Saturday, March 7, 2009
Road Warriors II: Warlands
Red-lining for Guzzoline!
Hot on the heels of Andy picking up Warlands in the mail, we did a quick couple of games to try out the rules. They did not disappoint, the rules were easy to pick up and get going with, and I had zero experience with them going into it. The games played fast too, we were able to squeeze in two games easily enough in one evening.
It's best described as a skirmish style game with your units being light vehicles. The mini rulebook came with stats for both a pickup truck and a dune buggy. Your vehicles are crewed by figures that also have stats. If you've got a dune buggy, it might have a driver and a gunner, the latter of which is usually hanging on the back of the buggy with a roll cage mounted weapon such as a missile launcher or 'spud' gun. In the case of the truck, you can carry up to four passengers in the bed, in addition to the driver and crew up front. These four can all have small arms too, so you've got a mobile fire platform.
Different cars react differently on various surfaces and terrain too. Dune buggies, not surprisingly, move just fine on sand, but pickup trucks immediately lose a speed band.
The increments are measured in inches, and each vehicle has a speed band they operate in. You can accelerate one band at a time, and have to move the minimum (to maximum) in that range. Weapons are ranged too, and include different damage and rate of fire numbers. Movement on the table is handled with a 45° turn template. How many total turns you can perform during your phase is determined by your vehicle type and speed. The speed your vehicle is traveling also determines how difficult it is to be targeted.
The vehicles of the Warlands starter
The Warlands starter comes with three resin vehicles, seen above. You get two dune buggies and a pickup truck. The resin models are nicely detailed, showing details like shock absorbers and all the little nuts and bolts. The undercarriages are detailed as well, which look nice when leaving wrecks strewn across the table. They are a 'beefy' 1:64 scale, very comparable to Hot Wheels, which presents a bit of a question...do you need official Warlands models? Also to note, the Warlands starter box only comes with enough vehicles to field one side of the conflict. As you can see from that link, all the starters are sold out already too.
We have worm sign!
Shown above are three dune buggies. On the far left we have a brand new Matchbox brand dune buggy bought the day of the battle for .99 cents. In the middle is the Warlands resin buggy, weighing in at a hefty five bucks, and on the far right is a 1982 Hot Wheels buggy I painted and modified, you can still find that same model in production nowadays, and it retails for about a buck. The Warlands vehicles are nice, but do you want to pay five bucks for a single resin buggy when you can get five die-cast metal ones for the same price?
As you can see, they're comparable enough to where it doesn't really matter, especially after they've been painted. The Warlands truck comes sculpted with all the post-apoc extras you might wish for, like armored windows, and railroad track bumper ram, and the like. You could customize these extras yourself and save some money (but not the effort), or just buy the Warlands one and all you have to do is paint it. The Warlands vehicles cost more, but you're paying extra for not having to modify them yourself. I for one enjoy the challenge and flexibility of making my own however, and the price is more to my liking with the die-cast stuff.
Hot Wheels cars tend towards the zany at times, and finding more mundane "realistic" cars can sometimes be a challenge. They're very well made though, and can take quite a beating when it comes to modifying them. Matchbox cars on the other hand have many more realistic builds, and if you want a specific car, like a police SUV, or a classic Volkswagon Beetle, chances are they've got it. Matchbox cars are equally tough too.
Why not? Since we were taking pictures of the battle, we went ahead and shot a couple of movie clips too. Here, I am taking my dune buggy off the highway, through the desert, around a fuel refinery to engage Andy's vehicles that were racing up the paved highway. I've got a gunner on the back of the buggy armed with a missile launcher, who tries to shoot right before we ram our target. Also, it shows how the turn template and movement works, for this phase my buggy's moving at "fast" speed, which is a minimum of 13" and a max of 16".
One thing about the game is that the carnage factor is high. Also, the weapons have a relatively low rate of fire, and an equally short range. In some cases, vehicles are moving farther in one turn than a weapon can shoot, so unless everyone gets 'stuck in' right on top of each other, you're not going to have a whole lot of chances at shooting each other. Since you're stuck in anyway, you might as well ram the enemy (my philosophy) and that's a proposition that's dangerous for both the rammer, and the rammie.
There is a neat attack form called an assault move, which can only be made when you're within 2" of the target though, which encourages this close quarters type of battle though. Thinking back to the Road Warrior movies though, they were always close up in battle, so it makes sense. There's a host of other moves as well to perform with your vehicle besides ramming, such as the 'nudge', and the like. There's enough variety to you plenty of options during game play.
Action movie moment
Games are played out on a 4x4 table
In this clip, Andy's truck barrels towards my dune buggy with the intent of t-boning it. Just before impact, his shotgun-wielding passenger shoots at it. Here's also a good example of the "exploding" die mechanic in the game.
Here's another example of the exploding dice mechanic. For every '6' you roll, you keep it and add another die to the accumulative total. As long as you keep rolling sixes, your number keeps getting higher. Here, my buggy went out of control, couldn't make its control check, and slammed face first into a building taking 4d6 damage. Well, after the smoke cleared, it had actually taken 8d6 damage once of few of the rolls 'exploded'.
Keep plenty of smoke and fire counters on hand, you're going to need them. You keep track of the cars' speeds each turn by chits next to them showing their speed. We saw many vehicles take damage though during the game, but not be destroyed completely, so it's a good idea to be able to mark them to remind you which ones are smoking, on fire, out of ammo, and the like. Simple card counters are fine, or you can use more visually appealing ones like Andy's counters here. They are made from cotton balls, shaped and formed using white glue. They are glued down to metal washers, then painted to look like fire and smoke. It's an easy to do effect that looks great on the tabletop when finished.
Overall, the game was fun. We had a good time, and although we didn't know the rules beforehand, it was really easy to pick up, and they were intuitive enough to play and learn on the go. This was obviously more like a demo box than a true starter kit, what I hope will make the game shine has yet to come out. We only had the two vehicle templates, so here's to hoping they make a ton; dozens would be nice. It would also be nice to pick and choose your arms and armor piecemeal, making your own custom cars along the way, and don't stop at weapons either. You could pick engine upgrades and the like. Now I don't know if this stuff will be in the game, but it'd be nice if it were. It looks like a quality game so far, so who know?
What will really make the game stand out will be the involvement of human elements on the board, not just drivers and passengers, but infantry. By fleshing out this part of the game, you could make for some interesting scenarios and games. Plus, one person armed with a shotgun might not be much of a threat, but they should still feel useful regardless.
I will definitely play it again, but I hope the more thorough rules yet to come out will add many more layers to it. As it stands, I can see it as a game to go to on the shelf every now and then, but so far it hasn't made it into the regular rotation. As long as I can keep home brewing my own cars though, I'll always look here first.