Sunday, 17 April 2011

Urban Uprising - Rogue Trader Battle Report

For this game, we used the Rogue Trader rules pretty much ‘out of the box’, (though both players decided to use Overwatch a few turns in, which isn’t technically from the core rules as this rule appeared later on in the White Dwarf Compilation. In addition, we used the vehicle rules from the Warhammer 40,000 Compendium.
The field of battle

The game was handled almost exactly as Rogue Trader was designed to play, with the GM (me) designing both sides, providing the miniatures, briefing the players and the likes. I made up each side to around 300 points, then allowed the players to add additional equipment to take the total up to 500 points each. Both choose make up a vehicle.
Civilians going about their business

 Giovanni Clemp's cunning hiding place

The idea of the scenario was that the Adeptus Arbites have recently established a Bastion-Precinct on Jeriko Reach. Local anti-Imperium elements aren’t happy about this, and set up an ambush. The Arbites are tipped off that the wanted rabid interplanetary bankrobber Giovanni Clemp is hiding out the settlement, and in response they initiate a house-to-house search. At this point, the rebels, with xenos mercenary hired-help, launch their attack.

The Arbites player was briefed in secret that his objective (Giovanni Clemp) is hiding inside one building on the tabletop, and he must locate him and get him back to the Bastion-Precinct to win. The player could set up his Arbites anywhere on the table he wanted.

The rebel player was briefed in secret that he could place his Smoggers (the xenos mercs) inside one building, and they would be Hidden until revealed. His rebels could enter play later on by any table edge. To win, he had to wipe out or seriously defeat the patrol.

The Arbites deployed more or less in the open, in a single group supported by their tank. The Smoggers were hidden in the building right in front of them, so it was clear things were going to kick off straight away.
The Smoggers unleash their ambush on the Adeptus Arbites patrol

As the Arbites advanced through the settlement, the Smoggers revealed themselves and threw their rad grenades into the street. One judge and a civilian were killed in the opening salvo, and fortunately the rest made it clear in their turn. The strength and range of rad grenades is kept secret in Rogue Trader (unless a character has a rad counter) and so the GM took charge of their effects.

The techno-savages infiltrate the settlement

Battle is joined

A firefight broke out in the centre, and several of the Smoggers were gunned down. Their Shaman decided that discretion was the better part of valour and used his Teleport psychic power to redeploy to the top of the Bastion-Precinct.

Meanwhile, the rebels started to deploy, coming on in three small groups on three sides of the table. One rebel was attacked by a Imperial civilian (a nun no less) though the rebel made short work of her...

A nun gives a rebel a piece of her mind

Most of the Smoggers had been wiped out by the guns of the Arbites tank, and so the rebels decided they had to deal with the vehicle. They had only one weapon that could deal with it, and this was a (one use) vortex grenade! This was thrown, and missed the target, but the scatter brought it back to clip the tank’s front. Though just a glancing hit, the damage was sufficient to wreck the vehicle’s drive train and flip it over, taking it out of the battle. In the next turn, the vortex grenade expanded to three times its initial size, then disappeared, leaving a smoking crater behind.

Tank vs vortex grenade

Meanwhile, the rebels’ flamer was causing havoc, but was eventually silenced by the Arbites Psyker agent using her Jinx power to snarl its mechanism. She went on to do the same with several more rad grenades thrown by the surviving Smoggers, though she took several wounds in the process.

Arbites robo-hound vs tecno-savages

Battle across the roof tops

In the centre of the settlement, a major scrap broke out, which lasted throughout the battle and saw several of both sides fall. The Arbites just about had the edge.

The final confrontation

The battle was ultimately decided when the Arbites Psyker agent saw the rebel leader swaggering into town like he owned the place. Using her Teleport psychic power to charge right across the table, she engaged the leader in close combat. The rebel leader was fresh to the fight however, while the psyker agent had already taken two wounds during the fight, and she was struck down. At that point, the last couple of remaining Arbites disengaged, and the rebels swept into town.

