Tuesday 28 June 2016

Another go at Starport Scum

Only a week or so after my first game some of the rules were tweaked to better match the mechanics with the setting of the game, and so I had to give Starport Scum another go!

The single shot echoes through the valley and the small town. At the compound that serves as HQ for the town's guards, a man in a suit collapses as the bullet tears through him.

The mysterious sniper smiles as he gets ready to fall back, his mission accomplished.

Having spotted the sniper, the target's now unemployed bodyguard starts barkig orders to the local guards. Bullets and energy beams strike the snipers perch, forcing him to seek cover..

..But he is not alone. He'd hired a local band of farmers turned thugs-for-hire. They surge forward to cover his retreat, and with more luck than skill, manage to bring down a guard.

In a mere moment, the area outside the compound is turned into a battleground as guards and thugs engage in firefights. 

Through the smoke and confusion the bodyguard comes charging through, straight at the sniper.
His photon blades flashes as he lands blow after blow, forcing the assassin back and to his knees.

Grunting from the pain of several cauterized cuts by the energy blades, the sniper manages to raise his rifle and fire as he's forced to his knees. His aim skewed by having to dodge more attacks, his shot strikes the attacking bodyguard but misses the vital points he was aiming for. Both of them wounded, they nontheless struggle to their feet.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the thugs are starting to falter under the two guard units.

Taking the chance while still possible the sniper starts moving toward his extraction point.

Not willing to let his prey get away, the bodyguard sets out after him, firing his laser pistol as he goes. The sniper dodges as well as he is able, taking a few blasts to his armor, and returns fire with a small shard pistol, forcing the bodyguard to duck and roll to avoid the cloud of razor-sharp projectiles.

The last of his distraction gone the sniper is now alone, but close to his exfil.

In the shadows of a great rock, the bodyguard again catches up to his elusive prey. Photon blades singe the air as he strikes the sniper. Falling to the assault, the sniper seems defeated..

..But just as he is about to hit the ground, a stim-autoinjector floods his system with it´s payload. With a surge of adrenaline and amphetamines, he shoots towards the edge of his extraction zone.

The bodyguard curses under his breath as the mysterious assailant disappears from view. Who the frag was he? And how did he know that one of the big-wigs of the Stellar Traders Union would be here? That was just some of the many questions racing through his mind as he steeled himself for the unplesant conversation with his employers..

The tweaks made wonders, the gameplay shifted toward the heroic and the cinematic just like I had hoped!
It also has the added bonus of rewarding ganging up on the goons and using spray and pray tactics to set up deadly attacks too.

Now that I know that it'll work the way I hoped, I can start planning for future games and no less important, introduce the main protagonists of the adventures to come!

Til next time!

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Research and Destroy; a Horizon Wars AAR

After my recent test with the NTC and SADU, I decided to try to up the mechs to P2 in order to give them A2 and make the critical hits suffered last game less crucial.

Since I often play solo games I decided that I needed some randomization on hits, since choosing for both sides ends up being a bit weird. A 12 is still a crit an can be placed as usual by the attacker, for but every normal hit I rolled a d12. On a roll of 1-5 the damage is applied to movement, on a 6-10 to firepower and on 11 or 12 the armour/agility is hit.

This way it makes the hits a bit more interesting and the entire game ended up feeling a bit more cinematic, as the various hits tells a story (to my crazed mind at least)!

 Enough rambling, you are here for a battle, and a battle you shall receive:

Intel from the captured NTC units after their failed breakthrough revealed various pieces of intel, including the location of a NTC laboratory. Eager to repeat their recent success, a strike team is assembled..

The NTC defenders. Obviously a important research facility has some protection, but oddly no infantry..

The SADU strike team. 

The SADU Turtles split left and right, trying to draw some of the defenders away from their target.

Rolling up on the opposite slope, a Warrior mech fires his bazooka, damaging the Turtles weapon systems.

With most of the NTC mechs busy taking up defensive positions and firing on the attackers, one Turtle speeds in close and opens up on the generator powering the laboratory complex.

The micro-rockets blows chucks of ferrocrete out of the installation!
The start of the 2nd turn. The Strike team are moving in, they really need to run the gauntlet to their target, but they have managed some damage already!

Speeding ever closer, the SADU mech keeps firing into the generator, blowing off more pieces of shielding.

He leaves his back open to attack though, as the NTC CHQ opens up with his autocannon, compromising the fire control systems of the enemy mech.

Before the first attack stops, another of the strike team's mechs fire on the generator too, further damaging it.

 The counter-attack takes only moments to materialize, as both bazooka shots and autocannon shells starts hailing.

The Turtles are hit hard, armor fragments and melts, causing a chain of malfunctions in locomotion and weapon systems.

Even as his comrades takes a pounding, another member of the strike team race in and fire on the generator. The shielding around the core finally fails, and the incandecent fury of the escaping miniature sun blinds all close to it.  

 In an attempt to keep the remaining parts of the strike team away from the lab. As he comes over the rise, the Warrior comes under fire from a pair of Turtles.
 Sparks shoot out of his damaged leg actuators and the broken armour of his mechs chest.
 One of the SADU mechs takes a hit to the legs.
The lab takes more damage as rockets ignites fires around the complex.

