Saturday, October 20, 2012

Had An Awesome Test Game Today!

We Get A Star!
It's been a difficult week wrestling with Excel and my sick Wife/Kids. CaulynDarr even had to postpone our test game until Monday because of work. But I got a chance to get out to the FLGS for a couple of hours this afternoon, and thought "What the hell?". In addition to my normal Flames stuff, I brought along the M42 test armies and notes that I had prepped for our aborted test this week. Oh man am I glad I did!

The crowd was light at the store. There were just 2 40K games going on and 3-4 board game players when I walked in. No Flames players at all.

So I chatted with the 40K guys and managed to talk Eddie, a regular 40K tournament player into playing a test game with me. Eddie was a perfect test subject, because he'd never heard of our game before. He's also more familiar with Warmachine than Flames of War or Dust. So he didn't have any preconceptions either for or against some of the ideas that we've adapted from those games. It was mostly all new to him.

We set up a 6 x 4 table with 13 pieces of terrain (not in any particular pattern) and I took him through the basic concepts of movement, rolling to hit, penetration, and firepower vs. toughness. As well as suppression/Leadership, army morale checks, and the one-objective-wins concepts. Nothing confused him too badly, so we deployed and got to it.

Turn 1 was pretty tentative. Eddie was still getting the mechanics down, and wasn't quite sure what to do. Which is what I expected to see.

On turn 2 though, something very interesting happened. Eddie didn't quite have all of the roll mechanics down fully (truthfully, neither did I), but he was laughing, having fun, and started looking hard at the table to try and decide what to do tactically. In one turn, he'd gone from "What do I do?" to moving and shooting with purpose. By turn 3 he knew exactly what he needed to do and started hammering on me with real intent. That's a FAR faster pick-up than I had ever expected to see! It really blew my socks off!

My Paladin even got a curse-word nickname, and was obviously preventing his Knights from running forward as fast as he wanted to (More from suppression than anything else). So he sent his LaansGuard up and rushed my weak flank on the right. By turn 5, he caused enough damage to my squad in the rocks that they got below half and had to make a Ld check. They failed and ran away.

We didn't play it out to the objective-capturing end, but I was too heavily suppressed in the middle to get anything over there in time, so we called it as a victory for him. Total game time was about an hour and a half, with a smoke break and a food run next door in the middle. Not to mention breaks to ask him how he liked this or that. I think that between two serious, experienced M42 players, it would have taken maybe 45 minutes to play. Which is perfect.

When I asked Eddie what he liked and disliked, this is what he said...

  1. Is super-easy to learn, since the game is "So simple".
  2. Loved how units shoot and move all at once.
  3. Loved the 6+6 wound allocation, 6+6 auto-hit, and 1+1 auto-miss.
  4. Liked the size of the game, model-wise. Said it was nice compared to all the stuff that he usually has to keep track of in 40K.
  5. Loved the suppression system. He thought that it added a lot to the game compared to 40K.
  6. Thought that the weapons' killy-ness was just right.
  7. Said that it was a lot of fun.


Eddie said that there were none. He did say that some of the Ld/Toughness rolls were a little "Weird", but "Not in a bad way. Just Weird".

There were some things that I noticed him (and me) stumble on though:
  1. When I explained the Army Morale Check, and how killing the Commander would mean that I'd auto-fail it, he thought that I meant killing the commander would auto-win you the game (like in Warmachine). Had to explain that no, you would still have to kill over half of my units to force that check. It's an understandable confusion, and one that we'll have to remember to address.
  2. He got how the toughness rolls worked for single penetrations (Roll one die per toughness, must roll FP- on all). But re-rolling successes in batches for the Paladin took some extra explaining, and I'm not 100% sure that he understood it.
  3. Both of us kept forgetting that Knights move 9" standard. We're just so used to standard 40K movement.
  4. I forgot to tell him that to move into assault he would do so during his normal move. This threw off his planning and we never did get into assault at all.
  5. Needing to Pass all rolled dice for toughness tests, but only 1 rolled die for Ld tests confused him some. We need to come up with a standard term for each type like "Pass All" and "Pass-One" when we explain these  to new players.
As far as the mechanics/stats go, there's some other thoughts that I have after this game:
  1. We definitely need to award suppression markers for X number of raw hits in addition to any that you get for Penetrating hits. We only awarded markers for penetrating hits, and I wanted just a few more markers being awarded than we had.
  2. When a Ld test passes, we need to take away one marker for each die that passes. Not just one. For most units this will cap at 2. While if there's a character around with Ld 3, this will really boost suppression removal.
  3. Considering making your Ev (or Ev x 2) your Mv through LoS-blocking terrain (woods mostly). Have to think on it more.
  4. We used the gun and armor stats from my last post, Versus Knights, they were perfect.
  5. Infantry needed a slight boost though. Letting them get a +1 Evasion Save from being concealed should do it. Once I have the spreadsheet in a usable state, I'll fiddle with this some more.

We've got a long way to go yet. But this test really has me excited. Our basic ideas/mechanics are sound, and easy to learn. There are also things in our system that are very appealing for existing 40K players. What's more, we both had a lot of fun playing! It was a big step up in fun from our last test game.

I'm confident enough now in our basic mechanics that I'll start re-writing our rules with the changes that we've made. There will be tweaks here and there, sure. But we have a viable core to build around now, and that's pretty exciting. :)


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