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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Solo Rogue (Rogue Planet)

Mid-last year I wrote a I wrote a battle report-style describing how Rogue Planet works which was fun to prepare and I had lots of people touch base about the same which was fantastic - it's always great to strike up a conversation with someone new, especially when sharing a common passion or interest.

Also I've been meaning to dip my toe into solo wargaming.  I'm a member of the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures Facebook Group and a recurring theme/question there is "Which rule system(s) do you play solo?".  In my view no one system can be optimally geared toward both solo and social play, but with a bit of creative thought, most social games could likely be adapted to deliver an enjoyable solo experience.  I'd definitely peg Rogue Planet at the 'better social' end of the scale and by way of experiment, I thought it would be fun and informative to play and share a solo game.

As to the rules etc, here's what's been used/done:

  • I've played/used only the published Rogue Planet  rule, not my own WIP R40K house rules.  Yep that means no measuring movement. Crazy I know, but trust me it works well.
  • From the Rogue Planet primary rules, I've play a 225 Credit Level 3 Strike Game.  A Strike game's ended if a leader or entire force is eliminated, or the specific scenario's objectives are met.
  • Using Thibault Bloch's House Rules Scenario Generator I've employed the Assassination Main Plot, On Alert Deployment option and the Bloodlust Extra Circumstances.  The rules provide the means for the random determination of Plots, Deployment and Circumstances, however I just chose them to match the scenario I had in mind.
  • I'm using  relatively small table/battlefield, 24x24 inches to be exact.  Whilst that might seem crazy small when using 28mm miniatures, given that Rogue Planet is played largely without measured moves, it shouldn't really be a factor.  Also, I wanted to test and see whether a small, portable battlefield's actually work - a solo game might be conducted over a number of evenings and therefore the ability to move and stow them out of the way is essential.
  • Force selection was easy.  I recently completed a squad of Space Marines, a Commissar and Chaos Cultists - 21 models in all which I've been itching to use - and those coupled with our established collection will provide more than enough models for the game.
Okay.  With the above set, now onto describing the setting/background...

++ Herersy's Eye ++

The Setting


In the span of two weeks, Libuscha's aptly named Ghazal region erupted into a seething pot of heresy and corruption.  Planetary Defence Forces were quickly overwhelmed leaving the local Guard Garrison sorely tested in the attempt to contain the spread of rot and rebellion.

During an operation to secure vital intel relating to the the rebellion's leadership and disposition, an entire Guard Brigade was nearly decimated by heretical rebels led by Emilio Couto - also known as The Evil Eye.  Commissar Gallus Rifrost, one of the engagement's few survivors realised that Guard Command needed time to absorb the information and it was therefore vital to delay the enemy's appreciation of the extent of their loss for as long as possible.  Simply put, Emilio needed be quickly eliminated else the entire campaign's future will be jeopardised.  

With the support of the Dusk Confessors Chapter, Commissar Rifrost returned to the frontlines in an attempt to hunt down Emilio and secure the Loyalists forces some desperately needed time. 

Emilio, frustrated by his recent pyrrhic victory, is alerted of Rifrost's imminent arrival and welcomes the opportunity to finish the job once and for all.  Not only would killing Rifrost satisfy his sense of revenge and deal a significant blow to the Loyalist's moral, it would also inspire his followers no-end.

So that's the setting: Loyalists vs Rebels, Good-ish vs Evil-er and Leader vs Leader.

At this point, prior to wedding myself to either side in the conflict, I'll now (1) generate each side's Force and (2) prepare the battlefield proper.

Force Generation


Rogue Planet's rules provide for  a comprehensive, "Credit" (point) based unit creation system.  Using the same, I've generated the two forces.  Each Unit's stats and total Credit cost are detailed below, but won't provide the point:characteristic breakdown - if your interested in that, do the game's designer a favour and purchase his reasonably priced and excellent game yourself 😉 .

BTW I've heard a few people mention that Rogue Planet's set-up time suffers because of the effort required to generate, cost etc a band of warriors.  I've two thoughts in that regard: (1) it's that pre-work that adds to the experience i.e. investing time and effort in tailoring and tweaking a force to fit the scenario, well it leaves you feeling more invested in the game; and (2) GoogleSheets - it's not hard to create a spreadsheet that does the maths for you and allows you to collate a catalogue of stat-lines.  I've done just that and even print the worksheets as pdfs and store them here for ready access - should I have a hankering for a game, I can just shuffle through my pre-generated forces.

Finally, I haven't optimised each Force (as I don't know which one I'll be playing!), rather I've tried to keep with the miniatures I'll be deploying and with the background/setting e.g., the Loyalists will have a Commissar + Space Marines and the Heretics will be relatively poorly equipped but with more numbers and with access to ruinous gifts and powers.

Rifrost's Kill Team - 3 Units @ 226 Credits with a 6 Point Energy Pool*

  • Commissar Gallus Rifrost (Leader) CQ 3, RAT 3, DEF 4, ARM Light, Size Small, Energy 3*, Pistol (Fantasy Ranged weapon) and Power Sword (Powered + Blade). 62 Credits.
  • 2x Dusk Confessor Tactical Space Marines Nixios and Khan CQ 4, RAT 4, DEF 5, ARM Medium, Size Small, Energy 3, Powered Armour and Boltguns (Carbine). 82 Credits each.

