25 February 2017

Scrappers review

Earlier this week I received a review copy of the upcoming "Scrappers: Post-apocalyptic skirmish wargames", a post-apoc game written by Robert Faust and Andrew Davies and published by Osprey Games.

Robert Faust has previously written the historical skirmish game Brink Of Battle, and both authors have also collaborated on the fantasy themed Brink of Battle spinoff Epic Heroes. "Scrappers" is pretty much a progression based on the same rules system, though with a post-apocalyptic theme, cleaner rules and the production values of Osprey Games titles packed into a very beautiful hardback rulebook with artwork matching the quality of Fantasy Flight Games RPG books like Edge of the Empire. You could hardly argue that it is not a very attractive looking package.

The book is divided into three segments, the first covering the history/background of the world and its inhabitants, descriptions of the factions and the gear you will be using. The far future world of Scrappers is the result of human created AI that turned on its masters, nuclear war, famine and mutations combined with threat of AI synthetic life forms now make up the world where the remaining human survivors struggle for control over scarce resources. The setting in the game is as a result a mix of Fallout, MUTANT, Mad Max and Wasteland. The author does stress that you could skip the presented theme, and use the rules for your own post-apoc setting of choice. 

Building warbands
Should you stick to the setting of the game, you are presented with a couple of choices for your warband. There are seven factions in the world to pick for your warband, each faction can pick from/or is restricted to one, two or three of the existing life form types, True Human/Mutant/Synthetic.

For instance, the faction called "The Purge" can only have members that are true humans, the "Gamma lords" is a faction purely made up of mutants, while factions like the Ectopians, Architects and Freelancers can mix life forms from of all types in their warband. Each life form type has its own list of traits that make up the basic special rules of a character. 

True humans have evolved to be much smarter and have survival instincts, they can re-roll failed gear checks and are harder to kill. 

Mutant life forms can re-roll dice on the trauma table after each game if they have been wounded, they ignore some radiation and the mutants are divided into 3 sub-categories providing extra bonuses depending on which type of mutant you create.

Synthetic life forms are immune to gas and poison, can ignore target priority restrictions and also have 3 sub-categories of troops that all have their own bonuses such as being able to carry more weight.

Before you can start playing you have to build your warband. You pick a faction to your liking that comes with its limitations regarding what kind of characters/lifeforms you can recruit. You get your base traits depending on the lifeforms you have recruited. Then you have to give your characters stats which are divided into Combat, Command and Constitution. You can also buy extra traits for your troops, and these are divided into generic and lifeform dependant, there are quite a bunch of traits to pick from for each lifeform type so you can tailor your gang to your liking. There are also a handful of faction specific traits exclusive to the faction you are playing.

Having built your characters and given them stats you go on to equip them with gear, weapons and armor - the last one provides you with a 4th stat "Armor" on your unit profile.

How the game plays
Scrappers follow the rules of Brink of Battle. Players already familiar with those rules will be able to jump pretty much right into the game after familiarizing themselves with the new traits and pieces of gear. For newcomers to the rules the game uses ten sided dice (D10), measure range in inches and uses a lot of "opposed roll of the dice" for tests. The game also focuses heavily on your commanders that provide activation points for your crew equal to their command value, activation points is what you will use to activate, move and fight with models each round, a high command value means you will be able to do more. 

At the start of each turn players will also roll for initiative, the player who wins this roll will get +3 activations, the opponent will get something called "the break" action. The break action is limited to one per turn, and can be used to interfere with your opponents activation by activating one of your own models - you could say this is the equivalent to having rules for "overwatch".

Players take turns placing activation tokens next to models they want to use during the upcoming turn, when those are played players will be activating models one at a time until they either run out of activations or pass. Models may only be activated once per turn, this means that very small warbands could end up with excess activation points.

All models have a base move of 6", additional actions that can be taken in the game is a huslte (running), climb, jump, ambush, steady, mobile fire, standing fire, take aim, charge, stand and fight and disengage.  Models have a 360 degree line of sight, but must be able to draw an unbroken like to an enemy to see them. 

Attacks work like this; both ranged and close combat, are made by rolling D10 dice and adding your combat rating to the result. An opposed roll is made by your opponent for defense, he too rolls D10 dice and add his combat rating. Should more than one D10 be rolled by a player then the highest result is used. 

If the attack roll exceeds or is equal to the defenders roll, the attack is a success and a damage roll is made. A damage roll is a D10 + the weapon damage bonus. You also add the extra punch to your attacks equal to the excess of your attack result. The defender tries to avoid damage by adding together his constitution and armor rating and add that to a roll of a D10. Should the attacker score higher on the roll then the defender is either shocked from the hit, or wounded and removed from play - depending if the final attack result exceeds the defending models wound threshold (constitution and armor combined). A hit that grazed but failed to kill an opponent results in becoming shocked, and losing the activation for the remainder of the turn.

