Yesterday my buddy Thomas and I tried out a game of Scrappers . It had been a busy week so I painted minis until the last minute to get a crew ready for the tabletop before I left, which meant we had to write lists over at his house. This put a dent in our playing time and we only managed to play a single game. We both agreed that "starter" lists for all factions would have been a great way for players to jump right into the game without having to build every member from scratch (which is fun and allows detailed composition, but it also take a bit of time). I have already written to the author Robert Faust and suggested that some kind of getting started gangs, and maybe even generic unit profiles which you can just slap on weapons and traits to get you going would be much welcome.
I tried to put together two lists with a bit of flavor, but have a somewhat balanced 7vs7 miniatures, if I would have the time to prepare better I would make them more thematic as you can really set the factions apart. As it was we did not utilize the full set of faction special rules but focused in our game on the core rules, the scenario and the post game sequence to get a feeling on how the game compared to "vanilla" Brink of Battle.
I ran a Gamma Lords all mutant gang, 7 models (1 leader, 2 veterans and 4 troopers). Thomas played the Architects made up of likewise 7 models mixing true humans and synthetic life forms (1 leader, 2 synthetic veterans, 4 troopers). The weapons were limited to regular gear, meaning assault rifles, pistols, shotguns and submachine guns, along with knifes and bludgeons for close combat.
The scenario basic idea of Scrappers, just like in Frostgrave, is to gather loot markers (scrap) on the board. Each time scrap is collected you roll on a D100 random event table to see what happens. The difference between Frostgrave and Scrappers is that you have more loot markers in each game 6-15. Loot markers in Scrappers are also not always "good stuff", sometimes you flip a stone to find an isolated pocket of radiation or a trap. Other times you can find multiple objects in the same container. The overall feeling however is that the scrap tokens are more "points of interests" as Thomas put it rather than given reward tokens.
The scenario we played was the "hot zone" variant, which means that the table has a lot of background radiation, which by the end of turn 3 start to affect everyone on the table. Radiation in Scrappers is an interesting feature, you can accumulate radiation levels equal to your constitution. Weak characters (usually minions/troopers) will be removed from the game earlier than the better leader and veterans. It also made our game be more about focusing on recovery than firefights.
Both gangs started out in opposing quadrants of the 4x4' table which was built to represent a heavily built up urban area with lots of debris. My Gamma lords crew won the initiative gaining +3 command tokens which meant I could active all of my models during the first turn, Thomas could only activate 6 out of his 7 models, but he got the "break" marker which in this game represents intercepting your opponent or overwatch if you like the idea better.
I soon learned that spreading out is a good idea if you intend to search scrap tokens, as my first find was a radioactive object that instantly radiated my mutant (who had a natural resistance and ignored the first point of radiation) and the object kept everything within 7" highly radioactive!
Thomas Architect crew hustled about the table and had no better luck with their scavenging, the first token search proved to be radiactive waste as well - though with only a 3" radius, the next point of interest proved to be a spike pit! Fortunately for Thomas exploring trooper he managed to avoid just enough damage to remain alive, though in a shocked state.
Now realizing that there were highly dangerous scrap tokens I began spreading out my units before searching the next scrap token - which proved to be some valuable loot as I wound two pieces of scarce gear (you check exactly what you found in the post-game sequence).
The broken line of sight meant both crews operated mostly out of sight from each other, but in the scrap yard things got violent as both crews moved about in mostly open ground. A firefight took place with both sides shooting but failing to kill each other, both sides suffering "shocked" (flesh wounds). In the meantime the Gamma lords uncovered a piece of scrap that stood up and turned out to be a wandering warbot!! That huge robot tied up three of the mutants as they scurried about trying to take it out with their assault rifles, but their poor skill combined with the high resilience of the robot proved to be a bad combination. The warbot itself flailed about with little luck, trying to strike the mutants with his power-baton, fortunately for my crew he had as little luck with hitting me as I had killing him with the few shots that actually hit. All through this an opposing trooper from the Architect crew sneaked up across the street and searched a scrap counter which would otherwise be the next target of the Gamma lord mutants.
If the Architect trooper hoped to find something of value he would be highly disappointed, as removing the rubble revealed a "screaming plant" that alerted enemies within certain radius if you moved too close of the plant - making it impossible to hide in its vicinity, LOL!
In the center of the board ran a road, where one of my veteran mutants holed up behind some boxes, covering from the advancing fire of 3 Architects, including one of the synthetic veterans. The best the Architects could to was to cause a flesh wound, and in the return fire from the mutant the leader of the Architects was blown away from a shotgun blast. Watching his commander get gunned down sent the nearby human Architect running in the opposite direction.
In the scrap yard the firefight continued, trying to flank the mutants one of the Architects ran out of cover but was caught up and bashed to death by a mutant veteran. In return the mutant was gunned down in a crossfire from assault rifle armed Architect troopers.
By now the radiation levels had started cooking everyone on the table, on Architect passed out from the radiation level, and by the start of the following turn both sides had to roll morale because they had suffered 25% losses. As it turned out the Gamma lords stood their ground while the Architects retreated off table.
During the post game sequence none of the casualties was mortally wounded, most made full recovery, though one of the mutants lost a point of constitution. Scrap wise the Gamma Lords and the Architects found some good weapons: a sniper rifle, a submachine gun and a rocket launcher. The Architects also found a combat armor. Due to low casualties and because the two factions were not rivals the surviving scavengers did not earn much in the way of experience.
The Radiation rules are very interesting, I can't think of another game that has used something similar. In the game sometimes you accumulate radiation due to background radiation or pockets of radiation when searching scrap tokens. The radiation can knock you out and cause injury if it reaches your constitution level. However, accumulated radiation on models that survive a fight is not automatically removed. Instead you carry the accumulated radiation with you into the next game unless the irradiated model rests one game - this reduces the radiation by half. But you cannot rest more than 1 game, two games in a row and the member of your crew is kicked out.
This twist gives you a reason to expand your warband with more members than you would normally send into the zone to recover scrap, to have some reserves. This also makes your veterans and leader who you may want to bring with you in each game be at more risk as they will have little time to recover from their doses of radiation.
By the end of the game Thomas and I agreed that the core rules were not that different (if at all) from the vanilla Brink of Battle. What we were missing in our game was two gangs with more distinguished profiles as I built them relatively similar and with but a couple of traits per crew. A quick reference sheet would have proven a timesaver, and as I wrote in the beginning we would have been able to jump right in if we had some pre-generated gangs to pick from just to get us started. Hopefully these will be added as downloadable resources in time for the release in April.