The Enlightened Fire Cult Warband - 5 Units @ 223 Credits with a 5 Point Energy Pool*

  • Emilio "The Evil Eye"Couto  (Leader) CQ 3, RAT 3, DEF 5, ARM Light, Size Small, Energy 3*, Powered Fist, Autogun (Fantasy Ranged weapon), Psyker and Blink. 82 Credits.
  • Armando Elizalde CQ 3, RAT 4, DEF 4, ARM Light, Size Small, Energy 1 and Heavy Stubber (Machine Gun).  53 Credits.
  • 3x Nameless Cultists CQ 3, RAT 3, DEF 4, ARM Light, Size Small, Energy 1, Autogun (Fantasy Ranged) and Blade. 31 Credits each.
* The Leaders are each allocated an individual 3 point Energy Points on account of this being a Level 3 Strike Game.

PS the Vindicator Tank belongs to my son Charlie - I made it for him as a Christmas present and is merely a prop in this game, not actually employed in the action... maybe next time huh?

The Battlefield


I mentioned before I wanted to play this on a small board (2-foot square) and with a grand total of 8 miniatures in play, that shouldn't be much of an issue.  I've employed a combination of trash bashed ruins and indigenous Libuschan life.    Features of the Battlefield include:
  • Five stands of Banksia which should make for some fun - Rogue Planet has a neat rule called Treacherous Terrain which means normally 'neutral' features of the battlefield can be used to attack the combatants.
  • Five 'plants' objects which block line-of-sight and can be hugged to provide cover.
  • Two mollusk colonies that will be treated as difficult area terrain, impeding movement.
  • One tall ruin that in addition to being classed as area terrain and providing cover, can be scaled to access high ground.
  • Two small ruins that are treated as obstacles that can be crossed and partially obscure line-of-sight.
  • Three medium ruins that are difficult area terrain and provides units with cover buffs versus ranged attacks if hugged.

Deployment

A game using the On Alert deployment option requires one Force nominated as the Attacker and the other the Defender.  Given the Scenario, the Loyalists will be designated Attackers and Heretics from the Enlightened Fire Cult the Defenders.

The Defender chooses a board edge to deploy from and then will be able to deploy anywhere from that board edge up to the battlefield's centerline.  The Heretics select the board's Southern edge.

The Attacker then is required to deploy the entire Force from opposite, therefore Northern, board edge, at a distance of up to FX Range, which is determined using Rogue Planet's FX Range mechanism: roll 2d6 and look at the result.  Results of 4-6 are considered a success and doubles "Epic".  I roll a 2 and 4 generating a single success which translates into an "Impressive" measure i.e. 2 times the width of three fingers. Yes, you read right, "three fingers" meaning fatter the fingers, the greater the range.
Khan takes the Western Flank (Left) while Nixios and Rifrost go East (Right)

Like an iron fist, the Loyalist's smash their way through the Heretic's ineffectual defenses and deploy from their Vindicator Tank.  "For the Throne!" bellows Rifrost and directs Battle Brother Khan to cover the Western flank whilst he and Battle Brother Nixios move toward the East.

"Commissar, we have multiple Contacts" intoned the Battle Brother Khan, "approaching us directly from the South".

Now the Heretics need to deploy and being On Alert, that can be anywhere on the Southern half of the battlefield.

With Armando taking the
high ground, Emilio surveys
his Force's deployment.
"Emilio, you read them like a book," sniggered Armando, cocking his precious Heavy Stubber, "and the Banksia, they will be feeding before this day is done."

Both Armando and Emilio deployed in the tall ruins providing them with cover and the advantage of the high ground.  Two Cultist are placed in the South-western quarter and the other Cultist hiding within the South-eastern Mollusk colony.

Three nameless Cultists seeking to impress The Evil Eye and
earn their place amongst his most trusted soldiers.
At this stage I still haven't determined which of the two Forces I'll play nor how play will be conducted.

One manner of solo play is to 'choose a side'. For example I could align/identify with the the Loyalists and play the game from their perspective and arguably with some bias.  Another way might be to try and play both Forces concurrently and attempt to iron out bias - that's always struck me as a rather dry, if not confusing experience.  A third way might be to introduce some random chance into the game and swap allegiance occasionally e.g., each Turn might see a chance of me adopting one or the other Force.   

Whilst I've got some ideas brewing regarding a swapping trigger/mechanism, I think I'll just play a biased game.  Leaving things up to the Gods of Chance a simple coin-toss has me adopting the Heretics as my home team (Gods of Chance... Chaos... mmm).  Not to worry, I think this will be fun!

