Every now and again you come across a game that you really enjoy, but it doesn’t seem to capture critical mass and gain many players. For many miniature games, this means that they are a brief flare in the night – pretty but short-lived and rapidly forgotten.
Other games just refuse to let you go, and, by luck or other happenstance, they remain in print and viable for a long time when other games would have just faded away. Over its nearly ten years of release, Urban War is that sort of game. It’s never been a big hit, and some days it’s hard to even find gamers who have heard of it – but every time I’ve taught someone the game, they’ve really enjoyed it and want to play it again. I think if you haven’t tried it, it’s very possibly one of the Best Games You’re Not Playing.
Urban War Strike Team Actions 2nd Edition by Urban Mammoth is a fast-paced game of deadly skirmish encounters in Iskandria, the metropolis of the Tyrant. In the game universe, the Tyrant Iskander ruled over 33 worlds, and his aggression forced the hand of the Tripartite Powers – the Junkers, Virdians, and Syntha – to band together a massive military show-of-force and cast him down. Several years have passed since Iskander’s empire has toppled from power, and now, on the world of Kyklops, home of the legendary metropolis Iskandria – where we set the scene – the voracious aliens called the Koralon have laid siege to this planet and trapped the fractious powers there into an all-out struggle for survival and control.
Let’s take a look at the factions fighting for this prized planet:
The Viridians – the most baseline, “normal” faction, the Viridians have tried to bring peace and tranquility to Iskandria, only to watch it burn in the madness of war. Still their well-equipped and well trained forces help them hang on in the raging battles for the city and its dwindling resources.
The Gladiators – nominally allied with the Junkers, the Gladiators are bloodied warriors – the winners and survivors, anyway – who now fight in the countless skirmishes across the planet. They specialize in close-combat, flashy fighting, and they bring fire and beasts to entertain the crowds and crush their enemies.
The Junkers – cruel slavers, the Junkers enforce harsh discipline on their own troops – what does that leave for their enemies? They send waves of poorly trained Legionaries to solve problems, because life is cheap for the Junkers, and their foes can’t afford the butcher’s bill.
The Syntha – Cyborgs and walking AIs, the Syntha were once human but now have embraced the machine. They have the highest tech and very little compassion or morality to stop them from using it. Facing the Syntha is to see the synthesis of man and machine – and be found wanting.
The Triads – The criminal underground of Iskandria has risen up to carve out its own safety zones in the interesting times up on their world. They have embraced VASA as an ally but one mostly of convenience. They still operate in the shadows with precision over brute force, and it has allowed them to survive when so many have fallen.
VASA – the intergalactic police, VASA has viewed the conflict on Iskandria with alarm and some impotency – cut off from their fleets and reinforcements, the scattered VASA forces on Iskandria have been forced to try and keep order when fear and madness reign.
The Koralon - Aliens who wage war against humanity, it is the Koralon that have cut off Iskandria from the rest of the galaxy and whose coralline-warping powers threatens to engulf humanity for their own twisted hybrid army.
And finally, the latest faction to join the conflicts:
The NEO-ISKANDRIANS – the return of Iskander the Tyrant, for whom the planet is named. The Neo-Iskandrians have been hiding in cryosleep in the reaches of space, biding their time, and have now returned to Iskandria when the world is at its most vulnerable and ripe for re-conquest. Led by the Tyrant himself, can any stand in their way?
Urban War 2nd edition has been out for a few years now and is a very tight system for sci-fi skirmish warfare. The rules for the game – available in quickstart format HERE are easy to pick up and most gamers will be up in running in minutes with the quickstart rules. The game is d10 based, giving you reasonably easy math for chances of success. Armies in the game rarely rise above 15 models per side, making it easy to get into the game cheaply, and for collectors like me, amass multiple armies remarkably fast (Personally, I have six armies for Urban War).
Each faction in Urban War is unique in theme and play style. No matter what your preferred play style – aggressive assaults? Ranged dominance? Sneaky and stealthily? All-rounded? – there is an army in Urban War for you.
ALL ROUNDERS: Viridians, Triads
AGGRESSIVE ASSAULT: Gladiators, Junkers, Koralon
RANGED SUPERIORITY: Syntha, Neo-Iskandrians
But even in these buckets there are plenty of options. Each faction has some capability for everything. Where Viridians aren’t the strongest in assaults, they do have their SHOCK MARINES with Vibro-Scythe and Negatron shields, great for counterassaults or even to give your preferred opponent a big surprise when you play a radically different list.
Coming soon for Urban War will be CLAU-TEAM ACTIONS 2.0, an update on the add-on rules for adding large stompy walkers (some are mecha, some are just really big, ornery beasts! ) to your games. CLAU stands for Capital Light Armoured Unit, and effectively these let you add walking tanks to your army. These have been missing from Urban War for a while, so if you are a fan of the big stompy walker aesthetic , you’ll be pleased to have them back in.
So that’s a quick look at Urban War 2.0. It’s one of my favorite games, and I hope you’ll give a look. The Quickstart Rules are a great way to get a solid grip on the gameplay, and the starter boxes give you an excellent selection of models to get up and running with the game easily. Join the conflict!
Co-host of the Combat Phase Podcast
If you would like to write a review for Beasts of War then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.