Sunday, 15 November 2015

New HTS Beta tests Southpaws vs Llurgs & Southpaws vs PAU

Be very, very, quiet, I am hunting Harder Than Steel

Regular readers will be aware that when I started this blog the main trigger was the beta versions of HTS. Now things, at last, are moving! As I understand it:
A beta version is being used by Crimson Crystals, this and the online builder is what I'm using here.
There is a hint that the rules will come out in a series of modules.
Osprey publishing are to release a title in October 2016 using the rules.

So at the very least the basic mechanisms are out there and the D10 mechanism (hereafter called the left hand path) is on the cusp.

With respect for Crimson Crystals, in my opinion there's enough basic skirmish games using large scale figures aimed at those brought up with poor quality manga. Full marks for cherry picking the rules and coming up with some interesting designs.

We have experience of the first two versions of the beta rules, that gives us somthing to draw on. BUT there's one overt difference, the Combat score has disappeared and now the Quality caters for both, plus an all-new Armour score which used to be an add-on.

Now we have the beta rules and the two builders we can cater using superior product. The character builder uses some different terms to the rules and there others I'm forced to extrapolate. Same with the weapons builder, I designed the Llurg's missile system – but I'm having to make some educated guesses!

So why use these rules as opposed to Tomorrows World or Gruntz? Well I don't know, so we're going to play with a few examples. The main difference is with the action system. In TW you tell your opponent what you're going to do and they will respond. With these rules you do what you can with the activations you get – often forced to make hard choices or just simply failing to do anything. Your opponent has the chance to react to you missed opportunities. This destroys the you-go-I-go mechanism and the fog-of-war/uncertainty factor not matched by any other system that I know of.

Since writing this, in early October 2015, someone made an A4 flowchart on how to handle reactions in Tomorrows world. Just to go back to basics, you roll for activations and any dice below the Q value is a failure. Your opponent can roll (for one of his units) your failures to gain a reaction that happens either before or simultaneous with your first action. So, you can do a blinder and catch your opponent* or your opponent can do the dirty on you**. No need for a flow chart and you get very “cinematic” play. You may note that we sometimes use reaction in the older games which enhances the play. I try and report our games faithfully without embellishment other than some rationalisation.

I'm hoping that I can convince you, so we can convince Andrea, that this is a worthwhile product for developing into a full SF set of rules.

Let's start with two races that in some rules would be considered identical? Throw me a bone here, if you disagree or (please!) able to duplicate any of these games with other rules, lets talk!

Southpaw (Space Raptor) Militia Trooper. Q5 A7 Long 113
Lightly armoured conscript armed with an assault rifle relying on bayonet, claws and teeth in combat.
AGILE +1 to climbing rolls and falling damage.
FAST REFLEXES +1 reaction rolls.
LEAP 1xLong leap once per turn. Counts as a free action melee +1.
OPPORTUNISTIC +1 on activation rolls if a flinching foe within 1xLong stick from squad.
Sergeant Leadership 1 132 Officer Leadership 2 139

Assault rifle. Medium BURST two shooting dice at -2. Any roll of 1 or 2 needs reloading
SAW Long, Burst 126
Anti Armour Railgun Sniper 154
PENETRATING Armour rolls against this weapon are at -1.

APC Q5 A7 193
I'm shaky on the points on these, but I think I'm not far off.
3xSAW. Long, Burst
FAST REFLEXES +1 reaction rolls.
Danger sense, Long.

2x Apc's 386
1st Squad Sergeant & 4 troopers plus attached SAW 710
2nd Squad Sergeant & 4 troopers plus attached AA Sniper 738
Heavy weapons and sergeants can be used as mavericks (single figures)
Total 1834

Llurg Standard Warrior. Q6 A9 49
Completely unarmoured but with a fearsome sword and machine pistol. If you think of a Culloden style highland charge, you'll be spot on.
BUSHWACKER Movement not reduced by rough terrain. +1 to Q rolls for bad terrain.
FAST REFLEXES +1 when reaction rolls.
FIGHTER +1 melee rolls. Those against -1
SWORD DEVASTATING A hit inflicts two point of damage
ASSAULT +1 melee first contact.
GUN PISTOL One-handed.
PUNISHER If shooting hits, re-roll two dice at Q6 others within 1xShort. If survive knocked down (pro­ne).
Leader leading from front Leadership 2 79

Llurg gun car Q5 A7 120 Long
Vehicles are mavericks, single models.
Leader in vehicle add Leadership 1 150
FAST REFLEXES +1 when performing reaction rolls.
PUNISHER If shooting hits, re-roll two dice at Q6 others within 1xShort. If survive knocked down (pro­ne).
BURST Models firing bursts may roll two shooting dice at -2 inste­ad of a single shooting die. Any die roll of 1 or 2 means that the gun must be reloaded.

Llurg Mutant Q5 A7 Medium move 98
Maverick or in unit with dismounted leader.
PUNISHER If shooting hits, re-roll two dice at Q6 others within 1xShort. If survive knocked down (pro­ne).
BURST Models firing bursts may roll two shooting dice at -2 inste­ad of a single shooting die. Any die roll of 1 or 2 means that the gun must be reloaded.

Llurg Missile Truck Q5 A7 56 Long
Vehicles are mavericks, single models.
FAST REFLEXES +1 when performing reaction rolls.
Bad Shot -1
Blast (35) Cannot be reloaded (-7) Inaccurate (-5) Long range (20) Penetration (armour-2) (25) Minimum fire distance (Long?) (-3) = 65 per weapon system
I could add Incendiary (25) and/or Affects only organic targets (-2)

Llurg Tribe
Leader in gun car 150
4 Gun cars 480
8 Warriors 392
2 Warriors, Leader and mutant 275
3 Missile Trucks 168
5 Missile packs 325
Total 1790

Game Basics. I'm keeping these low on points and about 8 turns. Same table, 4 patches of rough ground 1Long from each corner. These are the one sort of game we never do, a simple meeting engagement.

