The game is a tight little skirmish game, which employs about seven to five minis to a side. Not at all a big investment for a Games Workshop game. The ships controls and combat are not unlike the controls in Rogue Trader. Ships in motion must move forwards a minimum distance before engaging in a turn. Moving faster than normal or turning sharper than normal requires a special order. Each ship can only receive one special order per turn.
Just like in most Games Workshop games, the combat turn is divided into phases - a movement phase, firing phase, and ordinance phase. Attacks are rolled on a chart, which is modified by range, and the target's ships position relative to yours. Again, like most GW games, the combat is all resolved on the same chart, making it easy to look up and resolve.
Probably the most fun thing about the combat for me was the impact clouds. When a ship is hit, blast tokens are placed on the table at the point of impact. Flying through a blast token causes a ship to move slower and possibly take damage. So, as the battle continues, the battlefield quickly fills up with blast tokens, which function as a sort of terrain. The randomized, shifting-and-moving terrain made the game chaotic and fun. It really helped capture the sense of a massive space battle.
So how did the game go? I'll let the pictures do the talking.
Here's my fleet. Three chaos battlecruisers and four escorts (frigate class).
To give you an idea of scope in the 40k universe...yes, the small ships are escorts, which is sort of like a Raider in Rogue Trader RPG. The next smallest class are the frigates, which are sort of the default vessel of Rogue Trader. I think it's mind-blowing that most of the massive and grand ships of the Rogue Trader game are just 1 hit fodder in this skirmish-level game.
Here are some more shots, just because they look good and the pictures turned out well.
I love the look of the Chaos cruisers the best. So many spines. So very Ridley Scott.
The heavily armoured prow of an imperial cruiser. What would end up being my downfall.
Right. So onto the important stuff. How did I fare? Not well, I'm afraid. Not to say that I didn't have a blast, because I did. But in the end I literally had my arse handed to me. Basically, my opponent did a good job at spreading himself out and getting me to spread out my attacks so that I could not concentrate fire enough to take out many of his ships at all. All of his vessels took some hits, but only one or two took enough to become disabled.
But if it says anything about the game, I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the fact that I lost so badly.
Since forward movement and momentum are inherent, its quite easy for two ships to sail on past each other, firing salvos at each other the entire time. Very naval. Very cinematic. And very different from what I'm used to in a minis game.
Here you can see the real thick of it. Ships right on top of each other. Blast tokens creating that spontaneous terrain that I'm talking about. If Chaos is going to go out, what better way to go out?
Well that's all for now. Next time, I'll give the low-down on Dragon*Con.