Monthly Archives: May 2014

Judge Dredd (26/05/2014 – Solo)

I had picked up these rules for a knock-down price at Warfare in Reading in November, then was given 2 boxed sets of Judges and Apes for Christmas, so without really meaning to I had embarked on yet another new period. It’s a miracle that the figures have been painted before the next Reading, but as you only need 4 or 5 figures a side for the basic game of 500 points, the scale suits me down to the ground.  The scenario from the book was Street Rumble with only one victory condition – wipe out the opposing gang or make them run away – perfect for learning the rules. I played on a 4′ x 4′ board but after the game I found that a lot of it wasn’t used, so 3′ x 3′ might be more suitable given move distances and weapon ranges.

 Judges emerge from cover

Judges emerge from cover

The recommended starting force for a campaign is 500 credits (points), which only gives you 3 Judges – however, they are all termed Heroes in the game. As Heroes they all cost more, but they get 2 Talents each – at level 1 (which they are) these talents usually boil down either making their basic attributes slightly better, giving them re-rolls in shooting or melee or giving them special attacks. They also get to increase two of their basic attributes by +1. Though I really wanted a Psi Judge, I held off as it would add complication to the game and took a Riot Judge instead – just as well the way things turned out. The Ape Gang had 3 Heroes – a Gorilla with a double-barrelled Stump gun (think shotgun) in a fetching little red number, a Gorilla with a Spit gun (SMG) and an Orangutan Sniper with a Long rifle – they too got heroes’ attributes. The apes were joined by two cheap and cheerful minions to make up the numbers, a gorilla and a chimp, both armed with clubs.

The remains of Mega-city One

The remains of Mega-city One

The Apes won the roll for the initiative which meant they would be going first each turn. Each figure in a force gets 2 actions per turn – any mix of move, fire, melee & special. Special actions allow figures to hide, prepare a complex weapon for firing, go on overwatch (react to an enemy model if they move within 10″) or use a talent. Judges can also use a special action to arrest Perps (and are obliged to if the Perp hasn’t attacked anyone yet)

Gorillas & chimp lie in wait

Gorillas & chimp lie in wait

With no targets in range, the Apes used both their special actions to “hide”, burning both their actions but meaning that if they were over 50% in cover no-one could draw line-of-sight to them.

 Judges advance

Judges advance

In response, the Judges took 2 move actions and advanced a full 10″.  This brought them into range of the Orangutan sniper, who loosed off 2 shots at long range. Shooting is straightforward – the attacker rolls a number of D10 for rate of fire (1 in this case), then adds his shoot value while the defender rolls 1D10 and adds his agility. Any of the attacker’s scores which beat the defender’s score is a hit. The first shot missed, but as the Ape had the “accurate” talent, he could re-roll. With the re-roll hitting, the defender can then make an armour save (if he’s wearing any) – this is a straight roll of a D10 adding the positive value of the armour worn then subtracting any armour-piercing attributes the attacker’s weapon has and any talents which grant AP – if the result is greater than 10 then the armour has stopped the bullet. The Judge’s armour is +5 (pretty good), the Long Rifle’s AP is -1 and the sniper’s Crack Shot talent gave a further -1 so the Judge needed 8 or more, which he failed to do and took a wound – luckily heroes have at least 2 wounds. The sniper’s second shot went wide, even with a re-roll. Everyone else on the Ape side continued to hide.

Orangutan sniper gets lucky

Orangutan sniper gets lucky

The wounded Judge’s reaction was predictable. Judges are armed with a Lawgiver handgun amongst other things, which is a beast of a weapon to be on the receiving end off with a ROF of 3 for standard rounds and a damage of 2 wounds for every hit – ouch. The sniper would be no easy shot though, as the Orangutan had an agility of +3 and heavy cover would give him another +3. He rolled a 4 on a D10, but the Judge calmly rolled 2 ’10’ results, which with his shoot of +1 gave him 2 hits – not only that, a 10 is a critical hit which causes double damage. The sniper still had a chance though as heavy cover gave him a +3 armour save – he made 1 save but fluffed the second, so took 4 damage and was killed as he only had 2 hit points. The extra damage has to be noted down though because in a campaign game it becomes important as to whether the hero survives the battle or not. The wounded Judge moved with his second action, with the other 2 Judges moving twice.

Gorilla leader wounds judge

Gorilla leader wounds judge

This double move brought them within range of the Gorilla leader with his Spit Gun – with a ROF of 3 and an AP of -2, this is another nasty weapon loosing off 6 shots in a turn if both actions are used to shoot. However, 6 shots caused only one wound on the Street Judge armed with 2 Lawgivers.

