Playtest Game & News Update

This is a quick write-up of a playtest game we did a couple of weeks back. It will form one of the games in the campaign supplement that will be launched six months after the Enderain core rulebook.

I hasten to add that the campaign supplement won’t just be 10 part story-driven campaign. In addition, there will be rules for generating events (including a generic event spawn table), some new NPC types, and rules for light vehicles as well.

The final playtesting is happening right now. I’m playing through a 10 game linked scenario campaign with another playtester, which finishes at the end of August, and we have ad hoc finalizing games lined up with several other experienced people as well.

At the start of September we will be committing to a final rules draft which will then be prepared in desktop publishing software to be sent off for printing at the end of September.

We will then be sending out review copies, and opening up preorders on the website at the start of October.

Anyway, that’s the latest info on the game, so let’s talk about this scenario.

It’s a variation on the classic “scavenger hunt” resource gathering game. As well as grabbing resources in order to boost your team’s ability to buy gear and fund itself for the final push in the campaign, it’s also a scenario about finding one or more valuable crystals.

The crystals give you a choice. You can either sell them for a higher fixed price (no haggling on the open market because they are so valuable), or you can equip a character who has a special power with one in order to add a bonus to that power use.

So it’s a simple scenario based around the idea that participating teams have got news that there could be crystals hidden at a derelict base just outside the city. The race is on, and who will triumph?

Setup & Deployment

Both players were dealt the initial four cards everyone gets at the start of an Enderain game. In addition, as I had a captain with the role of “Tactics Specialist”, I gained a free wildcard at the start of the game as well.

Because NPCs were being used in this game, the first thing we did is to reveal a card to determine the initiative number for the NPC’s.

Both players then simultaneously declared their initial card, using the initiative number printed on it to define both set up and first turn order of play for each round in it.

The next task is to place counters, alternating round the table in initiative order from worst to best.

We then alternated deployment of one character at a time on the playing area age. The person with the worst initiative number (highest number – 1 is best, 30 is worst) going first.

Initial Turns & Events

Things started very cagey. Amy isn’t as experienced at gaming generally, and has found poor decisions have cost her dearly. So she was very thoughtful and careful to not leave the characters exposed during the first couple of turns.

Each turn consists of a number of rounds. Each player goes on around, activating a single character, or a group of characters that are within the zone of control who has a leadership rating that is high enough to lead others (at the start of the campaign this is usually only two characters, but by this point of our campaign I had four characters who had a leadership rating high enough to lead groups).

I sent one group straight into the main complex where the majority of the tokens had been placed. Amy unfortunately only sent one character in, meaning that I could see she was isolated and could be picked off.

In the initial couple of turns I also sent my scout (they have a faster movement rate, and at higher levels other traits that can help them to fulfil scouting abilities without getting pinned down) sprinting down the table edge to take up a position on the flank. By doing so I cut off access to a building, could fire into the open space in the middle of the table, and potentially call-in fire.

Hacking The Comms

Both of us tried to hack the other sides comms network. If the comms is up, you can encourage people who are losing their nerve and you can spot for indirect fire weapons (rocket launchers and grenade launchers).

After a few goes at this, Amy got distracted, while I managed to bring her network down. Her hacker couldn’t get the number they needed to bring it back up again. That was a real problem considering she had positioned her rocket launcher dude at the back specifically to be able to call in fire.

Hackers are absolutely vital to a team. Unfortunately, in our campaign Amy had lost her hacker twice, meaning she had a new LV1 one hacker, whereas mine was a top LV3 hacker who can perform hacking tasks with lower dice results.

Assassin Goes Nuts

Amy focused on the tokens in the open, and on her left side of the table. I used my Speedbolt Gunner to pin her characters down with its high rate of fire and ability to hit more than one character, as it’s a multitarget weapon.

Focusing on the main complex building, I sent my assassin in first. Using the assassin skill, starting out of sight of a close combat target, he went into the attack and gained a bonus for that surprise assault.

As he ran in, he fired up his laser sword (yes, we have those and we all know what they are) and went in with significant bonuses against her poor alien dude.

Unfortunately, through a series of horrific dice rolls, my assassin basically failed and then got knocked down.

Knocked down, and not within the zone of control a friend, meant that he was ready to take a kill shot from any of her team that could get next to him.

Thankfully, I had a free action card, and I moved another character next to him, so that he lay within that character’s zone of control. That protected him, as any of Amy’s other characters would have to target the standing character and not the one who is down.

However, at a crucial game moment, it was a disaster for my LV3 experienced assassin.

Seizing the initiative again by playing a wildcard and declaring it as a free action card, my No.2, who was standing in the doorway watching this ridiculous fight, took a shooting action and put her character down.

I’ll conclude this by telling you that in the next turn I got the initiative jump. So I moved to character in to do a kill shot on her isolated character who had fought so bravely against the assassin.

NPCs Start Arriving

The first few turns NPC spawns simply hadn’t happened for several reasons. But by turn four things started to appear.

First, a couple of humanoid aliens (“Seretans”) turned up on my baseline and started blasting me through some jungle! This was a disaster as my rocket launcher guy went down, just as he was in a position to start raining indirect fire down.

Worse, it meant that my captain and hacker, who were hiding behind a building ready to move in, then couldn’t just leave the guy on the floor, so they had to waste a turn turning and dealing with the NPCs.

It got far worse when two primitive aliens arrived (“Untolds”). They don’t have laser weapons, but they do have a ferocious close combat ability.

Two of my characters managed to get stuck in a firefight inside a building near where they spawned. I put Amy’s character down who was in the firefight, but before I could get my characters out of the way the Untolds stormed into the room and ripped my medic to pieces. The only character I lost during the game as “out”.

The other character in there ran like hell. Heavily wounded, they just headed to the nearest baseline and exited the game, pursued by the primitives!

Indirect Carnage!

Getting herself sorted out, Amy started making use of her rocket launcher. She got a good direct line of sight and whacked my team with a couple of shots that put two of them down.

That scuppered my plan for an entire turn as I could only really stand them up to stop them being run up to and finished off.

However, this is where the game was won using indirect fire.

Amy has done this before, and she forgot again about spotters. Retreating behind a building, ready to get wounded characters, and characters in the possession of tokens, off the table, she bunched up.

Using my scout as the spotter, I then launched indirect rocket fire at her. My Grenadier was equipped with the best rocket launcher in the game, with a significant firepower and hitting power combination, as well as is explosive using the large area weapon template.

It was carnage and we both knew she was in real trouble. It was pretty much game over, and she then focused on getting her team off as quickly as possible in order to deny me many of the remaining tokens.

You see, in a standard game of Enderain, if it’s 2 player, the game instantly ends when one team exits (in a three or four player game 2 teams have to exit).

Steep Learning Curve For Amy!

Hopefully this quick review of a basic style game has given you some insight into how not only the general mechanisms work, but how you can apply tactics within the game as well.

It’s useful to use two main groups under your leaders as the maneuver elements, while you leave a couple of characters with support weapons further back to bring in direct and indirect fire as needed.

This is great for laying smoke (although you can throw frag, smoke, and stun grenades close-in if your character is equipped with them) as well.

The campaign is nearly over and it’s been a steep learning curve for Amy. This is the first campaign run through we have done where she has been flying solo to learn the hard way.

Although it’s been tough for her, from a game design perspective, it has demonstrated that good thinking, tactics, use of role skills and special powers at the appropriate times, as well as good card management, make the difference between success and failure.

This is not a kind game if you are not “on it”. Mistakes can be ruthlessly exposed and punished!

Enderain will be available to pre-order on October 1, 2022.