Marcus presents a Sci Fi rules adaption and game report…
Ever since I picked up “What a Tanker” (WAT) from Two Fat Lardies I have been thinking about a sci-fi adaptation. I have always felt something lacking in the various large-scale sci-fi sets I have played. Ground Zero’s Dirtside Two was the first, and is probably still my favourite, but none quite deliver what I want. This may have more to do with my personal tastes than any merit in the various rule sets I have tried.
I have been playing WAT with my children using sci-fi vehicles as my 15mm World War Two western desert tanks have languished un-painted for years. The boys really like this game and we have played it a few times with around three vehicles a side. The time now seemed right to try out my sci-fi ideas.
My inspirations for this version stem from two sources. Firstly, Jon Tuffley’s “Full Thrust” source book “More Thrust” which contains the first rules for the Sa’vasku aliens. From the first time I read them I was intrigued by these. They feature a simple system of power allocation based on a number of dice rolled for the size/power plant of these “living bio-ships”. Perhaps because my first exposure to Sci-Fi was “Star Trek”, the idea of switching power between the three core systems; attack, defence and movement resonates strongly with me.
Secondly, “Silent Death” a system for space fighter combat by Iron Crown Enterprises utilizes a system in which the same dice are read in different ways to determine hits and resolve damage.
I set up a very rough proof of concept game based on these “back of a postcard” ideas. One minor difference was to change the roles allocated to the dice in the WAT “hand”. I didn’t want 6 to be wild; rolls of multiple sixes would be increasingly powerful. I opted for the following:
- Acquire target
For Sci-Fi games, I am not sure reload is the right option, but for the moment I left it in.
For my previous games, I just chose the stats from particular WW2 and assigned them to Sci-Fi models. This time each vehicle would have a max level of power that could be used by each system with a +/- “free” bonus. The concept was that the bonus applied as soon as any power is allocated to that system. In fact, I somehow ended up playing it that the bonus applied only when the maximum allocation was applied. Special characteristics can also be added, but in this game, I only assigned one.
|Core Dice||Max Attack||Defence||Movement|
|“Callisto” Gunboat||6||15 (+5 bonus)||8||6|
|Chieftain||5||13 (+2 bonus)||7||11|
|Ferret*||4||8||5 (-1)||15 (+3)|
*Manoeuvrable. Doesn’t pay for turns
New Aryan Union (Sci-Fi Nazi’s):
|Core Dice||Max Attack||Defence||Movement|
|Pz. 37 “Wespe”||6||15 (+2 bonus)||10 (+2)||10|
The British started with 3 Chieftains, 2 Ferrets and the Callisto.
The NAU with 2 sections of three Wespen.
The notional objective for the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge. The NAU needed to prevent this.
To decide activation order I used a set of dice, one for each vehicle on each side. All vehicles were marked with a coloured sticker which corresponded to a dice. Each side rolled its individually coloured dice to determine precedence. In the spirit of reading the same die in two different ways. I added up each sides dice. This determined initiative. In the case of any draw (e.g., vehicles on both sides rolling 6’s) the side with the initiative would move first (or defer, although I didn’t choose to use this option in the game)
As I was using a simplified system, the defence dice were considered energy shield which had the same effectiveness from any angle. I would probably develop this along the lines of Full Thrust and say that due to drive mechanics, the rear cannot be as effectively shielded, but not this time.
Vehicles were considered to be able to take up to half their core dice value in critical hits (6’s), although I didn’t give critical hits specific locations/effects this time in aid of simplicity. More than half the core value in critical hits destroys the vehicle. A hit of 5 would just reduce the current core dice level. 5’s could be repaired but not 6’s. In addition, any 6 rolled could “explode”. Each was re-rolled to see if a further 6 resulted. If so, a further roll would be required, and so on.
Firing within 6 hexes resulted in a close-range bonus of +1 to each die rolled.
The mat I used for this game was a present bought for me a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I haven’t previously used it as my table isn’t big enough. Today it was pressed (apologies that it wasn’t pressed beforehand, and you can see the fold lines. It was an impromptu game!) into service on my eldest son’s bedroom floor while he was at school. It is from Tiny Wargames. I hoped it would be a useful generic mat for air games either around the Pacific or Far East. I also had half an eye on games like this where I could use my gunboats.
A note on the models. They are a bit vintage. The Callisto is from GZG (slightly modified with a turret from Ral Partha which has again been converted from a single to dual cannon). The other vehicles are all from grav versions of miniatures from Scotia Micro Models sci-fi range. The Chieftains are Abrams 4000 (SF0022); Ferrets are Merkava 4000s (SF0031) with Bradley 4000 turrets (SF0049). The Wespen are Challenger 4000s (SF0028). The stands were home made many years ago. I usually use clear Lego or clear acrylic bases now.
A drone shot over the delta at the start of the game.
And from the British perspective.
The NAU took the initiative and on their third activation “red” Wespe opened fire on the British orange Ferret achieving a 665, however, these were all blocked by defensive die rolls. Subsequently the “Callisto” opened fire on the white Pz37. A 66665 from 20 destroyed the target. However, the NAU hit back with the green Pz37 destroying the British blue Ferret.
