Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the Emperor's Name, Game One

A visit from agents of the galaxy's meanest HOA ever
I had a chance last night to chill out for a bit and play a game of In the Name of the Emperor, a new pure skirmish game offering from Craig Cartmell and the Forge of War blokes that can be played in a certain grim and dark future (wink). This is a brilliant little free ruleset that is perfect for people like me who love the 40K world as interpreted  by Black Library authors such as Dan Abnett but positively detest most GW games. Its designed to allow you take whatever GW (or even non-GW figures! Shhhh-don't tell anyone!) figures you have lying around, quickly derive stats and point costs, and get busy playing. The game works great with about 10-15 figures a side, but in testing I found it could handle more comfortably once you know the (very brief) rules well.

I plan to detail the game in a battle report that I shall file shortly. For now, let me just say that the In the Emperor's Name (ITEN) core rules were superb in action. They have very simple mechanics for movement, shooting, and melee, and only a handful of stats to describe model quality, weapons, armor,and psychic ability. The whole mechanism is based on d6 rolls for all actions. For both shooting and melee, combat ability, weapon quality,  cover, and  armor are all factored into a single die roll. Boom. Done! There are no layers of ad nauseum rolls to determine a single combat outcome.

Can you guess who here DOESN'T have True Grit?
However, when a model is hit, it is still not necessarily out of the game; it may make a Grit roll to avoid being put out of action. Grit encompasses physical and mental toughness, and it is used for a variety of  other tests in the game as well.  Being somewhat vague in its nature, it seems to give characters a dimension beyond  their combat stats. So  models that are deadly in combat and have great armor and weapons may still pucker and buy it if they have a  poor Grit score. Grit is also used for using and resisting psychic abiltiy, as well as for responding to psychological effects like terror. It's refreshing to have only one number to recall for all these uses, and in game it seems to work quite well. Finally, any retinue models who are knocked out of action during a game can make a post-game Grit role to determine whether they recover and can adventure one, or whether they succumb to their wounds.

Taking on a Terminator, Torrent of Fire-style
A cool little mechanism I really enjoyed in-game that I'd like to mention is the shooting rule for Torrent of Fire, and its melee equivalent called Ganging Up. Both allow weak models like cultists or IG guardsmen to combine their attacks so that they have a fighting chance at bringing down some really hardened opponents. In game, I found that even a pack of fetid Genestealer cultists with autoguns could still worry my Terminator-armored librarian by combining their attacks with Torrent of Fire, causing him to take several tense Grit rolls.

My game was played solo and will be part of a campaign that I am creating using the campaign generator I wrote for Craig's tome. The generator is targeted at solo play and allows you play Inquisitor-style warband-sized games against a variety of foes of humanity, including identifying a campaign objective, defining what enemy forces will be faced,  and playing linked scenarios to ultimately reach the objective. The goal of each scenario is to complete certain specified victory conditions that will further your investigation and earn victory points. Once ten victory points are earned, the player unlocks an endgame scenario for the campaign and can attempt to win the campaign decisively. Along the way, the player  can also recruit reinforcements to replace losses in his warband and even partner with allies encountered in some scenarios, so the warband has a chance to grow and develop along the way.

I created stat cards for my favorite 40k models, gave them names, and randomly drew them to create a really characterful 120 point starter warband. These seven characters will serve as my Inquisitorial Retinue:
From right to left: Brother Librarian Jodocus, Stormtrooper Osbrecht (above), Interrogator Luc Lesueur (below), Interrogator Arekana, Gracchus the Priest, Judge Dimartus of the Adeptus Arbites, Kruger the Bounty Hunter.

I will post my detailed batrep for scenario one of my ITEN campaign shortly. Keep an eye on this site for further ITEN news as well. Thanks Craig and company!