Last weekend Paul and I got together to try out Grimdark Future, the latest iteration in the “One Page Rules” series.
Grimdark Future is the successor to One Page 40k, which we’ve been playing quite often here at Comrade’s Wargames. The publishers wisely decided to strip out all of the copyrighted material and rerelease One Page 40k as Grimdark Future a month or two back, with all of the proprietary terminology like “Khorne Berzerker” and “Leman Russ” replaced with slightly more generic terms. This was our first opportunity to give the new game a thorough run-through.
We decided to set up a breakout scenario featuring my Imperial Guard army (the Iron Shields of Magnadim) versus Paul’s Tau (the L’Ranna Company). In Grimdark Future, my Guard were called “Human Defense Forces” and Paul’s Tau were called “TAO.” Clever way to skirt the copyrighted material!
The game was set in Saint Scythia Starport outside Jericho Station on the planet Caluphel. Here’s the blurb I put together to describe our scenario:
Troop transports bearing advance elements of the Imperial Guard’s Magnadim 216th shock regiment (the Iron Shields of Magnadim) conducted a hasty landing under fire on the outskirts of Saint Scythia Starport. Even as the landers dusted off and powered their way back to orbit, the troops on the ground faced the grim prospect of breaking out of their small firebase and linking up with the rest of the Imperial forces on Caluphel. In the silent ruins of the once-majestic starport, their enemy waited…
From a narrative standpoint, this game represents the landing of the Magnadim 216th. Paul’s L’Ranna Company was already planetside and, conveniently, in a position to thwart the Iron Shields’ landing. Let’s see how it played out…
Our game began, actually, with a false start. Paul showed up at my place and pulled out his 750 point Grimdark Future list, as did I. We both remarked about how 750 didn’t buy you nearly as many figures compared to 1P40K. Paul’s “army” numbered fewer than 20 figures, as I recall!
So we made an executive decision: Paul hopped in his car and went home to grab the rest of his Tau figures and I added a commensurate number of units to my Imperial Guard army. I think our armies totaled 1200-ish points each once everything was said and done. Luckily Paul lives 10 minutes away so this didn’t take much time away from our game night.
Once that was all sorted, we got down to the game. I deployed my Iron Shields in a small firebase along one long table edge. We designated three ruined buildings in the center of the table as objectives. The goal of my Iron Shields was to advance through the ruined city, seize the objective buildings, and if possible exit off Paul’s table edge. The Tau goals were to contest the objectives in the center of the table and, if possible, occupy the firebase.
The game started with BANG as a lucky shot from Paul’s Broadside popped my APC, spilling the occupants onto the pavement.
This encounter introduced us to the first major change we noticed in Grimdark Future: the absence of the Extra Armor upgrade for vehicles. This rule was very popular among our play group in 1P40K, as it really helped improve the survivability of light armored vehicles. I really missed its absence in Grimdark Future!
So, it looked we’d be walking out of the firebase. OK, that’s life. My guys grabbed their gear and started filtering out into the ruins, hoping to evade the guns of the Tau defenders.
That proved to be a tall order, as Paul had occupied some tactical positions on the battlefield. I was forced to advance through withering fire into the comparative cover of the urban cityscape.
In true Imperial Guard fashion, my battle tank (a newly painted Leviathan resin model from Warzone Resurrection; blog post forthcoming!) proved to be the most potent piece in my army. Its linked autocannons raked the Tau lines, causing grievous casualties — but not *that* grievous, thanks to some lucky rolls from Paul’s shield drones.
As in our previous games, Paul’s scout spotters used their marker lights to devastating effect. Here they are lurking in a ruined building with their flashlights of doom.
By this point I had moved a couple of squads up near the objective buildings. But Paul’s crisis battlesuits were executing an effective pincer formation, trapping me in the center of the table under increasingly potent firepower.
In the final turns, Paul’s second squad of crisis suits arrived via ambush (you know it better as Deep Strike) and sealed my doom. My battle tank was still motoring along, slaughtering Tau, but it became clear that I wasn’t going to have any infantry left to hold the buildings by the end of the game.
Here’s my tank, barely touched but unable to win the game, along with my final surviving squad of infantry in the ruins of the main objective building.
After the game we discussed our thoughts on Grimdark Future versus 1P40k.
Grimdark Future did away with the “saving throw” by the defender to block wounds and replaced it with a modifier to the attacker’s roll to wound. I think I understand why they did this, but to me it eliminates a powerful psychological element of the game — the idea of a last-gasp saving throw to avoid destruction. It also, conveniently, gave the defender something to do in the game. Now in Grimdark Future, the defender just watches as the attacker rolls buckets of dice and tells him how many of his dudes have died.
We’re going to stick with Grimdark Future, though, and will probably investigate some house rules to increase interaction and bring back some of the mechanics we liked from 1P40k (such as the Extra Armor upgrade, for instance).
We’re also going to continue the narrative that was started with this game. Will the Tau be safe now that they’ve neutralized this vanguard of the 216th Magnadim shock regiment? And how soon until everyone realizes just why this ancient colony failed in the first place…?