Following on from my recent review of Rogue Stars, I had a quick test during lunch break to see how the rules
A couple of starship crew, an IMEC (Interstellar Mining & Extraction Consortium) technician and
a Mercenary bodyguard are fleeing back to their shuttle. Their stolen grav sled is
damaged and finally gives out and crashes just short of their ship. Local scum Shades and Tough are investigating the shuttle for their gang
when they hear the crash and see the column of smoke...
The playing area is 24"x6" (the windowsill by my desk, as you can see); the crew’s grav sled crashed on the left, 3
ruined buildings and several stacks of oil drums lie between that and a
raised area where the shuttle (AKA Thunderbird 4) is parked on the far right. I just grabbed the under construction scenery I had to hand plus 4 figures from my "civilians" box.
Crew: IMEC has an autopistol and flak vest. The elite Merc has an accurate assault rifle. Total XP value 71.
|Mercenary and IMEC technician in their stolen grav sled.|
Scum: Veteran Shades has an autopistol, Tough has an SMG and a couple of frag grenades. Total XP value 75.
|Shades and Tough guard the shuttle.|
Usually you'd have 4 or more figures with a combined XP of 200 but I wanted to play it quickly just to get a feel for the rules.
Shades and Tough win the initiative.
They head out to see what's happening past the buildings. Shades walks down the slope from
the shuttle then sprints (fast x2) round the outside of the first
building. Tough follows at a more sedate pace. The Merc reacts
to a failed scum activation by walking from the grav sled over to the nearest
building and peeping round the corner.
|Scum on the move...|
|Merc peers round the corner.|
While Shades keeps watch, Tough trots
past him to the cover of some barrels towards the far end of building 2.
The Merc leans out, takes a shot, misses. Tough sees the puff of
dust as the bullt hits the wall above him and leaps up, poised to fire a burst
with his SMG...
|Tough stands to fire at the Merc...|
Showing much better aim this time, Merc takes him down (Marksman x 2) with a quick
double-tap, putting one bullet through the torso and one through Tough's
right arm. Failing to live up to his nickname, Tough (Tough x 3) is knocked prone, SMG skittering away, his arm seriously injured
and his torso critically injured. He's gonna bleed out if he doesn't
get some serious medical attention.
|But the Merc gets his shots in first!|
|Tough goes down. Blood spatters the pavement.|
Seizing their chance (and the
initiative), the Merc and IMEC start moving. Both advance down the outside
of building 1 until they get to the corner overlooking the barrel stack
sheltering Tough by Building 2. Merc dashes off at 90 degrees
between the two buildings and ducks into the darkened entrance of
|Move, move, move!|
IMEC clambers in through the corner of Building 1 and up to
the shattered second floor. Peeping over the broken wall, she has a
good view over the street outside.
|Things are hotting up!|
Shades dashes forward, rip's Tough's
bandanna from his head and crams it into the gaping hole in his body to
try and stem the bleeding.
|Shades considers whether his "First Aid at Work" training is adequate.|
Surprisingly, Tough revives enough to try and stagger to
his feet, snatching his SMG on the way up. Snarling and
angry, he pulls out a frag grenade and tosses it (Chucker) down the
street towards the Merc. Building 2's doorway shelters the Merc, who is buffeted by the
blast but miraculously unhurt. As he steps back out into the alley to take a shot at Tough,
his luck runs out. Wrong-handed and still groggy,
the injured Tough nevertheless swings up his SMG and squeezes off an astounding
shot, hitting Merc in the Torso and taking him out of action.
|Tough chuckles (then coughs blood).|
IMEC gasps at the events unfolding
below. Shaken, she empties her autopistol magazine at Tough but fails
to hit anything. Reloading, she focusses on controlling her breathing,
takes a steady 2-handed grip… and shoots Tough through his
remaining arm. Tough goes down again (serious wound to left arm) and
this time he stays down. Both arms will be permanently crippled and
he'll need hospitalisation to deal with that torso wound.
|Tough goes down again.|
IMEC ducks back out of sight and drops
down to the ground floor. She dashes through the building and hops
through the window opposite the doorway of building 2.
|He looks beyond help.|
Merc is lying in
an expanding pool of blood. IMEC thinks he's dead but there's no
time to check. Stepping over his body, she ducks inside building 2 and
sneaks (stealth x3) through. A moment to climb through the window on
the far side and sprint across the street and she's sneaking through the
shadows inside building 3...
Shades walks back down the outside of
buildings 2 and 3. Where has the woman gone? He thinks he sees a
movement inside as he passes the end of building 2, swings out, pistol
up.... nothing (failed spot test). Again, there! Pistol up through the window,
take aim... but nothing there (spot test failed again). He ducks back
into cover between the windows, cursing under his breath.
|Can't see her in the shadows.|
IMEC reaches the end of building 3.
She can see the shuttle! Open ground, but she can make it, she knows.
Taking a breath, she hops down from the window sill and starts running.
Before she's gone 5 paces, Shades pivots round the corner
of the building and shoots her in the back, sending her face-down onto
the soil between 2 piles of oil drums.
|There she goes!|
It's not fair! She's nearly
there! She can make it, come on! Get up! IMEC grits her bloodstained
teeth and pushes herself upright. 5 more paces
and she'll be in the shuttle. She concentrates on getting there. But
that's not what she should be concentrating on.
Shades steps up behind her. He throws
his arm around her neck, presses his autopistol to her right arm, just
below the shoulder, and pulls the trigger. This time she doesn't get
|You're not going anywhere...|
Wow, what a game! Very cinematic, action flowing back and forth, tense situations, dramatic escapes, calamitous injuries.
I know I got lots wrong, there are so
many modifiers to keep track of for equipment, multiple traits,
wounds/pins/stress etc. I was always forgetting one or another, though
things would have been easier if I wasn't trying to look after
a 2 year old and eat lunch at the same time. I couldn't use any proper character
sheets and the dice disappeared every time I put them down, so plenty of
The action/reaction mechanic works very nicely. In a lot of IGOUGO games with a limited number of turns, you feel you really have to be doing someting with every figure every turn to make the most of them. In this game, it's fine to leave someone standing around watching while their team-mates carry out a whole series of actions. It means they have no stress and are ready to intervene with a reasonable chance of success if enemy reactions endanger the main protagonist.
There were a number of occasions where character skills provided that extra point or two to score a hit or avoid an injury. I'm still not sure whether D20 (as opposed to say a D12) is really necessary but it does allow for varing degrees of success. As an example when shooting, the amount by which you exceed the target number will affect what body part you hit - thus an extra point or two of marksman or melee skill might tip it from only a torso hit to the atacker's choice of torso or arm. With arms usually less armoured and more susceptible to damage (or loss of weapon), this could give you a greater chance of disabling your opponent.
It's obvious that you do need to print out your character sheets (I only used some hastily scribbled stats on a scrap of paper) to keep track of stress, pins and wounds properly. There was also a lot of flicking back and forth through the rulebook because I hadn't had an opportunity to print out the quick reference sheet. This has already been remedied in preparation for the next game, and armed with my new bag of counters I shall be ready to track up to 50 pins, wounds and stress across both forces!
I have a narrative already running now, ready for my first proper sized game. What were IMEC and the Merc fleeing from? Will the starship crew send another landing party to find out what happened? Will Tough be out for revenge if he survives the trip to hospital with Shades?