NAU orange gets a 6555 on British red Chieftain, of which two are blocked leaving 2 hits. The NAU blue Wespe gets a very big roll of 30 (665544), but with no acquisition or aim dice it is not worth much except to power a solid defence. By contrast, British yellow Cheiftain rolls a 66111. With 3 wild dice, and a total of just 15 energy points, the Brit can post Att: 9 Def: 4 Move: 2. Those 9 dice yielded a 66665. Despite a defensive roll of what would normally be a respectable 6555, NAU blue loses 3 core dice.
At the end of turn one it’s about even. Only the Brits have lost a vehicle but also have one damaged, while NAU have two damaged.
Early on neither NAU orange Wespe nor the “Callisto” make significant actions despite big rolls. British green Cheiftain then gets four hits on the red Pz37 with a 6655, but these are all blocked. This then launches a fierce attack on the British red Chieftain with a 6665. The Chieftain can’t block any and explodes into an incandescent ball of gas. Neither NAU green nor yellow can engage a target, but the little orange Ferret moves within 6 hexes of a target to get a bonus of +1 per dice and 6655 for 4 hits, but these are all blocked! The yellow Chieftain inflicts 2 hits on the yellow Pz37 to wrap up the turn, although NAU blue Wespe manages to repair a core die at the end.
The turn ends with another loss for the Brits; now down to a Ferret and 2 Chieftains plus the “Callisto”. The NAU have taken damage though, but it isn’t enough when some of that is being repaired. It’s not over yet though.
The green Wespe is blocked from targeting the British yellow Chieftain and turns on the orange Ferret: A roll of 555211 gives two wilds allowing an acquisition, aim and shot. With an attack of 17 (max dice of 15 plus 2) the NAU gunner gets a statistic busting 66666555. The target can only block a 6/5. BOOM! Another Brit gone. NAU Wespe blue now acquires and aims at the “Callisto”, but can’t open fire. It is a similar story for The British green Cheiftain. NAU red inflicts a 66555 on the British yellow Chieftain. It blocks 2 hits but leaves the 2 crits and another hit!
“Callisto” now gets to respond with a 665421. The wild is used as a 3 to aim with a shot of a maximum 20 dice (15 max allocation +5 bonus; it’s a twin turret!) But the 666555 are all blocked by the maximum 12 defensive dice.
As the turn ends there is finally something to cheer for the Brits. Yellow Cheiftain, already having an acquisition and aim on his NAU opposite, adds an additional aim for a bonus. A 15 dice attack results in an astonishing 666666 5555. 6 defensive dice just aren’t going to be enough…BOOM!
Despite the earth-shaking destruction of NAU yellow Wespe, things are slowly deteriorating for the Brits. As turn four begins NAU orange, having previously acquired the Brit yellow Chieftain rolled a hand of 533311. Using both wild dice as 4’s allowed a shoot, reload, shoot action. Amazingly, of the 20 dice rolled resulting in 6666 5555, only one 5 wasn’t blocked for one damage on the Brit. And now Callisto responded in kind. Having previously acquired the orange aggressor a 655443 allowed another double shot, but this time at 20 each. Of the 66 5555555 resulting hits, only two were blocked for another titanic explosion!
For a moment it seemed like the Brits could claw their way back into the fight as NAU greens attack on the Callisto is blocked and red can’t get a shot. However, NAU blue rolls up a 543221. This means that blue can acquire, aim, shoot, reload and shoot again with the wild die as an additional 4. Two crashing volleys later, although the Callisto blocked 7 hits, 2 criticals and another hit landed.
With the Callisto damaged and the initiative never having left the NAU, the red Wespe weighed in with a 655443, and having already acquired and aimed last turn the inevitable double shot resounded across the turgid green waters. Callisto was able to block the only two hits from the first volley and generate a repair, but hope turned to despair for the Brits when the second round of fire resulted in 666 5555. Could Callisto’s 8 defence dice hold up? BOOM! That would be a no.
Callisto is hit and destroyed.
I think that was a very interesting and quite exciting test of the basic mechanics of this variation on the Lardy rules. There are some things I might like to add; Range attenuation for the powerguns. I was thinking maybe reducing the power by one for each increment of range beyond the power level (i.e., Attack power 17. At 18 range the power would reduce by 1. At 19 by 2.) Also, WAT has some cards which are awarded for on table success. I didn’t use them this time but this feature could be used to add sci-fi flavour. Finally, Full Thrust utilises a capacitor where some power, probably equivalent to core dice level, can be held over to the next turn.
I remain unsure about the reload option, but less so. It worked quite well in the game, and I saw it each attack not as a single shot, but as a volley, which would fit in with automatic reloads. So, the reload is less actually reloading than preparation to fire another fusillade.
As I failed to clearly define in my own mind whether vehicles could take half their core dice value or need to take more than half, this was an error on my part that impacted on the game. Deciding at the point in turn 1 where the NAU blue took 3 hits that it would survive (that hits should exceed half the core dice level) weighed significantly in the NAU’s favour.
The game came in around the three-hour mark, but then I was having to work it out as I went along and write it up, while moving about on the floor instead of a table. Overall, I was very pleased with how this variation on the rules worked. Maybe another test soon. Hopefully on a table…