Turn One


Rogue Planet begins with (1) both sides rolling off to determine the number of Actions Points they have available and (2) determining the Turn's sequence i.e. which Force will be required to Act first.  Chaos score a 3 and the Loyalist's a 2.  The higher scoring Force is awarded Initiative which means they can decide who has to act first within the Turn and can adversely impact them during the following Turn, but more about that later.  Chaos decides to let the Throne's lap dogs act first.

Chanting the hymn of Auspicious Targeting  Battle Brother Nixios sights and fires his Bolter upon the nearest Cultist cowering amongst the land mollusks...

Mollusk Colonies offer little in
the way of protection from a Dusk
Confessor Marine's Bolter
A Shoot Action costs the Loyalist their first Action Point and Heretics decide to employ the Return Fire Counteraction that also costing them an Action Point.

A Skill Check + Rogue Die is used to resolve the sequence with the result being {6,6} 12 & 2 (Rogue Result).  As the Rogue Die didn't match either of the Skill Die results, the Cultist's Return Fire is ineffective however a successful Skill Check with natural doubles delivers a Critical Strike!

Critical Strikes against a Lightly Armoured target cannot be offset via an the expenditure of the Force's Energy Pool - tough luck fecking Cultist.

... and dispatches the Cultist and despite a deluge of return fire from the entrenched Heretics, Nixios charges directly into the heart of the traitor's position!

The scenario's Bloodlust Extra Circumstances award Forces an additional Energy Point upon dispatching an enemy.  That makes the early loss of the Cultist all the more problematic for the Heretics as the Loyalist's Energy Pool now increases from 6 to 7 Energy Points.

The Loyalist then expend a second Action Point and Move Nixios due-South with the intent of removing Armando from his loft in the the tall ruins - Rogue Planet doesn't limit movement like most games, typically if there's nothing impededing the line-of-sight to the desired destination, then you can just go for it but for...

Seizing the moment, a Cultist leaps out of the South-western quarter's ruins to arrest Nixos' advance.

The Intercept Counteraction also costs the Heretics their second Action Point; however there's no Skill Check involved AND the Heretics also have their remaining third Action Point available for the Turn.  With Nixios now 'Engaged' the Heretics can ignore him when determining valid targets - normally the closest enemy unit must be targets - opening up a number of possibilities.  

Now that the Heretics can Act without the concern of Counteractions; however they do need to consider the next Turn's Action sequence.  The Cultist could attack Nixios in the Melee but instead Armando takes the opportunity to fire (Shoot) directly upon Commissar Rifrost - after all, the sooner Rifrost is eliminated, the sooner Chaos will seize victory.

"Payback time you Imperial dog!" shouts Armando as he opens fire on Rifrost with his Heavy Stubber.

One of the firing modes of Machine Guns is Driving Fire that provides a +3 Skill Check Modifier and if successful, drives the Target back AND allows an ally Unit to perform a Bound Maneuver i.e. an additional/free Move.

Armando rolls a natural (2,3) 5 which is grossed up to (5+3) 8 and reduced by -1 on account of Rifrost's cover yielding a (8-1) 7.  A 6 or lower translates to a Failure in Rogue Planet, however only 10+ yields a Total Success.  Partial Successes (7-9) achieve the intended result but also provide the enemy with a (limited) free Move Action.

Foes face-off amongst ruins,
war vehicles and alien plants
Chaos have the opportunity to move Rifrost an FX Range in any direction that isn't towards the source of attack.  The 2d6 FX roll {2,4} yields 1 Success meaning Chaos can shift Rifrost up to an Impressive distance - he's pushed marginally to the North-east, out of cover, now in the open and exposed.  The ability for the Cultist to move northwards was the Bound Maneuver being employed.

Armando's onslaught leaves Rifrost reeling allowing the Cultist on the far Western flank to close in on Battle Brother Khan.

Armando'a Partial Success Skill Check also generates a free Move for one's opponent.  Space Marine Khan moves due East to bolster Rifrost.

Battle Brother Khan was already on the move, closing in to support the Commissar.

Turn Two


Turn Two begins with the Action Roll.  Both sides can choose to either take the default 3 Action Points or roll d6 Action Points.  Furthermore, because the Loyalists lost the previous Turn's Initiative, they can employ an additional d6, choosing the highest roll if they so wish.

Trusting in the His Divine Will, the Loyalists choose to roll 2d6 whilst Chaos take the default 3 Actions Points.  The Loyalist's roll (2,4) yields 4 Action Points, ahead of the Heretic's 3, thereby awarding them Turn 2's Initiative and the choice as to when to Act.  The Heretics decide to go on the offensive with a Melee attack.

"Yield to thy Emperor!" pronounces Brother Nixos, clubbing at the Heretic with his Bolter...

There are no Counteractions to a Melee attack; however the Target may choose to Fight Defensive.  When Fighting Defensively, instead of utilising their Close Combat (CQ) stat, the defender can employ their Defensive (DEF) stat - typically because it's the higher of the two.  What's the downside?  If the Attacker's Skill Check fails, they escape injury.  Cultists are marginally more effective close combat defenders and furthermore, whilstever Nixos is tied-up in the melee, he can be ignored when it comes to ranged target selection.  The Cultist decides to Fight Defensively.

