Friday, October 2, 2015

In Her Majesty's Name II: Getting a game on!

Summer is finished, and with it, thoughts return back indoors of an evening, towards gaming and painting. As can be seen from my *cough* frequent posts over the summer, I have painted a grand total of zero miniatures over the last four months. I have built half of one warjack for Khador, and mostly put together the new warcaster unit for the same faction. An impressive tally, you must admit. I have also gamed twice in that time. Give or take a match that I've forgotten, as it has been a very long summer.

Do not feel sorry for me though, my time away from the gaming tables has been mostly due to travels, spending time with the family and other fun ways to experience life (with a bit of work some evenings, but I don't mind that so much now and again). So, I hear you all ask, what have I done that is worthy of posting here? The short answer is In Her Majesty's Name. I posted on this game recently here, so if you don't know what it is, go on over and look.

The long answer is a little more detailed. One of my oldest, and dearest friends was over in Montreal a week ago. S and I go way back to High School, and have been gaming together, on and off since then. Unfortunately, I now live in Montreal, and he in Brussels. However, we were in the same city as he was over here for work. I think he is having trouble finding gaming close to where he is, so he was keen to make sure we got a game in while he was in town, We had a quick look through what I had ready to go, and settled on IHMN. I of course have the almost a fully painted set of the Society of Thule, and S has a soft spot for Prussians, so it was an easy fit. For my part, I put together a British Rifle Company, pulling together my Dystopian Legions Britannians for the occasion.

The lay of the land
Neither of us had really read through the rules before, but we boh had a copy, and they really are quite simple (roll 1d10, add skill, take off mods, beat target number). We got together, set up the table, and rolled a scenario from those available in the book, as this is a game that really benefits from playing though a scenario. The rules are super simple, but the complexity and variation comes from the depth of personalisation and characterisation you give the members of your company. Wether its through straight forward character traits, super science of indeed magical abilities. All this makes it a game that borders closely on and benefits greatly from role-playing, hence, the scenario was required. We rolled the 'Bad Jack' scenario, but more on that later.

The game was rather slow to start, as we jockeyed for position on the table. We were both rather concentrated on the left flank of the board, with one or two models each on the right flank. Bad Jack, the mutated laboratory experiment stalking both sides that we had to hunt down, started in the centre of the table. One thing we noticed straight away, was that, as both sides were armed with military rifles fo the most part, we were shooting each other from turn one. We could have had more scenery on the table to make this less of an issue. The second thing was that we had both thought from reading the rules that we would be dropping like flies, as after each shot, everyone makes a Pluck roll. One fail and you're out of the game. In reality, it could be relatively easy to hit someone, but we also seemed to be making an inordinate amount of Pluck rolls, which led us to evolve our game play from one of being in cover and hiding, to getting out there and getting on with it. It did mean that what we thought would be a very quick game, took longer that we anticipated.

The making of the Pluck rolls brings me back to Bad Jack. In the rules, he is given a pluck of 2+, this means on an unmodified roll of 1d10, he is only failing on a 1. Indeed, he has talents that increase this even more, and this brings me to the issue that we had with this scenario in particular, and maybe the game in general. It was almost nigh on impossible to bring down Jack, and other minis in general.

Another slight issue we had was the interaction os S's flamethrower, and my armoured walker. However, this has been fixed in the errata, so no need to go on about it here.

One modification  would make to the rules would be with the volley fire rule. This states that models can club together their shooting to bring down heavily armoured targets, which it does. They give bonuses to hit, however, I could have had all my riflemen concentrate fire on Jack, and yes, they would have hit him every time, but they would have no greater chance of actually putting him down than one alone, as they do not actually modify his pluck roll by any more than one rifle would by itself. This goes for more than just the high Pluck models, anyone facing a volley fire, or for that matter an gang in hand-to-hand, should not only be easier to hit, but have a higher chance of taking more damage. Fortunately, this is a set of rules that encourages fiddling to make it work on your own gaming table, so that is what I will do.

In summary, we liked it. It was a lot of fun, and would benefit greatly from the players putting more effort into the scenario design. This time was just to get us to run through the rules, but if I planned another game (once I convince some of the locals to play) then I would sit down before hand and work through a scenario that fits the companies first. And if I were to replay Bad Jack, he would be very much nerfed!

As a final aside, S left me with a present in the form of the rules for Muskets and Tomahawks. A rules set  have been admiring from afar, but avoiding buying the minis for. Now, I really have no excuse not to. Do I? No, I didn't think so! to buy Roger's Rangers and a bunch of Iroquois...