Rifts: Fallout rules

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(image above by Bethesda Softworks)

 

So, I will make no secret of the fact that I am a rabid Fallout fan. I absolutely love the setting, with its madcap humour, its retro-60’s aesthetic juxtaposed with a horrible post-apocalyptic hellscape, and with its emphasis on narrative storytelling and open-world freedom.  Fallouts 3, and New Vegas remain some of my favourite RPGs ever, and it has always bothered me that there isn’t a dedicated, pen and paper Fallout RPG system– that is, except for an old GURPS module that is now out of print. Despite the fact that Fallout: Wasteland Warfare is in the works as a minis game, and despite Fantasy Flight’s recent Fallout board game, there seems to be no news of a Fallout RPG system in the works, much to my sadness.

A little more than a year ago, I undertook what was probably one of the most ambitious RPG undertakings I had ever done: I tried to run a Rifts campaign set in the Fallout universe. I went with Rifts, firstly, because it was a system that a lot of people in my usual RPG group were quite familiar with, and secondly, because Rifts and Fallout share many similarities: both are set in a post-apocalyptic world, full of monsters and horrors, where new nations have been carved out of the bones of the old. Power armour, giant robots, mutants, and even aliens are replete in both universes, although Rifts goes slightly heavier into things like dimension-hopping, aliens, and the aforementioned giant robots (Fallout, sadly, can only boast Liberty Prime in the giant robo department). Because of these similarities, Rifts seemed like a natural fit…although it would need some tweaking.

My campaign itself was set in post-apocalyptic Canada, and was going to span a long journey from the Rouge Valley east of Toronto, to the crumbling ruins of Toronto itself and several of its landmarks (including the Toronto Islands, historic Fort York, and a certain, extremely tall tower). Sadly, the campaign quickly fell apart due to a variety of factors…though that is a sad story for another time, though suffice to say it was a very stressful period of my life. What I do want to share today, however, is the one thing I am still proud of from that campaign: the house rules I had set up. I wanted the campaign to be more than just Rifts rules with a Fallout skin on top: I wanted the rules to reflect the equipment, creatures, and even unique gameplay mechanics of the world without going too much overboard.

In the end, I wound up adding some skills, removing some others, removing more than a few classes that just didn’t fit into the Fallout universe (like psychics, for example), and, most importantly of all, creating new rules for things like perks, radiation, and chems. Hopefully, if anyone else out there plays Rifts and wants to have their try at a Fallout campaign, these rules will come in handy– though nothing is stopping you from making any amendments of your own, especially if you are using Rifts or a d100 percentile system similar to rifts.

Before all else, though, I want to thank my player party at the time, and particularly my friend Andy, for helping me develop these rules, especially since my knowledge of Rifts was quite poor at the time.

NOTE: these rules are not in any way official, nor in any way endorsed by Bethesda Softworks or Palladium Books. Furthermore, they have been created purely on a non-profit basis.

 

SKILLS

The following skills are added:
Lore: Mutants (Technical)- 30% +5
-Grants general knowledge of Mutants, most notably Ghouls and Super-Mutants (though rarer Mutant breeds, like Trogs and Swampfolk, can also apply)
Lore: Other (Technical)- 30% + 5
-Allows the character general knowledge of a topic not covered by other lores (ie Wasteland Factions, Great Restaurants of the Wasteland, Post-Apocalyptic Sports Teams, etc). Must discuss and gain approval of GM first.
Lore: Vaults (Technical)- 35% +3
-Grants knowledge of Vaults, how they work, existing Vaults, etc
Lore: Wasteland (America)- 30%+5
-Grants knowledge of the regions, landmarks, people and general environment of the former United States. (Sub-skill Lores: Capital Wasteland, Commonwealth, New California Republic, the Pitt, Erie Stretch, Mojave, West Virginia)
Lore: Wasteland (Canada)- 30%+5
-Grants knowledge of the regions, landmarks, people and general environment of Canada (notable sub-skill lores: Greater Ronto Area, Upper Canada, Prairies, Red River, Mount Royal, New Vinland, Ojibwe Confederacy, Bysea, Quebec, the Yukon)
Radiation Treatment (Medical)- 40% +5- increases rate at which lose rads; has knowledge of how to heal rad poisoning, and alleviate radiation-related effects. Also grants bonuses in use of Rad-Away and Rad-X.

The following skills are altered from their original wording:
-History: Pre-Rifts (Technical) is now called History: Pre-War
-Lore: Demons and Monsters is now Lore: Wasteland Monsters
-Lore: Juicers is now Lore: Raiders
-Xenology (Science) is now called Mutant Biology, and applies to Super Mutants, Ghouls and other Mutants as opposed to aliens and D-Bees

The following skills are not applicable:
-Flight System Combat (Juicer)
-Horsemanship: Cyber-Knight (Horsemanship)
-Jump Bike Combat (Pilot)
-Lore: Faeries and Creatures of Magic (Technical)
-Lore: Magic (Technical)
-Lore: Psychics and Psionics (Technical)
-Miitary: Jet Fighters (unless you can make a good case to the GM)
-Military: Submersibles (as above)
-Robot Combat: Basic (Pilot)
-Robot Combat: Elite (Pilot)

 

NEW RACES:

GHOULS

Modifiers: +1D6 PE, -1D6 PB
Radiation Survivors: Ghouls are immune to the harmful effects of radiation. In addition, Ghoul characters automatically start with the Ghoulish perk for free
Past Expiry Date: Ghoul characters do not automatically trigger aggression from Feral Ghouls
Dead Metabolism: The effectiveness of chems on Ghoul characters is halved

OPTION: ANCIENT GHOUL
Used to represent a Ghoul who has been around since before the War.
Modifiers: -2D6 PB
Old Enough To Know Better: Ancient Ghouls start with +2 secondary skills of their choice, at +3% per level

 

SUPER MUTANTS

Modifiers: +2d6 PS, +1D6 PE, 1d6 less IQ, 1D6 less PB
Natural Survivors: Super Mutants are immune the harmful effects of radiation
Fresh Meat!: Super Mutant characters automatically start with the Cannibal perk for free
Hulking Brutes: Super Mutants cannot use “human-sized” armour (including power armour), and most single-handed weapons, such as pistols or knives. Human-sized clothing can only be used at the discretion of the GM.
Scourge of Humanity: Super Mutant characters may trigger aggression from Humans; they do not, however, automatically trigger aggression from other Super Mutants

OPTION: SUPER MUTANT OUTSIDER
Used to represent a Super Mutant who, for whatever reason, has retained base human intellect.
My Mind Remains: Super Mutant Outsiders do not have a negative modifier to IQ.
User of Big Words: Super Mutant Outsiders suffer a -10% penalty to communicate with other Super Mutants, due to “talking like a Human.” This may trigger aggression from other Super Mutants.

 

PERKS
Each character can take one starting perk. Furthermore, all characters may take one additional perk each time they level up. Note that Perks marked with a (*) can be taken more than once, and their numerical effects are considered to be cumulative.

