In a change from our regular scheduled programming, I decided to post a non-Warhammer article today. Only time will tell if this is a one-off or a normal part of the blog. I’ve been interested in a skirmish wargame called Urban War lately, and I finally took the plunge to play a few games since there are free quick-start rules available. It’s a bit of a long story how I got there, so I’ll recap quickly in case anyone cares.
Step 1: I stumbled upon their excellent miniatures when looking for something else at Wayland Games‘ website.
Step 2: When visiting Claymore 2011 at the weekend with Furycat and Justinmatters, I saw a demo game set up, but despite wandering past the stand periodically for a couple of hours, I never got to see anyone there to actually demonstrate it. Still, I was even more impressed with the miniatures having seen them in person.
Step 3: A quick check on the internet shows that the basic rules are available for free, and that a new edition has just been released.
So after printing the rules and having a quick game with Justinmatters last night (I lost, for the record) to learn the rules, I arranged some geek time with Forkbanger today. I’d initially only printed out the rules for VASA (based on Cold War-era Soviet secret police) and the Syntha (robots and cyborgs) since they’re the ones I most liked the miniatures, so we just played a game using either side. After that, Forkbanger printed out the rules for the Junkers (Roman legions… in space) for a third go. For all three games, we kept the same set up, which I’m pleased to say looked somewhat more gritty and futuristic on the tabletop than I’ve managed on Battle Chronicler. The basic rules specify the teams to be used:
VASA: Suppressor Sergeant (SS), Suppressor Sniper (S), Archangel (AA), two Suppressors with Gauss Rifles (GS1 and GS2) and two Suppressors with Force Batons (BS1 and BS2)
Syntha: Artemis Biomech (AB), Pointman (P) and four Androsynths (A1 to A4)
Junkers: Decurion (D), Exosuit (E), four Legionaries (L1 to L4) and two Auxilia (A1 and A2)
For this game, I took the Syntha and Forkbanger used VASA. Deployment zones are only 6″ from the board edge, and no-one had any serious long-range weapons, so turn 1 was just everyone moving forward as quickly as possible.
The Sniper gets turn 2 off to a flying start by missing an Androsynth, and the Artemis makes him pay by using one of her Calibre points to follow-up (i.e. take two actions) into close combat and kill him. There’s a whole load of ineffective shooting in midfield, so our elite fighters obviously need a little more practice. The Suppressor Sergeant shows everyone how it’s done by shooting the Pointman before it activates, but the Archangel fails to do anything useful despite using her Calibre point to get a two shots on an Androsynth.
One of the Force Baton-armed Suppressors charges into combat with an Androsynth (who fails its command check to take an overwatch shot) and smashes it down. Later in the turn, he’s shot in the back for his troubles. In return for the ineffective overwatch, the Archangel also fails to interrupt an Androsynth taking a shot at her, but it misses anyway. The Sergeant, tiring of the Archangel’s ineptitude, charges in and kills another Androsynth in close combat. Finally, the Artemis charges a Suppressor, misses her attacks and is shot in the face.
After a couple of ineffective shots between the Androsynths and Suppressors, the Sergeant charges another victim. Sadly, she misses her attack and is swatted aside by the construct, although one of the Force Baton Suppressors finishes the job.
This one probably didn’t merit a picture, but here it is anyway. The last Androsynth misses a shot at the nearest Suppressor and is gunned down by the Archangel. Victory for VASA!
For the second game, we simply swapped teams. Following our usual highly tactical doctrine, the table edge was selected by being closest to it (we’re far too lazy to move round to the other side). Again, turn 1 consisted of a lot of moving forward and not much shooting.
There is a completely ineffective exchange of gunfire between the Androsynths and the Suppressors over the middle ground, so just to break the deadlock I rush in with the Archangel. She misses a shot at the nearest Androsynth then uses a follow-up move to get into close combat where she cuts it down. The Artemis assaults one of the Suppressors but neither side can get a telling blow through. The Sniper takes out the nearest construct and finally the Sergeant assaults an Androsynth but misses her attack and dies to the return swing.
Despite being at point-blank range and having three shots, the Pointman fails to down the Archangel. Sadly, she can’t take advantage of it, first missing a shot at the nearest Androsynth and then being beaten senseless by it in close combat. There is yet another ineffective round of fire between the Suppressors and the Androsynths. Shooting is apparently not their strong suit. The Artemis kills off the Suppressor in his activation, then uses her own move to assault another. It goes less well, and she is duly shot with close-range Gauss fire.
The Pointman misses again with all three of its shots at the on-rushing Suppressor (the chaingun must have been loaded with blanks) and then the VASA team remember how their guns work, shooting an Androsynth and the Pointman and finishing the final Androsynth in melee. Victory for VASA!
For our final game of the day, I kept VASA and Forkbanger (somewhat arbitrarily) selected Junkers. Everyone begins the game moving forward, although in a rare first-turn event, the Exo-suit tries to shoot down the Archangel. It misses.
VASA crucially win the initiative and the Archangel charges into a Legionary to avoid being turned into swiss cheese by the Exo-suit, although she fails to actually achieve anything. Every other shot also misses (at least the Junkers have an excuse, since they’re supposed to be bad shots) and at the end of the turn, the Archangel is killed by the Legionary she hoped to be her victim.
Turn 3 begins with yet another round of useless shooting from the Suppressor and the Sniper (who even used a follow-up move to get a second shot), but the Legionaries clearly know how to do it right; both rifle-armed Suppressors are put down. The Exo-suit lumbers toward the table centre and is set upon by the surviving Suppressors, but neither side can do anything. The Suppressor Sergeant charges a Legionary but fails to kill him. An Auxilia jumps in for good measure, but also can’t land a blow. Sighing at his inept minions, the Decurion strolls over and cuts the Sergeant down himself.
The Legionary in the East charges one of the remaining Suppressors and kills him before he can even react. The Sniper fails to wound the Decurion, and then the Exo-suit shrugs off a hit from the last Suppressor on his heavy armour and mashes him with his Cestus. We don’t even bother to finish the turn – the Sniper isn’t going to last long on his own, and I haven’t managed to kill even one of the Junkers in the entire game. Victory for the Junkers!
My initial thoughts on the system: I like it. We are still at the stage of checking the rulebook every couple of minutes (obviously, it doesn’t hurt that it’s only 12 pages long), but we still got through three games in about two and half hours, including coffee-making and other breaks. I like the alternate activation mechanics as a change after playing mainly Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Blood Bowl lately, though I’m having trouble playing in a way that uses it well.
So if anyone out there has played Urban War, I’m happy to have your thoughts on how we played, and on whether we missed anything important in the rules.