Last month I hosted two sci-fi skirmish games, and despite using two different game systems, we were able to tease out a bit of a narrative through-line to connect them together. Both games were set on Drusichtor, the third moon of Gamma Euphorion Prime in the Juventius Sub-Sector.
Drusichtor is a heavy industrial moon focused on mining and resource extraction. While Gamma Euphorion Prime grapples with a nascent genestealer cult infestation that is rocking the political underpinnings of the fragile ruling class, miners on Drusichtor made a terrifying discovery that suggested just how long the genestealers had been plotting to undermine the planet…
For the first game, we tried out Rogue Hammer, the new grimdark sci-fi ruleset from Nordic Weasel Games. It was a learning game, so we started small and coached each other through the rules. The game was set in the Pits of Volceradon, a vast and crumbling strip-mining operation that sprawls across the surface of Drusichtor. The warbands were competing to reach a hapless miner who had been infected by … something … that he picked up during his forays deep below the moon’s surface. You can see the miner staggering around near some bubbling pools of green toxic waste. Yum!
The game featured an Inquisitorial kill team, alongside a platoon of Ultramarines, racing to secure the miner before the pox-ridden warriors of the Death Guard could spirit him away and conduct a vivisection to figure out what happened to him.
Rogue Hammer was fun, but it definitely felt like a game that needs some additional material before it’s a truly playable Rogue Trader heartbreaker clone. For example: Many of the unit and character upgrades were specifically focused on fighting vehicles, yet you won’t really be using vehicles unless you’re playing a large game of Rogue Hammer. So for the skirmish sized games that we typically play, most of the anti-vehicle upgrades are useless and a waste of points. Meanwhile, factions like Chaos Space Marines – which have arguably been part of the lore since Rogue Trader – were conspicuously absent from the barebones army lists provided in the rulebook. I had to run my Death Guard using the Eldar (excuse me, Space Pirates) list.
In fairness to Nordic Weasel, I believe his intent is to manage Rogue Hammer like a “living rulebook,” with fairly frequent releases and rules tweaks to deliver exactly the sort of content I was missing.
Anyway, our Rogue Hammer game wrapped up with a shocking conclusion, when the poor miner underwent a sudden and violent transformation – the “final form” of his mysterious infection?
The blood-spattered xenomorph creature lurched toward the nearest target, claws akimbo. It was a deadly dance, but Danie’s Primaris Captain was up to the task!
The grisly outcome led directly to game two, which took place a few weeks later. In this game, the action moved to the nearby mining settlement of Ghorston’s Spur, where another specimen had been captured and stashed in one of the hovels. This game featured two teams of factions fighting to locate and secure the specimen – Dark Mechanicus and Chaos Cultists vs. Sisters of Battle and Orks (temporarily pacified, perhaps, to serve as useful cannon fodder for the Adeptus Sororitas? That was what we convinced ourselves, anyway).
For this game, we used Grimdark Future Firefight, an old favorite around here that we return to time and time again.
I had prepped a little scenario with rules for exploring the little ramshackle outbuildings. You weren’t sure exactly what you’d find when you went a-knocking on those doors!
Shooting is fairly potent in Grimdark Future Firefight, and we lamented the unfortunate lack of cover for Lawrence’s Chaos Cultists. They got chewed to pieces by deadly accurate fire from Rian’s newly painted Sister of Battle. Oops!
I didn’t have it much better … my Dark Mechanicus warband, The Seekers of the Fractal Schematic, were uncomfortably close to the menacing Orks at the start of the game.
Jim’s Orks were on top of me by the second turn, which made it pretty hard to explore the outbuildings to find the specimen.
Eventually (through trial and error) we determined which of the squalid dwellings held the specimen, and all of the factions promptly made a beeline for it. Covering fire was laid down by the Sisters of Battle as the Orks rampaged unchecked through the industrial settlement. Rho-Terak, the Enslaver of Logic (leader of my Dark Mechanicus warband) sustained superficial damage to his mostly-metal body during this chaotic scramble.
In game terms, he went out of action, but of course he didn’t die. He’s just … recuperating, back at base. Shouldn’t have been standing there, guy!
The final clash came when Vethidian the Supernumerary, second-in-command of my Dark Mechanicus warband, met the Sisters of Battle Canoness at the front door of the target hut. His sad little withered body was no match for the Canoness’s power sword!
So the Sister of Battle made off with the alien specimen! Doubtless the Imperium’s best xenobiologists will gather important intel from its carcass. The Dark Mechanicum will lick their wounds and regroup for another assault!
Grimdark Future gave a quick and decisive game, as always. There are a number of mechanics in this game that serve to hasten the inevitable conclusion of a skirmish clash. It’s never fun to see your cool models go down, but it’s important to remember that the game’s gotta end at some point.
It was pleasant to write up these two short game reports and stitch them together into a coherent narrative flow. I’m really enjoying the development of Drusichtor as a theater of operations in the larger Gamma Euphorion narrative campaign. There’s plenty here to fight over, and we haven’t even delved into the soot-encrusted Volceradon Furnace Tunnels…stay tuned for more!