Action Boy/Girl*– The character gets an extra action per melee round
Animal Friend*– The character gains +5% to all Animal Husbandry rolls. This can be used against Wasteland Monsters like Deathclaws
Barbarian*- The character gets +1 to hit with melee weapons, and may take WP Exotic as a free Secondary Skill
Black Widow/Ladykiller*- The character gets +1 damage against characters of the opposite sex, as well as a +10% bonus to charm or seduce characters of the opposite sex. This only works against  Humans and Ghouls– Super Mutants do not have any fixed gender.
Big Guns*- The character gets +1 to hit with heavy weapons, and +10% to any rolls to repair or maintain weapons
Blitz- The character moves twice as fast when charging into melee combat, at no cost to their actions
Bloody Mess*- The character gets a +1 bonus to all damage rolls. Furthermore, any enemy killed has a chance to explode into gory bits, regardless of how they were killed or what part of them was hit. Note that enemies that are killed in this way are less likely to carry valuable loot that can be recovered.
Cannibal- The character can metabolize raw meat. Furthermore, the character regains +d6 HP from eating meat killed in the last 10 minutes, including human, Ghoul and Super-Mutant meat.
Catfooted- The character has +1 PP,  and+5% to Acrobatics
Chem Fiend- The duration of any chems taken by the character is doubled. The chances of becoming addicted, however, are also doubled.
Chem Resistant- The character does not take cumulative negative modifiers when testing for addiction.
Cherchez la Femme/Confirmed Bachelor*- The character has+1 damage against characters of the same sex, and has a +10% bonus to charm or seduce characters of the same sex. This only works against Humans and Ghouls– Super Mutants do not have a fixed gender.
Comprehension- The difficult for reading any book, text or document is lowered by -25%, regardless of the text’s language or legibility.
Computer Whiz- The character be locked out of a system after failing to hack it. Furthermore, they gain a +10% bonus to all Computer Operation, Computer Programming and Computer Hacking rolls
Contortionist*- The character has +5% to Escape Artist
Critical Banker- If the character rolls a Critical Success, they may “store” the critical and treat it as a normal success. Make a note of the crit; the player can use it at any time during the session, either to automatically make their roll a critical success, or to negate a botch. The player may not store more than one crit per session, and any crits that are unused by the end of the session “expire” and cannot be used again.
Educated- The character can take two Lore skills as free secondary skills at +3% per level
Egghead- The character gains +5% to four Lore and/or Science-related skills
Explorer- The character can always tell North, even when the sun isn’t visible, and also has +8% to Land Navigation
Fearless*- The character has+3 to any save vs Horror factor, and a+10% to resist intimidation.
Finesse*- The character’s Critical Success threshold is reduced by 1%
Four Leaf Clover- The player can reroll one or all dice in a roll once per session
Ghoulish- The character regains +D6 HP per 2 melee rounds when exposed to radiation. This cannot be used if the character already has the Rad Resistance perk.
Grim Reaper’s Sprint- After scoring a critical success or killing an opponent in combat, the character gains a +3 bonus to all damage rolls in the current melee round (or subsequent melee round, if the character scores this success at the end of their round)
Gun Nut*- The character has a +5% chance to repair guns, and a +1 chance to hit with pistols and rifles
Gunslinger*- The character gains +2 to initiative when drawing a pistol or pistols, or participating in a gun duel; furthermore they gain the Quickdraw ability
Harmless- The character has +10% to Prowl, +5% to camouflage, and a +5% streetwise bonus to themselves out of bad situations
Insanely Gifted- The player may add +1d6 to one attribute of choice to their character. However, the character must also have a form of insanity—either determined randomly on the table (see Rifts core), or upon consultation with the GM.
Inspirational- The character can make an inspirational speech as an action, at +10% if done through Perform, directed against specific party members; affected party members gain a +5% bonus to their next action, or +1 to hit on their next attack if they are in combat.
Iron Fist*- The character has +1 to hit with unarmed attacks; furthermore, the character treats their hand to hand skill level as being one higher than it currently is.
Junkyard Genius*- Once per game, the character has a single guaranteed success on Jury Rig.
Lightfooted- The character has a 25% chance to avoid triggering traps, and -10% to Prowl Penalties
Little Leaguer*- The character has +1 to hit with grenades or thrown weapons
Living Anatomy- The character has a +1 damage bonus against Humans, Ghouls or Super-Mutants for every one of the following skills the character has above 50%: Forensics, Pathology, Medical Science, Biology, or Paramedic. Veterinary Science gives a similar bonus vs animals. Mutant Biology grants a similar bonus against Super Mutants and Ghouls only.
Miracle Worker- The character may reroll 1 attempt to fix a broken machine per session.
Munitions Conversion- This allows the character to attempt to convert one size of regular ammunition to another, with a +10% bonus if done through the Field Armourer, Demolitions and/or Recognize Weapon Quality skills. Failure results in the character having 50% fewer munitions as the batch he/she was working on gets ruined.
Never Say Die*- Once per game, the character can ignore up to 10 HP in damage in a single melee round.
Ninja- The character gains the Automatic Dodge ability. If the character already has Automatic Dodge, then he or she adds a further +5% to all Acrobatics-based abilities. Must still spend an action to get all of the bonuses for auto-dodge.
Nosy Neighbour- The character has +1 to all perception rolls, +5% to Find Contraband, and +5% to Detect Ambush
Nuka Chemist*- The character knows the recipe for Nuka Cola. On the second tier of this perk, the character gains +5% to brew Nuka Cola, and may attempt to brew special flavours based on ingredients (results may vary). Further tiers of this perk do no grant further special abilities other than the increased percentile bonus.
Nuka Symbiosis- The character regains twice as much HP from drinking Nuka Cola. However, the character also counts as being addicted to Nuka Cola, and loses the effects of the perk if they lose the addiction.
Party Animal- The character ignores the negative effects of alcohol. However, they must still test for addiction.
Power Armour Training- The character automatically has the Robots & Power Armour Combat: Basic skill. If the character already has this skill, then they automatically gain the Elite level of the skill.
Rad Resistance- The character takes 50% less rads from all sources (rounding up). This cannot be used if the character already has the Ghoulish perk.
Rifleman*-  The character has +1 to hit with rifles, with a -2 reduction to range penalties
Robotics Expert*- The character has a +10% chance to modify, hack, repair or assess or hit robots, as well as a+1 to damage Robots. On a second level of this perk, the character also gains a +5% bonus to persuade or Interrogate robots.
Rooted- The character does not suffer negatives from burst fire if they have not moved that melee round.
Scavenger- On a successful salvage roll, the character finds an extra 2d6 rounds of ammunition (of type determined by GM)
Scenery Chewer*- The character has +10% to public speaking and performance.
Science!*- The character gains +5% to all Jury Rig attempts, and adds a 10% bonus to two Science-related skills (confirm with GM)
Scoundrel- The character gains a +10% bonus to cheat in any roll on the Gambling (Dirty Tricks) skill, and a +5% bonus to Palming and Concealment.
Silver-Tongued Devil- The character has a flat +30% to gain someone’s trust or persuade them of something, or a +5% bonus on Barter, Seduction or Interrogation.
Solar Powered*- The character gains+10 max HP in sunlight. This is reduced back down to the character’s normal level whenever not in sunlight– any damage that takes them beyond their starting health counts as excessive damage for the purposes of determining injury, unconsciousness, death, etc.
Shotgun Surgeon- The character can use everyday or modified materials or items as medical equipment if they pass a successful Field Surgery or Salvage roll
Terrifying Presence*- The character has +10% to all intimidate rolls. Also, some opponents must test vs Intimidation to attack the character
Thief*- The character gains +10% to two Skills from the Espionage or Rogue skill set
Work, Damn You!- The character makes an attack roll against a piece of equipment or machinery. The item proceeds to work as intended for 1 melee round, before subsequently breaking.

GHOUL PERKS:

Charred- The Ghoul only takes half damage from flame-type weapons, or fire of any kind.
Feral Whisperer- The Ghoul can use Animal Husbandry on Feral Ghouls
Gangrenous- The Ghoul can choose to be infected with a disease. Make a note of what kind of disease; the Ghoul will not suffer any of the disease’s effects, but can transmit those effects to another character by touch. The Ghoul also suffers a further-1d6 PB and PE as the disease affects their rotten condition even further. Any successful rolls to treat the Ghoul’s disease, however, will cause the perk to cease to function, until/unless the Ghoul is infected with another disease. Note that Ghouls CANNOT be infected with, nor carry, the FEV.
Germ Proof- The Ghoul has a +3 to save vs toxins, disease and poison.
Glowing One- The Ghoul emits radiation in a four foot radius. Furthermore, they can heal D6+1 HP per melee round when near a source of radiation, and any Ghouls (of any kind) within a four foot radius will be similarly healed. The Ghouls also suffers from -5% to Prowl, and glows in the dark.
Reaver- The Ghoul gains a natural armour rating of 10. The Ghoul also suffers -1d6 PB and MA. To gain the Reaver perk, the Ghoul must have one pre-existing Ghoul Perk.
When I Was Your Age (Ancient Ghouls only)- The Ghoul can remember Pre-War events with perfect clarity, and gains a +10% to all rolls on Lore: Pre-War

SUPER MUTANT PERKS:

Abomination Handler- The Super-Mutant can use Animal Husbandry on FEV-mutated creatures, such as Centaurs and Mutant Hounds.
Berserk Rage- After taking any kind of damage in combat, the Super Mutant adds +1 to hit and +2 to all damage rolls for the rest of the battle. The Mutant must make Mental Endurance saves not to attack allies.
Metal Man Masher*- The Super-Mutant gains +1 to damage against Robots and against characters in power armour
Mutant Master- The Super-Mutant gains a +5% bonus to gain influence over or command other Super Mutants; this becomes a +10% if done through Public Speaking or Performance, or if the Mutant’s PS is 16 or higher.
Sanity is for the Weak- The Super-Mutant is completely immune to Horror effects and mind control; must take a form of insanity, either by conferring with the GM or rolling on the table (see Rifts core)

 

 

CLASSES- STARTING AMENDMENTS:

BODY FIXER
Gains Radiation Treatment as an OCC Skill
Omit the following: robot micro-surgeon system, hand held computer, commercial vehicle, laser scalpel, blood pressure machine, vibro-knife, robot medical kit
Medical Kit- Now contains the following: stimpacks, rad-away, rad-x, Med-x, Addictol,

OPERATOR
Omit the following: two commercial vehicles, portable translator

ROGUE SCHOLAR
Omit: Commercial vehicle, CD player, digital camera, portable language translator
Add: Holotape player + headphones

In addition, the following OCCs are NOT allowed:
-Cyber-Doc
-Cyber-Knight
-Glitter Boy
-Dragon
-Robot Pilot
-Any Magic-User or Coalition characters

 

STARTING EQUIPMENT:
All classes may take a Geiger counter as part of their starting equipment. Geiger counters detect radioactive materials within a 12 ft radius, and determine level of radioactivity

UNIQUE EQUIPMENT

PIP-BOY 3000- contains in-built personal computer with map, inventory, database, and med and bio-scanner; can be plugged into specific Vault-tec outlets
-VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System)- can use VATS on a single enemy to add +1 to hit to any aimed attack against them.

