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Castlecruncher

Using Traditional Terrain and Tables (With Battle Report!)

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Posted (edited)

So this is a smidge unorthodox, but what do people around here think of running Skirmish games on traditional 3D terrain boards, a la Legion?

As it happens, this is how I first tested IA's Skirmish, and I've found it to be some of the most fun I've had in gaming. There's something about setting up a cramped imperial space port, replete with walkways and storage containers, and watch as two small bands of Rebels and Imperials scatter to secure objectives and harry the enemy forces. I've already run a couple of games with my little brother and one of my RPG friends, and it's immediately clear that the terrain takes IA to another level you don't experience with just the tiles.

Of course, the obvious question for me is: Why not just play Legion? Well, beyond not wanting to pop another eighty buckarinos (LGS price) to get a starter set with half a force for yet another Star Wars game, I've never been a fan of squad-based combat. I'm more a fan of man-to-man combat, like Mordheim or Infinity (though the specific rulesets for those games never spoke to me)--Skirmish gaming, if you will, which is literally what Imperial Assault Skirmish is about.

There are a couple of kerfuffles with the rules, but most of it is either self-explanatory or easy enough to resolve: distances are converted to inches, and you measure from base-to-base to find range; climbing either counts as moving vertical (e.g. climbing onto a 2" box costs 2" of movement), or if there's a lot of buildings can just take a full move (so you need to move up to the base, then take a full action to go from the bottom to the top--more of an off-the-cuff ruling than thought out); shooting from height means measure diagonal distance; cover is harder to judge, since there's no square corners, so I just say half-or-more cover is +1 defense result (i.e. cancels one damage), and obviously full cover is no-hit (what constitutes how much cover is a judgement call). All-in-all, it's very lighthearted and focused on having a fun time, and 100% unconcerned with meta--all I know is slap a bunch of cool lookin' models on the table and we're gonna have a good time.

So in all, it's a jolly fun time, and I'm curious whether others would be interested in the concept, or whether I'm some form of gaming heretic and ought report myself to the board-game inquisition post-haste.

Edited by Castlecruncher

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Posted (edited)

I like playing Legion. No, I'm not ashamed at saying that! It scratches a different itch than IA does.

It might not be terribly difficult to take the movement, cover & line-of-sight rules from Legion's Rules Reference Guide and apply that to IA's core rules. But you do have to be careful with the dice math, as IA is not balanced around figures gaining defense bonuses from positioning. So any sort of bonus BLOCK or EVADE would basically mean all damage outcomes would be significantly reduced. Plus, DODGE will be a real pain in the neck to balance.

It's not fun to play a game that has figures holding weapons and you can't kill anything. That is one of the major (and justified) issues with Spectre Cell.

Personally I am already committed/invested into Legion and would rather just play Legion if I want to play a free terrain Star Wars game. However I find all sorts of custom game development interesting, so if you pursue this project, please share what you do and what you learn from it. Good luck!

Edited by cnemmick

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Personally, I really appreciate the squares that you can count. I’ll probably never go back to a measuring skirmish game again. 

Also, the board shouldn’t be to big for IA and I feel a gaming table with actually terrain needs a fair size to shine.  

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10 hours ago, cnemmick said:

I like playing Legion. No, I'm not ashamed at saying that! It scratches a different itch than IA does.

It might not be terribly difficult to take the movement, cover & line-of-sight rules from Legion's Rules Reference Guide and apply that to IA's core rules. But you do have to be careful with the dice math, as IA is not balanced around figures gaining defense bonuses from positioning. So any sort of bonus BLOCK or EVADE would basically mean all damage outcomes would be significantly reduced. Plus, DODGE will be a real pain in the neck to balance.

It's not fun to play a game that has figures holding weapons and you can't kill anything. That is one of the major (and justified) issues with Spectre Cell.

Personally I am already committed/invested into Legion and would rather just play Legion if I want to play a free terrain Star Wars game. However I find all sorts of custom game development interesting, so if you pursue this project, please share what you do and what you learn from it. Good luck!

I haven't even looked at the rules for Legion (seen games and reviews, heard it's good but the scale isn't my cup of tea), but that's a good point about the math with cover and such--it changes the game when a unit that might normally widdle away at an enemy can't hit because they're behind a wall.

