|Copyright © West Wind Productions|
This beauty is, Dear Reader, Gretel von X, and she is the pin up girl for Grindhouse Games "Incursion" boardgame.
My pal, Alan, has over the last month or so been buying models for the Alternative WW2 rule set, "Secrets of the Third Reich", produced by West Wind Productions having taken advantage of their special deal on the rule book and the expansion "Doomsday 1949".
The premise behind the rules is that WW2 didn't end in 1945, D-Day had in fact been a failure, due to the use by the German forces of a deadly gas - "Vergeltungswaffe 4", which inflicted a painful death on it's victims before resurrecting them as the living dead. The Russians had suffered a similar fate on the Eastern front and consequntly, Germany continues to hold sway over Continental Europe. Each side is looking for the wonder weapon that will turn the tide in their favour, the Western Allies refusing to follow the horrific path chosen by the Germans and instead look to technology to sway the War in their favour.
Although we haven't got round to playing Secrets, it was only a matter of time before Alan succumbed to the temptation of buying the associated boardgame, Incursion, which duly arrived last week.
In the boardgame, the German forces and their Spanish Allies have captured Gibraltar. The Allies after much preparation have launched an offensive to take it back and ultimately are successful. The boardgame is set around the desperate battles that took place in the labyrinth of tunnels situated underneath the rock of Gibraltar, as the Allies have become aware of a German plan to detonate a horrific Doomsday device.
After a quick run through of the introductory scenario, we launched into 2 of scenarios available in the rulebook (there are 7 in total, which taken together form a campaign)
The first thing to appreciate when the box is opened for the first time is the quality of the components in the box. There are no minis with the game (these can be purchased separately from West Wind). Instead the game features thick card stock figures with bases, very durable with excellent artwork depicting the various characters and creatures. Here is the card version of Gretel:-
The Allied forces, consist of the US Mechanized Infantry from the "Lucky 7" Division. These heavy suited up grunts ("APE" to give them their proper acronym) are slow, but well armoured and carry a heavy firepower. They are led by special character "Slugger Murphy".
The German forces of their Special Weapons Development are based around their Zombie hordes - "Sturmzombies" and "Bomberzombies". They can also call upon "Blitzhunds", genetically mutated hounds that are vicious in hand to hand combat. The Germans have 3 special characters, Gretel, her sister Ilsa von X and Hans the Hunter.
The board is 2 sided thick cardstock, with a square grid on each side showing the various tunnels underneath the Rock. There are numerous game markers, some are used to depict the status of the characters (eg the number of hits they have taken), other depict amongst other things, cave ins, on fire, reaction fire mode and also door counters, which help change the layout of each scenario and there are the Command Point markers (more of which later). There are also stat cards which contain all of the important info on each of the pieces and the Battle Card deck. It is this deck that, along with the ability to be able to change your force composition each time you play the same scenario, ensures that no game plays the same twice.
The full colour rulebook is a mere 26 pages long of which only 7 pages contain the actual rules, the rest being taken up with the description of the characters and the scenarios.
The game mechanics revolve around 3 key aspects. Firstly, action points (AP's)- each character has a set amount of AP's which they use to move, shoot, fight in hand to hand combat. A character can perform any manner of actions and in any order as long as they have sufficient AP's to call upon. In Gretel's example she has a total of 5AP. Most actions require the expenditure of 1AP, a helpful table on the Quick Reference Sheet that also comes with the game, sets out the cost of each action.
Secondly, there are the Command Points (CP's). Depending on the scenario being played, each side has an allocation of Command Point counters. These have 3 main functions. Firstly, they are used for bidding to determine which player moves first in a turn. Each player bids in secret a number of CP's and the highest bidder gets to move first. Both players, however, have to discard the CP's that have been bid for the rest of that turn. Next, CP's can be used to give a character additional actions beyond their normal total, with each CP (normally) providing 1 extra AP to that character. Finally, they can be used to "kill" Battle Cards that are in play and send them to the discard pile.
Finally there is the Battle Card deck. Each turn, a player draws a number of cards up to his hand limit which is determined by the size of the mission being carried out. These cards can be "Effect" cards which when played on a character stay in play until either the character or the Effect card is killed. These cards will normally boost a characters AP's, or allow them to roll extra damage dice and so on, but some can be played on enemy characters and give them negative effects. "Event" cards mean that something has happened in game and their effect is resolved immediately and then (usually) discarded. Each card has a "kill" number on it which, if the opposing player spends a number of CP's equivalent to the "kill" number the card is removed to the discard pile.
At the start of each scenario, each side is allocated a number of resource points (RP's) on which to "buy" the characters that will make up his force for that game.
In our first game tonight, "Pinger Raid" each side had 10 RP's to spend. The object of the scenario was to recover a pinger device (which allows the Germans to control the Zombie naval mines that were wrecking havoc on the Allied Naval forces) from the centre of the labyrinth, and return to your entry point. Speed was of the essence but also, a problem for the Germans is that Zombies can not normally pick up objects, so as I was playing the Germans, I decided to select Gretel (5RP's), because she is fast and can look after herself in a fight, a Blitzhund (2RP's) and a horde of Sturmzombies (3RP's). The Sturmzombies have the "Horde" special rule which allows them to generate another 3 zombies at the start of each turn!
