My son Dashiell and I recently played a game using his first ever painted figs, a squad of robots versus my human resistance fighters. We used the Laser Blade rules from Echidna Games for the first time and were impressed how well the game played. We managed to play 2 games in a little over an hour, with a minimum of those moments of confusion that often occur when playing a new rule set. More importantly, the rules were easy for Dashiell to follow, and he had most of mechanics down in a few turns. We plan to continue using these rules, and look forward to our next games.
The Human and Robot forces. Laser Blade allows you to make up the characteristics of each model starting from a base template giving a basic shooting and close combat stat of 6+ (using d10 for all rolls). Characters can be given abilities such as Sniper, Heavy Weapons or Rapid Fire which increase their performance and cost. Up to 3 models per side can be Elite, designated by a point cost threshold or particular abilities.
Dashiell marshaling his Robot squad and smiling over his first kill. Once figures are hit in combat they are taken out of action unless they have the Armor ability and make an Armor save. Dashiell's robots had a 7+ armor save, while most of the humans needed a 9+ or 10 to save.
Laser Blade has a measure called Range, which equals 8 inches. Range is how far a figure can move, and multiples of range are used for shooting distances. Here a robot shoots a trooper within 3 range distance, which gave a -2 penalty. We used strips of craft foam cut to the right length. This made movement and shooting particularly easy for Dashiell as there was no math or tape measure involved.
Combat tended to be fast and deadly, which made for a quick game with no real book keeping. The ease of play lends itself to playing with larger forces or perhaps games with more players involved. We already have more Robots and Humans on the painting table.
Besides modifiers for range, combat has modifiers for cover and for the shooter moving through rough terrain. These are added to the shooting or close combat score to give the final target number needed to hit. In the picture above, the robot with a standard 6+ shooting score would require a 7+ roll when shooting at the trooper using the building for cover.
The rules have an interesting activation system that keeps it unpredictable. At the start of a player's turn they roll for the number of activations they get that turn, from 1 to 3 possible. Factors such as leadership or a unit being in cohesion add to this roll.
In the picture above a human armed with a heavy weapon fires at a robot. The heavy weapon ability negates the opponents armor save. Below, we see a human sniper killing a distant robot. A sniper has a greatly reduced target number for the shooting stat.
Close combat is handled in the same way as shooting, a target number based upon the standard template or abilities such as Martial Artist and Close Combat Specialist possessed by the robot above. The robot also has the Hard to Hit ability, which reflects some acrobatic ability or dumb luck that helps protect the figure from harm. In this instance, however, it did not work as the human won the fight.
Once a squad is reduced to under half strength, a Valor test is required. If the valor test fails, the figure flees the battle. In both of our games, the under strength human survivors fled the scene rather than continue to face the robot onslaught. Dashiell 2, Dad 0.
Altogether, Laser Blade served our purpose well. We had a simple set of rules that provided ease of play and enjoyable, games with just enough challenge to keep it interesting. We look forward to more games and testing out other aspects of the rules. Also, Echidna Games recently released Battle Blade, the fantasy version of their rules, which I am sure will be a future project for our gaming table.