That said, from my experience it hasn't broken the game by any means--maybe it's just my boards and tactics, but I've almost never found myself using cover in the few games I've played, because weapons have such short range you have no choice but to get into the thick of it. That's another thing that changes: whenever I've played on the grid, I've found that I just run close enough to enemies that I almost never need to worry about Accuracy. Sometimes I even forget to check! On a board, it's way different--combat usually doesn't set in 'til Round 2 on a 3'x3' table, and even then it's pot shots that typically go wide.

So overall, the game is definitely different from typical Skirmish on a board, but as far as I can tell not broken--cover isn't a viable strategy when no one gets close enough for you to shoot, and objectives can help break up firing lines. I haven't had any trouble with characters not dying easy enough, though I've only had three games; I'll have to do some more testing, maybe set more rules and come up with some missions. I'll be sure to post my progress here, for my own amusement if nothing else.

And I totally get people that prefer Legion. Personally, I prefer IA just for the bargain of getting a board game and skirmish game all in one--this is just my way of scratching my "miniatures on a board of pretty terrain" itch without needing to fork out even more dough to our FFG and Disney Overlords.

10 hours ago, Doowa said:

Personally, I really appreciate the squares that you can count. I’ll probably never go back to a measuring skirmish game again. 

Also, the board shouldn’t be to big for IA and I feel a gaming table with actually terrain needs a fair size to shine.  

I can totally get that--it's definitely a lot cleaner, and you never have to worry about Wobbly Model Syndrome, or deciding whether a millimeter's difference is enough to constitute in-or-out of range. It's fun in its own right, to be sure, but sometime's I just gotta set up something more dynamic than a bunch of 2D tiles.

As I said above, my boards have been 3'x3', and the size has been just right; it's small enough that the troops get fighting in decent order, big enough that you can put in a decent selection of terrain. Some people might prefer bigger boards, which I could see being an issue (4'x4' could be trouble, and I can't imagine 6'x'4' working very well), but I've been used to 3'x3', and it serves its purpose well.

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Posted (edited)

So I managed to get a solo game in today, and took lots and lots of pictures!

To start off, the lists: Scum is Darth Diala (proxy for Maul), Trandoshan Hunters (Elite and Regular), Clawdite Shapeshifters (Elite and Regular), and a Nexu (Elite). Empire is Imperial Officer (Elite), Stormtroopers (Elite and 2 Regulars), Sentry Droids (Regular), and Royal Guard.

I got really creative with the setup--a couple years back, I made a dice-carrier for my old Star Wars RPG, and recently discovered it was relatively in-scale with 28mm! The only logical conclusion was to use it as a terrain piece, and so my battle was over two sides trying to capture the famed Lady Luck (not to be confused with the craft of one Lando Calrissian, who is presently under lawsuit for identify theft: ship class).

The objectives were dirt simple: a marker in each corner and one on the Lady Luck; at the end of the round, if you are the only one with models touching a marker, that marker wins you 2VP. Easy peasy, nexu squeasy.

I played a bit fast and loose with deployment and initiative (I just set up each side one at a time then rolled for first initiative), and we ended with the scene found in this link:

Magical Link of Magical Qualities

Edited by Castlecruncher

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Alrighty, second half is available here: https://imgur.com/a/pViUOqz

So--my thoughts!

The battle was a jolly good time all around. I was a bit surprised by how much the Empire seemed to steam-roll the Scum; I suppose a lot of that comes from the Empire investing in expendable troops to take objectives, while the Scum had only a few expensive models, two of which were left on guard duty.

That's one of the big concerns I see with using terrain: Model commitment is a lot less forgiving. Once you send someone to one side of the board, they're not likely to head back to the other side. Personally, I find this kind of challenge fun to deal with, but I could see it being difficult or bothersome as well.

The mission, as I said, was very off-the-cuff, and the objectives probably could have been improved. A one-off VP boost would have freed up more models, and probably helped keep the Scum in the fight.

Overall, the game went rather well (even if I secretly hoped the Scum would win), and I look forward to making more! Taking pictures during a game is new for me, and I may have went a bit overboard--I also waxed a bit eloquent with my descriptions, since I enjoy the story of a match just as much as the match itself.

I hope to introduce a couple more friends to IA this week, and will hopefully be able to get some more games in with actual opponents. Exciting! If I have anymore battles on proper terrain, I'll be sure to post them here, for science.

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