Nixos makes a Skill Check yielding a{1,5} natural 6 - with no modifiers that means a Failure!

...yet the Heretic foreseeing the attack blocks it with the stock of his autogun.

Interestingly enough, should have the Heretic fought aggressively, the result would have been a Partial Success - Nixos' superior CQ would have provided a +1 modifier yielding a Skill Check result of 7, enough to crush the Cultist.

The Loyalist's Failure provides the Heretics with two free Moves - they can't involve Skill Checks nor can the same Unit/Model move twice but they also cannot be Countered.

The Evil Eye senses the time is right for him to enter the fray and edges forward towards his embattled Disciple whilst to the North, a Cultist edges around near the abandoned Tank, gaining line-of-sight on the Commissar. 

In an effort to support his Battle Brother and approach the Heretic leader, Khan plows forward to join in the melee...

Khan's Move Action (costing 1 Action Point) can be countered by an Intercept or Opportunity Fire, also at the cost of an Action Point.

...and again, from his superior vantage point, Armando unleashes another rain of Stubber fire...

This forces Khan to make a Skill Check with a Rogue Die.  Khan rolls a (6,2) and 6 on the Rogue Die.  The Rogue 6 discounts the Skill Checked 6, resulting in a modified 2 - Failure!  Furthermore, the 6 also inflicts Khan with 6 points of returned fire damage (which is a lot in Rogue Planet) and he can be Staggered from anywhere on the movement route at the opponent's discretion.

Wow, this is a major turn around.  Firstly 6 points of damage: 1 point is enough to kill a unit unless it it is (and sometime it can't be) offset by Energy Points.  Rifrost's Marines have a collective Energy Pool of 7 Points meaning to keep Khan in action, 5 of those need be expended.  Better now than never I say.

...driving the valiant warrior back into cover behind a nearby grove of Banksia.

The Loyalists are now definitely feeling the pressure: the Marines have only a single Energy Point remaining, one Marine is still tied in Melee and the other has lost line-of-sight on the enemy.  With one remaining Action...

With the Loyalist focused on Armando's constant fire, a
Cultist manages to flank and close-in on Rifrost
The Rifrost's finely tuned tactical sense alert him to the danger from the Western flank and opens fire with his Plasma Pistol, not a moment too soon as the Cultist also fires upon the now unprotected Commissar.

Rifrost executes a Shoot Action at the partially covered Cultist with the Rebels using the Return Fire Counter Action.  Rifrost's Skill Check yields a (6,2) natural 8 with a Rogue Die of 2.  The Rogued 8 is downgraded to a modified 6 and is effectively downgraded by a further 2 (-1 for the Cultists higher DEF relative to Rifrost's RAT and -1 for the cover afforded by the ruins) yielding a 4 and resulting in a Failure.  Furthermore the successful Return Fire inflicts 2 points of damage upon Rifrost.

For non-leaders, 2 points of damage would normally equate to death; however Leaders/Heros benefit from the Resilient Trait meaning all damage is downgraded to a single point.  Therefore Rifrost's personal Energy Pool is reduced from 3 to 2 Points and he's able to stay in the fight.

"Damn you to hell!" Declares the Commissar as he is swathed in a storm of lead, throwing his aim.

Again, the Failed Skill Check also generates two free, standard Moves for the Heretics.  Emilio moves into partial cover in the battlefield's Northwestern corner carefully drawing a bead on the Commissar.  To support his leader and draw the Commissar's fire, the Cultist moves Eastwards, closing in on Rifrost.

With neither side having any Action Points left, the Turn concludes.  Interestingly enough, the Heretics were unable to proactively perform any Actions during the Turn but came out on top.  That's a great demonstration as to how Rogue Planet's Rogue Die and Counter Action rules can influence/dictate play - sometimes playing a clever reactive game can beat an aggressive proactive game.

Turn Three


The Loyalists had the Initiative during the previous Turn, so now the Enlightened Fire Cult has the option of taking the default 3 Action Points or choose the higher result on 2d6.  The Loyalists are feeling exposed, especially given that Chaos scored first blood on Rifrost, so they place their trust in the Emperor and choose a roll.  The Heretics are in a strong tactical position - what with Armando in the high ground and The Evil Eye both screened by a Cultist and with line-of-sight on Rifrost - they also elect to roll for Action Points.  The Loyalists roll a 4 and the Heretics {1,2} a 2.  That provides the Loyalists with the Initiative again and a whopping two Action Point differential.


With the two Action Point buffer, the Loyalists can Counter both of the Cult's Actions and still have Actions to spare, so they choose to make the Heretics Act first.

It only occurred to me now that Emilio has inadvertently moved into Khan's line-of-sight - lucky that the Loyalists didn't pick up on that earlier!

A Cultist, sensing an opportunity, rushes headfirst at Rifrost...

The Cultist Moves Eastwards to Engage Rifrost, and rather than a Opportunity Fire the Loyalist Marine performs an Intercept counteraction.
...only to be joined in the ensuing melee by Khan, moving up from the South. 

