Saturday, December 24, 2016

Blast Pistol and Rogue Stars

I'v been looking for a set of sci-fi skirmish rules for a while; I have a Space Marine force painted up, but I can't seem to get into the 40K rules.

After reading a few reviews, I decided to give Blast Pistol a try. Coincidentally, fg's Rogue Stars arrived soon after we decided to play a game of Blast Pistol, so we tried both sets of rules on Monday.

For the Blast Pistol game I used my marines (3 squads of Unity Banner Troops) and fg used the Imperial Guards he got on a trade (3 squads of Colonial Militia, 1 Unity Infantry squad, and a Unity Agent). The mission was simply to take and secure the shed in the middle of the table.

Shootout in Shantytown!
We started tentatively with some manoeuvring and shooting, before I realised that with their high Toughness, my marines could afford to take a more... blatant attitude. Once they got into the shed, there was little the Imperial Guards could do to dislodge them. Fg's squads took a more circumspect approach, and as a result did not manage to bring their numerical advantage to bear.

'And they shall know no fear."
I enjoyed the rules. It's got a straightforward mechanics, and the weapon characteristics give the rules a sci-fi flavour. The army list for each "race" is rather small, even with all the supplements purchased, but they cover about half a dozen of your sci-fi staples. Other than my marines, I am planning a Morkian platoon with support weapons based on the old plastic Warzone Imperial Regulars, which should be the main project for me in the first quarter of next year.

How did that crate take his weight?
After the Blast Pistol game, we used the same set-up for a game of Rogue Stars.

Fg and I picked two pre-generated crews from the rulebook. Fg took a squad of police, while I picked an ex-military character with a few droids, but tweaked the stats to make her a close-combat expert.

The game is more detailed and complicated, with detailed stats and traits for each of the figures, so instead of fielding around 20 figures each, we were using only 5 figures each this game.

The scenario involved fg's crew trying to reach a vehicle on the opposite table edge from his deployment zone, and my crew trying to stop them.

The cops soften the opposition with a hail of fire.
Rogue Stars was written by the author of the Song of Blades and Heroes series of games, but the only recognisable feature from that series is the activation roll mechanics. A figure can attempt to perform up to three actions during each activation, but must roll above a target number on a d20, and gains one Stress marker per action performed. A figure may activate multiple times per turn, but activation becomes increasingly less likely as it gains Stress markers; with each failure on the activation roll, your opponent gains a chance to react by attempting an activation himself. While a little cumbersome initially, this mechanic produces a rather cinematic feel of momentum grinding to a halt and the initiative passing to the other side.

The use of d20 produces rather wild results, and fg's crew leader was killed by the first shot from my droid early in the game, so we decided to re-roll that and carry on instead of restarting the game. Then the big droid on my side got one-shotted. The cops kept up a steady pressure and crept up on my position. Things were looking grim for my side.

Then looking at my leader's traits, I decided to take a gamble. Using her Fast trait, she dashed out of cover, double-moved to the enemy leader, and using her Weapon Master 2 advantage cut her down in two rounds of combat, and then dashed back into cover again. The sudden reversal of fortune caused one cop to flee off the table, and the remainder were no match for my leader when they got close enough to the vehicle.

The two games are of course very different. Blast Pistol is closer to the 40K style of game where the winning strategy seems to be bringing weapons to bear, while Rogue Stars has characters so detailed that it can actually serve as a set of combat rules for a role-playing game - the number of factions, types of weapons, armour and gear, and the number of traits you can assign to characters makes this look like a game that will reward the player who invests time and effort in the creation and development of his crew.

I can see myself reaching for Blast Pistol when I want to put a few dozen figures onto the table and fight a platoon-level action, and I can also see myself taking a crew through a campaign of Rogue Stars.

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