11 November 2010

Strange Aeons - The Game [Blog Special]

Strange Aeons is a small scale skirmish game where a gang of so called Treshold Agents have to face the Lovecraftian horrors inhabiting the dark corners of the US and beyond. The Treshold Agents are a special unit, trained in dealing with the weird, occult and horrifying matters that local police force or military cannot handle by themselves. Think of them as Mulder & Scully from the X-files, when everyone else around them cannot understand or believe what’s going on – these guys comes to the aid of local authorities. The game is supposed to take place somewhere around 1920, so weapons and equipment is scaled down to this period.

I’ve had the rules for a week know and been reading up on this game and testing the various rules and monsters. I will provide you with the insight on how the rules work and follow it up with a battle report to give you the idea of how the game flows.

There are things you will recognize from other games within the rules, the resemblance to Legends of the Old West in how you build your teams and the D66 injury table and Arkham Horror in how your characters can turn insane from the horrors they face. But the majority of the rules are well written and at least considering my collection of games – unique. They are well written, easy to understand, easy to apply and to follow – and they are detailed enough to make things interesting without slowing down the pace of the game itself which is very fast paced and you should be able to complete a mission within 1 hour. The game makes use of your regular D6 and relies heavily on modifiers from certain circumstances, events or weapons.

-The Basics-

All models have at least 2 Actions that can be spent on various things, like cleaning a jammed gun, movement, charge, CC and Ranged attacks, casting spells etc. You are free to do action in whatever order you like, and may perform the same action twice.

The stats for all models include “Movement” how far each model can move using 1 action. “Dexterity” the chance to hit something with a ranged attack. “Constitution”, how hard they are to wound. “Attack”, how many dice they roll in CC. “Wounds” how many times they can be wounded before having to roll on the injury table. And finally “Resolve”, self control and determination, you roll resolve whenever people die close to you, whenever you face some nameless horror, cast spells and pretty much your all-round psychology stat.
Sometimes models come with SKILLS and SPECIAL in their profile, SKILLS can also be acquired before or in between games by upgrading your characters. The SPECIAL  slot can indicate that the model is Human, Hideous, causes Terror, being Undead etc. These SPECIAL rules all have their own perks.

The SKILLS are what they sound like, improvements of a character by specific knowledge. There is a limit to how many skills a model can have at the same time so you won’t be able to build a “Rambo-Einstein”. Furthermore a lot of skills require your character to have a certain stat number in order to be unlocked “Crack Shot” for instance requires a Dexterity of at least 3+ before you can acquire it.

-Turns-

Here the game deviates from most other games, at least a little. A turn is one friendly model being, followed by the activation of a enemy model.  As such you won’t need/have to activate all models on both sides before the turn is over. This gives outnumbered sides a fighting chance and ability to react as often as the enemy. Activation is done by “Nominating” a model. Such model may perform 2 actions before the turn is given to the opponent.

These actions may be used for shooting weapons, charging into close combat, or if your character is suffering from a mental breakdown or have been knocked to the ground and become “Face Down” or “Face Up” you have to spend Actions to get up from that state.

While shooting you are free to target any enemy model as long as you have Line of Sight (LoS) to it. However if there is an enemy model within 5” you have to pass a resolve test, if you fail you have to fire at this models since it poses a more immediate threat to you. Models receive cover saves from Light/Medium/Hard cover. After you have rolled a successful hit against a target in cover, a cover save is rolled which may negate the hit altogether.

-Close combat-

Once two models end up standing base to base with each other a round of close combat takes place, this could happen by one model charging another. In close combat you roll as many dice as your character profile has Attacks. You then pick the highest Die and apply Close Combat Bonuses from weapons (CCB) and compare your result to your opponents result. If both results are equal the combat is a “DRAW” and nothing happens. However by ever point you win the combat you will add 1 extra die when you roll to Wound. If you roll 6 and your opponent rolls 3 then you will roll 3 Dice during the damage roll. When rolling to damage/wound you roll your dice and again pick the highest result. Your goal is to roll equal to or if possible higher than the targets Constitution. Whenever a model is knocked down to 0 wounds it has to roll on the injury table to see what happens. For every point rolled above the models constitution the model will have to add that point to his Injury roll.

Thus a model that rolls a 6 to wound on a model with Constitution 5 will make the target add +1 to his injury result. The injuries range from being knocked face up, face down, minor and major injury. The latter two removes the model from play immediately and their fate is resolved after the battle. Models knocked face up / down are treated as having 1 wound left.
During CC only 1 model may be attacked, however you receive +1 attack for every friendly model joining you in base contact with the target model.

