Grimdark Future

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Review: One Page Grimdark Firefight Skirmish Surprises

May 27, 2021 by jahatch28 Cult of Games Member

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So, I played One Page Rules Grimdark Firefight Skirmish rules yesterday after talking about it and looking at both the fantasy and sci-fi versions with some friends for a while now.  We basically were not happy with 40K: Kill Team and wanted to be able to get our models on the table.  We also tested out Star Breach but were surprised and really happy with One Page Grimdark Firefight.

Now, caveat, we only played one game (Necrons vs Tau) and only 250 points... and again, this wasn't the full Massed Battle Game, nor was it the Patreon supported rules, but just the basic free stuff.

Initially, I had concerns about the very simple d6 mechanic (basically models have a quality and a defense as their only real stats) and thought it might be too swingy (much like Kill Team) where you might just roll too low or vice versa, too high, all game and just make it very one sided.   But the mechanics worked for the game and there was enough differences between the forces even with very similar stat blocks to make the game work.

So, a few things - Art Direction - I love the very simple black and white sketches on each army list and in the rules.  That said, it's just a single bit of artwork on each page, so as much as I like it, obviously there are more impressive works of art out there.

Components - so the models are agnostic although heavily lean on sci-fi tropes from GW, Mantic, and I guess Star Wars as well... so what you are getting is just black and white PDFs and supplying your own models.  So cost wise, it's fantastic! but of course, they aren't making their own models (they do have their own line of 3d files though)... but that's why Art & Components are only Silver Stars.

Now, certainly, the rules could be more complex... I could see more diversity between "model combat quality" and morale... or I could see a 'melee quality' and a 'shooting quality'... but to a certain extent, the simplicity is refreshing and it sort of works when you add in gear and special rules.

There are a few rules that 'seem' to be missing.. for example, there is a "hold" action to just let you shoot.. but there is on reason (we can find in the free rules) to do that.. there is no +1 to hit or heavy weapon that requires you to stand still to avoid a -1 to hit... so it seems like either there are more rules in maybe the Patreon version of the game? or it is just future proofing? or maybe there are some units in other factions that have some interaction with "hold"?

The other rule that was a bit confusing is that models (when down to their last model in a squad or running as a solo) when wounded, have to roll a d6 + the # of wounds taken.. and on a 6+ they are taken out... otherwise just Stunned and basically have to miss an activation.  So seems fine, but then we weren't sure if wounds stack?  And we think they do.. so the first time you are wounded (assuming just one wound) you get taken out on a 5+... the the 2nd wound you accumulate you are now taken out on a 4+... etc, etc... While larger, stronger models or Heroes may have the ability to take 3 wounds before they start needing to roll, but then they are trying to avoid rolling an 8+ (so 5+ with 3 wounds) so again, they get taken out (vs Stunned) on a 5+ as well when wounded 3 times, then 4+ if wounded 4 times, etc.  Once we figured that out, it actually really started to make the game interesting and wounded characters (or wounded single wound infantry) became harder to risk to return fire.

Another interesting thing was that the game recommends being played on a 4'x4' table, but in this 250 point game, we only had 6 & 7 models each on the table... so at first, I thought we'd be too spread out... but with models moving around 6-12" per turn, we actually seemed to move around the board pretty well.

One downside was that the game length is recommended to just be 4 turns long... so unless you sprint or charge across the table, you could move 4 times in 4 turns and not actually get into your opponent's deployment zone... but the game was focused around capturing objectives outside the deployment zones, so this seemed fine.

And then I'll wrap this up by saying that the folks at One Page Rules have A TON of Army Lists for this game.. and although not EVERY 'comparable' model from other games ranges gets stats... it is pretty complete and very easy to spend a lot of time looking at lists and playing around with the army building.  So that's why I think this game has a lot of replayability even with just a handful (6-10) models from most factions in the greater sci-fi gaming world.   Our game took 45 minute total, including looking stuff up and rules references... so if we knew the game better and our forces better, this would be a great game to play when you just have 30-45 minutes between other games, are waiting for others to show up, or if you wanted to knock out 2 or 3 or even 4 games in a night with friends using a wide range of forces.

I'm not sure I'll upgrade to the full Massed Combat Game.. I like the skirmish feel.. but I also would say that for the cost, you can't beat it!

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