Wargaming Musings?

I'm a bit of a butterfly in terms of my attention and sticking to gaming projects long term isn't my strongest point. On the bright side, atleast I flit between the same things. Expect an ecclectic medley of Moderns, Dark Ages, Quar and Early Wild West, almost all in 28mm... (with some 1/48 moderns thrown in... )

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Musings on BritApoc...

(Liebster awards are still on my 'to-do' list - but I think most of the 'obvious', and even some of the un-obvious, choices have received them. However, until I get that sorted out - some musings!)

I've been doing some thinking about my BritApoc setting recently, mainly in the wake of watching all sorts of old movies whilst ill last week, and effectively what they boil down to is the twin points of rules and weapons.

No Blade of Grass (1970) - Showing a fair bit of fire-power...
Obviously, with the firearm laws being what they are in the UK, even allowing for the slightly laxer laws 'back in the day', strategic reserve stocks incase of invasion and weaponry distributed to emergency services during the course of the apocalypse and immediately after; there still wouldn't be *that* many weapons floating around, especially regarding those with an automatic capability (More of this later, when it comes to thinking about figures).

I've looked long and hard for rules which will reflect the 'feel' of BritApoc, which to me is somewhat gritty, yet without getting too bogged down in detail, and are still fun to play. Perhaps more importantly, fire-arms combat should be dangerous (no characters getting hit multiple times and shrugging them off), melee combat should also be effective (somewhat making up for the fact that guns might be rare)  and if there are rules or supplies rolls, generic profiles and an obvious way to 'build' profiles for mutants, triffids and viral  so much the better!

In terms of a campaign structure, I've often hoped for a fairly loose knit 'win some, get some bonuses, lose some, take some side effects' sort of affair rather than a Necromunda style experience points system where you track characters in minute detail. At one point last week, I was wondering on the merits of a 7TV style 'TV serial' feel, and wondering how that would work in terms of a campaign structure. Just thinking, depending on the serial, characters don't generally change abilities too much over time, but there is some consideration that those wounded in a previous episode might be somewhat diminished for a couple of subsequent episodes.

The Last Train - a reasonably good ITV PA TV series, which is almost impossible to  find outside of youtube... 
Up to now, I've looked over a whole range of rules - including some modern sets - and none have really hit the feel. Many would be playable, and probably very enjoyable, but perhaps not quite what I have had in mind. After some musing, the main contenders were Skank, At Close Quaters, Atomic Cafe and Babylon's Burning. I've played all bar BB a few times, and have both enjoyed the resulting games and been impressed with the rules. I have also tried writing my own, and infairness have drawn inspiration from all of the above, but they never seem to get finished and, darn it, I want to play some games!

Babylon's burning is the set (and setting) that first drew me into PA gaming, but which ironically I never played, and that has mainly been due to comments from friends who have played it. The rules look to be an excellent and very accurate simulation of post-apocalypse warfare; down to the inclusion of runners, written orders, and so on. Games look to take a very long time, and be pretty intense, almost to the point of being unplayable. Given that due to the lingering effects of my ME, I'm likely to end up getting tired and thus a bit brain foggy whilst playing, I think this isn't nessecarily the best way to go...

Skank is at the other end of the spectrum - it is such a simple easy to play system that it has long been a firm favourite, and infact is probably the game I have played most over the years. It is adaptable enough that I've written stacks of modifications for it. However, due to its simplicity it does lack 'realism' to a certain extent, with games feeling like an episode of the A team. Which is great fun, but not what I'm looking for.

Atomic Cafe (at least the taster rules I had) were a fun, easy set to get along with, including a couple of inventive features in terms of initiative and supply rolls. All the stats where tied into certain profiles though, and there was not nessecarily an easy way to extract some of them to give a general feel. Weapons were also based on modifying profiles (and there are only pistols, shotguns, hunting rifles, SMGs & an LMG given. Enough to get by, but a bit of a bland flavouring), as opposed to being a stand-alone element, and there were no vehicle rules. Certainly it has potential, but again, it's not quite there.

Which leaves At Close Quarters - a fairly fast flowing "moderns" system, which feels quite gritty and realistic,  and which I know pretty well. This set has it's problems too - one of the reasons it is such a good modern's set, is because it is very well adapted to playing in the genre. I have a feeling that any BritApoc games would end up feeling like WWIII: the Aftermath (which I guess is twilight 2000, and what I'm planning on doing with Force on Force, as a side note), rather than as a truly post-apocalyptic setting. Also, weaponry really starts at the assault rifle, and moves 'up and out' from there. There are stats for pistols and shotguns... but damn. you wouldn't want to use them unless you were having a gunfight in a telephone box. Figures are broken down by ability - rabble, militia, regular, professional, fanatic and elite - and are designed to be structured into squads. although it is possible to have 'heroes' the rules aren't particularly designed for it.

At this point you're thinking "Ok, great - he's just crossed out all of this nominees!" which is true, but also not entirely the whole truth. By broadening my 'gaze' somewhat, I came across another possible system.  A Good Day to Die is ACQ's pulp and old west flavoured sibling. The internal mechanics are pretty similar, but a lot of the 'over-focus' on the modern period has been drawn out, whilst still leaving rules for vehicles and automatic weapons. More importantly perhaps, the focus of the weapons has been shifted. Here the 'main' weapons are the shotgun and bolt-action rifle, with the rifle having a range of 48". It will be easy enough to add stats for an assault rifle (AK47) and semi-automatic (SLR). The classifications have also been changed so that they are now: Rabble, Civilian,  Soldier, Warrior (More melee proficient soldier, although less skilled with fire-arms) and Killer (hero class by any other name). Certainly this better reflects my perceptions of martial structure after the End.
I'm still going to need to add a lot (Triffids, mutants, virals, ammo checks) but otherwise I think it's getting there. Especially when the 'old west' addon I've got has special rules about morale checks for loss of possessions and what-not.   

Reign of Fire - interesting mix of weapons for the Brits, from high powered big game rifles through to WW2 vintage SMGS....
This focus on weapons also leads me onto my figures - and the fact that they are too heavily armed. I knew they were going to be, but following on from the discussions on the 'Scavenge Skirmish Survive' thread on the LAF (http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?topic=48201.0) I have been coming to realise quite how over equipped most of them are. Almost a quarter (excluding the police and obviously military types ) are armed with SMGs, assault rifles or support weapons (includingg RPGs!). This is just way out of proportion -  so I'm going to need to add lots of low grade fire arms (double shotguns, pistols), crossbows/etc and melee weapons to even out the numbers some what.

  I'm going to check to see how many more figures from the 'to-do' pile can be converted across to more basic weapons, as there are even more there with heavy 'military grade' kit, but lots I think will either be moved on or used to make a 'Holnist' type wannabe-military faction for specific games. Atleast the SLRs shouldnt out-balance things too much.

Which then begs the question of what other figures to use to restore the 'right' sort of balance? I've held off getting the offensive miniatures rioters for a while, but certainly they'd be a good source of melee figures, as would some of the new Agro miniatures rioters (plus weapons) and of course the LAM melee figures. In terms of low grade firearms, the forthcoming SSS figures look promising, and it wont take much to make a couple of the back-packs look less modern. Other than that... Maybe converting some more of the TAG african militia with rifles to look  (a lot) less tropical, and possibly some of the Tiger (ex-HLBS) mounties/trappers/etc might work given their mix of rifles and shotguns. They'd almost certainly fit in well enough with the SSS figures, but perhaps might make some of my other figures look under dressed?

Anyway... enough wittering for now!

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