-Psychology and Injuries-

Psychological tests or “Test resolve” have to be rolled in certain situations already described, should you fail a test you roll on the Insanity Table, the results there range from Catatonia to becoming Frenzied. IF you pass a resolve test based upon one situation – say charging a monster, then you have passed the resolve for that particular monster and won’t take another test against it unless you walk out of CC and then decide to charge it again,

Models suffering a Major Injury during combat are removed from the table, and after the battle you have to roll 1D66, 1D55 or 1D6 depending on what type of model has suffered a major injury, and consult the table to see what happens to these unfortunate casualties.


The Major injury table is filled with results, you can outright die, or even become Emboldened and gain a skill a skill for free. But most of the results are character penalties that will follow you to the end (when you die). These results can be physical or psychological wounds, a broken arm reducing your chances to hit things or Amnesia loosing 1 skill (some funny ones as well such as Haphephobia – fear or being touched!).

-Advanded rules-

Those are the basic rules, there are a few “Advanced rules” which I would recommend using as they enhance gameplay and bring more mayhem and cinematic events into the gameplay. Especially the “Critical Hit”/ “Critical Miss” system which actually allows weak models to wound strong opponents by pure luck  when it wouldn’t otherwise be possible. All critical results derive from rolling a 1 or a 6. 1 being critical miss, once a critical miss has been rolled, reroll the die again and if it ends up as another 1 you will either jam your weapon of allow the opponent to add +1 to his highest die roll during Close Combat.

A criticalhit occurs whenever you roll a 6, reroll the die, and if you roll another 6 then you may apply +2 to the Damage/Wound roll. This is extremely important in some situations – as you will see in the battle report later on. It is entirely possible to roll both critical hit and miss during the same round of combat, the effects are cumulative and both results count!
The advanced rules also allow you to fight with 2 Close Combat or Long range weapons but will suffer slight penalties doing so.

-Building your crew and starting the campaign-

The game starts at 15BP (Build Points). The Agent player is the one who builds his crew and upgrades them to his liking. His crew will advance through the missions played, they will accumulate skills, new equipment and injuries. Strange Aeons is meant to be played as a campaign, you could set the goal of how many missions you have to play before you “win” trying to make your main character survive, or just play and watch your crew grow stronger/weaker as they battle their way through monsters, cultists and whatever horrors  they might be faced with.

Treshold Personnel are divided into the “Character” – this is a representation of you in the game. You act as the leader. The most important skill of the Character is being able to activate himself and two more models at the same time. This character also has the best stats, most skill slots and you would do good not throwing him away recklessly.

The character is accompanied by “Agents” and “Civilians”, Agents and the Character , as you can imagine the Agents are better than the Civilians. There is no limit on how many you include, but their price varies depending on how good their initial stats are and what weapons  and gear you equip them with. Civilians are the cheapest, weakest and most limited in terms of equipment.

You are free to upgrade your models accordingly to the character limits and the initial 15BP limit. The Treshold Agent player then roll to see what basic scenario the Treshold crew will face.  Once a scenario is determined it usually comes with instruction on table layout, special events and circumstances, special rules and how the player taking the role of the “Lurkers” will build his list.
Should the Treshold player own any “Map Pieces” he may trade these to unlock “Quest Scenarios” which are more story driven and more rewarding in terms of loot. Map pieces are also used to unlock special agents who will join you for a limited amount of games, it could be a Sniper, a Demolitions expert, an antiquarian and so on. Only one Special Agent can join your crew at a time.

The player acting as the Lurkers will always react to the Treshold list in two ways. First of all the Lurker can use as many BP as the Treshold Agents are currently using (initially 15). The Lurkers will also have to adapt the size and content of their army list depending on the type of scenario. Sometimes you are limited to 1 mighty monster, sometimes you need to have more Lurkers than there are Treshold personnel etc.
You will have a lot of various monsters, daemons, cultists and freaks available to compile an effective opposition. The Lurker player may also buy certain special events such as Full Moon, having Drug Crazed cultists, The Stars are right to mention a few as long as the cost for this upgrade falls within the BP limit.


(If you want to know more about the rulebook itself you can check out by rundown of the book contents here http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.com/2010/11/first-look-at-strange-aeons.html )

Make sure to check out the Strange Aeons battle report tmorrow for more insight into the rules and how the game flows!

2 comments:

  1. gah, this is really getting on my nerves XD

    Sorry to bother you, but where did you get the cultists with crossbows from? (also, the review is great and one of the few sources of info on this veyr intruiging looking game)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lizbeth, the cultists with crossbows are West Wind Gothic Horror models :-)

    Just brows and you'll find them. Don't remember what they were called, "brotherhood something"

    ReplyDelete

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