Friday, June 10, 2016

This is not a Test: Snipe Hunting at Philpot Bog

Jason's new obsession is 'This is not a test' aka TNT, the post apocalyptic skirmish game. Long time readers may remember we did a demo game at NATCON 2011, last time it was in Christchurch. We (by which I mean Jason) were supposed to make the campaign half of our rules but that never took place. However, we still have all our stuff, my Scavengers / Settlers, Jason's Brotherhood of Steel, Andys Paramilitary forces. Jason and Andy also made amazing terrain, that Jason has accumulated by various wheels n deals. So when Jason wanted a game, there was zero barrier to entry. This was not least because this game is amazingly similar to what we had come up with: D10s, alternating activations with rolls, skirmish scale with customisable load outs, cards based encounters, a 2 AP order structure... The list goes on. What it doesn't really have is the same attempt to model friction (as with my stress markers) and far less reactions. So it is a bit different. 

After negotiating a pretty spread out rule ok for a week, my Scavengers (using the Peacekeeper list) got together to root around Philpot Bog for some pre war Salvage. My leader, Crazy Ivan came knitted out with grenades and I had another heavy trooper with a Light Machine gun. Then two rank and file soldiers with assault rifles and another with a shotgun. Then the list was padded out with three more cowardly Settlers. Two with rifles and one with a machine pistol.
Jason's brotherhood: NZ Branch were a scribe with eyebot, pair of power armoured Knights and a robot with shock weapons. We were all hear to try and be the first to scout up to four designated buildings for lewt.
I took the approach of leaving a trio of guys to slow down the enemy on the left while Ivan was to lead the fi rebase forward on the right. I figured I would need to really gang up on a power armoured Knight to get anywhere. Our advance (on both sides was also somewhat constrained by major radiation patches. 
It took a while to get to a point where we could draw fire on each other. In fact, Jason's knight to my left had already scouted an objective and was already at halfway when Ivan's boys lit him up with massed fire. 
In this game, units activate in groups and you don't see if the hits did anything until all in the group have shot. So my discovery that the boys had forgot to swap out the practice blanks was delayed until the smoke cleared after the first volley. 
Jason had not forgot to swap out the practice blanks.

However, I had the foresight to bring spares and JTM Heke was still there with his machine gun. So Jason's advance stalled to my front. Only five turns in this scenario though and my settlers on the left had gone to ground to avoid being that Knight's next victim. I did claim a moral victory by wounding his leader.

Robots are clearly expendable though. After my boys tried to take to him with a shotgun, the Medic-bot made to charge down Ivan himself. 

JTM Heke sounded the alarm and handily Crazy Ivan got his name for his preferred weapon: grenades at really close range. 

So two wounds inflicted by either side but Jason's Brotherhood had rampaged all the way to a three:one lead on objectives. Clearly Ivan's irregulars were outmatched. Good work Jason.

Then we did a campaign turn. Turns out there are limitations on scouting, which only came to light days later, so we didn't play this by the book. In this one off version of the rules Jason's boys got a mini gun and a mercenary Robot,Munich he knitted out with a chainsaw. I got heaps of money. So I'm back with even more guns, and grunts to wield them, next time. 

Thoughts on the TNT rules: Does what it says on the tin. Heaps of customisation and a properly developed but quick to use campaign game. The actual gameplay on the board is a bit less developed than something like Infinity (still my favourite) or even Saga. It's at about a Bolt Action level of complexity. However, the constant awareness that the skirmish has a wider context in terms of a campaign economy is what gives the skirmish game it's edge. 

Would play again. It's got me wanting to order some more Copplestone Post Apoc figs. Given TNT has no fig line of its own, Copplestone post Apoc troops already feature heavily in the photos so I even feel like I've got official figs.

Thanks for reading.