Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our First Real Test Game

Drink Test Dummy, Leah Saulnier
CaulynDarr and I pushed around some models in a couple of test games last night. Each of us had 2 squads of Guard Infantry and a unit of 3 Knights. Here's what we discovered...

General Turn Sequence

The combined move-shoot/shoot-move system worked, but it didn't seem natural to us. Even Caulyndarr, who's used to playing Dust, stumbled a few times and didn't realize he still had a unit or two left to move/shoot after he'd completed one unit's actions.

We'll test it some more and see how long it takes the combined action system to feel natural, but if it doesn't click in our next few games, it may have to be reworked to be more 40K-like. Not because I think that it couldn't be made to work as-is, but because we risk alienating too many potential players if it doesn't click with them right away. We'll see how it goes.

Gameplay-wise, we tended to just run guys up close for easy shots or park in cover and snipe back-and-forth. Not very interesting. Though that may be more from not having any mission objectives than anything else. Still, it's a concern.

Movement Issues

Movement, with the troops placed in the command radius around the leader, was very quick to do. Yet it felt a little arbitrary. Probably because we weren't throwing blast templates at each other such that we'd care all that much about our formations, and we weren't doing enough wounds on each other to max out the teardrop template that we were using for wound allocation. Only once did a leader get sniped, and that was when his squad was down to just 3-4 guys.

It will need some more testing, particularly with assaults, but the bubble-movement mechanic is still going to have to prove itself. One thing we did agree on though, was just to make the bubble a straight 6" radius instead of 2 x Ld.

Shooting Issues

This was the biggie in terms of problems, and we're going to have to rework it. Having the hit and wound rolls be made by the attacker, with no saves rolled by the defender, was B O R I N G. So we quickly switched to having the defender make the to-wound rolls as a save. Which worked much better from an interest standpoint. But it still hasn't quite clicked yet.

The BS vs. Evasion mechanic plus modifiers worked alright. But we each had a different way of figuring out the math in our heads, such that explaining it one way might confuse someone that needs it explained the other way. My gut also says that this system needs to be simplified slightly. I'll think on it.

Our Knights were... too easy to kill. Even in cover when the Guard needed 6's to hit and 6's to penetrate their armor, with a 5+ to actually wound them. Knight on Knight (5's to hit, 5's to pen, 4+ kill) was pretty deadly. Especially when we upped everyone's rate of fire (2 for Guard, 3 for Knights) in the 2nd game. They needed to be scarier than they were. CaulynDarr suggested making them multi-wound, though that's not a way I want to go. Perhaps we can just make them immune to most small arms, but allow units to combine fire for stronger shots somehow. Anyway, it needs work.

Wound Allocation

The template idea was a bust. It might survive for special focused attacks at short range, or for special kinds of weapons. But marking a target, and then pulling out a template each time you shoot, just stops the game cold when all you want to do is start rolling dice. Bleh...

The template-allocation system is linked to the bubble-movement system though. So getting rid of one might negate the usefulness of the other.  Or maybe bolters just need to be small-blast weapons. :)

In any event, we agreed that at long range the defender should be able to allocate wounds as they wish within LOS. While at short range we need some sort of mechanic for making hits on special weapons more likely.


We both still like the idea of the suppression mechanic, but it has some issues that need to be worked out.

First up was the removal mechanic. Rolling a single Ld test per marker was still awfully random. It wasn't at all uncommon for one of us to remove all of their markers from all units, while the other didn't remove any. CaulynDarr suggested rolling one die per Ld point instead of one die per marker, and it sounds like an idea worth testing to me.

Second, it felt weird to have an exceptionally good round of shooting, but still only add one marker to a unit. It might be a good idea to add one marker for every 5 hits or something similar instead of simply for having hit at least once.


Right now, a unit that falls back has to make a Ld test or be removed. This was a huge drag and has to go. Unless the unit is below half or somesuch.

Units falling back also need some control over where they go instead of running directly towards the table edge. Else you'd never, ever, want to voluntarily fall back. Which I think has to be a viable option.


Some stuff worked, and some stuff didn't. The template fail was particularly disappointing, but oh well. That's what testing is for. Not every idea is going to work. :)

I was very excited to get the game in, and I'm glad CaulynDarr could come over and knock a few holes in our theories with me. I'm really itching now to get my new Dark Vengeance sets so that I can put together and paint a nice test force with the Chaos cultist and Marine models.

Any other thoughts CaulynDarr?

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