HACKING MECHANICS:
Each time a player fails a hacking roll, the difficulty is increased by 10%.
-Assuming your first hack is at -0%
-A failed attempt gives a -10% to the next roll, cumulative to future attempts
-A player with a 40% chance of success, who has failed one hacking attempt would need to roll a 30% or less to succeed. A second failed attempt would result in a -20%, or a roll of 20% or less.
-A player who reduces their chances to pass a hacking skill check to 0% or less locks that terminal. (This includes other players)

 

RADIATION
Radiation works as follows:
Every time a person is near a source of radiation, they take a number of rads per melee round. The longer they stay near the radiation source, the more rads they take. Some sources give off more radiation than others, or give increasing amounts of radiation the closer the character is to it.
Classifications of radiation sources are as follows:
-Minor- 5 rads/second
-Medium- 10 rads/second
-Dangerous- 15 rads/second
-Severe- 20 rads/second
-Catastrophic- 25+ rads/second

As characters take more and more rads, the following effects will apply:
-At 200 rads, -2 to all stats, -1 to combat rolls
-At 400 rads, -4 to all stats, -2 to combat rolls
-At rads, -6 to all stats, -3 to combat rolls
-At 800 rads, -8 to all stats, -4 to combat rolls

1000 rads is considered to be a lethal amount of radiation. Once a character reaches 1000 rads, they will immediately die.
Radiation can be reduced by taking Rad-X or Rad-Away, or, if one is available, going into a decontamination chamber. Some doctors in the wasteland have developed herbal or home-made counters to radiation as well.

 

 

CHEMS
Chems have the following effects:

Addictol- immediately removes the effects of all addictions within 15 minutes. During that time, the character suffers –d6 HP and feels sick to their stomach, though they feel fresh as a daisy when it’s all over.
Buffout- +5 PS for d6x10 minutes, takes 1 melee round to kick in as the character’s muscles swell to a much greater degree. During this time, the character may feel elevated levels of energy and aggression.
Jet- gains an extra action for d6 melee rounds, activates immediately. To the character, the world will appear to “slow down” as their heart rate and energy levels increase dramatically
-Ultra Jet- gains an extra action for 3d6 melee rounds, although once it runs out, the character will immediately suffer -5 Speed and -2 PE as they “crash” for d4 rounds.
Med-X- +2 save vs pain, +d4x10 SDC for d6x10 minutes, takes 1 melee round to kick in.
Mentats- +5 to IQ for 10 minutes, as the character is briefly endowed with genius-level intellect (and the smug attitude to match). Takes 1 melee round to kick in.
Psycho- +1 to hit with all attacks, and +2 to all damage rolls, for d6 melee rounds, activates immediately. During this time, the character will have heightened bloodlust and an overwhelming urge to commit acts of violence. Must make Mental Endurance saves to not commit violent actions against people they don’t want to hurt. Nonlethal DC 12
Rad-X- negate 5 rads per second (to a minimum of 1) for ten minutes. Boosted to 8 rads per second when used with the Radiation Treatment skill.
RadAway- eliminates 2d6 rads. Boosted to 3d6 rads when used by someone with the Radiation Treatment skill.
-Ultra-RadAway- eliminates 6d6 rads. Boosted to 7d6 when used by someone with the Radiation Treatment skill.
Stimpak- +2d6 HP. Anyone with the First Aid or Medical Science skills boosts this by 1d6
-Super-Stimpak- +6d6 HP. Anyone with the First Aid or Medical Science skills boosts this by 1d6

Board Game Night: Expeditions for Hyperthetical Dragonballs

 

So, a week ago my girlfriend Nicole and I went to one of our usual board game hubs, Snakes and Lattes, which is near Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto (definitely worth a visit if any of you readers happen to visit our fair city). It was a fairly quiet night for a weekday, so we managed to find a table rather easily. We were in the mood that night to try something new, but since the cafe’s recent additions didn’t look particularly appetizing, we instead found ourselves scrounging around the older shelves to find something we had overlooked in past board game nights.

The first game we tried for the night was The Lost Expedition.

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The game revolved around a team of adventurers in what appears to be the 1920s journeying into the Amazon rainforest in search of the lost city of El Dorado, all the while having to fend off the local wildlife, disease, starvation, getting lost, and unfriendly natives. It was a simple-seeming affair, with the two of us taking turns controlling a party of three randomly drawn adventurers, and a “path” deck that we created from both of our hands. There were also a large number of resource tiles, representing food, sleep, bullets, health, navigation, and survivalism.

Our brave expedition consisted of three brave adventurers: Ynes, Candido, and Clearly-Not-Teddy-Roosevelt.

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Candido either doesn’t think his fancy white outfit is going to get stained, or thinks there will be dry cleaning in the rainforest…

The game itself was split into three parts, each split between a “day” and a “night” cycle, during which both of which we would have to cross down the path of cards we had created. Traversing down this path turned out to not be an easy prospect, as, while some of them would grant us resource counters, others still would require certain resources for us to pass onwards. If we were didn’t have any of the corresponding resource counters, then we would have to instead take them directly off of any explorers with the corresponding icon in the form of health (each explorer had 5 health counters). And thus, the journey could slowly but surely take a toll on our brave explorers if we weren’t careful. (Spoiler: we weren’t).

We managed to get through the first day without too much difficult, but had to expend a lot of resources on the second. By the time we got to the third, almost all of our explorers were dangerously low on health.

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I always knew never to trust monkeys…

Our first casualty, sadly, came when we came upon an “Eels” card. We were low on resources at this point and could not spend the requisite amount to get past this card– this meant that someone in our party had to snuff it. Alas, poor Teddy was promtply eaten by the eels. Ironically, the party then got food from the encounter, eating the eels that had just eaten poor Teddy. So…our adventurers had just, indirectly, eaten Theodore Roosevelt.

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RIP Teddy. At least the eels were delicious.

Even then, the third day proved more and more perilous. Candido was the next to die after a fateful encounter with a jaguar. We almost didn’t think we would win this game…but at the end, Ines, battered and only on a single point of health remaining, stumbled off the path into El Dorado.

Overall, my girlfriend and I quite enjoyed this game. It was difficult enough to be challenging without being impossible –it forced us to be careful with the use of our resources, and had us fighting a constant battle against attrition. You actually are forced to think ahead in terms of what cards you set down for the path, and about gaining the right kinds of resources, otherwise you find your characters getting dangerously low on health. Beyond that, I liked simplistic art style of the game, which reminded me a lot of comic books from the 1950s and 60s. Ultimately, I would definitely give this game a chance if you happen to see it.

Recommended? Yes.

For the next game, we decided on something a little more off the wall, and picked up Dragonball Z: Perfect Cell.

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Goku, hoping Cell will stand still for two episodes while he charges up his Kamehameha.

Like a lot of people in my generation, I got sucked into the hype of Dragonball Z when I was a kid, what with its almost ludicrous hypermasculinity, its flashy, destructive fight scenes, and its episode-long charge-up times. As such, when we picked this game, I was expecting something that would hopefully live up to the destructive, and sometimes silly, fun of Dragonball Z.

It…well…sort of did, and sort of didn’t.

The game revolves around you and your fellow players battling Cell. The object of the game is to choose a character for each player, each of whom has their own abilities. Players gain randomly-rolled resources each turn, which they can use to buy special attacks, aid other players, use regular or special attacks, to heal damage or to block or disable Cell’s persistent attacks. In true DBZ fashion, you can also acquire the Dragon Balls to resurrect any players who get killed by Cell in the process. Each round, meanwhile, Cell will acquire two abilities, which will do damage or negate certain abilities of your own: unless you roll the right abilities/resources cancel out these effects, Cell’s attacks/abilities will simply persist and accumulate each turn, making winning the game much more difficult.

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Cell, daring you to fill his hit boxes.

Speaking of winning: to win, you need to kill Cell by filling all of his 75 or 85 damage boxes, which isn’t too hard, given that some of the special attacks you can acquire can do ridiculous amounts of damage. This is complicated though, by the fact that some of Cell’s cards will heal damage, and, if not negated by the players, will heal persistently throughout the game. Also, you lose if (a) Cell kills all of the players, or (b) Cell ends up using all of his attack cards.

