Sunday, December 2, 2012

Testing With The Pros

Spaguatyrine, our local 40K tournament champ, called me up yesterday and wanted to play a game. So I went over to Games 2D4 and let him tryout M42. DaemonJohn, another very good local tournament player, was also pretty interested. So I had them both fight while I watched. Having two really good 40K players do their best to game our system was a great way to find some flaws!


For this test, I used our previous outlines, but added the new ordered/unordered movement rules and some rules for enfilades. If you were in a unit's side arc, you got to re-roll your misses. We didn't try and have multiple levels of enfilade fire.

I also went back to the separate unit/weapon stats. Though these references need to be updated to be more usable, they worked much better than the combined statlines did.

The player going second also got free Gone-to-Ground status on the top of turn 1 to limit the first player's ability to alpha-strike.


For the most part, both of them said they really liked the core mechanics. Though I did goof and have them roll armor penetrations as the attacker instead of rolling the penetrations as saves by the defender. I blame mental exhaustion from the huge discussion/argument on gender we just had. :)

Which points to my needing to write up a simple reference outline for these tests. The detailed rules outline is too much difficult to page through quickly when you're just trying to make sure you're following the proper sequence.

But back to the test results... Though Spag found the flanking fire weird, he didn't hate it. While DJ really liked the concept, but hadn't worked out the tactical implications yet in his head. Both did say that they thought the whole measuring of the firing arcs would slow down the game. Which isn't necessarily bad, but we'll have to see how it goes in other tests.

Spag was a little concerned that going first wasn't that important (because of the GtG for the defender), and that maybe you'd always want to go 2nd instead. He also thought that the weapon ranges were too long. 

Both of them just ran some troops across the field unsupported, only to see them butchered or driven off. So there was definitely a bit of tactical shock coming from what they're used to in 40K. Unlike some of the more casual players I've had test the game, Spag and DJ didn't immediately grab onto the combined arms concept and push forward with multiple units at once. Even though I did describe for them the tactics that had worked for other testers, like running LaansGuard behind the Knights to aid with suppression.

Both of them also thought that the Commanders needed better statlines. They just didn't feel heroic enough. Which I can understand. Spag in particular was not liking that the Commanders weren't any harder to kill than a regular Knight. Though we did play it that you couldn't target them out specifically within 6" of another unit.

Specific Gameplay Issues

1) Shooting Through Ruins Needs Some Clarification.

Thus far I've only been testing with Woods, where it's just the Awareness range of the firing model that counts when determining whether you can see a target. But this was a ruin-heavy table, and they started asking questions like "Can we shoot through solid walls?". Good Question!

We decided to play it that you needed to have true-LoS to the target AND be in Awareness range to shoot a target in/behind ruins. But I need to clarify that further and think on the marginal cases.

2) Defensive Fire

For close-combat, we added some stuff to the start of the sequence that they thought needed to be there. First, the defender got defensive fire (as if moving) for any model within 12" of an attacker. Then we let the attacker consolidate before we started up the alternating fight -> shoot -> move sequence.

This seemed to work pretty well to DJ and I. Though Spag thought that hitting at normal BS was too effective. He wanted it to be like 40K snap fire. But Spag did run a Commander and 1 Knight into a fight with a Knight, a Paladin, and 8 LaansGuard. So some shooting (and resulting suppression) is to be expected. :)

3) Melee

If a group of engaged models is fighting, and some of the models you're attacking have different weapon skills, which one to you use? We decided to go with the highest, as 40K does. But that causes some potential wound allocation issues. So I need to go through and think about that in detail.

3) Area Terrain Movement Needs To Be Clarified

The rules work, but they need to be more clear. The guys had some problems understanding them.


Overall, it was a very good test, though the guys were disappointed in not being able to finish (because I had to leave for a Christmas Party). 

Something that struck me though was how much interest there was in the game from other folks in the store. We had guys walking up to watch, and once they figured out that we weren't playing 40K, they showed a LOT of interest in M42. We had a small crowd at times.

The local GW store is always packed when I go by there, but I don't see 40K doing so well at the independent stores in town where I usually play. I know that the GP North is down to an average of 3-4 players who aren't die-hard competitive, and Farmpunk has talked to a guy at the South Store who's admitted that in-store 40K is down to just a couple of die-hard players there too. The rest are moving into Warmachine and Dust en masse.

I don't make it over to the West side more than a couple of times a month, but I've watched the 40K numbers at G2D4 dwindle over the last 2 months from 4-5 games on a Saturday to only 1 yesterday. Which was the game that Spag and DaemonJohn played before I got there. Talking to DJ, he confirmed that, in his opinion, 40K is dying at that store too.

That's 3 of the 5 independent stores in town. I imagine it's the same at the other 2, who have never been known for having large 40K crowds. I also know that Dust is big at Saltire.

For all I know, 40K's sales may be up. But the public 40K community, especially that of the competitive players, really seems to be dying off.  So I'm feeling a big push to get our rules out there. We've got something that competitive community really needs right now.

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