The rules are fairly simple but he has managed to cram the best parts of games like Muskets & Tomahawks, Song of Blade and Heroes and other games we both like into his own creation.
We tried out the rules last weekend and I found them to work smoothly and thought they offered a both fast paced and very well balanced gameplay.
A card and action point based activation system is used just like in Muskets and Tomahawks, meaning that each faction has a number of cards with a total of 4 action points in the activation deck. Whenever a faction card is flipped over all troops belonging to that particular faction get to perform said number of actions. Actions range from moving, shooting, fighting in close combat, climbing obstacles, looting corpses, reloading weapons etc.
Movement per action is defined by the movement quality of a faction/unit type. For instance, the "Motor People" have very poor movement when on foot since they are lazy and love riding vehicles.
Movement is divided into 3 fixed range bands which are measured using 3 different sticks.
The activation deck also includes cards that say "Something happens" which means rolling on the random encounter chart. This results in the appearance of NPC factions/monsters or random events that can help or hinder the action for the players. The deck then also includes cards marked as "The Zone" which activates all neutral units on the table such as Zone-Bies, neutral gangs etc.
To resolve combat D6s are used with combat mechanics similar to Spartacus the boardgame where you match the results of the attacker and defender in a opposed roll. The attacker has to beat the defending player results or inflict more hits to inflict a wound. Furthermore the game counts 1's as complete failures which are discarded, and 6's as exploding sixes that generate more dice. This way you can have crappy units surviving or even dealing lucky hits against the odds.
And to make things interesting all models belonging to playable factions have 4 wounds, a model has to take 4 wounds before being removed from play - a marker is then left on the table so that other models can loot weapons, shoes or food from the corpse.
The game uses just a limited number of stats and quality definitions for characters and weapons that are combined and generate a specific number of dice.
Stats: Armor / Haul Ass / Mowing / Beating / Enduring
Quality: Nope / Awful / Mediocre / Awesome
Armor is what level of protection a model is wearing, this can be shoulder pads made out of car tires, shields made out of road signs etc. This stat is used for defensive rolls.
Haul ass is the stat used for movement, and dictates which range band a model can move on foot whenever an action point is spent on this purpose.
Mowing, is the stat used to determine how good a model is at hitting enemies with ranged weapons. The stat indicates how many dice your model gets when he uses an action to shoot at someone.
Beating, this stat is used both when attacking someone in close combat, and when defending (in combination with armor) against an attack in close combat. The value dictates how many dice you will use in a close combat situation.
Enduring, is the stat that determines how much damage you can suffer from ranged weapons. This stat is used in combination with Armor and Cover. Some heavy weapons ignore both cover and armor which makes the Enduring stat of primary concern in firefights.
All stats are divided into 3 primary quality groups, these dictate the number of dice that form the base of your pool when performing an action
Awful = 1D6
Awesome = 3D6
There is also the quality "Nope", which simply means that something does not provide any dice.
Combat uses opposed rolls where the attacker adds the quality of his weapon combined with the specific stat depending on whether it is close combat (Beating) or ranged combat (Mowing).
The defender in turn uses his Armor + Beating to withstand damage in close combat, and his Armor+Enduring+cover stats to withstand ranged damage.
With the limited number of stats and quality types it does not take long to learn the game and play it fast and smooth. Of course there are range modifiers, cover bonuses and weapon special rules as well to make it more interesting. What I personally really liked was how the threshold of 4 wounds per model played out in our 2 hour game. It was just the right amount of wounds to make heavy weapons frightening and crappy improvised weapons less harmful. Discarding 1's and using exploding 6's also allowed for combat situations that could result in what I would call "critical success / failures" without using a complicated game mechanic.
Imo opinion Thomas really nailed it with a lot of the rules, and he has managed to cherry picked the games we like of the game mechanics we find interesting and which work great and make something of his own.
It may not be the deepest gaming experience, but its intelligent and fun enough to raise it above the casual "beer & pretzels" experience. I look forward to playing it again as soon as our schedules allow for it.
And here are some pictures from our test game.
I played Ossians Pirates and the Motor People, while Thomas played the Caravan and the Red Corps.
The Red Corps are regular soldiers and come with cards that allow them to play 2 actions each time they are activated. This allows them to shoot and reload their weapons in the same turn, or ready and fire a heavy weapon.
Ossians Pirates are skirmishers and have a lot of cards with 1 action, which means that they can activate often but they can't do much each turn.
The Motor People have two cards, one with 3 actions and one card with 1 action.
The Caravan has two cards with 1 action, and one card with 2 actions.
Each faction is also divided into regular troops and "heavy guns". So models armed with weapons such as the scrap cannon activate separately from the guys armed with small arms.
Our game ended with the Motor People and Ossians Pirates pretty much wiping out the Red Corps and the Caravan, though not without taking heavy losses. The game does not use a morale system so your models don't break away from the fight even if all their friends are killed. Thomas compared this to games like SAGA.