Stump gun blast fails to kill Judge

Stump gun blast fails to kill Judge

Encouraged by this, the Gorilla in a dress tried to finish the wounded judge off with his Stump Gun – he scored 2 hits but both were saved, though the wounded Judge was knocked over backwards by the blast.

But blasts him out of range!

But blasts him out of range!

This unfortunately took him out of range of a second volley. Not waiting for retribution to strike, the Gorilla ran for cover behind a building as his second action.

Gorilla minion takes on Riot Judge

Gorilla minion takes on Riot Judge

Seizing their chance, first the Gorilla minion then the Chimp minion charged in. The gorilla took on the Riot Judge but rolled miserably and missed.

Chimp pounces on downed Judge

Chimp pounces on downed Judge

The chimp wisely went for the prone Judge (the Judge lost -4 from his melee and armour roll for being on the ground) with an attack roll of a 10 for a critical hit sealing the Judge’s fate and putting him out of action. However, now it was the Judge’s turn and the Ape minions were horribly exposed. The Street Judge successfully arrested the chimp as his first action, then emptied 3 rounds from his Lawgiver towards the Gorilla leader – another roll of a critical 10 saw the Lawgiver do double damage after a failed armour check and put the Gorilla Leader out of action. The Riot Judge used his “Shieldbash” skill to automatically wound the Gorilla minion in melee, then as a second action administered the coup-de-grace with his baton.

Gorilla in a dress skulks off

Gorilla in a dress skulks off

The sole remaining standing member of the Ape Gang failed his Will check to fight on, fading into the background (as much as a gorilla in a dress can fade into the background). The game was great fun (even solo) and very cinematic, but the rule book is all over the place. Thankfully the rules aren’t that complex so consulting the rules should become less vital with a few games under your belt. I didn’t get to try out the Psi rules or the vehicle rules, but with the East Meg Invasion force on the painting table, I should be able to give those a go soon. There’s also a campaign system to develop a gang over a few battles which I wouldn’t mind giving a try.

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Dead Man’s Hand (03/05/2014 – Tom)

Main Street

Main Street

I had picked up the  “Dead Man’s Hand” rules at Salute 2013 when they were released but they never quite made it to the top of the rules pile. Then I noticed and picked up the “Legend of Dead Man’s Hand” supplement at Salute 2014 along with Renegade Indian band (I’ve always fancied a band of these ever since the Warhammer Historical Wild West rules & expansion ). I had a few days off work over Easter, so I painted them up and we were ready to give the rules a run out.

Renegades

Renegades

Their opponents were the Cowboys, which were my old Foundry figures joined by the new Great Escape “John Bridges” figure as the Man with No Name (on the left of the photo).

Cowboy gang

Cowboy gang

The rules allow you to play scenarios in 3 parts (“scenes”), with the winner of the first two parts gaining advantages in the subsequent scene, but as we were in a hurry we decided to pile straight into the scenario “The Good, the Lead and the Ugly” 2nd scene, allowing us to get all our figures onto the table right away. The constraint on the Renegades was that they couldn’t activate their leader until they lost a man, while the Cowboys were “surprised” so only got to activate 3 out of their 7 figures in the first turn. Victory conditions were different for each side – the Cowboys only had to put 2 Renegades out of action to end the game while the Renegades had to down 3 Cowboys.

Under Fire

Under Fire

The game is card driven but in a clever way – each card is multi-use, so depending when it is drawn it is used either to determine initiative or can be played for the event. Each faction’s face card events are unique to them, while the 2-10 of each suit have standard events on them. Each side starts this particular scenario with a deck of all red or black 2-10 cards, their own face cards and a Joker, so 23 cards in all. First off, each side draws 5 cards to form a hand – these are the cards which can be used for their printed events. A nice mechanic is that if a card is played for the event it can be “trumped” (cancelled) by your opponent playing a card of the same face value – this happened to me at least twice and it can be very frustrating!

Next each side draws the top card from their deck and looks at it before allocating it face-down to one of their figures – this is that figure’s initiative value. All their other figures are given a card face-down without the player looking, and then both sides simultaneously reveal all their cards, determining which figures will perform their actions in which order.

The first turn consisted of the Renegade and Cowboy rifle-armed figures trying some long range pot-shots while pistol-armed Renegades tried to get into range but maintain some cover between themselves and the Cowboy rifles. Opportunity fire is cleverly handled – each figure normally gets 3 actions (move 10cm, aim, fire, reload/change weapon or recover) but an unactivated figure can act out of initiative sequence to perform 1 shooting action – of course, it then loses its entire turn, but what use is a turn if you’re dead?

