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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Battle Report / Game Review - Critical Mass Games

I recently attended the Border Reiver show in Newcastle (which was a good show, very poor lighting but a great atmosphere!), where one of the display games that took my interest was a 15mm sci-fi game by Critical Mass Games.

Now Im a fan of sci-fi movies and video games but Ive never been a fan of sci-fi wargames. All the ones Ive played over the years always leaving me feeling more than a little disappointed. I am not a fan of 'line em up, knock em down' bloodbaths!

Still the models looked great (especially the human 'Arc' - the Halo style infantry and the truly amazing walkers), and following a quick conversation with the guy on the trade stand I learnt that the rules are (or where?) available as a free beta pdf.

So a couple of days later I emailed Critical Mass Games, and a couple of days after that we sat down to give the game a try!

Three points I should mention first -
1) We decided as this was the first play to ignore some rules and concentrate mainly on the moving/shooting/combat mechanics.
2) It reads as a 1v1 game, but there were 3 of us available and ready to play (a rarity!), so we decided to play 1v1v1.
3) The game is 15mm but as we had no 15mm sci-fi but plenty of 6mm Epic we used proxy miniatures.

The forces -
I am nothing if a sucker for playing humans so I choose 'Arc' - mech infantry with a sole tank in support.
Lee - choose 'Protolene' an elite alien race, going mainly armour/range, with 4 battlesuits and heavy weapon infantry.
Karl -also 'Protolene' but choosing fast attack, close assault troops.

The Objective -
2 buildings, centre left on the table. Control of each building being worth 1vp meaning 3 players - 2 objectives, at least 1 of us is going home in defeat!

The Set up and Initial Plans

I took the bottom, my mech infantry planning on a quick advance to the objectives, deploying and securing the location, while the tank roamed and picked off dangerous looking targets.
Lee took centre, a tough place sandwiched between me and Karl. His initial plan to move one unit of infantry up, with his armoured walkers in close support, covered all the way by the heavy weapon infantry.
Karl, knowing his units close combat potential, intended to edge his way to the objectives, avoiding enemy fire until his troops where close enough to devastate in hand to hand.

Turn 1

Lee moves the majority of his force to the left of the terrain blocking his direct advance to the objectives. My vehicles, having less armour in the side and rear were now unable to make a dash for the objective, so they had to square up to the Protene. Karl begins a caution approach to the objectives.

Turn 2

My mech inf got the better of Lee's infantry, so he issued new orders for them to pull out of the fire fight and head for the building. His impressive battle suits edging forward to engage my units and cover his infantry.
Faced with something more of a threat than a bunch of aliens with pop-guns (now a bunch of big fat aliens with pop-guns!) I decided to withdraw the mech infantry and deploy into firing positions - the gap being large enough to bring out my missile launchers to see off the battlesuits, all the time covered by the tank.
Karl unopposed, continued his advance to the objectives, making sure to hug the edge of the board and keep out of the range of Lee's heavy infantry, which had a commanding and unrestricted LOS through the middle of the board.

Turn 3

Lee's chewed up unit made it into one of the objective buildings, Karls combat troops claiming the other.
The trouble Karl had was this advance now put him within range of Lee's heavy infantry and they began to pepper the building with shots. This didnt help the Judge Dread style block war that was starting to erupt as infantry from both buildings began shooting at each other.

***FOOT NOTE*** - The rules are still in beta and whilst there are rules for fighting in/out/around buildings they seem mainly to cover single level constructs. We had to make a few rules up on the spot to help us out here, but that was easily done. Maybe we will see more rules for buildings in the finished version of the game.

Meanwhile my combined firepower was having disastrous results for Lee. Now that the troops had deployed, and readied the missile launchers, the Protolene battlesuits where forced to withdraw and seek cover.

Turn 4

Under fire form the heavy infantry Karl had no choice but to act. The troops in the first building made a head strong charge into the second building occupied by Lee's infantry, whilst the cream of his close combat effect and his general headed straight for a do-or-die charge against Lees heavy infantry shooting the building.
It was a route for Lee's already battered forces, and he lost every engagement. Faring no better against my Arc infantry, APC's and tank - losing all his remaining battlesuits, including his general, whilst being unable to even wound a single Arc unit!

Lee having suffered terribly surrendered, and Karl had to question if his depleted force was capable of taking on my untouched Arc force. As this was our first game just to learn the basic rules we decided to call an end to it there. (Assuming my Arc troops just moved in and moped up! Sry guys, couldnt resist adding this!)

We were all taken with the game, and had a great time!
These are beta rules and this our first attempt and while we did ignore some rules, and we were bound to make a few mistakes with the ones we did play, generally it works very well.
There are several patchy areas and a few things that seem odd, or seem would play better with a little adjusting, but I find that with most games.
As a beta tester I will be submitting my feedback to Critical Mass, in the hope that some suggestions make it, if not I will definitely be playing this game again, maybe with a few house rules added.

As for scale, it played very well in 6mm, more than I feel it would in 15mm. The movement and ranges seem to suit a 6mm 'battle' more than a 15mm large skirmish. It was suggested between us that we play up to and around 1500pts in 15mm and larger games in 6mm.
This game was roughly 500pts, with my Arc troops coming in at 465pts, having nothing to spend the remaining pts on.

All in all, a fast, much liked game, and I look forward to playing again once we learn the rest of the rules.


Critical Mass Games can be found at -

Check out the Arc walkers - superb!

1 comment:

  1. I think you were more than generous about my performance there :)