In the game itself, I wound up with Goku (who gets to give some of his resources to fellow players as a free action), and my girlfriend got Vegeta, who starts with the Kamehameha special attack (which is strange, as I always thought the Kamehameha was specifically Goku’s thing). Nicole also had fun imitating him throughout the game. (“That’s a good plan, Kakorrot, but I am the Prince of Saiyans, so screw your plan, I want to punch him!”) The game itself, however, became very predictable, as we quickly settled into a routine of Goku blocking Cell’s abilities and diverting resources to Vegeta, who in turn collected as many special attacks as possible and blasted the ever living hell out of Cell. We still came very close to being decked out, as Cell had only one or two cards left in his deck in the end, but it didn’t matter, as Vegeta still ultimately obliterated Cell, laughing arrogantly all the while.

The problem I have with this game is it did not give me the same feeling of tension as Lost Expedition did. Every round, Nicole and I were able to easily repel Cell’s abilities and inflict increasing amounts of damage upon him, and never once did we feel challenged or even threatened by him. The game manual did post recommendations for ways to make the game more challenging, which is something I’ve seen in several other board games that I’ve encountered. However, whenever I see challenging game modes like this, I always seen them as an interesting, alternative way to play the game that already has a solid “main” play style. In Perfect Cell’s case, these expanded difficulty options felt more like an apology, as though the game makers were somehow aware of how un-challenging our experience with the main game was.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I do not recommend Perfect Cell. It may serve as a fun experience if you and your fellow players have had a few beers and enjoyed DBZ as kids, at which point you will no doubt have endless fun shouting out the names of the attacks you unleash on Cell, or voicing the dialogue of the characters you play as. But sadly, I found it bland and unexciting, which is the worst thing you could say about a Dragonball Z game.

Recommended? No.

hypertheticals

Finally, to cap off the night, we played a bit of Chuck Klosterman’s Hypertheticals. We had actually encountered Hypertheticals on a previous game night, and had thoroughly enjoyed it. Hypertheticals is not a game per se, so much as it a conversation starter. Participants take turns drawing cards and reading the questions aloud, and everyone involved takes turns answering the questions and giving the rationale behind their answers.

The thing is, this questions always revolve around bizarre, off the wall and quite frankly insane scenarios, and almost always foist a philosphical, moral or ethical dilemma on the participants. Some (abbreviated) examples include:

-You can either have every piece of music you listen to for the rest of your life be Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box,” or your significant other’s collarbone will be broken every three years. Which do you choose?

-Would you rather be twice as intelligent as you are now, or be immune to sickness?

-You wake up in Bruce Springsteen’s body. What do you do?

-How would you fistfight someone while wearing a spacesuit on the moon?

What I love about Hypertheticals isn’t just the conversations it starts, but what it reveals about people when they give their reasoning behind certain situations. You can learn, for instance, what a person’s attitude is towards sacrificing something for someone they love, or what their values are, or how they would proceed in an unusual or difficult situation. And sometimes it sparks interesting debates– Nicole and I spent several minutes, for instance, arguing over whether someone who commits crimes in jail should be tried for said crimes, even if he was originally wrongfully imprisoned. I highly recommend Hypertheticals, whether as a quick two-player conversation starter or as a party game, if only because I’m a weirdo who likes seeing people adjust to unusual scenarios.

Recommended? Yes.

Of course, next time we go to Snakes and Lattes, way may try some of the more noteworthy titles out there. From what I understand, they may actuall have a copy of Blood Rage…

 

Batrep #5: From Darkness They Came

(Artist unknown)

Hundreds of miles below the Valkyrie, the surface of planetoid Ixis 37B was a jagged grey tangle of crags, peaks, and canyons, punctuated here and there by the bright orange of a lava flow. It was a low atmosphere rock where little sunlight pierced the perpetual gloom, and little or nothing lived. It wasn’t until you got closer to the surface that you saw stranger sights– rock formations hovering above the ground like strange, floating sculptures, perfectly hemispherical pits stretching for miles across, and strange electromagnetic signals seemingly originating from the planet itself– all of which had attracted the attention of the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Tempestor Stone of the Ironheart Grenadiers pulled his gaze away from the Valkyrie’s viewport to glance at back Alpha Squad. Around him, his Grenadiers were harnessed into their seats, busy doing last-minute weapons checks, saying the odd prayer here and there, and cracking jokes with one another– all standard rituals for a man about to make a drop. 

At least two standard Terran weeks ago, an Adeptus Mechanicus facility in Ixis had unearthed ancient ruins of xenos origin. Only a few days after that, though, the raids had begun: sleek craft, supposedly of Eldar origin, had started to strike at the outpost from the barren wastelands surrounding it, reaping a heavy toll on the Skitarii garrison before disappearing back into the darkness of the moon’s eternal night cycle. The attacks had been incessant, day after day, until the very last Skitarii had been slain. Now the Techpriests were defeneless, and they were calling on the Imperial Guard for help. They were adamant that something that they had found– an artefact of great significance, or so they claimed, though they refused to go into specifics– could not fall into xenos hands.

Task Force D-55’s mission was simple: extract the surviving Techpriests, and more importantly, the whatever-it-was that they had found. Ground assets– in particular, an armoured brigade from the Ironheart 23rd– were already on site, though Marshal Everson had also sent Stone and his Grenadiers in to provide airborne support and extraction if need be, and– as Everson himself had said– “to give those flying pointy-eared whoresons a taste of their own medicine.” Stone smiled at the thought, but it soon disappeared as he recalled the details of the xeno attacks. Whoever these attackers were, they had been capturing Skitarii alive with each raid, mutilating them, and leaving their barely-alive bodies nailed to cliffsides in full view of the Mechanicus outpost. This could only be the grisly handiwork of the Dark Eldar, he knew, which meant that  failure today would mean a fate much worse than death for him and his men.

“Vox reading from the ground, sir!” came an abrupt shout from Bishop, his pilot. “The ground column has sighted and engaged xeno forces at delta nine-five!”

Stone snapped back to reality. “Auspex!” he ordered, bracing himself against the upper walls of the Valkyrie as he strode down the length of the plane towards the cockpit. Looking at the auspex on the main console, he saw returns pinging to life on the circular screen– solid green blocks representing the armoured column sprang up, forming a loose row upon a topographic representation of the valley far below them. A yellow triangle blinked in the middle of the column, representing the asset that the Mechanicus wanted extracted. At the furthest of the valley, meanwhile, multiple white dots of varying size were suddenly appearing. Those dots were converging on the column with alarming speed. 

It was at that moment that the vox crackled to life. The cabin of the Valkyrie was suddenly flooded with a cacophony of screams, shouted orders, and a low, static-laced rumble that could only be the boom of battle cannons. 

“Shut it off,” Stone ordered, “and bring us into drop altitude.” He turned and strode down the other end of the plane to his men. “Weapons ready! We will be dropping in exactly one minute! Our opposition is highly mobile with multiple skimmer assets! Expect intense enemy fire and fierce resistance the moment we hit the ground!”

“So, business as usual?” piped up one Grenadier.

Stone flashed him a rare smile. “Business as usual, Grenadier,” he replied, as he flicked the power cell of his pistol and re-checked his grav-chute, before grabbing a hold of the overhead railing.

In front of him, the side door of the Valkyrie began to rumble open to the endless starlight outside…

 

So, I apologize for the long time it has been since my last batrep: life, as usual, has been fairly busy. A while back, though, I managed to get my first game with the new Dark Eldar in against a friend of mine who had just started on 8th edition himself. For the sake of keeping things simple, we agreed to a 1500 points game, with my Kabal against his Imperial Guard. I brought the following:

 

I took the following:

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A quick note: for those of you who do not like seeing unpainted models…I apologize in advance, but you are going to be seeing a lot of those in this game.

 

KABAL OF THE REVENANT SHROUD RAIDING PARTY:

KABAL OF THE FLAYED SKULL PATROL:

Dracon Khyrus (Archon)- blast pistol, Djin Blade, phantasm grenade launcher, Hatred Eternal
10 Kabalite Warriors- 2 blasters, splinter cannon
-Raider- dark lance, splinter racks
5 Kabalite Warriors- blaster
-Venom- dual splinter cannon
Sslyth
-Venom- dual splinter cannon
8 Mandrakes
Ravager- 3 dark lances
Razorwing Jetfighter- 2 disintegrators

CULT OF THE RED GRIEF PATROL:

Succubus Karath Deathbrand- blast pistol, Blood Glaive, Adrenalight, Hyper-Swift Reflexes
9 Wyches- shardnet and impaler, Grave Lotus, Hekatrix w. agonizer*
-Raider- disintegrator
6 Reaver Jetbikes- 2 heat lances, Painbringer

PROPHETS OF FLESH PATROL:

Haemonculus Vakkan- stinger pistol, electrocorrosive whip, Diabolic Soothsayer
5 Wracks
-Venom- dual splinter cannons

Total Command Points: 7

*Yes, I know the agonizer is technically a bad choice against Imperial Guard, but I made this as an all-comers list.