Cowboy misses

Cowboy misses

It took us both a bit of figuring out how to get into close combat (this is the Renegade gang’s strength). During a normal move a figure can’t move within 2cm of an enemy figure and can’t use 3 successive actions to get into base contact, so, though it’s not put this way in the rules, the only way to get into hand-to-hand combat  is to start within 12cm – especially frustrating for the Renegades – although they do have a couple of event cards which allow them to get extra movement or ignore the 2cm rule, they didn’t come up at an opportune moment. However, one Renegade warrior did manage to close, evading a snap pistol shot from a cowboy then beating the cowboy in close combat by a difference of 5, killing him outright. Close combat is a roll of a D10 for each opposing figure with a few modifiers (including +1 for initiating the combat) – compare the totals then the losing figure takes that many “under fire” markers – in this case the loser was a normal cowboy who can only take 4 “under fire” markers before being put out of action, so 5 did the trick. Mind you, a normal Renegade gets +2 in close combat while a Chief gets +3 so they are best gunned down before they get to your figures.

Saloon fight

Saloon fight

Bouyed up by this success, the Renegade second-in-command tried to rush my second-in-command (the Man with No Name) through the Saloon swing doors but this time my snap shot was bang on and he took a bullet in the face for his trouble – his shot (simultaneous because we were at close range) went wide. The cowboy was +4 for shooting with -2 for the Renegade moving twice but as I rolled really high, it would have been curtains for the Renegade regardless, as a modified roll of 19-20 on a D20 is an automatic “out of action” result. (shooting is on a D20 while combat and morale are on a D10). An unactivated figure being shot at can also burn their entire turn to “duck back” and move up to 10cm into cover, making the shot harder at the expense of not returning fire

No Name ends the game

No Name ends the game

Seeing a quick victory in prospect, and with my shotgun-armed cowboy having the highest initiative next turn, I moved him towards the Renegade outside the saloon and emptied both barrels of his shotgun at him, but even with a +6 DRM he managed to miss. Luckily, Man with No Name had the next highest initiative, so ducked out the saloon doors, dodged a snap shot, then managed to put a bullet in the Renegade’s head – it was game over. I did say it was a quick game – so it was, but the next scene would go on for longer, continuing until one side was wiped out or failed a “big nerve test” (only taken when over 50% of a gang is down, so 4 figures each in this case).

The previous photo illustrates well the amount of tokens that can be on the board after a few turns – the shotgun-armed cowboy has moved 1 move, is out of ammo and has one “under fire” marker – more on this later.

Face-off in the street

Face-off in the street

I got on well with the rules. I liked the activation sequence, the dual-use cards and the trumping of event cards mechanism (though I think I suffered the most from this last one). There are lots of hard choices to be made and the scenario-driven nature of the game makes it vital to remember what your objectives are. In this scenario, initial deployment was key as well – the Renegades probably should have set-up closer to the Cowboys in order to get into close combat on the first turn, taking advantage of  the element of “surprise”.

Using a D20 for shooting was not popular with Tom at all (“too variable”) and even I was wondering why not just use a D10 for everything with a further roll to make shooting more granular – that said, the chaos caused by the D20 did seem to reflect the nature of contemporary gunfight accounts if not the Hollywood versions.

Cards & counters

Cards & counters

I suppose the downside for some to the activation sequence is the need for cards and markers all over the table, but it didn’t bother me much at all. The fact that they are playing cards in keeping with the West helps and also I prefer on-table markers to markers on status cards off-table which I always forget to refer to or knock over.

The supplement released at Salute, (“The Legend of Deadman’s Hand”), contains more scenarios and a campaign system along with 4 new gangs and rules for wagons – it’s well worth having if you like the basic game. I’m wondering why it took me so long to get around to dust off the old Wild West figures and scenery and play these rules, but I’m certainly glad I did – I can see another solo campaign a-coming….

Dux Britanniarum Campaign May 480 AD (Easter 2014 – Solo )

Raiders living up to their name

Raiders living up to their name

The Picts raided unopposed in April while the British licked their wounds. The loot from this next raid turned out to be some cattle (a cattle raid was the next scenario rolled), so the Pict’s objective for the next game was to drive their loot back across the border.  The British came back refreshed, deciding to mount a unit of Warrior Shock cavalry and attach Cinuit (a Status II noble) to it – there is an option for Northern British to mount a unit of Elite Warrior and a unit of normal Warriors, so for this game I decided to try out 1 unit of cavalry per side, albeit the British cavalry would be led by a Noble whereas the Pict cavalry wouldn’t.

British mounted warriors

British mounted warriors

The Picts had been bolstered by 4 Raiders joining them lured by what seemed like easy pickings. I rolled a double for terrain, so there was going to be a river with a ford placed – not what you want when you are trying to drive cattle to the opposite board edge!

