Monday, January 30, 2012

Rooting out the Insurgents: More Combat Cards

After their initial clash, medics of the Kilburn High Kings gave the bodies of the PDF a closer examination. An alien parasite was found attached at the base of the back of the neck of the dead troopers, firmly secured to the trooper's brain stem. Death of the trooper meant death to the parasite, but it was also determined than no amount of delicate surgery could remove a live parasite without killing the victim as well. The Kings fell back to their dropship, sent a transmission detailing the situation, and formed their next plan. Further into the settlement was a large concentration of life signs, including some peculiar signatures, xenos in nature. The signatures were on the move, and the Kings mounted up, with reinforcements this time. The next battle was upon them.

Hot on the heels of our last patrol clash with the Combat Cards system, we tore right into another game. In fact, the rules play so fast, it's feasible to get at least two games under your belt in a single evening. This second go-round we added more unit types for variety, as you can see above.

The Pig Iron robot, who acted as protocol command droid last game, was promoted to a Recon Unit position this time around. Recon Units are pretty beefy stats-wise and a single 'bot may not fully represent what a Recon Unit is, but in this case he's a highly-advanced piece of tech dropped behind enemy lines. Now of course tearing into this skinny 'bot is a massive dreadnought masquerading as a Behemoth Unit. Clearly the biggest, baddest (and most expensive) unit in the game.

Another new unit we introduced were a pair of Aerial Units, one for each side of the battle. It seemed last game that there were a lot of cards in our hands that saw no use at all because we didn't have units represented to use the unique card abilities.

Aerial Units don't stay on the table, but kind of do fly-by's when the right cards come up. Above you can see the Kings' Aerial Unit, a mohawk-sporting, jetpack equipped 'rocket jock'. Below is a unit of my PDF troopers, and although out in the open, I had them concealed and hidden, meaning they couldn't be targeted. Well the card played against them was an 'Aerial Spotting' situation, meaning they lost all of their concealment.

There was a great mini-drama playing out between my lone sniper (Heavy Weapons Unit) and Miller's lone power armored soldier (Mechanized Unit), and it was all fueled by the cards. All Miller wanting to do was close in melee and tear my guy to shreds, all I wanted to do was pick off the power armor at a safe distance with my rifle. Card after card saw one trooper or the other get the upper hand, but time and time again somebody's plan was thwarted. This little mini-battle went on for many turns.

Early on in the game my Aerial Unit, a giant floating alien eyeball of doom, was able to destroy the enemy Aerial Unit in a dogfight. After that, my alien eyeball ran roughshod all over the enemy, uncontested for the rest of the battle. He would swoop down and attack at will, blasting unit after unit into oblivion. Definitely the MVP of the battle and proof that the invading aliens did not like being messed with.

It also goes to show that there has to be some balance in the units on both sides or somebody is going to have a headache on their hands. Miller had one Aerial Unit (which went down early) and zero Aerial Defense Units. Without either of these, it made for a frustrating game in which all he could do was hope I didn't draw an 'Eliminate' combat result every time I dive bombed one of his units.

Two-man SAW team bears down on enemy infantry
The mercenaries' quick initiative coupled with a better understanding of understanding of what they were facing favored them greatly in the ensuing battle. They struck quickly into the heart of the settlement, scattering the alien-controlled PDF soldiers just briefly enough to gain a strong foothold in the coming firefight.

A bitter firefight between PDF troopers and a power armored unit ended up in close quarters fighting...where both sides managed to knock one another out of action. Out of action doesn't mean eliminated however, and the race was on to see which side recovered first and was able to get the 'Back in Action' card played on them.

The impressive, armored walker wasn't the only Behemoth Unit on the table. The alien host had parasitically infected a trio of huge Ogryn in addition to the regular PDF troopers. These massive brutes are the only ones strong enough to heft the large bore auto-shotguns, which they used to devastating effect.

Well, two games of Combat Cards down and I'm still digging them. I've said time and time again that it's a big sea of rules and minis out there, I don't see myself tied down to just one system, ever, but I do see these making more appearances. Why? Easy to use with concise, well-written rules. Forces are a cinch to set up and pick up battles take zero prep work and scenario fueled campaigns don't require too much effort. Diceless combat and lack of armor tables, saves, and the like is refreshingly simple, but nothing is taken away from minis combat at all.

I'm not saying the cards are for everyone, but for my style of play they are; narrative battles with an unpredictable fog of war element that play fast and loose, telling a good story in the end. Next time around we'll be using the full 36pt lists per side. I think with such a higher points total we'll be able to put a wide variety of units on the table too, hopefully doing away with some of the asymmetric rock/paper/scissors effect that popped up a bit. Enjoy!


  1. Nice report!

    I have a feeling that if you regularly play "straight up" battles, anticipating and second-guessing what your opponent's army may contain would become a big part of the meta strategy.

  2. I agree. That could be played up in a map-based campaign, having to spend recon points or the like to try and determine opposition forces before a battle perhaps?

    Well, two games down and I'd say it's a keeper. I'd like to try my hand at a solo scenario to see how it goes, I've got enough bugs on hand for that.

    What I really need to do is paint some stuff!