 

Thoughts: In putting together this list, I wanted to try out the Alliance of Agony stratagem as well as the Raiding Force rules…and to be honest, I also wanted to try a little bit of everything. The general idea of this list was to have a solid core of firepower from my Kabalites and vehicle-mounted weapons, while the Wyches, Reavers, and deep striking Mandrakes would try to force my opponent to deal with multiple close combat threats at once.

 

My Imperial Guard opponent, meanwhile, brought the following:

 

IRONHEART EXPEDITIONARY FORCES:

MILITARUM TEMPESTUS BATTALLION:

Tempestor Prime Stone- hot-shot laspistol, Blade of Conquest, Draconian Disciplinarian
Primaris Psyker- Psychic Barrier, Emperor’s Gaze
7 Scions- 2 meltaguns, Tempestor w. power axe
7 Scions- 2 meltaguns, Tempestor w. power sword
7 Scions- 2 plasma guns, Tempestor w. power sword
Scion Command Squad- flamer, plasma gun, grenade launcher, medi-pack
Techpriest Enginseer
4 Servitors- 2 heavy bolters
-Chimera- hull heavy bolter

CATACHAN SPEARHEAD DETACHMENT:

Lord Commissar- bolt pistol, power sword
10 Veterans- 3 plasma guns, Sergeant w. power fist
-Chimera- hull heavy bolter
Hellhound- hull heavy bolter
Leman Russ- hull lascannon, sponson heavy bolters
Leman Russ- hull lascannon, sponson heavy bolters
Manticore

Total Command Points: 8

I’ll be honest, I was rather intimidated at first by both the sheer number of tanks at his disposal, and by the entire detachment of deep striking Scions that would be pouncing on my army in turn 2. It was at around this point that I began to wonder if I had brought enough blasters or lances for this battle. Still, this game was going to be a test for both of our lists. “Maybe I’m selling myself short,” I thought at the time, “maybe the Imperial Guard’s shooting won’t be so bad.” Ah hah hah hah hah…

 

For the scenario, we settled on The Relic– which we represented with an old pot of paint that my opponent had on hand. We figured that it had to contain some sort of fantastic STC construct, or blackmetal, or maybe the Imperial Guard is just desperately running out of silver paint nowadays.

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DEPLOYMENT:

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From right to left: I placed my Reavers far forward, hoping to advance and then charge on the first turn. Further behind, the Kabalites and Ravager hit behind one rock formation, while my three Venoms (one carrying my other Kabalites, one carrying the Wracks and the third carrying my Archon, Sslyth and Haemonculus) huddled behind the other one, hoping cover would be enough. My Wych Raider and Razorwing saw on the opposite far left flank, and the Mandrakes remained hidden in the shadows.

My opponent, meanwhile, had his tanks and Chimeras strung along in a loose formation, with his Manticore sitting far back on the right while one of his Russes huddled underneath a giant floating rock formation on the left, praying that the weird laws of gravity on this planet didn’t suddenly revert to normal.

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Incidentally I love this particular game board (at Sword and Board in Toronto). My opponent and I both were hazy on how the terrain rules would apply to so many elevated, floating terrain pieces, so we agreed that, because it was obviously a low-gravity world, it would take a full movement phase to get up and down any of the giant floating rocks, no matter how high they were.

I failed to seize the initiative, and so the Guard went first.

 

TURN 1

The Guard began the came with the Techpriest and his attendant Servitors bailing out of their Chimera and going into cover in the rocky outcroppings at the end of his line. The Primaris Psyker also exited his own character, walking on foot behind the tank line. Both Chimeras and the Hellhound both scooted towards the objective, while one of the Russes lumbered forward as well to get better line of sight.

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In the psychic phase, the Primaris cast Psychic Barrier on the advancing Russ, but suffered Perils in the process, losing 3 wounds in the mother of all migraines. In the shooting phase, the Manticore took aim at the Razorwing: I immediately used the Lightning Reflexes stratagem, forcing the Manticore to hit on 6s, but even then, it still hit with a few of its missiles, doing 3 wounds to the Razorwing. The stationary Russ, meanwhile, managed to spot the Ravager and opened fire: once again, I was forced to use Lightning Reflexes, but it availed me little– the sheer number of shots the double-shooting Russ was able to unleash with its battle cannon and secondary weapons did 5 wounds to the Ravager, leaving it teetering just short of its second damage bracket.

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The pain didn’t end there, though. The Russ that had moved managed to draw line of sight to my Archon’s Venom. This time, I opted to conserve command points and not use Lightning Reflexes– which may have turned out to be a bad move.

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The Venom was smashed like an egg by the battle cannon round, sending my Archon, the Sslyth and the Haemonculous all tumbling out in the wreckage, more outraged than hurt.Finally, one of the Chimeras managed to draw line of sight to my Reavers, firing its guns and pinging a wound off of one of them. Overall, that turn could have been worse, but I had just lost First Blood and been given a painful example of how nasty Guard shooting is.

On my turn, my Archon absolutely refused to trek across the battlefield on foot, and ordered the Wracks to vacate their Venom while he and his posse boarded it in turn, before it and most of my other vehicles advanced up onto the ridge. For the rest of the battle, the Wracks would have to make it on foot like the dregs that they were.

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The only exceptions were the Razorwing, which made a long advance around the left flank to be all sneaky and stuff, and the Reavers, who advanced screaming towards the nearest Leman Russ. The Wych Raider also advanced, zooming along the rock formation to hopefully attack the rear of the enemy forces next turn. The Wracks, meanwhile, advanced towards the opening between the two floating rock formations, looking to possibly grab the relic in a few turns.

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In the shooting phase, my force was on an elevated position looking down on the Guard, all packed in their tanks like sardines, and prepared to open them up. I concentrated my fire on the closest Leman Russ…

…and did dismally. Heat lances, dark lances and blasters all fired down at the packed human vehicles, and all either missed or failed to wound. When the dust cleared, despite me firing practically my entire army and spending two command points in the process, I had only done 3 wounds to the foremost Leman Russ, and 2 wounds to the Veterans’ Chimera.

Hm, okay, this was bad.

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In the assault phase, the Reavers tried to redeem themselves by charging the Russ. One of them was battlecannoned out of the sky on the way in, but the rest made their charge, doing one mortal wound to the tank with their grav-talons and another as their bladevanes tore rents into the big tank’s hull. The Russ did nothing back, and the fight dragged on, with the Reavers swarming the Russ and causing sparks to fly as they scraped at it with their bladevanes, jeering at the tank’s crew to come out and play.

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TURN 2

At the start of my opponent’s turn, the Russ, understandably, fell back from combat. At least it would be unable to fire this turn. In the centre, the tanks shuffled somewhat to get better line of sight, while the Veterans and their attendant Lord Commissar disembarked near the relic. At the back, the Techpriest led his Servitors up onto one of the floating rocks to get better line of sight to the Drukharii host.

And then the clouds parted, and it started raining Scions. A plasma toting squad came down right on top of the objective, ready to start freeming some pointy-eared xenos.

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Up on top of the floating ridge, meanwhile, the other two squads, the Stone and his Command Squad all dropped in a cluster in front of my massed vehicles, ready to put the hurt on as well.

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In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker casts Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, but failed to cast Smite. In the shooting phase, though, Stone ordered Elimination Protocols on the Wyches’ Raider; two of the melta-toting Scion Squads then combined their fire and exploded it! One Wych was killed in the ensuing blast, while the Succubus took 2 wounds, and the nearby Kabalite Venom took 3.

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The dust from the explosion had hardly even cleared when the Hellhound let loose with its flame cannon, failing to damage the Venom, before the Manticore fired on it as well, wrecking it with several ICBMs worth of overkill! The Kabalites were forced to disembark onto the ridge, shaken by the loss of their transport.

The pain didn’t end there, though. The Veterans, the plasma Scions, Servitors and both Chimeras combined their fire on the nearby Reaver Jetbikes, forcing me to again use Lightning-Fast Reflexes against the Vets. It didn’t help: even though one Veteran fried himself on overheating plasma, my poor Reavers were mercilessly blasted out of the air in a white-hot storm of plasma and laser fire. As an encore, the Leman Russ in the far corner fired on the Kabalite Raider, doing 7 wounds to it and leaving the fragile skycraft teetering.

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That last round of shooting had been brutal, and I’d taken some painful losss, but I wasn’t out of the fight yet. I moved my Wyches and Succubus along the narrow causeway to go after the Scions, looking for get some payback for the loss of their ride.

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Succubus’ paint scheme was still in progress at this time, like so much else of the army.

The Archon’s Venom moved further up on the causeway, looking to disembark its highborn cargo next turn. The various vehicles also angled for better line of sight, with the Razorwing in particular zooming down along the left flank to get a bead on one of the Leman Russes.