Becoming shocked means that a model loses its activation this turn if it has yet to be activated, and should another attack result in a second shock then the model will succumb and be removed as a casualty.

Cover, movement, long range and being engaged in close combat affect the efficiency of attacks and the game suggests that 50-75% of the table is covered in terrain to get the most out of the game.-

Ranged weapons can also jamp and malfunction if you roll one or more 1's on your attack roll, this forces the player to make a gear check that can lead to the weapon being useless for the remainder of the game (a good idea is to have a backup weapon or close combat weapon for your trooper).

Psychology in Scrappers is represented by friendly models nearby being killed, from being outnumbered in combat and starting a turn with 25% or more casualties.

A gang that has lost 25% or more of its starting models must also roll for a morale test at the start of each turn. This roll is made by using the command rating of your leader and adding 1D10, opponent rolls 1D10 and add a number equal to the models you have lost. If the leader has been killed then the player trying to pass his morale check only roll 1D10 with no positive modifiers. The game may end prematurely as a result of your entire gang routing, or remaining models being forced to run off the table as a reaction to panic.

Campaign gameplay in Scrappers
Scrappers is meant to be played as a campaign game, with models earning experience as they survive battles and evolve new abilities, buy new gear and find great loot.

Games are played on a 4x4' table, and each game uses 6-15 objective markers (Scrap tokens) on the table. The main objective in each game is to collect scrap, though there are variants of this scenario with special settings such as a radiation zone. Scrap collected during the game can turn out to be either valuable artifacts and items - or mere scrap to be sold after the game for money to buy new troops and gear. Furthermore, each time a scrap token is picked up the active player rolls 1D100 to see what random event occurs.

Post game sequence in Scrappers is a rich gaming step of its own t hat involves checking your wounded troops for injuries, mutations and death, distributing experience and using experience to upgrade your stats, selling scrap for money and buying gear. What I found to my liking is that the scrap counters you retrieve do not have a fixed value, instead they are worth 26-35 scrap each depending on your roll, likewise there is a great multi-step of identifying recovered artifacts (you don't know what you recover during the fighting until the post game sequence).  

To identify an artifact players first roll to determine what kind of item the artifact is (depending on it being a weapon, armor or utility), for instance recovering a weapon artifact it can turn out to be a gauss pistol. Then you roll to see what quality the item has, if it is broken (or potentially dangerous to use) or if it is in good enough condition. Recovered gear can also be sold if it turns out to be something that you don't have use for or if you find the quality below your liking.

The campaign can either end by players reaching a predetermined gang reputation, having a specific number of artifacts or simply by playing a fixed number of games. The campaign mode combined with the factions and traits should allow for a very narrative gameplay.

You can of course, should you want to, play standalone games.

Final thoughts about Scrappers
The theme and factions are really good, the game allows you to play a good variety of crazed mutants, robots and post-apoc survivors. The rules themselves are basically the same as in the previous Brink of Battle titles, but with better layout, improved wording and a better overlook they are more accessible. The quality of the book itself is really good.

I actually ended up buying my first Games Workshop models (chaos cultists and genestealer neophyte hybrids) in over 10 years after having finished reading the rules as I was very psyched to get some post-apoc models into my miniature collection.

I look forward to get a campaign going with my friend Thomas as I know he has the terrain perfect for this game.

Scrappers will be released on April 20th
Publisher: Osprey Games
Authors: Robert Faust & Andrew Davies
Contents:  152 pages in full color, hardback rulebook
Format: 2-players, alternate single model activation
Gaming aides: D10 dice
Price: £20


  1. It's on! We'll find a date and plough through a few battles.

  2. Cool. Thanks for the Preview. Looks exciting!

  3. Is it the necromunda we have been waiting for?

    1. Possibly :)
      I never played Necromunda myself, but I know the game and think you will be able to play that setting very well with these rules.

    2. Wreck Age and Eden seem to fit that pretty well.

    3. wreck age and eden didnt have campaign play did they?

  4. Yes, they both do.

  5. This looks like a lot of fun. I've been hankering for some sort of low complexity but fun Post Apoc war band building game for awhile.

  6. Hello.
    Thanks for your review. It is very interesting
    Are the vehicles covered by the rules ?
    Or the rules are dedicated to man size miniatures ?

    1. The rules do not cover any kind of vehicles, only man vs man combat.

  7. As a skirmish game, this appears to be a small game area type of game. What is the 'standard' game area size? 4 x 4? 3 x 3?

  8. Thanks for posting this info. I just want to let you know that I just check out your site and I find it very interesting and informative. I can't wait to read lots of your posts.
    Escaping the Prison Game

  9. Thanks for sharing your great experience! I am so happy and aggree with you. Please keep up it in future! Hedge Trimmer Reviews

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