British cavalry feel a bit outnumbered

British cavalry feel a bit outnumbered

The Picts rolled only a single move before British arrived on their left. The British also rolled badly and had a single unit arriving on turn 1 so chose their cavalry. The Pict plan was to seize the ford with their cavalry while the crossbows and 3 groups of raiders took on whatever came on on their flank. The Raiders with the cattle were to follow the cavalry to the ford as quickly as possible. In turn 1 the Picts advanced as far as they could while the sole British cavalry unit watched and their Noble build up his card hand.

Come on then!!

Come on then!!

Things changed in Turn 2. The Pict crossbows knocked 2 British cavalrymen out of their saddles, but got too close to the board edge and were dispersed by the speedy arrival of the British Lord with his Levy.

Levy drive off the Pict crossbows

Levy drive off the Pict crossbows

Dumgal, the British Noble with the remainder of the British forces, brought them on on the other side of the river and headed straight for the ford.

The cream of the British troops march to cover the ford

The cream of the British troops march to cover the ford

The Pict Lord’s card came up so he charged the British Levy before they could get into shieldwall, boosting his level by 2 by playing an Audacia card. In the fight the Picts killed 1 and caused 9 shock, but lost 2 men and 5 shock in return. The second round was much better for the Picts, when they killed 5 British though they still took 2 casualties back in return. No noble was wounded in the exchange and the losing Levy had to fall back 6″, though 1 group with more shock than men had to go back further.

Raiders charge the Levy

Raiders charge the Levy

Although they were victorious, the Picts also were carrying excess shock so fell back 2″. On reflection, the British probably won that melee as it was going to take a lot of rallying to remove the shock accumulated by the Picts and time was something the Picts did not have.

Lots of shock on the Raiders

Lots of shock on the Raiders

Meanwhile, the Pict cavalry arrived at the ford as the British Lord started rallying shock off his Levy.

Pict cavalry hold the ford

Pict cavalry hold the ford

The cavalry didn’t hold the ford for long though as the British played a “Bounding Move” card and they had to evade away from the elite British infantry. They rolled high for the evade and ended up quite a way back from the ford – perhaps a bit too far back….

Pict cavalry are driven off

Pict cavalry are driven off

Out came the British cavalry card, giving them their chance. While the Pict Lord was forced to rally shock, the mounted British charged through the gap between the Lord’s forces and the farm and engaged the Pict cavalry head-on.

First British cavalry charge

First British cavalry charge

Rolling 8 dice & inflicting double shock for being Shock cavalry resulted in no dead but 6 shock in exchange for 1 dead in the second round of combat. The shocked Picts fell back – by the end of the turn Cinuit was able to rally shock from the British cavalry, leaving them ready to charge again.

No dead but 6 shock!!!

No dead but 6 shock!!!

Amazingly, the British Noble cards all came up in the first cards drawn, so the Levy got shock rallied off them and one of the Fate cards drawn was the “Artorious” card. The Picts with the cows moved next, only managing a move of 4″ and positioning themselves precariously behind the Pict cavalry. Predictably, the British cavalry card emerged next and the 1 remaining cavalryman and attached Noble threw caution to the winds and charged the still shocked Pict cavalry. The attached Noble allowed the play of the “Artoroius” card, giving +1 to hit on 6 dice. One Pict died and another 3 shock was added, but the Picts killed the last remaining cavalryman in return. As the Picts now had double the amount of shock than they had men they had to fall back, but this was through the cattle herding raiders behind them, gifting them 6 shock on the way through.

The killing blow

The killing blow

With 6 shock on one of their Raider bands, there was little point going on. The Elite British Warriors could take them out in their fragile state and losing the cattle would end the game. It was a tough mission for the Picts because they not only needed to guard their flank but also needed enough troops in reserve with cattle to fight their way across a defended ford. In the end a good run of turn and Fate cards for the British ended the game quickly.

Although it was a victory for the British, it came at a heavy price in terms of casualties – they suffered moderate losses which would take 2 months to replace, whereas the Picts only suffered light losses, so would be back raiding unopposed in June. The British gained a  Beggar’s Bowl of wealth for their victory (+1 taking them to 4 in total) but the Picts bettered that in unopposed raiding in June, taking a Thief’s Horde in loot (+2 bringing them up to 8 wealth). The problem with all this loot was that Picts need wounds to gain honour to progress, and try as he might Galan the Insane had failed to get wounded. The British however had obtained (painted up?) some mounts for their Nobles, so come July the Picts would be facing 2 units of British cavalry led by a Noble – maybe Galen would end up skewered on one of their lances…but where’s the honour in that?