Last week the CSW crew gathered for a bunch of games, including another playtest of "This Is Not A Test" (TNT), the forthcoming post-apocalyptic game we've been following for a month or two.
For this game, we decided to put a bunch of rad bugs on the table and craft a scenario around eliminating the insectoid threat. I had a bunch of rebased Heroclix Brood minis that I'd been itching to get on the table for quite some time now. So Josh and I put together a tight, cramped urban battlefield, then put a big ol' drainpipe in the center of the table. This, we decided, was the objective: the first warband to lob a grenade down into the drainpipe and stop the outpouring of bugs would be the winner.
To start out, we scattered 8 bugs randomly around the board. Each one was attached to a particular terrain piece as its home base. As per TNT rules, these bugs would venture out from their home base to attack enemies, but wouldn't go more than 6 inches away.
On the flip side, the bugs that were going to be pouring out of the drainpipe (1d3 per turn, starting on turn 3) didn't have any such limitations. They were going to close with and attack the closest target in line of sight.
Beyond that, Josh and I agreed that our warbands could certainly fight with each other, but that our primary objective was to destroy the drainpipe and save our respective encampments from the bug threat. He was running a group of heavily armed Preservers (seekers of lost technology, represented in the game by relic weapons). I was fielding a group of primitive techno-scavengers using the Tribals force list. Here are our respective armies in action.
With those broad guidelines in place, we got the game started. We were playing at about 450 points, lower than the game's suggested threshold of 600 points, but more appropriate for our small, terrain-choked table space. (With the rest of the club playing 10mm sci-fi mass combat games, we were relegated to a 3.5 x 3.5 foot folding table.)
We started in opposite corners. Josh's Preservers moved to explore a ruined area and almost immediately came into conflict with a pair of bugs. For these smaller guys, we used the Giant Tick profile from the TNT rulebook. For the larger flying bugs, we used the Giant Mosquito profile. Both monster profiles seemed to strike the right balance of being more than just a nuisance but not so deadly that they'd wipe us out if left unchecked.
Across the table, I was positioning my Tribals to avoid contact with the bugs if at all possible. Instead, I sent them into the ruins where they could hopefully use their hunting rifles to pick off bugs (and Preservers) from cover.
The game unfolded well, with both Josh and I being fairly familiar with the rules. As before, we found ourselves using a variety of colored tokens to track conditions -- though not nearly as many as in our previous game. This was due to our reduced point level (450 points instead of 600 in our first game) as well as a note from the game's creator about a rules tweak that reduced the bookkeeping.
We battled the bugs pretty much exclusively for about 4 or 5 turns. Then Josh's warband leader (a singularly awesome figure who we took to calling Snake Eyes) fought his way to the drainpipe and hurled in a grenade. The ensuing explosion won the day for Josh, but it also frightened my primitive tribals -- causing them to turn their attention to the Preservers warband, which was still heavily engaged with the remaining bugs!
Once again, we had an enjoyable game of TNT that didn't result in too much rulebook-flipping. We agreed that it's a solid system and is easy to teach to new players. The playtest rulebook we have is just jammed full of campaign material, including random weather event tables, a currency-based barter system, and a big list of irradiated pests and predators ready to be dropped into your games. There are still a few holes where the author obviously intends to expand the book a little bit. But this playtest rulebook should be sufficient for us to launch our post-apocalyptic campaign in early February.
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member