As Samulus describes, we played through a game of Gruntz the other night with my fledgling New Vedith Defence Force troops facing Samulus' robotic Autosentia. We threw together some stats for what we had as best we could and played around 100 points. I had two NV infantry squads with support weapons, a platoon command base (Mal standing in) and two IFVs which had fortunately arrived from Antenociti that morning.
The battlefield from the NV perspective. Terrain was cobbled together from what I had already, except the alien jungles I knocked together during the week from some plastic fish tank plants that Gharak gave me years back.
We were a but short on suitable counters, so used red gems for waxed (wounded) troops, blue for suppressed, White dice for a command 'push' order which grands a bonus action or for vehicle damage and a small green dice for prone which gave combat bonuses.
An NV IFV's laser and missile weapons take their toll on the Autosentia assault troops.
The IFVs spectacularly fail to bring their weapons to bear on the Autosentia mech, whose Gatling gun decimates an NV squad. The Mech was a bit overpowered for its size, something for us to tweak.
Autosentia light infantry combine fire and damage an IFV, which was helpfully laser-painted by the nearby drones. But NV infantry push forward and gun down the light robots. I conceded shortly afterwards, although close it was a rules taster rather than a competitive game and we wanted some time to discuss our thoughts.
So, what did we think? I'll start with some pros:
-really nicely presented and well-written rulebook for a bargain download price of £6. We struggled to find some specific rules (such as what flamers do), but overall a solid product
-interesting mechanics which seem to mostly work right. Although I wouldn't personally agree with all design decisions, such as the lack of a rate of fire, Samulus and I both felt it was a very good base which we could tweak to our taste
-easy to use unit-builder with a points system. We were happy to use it as a guide and bend the rules if needed. And having not played before, some of our first efforts were a little bit skewed - the mech too powerful and IFVs seemed pretty tough.
Cons? Happy to report there isn't much that we felt we couldn't tweak to suit with our own house rules. Something I'm increasingly happy to do, as I have developed pretty specific tastes in rulesets. These were the things we thought could be improved:
-command system. While we used the alternative activation rules and there is a small command element in the way you can use your command base, i think this could be deepened. I've already an idea for how to develop this further. Also, the need for a command base didn't really fit with Samulus's robot force.
-I can see the mathematic appeal of a 2D6-based combat system but it became a bit ungainly with our 8-man squads as we only had 5 different pairs of dice. We will try 4-man fireteams next, breaking out special weapons as attachments.
-the range of modifiers meant shooting became a bit maths-y, adding 2D6 plus stat, plus or minus modifiers, with a target number that could also vary from modifiers. We really needed a decent reference table and for personal taste I might streamline some of the modifiers.
-Gruntz sure died quick, even in cover. If we use smaller fireteams, I'm toying with the idea that cover and prone status should grant Gruntz an extra wound rather than a to hit modifier, from small arms fire at least. I don't think this will break the core system so we'll try it out and let you know how it works.
-Some oddities like equipping combat knife being optional, but free. I'd have thought all but the worst rabble would 'count as' having a ccw, be it knife, gauntleted fist or rifle-butt!
As I say, these opinions can pretty much all be easily fixed with house rules. I would definitely recommend people looking fir a ruleset to check out Gruntz.
Also, the author of Gruntz was kind enough to comment on Samulus' blog with his response so in the interest of balance, please see here. It is great to see that Robin is open to constructive feedback and I'm pleased to see that at least some of the points are already being tweaked for future editions.
Have a nice weekend, bloggers!