All in all, everyone seemed to enjoy the game. As a GM, I failed the Arbites player a bit, in that his mission was really impractical with the small, elite force he had. So at the end of the game Giovanno Clemp the rabid interplanetary bankrobber was still cowering in his hiding place and the rebel techno-savages had driven the Arbites from town. Plenty of ideas for the next game there…


  1. Another great looking game (and considering I am just back from Salute and have therefore been surrounded by good looking games all weekend, thats saying something).

    It sounds like a fun afternoons gaming and very much how I remember playing my earliest games of 40k.

    How long did the game take to play from start to finish?

    Do you guys take it in turns to GM/write scenarios etc? It looks to me like you put a lot of effort into getting the game ready to go in addition to terrain building and miniature painting. Does this role tend to fall to the same guy every time, or do you manage to share out the GM duties?

    I love your batrep posts: just enough info to keep me engaged and focussed on the interesting bits. A lot of batreps become "and then I rolled a six" stories loaded with tedious minutae. Happily, your batreps avoid that:)

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  3. It's a fairly fair split. There are threekey players in the maelstrom group with a few friends who join us from time to time. Usually the urge to run a game is sparked off by a story one of us is reading (or even writing for that matter), some new terrain we've made, new minis we've just painted or a mad idea discussed over lunchtime teabreaks!

    The Colonel and I tend to host mostly as we live relatively close to each other and have set up tables (i've got the urban and agri worlds with the Col his excellent desert/death worlds).

    Scenario wise, its quite often inspired by something we rememeber reading years ago when we simply didnt have the time, money or painted models to carry it off.

    For example I'm a massive RT era 40k fan (with Martini bein more into modern incarnations of the rules) but my teen 40k games were frustrating 'all of my guys vs all of your guys' nonesense and the sort of games i *wanted* to play based around the Harry Harrison, Michael Morecock or 2000ad story I was reading at the time rarely happend.

    The battle took about three hours when you include set up, pre game chatting/pizza re-jigging lists (i'm notoriously slack at getting stuff done in adavance) and post game 'debrief/after action report'.... but actually time spent moving men and rolling dice was probably closer to two hours as we either know the rules well enough for them to flow and when we dont we adlib to try and keep it flowing and check it up later.

    With regards to delivery style... one thing we all feel passionate about is narrative. We'r really only interested in the rules in that they give us a framework to tell stories around :) To that end part of the end battle chat is working out where the story worked, where the rules got in the way of the adventure... what needs 'house ruling' etc. Without the narrative and the story its just a maths exercise with bits of plastic and metal to me and I think the guys pretty much feel the same way.

    Take the last battle, its probably the first clash I've actually *won* in a year but its just not important as we all try to play our minis like seperate roleply characters... often making moves that are detrimental to our own side because 'the character wouldnt have any idea that his action would have such catastrophic results'. Other 'self handicaps' include making up a rule on the spot (because it felt like fun) in the last clash was that my smogger attempting to lob grenade onto an upper balcony would on the roll of a one fail so epically it would bounce/roll back on him.. guess what I rolled to hit :)

    Sorry for the essay respons but I realised I'd been lacking somewhat in my posting dutes on here of late but I hope that answers the questions.

    Glad you like what we do, it's nice to know other people play the way we do.

  4. Agreed - also, on the issue of who GMs, one of our lads has been looking forward to Black Scorpion Games' Cutlass, and I imagine he was first in line at Salute to pick it up. In which case, I'm sure Martini_Henri will be running those games and the rest of us can relax!

  5. Hey, really nice battle report. I'd appreciate larger pictures of that vehicle at some stage, if you guys don't mind!

    Many thanks.

  6. Another piece of 40K magic. No one does battle reports like you, and I agree with sho3box about the storytelling style - it makes them even more enjoyable to read. Major Hazzard speaks for me too when he says that without the narrative it's just maths, plastic and metal. Like Molotov I'm left wanting more.

  7. "Sorry for the essay response"

    An essay response was exactly what I was looking for, assuming that you were inclined to give one :)

    "it's nice to know other people play the way we do"

    It certainly is. That said my group are still struggling to get to as free-form a gaming environment as you guys seem to have achieved.

    We are not ultra competitive or anything like that but we find that we struggle to create the more creative gaming environment and crave *some* of the structure that the more competitive games provide.