Up on the rise, the lone Warrior is taken out of action as one of the mechs of the strike team hits the mechs head.
 Realizing that the last members of the strike team must be stopped, the NTC CHQ charges the closest SADU mech. His shoulder-charge crumples the enemy armour and smashes the head of the mech. Oily smoke rises from the crippled form.

Start of the 3rd turn. The lab is heavily damaged, if the NTC can't stop the remaining operational mechs, they might lose the whole compound!

All hell breaks loose as the remaining mechs open up on each other.

Strike after strike hits the sagging complex, damaging it further.

 All of the defenders efforts focused on picking apart the agressors.

Mech after mech falls to the onslaught of their attacks as bullets saw through limbs and rockets blows them open.
In a desperate last ditch attempts, the least damaged of the strike team's mechs races forward. The micro-rockets screams toward the critically damaged structure. As they strike the bearing wall, the straining superstructure finally collapses!

As the rockets leave the barrel, a hail of shells shreds the SADU mech, knocking it out of action.

Crippled and barely standing, the SADU mechs have no recourse but to surrender to the mostly undamaged defenders of the NTC.

 While the NTC had damaged and captured 3 mechs and destroyed 4 of them, they had lost the lab and it's generator.

The Imperials have won the day by completing their objective, but they were captured by the enemy!

The second try went much better than the first, making the mechs P2 and upping the armor to 2 really made a difference, as did rolling for damage. I think I'll keep all my smaller mechs at P2 as the new standard, with P3 reserved for elite and heavy units. This will allow for P3 red-shoulder style customs and such while P1 could be used for power-armour in the style of the clan elementals if need be!

All in all a success, this will be the way my VOTOMS-like games are played from now on :)

I have another Starport Scum game to share with you in the near future, and hopefully some more bits and bobs as they arrive.

Til next time!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Breakthrough; A Horizon Wars AAR

This particular game was a little experiment to see if I could run Horizon Wars somewhat like the battles in Votoms.

By making all the mechs P1 with a single point of armour I hoped to recreate the fast-paced destruction of the aforementioned show.

As promised on TWW, I'll try to talk a little about the mechanics and workings of Horizon Wars during the battle.
First we have the creation of the mechs taking part in this battle:

Unlike conventional elements in HW, Mechs (and aircraft) are built from a pool of points. A P1 mech have 11 points to allocate, a P2 gets 14 points and a heavy P3 mech have 17 points to construct it self with.

The stats in HW are Movement (how far you can move in inches), Firepower (how many dice you get to roll when you attack), Armour/Agility (a combined hp and armour, when this hits 0 you're dead) and Defence(allows you to cancel some hits when fired upon).

So the stats for this engagement:


Turtle Mecha


Standard 3 5 1 2



Beetle Mecha A


Standard 4 4 1 2



The Imperials have 6 turtle mechs and 1 beetle as CHQ. The CHQ is the commander in the field, costs no points for your force and can give commands and guide indirect fire from other elements. Having a commander also allows you to spend points to upgrade conventional elements in your force if you have any.

And then we have the NTC

Warrior Mecha


Standard 4 4 1 2



Bz Warrior Mecha


Standard 3 5 1 2



They come with 5 standard Warriors (of which one is CHQ) and 2 of the Bazooka Warrior variant.
As you can see, the stats for all the units have been kept fairly similar, as there are only so many ways to stretch the 11 points you have. You have to have at least 1 point in every stat, but the remainder can be placed as you prefer. While you could technically make a superfast or extremely armored mech, you run the risk of crippling yourself in some other aspect, so I elected to keep the forces very similar, also because it fits the source material.

Now onto the game: 

The NTC patrol needed to get back to base after a recon mission deep behind the NIJA lines, but close to the border their scanners picked up massive magnetic reading. This could only mean one thing, a SADU force blocking their way.

On the horizon the NTC patrol spots the blockading force. They need to break through the lines and get back to their base. The SADU meanwhile, needs to stop them.
I'm mostly playing narrative scenarios of my own making, but for those of you who like playing pick-up games or just want official scenarios, there are a bunch of them along with a special type of scenario called an adventure, for which the circumstances of the battle are generaded with a few dice rolls on some tables included in the rulebook. 

The NTC patrol, the CHQ is the mech with the brown base.

The Imperial SADU blockade, the Beetle CHQ mech can be seen to the far left.

HW has an alternating activation system, you roll a d12 each at the start of the turn, highest roll wins. You then get to activate a element of your choice. Each element has 2 actions and you can take the same action twice if you like.
In the opening turn, most of the mechs just chose to move. Then you make a movement action, you can move cautiously up to your M value, allowing the model to stay alert to his surroundings and maintain 360 degree vision. This can be important for reactions to enemy moves.
You can also move at patrol speed, which is 2xM. You only have 180 degree vision this way, but you can combine this action into something called move and fire, allowing you to move up to 2xM and then fire with half your F dice.
The last option is to move rapidly, allowing you to speed up to 3xM, but you can't fire or react to enemy moves.