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That wasn’t all. A whispered chorus of hisses was heard as the Mandrakes arrived from Aelindrach, crawling out of the shadows near the Manticore, looking to feast on the mortals cowering within.

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In the shooting phase, Raider-mounted squad of Kabalites, eager to put their splinter racks to use, rapid fired down into the Scions holding the relic…and did 4 wounds, all of which were saved. This, by the way, was with them rerolling 1s thanks to their obsession, and getting exploding 6s thanks to splinter racks. Unbelievable. Their blasters, at least, combined to do 6 wounds to the nearby Hellhound, but failed to kill it. Sighing, the Archon, wondering why he had to do everything himself, calmly drew his blast pistol and exploded the Hellhound, killing 3 of the Scions in the blast! As an encore, the Kabalites who had lost their Venom fired into the Scions as well, killing another 2.

Elsewhere, the Archon’s Venom fired across the chasm at the Servitors, mowing down 2. The Kabalite Raider missed a pot shot at the foremost Leman Russ, but the Ravager was more accurate, zapping 4 wounds off of the ugly human tank…

20180506_162214…before the Razorwing raked it with disintegrator bolts and wrecked it! The Wyches fired their pistols at the Scions, but did no damage. Finally, the Mandrakes unleashed their baleblasts at the Manticore…and, despite their volume of shots, only did 1 mortal wound to the missile tank.

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In the charge phase, the Wyches multi-charged into the massed Scions across the bridge, and amazingly, didn’t lose anyone to overwatch! The Succubus followed suit into the leftmost Scion squad, prompting the Tempestor to heroically intervene. The Mandrakes, meanwhile, charged into the Manticore, losing 1 to a heavy bolter round on the way in. In close combat, the Succubus went to work, slicing and dicing apart 5 Scions from the rightmost squad with her Blood Glaive. The Wyches, however, performed less impressively, only killing 3 Scions from the other squad. In response, the Scions failed to hurt the Wyches, but did manage to jab a bayonet into the Succubus, wounding her despite her 3+ dodge save. Then the Tempestor swung at the Succubus, hitting and wounding twice…

…and crucially, the Succubus failed a save, even with a command point reroll! The hit quickly translated into 3 wounds that the Succubus failed to ignore. My jaw hit the floor as my tricked out Succubus was slain by a humble Tempestor!

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Meanwhile, the Mandrakes unleashed 21 attacks on the Manticore…and did no damage whatsoever. Even more embarassingly, the Manticore hit with its one attack and ran one of the shadow-fiends over! In the morale phase, at least, the last two Scions on the relic ran, as did the last two Scions from the squad that the Succubus had mauled.

 

TURN 3

In the Guard turn, the Manticore wisely withdrew from combat. The Veterans, undaunted by the recent demise of the Scions in front of them, moved up, letting the Lord Commissar behind them grab the relic (at the time I wasn’t sure if characters could grab the relic or not). Everything else stayed and took aim.

In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker once again cast Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, before Smiting he Kabalite Raider, freeming two wounds off of it and leaving it teetering on one. In the shooting phase, one Chimera tried to finish the Raider off, but its shots bounced off of the night shield. It was down to the Leman Russ, since the Raider was the only thing it could draw line sight to, and the big tanks inflicted half a dozen or so battle cannon hits on the Raider and brought it crashing to the ground, forcing the Kabalites to bail out on top of the causeway.

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Further in the backfield, the Veterans turned their guns on the Mandrakes threatening the Manticore, and managed to gun down three of them despite their shadowy forms. The Servitors, meanwhile, fired across the chasm at the smaller unit of Kabalites and managed to blast down two of them. Last but not least, the other Chimera trained its guns on the incoming Wracks and fired, managing to kill one of the freakish things.

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In close combat, Stone swung out with the Blade of Conquest and killed one Wych. In response, though, the Wyches sliced down the remaining four Scions, leaving Stone fighting them on his own. In the morale phase, the Mandrakes held their nerve, but one of the Kabalites from the smaller squad ran for it.

 

In my turn, the Archon and his posse disembarked, and moon-jumped down to the floor ot the chasm to hopefully assault the Veterans, while the Wracks moved up to hopefully do the same. The Venom also dropped down, aiming to shoot the Veterans up and possibly charge them to absorb overwatch.

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The remaining Mandrakes once again moved after the Manticore, while the Ravager dropped down to the floor of the chasm as well, angling to get line of sight on the Leman Russ while the Razorwing circled around to attack it from behind. All of my Kabalites, however, stayed put, as they were in comfortable firing positions against the hapless mon-keigh squatting beneath them.

In the shooting phase, the Venom shredded three Veterans, while the Kabalites…sigh…did nothing. Again. Combined blaster fire, at least, from both squads of Kabalites and the Archon managed to do 7 wounds to the leftmost Chimera, leaving it sitting on 3. The Mandrakes flung balefire at the Manticore but failed to hurt it. Finally, the Ravager fired on the Leman Russ…and hit and wounded with all three shots! I rolled for damage, and my opponent and I both watched in stunned amazement as the Ravager did 16 wounds, wrecking the Russ in one round of shooting! This, sadly, left the poor Razorwing without anything to shoot at, given that the terrain was severely limiting its line of sight.

In the charge phase, the Mandrakes once again charged the Manticore, the Venom charged the Veterans, and the Archon, Haemonculous, Sslyth and Wracks charged the Chimera, all without taking casualties from overwatch. The Mandrakes, sadly, bounced off of the Manticore.

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The Venom, meanwhile, at least managed to slice down one Veteran with its bladevanes, while avoiding any damage from the Sergeant’s power fist.

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The Archon, meanwhile, swung out at the Chimera with his shiny new Djin Blade, and managed to do something like 6 or 7 wounds of overkill, slicing so deeply into the human tank that he hit a fuel line and caused it to explode! The Archon and Haemonculous were both wounded in the explosion, while the loyal Sslyth was vaporized, as were two Wracks, and the nearby Ravager also took a wound, bringing down into its middile damage bracket.

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Elsewhere, the Wyches managed to do 3 unsaved wounds to Stone, leaving the Tempestor hanging on one. For his part, Stone swung back but was unable to hit his agile foes. And with that, the fight dragged on…

 

TURN 4

In the Guard turn, the Manticore again withdrew from combat, as did Stone– despite the bonus granted by shardnets, the Wyches actually lost the roll-off for No Escape, and failed to keep the Tempestor from escaping! Ruh roh.

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The Lord Commissar began to move away from my lines with the relic in tow, while the surviving Chimera moved up to place itself between the Commissar and my many, many guns.

In the psychic phase, the Primaris Psyker once again cast Psychic Barrier on the Veterans, and then followed up by Smiting the Venom, zapping three wounds off of the fragile skimmer. In the shooting phase, though, the Scion Command Squad opened fire on the Wyches, dousing them with flamer fuel, grenades and plasma blasts, wiping the squad out.

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In the rest of his shooting, the Servitors managed to mow down one of my Mandrakes, while the Chimera’s many guns managed to blast down another, leaving just one of the shadow-things standing.

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In close combat, the Psyker joined the fight against my Venom, swinging with his force staff and smashing one wound off of the skimmer and leaving it on one wound. The Veterans, sadly, despite smashing at it with rifle butts, rocks and even fists, were unable to hurt it (despite their Catachan strength bonus), and the Sergeant critically missed with his power fist. The Venom, for its part, failed to inflict any damage with its bladevanes, and the fight dragged on.

Except, that is, until my turn, at which point it simply flew out of combat. My Archon, Haemonculus and Wracks all moved towards the Veterans, and, more importantly, towards the relic, while the Ravager zoomed up around the protective Chimera so that it was now prow-to-face with the Lord Commissar.

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The last Mandrake, as usual, moved after the Manticore to deny it the ability to fire, while the Razorwing zoomed over the rock formation it had been behind to bring its weapons to bear on the centre of the battlefield.

In the shooting phase, the Venom got some vengeance as it perforated three Veterans, despite their protection. The Kabalites then followed suit with their massed splinter rifles…and, with their twenty-odd shots, killed only a single Veteran. To make it even worse, their blasters missed the Chimera completely! The smaller unit of Kabalites also decided to miss the blocky human tank. I decided that these idiots were going to be made an example of after the battle. Once again, the Archon had to show them how it was done, calmly taking aim with his blast pistol and vaporizing the last, piddly Veteran.

Next, the Ravager fired its dark lances at the Lord Commissar, scored two hits…and the Lord Commissar saved both of them on his refractor field!! The Mandrake, unsurprisingly, did no damage to the Manticore. The Razorwing, at least, showed some competence, unleashing a flurry of missiles and disintegrator bolts at the Manticore and doing 4 wounds to the missile tank.