    Our most effective solution so far has been to let one player set up the whole game (forces, objectives etc) and then allow any opponents to choose which force to play (hence my earlier questions). This approach has its own problems though.

    Regardless your blog is a constant source of inspiration for my group. So thank you and keep it up!

  8. To be honest the loss is as much down to me as anything. I had set up as if the patrol had just got into town and was shaking itself out ready to start the dirty work required of them.

    More importantly I had forgotten about all the crazy grenades that were available in RT, and the fact that you don't need well trained troops to make use of them. The most telling moment was the vortex grenade that reduced my fire base to a smoking ruin.

    From that point on it was damage limitation for me, and due to the area denial used my troops were scattered and destroyed piecemeal.

    Thankfully my psyker had some really usefull skills, and it was she who kept the Enforcers from just folding. I did make a small fightback, but it was not to be as I was overwhelmed while running out of psy points.

    It was a great game non the less, and it is good to see that a well thought out ambush by lesser units can still deal a mortal blow to elite troops.

  9. Sho3box: Probably the best way to go about it... many moons ago I had a gaming buddy who simply *couldnt* get out of a competative mindset. In the end I put on games for him which he couldnt 'win' but could struggle for a fun result (things like Rorkes Drift type last stands of a squad of marines hit by wave after ave of termagaunts and jus saying 'see how long you can last' but not falling into the trap of saying 'five turns is a loss, ten a draw, 15 a win' etc.

    For me I find it easy to play narrative games as I come from an RPG background, ran gaming 'campaign' conventions (as opposed to tournaments) for the best part of the last decade for a living and currently run and stage WWII and ColdWar re-enactment battles with *real* 'toy soldiers' so the story to me has always and continues to be paramount to keep peoples interest (try getting 60 blokes who've never met each other before to act and fight like organised platoons while running around some god forsaken MOD training area and you'll soon appreciate the phrase 'herding cats' - in contrast metal soldiers that do what you tell them are a dream!

    For Rogue Trader ruleset games I do prefer to set the table, roll up the forces, name each figure and provide painted minis all by myself. It's primarily selfish as I get to create a little mini movie that looks exactly how I want it to but the 'script' is largely up to Martini and the Colonel!

    During six years in the tabletop wargames industry I pretty much saw the competative '2000 point set battle tournament game' destoy *everthing* that was great about the company I used to adore to the end that I really began to dislike Warhammer and 40k. Luckily I've found like minded souls in the lads (and to some extent via this blog and the somewhat acerbic 'Frothers'forums) which have let me keep the faith.

    Again apologies for a long winded reply and t inevitable typos (I'm rather ill at the moment and the painkillers make it *very* hard to stay focussed and spot small mistakes as easily - not a great thing for a chap who writes for a living really!).

  10. "Again apologies for a long winded reply"

    Again, no need to apologise. I am attempting to pick your brains after all :)

    Your Rorkes Drift attempt at reconditioning your buddys attitude has got me thinking actually.

    Thanks for your considered responses!

  11. As a lurker reading along I really enjoy the long wided replies as well, thanks for the insights and for this great blog of course, I seriously enjoy it. We used to play Combat Zone in a similar way: the host dreams up a scenario and the other players make up their own forces for the game. This gives a very nice narrative to the games.

  12. I vote for essays too! I struggle recruiting narrative players also, but all I had to do to convert our most recent player was direct him to this site. He was illuminated.

  13. That's really good news Amareo. I think of the three of us I am the most 'competative' style player as I tend to play a lot of 2000pt games of current 40k and WH.

    However I view the games we play in a different way, more like discovering a story as the game unfolds. I like the way I can have a quick discussion with the GM, and then do things that may or may not benefit me if I was playing 'to win', but by playing the games with a more RPG style I get a lot more enjoyment from them. It also helps that with two more experienced players it doesn't cost too much time to ask more questions.

    Personally I do find jumping between the systems quite difficult, as I'm a complete novice with RT as I started in the 2nd Ed era. I do think that RT makes for a much better game with small forces though, as the GM can add in extra variables as they see fit. There are all the extra fun weapon types to add in to the mix, and also the fact that the universe is much looser compared to what we are used to with the current rules set.

