Skirmishing In The Grimdark – Have You Tried Planet 28 By Mammoth Miniatures?

December 9, 2021 by brennon

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Back in 2020, Nic Evans put together a Kickstarter to bring a set of simple Sci-Fi skirmish game rules to life. Planet 28 allows you to play out 28mm skirmishes between opposing warbands or dive into solo and cooperative adventures with the supplement, Death On The Periphery.

Planet 28 Rulebook - Mammoth Miniatures

As you might have guessed from the most recent XLBS, Inquisitor and Inq28 have been at the forefront of my mind of late. So, when I saw this game pop up on my radar I just had to take a closer look and see if the game would suit the kind of stories I want to tell.

The Premise - For Kit-Bashers & Converters

Planet 28 was born out of the kit-bashing and converting community that exists within the hobby community. Just searching Inquisitor 28, Inq28 or Inquisimunda will fire up all manner of fascinating projects where people have painted up the grim and the great of the Warhammer 40,000 world and beyond.

Planet 28 Weapons

To that end, Planet 28 then looks to offer a simple and effective set of rules for you to play out these clashes between warbands, gangs and squads. The focus here is on a set of rules which step aside and let the narrative do the talking. It isn't as complex as a game like Inquisitor, or as expansive as something like Inquisimunda but it provides you with a solid set of rules for small collections of figures to brutally die across a grimdark universe.

When playing the game, folks put together a warband of characters (at least two) to an agreed points level. There is no hard and fast number for where to begin when it comes to this but as an example, I've seen games played with one super-powerful Inquisitor and two of their servants. The solo rules suggest a warband of around 500 points if that's the way you want to go.

From there you dive into a scenario-based encounter that could be decided between two or more players or a Gamesmaster. This is done by generating the scenario via a couple of d6 charts where a Plot Point determines what you need to do to win. These games can then be linked together into a campaign where your successes and failures continue to tell a expanding and evolving story of your characters.

There are rules for upgrading your characters, dealing with injuries and more included. The solo rules presented in Death On The Periphery take this another step with the campaign, Escape From Lychester VII, providing you with a series of games where whatever happens in scenario one impacts two and three.

All of this is contained within two sixteen-page documents (or just the one if you don't care about solo play) that are easy to digest and quick to get to the table.

The Mechanics - Quick & Easy

Planet 28 uses a system that calls for a full set of polyhedral dice. Whilst you might need all of those for the various weapons and their damage ratings, the core of the game is driven by a pair of d10 rolled in order to achieve any action.

Lychester VII

On their turn, a character can perform two actions. At its very basic level, you can move, shoot and fight. When you want to do anything that would require a skill roll (be it climbing a wall, shooting someone or hitting someone in combat), you roll a d10 and compare it against the relevant skill (Shoot, Fight, Agility). If you roll under your skill level then you have succeeded!

Characters all start with a 2 in their skills as a base but you can spend points to upgrade these numbers at warband creation. As from the rulebook, "as a benchmark, an untrained average human would have skills of about 3 or 4, while a trained fighter may have skills of around 5 or 6".

Turns in the game aren't played out in the typical "I Go, You Go" way either. Instead, the game uses your character's Agility to determine when they act. The highest goes first each turn and then filters down through the lower initiatives until everyone has had a go. In this way, you'll have to think tactically about how you use each of your characters and their strengths and weaknesses.

When it comes to hurting people, damage from a successful hit is done using the damage dice assigned to each weapon. A Power Blade does 2d6 damage as an example. This is then taken from the targets health pool (20 to begin with in most cases) and when they hit 0 they are down in the dirt. Armour can negate that damage suffered however, again, rolling the appropriate dice assigned to the item. So, if your armour has a rating of d12 then you roll a dice and remove that much damage from what was done by the attacker.

Combat is quick, easy to dive into, simple to follow and brutal. You will see characters clashing in a heroic manner with countering in the mix as well! It does the job of telling awesome grimdark stories with your Sci-Fi miniatures without too many frills.

There is plenty in there to add more to your games of Planet 28. Characters can be given Traits, Abilities, Arcana (psychic powers) and all manner of different wargear. This drastically changes up the way in which each of the warbands on the tabletop interacts with each other.

You'll also find rules for cover, break tests and morale, each of which is also dealt with easily and simply. It took me about ten minutes to read the rules and I was immediately familiar with how to play the game.

The core of the mechanics aren't built to purely be a way of butchering each other though and that should be kept in mind throughout. The idea is that Planet 28 is there as a narrative tool for telling your space adventures. It delivers on that and moves mechanics out of the way in favour of ways to tell intriguing stories.

Solo Wargaming In The Grimdark

I've already mentioned Death On The Periphery but I should return to it to discuss it in more detail. This serves as the solo rules for playing games of Planet 28. There are a few tweaks to how gameplay works but not many. For example, the enemies roll randomly to determine when they act each turn (and all act at once).

Death Periphery

You also don't have to play as a group of characters. You can put everything into a single character. If you do, you get three actions per turn, get more hit points and are immune to break tests that would force them to retreat. Want to play JUST Captain Artemis from Inquisitor rampaging through an Underhive? Go for it.

The enemy warband you come up against in-game should be made in a similar way to your own although it should be 200 points more. This might seem unfair (as the game rules point out), but it is there to cover the fact that your enemy can't think. You could also go the other way, as in Escape From Lychester VII (included in the book), and have a set number of enemies, minions and fearsome villains for you to face determined by the scenario built by a Gamemasters.

There is also a set of Hidden Agendas that you can roll for before an encounter. This provides you with an extra bit of added spice where your character has something more they need to do in order to complete their objective. I reckon this would be a lot of fun to add into your versus games of Planet 28 too. This can be particular awesome (and should be used) in cooperative games where your friend will keep asking why you're doing x or y.

A Great Alternative

I think it is well worth checking out Planet 28. The game is available to buy from the Mammoth Miniatures webstore or you can download it digitally via Wargame Vault with a "pay what you want" price tag.

Brutal Quest Rulebook - Mammoth Miniatures

If you're one of the people from the Inq28 collective who has been painting and modelling away in the grimdark then I would certainly consider picking this up to play games with. It has plenty in there for those wanting to enjoy their games and play with basically any models in your collection. It's quick, simple and a lot of fun.

I am now very eager to get kitbashing, converting and picking up models from the Games Workshop and Forge World range to use for this. I already have a host of Chaos Cultists from Warhammer 40,000 to use as part of the Escape From Lychester VII campaign.

You can also try out their Brutal Quest rules which take the quick and easy rules into the realm of Fantasy!

Are you going to be giving Planet 28 a go?

"The idea is that Planet 28 is there as a narrative tool for telling your space adventures..."

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"It has plenty in there for those wanting to enjoy their games and play with basically any models in your collection..."

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