Armando's view from his roost
Again, I didn't see that until I walked around the table and eyeballed it.  Ha!  Whilst that certainly puts any ensuring melee firmly in the Loyalist's favour, it also means that, with all the Loyalist's engaged, they are unable to counter the Cultist's nex Action.  So what to do?

Okay.  That Cultist locked with Khan and Rifrost: well his days are seriously numbered but at least he's keeping the buggers busy.  While the other Cultist still engages with Nixos, Emilio and Armando are both free to cause havoc.  If that means firing upon some of their cult members, well war always comes at a price...

Rifrost, Khan and the best Heretic,
being in Dead Heretic
Seemingly a soundtrack to the conflict, the steady clatter of Armando's Heavy Stubber continues.  Continuing to track Khan as he angles away from the Banksia, his fire now zeros in on the Commissar, Khan and the unfortunate Cultist.

Armando declares a Shoot Action on the northern Melee aiming for the Commissar.  The Commissar's DEF and Armando's RAT are equal (therefore no modifier) and the higher ground buff (+1) is offset by the ally in the melee (-1) however the additional enemy combatant (Khan) results in  a net minor buff (+1).  Armando scores a (3+3+1 = 7) Partial Success, causing a further point of damage to the Rifrost - leaving him with a single Energy Point.

Armando's renowned is clearly well deserved as he once again finds his intended target, cackling with glee.

The Loyalists now have 4 Action Points to expend (as they can't be saved or banked for future Turns).  First thing's first: Rifrost needs to eliminate the immediate threat.

The Commissar giving a Cultist a
taste of Imperial steel!
Charging up his Power Sword, the Commissar swings at the Cultist...

The Cultist elects to fight Defensively.  Armed with the Power Sword, Rifrost's Rogue Die boosted Skill Check yields a (5+3) natural 8, buffed to 10 resulting in a Total Success.  Also, the Rogue Die's result of a 3 matched one of the Skill Check dice, so 3 points of damage are inflicted.  Fortunately the Heretic's Energy Pool sits at 4 Points, so the 3 Points can be absorbed without a problem.

... only to have his strike deflected.  "By the Throne you are hard to kill," exclaims Rifrost...

Rifrost tries again, this time scoring a modified, 8 without a Rogue Die buff but being a Critical Strike (double 3's) it cannot be offset by Energy.

... and then removes the heretic's head with his return stroke.

That's two Action Points down and two more to go.  Again the Bloodlust Circumstance generate an additional Energy Point for the Loyalists, with their Energy Pool now sitting at 2 Energy Points.

That Heavy Stubber wielded by Armando has been inconvenient to say the least.  Khan declares a Shoot Action and the Heretics declare a Return Fire Counter Action.  Khan's rolls a {2,1}3+R6.  The Rogue 6 doesn't match either of the Skill Check die so the Return Fire fails to find the mark.  The Skill Check result of 3 equates to a Failure so it still provides the Heretics with two free Moves.

The Mollusk Colony shields Emilo from the Marine's fire
As Khan and Armando exchange fire, Emilio uses the opportunity to dash to the East, closing in on his nemesis...

I'll only use one of the Free Moves: I can't Move Emilio twice, the remaining Cultist is still locked in melee with Rixos and Armando's still in a solid position.

Battle Brother Khan Shoots again upon the tenacious Armando, who again Counteracts with Return Fire - due to Khan's positioning, he's effectively shielding the Commissar from direct fire, and with only one Action remaining for the Cultist, Return Fire seems more useful than attempting a Dodge.  Khan rolls {5,3} 8 + R6 resulting in a Partial Success causing 1 Point of Damage.  Again the Cultists dip into their Energy Pool to negate the effect, leaving them with 1 remaining Energy Point.

The Space Marines unrelenting fire finally finds its mark, cracking his iron mask.  Armando's blood rage is now up and he hardly registers the pain through the red mist that clouding his vision.

"Hold your position," calls Emilio as he enters the fray to his South.

Using the free Move resulting from Khan's Partial Success, I move The Evil Eye in support of the Cultist engaging Rixos which also provides him with clear line-of-sight to Khan and Rifrost.  It's somewhat exposed; however being the Turn's end given Emilio still has 3 Energy Points I feel the heretics are in a strong position.  A lot is riding on the next Turn's Action Points and sequencing.

Turn Four


I feel this could be the deciding Turn.  The Heretics are down two three Units (Emilio, Armando and a Cultist), 1 Energy Point in their Pool however Emilio still has 3 personal Energy Points available.  The Loyalists are yet to lose a man, are down to 2 Energy Points in their Pool and Rifrost has but one Energy Point left.  Those Space Marines are tough buggers (Medium + Power Armour - not that it has factored much in the battle yet).

So onto Action Point and Initiative determination.  Chaos will take the default 3 and the Loyalist will roll.  Yes, the Heretics could roll two die; however given they lost the Initiative last round, should the Loyalists roll 1, 2 or a 3, the Heretics will be awarded Initiative - I think that's more important than the sheer number of Actions i.e. the Heretics want to Act first.

