Sunday, 17 April 2016

Playtesting, playtesting...

Excited to be back playtesting for the Big Giant Ed (Third Rock from the Sun anyone?) over at Two Hour Wargames. THW has been one of my favourite rules companies for a long, long time. For some reason I have found it hard to get people on board with the rules for extended periods. I think people tend to love the rules when I am running the games (and the rules always work way 'same side co-op) but seem to get the 'can't be arsed' mentality (they seem to think the charts will be hard work) when I am not by their side. Weird, but true unfortunately - most of the time one doesn't even need to look at the charts/rules once you get going, only referring to them when something new happens.

So, this all started when I volunteered to playtest his new WWI fighter rules which looked interesting - then Ed made the mistake of telling me he had a 5150 (his sci-fi rules) set of fighter rules.... What more needed to be said?

I modded them up quickly to use my Force Awakens X-Wing models and was off. To be honest you don't need models as the fighting environment is abstract - which makes sense because of the huge nuances you would really need to model 3D space combat. All that is really important is:

  • Are they within range?
  • Who has the tactical advantage? - whether this is spacial, speed related etc.
  • Who can turn this advantage into a clear shot?
  • Does the shot get through?
And these are the aspects of combat the rules deal with. Another awesome thing about any THW rules is they have built in solo systems. The fighter rules are a good example and I decided to run the Resistance and let the rules run the First Order fighters. PEF - stands for Potential Enemy Force and once I had rolled up my two wingman (I was playing Poe Dameron and chose the ACE ability for him alongside his Reputation - REP - of 5. The  two wingmen rolled Reps of 4 and I drew two random abilities). First order rolled on the NPP (non player pilot) charts and draw random abilities. 

Three PEF had to be resolved as the resistance fighters came out of hyperdrive to scout the area around the planet for First Order capital ships - who were presumed to have fighter screens in the system with them. 

Poe and his squadron arrive in system...

BB8's trill 'voice' came through Poe's earpiece - three blips on the scanners, the three of them peeled off to investigate. Minutes later Jessica's droid picked up the source - a malfunctioning probe droid wallowing around in the atmosphere. Accelerating towards the second blip they noticed it had moved and 'joined' with the third. They had no choice really - they pulled back into attack formation and went to investigate the remaining blip.

Game mechanics wise what had happened was - the three PEF were resolved in order. The first had been a false reading/alarm. The second had been a 'potential' which gives a stronger roll on the third try - which resulted in an enemy located result. When I rolled to see number and type of enemy it had the result of - same number of ships as own force and they all were medium fighters - in this case 3x Tie fighters).

Initiative was rolled to see who pulls a chance card first - First Order win but the card was not one they could use, so had no effect. 

Capt. Phasma rolled into attack Jessica Pava while Poe dived in towards Zeta pilot, leaving L'ulo's droid directing him to Omega pilot. Bolts of energy lit up the vacuum, the Ties manoeuvrability looking as if it would pay off on the first pass...

But Poe and BB8 rolled quickly to one side and turned in sharply, Zeta pilot desperately tried to evade but Poe had him centered in the targeting computer - a bolt of energy ripped through the Ties' wing, cracking across the view shield. Panic set in as the controls began to crackle, acrid smoke drifting up from them as a shrill alarm sounded in his headset - the pilot screamed into the mouth-piece - he was pulling out and returning to the hangar ship... Poe and BB8 congratulated each other and banked towards Phasma...

Game mechanics - Poe rolled 5 dice for his rep, I decided to add all five bonus dice and knew he would get one success auto (because of his ability). Zeta pilot rolled 3 for rep and NPPs always roll as many bonus dice as possible - in this case 3 - for a total of 6 dice. Bonus die count as successes (if rolled 1-3) as normal but one permanently loses any die which rolls a 6. Poe ended up with 2 more successes on the DOGFIGHT and went onto  the TAKING CONTROL table with +2d6. This set of rolls went badly for the Zeta pilot and Poe had a net 5 successes on the table. This meant they rolled a number of dice equal to their firepower (in this case 1) and needed to get 5 or less to cause a hit. Rolling a 4 a hit was made and the Tie lost one of its two hull points. The bad rolling for the Tie pilot continued when they had to check on the 'Continue on Table' - rolling 2 dice they needed a pass against their rep with just one; but they rolled 6,6 and headed for home. This meant that Poe could join in with the others at the start of the next round. 

Capt. Phasma saw Zeta One trailing vapour and making a run for it... She knew she had to try and even things up and banked hard towards one of the T-70s. The pilot tried to jink out of it but Phasma put the Tie's manoeuvrability and her skill to good use -  deft barrel roll saw her pull in behind - a stream of energy hit behind the droid which was situated behind the pilot. About to pull in for the kill Phasma saw the black T-70 banking in, she pulled out... Meanwhile L'ulo and the other Tie weaved around trying to gain any advantage...

Phasma only just moved onto the taking control table by virtue of the Tie adding a die to the pool because it had more THRUST - which in the game combines the speed and manoeuvrability of the ship - It ended with Phasma rolling one fire die needing 3 and making a hit! The X-Wing rolled to carry on on the 'Continue' table.  The next turn saw another Tie making a run, mainly because of the effect of having the first one running off... This left a 3 on 1 dogfight. Phasma pulled a 'debris' chance card - meaning they lost out (-1d6 on the dogfight table) as she had to avoid the asteroids..

 Phasma was determined to fight on, no resistance scum was going to escape.... NOOOoooo she'd been concentrating on that damn traitor Dameron and had to bank wildly to avoid the asteroid... the three T-70s pulled in behind her .... DAMN she accelerated, confident in the knowledge she could outrun them... If she got back quick enough to scramble another flight or two those scum would pay!

Poe banked - the droids communicating incessantly... this was the system, if Phasma was here so were the rest of the First Order fascists... time to bring in the big guns!

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