Wednesday, 1 February 2017

On the way home... Ambush, Gangs of Commorragh style...

GW's newest boxed game hit my senses shortly after I found out I loved Blood Bowl. True, I knew nothing about Dark Eldar, very little about 4oK as a whole and, if the truth be known, I was just thinking landspeeder through the forest. Also the Stand Up Paddleboard type skyboards sort of sealed the deal.

There was lots tingling about on the net about how good a deal the game was model wise. 30 odd quid for 16 'bikes' and 'skyboards' apparently worked out around 55% off the actual retail. So a quick visit to the local store and I returned with the game. An afternoon of plastic gluing and a quick spray and I was ready for when Shaun came round to give it a whirl.

Premise wise the game is set in the sky above the choking smog of Commorragh where rival gangs come across each other amongst the spires of the buildings poking through the smog. GW promised fast, furious action, great for single games but apparently with an excellent campaign system. We set off on an evenings action to see if they were right.

Mechanics and rules wise the game is very solid, players alternate activating characters and they move, after all characters have moved then you take it in turns to shoot. Vehicles have a built in turning allowance per move activation, skyboards up to 90 degrees and bikes up to 45 degrees - this has to be made at the start or end of movement. Also they have a minimum and maximum movement. However, each type of vehicle gets access to manoeuvres that can alter your speed, path or alignment (side slip, brake turn which is an extra in move turn, barrel roll etc). Also each type of vehicle has access to specialist maneuverers such as grabs and hook turns for the skyboard and the bikes being able to use the baneblades on their bikes to tear opponents vehicles down.  This leads to crazy action all at a hectic pace.

Combat is pretty easy - agility of the target vehicle is the number on 2d6 you need to equal or beat to give a hit marker, then a kill roll is made which is determined by the kill rating of the weapon used. Cover gives a saving throw to avoid hit, Jinking stops you attacking that round but adds your pilot skill to the hit target number. Lots of choices to be made all round long - and believe me the rounds are quick once you get the hang of it.

Set up is interesting as one side will always be ambushed - one gang starts in the middle, all pointing in the same direction, and the other on the table edge in a random direction from the center. Depending on how well the ambush was planned (ie how much difference between the rolls was) determines if the ambushed gang manage to get in a quick emergency turn before the game starts.

If this was all there was to the game then it would still be worth the money by a long way! But it isn't - the campaign system is elegant, quick and great fun. Starting with having a fight type (as in what you have to do to get extra income or victory points) each player then gets a 'side plot' which can help or hinder one or other player. These also add other terrain/play features to the game - toxid gas clouds, groups of scourgers and the bane of a players life - low battery life on your vehicles !

Another thing I like about the system is your gang is split pre-game into murder packs - the more packs you send out for the day doing 'jobs' the more income you get at the end. BUT the pack that ends up fighting is determined at random! So even before the game begins you have some important choices to make. Members have to be paid, income spent on new members or upgrades from 'deals' that may be offered. 'Killed' vehicles during the game are really just spiralling out of control out of the fight area. After the game they are rolled for - a 1 means they perished amongst the spires - other results may see them miss the next days jobs and fights etc.

All in all it is a great game... Can't praise it enough for a quick (anything up to 35 minutes when playing the campaign) miniature based, campaign driven game!

Well done GW - and that's something I rarely say!

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