We each drew 2 Battle Cards (the maximum allowed for the scenario). I drew a "Cave In" card and I immediately saw an opportunity to really slow Alan down. So when it came to the bidding, I bid 3 CP's and won and then immediately played the Cave In card and blocked the only corridor that Alan could use to enter the centre of the board and then moved Gretel full pelt towards the centre of the board, giving her all of the spare CP's to get her extra movement.
After all my actions, it was Alan's turn. The corridor was blocked but by spending 2CP's he was able to "kill" the Cave In card and thus remove it's effect. However, the loss of those CP's really slowed him down in that first turn. Realising that he wasn't going to be able to stop Gretel reaching the pinger device he decided to move into positions which would maximise his shooting capability and went into reaction fire mode.
In the game, each character that has a weapon that can shoot can, at the end of their turn, go into reaction fire mode. This means that during the enemy turn, if a character moves into the line of sight of the character in rection fire mode then that charcter gets to open fire on the moving character. This is a "free" shot taken out of turn sequence, it doesn't cost any AP's or CP's to take this action. There is no maximum range for most weapons, you must have line of sight (LoS) to your target, and other characters will block LoS.
Each ranged weapon has a rate of fire (RoF) which determines the number of damage dice (DD) you can roll, and you are attempting to roll equal to or greater than the target's fortitude. For example, a US Grunt APE is equipped with a LMG, which in normal shooting mode has a RoF of 3 and a reaction fire RoF of 2. A Sturmzombie has a fortitude of 4 and has 1 damage point (DP). So if the Grunt in normal shooting mode rolls 3DD and rolls a 3, 4 and a 2 the "4" equals the Zombie's fortitude and as he only has 1 DP he is removed from play. Hand to Hand (HtH) combat requires the characters to be in an adjacent square, the active player spends 1 AP to initiate HtH and rolls 1 damage die to try and equal or exceed the target's fortitude.
The Battle Cards can buff these factors by adding extra damage dice or decreasing the number of the target's Fortitude. One of my favourite Battle Cards is "Liquid Courage" which although it effectively increases the fortitude of the Target when shooting at it (you are too inebriated to shoot straight) the Target's fortitude is decreased in HtH due to the drug/ alcohol induced rage your character is in, and as none of the Blitzhunds carry ranged weapons it is an ideal card to play on them.
With judicious use of his remaining CP's and Battle Cards, the APE Sarge was able to dispatch my Blitzhund with shooting and set up a reaction fire corridor which covered the way back to the German Entry point.
There is no restriction on the number of times you can fire other than the number of AP's available to you (although again some Battle Cards can affect this) and in reaction fire mode you can fire at every new character that moves into your line of sight. I realised, however, that despite Alan's positioning, he could only fire at Gretel once as she crossed Sarge's LoS and as Gretel has 5DP's there was no way she was going to be taken out and so she scampered home with the precious device.
The next scenario "Twitchers" involved the recovery of various victory point (VP) placed round the board. The value of the markers being concealed, the winner would be the player with the highest value of VP markers at the end of 7 complete turns We each had 19 RP's to spend on our force and could have up to 4 Battle Cards in hand. I once again selected Gretel and this time she was accompanied by 2 Blitzhunds, a horde of Sturmzombies, 2 bomberzombies and Hans the Hunter. There was a twist though in that each VP marker was located on the corpse of a dead scientist and when a character attempted to pick up a VP marker, a d6 was rolled and on a roll of a "1" the character was immediately attacked by the now Zombified scientist, which if not killed immediately then became part of the opposing players forces.
A totally different challenge from the first scenario played, although speed was going to be crucial, even with 19RP's to spend Alan only had 5 characters in his force, so the opportunity to swarm him was there. As it turned out, the zombies shambled about the board but didn't too much. There was soo many on the board due to the Horde special rule it was difficult to keep track on which ones had moved (you can't simply turn the counter round to indicate that it has had it's turn as facing is all important in the game in order to determine LoS and it costs AP's to change a character's facing).
Gretl died in a hail of machine gun bullets, and Hans the Hunter was hampered by Alan's play of the "Jammed Radio" Battle card which meant I couldn't spend additional CP's on Hans. Although I could have spent CP's on killing that card, I was bidding high throughout the game to make sure I was moving first and getting to the counters first so never had enough CP's to spare.
At the end of the game, we both held a total of 5VP's which meant the game ended in a draw, although it could have ended up a win for the Germans had Alan not managed to bring down in the last turn a Zombie
who was carrying a precious VP marker. We then realised that Alan could have won if he had remembered that Slugger Murphy (as do all of the US troops) carried grenades. A grenade affects everyone in a 9 square blast area, rolling 1 DD against each target. Alan, could have moved Sluger to a position whereby he could have tossed a grenade at my Blitzhund who was carrying 3 of my VP markers and if he had killed him, then they would have been dropped and I would have had no way to get them back in time.
Conclusions? I really liked this game. The background is one that I have always liked the idea of and the game rules are simple but elegant and well thought out. As I've said already, the ability to change the make up of your forces and the play of the Battle Cards means that you will very rarely play the scenarios the same way twice.
Excellent quality components with the option of using the fantastic West Wind Minis to add further visual appeal to the game.
The rules are in fact available to download from Grindhouse Games web page:-
There is talk of an expansion being released for the game, which hopefully will include the British MI-13 forces. Their draft rules are also available from the above link.
I highly recommend the game to you all.