In the charge phase, the Archon charged the Primaris Psyker…and even with a reroll to charges, fell short. The Haemonculus, however, had no such difficulty, making the charge into the started Psyker and felling him with his electrocorrosive whip, no doubt tying him up for his long trip back to the Dark City. The last Mandrake charged the Manticore again, and once again, survived overwatch, did no damage, but denied the missile tank another turn of shooting. Last but by no means least, the Ravager charged the Lord Commissar…and the two completely failed to hurt one another. Crucially, though, the relic was contested.

At this point, my opponent realized that there was no way he could keep hold of the relic, and threw in the towel. And with that, it was a decisive, albeit costly, win for the Drukhari.

Result: Drukhari Victory!

 

Thoughts: Wow that was an intense game. After those first two turns, I thought it was all over, but then slowly but surely, my dice started to behave themselves: my lances and disintegrators started popping enemy tanks, my Wyches went through his Scions like a blender (before dying to the Command Squad and the world’s luckiest Tempestor, anyway), and my massed splinter fire…um…it, um…well, the important thing is, I won.

Looking back, I see that my use Reavers and Mandrakes to tie up his tanks was really what won me the game: it wound up costing me both units in the end, but it did a lot to mitigate his firepower throughout the battle. And it’s a good thing too, given how amazingly some of my units failed– my Kabalites, in particular, were notable for their seeming failure to shoot down any Imperial Guardsmen, and the Wyches were not nearly as amazing as I expected they would be (though they were still quite good). I think ultimately what sealed the win for me was keeping his Scions isolated from the main game, tying up his tanks with my melee units, and successfully gunning down everything he had on the objective. The man of the match for my army, without a doubt, was the Archon, for managing to explode two enemy tanks in a row.

Some learning points from this game:

-I forgot the +1 attack provided by the Wyches’ blades– had I remembered, then I have no doubt that the Wyches would have chewed through the Scions (and Stone!) a lot more quickly.

-Heat lances SUCK! They might be decent against low-toughness vehicles, but against toughness 8 Leman Russes, they actually struggle to wound. In future, I will probably ditch them in favour of more blasters.

-I keep forgetting that I can use consolidate moves to move within 1″ of fresh enemy units and lock them in close combat too. Had I remembered that, I would have done so against the Scion Command Squad, thus denying them the ability to shoot up my poor Wyches.

Overall, though, I think this was a great test run for my Dark Eldar. For future games, I definitely want to try out Scourges as a possible dedicated anti-tank unit, as well as possibly toy with other Obsessions– I honestly found the Flayed Skull obsession more useful for denying cover in this game than for the rerolls to hit with splinter weapons (although that may have just been my atrocious rolling).

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more batreps, and more articles on my Dark Eldar army, in the future!

 

Lord Commissar Brok released his handhold on the Mechanicus container and threw himself to the dust as the Ravager came screaming down at him, the xeno vehicle almost black against the night sky. He narrowly avoided being skewered on the skimmer’s bladed prow, its sharp vanes narrowly slashing over him and lacerating his cloak. He felt the compression wave of the skimmer’s passing press over him, and heard the shriek of its engines as the damnable thing soared past. Spinning around, Brok raised his bolt pistol and fired shot after shot at the Ravager as it flew away; in the gloom, he couldn’t tell if any of his shots hit their mark as the Aeldari craft banked upwards away from him, its engines glowing a malevolent violet in the twilight. It would be coming down for another pass soon.

His vox bead crackled to life. “All forces, pull back!” came Stone’s voice. “We can’t win here! Withdraw to extraction points!”

Brok felt his teeth grind. “Belay that order!” he snapped into the vox as he stood back up, making sure that he was visible to the remaining Ironheart forces. “Stand and fight! You are soldiers of the Imperium, and you will triumph or you will die on your feet!” Swearing that he would execute Stone personally when this battle was over, he turned…

…and realized, for the first time, that he was alone.  Aside from the bodies littering the floor of the canyon and the smoking carcasses of the armoured battalion, he could see no living Guardsmen in the area. Even the Manticore had stopped moving, its missile racks pointing silently to the night sky. He was the last one standing.

He heard movement behind him. He immediately spun, power sword raised for a backhanded slash…

…and stopped when he felt something sharp and cold enter his chest. Opposite him was an eerily beautiful alabaster face, with features that were smooth and pointed, and golden eyes that glinted with amused malice. The Eldar was smiling, perfect teeth gleaming in the moonlight, and as Brok glanced down, he could see that the alien was holding a sword with a hilt embossed with a leering, daemonic visage, and a jagged blade that was lodged halfway through his chest. Brok felt nothing from the wound– nothing, that was, except for a strange, aching cold that was now spreading through his body.

“As you wish, mon-keigh,” the Drukhari sneered. The Commissar didn’t even realize that his own sword had dropped from his numb fingers– fingers that were starting to crack, and crumble into powder like dried parchment. “You get to die on your feet.”

Brok tried to say something, but his throat had become very dry, and nothing came out except a hoarse rattle as his mouth filled with dust. A second later, his skin cracked and sloughed off, crumbling, before his entire body collapsed in a rapidly disintegrating pile of gravedust. 

Sighing, Khyrus flicked the dust away from the blade and sheathed it, before turning to the container that the Commissar had been determinedly trying to drag away. “So, is this the little box that you wanted?” he grumbled, not bothering to hide the irritation from his voice.

“Indeed,” hissed a sibilant voice next to him. The Haemonculus Vakkan slithered up next to him, his multiple finger joints tenting as the freakish thing looked greedily at the container. “The Coven is most grateful for this gift, Dracon Khyrus. We shall do…wondrous things with its contents.”

Khyrus raised an eyebrow. “Not that I care, but…what is in this little container that you needed an entire raiding force to retrieve?”

Vakkan smiled– a ghastly, needle-edged sight. “A bygone relic, from a bygone civilization,” he replied. “A relic from which we will glean many, many secrets.” At the Haemonculus’ motion, the attendant wracks silently broke open the lid of the container and threw it open. Inside, Khyrus could see a mass of silver liquid, shimmering under the starlight in such a way that it seemed to glow with an inner light.

Reaching in, Vakkan dipped a hand into the liquid and pulled it back– the silver liquid now coated Vakkan’s hand, and, as Khyrus watched, seemed to writhe and twist like some living second skin.

“Tell me…what do you know of living metal?”

 

Think of the Children! A response to Warhammer Adventures and the ensuing panic

 

So, as usual, it feels like I’m late in responding to an issue that hundreds of others have already given their two cents on. Life, and horrible writer’s block, prevail again it seems. Anyway, for anyone who hasn’t noticed the latest “controversy” in the world of Warhammer 40,000, Games Workshop has recently unveiled Warhammer Adventures, a pair of book series aimed at “boys and girls aged 8-12,” with what looks like a series each for Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar. The 40k book, Attack of the Necron,  focuses on three children (a “ganger,” an “explorer” and a “Martian”) going off on an adventure together, while the AoS story, City of Lifestone, focuses on an escaped slave, a young clockmaker (I…think) and a young mage…also off on an adventure. In the latter half, it’s pretty standard high fantasy fare. In the case of the former story…I will admit, all I could do was sit back and laugh at some of the character descriptions. The “ganger” child is in fact a deserter from the Imperial Guard, and the “explorer” girl, despite being the child of a Rogue Trader, is also apparently an avowed pacifist. In other words, two characters that really couldn’t survive for long in the 40kverse.

But after my laughter calmed down, I looked and saw the internet collectively losing its minds over these books. I saw some people screaming that GW was trying to indoctrinate kids, that they were introducing them into a universe that is waaaaaay too violent for them to be ready for. Others have been reacting with laughter, wondering aloud how one is going to make a universe full of blood, filth, mass genocide, religious intolerance, and Slaanesh and all things Slaaneshi, kid-friendly. Others still have been terrified that it will be made kid-friendly, that the entire universe is going to be effectively neutered, that a lot of the violence will be downgraded to make it more kid-compatible. And of course, this being the internet, naturally there have also been the usual people declaring this to be all part of the nefarious SJW agenda, because what else could it be?

I’m going to say now: some of the concern I am seeing over this new book line is not unwarranted or unreasonable.  Because of this, as much as I believe in encouraging kids to read, and getting them involved in the hobby, I understand why some people are reticent to do so with Warhammer 40,000. With other IPs such as Star Wars, the violence is fairly diluted, limited to a lot of colourful explosions and fantastic action. But 40k not only depicts grim, horrible violence, it at times revels in it– after all, the “protagonists” of the setting are a xenocidal theocracy engaged in a constant state of total war with everyone and everything, a place where personal freedoms are nil and the lives of its citizens are nasty, brutish and short. The literary arm of 40k has, for the most part, almost always been aimed at adults, with most of the novels (and particularly the more noteworthy titles like the Horus Heresy series) not only diving headfirst into the violence, but also dealing with meaty political/social/religious issues and complex (or sometimes just attempts at complex) character development that might be lost on a reader from the 8-12 age group.

