming or going. To spare me another hour or so in Photoshop, we'll whip up these new speed counters and they should hopefully fix this.
She'll be coming 'round the refinery when she comes...
Chris' truck is swinging through a turn with Andy's buggy hot on his heels. Being a little more familiar with the rules this time around we found that we were more daring wiht the turns and maneuvering. This also meant several times we had cars swerve out of control, but no one flipped or anything exciting. At one point my Redline van almost plowed off the table's edge, but I performed an emergency brake maneuver and stopped in the nick of time.
This game saw an insane amount of ramming, but more on that later. Here, one of Chris' buggies T-bones one of Andy's buggies, which then promptly caught fire (and exploded the following turn). You may be asking yourself (How do I work this?), err, "Where did he get those cool Litko fire counters?". Well, they're not Litko, but LEGO! If you couldn't tell from the tabletop, our highways are also LEGO. Since the game was kind of thrown together at the last minute, we just used what was on hand. I thought the fire 'tokens' worked rather well though! They're standard LEGO fire pieces.
My buggy missed Andy's truck with the missile launcher, but got lucky with the deviation and caught him in the blast. Since less than half of his truck was covered, he only took half damage. A word on missile launchers; I'm thinking they should have a 360° degree firing arc, instead of the 180° that they have now. I imagine a guy strapped to the roll cage, but with a shoulder mounted rocket launcher, he ought to have larger firing arc.
Unless a host of new game mechanics are introduced in the full rules, they might want to change the name to Crash Up Derby Lands, because it all comes down to ramming one another, setting up the ram, and trying to avoid the ram. About halfway through the game we realized we had been forgetting to do initiative right, which did make a difference in the ram game in the second half of the game. You start with the fastest car, in initiative order, and work your way down from there.
There were more than a few backwards rams too. Since we had three players worth of cars on the table, it came down to a quagmire in the middle. After a ram you are stationary, so often there'd be a target behind you, so you could hit reverse and perform the SLOW RAM (take it easy!) sure, it's only a dice or two of damage, but it's still fun.
Lastly on ramming, your cars will always come to a dead stand still. You can fudge the rules a little and take your shots after the ram occurs. Since you can shoot at any time before, after, or during your move, you may as well wait until the smoke clears. In the previous game, Andy and I were stopping about an inch before impact, unloading all weapons at that point, then continuing with the ram. Well consider you are about to shoot a fast moving target. Due to its speed, your target number will be very high in order to hit it. A stationary target is a cinch to hit with ranged weapons however, and since both vehicles go to stationary after a collision, well, save your ammo 'til then. Also, don't forget that bonus assault damage die for being so close.
All in all, we had a blast yet again. We are using the starter rules, so they're not jaw dropping at this point, but we threw together a good sized game, with multiple players in no time and had a fun couple of hours while at it. Some things I'd like to see addressed in the complete rules (or what would clinch it for me) would be ala carte custom car building. If I have a points menu to build my own custom cars off of, I will be MEGA happy. In the spirit of Car Wars, I'd like to see more than just weapons and armor on the menu too, give me minelayers, nitro boosters, radar jammers, and the like, even the ejection seat would be cool. I like the idea of having pre-statted vehicles, sure, but I also want the freedom to make my own.
A few times in the rule sit mentions pedestrians and walkers. It will be interesting to see how they introduce bipedal mecha into the game, and that will be cool if done right. I also want to see how foot troops will work, that could really set Warlands apart from the other car games out there. Plus, I want motorcycles, but I'm sure those are coming. The price point of this game to get into is about the cheapest you can get too, after the rules of course, and it shows a lot of promise.
Some bags full of goodies
Stan Johansen Miniatures offers a great line of 20mm "Road Warrior" products, which work beautifully with Warlands. Shown above are some accessory packs Andy picked up for me back at Historicon a couple of years back, so a belated thanks go out to him. The parts are great and include stowage, fuel cans, fuel drums, and a host of manned and automatic turret systems, with or without armor plating. Also included are some figures, many are in seated or standing positions for manning some of the turrets. They're small, as you might imagine for true 20mm, but still have nice extras like scalp trophies attached to the tops of their helmets.
The Cooper that set the land jump record
It's tough to see in this pic, but it shows a Stan Johansen fig in the passenger seat, and as you can see, it fits really well. In a game of Axles and Alloys a couple of years back, this little car set a ridiculous airborne leap record, which I'll try to dig up photos on.