Sunday, November 14, 2010

An UN40K Game of 5150

As the title states, this was a great game of 40K but also UN-40K.  In this case, the rules are 5150, the Two Hour Wargames sci-fi shoot 'em up. It's a solid set of rules, but they do do suffer from some hiccups in the rules-translation-to-tabletop department. That being said, they're fun nonetheless and all it takes is a little bit of consistency and you should be good to go.

Face it, you cannot deny the "cool" factor of Games Workshop's minis, but sometimes you just want try out different rules. That's what we were doing here. Although there's no "official" stat block for our favorite genetic super-soldiers in 5150, you'd be hard-pressed to throw a stick into cyberspace and not find a homegrown set of Space Marine stats.

After all of my pics of Fall-In! tables you may be a little confused here. That's because the table Andy threw together was every bit as luscious as those at Fall-In!, if not more. The funny thing is, other than the terrain mat, most of this stuff was already in-house, so we could've been playing on terrain like this all along basically!

As amazingly tough as Imperial Space Marines are supposed to be, they kind of lose some of their impressiveness in translation to a regular game of 40k. Well, in the spirit of keeping Marines as elite as possible, how about the odds of nearly 7:1? That's right, the Tau Empire forces numbered 66 total models, the marines, Deathwatch in this instance, numbered just ten troops. Now that feels likes a situation Space Marines should be in!

If you head over to Andy's blog, Little Lead Heroes, you'll see at least double the number of photos. There were a lot of good ones to pick from and unfortunately some got left behind here, so head over there for yet even more eye candy.

The table was immaculate, so any action on said tabletop was bound to be pretty sweet. We were dealing with a couple of speed bumps with the rules, chief among them being our pure rustiness with them. That's going to hurt just about anyone in the same boat.

Tau orbital bombardments had pulverized the building structures on the far side of the field. This is where two fire-teams of Deathwatch took up defensive positions. The Tau Empire was on the move, reaving the planet along the way, and their primary goal was to get through this contested zone and to the next. The Deathwatch were going to make sure this didn't happen. Three Fire Warrior teams, a Pathfinder team, a stealth team in XV-16 suits, and two squads of Kroot mercs rounded out the Xenos forces. The Deathwatch marines comprised two teams of five, each led by a jump pack equipped sergeant. One squad had a SAW trooper hefting an Astartes-pattern Heavy Bolter. Chapters represented ranged from Howling Griffins, Ultramarines, Black Templars, Blood Angels, and more.

Tau troops advanced through the thick jungle and encroached upon the city. The Kroot sprinted ahead of the force and up the middle to the buildings. The wreckage of an Aquila Lander, shot down in the initial hours of the invasion, lays spread out across the field. The Fire Warriors cautiously take cover behind an outlying wall on the outskirts.

A reconnaissance squad of Vespid Stingwings lands among the Deathwatch with their Tau-manufactured Neutron Blasters, causing two of the Space Marines to hit the dirt. Here's where the numbers worked against the Space Marines in terms of stats, the Space Marines, although hard to outright kill, kept hitting the dirt more often than not. I remember in past 5150 games troops would often 'duck back', or seek cover, but just going prone every time was a tad annoying.

The Tau made a strong advance through the city, they had plenty of numbers to keep the Deathwatch suppressed. The Space Marines, in an act of desperation, switched from bolters to grenades...and found this tactic to be most effective. Astartes-pattern fragmentation grenades made short work of even the Tau's hardened carapace armor. In the end it was the morale that became the largest factor working against the xenos.

Two against sixteen; Deathwatch marines take cover inside the ruins of a building as a Stealth team and Fire Warrior squad move from cover to the open. The Burst Cannons of the Stealth suits laid down a withering hail of projectiles. The marines hunkered down below the broken wall and simply waiting for a chance to return fire.

This is one of my favorite photos of the night, and really sums up what the "UN40K" mentality is all about. Two Deathwatch troopers, just two, back-to-back and watching their flanks. Up top one squad of Fire Warriors is fleeing, but a full squad of Stealth suits were intact and en route. On the other side of the field two full Fire Warriors and a Kroot mercenary squads were steadily advancing. The odds were astronomically against them, but it's the kind of odds you read about in the novels, which is what we were shooting for, no pun intended.

Sometimes you just want your tabletop games to represent a certain quality or aspect in your chosen genre. It just comes down to finding the right rules that give you the feel you and your group are looking for for a given game.


  1. I wish I had the time to make a table game like this. Guess I'll just stick with my scraps of paper.

  2. @Loneislander: You've got to start somewhere. This table didn't make itself overnight but is the culmination of years of collecting and building. The good news is a lot of it can be bought outright; the hills, roads, and terrain mat itself all came from so no building required!

    @Loq and AngrLurker: Thanks! It was a blast indeed! I'd still like to be a *lot* more comfortable with the rules, but there's a lot of potential in them.

    Honestly, the batrep post wasn't done, I think I forgot to save it as a draft and keep working on it, it wasn't supposed to post yet! I'll finish up the text on it when I get home this afternoon.

  3. I think the aquarium Triceratops skull was too much.

  4. Also, if I'm going to have destroyed roads, I need something, maybe some gravel or something, to show that, rather than just letting the roads dead end like that. Next time, though...this was literally last moment and thrown together in 30 minutes or an hour before the game started.

  5. I'd be interested to know what you thought of 5150. I'm going to give the THW system a go for WW2 soon, but am looking for an alternative to WH40K for my Necrons and Tyranids.

  6. I'd second the comments on the terrain. I've found you just accumulate stuff over time. In particular I've got items that can be used across numerous periods, like generic walls, hills, trees, rocks. Always useful.

  7. Stuart, 5150 is a lot more shooty than 40k. Since there's a fair chance that once you move into the open, you'll be shooting back and forth until one side is taken out or pushed back, there's not as much hand to hand.

    You could probably adjust that by adjusting the Received Fire tests for certain armies, though. I think in general it's the sort of ruleset most people tinker with to get it where they want it. I know we have been frustrated trying to just play it by the book.

  8. I like the THW system and have used it for all kinds of skirmish games where the two sides are shooting at one another - from Pirates to Sci-Fi. It fits my idea of sci-fi combat very well, since I have always felt that anyone running around with a sword on a field full of automatic weapons should be blasted to pieces. Swords couldn't defeat muzzle loading arqubus, much less 10mm explosive-tip caseless.
    You do have to have a certain ability to relinquish absolute control though to play THW. Your guys will sometimes (or often, depending on troop quality) fail to act in the manner you want them to - ducking away from fire, falling back, failing to charge, etc.
    That said, we have had very successful sci-fi games using THW rules that featured significant close combat elements. For Bug Hunt sorts of games it's easy to simply have the mindless drones ignore most of the morale-type results. For Star Wars games we would often have games based on Jedi missions and the Jedi were usually seeking to get in close and light saber people. In that case we just invented some appropriate jedi abilites (blocking blasters with the light saber, etc.) which when combined with their generally high ratings did the trick. Enough droids or stormtroopers shooting though would cause even the Jedi to duck back and look for a plan B.

    For those blasted areas what you need are some craters. I've got a small collection of them and when I want a blasted spot I just chunk down a few of those and scatter the area with dirt/rocks/debris. Really looks good and definitely gives the blasted look versus the simply derelict look. Mine were home made using air drying clay, dirt, and either CD's those metal disks that go under roofing nails.