Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stargrunt Playtest

So we gave Stargrunt a trial run today after we terminated the Trailblazer game early (we reached the Dwarven Lands, but our dwarf is at Otakon, so...).  We divided into two teams of two, with Jared and Glisson on offense (trying to capture a cat from a small church on a hill, then retreat and hold a water tower while waiting for extraction), and Tim and I on defense.  Tim put his troops in cover around the water tower, I had mine on the hill with the church, Jared's were on a forested hill to the north east, and Glisson's were holed up in and around a farmhouse on the south east side of the map.

Things immediately went south for Tim; one of his squads was behind a hedgerow but within range of both of Glisson's units, and they were quickly massacred as a result of some truly abysmal range die and armor rolls.  I advanced my green squad into some woods around the water tower to hold it along with Tim's command squad, while my veteran squad hunkered down in-position near the church and kept Glisson's green troops pinned down.  Jared's troops managed to close on Tim's last squad while keeping it suppressed, though, and it quickly became clear that my two squads were going to be outnumbered two to one in short order, so Tim and I ceded.  Tim was most disappointed, cursing the game for its swinginess and proposing to make the range die a flat Armor Class-like number.  There was also significant criticism of the lack of available options for each squad; the only ones we really used were "shoot, move, get in position, get out of position, try to remove suppression".  This may have been due to a lack of rules knowledge on everyone's part - I was the only one who had read the rulebook in its entirety recently, and they just kinda wanted to go do it, rather than going over the available options.  For what it's worth, Jared and Glisson did realize that value of the platoon command squad as an action-economy multiplier by the end of the game, though they didn't need to apply it.  Rallying also didn't come into play; generally by the time a unit achieved a low morale status (as did Tim's unit who got killed badly and Jared's greenies), it was thoroughly combat-ineffective already.  Finally, close assault was available, but by the time Jared and Glisson's troops got within close assault range, victory was imminent (especially given that Glisson's veterans with LD1 had a flamethrower...).

So...  yeah.  A little disappointed; it was not a painful game to play, and felt much faster-moving than Starmada (it sped up as we went, too, which was neat), but it was also not "rollicking good fun," by any means.  I think perhaps we started things off too close; putting units within shooting range initially may have been a mistake, because it meant things bogged down in gunfights from the start rather than being about maneuver.  In any case, I think we'd have a tough time getting another game together without some rules-hackery first; Tim was greatly dissatisfied, and Glisson and Jared were both more or less ambivalent, it seemed.

As a result, I think my current project of converting stuff from the Starcraft setting to the Stargrunt rules will probably go on indefinite hold.  This, naturally, means I'm back to waffling on what to run next semester...  expect a separate post on that soon.

See Part 2 for an analysis of all the stuff we did that we shouldn't've.

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