We played our first game of Warpath 2.0, the latest play test version of Mantic's SciFi rules set. We had previously played Warpath 1.0, and frankly weren't that impressed, but I did download the latest version 2 Beta test edition anyway. Reading the rules set I felt that they had promise, but as always with these things it's often only when you get to push plastic around on the table that you start to think deeply enough, and maybe uncover flaws that might otherwise not have occurred to you.
Tonight's experience wasn't one of those 'hmm, well that might work' experiences. It was one of those 'Aha, GW you have some serious opposition here' experiences.
Game play begins with initiative, and uses an activation system to move units on each side. The system begins with first unit activation occurring automatically, the second and third units becoming more difficult to activate, requiring successively more difficult die rolls. The player always has the choice of passing on activation to the opponent once the first unit has been activated and this is a significant subtlety in the system. It is better by and large to pass on the second activation because a failed activation test on a unit means that that unit sits idle for the remainder of that turn. The skill lies in determining when it is worth the risk to try to activate additional units.
Many of the Kings of War systems carry over into Warpath, with nerve tests and firing procedures using the same methodology..
A significant difference lies in the removal of
individual figures in Warpath. This fits with the style of the game.
Kings of War is much more a unit based game, whereas Warpath is more
akin to a skirmish level game.
The game played quite quickly, we were only 'messing around' with 700 points per side. The nerve test system under which a nerve test required that the firer inflict 50% casualties base on strength at the start of the action means that units tend to hang around for some time. Consequently there is more to 'play for' in the game beyond the first 2 or 3 turns. It also means that support weapons can play their correct role. Units can be 'softened up' so that they are more likely to fail a nerve test later in the turn, or they can be 'prepared' for a later assault within the turn.
We will play Warpath 2.0 again. We feel that this is a game shaping up to replace Warhammer 40K on our gaming table.