The Loyalist's roll a... bounce, bounce, bounce... 1!  Yes, go heresy!  The Enlightened Fire Cult claim the Initiative with 3:1 Actions and decide to Act first.

Even the virtuous feel fear, and when it comes to ruinous powers, rightly so.  

The various Unit Actions described in Rogue Planet include Throws - they're available to Units equipped with Heavy Armour or those, like Emilio, with Power Fists.  After declaring a Throw and the Throw's direction, a Skill Check is made and then, if necessary, the FX Distance is calculated.

While Emilio could try to Throw Rixos off the Table, instead he'll attempt to smash him into the nearby Banksia.  Emilio rolls a {4,2} natural 6 which is modified for having an open hand (+1) and for having an ally engaged in the same melee (+1) resulting in a 8 i.e. Partial Success.  Note that normally Emilio's lesser CQ (3 vs the Marine's rating of 4) would debuff the roll, however Power Fists up the baseline Stat by +1 in any event  - Rixos could have fought defensively, but it wouldn't have altered the outcome in this instance. The FX roll yielded an Impressive result which is more than adequate to cover the desired distance.


Let me assure you that catching the a Space Marine being
thrown into isn't an easy shot to take!
The Evil Eye almost dismissively backhands Rixos midst of his grapple with the Cultist, smashing him into a Banksia...

Collusions in Rogue Planet are resolved using an opposed die roll with reference to each elements/units size etc.  The Marine's Armour being rated Medium earns Rixos a d6 whilst the Banksia is a Heavy Object/Terrain element and rolls d8.  The result is in the Banksia's favour 4:2 meaning that Rixos takes 2 points of Damage - that's absorbed by the last of the Loyalist's Energy Pool.

Not quite the result I had anticipated, but it certain makes for an exciting narrative.  Now, aswhat can be done with the Heretic's remaining Action Points...

"Go!" commands Emilio, sending his disciple charging into Battle Brother Khan.  Khan, rising the challenge hurtles himself directly at the frenzied Cultist.



Sequentially what happens is the Charge is declared, the Charge's Skill Checked and if passed then the Counter Charge can be declared (kind of after the fact).

Firstly the Cultist's Skill Check result of {5,5}10 yields a Total Success.

Now to resolve the Charge Action counteracted by a Charge - the counteraction means that both Units are awarded bonus die, but importantly the Loyalists have committed the last of their Turn's Action Points.  The Charge is resolved with the Cultist rolling 2d4 and the heavier Marine 2d6 and both Units keeping their highest result.  The Cultists' {3,4} 4 is compared to the Marine's {2,4} 4.  An across the board tied result means no damage is inflicted nor are any Units Staggered; however both Units are now locked in hand-to-hand combat and considered Engaged.

For the Heretic's final Action both Armando and Emilio could now fire upon the Commissar but instead I'll try something clever: using the power of the Warp.  Rogue Planet's rule include various Casting-relate traits including  Emilio's Blink sorcerous power, providing him with the power of teleportation.  Like most Actions, the effect isn't guaranteed but certainly worthy of a shot and might make for a memorable game.  An unmodified Skill Check yields Emilio a Total Success.

With Rifrost's escort engaged, The Evil Eye calls on the Chaos Gods to draw him through the warp and places him within striking range of the remaining Heretics.
Finally we meet!  Let us end this NOW!


Turn Five


Both sides decide to roll for Action Points with the Loyalists being able to roll 2d6 and selec the higher result - a fortunate decision for with Rifrost's squad scoring a {5,6} 6 and the Heretics a 3.

Heedless of the fire being reigned down from above by Armando, both Rifrost and Rixos move into engage with The Evil Eye.

The Loyalist's first Action is to Move Rixos into Engage with Emilio and the Heretics declare an Opportunity Fire Counteraction.  The resulting Skill Check {6,5 + R6} 5 results in a Failure and inflicts 6 damage onto the hapless Marine - well beyond their remaining Energy Pool.  That's the Loyalist's first casualty and that earns the Heretics an additional Energy Pool Point and free Move - Emilio backs into the Mollusk Colony to provide some cover from any ranged fire that might be directed his way.

Similarly the Commissar's Move is counteracted.  A un-rogued {5,2 + R1} 7 yields a Partial Success meaning Rifrost both avoids Armando's fire and reaches his target.  The Heretics have another free Move and now Armando, sensing the threats to his leader, decides to descend the ladder to the tall ruin's base.  The other free Move could only be used by Emilio (as the Cultist is Engaged) but he decides to forego it.

After cutting down Rixos, Armando double-times it down to ground-level, intending to aid Emilio in the looming climatic melee with Commissar Rifrost. 

Armando has dropped to ground level...
That leaves the Loyalists with (6-2) 4 Actions and the Heretics (3-2) 1.

While Rifrost could declare a Melee attack upon The Evil Eye, he could do with some backup.  Khan is presently Engaged with the remaining Cultist... There's a number of options here: attempt to defeat the Cultist (1 Action Point) then move to Engage Emilio (1 Action Point) which would leave 2 Actions available for the Commissar's attack.  Another way is to attempt an Disengagement Action, which may also fail, but if successful would mean the Loyalist's would have 3 instead of 2 Action Points at their disposal.

