Monday, December 31, 2012

Ants Play Test #1

Mary and I statted up some characters and invaded a camp of fleas who had taken a fly double agent hostage. The camp was mostly populated by level 1 fleas, although there were a few level 2 guards. Mary and I both made level 5 characters, so it shouldn’t have been much of a challenge for them. In general, they did well. Mary’s ladybug covert ops specialist managed to stealth into the compound (she improvised a stick into a pole for vaulting the fence, and she had her die explode on the stealth roll, so she was hidden very well inside the compound, among a stack of supplies). My ant commando didn’t fare so well; he managed to leap the fence too by vaulting it, but he failed his stealth roll, and was quickly under attack by the tower guard. He charged the tower, dodging fire and climbing up to capture it. While he threw down grenades and drew fire, Mary’s character snuck around, took out the other tower guard with her rifle (and silencer), and climbed atop the command post, sneaking in through the air vents.

It took my character about six rounds to take out all of the fleas, and he took only minor damage. However, the ladybug didn’t fare quite as well. She dropped in through the air ducts and double-botched with her rifle, so it jammed, and she had to resort to her sword (lucky for her she picked one up at character creation!). She lost about 2/3 of her hits before managing to take down the two flea goons that stood guard.

Here’s what I discovered about the system thus far:
- It’s pretty well balanced. The session flowed quickly, there was some variety to the action, and the mechanics reasonably supported what we’d expect to have happen.
- Grenades work better than I expected. They give ‘grenade like’ results. You drop a grenade on a pack of fleas, and several of them fall. I know it seems logical, but I was concerned that grenades were going to either be over-powered or under-powered. They worked just about right. If the fleas had been much tougher, they might have survived a grenade blast with major wounds; as it was, they fell quickly.
- I’ve got weapon damage for rifles rated a bit too low. Both of us were using weapons that dealt D6 base damage, and that felt a little weak- and we were fighting low-level foes. Against tougher foes, battles are going to come down to attrition, and I want to avoid prolonged battles every single time you have combat. The battle between the ladybug and the two tougher fleas went about 7 rounds. Not terrible, but a bit longish.
- We played with an exploding dice mechanic, and I liked how it worked. If you roll max (i.e. 6 on a d6) you get to take 5 and roll again. This gives more variety, and makes even ‘impossible’ rolls possible even when you’re only rolling a D4.
- We also played with the Moxy mechanic (which is sort of like this game’s Resolve) whereby you get to take automatic dice explosions on rolls. This worked well.
- Our characters ended up with comparable builds, although that was intentional – Mary was a ladybug covert operations specialist and my character was an ant commando – quick, light, stealthy characters with light weapons relying on secrecy. You’re going to end up with comparable stats.

Overall a fun session. For the first time out of the gate with a new mechanical system, it was quite polished compared to most first play tests that tend to crash and burn.

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