Monday, August 24, 2015

I scream, you scream, We fight for Ice Cream!

This Is Not A Test Battle Report

I was lucky enough to be recruited to run some demos of This Is Not A Test at NOVA Open this year. In order to learn the game, I spent a Saturday at Games and Stuff with the creator of the game, Joe McGuire. Read my This Is Not A Test, Repeat This Is Not A Test for my thoughts on the game rules and feel of the game. Here is how my introduction to the post-nuclear wastes went...

Table layout
Table Set-up. Thankfully, Joe has all of the materials at the ready for our demo/tutorial. The table set-up had a couple of roads running through, plenty of abandoned/wrecked vehicles, signs. There are also some centrally placed buildings. Each of these buildings are completely playable inside and out. There are areas of rough terrain (craters, toxic spills) and some wilderness terrain. All together, we put together a table with plenty of potential for good game play.

Joe made all of the terrain and teaches courses on many of the items through the Historic Miniatures Gaming Society (HGMS) if you get the chance to attend. The buildings are purchased (Plasticville) then customized specifically for the game. 

My faction (all upstanding citizens)
Selecting Factions. Joe for the demo has a set of prepared factions which he has spent time to balance out. This made selection pretty easy and for me, I just selected based on a few items; no robots, no mutants, and something interesting. Now that was a pretty limiting selection, but I wanted to really get a feel for the basic mechanics with the hope of playing additional games to get deeper into some of the other mechanics. In the end that brought me to the a police-like faction, though with a prisoner in tow, which was composed of five characters and included a range of close combat and ranged actions. We will get to the really interesting components as we go through the battle. 

Joe's faction (bad guys one and all)
Joe selected an alternate faction from those remaining to also stay pretty basic. He also ended up with five characters with a range of available weapons. He had one character with specific long-range availability for lack of a better phrase a sniper.  

 Deployment. We didn't follow a specific side versus side deployment. We both used a 6" deployment standard and deployed our characters onto the board. I selected to deploy my characters around some terrain and in a line to give potential for direction change after the first couple of turns. With This Is Not A Test, this is possible because the depth of the table is greater than the range of the weapons. No bombardment to worry over.

Joe deployed in more of a cluster around his leader. The leader provides a boost to activation when characters are within 6" of the leader, which he knew and I didn't. Joe also took advantage of the billboard at the edge of his side and was able to deploy his sniper to the top of the billboard to give height and increase line of sight.

Start the march. The aim here was purely to get closer to each other. There was sufficient distance that I couldn't hit him at all and coverage to ensure I wasn't able to get hit. Joe took advantage of starting his group around his leader to successfully activate most of his figures. He used the transit bus to protect his route.

My aim from the beginning was to use the diner and ice cream parlor as a funnel to where I could set up some crossfire. As such my first attempt was to take my leader and longest range shooter to attempt to take the top of the diner. The rest of the group was moved up with the goal to take control of the ice cream parlor to prevent any side attacks.

Control moves. I continued to make attempts at controlling the diner, but it turns out that failing an activation can really disrupt your plans. When the leader failed and wasn't able to climb to the top of the trailer, I had to come up with some alternate plans.

Joe was continuing to come up around the bus toward the back of the parlor and between the two shops. Joe had a clear path to the back of the parlor though and sufficient coverage to potentially overwhelm my guys all at once. The shops provided some solid cover to work and still maintain the plan of a cross-fire scenario between the buildings.

Change of plans. With Joe now pushing out to the open, I had a chance to start the melee. I moved into position and started the fire. I also noticed the rear door of the parlor and how that would provide some disruption to Joe's forces and started working my close combat hot head through since he was steadily working up toward the back of the parlor. I attacked through the back door to where Joe was, but was ultimately knocked back off of his character.

Joe (clearly a natural model) still had his sniper sitting pretty on the top of the billboard and waiting for someone to shoot. Thankfully, the cover was proving sufficient to prevent her from picking off any of my men while I advanced. This limited her capabilities and kept her out of action for a while. Joe took advantage of the covered offered to him and brought his leader up to the side window of the parlor where he was able to start attacking my hot headed prisoner. With a failed save, I hit the deck and went prone.

First blood. With the potential savage damage from his leader, I was forced to reconsider my plan. I pulled my prisoner back with the intent of running him through to the leader to occupy him. The rest of the plan was still holding and Joe was moving into the cross-fire.

Joe got some good shots off and was able to decimate the hot head, but now before suffering a loss himself. With the back door of the parlor no longer a problem, I was able to take out one of his guys. We were down a man each and his sniper was still stuck up on her billboard. Joe's leader threw a jam, which made his relic plasma weapon rendered useless unless he spent some time to resolve.

Turn 4. With the cross-fire in full effect and the madness of the back and forth, the bodies started to take shots. Now we were both getting plenty of hits, but also making plenty of defense rolls. I got numerous shots off on his leader, but he was able to evade all of them. We both lost another guy and we steadily moving toward the final showdown.

Joe managed to clear his plasma gun, which can be a devastating weapon. He proceeded up the side of the building where he had the strength of one weapon alone to make me reconsider my deployment. Joe took his sniper down from the billboard to bring her into action. He started moving her up into a support position and that necessitated drawing his people closer.

The trap is sprung! BOOM!
The trap is sprung. With Joe's move, I was able to spring a trap that I had hoped would work and win the day for me. Joe's leader moved up around the edge of the building near to where my prisoner had fallen. That was when I detonated his explosive collar. It is how he would have wanted to go I am sure. What should have been a great day for victory, turned out to be just a puff of smoke as once again Joe was saved with crucial rolls. Joe took the blast and then walked himself back.

I thought I had him on the ropes and pursued thinking could take some quick shots to put him down, that may have been a mistake. As soon as I rounded the corner, he had me and took out another of my men. Sure I got some shots off, but between his rolls and the number of wounds he could withstand the poor bloke didn't stand a chance. Now I was down to my last man, but I had an assault rifle and eventually Joe was going to fail a roll.

End Game. With Joe's leader damaged and looking to regroup with his sniper, I had only one choice. Take some drastic action. So I starting firing through the ice cream parlor making another round of multiple successes. I was finally able to find success and take down his leader, but that wasn't the end of it. He still had his sniper who decided it was best to make use of her position and live to fight another day than be another bullet-ridden body in the waste.

The end scene...a win for the good guys.