This terrain worked OK for the first game, but for the second it was a real pain. The first 2 beta versions had 1-6 terrain features, so I went with 4. The next series will be more terrain heavy.

Rolling for initiative, the loser places the first unit, squad, vehicle or individual up to one normal move from the base.

Any unit with the Bushwhacker can opt to conform to one of the terrain items in their deployment area. They do not have to be shown or revealed until they move or shoot.

The winner has the option of meeting the next force “up”, with due regard that each is more high tech than the last.

I'm going to try and do a more “blow by blow” account than normal so you can see the mechanisms in play, and spot any mistakes we make along the way. If I skip a turn, its because of roll-overs when nothing happens.

Game 1. Tony takes the Southpaws and I take the Llurgs.

The set-up seemed- weird, I'm not used to having (virtually) everything out in the open. Tony got the drop and started shooting and debusing. For once the dice went my way (I don't think I've written that before in this blog!) and my gun car leader used a reaction to successfully disable an APC. I managed to get in a lot of movement and shooting with no real effect.

We need more input into vehicles, I can see them as large Mavericks, but we need a lot more info and either a vehicle building builder or more input on the character one.

I had a plan, but as usual -, **the sniper took out a gun-car with a reaction, then the leader in his turn and the remaining APC the 3rd of my centre.
(Railgun hitting light vehicle, the last thing through my leaders mind was the engine block)

I'd advanced my main infantry unit to assault range of the rubble (expecting fire cover that promptly blew up). *Tony got 3 successes for his infantry in the disabled APC, these leapt out doing a further 2 move & shoot that left just 2 Llurg's to run away. I think my timing was off-. I got a bit of revenge when I moved my gun car with missiles up, laying down rather late covering fire and hitting the area with rockets. How much cover? I took it as an attack on every figures armour (as I'd already hit the target). Figuring the cover negated the extra penetration, I got 3 hits making 1 flinch and 2 kills.

The Southpaws didn't go backwards, instead they shot and charged the vehicle. I got a flinch, so took that as the driver turning away, which allowed the infantry to do their characteristic Agile Leap into combat. Look, if Indiana can do it-. I wouldn't suggest it with any other human or alien force without anti-gravity belts.

So far Tony had taken out over half my forces for the loss of half an infantry unit and its APC. The other unit hadn't even debused.

I'd worked my mutant around the ruins looking for an angle on his infantry when they finally debused I did an “end run” on the APC with my surviving gun car to no effect. Then Tony failed an activation and I got my gun car to shoot at the sniper, resulting in a Flinch. That didn't stop him shooting the gun car, though.

That was it. I still had 3 missile trucks (one on table) I could use, but that was not enough. On to game 2.

Pan African Union Militia Q5 A 7 Medium 88
a regular ultramodern force who use some ballistic body armour and an assault rifle similar to an AK74 with integral bayonet. Medium range.
BURST Models firing bursts may roll two shooting dice at -2 inste­ad of a single shooting die. Any die roll of 1 or 2 means that the gun must be reloaded.
ASSAULT The weapon hits at +1 in a turn in which the user moves to contact an opponent into hand-to-hand.

Squad LMG BURST. PUNISHER, Medium If shooting hits, re-roll two dice at Q6 others within 1xShort. If survive knocked down (pro­ne).


Sergeant, Leadership 1 103
Officer Leadership 2 111

Rover Q5 A6 Long 111 HMG as above

Truck Q5 A6 Long 74

Truck with 12 Troopers, 2 LMG & Sergeant 1,433
Rover with Officer & 2 HMG team 384
Total 1817

Game 2 Southpaws vs PAU

This was the first larger scale game between these 2. The game really suffered with the terrain, as mentioned above. I may rerun this game if time and Tony allows.

I decided to drop my infantry sections in and by the left rubble patch. I debused my heavies and officer in the other, supported by the Rover.

Tony instantly debused his infantry, all bar the sniper. Then I got a lucky shot. With an unmodified 1 on penetration, the APC brewed up, taking the sniper with it. That was a game changer.

Now his infantry did what they did best. Two long move & shoot. I did these both in one go, that was a mistake, but never mind. I lost 8 and 1 Flinch (turning a Flinched character seems the easiest way to identify it) I went back a short, but Tony had 3 activations – he could do a leap and shoot. Outnumbered I was wiped out, but managed a Flinch.

Tony tried to do the same on the other flank, but my Rover on reaction hit the APC which resulted in a Flinch, which we took to be a stun. It stopped him advancing and left his infantry's tails in the wind. They suffered from my HMG's. This killed 3 and the remaining 2 retreated. The SAW was with the other APC, looking to get closer.

Well that was that. Nothing new learnt, We can see the potential, as we could in the original beta's. Already there is enough to give a different character to each force. My 3x3 table provides just about the right area for this platoon sized middle tech forces.

The rules
Longer range shooting is easier, but rolling 2 dice for an HMG seems a little – light.
When you're used to +- 1 or 2 on a D6, the similar on a D10 seems somewhat less effective, perhaps +- 2 or 3 would be better?

The next half starts off with the PAU as listed above vs a Boat of 10 United Nations Light Infantry. 20 vs10. I'm as curious to see what happens as you are.

Game 2

This is a fantastic little vehicle, I cannot understand why Jon hasn't released it yet!