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Musings of the Welsh Wizzard

What happens when dilution of the hobby becomes homeopathic

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October 21, 2018

Images used with permission of Warlord Games

Warlord Games

Strontium Dog – The Rules


In my last post (here if you haven’t read it) I went through what you get in Warlord Games new skirmish game Strontium Dog, so today I thought I’d run through the rules and give my thoughts on it (Disclaimer I haven’t played it yet)

The Rulebook

The rulebook is a 112 page full colour softback book and it covers the rules, scenarios and how to run a campaign, the quality of it is very good with lots of photos and snippets of the comics strips dotted around. The team at Warlord have even created minis comic strips using their miniatures which was a nice touch

The Rules

This is a small skirmish game where players have less than 10 figures aside, I normally refer to these as gang games, due to the size of the game each character can have all its relevant data listed on a card which makes finding info nice and easy.

The key mechanic in the game revolves around some specially made d6 which have 3 difference facings

  • Hit (3 sides)
  • Armour (2 sides)
  • Special (1 side)

During the game players will roll a number of these dice looking for various symbols, various modifiers will increase or decrease the number of dice rolled

The Characters

Each character in the game has a card listing all the basic stats for that character, these are pretty self-explanatory with the exception of the ‘Cool’ stat which is a measure of how well a figure will operate under fire and how many stuns and/or wounds it can take during the game.

One of the more interesting ideas in this game is the SD agents usually have to take prisoners alive, so there are 3 states that can be applied to characters

  • Pinned – characters cannot do anything whilst pinned and have to spend 1 action to remove the pin, so it essentially slows down the character in their next activation (note characters can also try to remove the Pin when activated by rolling a special symbol on a dice)
  • Stunned – each stun marker reduces the characters stats by 1, as soon as ‘Cool’ is 0 the character is Subdued and out of the game, Stuns can be removed like Pins
  • Injured – these act like Stunned markers but are more difficult to remove, if a characters cool is reduced to 0 due to injuries alone its incapacitated and out of the game

The interesting thing with these mechanics is the players who want to take the enemy alive have to try and subdue them by using stuns (and injuries) and stuns are easier to get rid of so players have to be very careful not to accidently kill an enemy when taking them in. obviously the criminals have no problem with keeping SD agents alive so they can fire away

Each character card also lists any special abilities, weapons and other equipment the character has.

There is nothing in here that anyone how has played a small skirmish game before won’t recognise.

The Turn

At the start of each turn players put a number of colour coded tokens into a bag (1 per character) these are drawn out in turn and given to the owning player who can use the token to activate one of their characters.

When a character is activated it can do 2 short actions or 1 long action, these are detailed in the book but they are pretty standard.

It also appears that figures can do the same short action twice in an activation.

Once a character is activated you leave the activation marker next to it so you know it can’t be activated again that turn.

However, there is another fun little mechanic in the game called ‘Star Activations’ each character with a ‘Cool’ of 4 or more puts a special Star activation token in the bag instead of a standard one and when these are pulled out the player can assign the token to any unactivated character and once the characters activation has finished the player rolls a dice for each point of Cool the character has and if one of the special symbols is rolled the Star token goes back in the bag.

So characters can be activated multiple times.

The downside to this is if one of your high ranking models activates early on a standard token then it can’t be activated again using a star token, because it has an activation token next to it. This means players really have to think about when to activate.

There is a downside to using Star tokens because as soon as a figure fails to make the token roll they become pinned. Also if a star token is the last one pulled out of the back the token roll is made with 2 less dice.

This is a fun mechanic and it does mean that figures could activate multiple times in a turn, but I think this adds to the comic book feel and from reading it I think this will really add some spice to the game

Combat

Combat is pretty simple with players rolling a number of dice to score hits whilst the enemy roll a number of dice to negate those hits (think opposed rolls) any excess hits cause injuries.

Again this is a nice simple mechanic and can be tweaked by figures using different weapons etc

Because it’s Strontium Dog, you know there are lots of weird and wonderful weapons players can use and all of these are covered in the rules.

Other Stuff

The rules are pretty comprehensive and cover things like fighting in different terrain (no rules for inside buildings though) and vehicles, but the game has 2 final tweaks to add to the chaos.

Armoury and Chicanery cards

The game comes with 2 decks of cards Armoury and Chicanery and players get to start the game with 3 each of these. These are resources that are used to add a bit of randomness to the game and are usually one use things.

As you can guess from the names they have different effects but I won’t spoil the game by going through them in too much detail

Lets just say they add to the comic book feel and are great fun

Final Thoughts

After a read through the rules look pretty good, there are some nice core mechanic’s in it and I can see the way it can grow and handle new characters. I don’t think there is anything ground breaking in the rules but that’s not a bad thing, the game doesn’t need anything fancy as all the feel of the comics can be brought out in the scenario rules. I think the rules writers have done a good job in designing a system that captures the feel of the comics and I’m really looking forward to playing the game.

In the next article I’ll cover the scenarios and campaign system and we can see what that does to build on the foundations laid so far

 

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9 Responses “Strontium Dog – The Rules”

  1. July 26, 2018 at 9:10 am

    What about the jokes and humor 🙂 ? No, seriously, the appeal of SD as a comic was also the very typical brand of humor you could find in 2000AD. It is difficult to replicate that experience on the tabletop. I remember playing the Judge Dredd RPG back in the 80s or 90s, and everyone was constantly using famous JD quotes. Didn;t work as a game at all.

    On the other hand, we know that the SD universe and setting can work as a game setting. The original WH40 – Rogue Trader – has shown us how it can be done 🙂

    • MikeH
      MikeH
      July 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      yeah the humour is always tricky to replicate, although the mini designs do add a bit to the overall black humour in the game ‘oh my heartis’

  2. July 26, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    Good overview! As you say, nothing ground breaking, but it seems fun enough.

    What can you tell about rough gang composition? Is 2 vs 5 a normal sized game or something of an introductionary experience?
    Also, what does it say about table size? I’m in the market for a skirmish game with a small-ish footprint, say 2’x2′ or maybe 3’x3′.

    Thanks!

    • MikeH
      MikeH
      July 27, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      hi Martin
      I haven’t played it yet so it’s tricky to answer the questions properly. the book suggests a 4×4 table with up to 4 players but I think it’ll play really well on a 3×3 or 3×4 board (so it’ll fit on a kitchen table)

      they have a points system which I’ll cover in the next article so most games will probably have a handful of figures each side

      • July 27, 2018 at 8:54 pm

        Ah, it’s a pity they’re not “officially” aiming for a smaller playing area, but of course such things can be easily tweaked.

        How about terrain suggestions? On a scale from Infinity to 40k, how much terrain does the game seem to demand?

        • MikeH
          MikeH
          July 28, 2018 at 9:28 am

          Actually I re-read the rules and there is no mention of table size so I think you can go smaller.
          again with terrain they are pretty vague, but as it’s a skirmish game a couple of buildings and plenty of scatter terrain should be ok

  3. July 28, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    Ah, interesting!

    I also really like what you wrote about the game structure and how you put your team together. Trigger finger twitching here… 😀

    • MikeH
      MikeH
      July 29, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      you know I would hate to force you to buy another game Martin, but it sounds like you are going to 🙂

  4. M.
    July 29, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I’m thinking of just buying a PDF of the rules because I know that I will probably never use the terrain and I have loads of figs and counters from other games. The dice … I can just use a d6 right? (1,2,3= flame, 4&5= shield, 6=2000ad). Thanks again for the review

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