At the same time, however, I firmly believe that kids should be encouraged to read as early as possible, that their ability to handle difficult subjects should be gradually challenged to help prepare them for eventual adulthood, and that literacy, regardless of what form it takes, is something to be promoted. How ready children are for certain subject matter, however, I think varies, depending on the child, on their level of development/education, and most of all, what their parents think. I, for one, were I dad, would hesitate to give my child something from the Horus Heresy series to read, though I might not have these reservations with the Felix and Gotrek series, or, if I thought they were ready for them, maybe the Ciaphas Cain or Gaunt’s Ghosts novels.

In looking through the internet for various thoughts and responses to this new novel line, I found one YouTuber who has had, in my opinion, the most reasonable response to Warhammer Adventures so far. Long story short, he doesn’t think it’s as terrible as the internet is making it out to be. He even cites a Twitter post from Attack of the Necron author Cavan Scott, who, in his Twitter feed, has admitted that he is trying to balance kid-friendly content with the dark themes of 40k– that, even in a kid’s novel, he is trying to do the setting justice.

My own thoughts: a lot of the flak these books are getting are either that you’ll end up introducing kids to the sheer brutality of 40k at too early an age, or, on the flip side, that you’ll be neutering the violence of the universe to make it more kid friendly. I wish to point out that a lot of kids’ literature dives right into mature and often violent themes already, but handles it in a fairly measured, tasteful manner. Harry Potter comes to mind, as does His Dark Materials, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Redwall…hell, even Saturday morning cartoons, past and present, can be surprisingly adult. Batman: The Animated Series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Star Wars: Clone Wars and Rebels all come to mind as shows that are either secretly made for the adults, or are giving their kid audiences a lot more credit than their parents.

In all of the above examples I’ve named, themes of war, oppression, violence, loss, heartbreak, religious/racial intolerance and even politics are all addressed in a surprisingly mature way, but not gratuitously so. They soften the blow of a lot of these topics, but at the same time, not to the degree that they end up treating their readers/audiences like idiots. Personally, I don’t think GW will be so dumb as to, say, throw horrendous decapitations or mutilations into the book, or introduce them to Slaanesh/the Dark Eldar. If they play their cards right, they will hopefully be able to make something kid friendly while still retaining a lot of the dark themes of the universe.

There is, of course, the fear that once these kids grow older and “graduate” into more mainstream 40k, it may come as a shock to them just how much more bleak and pitiless the setting is compared to the children’s books. This is a dilemma for which I see no easy answer: I honestly think a lot of that will depend on, again, how the children’s books themselves are written: otherwise, this is a change that may have to be explained by the parents and/or the managers at hobby centres.

Some people have also been afraid that this will lead to making the entire universe more kid-friendly, dwelling particularly over the fact that very premise of Attack of the Necron breaks away from fluff, since one of the children is essentially an Imperial Guard deserter, and another is a pacifist.  I personally feel, though, that these fears are unwarranted, primarily because GW knows that it’s adults that drive the majority of its sales and constitute it’s longest-running consumer base. I strongly suspect that Warhammer Adventures will remain its own small, isolated little alternate universe that won’t affect the main story whatsoever.

And as mentioned above, I’ve also seen some detractors declare this to be part of an attempt by the “social justice crowd” to diversify WH40k and impose a PC agenda, to ruin Warhammer “just like they did with Marvel and Magic the Gathering, etc etc”…to which I can only scratch my head in puzzlement. Are these complaints over the fact that there are female, and non-white characters in the casts of these two books? Is there some contract, somewhere, that I’m missing that states that all characters in WH40k/AoS have to be white and male (despite 40k being set in a universe with billions upon billions of people and potentially thousands of ethnic groupings, and AoS being…well, a fantasy universe)? While I can agree somewhat with the arguments that this seems like an attempt at PC tokenism, at the same time I fail to see how the inclusion of a few nonwhite/nonmale characters is hurting anyone. Call me naive, but I do not see this as a slippery slope towards degrading or eliminating all characters in the universe who happen to be male and white (just look at half of the new special characters in 40k if you don’t believe me). I see this, quite frankly, as an overreaction, no more, no less, and one that I hope will calm down over time.

The bottom line is, I am all for anything that gets kids reading or interested in reading: I think literacy is an essential thing to foster at a young age. I also happen to know quite a few gamers who are parents, and in almost all cases that I’ve seen, their kids have expressed an interest in their dads’ wargames (sons AND daughters, I should add). So no, I really don’t see the harm in Warhammer Adventures, nor do I think it is going to negatively impact the hobby in any way. Of course, this is all speculation at this point: we may never know until the novels hit the shelves and become available. But even when we do, we should not fret over them, because we are not the target audience. At the end of the day, freaking out that a bunch of children’s books will ruin our hobby comes across as…dare I say it, immature.

Naturally, of course, you may not agree with me, and that is fine: you are welcome to deconstruct my arguments and/or type abuse at me in comments. I’m always happy to hear what any readers of this little blog think.

*P.S. You’ll note that I have been talking mainly about 40k in this article, and not so much about Age of Sigmar. This is because, in my view, the high fantasy setting of Age of Sigmar is a lot less grim and brooding than 40k, and thus, by it’s very nature, is a lot more palatable for the child audience. True, things like the Khorne Bloodbound and Daughters of Khaine still exist, but in my view, Age of Sigmar does not revel in its own grimdarkness to the same extent as 40k. Besides which, high fantasy has been a favoured stomping ground of children’s literature since time immemorial, and honestly, I think Age of Sigmar will have fewer complications as a background setting for a children’s book than 40k will.

When Dwarven gods get angry…

So I just want to share something very quickly. Last night I was participating in a session of the D&D starter campaign, wherein the party was confronting the Bugbear King Grol in his throne room. The Human Warrior and the Dragonborn Ranger were both nearly dead, and while the Dragonborn had early managed to take off a third of Grol’s health with a whirlwind attack of axes, the Bugbear was only down a third of his health. In desperation, my Dwarven cleric, Baern Anvilbreaker, conjured Spiritual Weapon, summoning a ghostly, flying hammer from his patron god, Marthammor Duin….

…which proceeded to crit, and roll max damage with a shot aimed at Grol’s nethers! The Bugbear King was instantly taken out by one low blow from a ghostly hammer, after everything else had just bounced off of his armour!

I am now advocating that the Nutcracker of Marthammor Duin be a rare artefact in the game.

Faith Rewarded: The plastic Sisters of Battle reveal

So, I acknowledge that I am criminally late in posting this, especially since I am a Sisters of Battle player. The past weekend has been both busy and…well, complicated for me, and so I have been somewhat distracted.

That being said…ohmygodanewSororitasminiIcan’tbelieveit’sactuallyhappeningaaaaaaaaaaa  is pretty much what my reaction was last Saturday.

To recap: WarhammerFest 2018 happened last Saturday in the UK, and among the many things that were previewed were the upcoming Adeptus Titanicus game, the new Nighthaunt army for Age of Sigmar, assorted Horus Heresy stuff…and the first preview of what the new Sisters of Battle are going to look like. And…all I can say is wow. The detailing on the model is absolutely beautiful– in particular I am blown away by the detail on her face (including the scarification), the smoothness and detail of the armour, and even her scenic base. The model almost perfectly captures the classic Sisters of Battle illustration that it’s being shown next to– so much so that a few users on Sisters of Battle boards have even wondered if she is going to be a new special character– ie, possibly Sister Miriya from the Faith and Fire novel that uses that illustration on the cover. I personally think it’s doubtful, but you never know.

There are a few important things to keep in mind, though: this is just a preview model, which means that, firstly, this particular model may not necessarily become part of the line when it’s released, and secondly, the actual range may not necessarily look like this, although I think it’s safe to say that this looks close. Some friends of mine have also pointed out that the model seems unusually smooth and clean-cut: this leads me to suspect that this is either a computer-generated test image, or an enlarged test model. If either case, then I think it’s unlikely that the final product’s level of detail will still be fantastic.

Even if it isn’t this fantastic, however, I will still be happy. If this model is anything to go by, then the new Sisters of Battle models will be everything that SoB players have been hoping for– dynamic, detailed and ornate, while not straying too far from the look of the original metal models. While I’m not about to ditch my current metal army for the new plastics (I have devoted too much time and effort to them for that), I will definitely be getting the new plastic minis to bolster their ranks.  Furthermore, while this mini has given me a decent idea of what the basic Battle Sisters will look like, I now find myself wondering about how the more specialized units will look when they’re– ie, Seraphim and Celestians, not to mention characters (hopefully they will have more than just Saint Celestine). I’m hoping they also do some of the Ecclesiarchy stuff, particularly Arco-Flagellants and Penitent Engines (the latter of which have some of the most horribly hard to assemble minis on the planet). And I’ll admit, a small part of me is hoping for a plastic return of the Repressor…