    The more relaxed universe is what encourages me to search out new miniature sculpters, and if it wasn't for Col Kane and Maj Hazzard I would know nothing of Hasslefree/Heresy or any of the other small manufacturers that I now purchase from.

  14. Martini Henrie-

    I came into 40k with 2nd Ed. too. 2nd ed. is the default rule set we now use with healthy doses of Necromunda and Rogue Trader. This is thanks to Colonel Kane's helpful post about converting Necromunda experience points to 40k points and for directing me to the Rogue Trader Profile Generator. Much madness has followed.

    I find jumping systems is difficult because it's more than just changing a rule set, but rather the whole approach to the game. This site is great for new players so they can actually see what that other approach looks like, and hopefully want to try it. Thanks and please keep it coming!

  15. Excellent trip down memory lane! I was just wondering where those buildings are from? They look the old green buidings that graced white dwarf years ago.

  16. I love the Vortex grenade template!

  17. Great Batrep! This is what should be in WD. Not the 'and the winner is, the most recently revamped army!'. Keep it coming.

  18. Wow. This is an amazing piece of work. Those grenades are deadly. I love the narrative, love that it's still a competitive match up with tactics and strategy but that isn't the first priority.

    I am taking my first foray in GMing a RT style game next wednesday and I would love some advice. One player has a Tau collection he wants to use, and the other a minor inquisitor, acolytes and some arbites. I am allowing a max of 3 vehicles for either side but like this report, the setting is a slum/shanty town with Imperial Precinct. There will be a main road leading into the slum, but the alleyways are too narrow for any kind of vehicles moving through.
    The story: a small Tau recon group has established contact with some local rebels and has traded weaponry for information. Recently, a captured criminal was caught with Tau technology (a pulse pistol) and the local arbites have organized a posse to sweep the area going house to house confiscating any alien tech, and arresting any offenders. Meanwhile, the rebels know trouble is coming and have called in their tau allies, who appear to meet the Inquisitorial forces.

    The mission:
    The Inquisition must move house to house and search for alien tech. they do this by moving in base-to-base with a shack and rolling a d6, on a 6, tech is discovered and the Imperials gain 1 VP.

    The Tau are ambush the Imperials as they search the slums. They gain 1 VP for every 5 models killed, or vehicle destroyed.

    I am planning on using the Kill Zone rules from galaxy in flames. Both players will be pulling units from their codices and I am thinking of limited the points values to 300 and banning any 2+ saves and any vehicles with AV 34 or higher (added up). I also like the idea of grenades as I read from this bat-rep so giving the Tau photon grenades (models under small blast take pinning test at -2) and frag for the imperials (small blast S3 AP6) with range at 3x your S value.

    Talked with the Imperial Player, he wants the Arbites to have some special rule to reflect their training as a unit, and I thought that a bolter drill might be good, i.e. when in base-to-base with their squad leader, they can re-roll to hit wth their bolters.

    the Tau player is up for anything and I was thinking of giving his battlesuit a three weapons that he can cycle through as needed, like a flamer, burst cannon and long range missile pod.

    Anyway, would love to get your thoughts and any good tips on my first RT-style game ever.

    Oh a couple questions; are their squads in RT? Is 20-30 models too much at first? using vehicles ok?

  19. Hi mate! Sorry I've only just read your excellent post, just got back from a week away :-) I assume the game's been played now - how did it go?

  20. Actually, due to some delays, the game is being played tomorrow. We're using the Kill Zone rules from Galaxy in Flames. It should be a cracking good time. We're avoiding any special rules this time, so no bolter drills for the arbites. I'll post a bat rep on my blog here.

    Oh I changed my blogger name, I am no longer old shatter hands, just Tim.

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  22. Where did you get the civilian miniatures? Are they Games Workshop, or Ral Partha, or Reaper? I don't recognize them, but I would love to buy some!

  23. Specifically which ones mate? There's quite a mix in there!

  24. Oh, right. Specifically the civies from your pic with the caption "Civilians going about their business," and the nun

    1. They're a very random mix of West Wind, Foundry, Reaper etc. the nun is a 40k Witch Hunters henchman.