Sunday, February 16, 2014

First Game of Heavy Gear

Through a fortuitous ebay auction, I met some local gamers. One of the things they are playing is heavy gear, which I've had an interest in for a bit, but haven't been able to locate any local players. Stephen and his crew have a few house rules including the fact they use a hex map, rather than measuring off distances. Conveniently, the hexes are 1inch in size, so I think this actually makes a lot of sense. It also makes movement through forests and hills much, much easier. Another rule they use, which I rather like in general, is they activate groups based on flipping cards. This helps eliminate a decision step for players (which can slow down some), but also introduces more friction and uncertainty to the battle; you can't me entirely certain that your forces are going to complete the job they've been sent to do in time.

It had been a long time since the group had played, so I think there was a bit of rustiness. I was also definitely a bit of a delay on the game as I needed to get some explanation on what was happening. So we had only really got stuck into combat when a number of us had to leave for the evening. There seems to be a plethora of reaction shots available to the player, which does keep one invested in the opposing players turn, but it also seems to slow things down a bit. Similarly, the dicing off of attacker and defender (when shooting, etc) is great from the point of view of staying invested when not your turn, and creating those chances for unlikely shots to be hugely successful, but once again, it can slow things down a bit.

I understand that dream pod 9 is now looking at their next edition and going an open alpha development. It would appear that things may change quite a bit. Hardly a great time to be getting in on a rule set for me. The new rules do appear to be WAY MORE streamlined for army creation. I have to say the current army creation rules are a bit overwhelming with options.

This is a couple of turns from the start. We moved in off the edge. The dice on the edge are a helpful guide to which gear belongs to which group. We were running about a dozen per side, divided up into 6 groups of 2. Southern close, Northern on the far edge. 

Pipe cleaner in various colour are common markers at this game den. The blues show that the gear has made it's shot that turn....thereby reminding us it can't try for overwatch/reaction fire.

 The northern forces is keeping it's grizzlies back, ready to fire guided mortars. The hunters/jaguras are the pickets, and the ferrets are for forward observation.
 The southern gears need to rush forward and kill the grizzlies as best they can. My forces on the left flank swung wide, as the remaining forces seemed to condense into the forest on the right side of the central hill.
 On the left side of the hill I have a couple gear to distract/pin the enemy as my 3 flankers speed wide. The gear in the bottom right has a rapid fire bazooka, which has good damage, but miserable range. The ferret (top right) is fantastically hard to hit, and also easily spots for the guided mortars. Super annoying little beast.

 Here we get a good sense of the battle field. Towards the top 1/3 we see a short range scrum developing in the woods. The northern gear are doing their best to assasinate the faster mamba's. The large cobras are slowly plodding forward and not really in the game yet.

There are two grizzlies on the left hand backfield. One is just 1/2 off screen about midway up the picture. This is the target of my flanking move. They are also totally jerks dropping mortar fire all over the board.

Towards the bottom we can see my 3 gear flanking force (mamba, jager, jager). They have a fairly open advance, screened by a hill near a lake. The main opposing force is a white primed jaguar which is a fairly solid opponent.

A close up of the scrum in the woods. The northerns managed to kill off one gear, and debilitate another, but lost 2 in return. They began to pull back.

The ferret on the top right managed to finally kill the flank guard mamba (fore ground right). Which would bode ill for further advances by the forest team.

I failed to take more pictures after this, but the wide flankers on my left managed to get through and started to threaten the grizzly, who had to pull back. The remaining forces on the left side of the hill were getting into knife fight range, but with some whiffed rolls, it looked like the southern forces were going to take a beating.

Unfortunately the game had to end there, but I suspect the south was going to come out worse in this battle. It was an interesting first exposure to heavy gear. I like the models, and playing with hexes seems pretty solid. I remember trying battletech without hexes and it seemed to play much slower, so I can appreciate the speed and certainty of terrain hexes provide. I'm looking forward to having an excuse to paint some of the figs I picked up in the past, but have pined away in my storage boxes for too long.

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