A longshot by a NTC bazooka damages the movement of the SADU Turtle.

 It doesn't take long before the SADU respond in kind, firing on one Warrior mech that sped into the open. If a model activates but doesn't spend both it's actions, it can keep the second action to use as a reaction instead. In this case, as the NTC mech speeds into the open, one of the lurking Turtles choose to take a fire action when the enemy pops into view.
 As long as you can see the model at any time during its first action (and only the first action!) you can choose to react by either moving, moving and shooting or just shooting. It's important to know, however, that you are not required to direct your action against the acting model.
 You might find it more advatageous to take a shot at a damaged companion before he can be supported by the new arrival for example. All reactions take place after the acting element finishes it's first action, but before the second is taken, so the reacting element has to wait until the action is finished.
 When you shoot, you roll a number of d12 according to your Firepower stat (5 in this case) and the number you are looking to beat is the distance between the units+their A value+cover(if applicable)
This number can be higher than 12, since you roll your dice and then group them into hits. For example, in this case the reacting Turtle rolled 3,12,7,8 and a 9. The distance was 14" and the armour of the target is 1, so the number to beat is 15. Before we get to start making hits though, the NTC mech rolls his defence roll. Having a Defence value of 2, he rolls 2 d12, getting a 9 and a 5. The 5 does nothing as his enemy didn't roll any 5s, but the 9 cancels out the other, leaving the SADU mech with a 3,12,7 and an 8. The 3 and 12 can form one group, while the 7 and 8 forms another, making it two hits. This means that the target takes 2 points of damage. Normally the controlling player chooses what stats to degrade, but since one hit group contained a 12, that hit is a critical hit. This means that the attacking player gets to choose which stat to downgrade with that hit. Since the mech is only A1, that means it's destroyed, as reaching A0 destroys the unit. First blood to the SADU! 

It doesn't take long before another barrage of rockets from another Turtle mech blows a second Warrior to bits, when he takes a critical hit. Ouch!

The start of the 2nd turn, when it really heats up.

Looking to avenge the fallen, a bazooka Warrior moves and shoots at one of the Turles. Moving and shooting only gives you half your F stat rounded up, so 2 dice in this case. But as he rolls a 12 that the Imperial fails to block, the Turtle blasts apart into a hunk of scrap.

Since he finished his first action, the SADU mechs that have LOS are now allowed to react before he takes the second move. At this close range, even 2 or 3 dice can do a lot of damage. Yet another turtle speeds up, shooting as he goes. another roll with a undefended 12, and the bazooka Warrior never gets to take that second action.

A second Turtle joins the first, shooting at the advancing NTC patrol. He misses, and retribution is swift. Both NTC mechs that are close by open up on a mech each, scoring several hits, damaging movement and firepower on both.. 

..But the joy is short-lived as the Turtles second action sees some amazing shooting, at point blank range. Rolling 3 12s, of which none is canceld, the destruction is total for the poor NTC Warrior.

Trading blows, the last bazooka Warrior gives a good accounting of himself..

..But another Turtle soon flanks him and scrap his machine.

Trying to make it out, a Warrior makes a break for it. The SADU CHQ gives chase and manages to damage the Warriors weapons in a fierce shootout. The NTC leader makes a repair roll with his final action, hoping to speed around the slower Turtle mechs. A recover action is used to repair some damage caused earlier. You roll 1 d12 for each point of defence, against a threshold of the total damage sustained. For each dice beating this threshold, you can repair one damage to Movement,Firepower or Armour/Agility.

Start of the 3rd turn. The NTC defeat is clear for all to see, with only 2 units remaining. But they must press on, they need to reach their base!

In a crazy gunfight, the Warrior is first wounded, manages to roll a crit when reacting but the Turtle cancels it by rolling a 12 on his defence! The second actions 5 firepower dice finishes what the first attack started, and the NTC patrol leader falls.

Gunning his engines, the last NTC mech manages to make it off the board! He is off to the base, but his entire unit is a smoking wreck.

A glorious Imperial victory, much needed morale boost for the SADU, who had up to this point failed to beat their NTC opponents a single time.

So the results of this little experiment?
It's not easy to say. While the results might have been skewed by the fact that the SADU rolled no less than 10! 12s during the game while their NTC counterparts rolled an less than impressive 3. In all the other games of HW and MechaWar I've played, I usually ended up with 3-4 crit rolls per game, both sides included! So I might need further testing, but it feels like luck could come to play to great a part when using A1 mechs. I've looked at both P1 A2 mechs and the possibility of just making all the mechs in these games P2, boosting A,M and D one point each in these cases, but I'm still unsure which is the best way to go about it.

While I won't ever mix my CAV mechs and these GZG ones, putting the grunts in P2 mechs does remove some from your available choices when I start adding in the prototype units used in other games between NTC and SADU.

I'll have to think about it some more I guess..

I pray you've liked this slightly different write-up, hopefully somebody on the fence or just interested in Horizon Wars might find this helpfull.

I have a few more stompy robot games planned for the near future, along with another go at Starport Scum, since the rules have been updated slightly.

Til next time!