02 June 2012

Empire of the Dead - Alternate activation test results

I promised I would try out the rules with alternate activations, so I did just that while me and my friend were at it. We made two small forces outside of the campaign and armed them with generic weapon.

The scenario we used was "Fracas", the basic fight scenario since we were more interested to try out alternate activation than keeping new scenario rules in mind.

Gentlemans Club (no affiliation)

President w Heavy Pistol
3x Membership w Light Pistol


3x Thrall, 1 Shotgun, 2 w knifes

Location: Sewers
Time of day: LoS restriction due to darkness in the sewers.

So, alternate activation. We kind of used ideas from other games such as Secrets of the third Reich. You roll initiative, the winner moves 1 model first, then you alternate in activating 1 model at a time. Below are some things that came up during our rather casual testing session. It is possible to make the game work with alternate activation but it's not a clean transition.

"Delaying activations"
If one player has more miniatures than his opponent, the opponent may choose to delay his activation if he rolls a successful "Bravado check". This delay is only possible as long as one side has fewer miniatures on the table. In this case we both had equal amounts of miniatures. But this could come in handy when you want to force a superior opponent to move his "trash" and start moving his good units instead of becoming out maneuvered.

"Watch & Shoot" (reaction fire)
This was the first thing that didn't work. We came to the conclusion that the best thing would be to play it in a way so that models who had not shot during the current turn were able to make a "watch & shoot" action. However that would also count as an activation (pretty much like in Secrets of the Third Reich). Nothing more can be done by that model for the remainder of the turn.

Charges & Close combat
This was the second thing that didn't work straight away. Close combat in the core rules allow you to quickly and easily gang up on a single enemy model. With alternate activations this becomes difficult since the close combat step is at the end of each players turn sequence. This means that a model that charges an enemy would have to immediately resolve the close combat phase. If the enemy wasn’t defeated - another model could charge into the same combat and support either side, in which case the +1 bonus for each friendly model in combat would be used.

This is really the only 3 areas that I think would pose a problem for those wanting to play this game with "alternate activation" instead of IGOUGO. The main issue is really close combat, since the turn sequence has each player resolve all of their steps before handing the turn over to the opponent in the core rules. Having played both the core rules and trying out this tweak I must admit I prefer the IGOUGO. Alternate activations doesn't really add anything significant - or rather - it doesn't make the experience mind-blowing enough to bother with this tweak. If you are skeptical about the IGOUGO I would advice to still give the game a chance, I myself was positively surprised as I too think alternate activations make a good backbone for skirmish gaming.

Btw, our test game ended in the Gentlemen getting wiped out, 3 men killed and last 1 ran away.


  1. Thanks for testing alternate activations.

    I'm still a bit worried that with IGOUGO you'll spend a turn getting wiped out and not being able to do anything about it like in Warnachine. But I may take a look at this now having read your reviews.

  2. Also how does it compare to Strange Aeons as it sounds very much like it from your write-ups.

  3. @Ferb with your second question in mind I actually covered the similarities and differences of various skirmish games that I own - Strange Aeons and EotD among them. A post about that will be up tomorrow :-)
    Also worth mentioning is that the table you play on in EotD is 4x4' and the deployment is 6-10" so you start quite far away from each other with lots of terrain in between. I can't see anyone being wiped out like in WH40k or similar "fun" games on turn 1.


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