...and moves into
the fray!
An unmodified Skill Check results in... a Failure!  Firstly the Heretics receive an additional two Moves.  Armando is once again moved toward Rifrost.

With his prey firmly in his sights, Armando emerges from the ruins.

Using their third remaining Action Point, Khan again attempts to Disengage and this time is successful (Total Success).

"To me!" commanded the brave Rifrost and Battle Brother Khan responds in kind, pushing his way past the Cultist to join the Commissar in his confrontation with Emilio.

Now it's time for the Loyalist's to press their advantage - Rifrost declares a Melee attack upon Emilio.  Rifrost's Skill Check will be buffed by Khan's presence (+1) and whilst attacking, his Powered Sword confirs a +1 bonus to his CQ, raising it from 3 to 4 and therefore exceeding Emilio's baseline CQ of 3 giving a net +2 modifier.  Emilio doesn't benefit from his proximity to the nearby terrain during Melee, so it's onto the roll.  A modified roll of 9 translates into a Partial Success - Emilio is wounded (less 1 Energy Point, bringing him down to 2 remaining Energy) and granting the Heretics a free Move.  With the free Move the remaining Cultist also joins the Melee.

"Spawn of Chaos, you will bow to the Emperor's will!" bellowed Commissar Rifrost as he delivered a crippling blow to Emilio's left arm.  But it wasn't enough to dispatch the fiend and even now his disciples raced to their leader's support.

With the remaining Action Point, the Commissar strikes again.  A modified {6;2 + R4} 9 (adversely impacted by the Cultist joining the Melee) results in Emilio being wounded a second time and another free Move being awarded to the Heretics.  Now Armando is able to join what's amounting to an epic fray.

Again the Commissar's sword finds it's target with Emilio taking a near mortal wound to his belly, but hold on he does and in doing so, his Lieutenant Armando is finally able to join the defense of their leader and lend his might to the destruction of the hated Rifrost.

Turn Six


No way did I see this resulting in a Six Turn game! Alright it's tense now.  Both Leaders are down to a single Energy Point and the Heretics have the Initiative.  The next phase of play should decide the game.

This is an occasion where my naturally risk averse nature (with me being a Risk Manager no less) would unduly bias things, so instead I'm going to roll it.  The Loyalists get 1d6 Action Points and the Heretics the higher of 2d6.  The result: Loyalists 2 vs Heretics 4.  The Heretics have the Initiative and choose to Act first - given everyone's now in the Melee, there's no Counteractions to be had.

With his Power Fist-related buffs, Emilio is the obvious choice to lead the attack and being a Leader, he can complete three consecutive Actions if so required.  There's a few choices available including a straight out Melee attack (from which the  Commissar might choose to fight defensively against) or event a Throw/Slam.  Whilst the Throw/Slam option could make for an exciting end game it would mean that the ally buffs are ignored, so it's looking like Emilio would be best served by trying to smash his fist into the defiant Commissar.

Onto the roll, glup... double 2's and a Rogue Die 2... oh dear let's check out modifiers... the Heretics outnumber the Loyal by one Unit, that's +1 and the Power Fist also provides a +1, generating a total +2 modifier, 1 point short of the target 7 required for a Partial Success!

Recklessly Emilio The Evil Eye Couto lifts his Power Fist as if to crush Commissar Rifrost's head.  Reckless indeed, for if Emilio had been able to employ the tactical genius that had served him so well to date, he may have hesitated.  Instead Rifrost executed a textbook coulé, sliding his blade down the inside of Emilio's powered limb and then severing it from his body entirely!  

In a spray of vile black blood, the heretical rebel leader's soul was flung from this world into the insatiable mawl of the very source of his powers, the eldar gods of Chaos.

With only one remaining Energy Point, Emilio's abortive close combat attack resulted in him being damaged and mortally wounded.  The game's Assassination Plot meant that victory could be secured by dispatching the enemy leader and on that basis the Loyalist were declared victors - boo hiss!

Epilogue


"Commissar Rifrost," began Marshall Kingarc, "your efforts have bought the Imperium much needed time.  Even now the rebellion's leaders are being hunted down by the Dusk Confessors Chapter and..."

"Save your words M'Lord," interupted Rifrost.  "Our Emperor has no time for words of praise and neither do I.  I have but one concern: how soon can I return to the front?"

Shaking his head Kingarc lifted a dataslate.  "As you wish Rifrost, indeed I had anticipated your response and do have a situation where I feel your talents will be most welcome..."

Reflection on the Game


Well it's been a while since I've played a 'straight' game of Rogue Planet and I'd never really bothered with solo gaming before, so this was a great little experiment.  Do Rogue Planet rules work for solo gaming?  They sure do!  Sure, the Action/Counteraction and Initiative mechanics are a little strange when playing by yourself, but I suppose they'd be no less strange than many other game mechanics.

