Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Clash on the Fringe mega-Q&A

With the release of "Clash on the Fringe" (Formerly known as StarStrike) imminent (tonight? Tomorrow, stay tuned. Fixing the images now.), I wanted to address a whole bunch of questions, some of which have been asked before, some are new.

I asked a few people to come up with the kind of questions they'd like to know about a new game.

What scale of miniatures?
Any that you want to use. The rules assume 10-15mm, but the distances fit most typical 28mm games, and it's been tested extensively in 6mm.

Is there an official miniatures range?
No.

What are the typical movement and firing ranges?
Most troops move 4-5" per activation. Individuals and heroes will move faster.
A normal assault rifle can fire accurately out to 25" (a bit more if the trooper is stationary) and can fire beyond that but the fire is un-aimed.

What does squad coherency look like?
After deployment, you can break up squads as you need to. Sticking near each other (and the leader) will often be helpful though.

Can I take different actions with each figure?
When a unit activates, it has 6 options (Engage, Prowl, Evade, Storm, Alert, Regroup).
Each figure can move and fire (or fire and move) one at a time, though their orders may limit them.

For example, troops that Storm can move, fire at short range and possibly get a bonus move to reach close combat.

How many figures on the table?
Anywhere from a few figures each, to 30 or so. You could play bigger games, but it gets a little busy, at least until you get used to how everything works.

Is there an official setting?
Yes, there is.
It's kept pretty brief and it mostly serves to set up a world where you can slot in your own troops and battles.
There's not really a requirement to use it, you can build your own stuff.

Is there a points system?
There is, though it's not required.

Can we build our own troops or we pick from a list?
There's a pretty big list of troop profiles, but you can create your own.
If you want to use the points system, the formula is presented as well.

That goes for weapons too.

How hard is the scifi?
The aim wasn't to create a hard scifi military game so it's fairly soft.
There's a few nifty gadgets in there but the armoury covers the bases, rather than the gonzo space teleport guns and whatnot.
I have no doubt they'll be added later.

How lethal is firepower?
An average soldier firing an assault rifle at medium range, against a target in the open will hit 50% of the time and hits will kill 40% of the time.
If the target is hit but survives, they go Heads Down (penalizing them until they shake it off).
Shots that miss have a 10% chance of forcing Heads Down status as well.

Since weapons cause an area of effect, unless the enemy spreads out, it's not uncommon for one figure to be able to fire at multiple targets.

What vehicle types can we build?
Walkers (two types), wheeled and tracked vehicles, bikes and two types of hover vehicles.
The rules don't currently cover "super-sized" vehicles.

Do vehicles have their own stats?
Vehicles have a few extra stats but primarily use the same stats (and as much as possible, the same system) as infantry figures.

Are there terrain rules?
Yes. Terrain features can be classified using a pretty simple classification system.
This lets you quickly set up consistent effects for the features in your collection.

Do we get space magic?
You do, though it's kept in a supporting role.

How many stats are there?
Figures have 5 stats.

Does everyone move 6"?
No, each figure has its own Speed rating.

Are leaders important?
Yes. Rather than just boost morale, leaders can issue commands that lets figures take additional moves, shots or other actions.

How does reaction fire work?
Troops reaction fire automatically at enemies within a certain distance (usually 8-12").
Reaction fire is not very accurate though and there are ways to avoid it.

Do you have suppression rules?
Individual figures can be pinned down by incoming fire. Units are not.

How does morale work?
When squads take casualties, they test morale. Failure will cause them to accumulate penalties, which limits their firing accuracy, the range they can reaction fire at, their ability to recover pinned troops and resist further morale loss.

A large unit with bad morale can end up combat-ineffective. Smaller, better units will tend to stick in the fight in some fashion.

Is this full of weird mechanics again?
No, the mechanics are clever (I think!) but more conventional this time around.
Roll to hit, roll to kill, that sort of thing.

How many dice do I roll to kill a guy?
Usually just two. Once to hit and once to beat their Survival score.
In close combat, the players make an opposed roll to see who gets hit.

Do I have to track wounds or damage points?
No, heroes, vehicles and monsters have a damage table they roll on instead.

Is this IGOUGO?
It's an alternating turn sequence where players make opposed rolls to see who moves first.
The order units move in can be important, and there's a chance (particularly in larger battles) that some units won't activate each turn, though most will.

One side may get multiple activations in a row.
Units cannot activate multiple times in a turn, but an individual figure may occasionally take multiple actions.

Space bugs?
Yes.

Space zombies?
Kind of.

Army lists?
No. But you can pick a troop type, a weapon and put the figure on the table.

Scenarios?
There's a setup sequence for a standard "meeting encounter" and a series of 4x D100 tables to generate scenario keywords, reminiscent of the old "100 adventure seeds" section in the Rogue Trader rulebook.

Campaign rules?
Present but simpler than usual.
Essentially, you can carry over your survivors and buy them small upgrades.

Solo rules?
Present. they are basically the ones from FiveCore, adopted to a D10.
If you already like those solo rules, you'll already know how this works.

Examples of play?
Yes (for a change). Two short text examples showing a unit activation and the turn sequence, and there's pictures illustrating vehicle turning and how to place area of effect templates.

Area of effect templates?
Most weapons in the game produce an area of effect.
A typical assault rifle covers an area 1" wide and 3" deep for example.
Don't bunch up!

How much junk do I need to play this?
10 sided dice.
Some markers to show figures that are Heads Down.
Some markers to show units that have failed Morale checks.

You'll also need to make some area of effect rectangular templates from card board, unless you prefer measuring each and every time.

What will the art look like?
Photos of miniatures, in this case my friends at Angel Barracks and Armies Army.
If the game does well, I'd like to commission some custom artwork for a later update.

How many pages?
Juuust shy of 160 (at last count). This is the biggest game I've ever done.

How much money?
I usually shoot for 1 dollar per 10 pages (roundabout) so it'll be 14.99.
If you paypal me 10 extra dollars, I guarantee that you'll have lucky dice rolls.

What is the atmosphere of the game? Is it grimdarktotalwarkrieg!?
No, it's a bit more tongue in cheek, without being too goofy.
I wanted a game that felt like a space adventure, not an exercise in cosmic misery.

Does this invalidate No Stars in Sight and FiveCore?
No, they all do different things.
FiveCore gives you a stat-less game that moves very quickly.
NSIS is aimed at a more "military" style of gameplay.
This is intended as a more traditional space adventure game.

Can you sell the game in one line?
"What if Rogue Trader had been released today?"