About Me

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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Strike Legion: first dice thrown in anger

I've owned Strike Legion from Legionnaire Games for some time now, and have always been impressed with how it looked. As a 6mm player, I am constantly looking for new games that play easily like Epic: Armageddon does, has the build-your-own ability ingrained in the game, and has option after option...all without slowing the game down. The potential of Strike Legion seemed unlimited, really, but there are always questions when reading through a ruleset as complicated (or rather, potentially complicated) as this one.  Let me explain:

The core mechanics themselves are really not difficult, and felt a little like Battletech to me. You activate Platoons, small groups of vehicles or infantry, and play alternates between players. Your options during an activation are (Ive summed up the actions here, not using their formal names):

Move and Fire
Move 1.5x your printed speed with no firing (cannot be done two turns in a row)
Stand and fire with a bonus to hit
Go on Overwatch

Really, what more can you ask for? The neat thing about Move and Fire is that you can fire at any point during your movement, so moving out of cover, firing, then falling back out of LOS is quite valid, or dashing from cover to cover without limiting your ability to engage the enemy.

The game uses an integrated form of Electronic Warfare, in that, at the beginning of each turn, you assign Offensive and Defensive stats to your forces, on a platoon-level. This is made easy by the simply rule that all vehicles in a platoon (usually no more than 4) have the same EW stat. Offensive EW helps you hit the enemy, and obviously Defensive EW helps defend against incoming fire.

Rolling to hit wasnt really difficult, but it was handled in a method similar to Gruntz: each vehicle rolls 2d6 for their attack and attacks are allocated vehicle-to-vehicle. In Epic, my unit of Leman Russ tanks might fire at your unit of Wave Serpents, so I calculate all the attacks I have and throw a handful of dice. You take as many saves as you need to, then remove the unsaved hits, front to back, no questions asked. In Strike Legion, you dont throw the bucket of dice and calculate hits - instead, you assign Tank A to shoot at something, Tank B shoots at something, Tank C...and so on. These targets can be the same, can be different, or can even be in different enemy platoons.  Bottom line is, it isnt as streamlined as, say, Epic, but it really wasnt very hard to remember.

We only played the Basic Game, using the introductory scenario called "Parity". Each of us had three platoons of 4 tanks - a very basic tank with two weapons, and since we were using the identical forces, it made remembering stats quite easy!

We quickly learned that tank combat is LETHAL! Which is good, right? We were pulling tanks off left and right. Granted, we were both using a highly Offensive strategy, but the aggressor, playing the Computer forces in the scenario, really cleaned my clock. Which is good...because he brought the wine, so we had to reward him somehow, right?

After the game, we both decided that we really liked how it played, but had slight concerns about it handling a game of similar model count to an average Epic: Armageddon game.

We also came up with some play aides that we feel would really help speed up the game, or at least help our failing memories:

When shots are fired, if the To-Hit roll was successful and was an odd number, the hit is taken against your Hull armor. If the roll was even, it hit your Turret. More than once, we had multiple tanks in a platoon firing at the same target, so my tank might end up taking two or more hits. But since you fire all your declared shots before resolving damage, once the firing was done, it wasnt enough to say, "OK, roll damage twice on this tank." We had to make note of which armor values were to be used.

We think colored chits with "Hull" or "Turret" would suffice. Mini poker chips like the ones from Kaplow Games, or even Sorting chips in a more opaque version would work. My idea is to get two colors (because it is certainly not uncommon for any given tank to have at least 2 weapons, and sometimes both hit!), mark "Odd: Hull" on 10 or so of each color, write "Even: Turret" on the others, and then drop them next to each target as they are hit.

It may be unnecessary, but we thought this could also help in complicated firing situations: drop a colored marker next to a firing tank, and drop a same-colored token next to its target. Once all declarations have been decided, just find the color combinations and let the dice fly.

Are we making it harder than we need to? Likely!  However, we have committed to playing larger battles, so we want whatever we can find to help the flow.  The mechanics seemed good, which was refreshing: you never really can tell until the first dice are thrown in anger (and no, I dont mean hurled against the wall in a temper tantrum - if you still do that, you dont belong at my gaming table). And now, for me to plan my revenge!