My only regret was not getting the Banksia involved in the action... maybe next time I'll have to employ them as Rogue Elements (kind of like NPC elements in a game).

Two, no make that three things really made it work for me:

#1 Preparing the entire game, including Forces, the Map and Dispositions prior to selecting a Force - that took out much of the bias that I feel would have sapped some of the enjoyment of what ended up being a roller coaster of a game.

#2 Having a backstory and setting in mind.  Yes I borrowed heavily from the grim darkness of Games Workshop's W40K setting (why wouldn't I?) however my own Lubriska setting also added to the escapism.  A bland 'fight in a ruined city' just wouldn't have had the same emotional draw.

#3 Writing this Battle Report.  Playing a bit, writing a bit... it was a lot of fun.  I enjoy doing Battle Reports but normally they're at the expense of the game proper.  When it's only myself involved, I can take my time and not have to compromise on the game nor the reporting.

So there you have it.  If you've enjoyed it, have some questions, comments or even ideas, please let me know - I'd love to hear from you.



Friday, 12 January 2018

Space Marines and Commissar (Hobby)

What?  Is this guy a freak?  He's pumping out models like nobody's business!

Well not really.  Both these models and the Chaos Cultists from earlier in the week were started last month and I'd been spending the odd hour here and there painting them up.  Having invested a little bit of time in preparing my painting set-up such that I can be painting within minutes and pack away the gear in a similar amount of time makes a huge difference - it means that 15mins can be used productively.  Anyhow, back to the minis...



This squad of 10 Space Marines were acquired assembled and despite a couple of setbacks (FYI avoid using 20 year old waterslide transfers) they turned out very nicely - I'm looking forward to including them in a game soon!


The Commissar was sourced through the NWA's club Secretary James - I'm always looking out for a character and this bloke fits the bill.  I used basically the same painting techniques on him as the Marines - somewhat in an attempt to create a sense of uniformity - and it worked.

I was very restrained in my dry brushing this time around and I think the models are better for it.  Also I trialled a 'glowing' plasma effect which added to the overall appeal of the models - something I'll definitely do again some time.

Space Marine Squad


Commissar


Now I've just got to work out what's going to be promoted to the (Painting) Bench and get some game time in with our newest additions.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

2018's first mini's complete (hobby)

Late last year I acquired some miniatures from Games Workshop's Chaos Cultist range.  They are lovely little figures with a real sense of movement about them and a little more detail than I had anticipated - that's a good thing!  Here's the result:

How I approached the job: Using my Aldi airbrush I (re-)primed in black then used further prime of white over the exposed surfaces*.  Then I applied a yellow in a similar manner to the majority of the mini's exposed surface clothing (e.g., cloaks).  Following that I used a combination of yellow, brown and red washes until I achieved the desired look to the clothing - it was a bit of a experiment - which generated a greenish hue.  Base coats where then applied to otherings (e.g., metalics to guns, fleshtones, bandages, masks) and I followed up with detail (e.g., buckles, tattoos, pendants).  Some more washes followed (e.g., browns on boots) and finally I finished with some very restrained dry-brushing e.g., the heavy weapon guy's mask has a hit of orange to bring out the red and most of the guns were only dealt with 2 or 3 strokes.  I used a matt sealer which I feel lost some of the subtle detail but then again altered the look for what amounts to a net improvement.

Would I do anything different?  Well these models were already primed and I wanted to get stuck into the painting.  On my next 'fresh' batch, I'll definitely spend a bit of time to file out the mold lines etc.  Also I want to bash/modify some units to provide a little more differentiated than is purely afforded by the paint - these particular models weren't really suited for bashing... or so I thought.  Once I'd finished this batch, I've now got a better appreciation as to what I could try and I think I will try altering heads, load-outs (weapons) before the year's out.

I've also been using Trello to plan and track my hobby work - a bit of fun because it's similar to the way we manage work in the office (being Agile and all that).  The job's detailed on this Card which you're able to click it open and explore:

Chaos Cultists





As there was some experimentation colour-wise, unfortunately there was a casualty.  One of the dudes with a morning star and pistol ended up looking really bad (a foul mix of bright yellow and dark brown 😝) so it's off to the Dettol baths for that heretic!  The end result was 10 new miniatures for the collection and lots of good ideas scenario-wise during the whole preparation process.

So how long does such work take?  Some people likely do pump out that sort of output, at a much better/higher standard, in a single sitting e.g., a few hours.  Alas in terms of effort and duration, it process took me considerably longer.  I'd estimate there was maybe 60 minutes of effort (work) applied to each miniature but that was applied over a number of weeks.  It's not a race however: the satisfaction is in both the journey and outcome.  I'm pleased and proud of the outcome and really feel my skills are improving with each and every job.

*"exposed surfaces" refers to those parts of the mini that are usually visible when looking at the figure ~45 degrees from ~30cm distance e.g., the tops of heads, shoulders, much of the arms.  Areas 'underneath' the miniature are largely avoided as they are naturally (relatively speaking) draped shadows e.g., lower legs, inside cloaks, under arms.  There's most certainly a technical term for that approach, it's just that I don't know it!