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Author Topic: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?  (Read 2300 times)

Offline Hobgoblin

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Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« on: December 01, 2021, 09:46:35 PM »
As my 28mm Alien Squad Leader project chugs along (another four elements put together during coffee breaks today), I'm wondering what other sci-fi games use square element basing. Alien Squad Leader is designed for 15mm, using 50mm square bases. I'm keeping everything the same except the figure scale (so two or three 28mm figures per element rather than four or five 15mm ones).

I hope to have several modest armies ready to go this month. But are there any other sci-fi games that use similar basing that I should be thinking about trying out too? I'll probably use some of the primitive elements for Mayhem at some point - in fact, I've been using bases that I originally bought for a Mayhem project.

I really like the look and feel of the 50mm-based "mini-units", so I'm hoping that there are some other games worth trying out with them.

Any pointers much appreciated!

Offline Cypher226

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2021, 10:15:23 PM »
Tomorrow's War can be played multi-based.  Not an easy game to lay hands on though.

Alternatively Critical Mass' rules (now OOP) I think.

I may have copies of both (plus the add on book for TW) I'm looking to move on...

Offline Storm Wolf

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2021, 08:22:47 PM »
Tomorrow's War can be played multi-based.  Not an easy game to lay hands on though.

Alternatively Critical Mass' rules (now OOP) I think.

I may have copies of both (plus the add on book for TW) I'm looking to move on...

Critical Mass rules can be bought through Ral Partha I believe

Unfortunately I just checked, minis only now I believe :(

Glen

Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane.

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2021, 10:08:15 PM »
Tomorrow's War can be played multi-based.  Not an easy game to lay hands on though.

In hardcopy, I guess.  Pdf is on Wargames Vault, only $20 normally, on sale right now for $10.

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2021, 10:17:58 PM »
Thanks, all!

What happened to Tomorrow's War? It was an Osprey book at one stage, was it not?

Ditto Critical Mass - I thought the rules had been sold to Ral Partha Europe long ago. It's odd that they seem to put a lot of effort into promoting the game but no longer sell the rules.

Does anyone have any observations on how those games play and what their strengths and weaknesses are?

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2021, 11:04:48 PM »
Thanks, all!

What happened to Tomorrow's War? It was an Osprey book at one stage, was it not?

Osprey published it, but the rights to the game stayed with Ambush Alley.  Beyond that I couldn't say what happened, but AAG is still selling a pdf version that requires a copy of Force On Force to play (so I assume it's not the same document as the Osprey hardcover, which was a stand alone book) and the By Dagger or Talon supplement in both pdf and POD formats.  The game got a kind of mixed but generally positive reception IIRC, with the main complaint being that the way the book was edited/laid out made it hard to grasp the gameplay without help from someone who was already familiar with it.  Maybe the current pdf fixed that, I know AAG had said they were working to make it easier to get into at one point long ago.  The publishing deal with Osprey might prevent them from offering the rules as a POD, but that's just a wild guess.

FWIW I quite liked the rules, although after the first bloom faded I still found myself preferring Stargrunt, partly for clarity and partly from long familiarity (which kind of feed into one another).  Dagger or Talon was quite a good expansion, though. 

Quote
Ditto Critical Mass - I thought the rules had been sold to Ral Partha Europe long ago. It's odd that they seem to put a lot of effort into promoting the game but no longer sell the rules.

Anyone in the industry will tell you minis earn a better money than rules even when they don't have a "native" rules system to use with, and even (for now, so far) in today's age of 3d home printing.  RPE isn't really a publishing house, they mostly just make minis - and the CM stuff probably has a market with generalist 15mm scifi rules - like Stargrunt and tomorrow's War, among many others.

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2021, 11:21:41 PM »
Thanks, Rich. I'll certainly bear Tomorrow's War in mind if Alien Squad Leader doesn't live up to its high reputation (though I'm confident it will - the army lists are a delight, and the game has been around and in print for a while, which is always a good sign).

Anyone in the industry will tell you minis earn a better money than rules even when they don't have a "native" rules system to use with, and even (for now, so far) in today's age of 3d home printing.  RPE isn't really a publishing house, they mostly just make minis - and the CM stuff probably has a market with generalist 15mm scifi rules - like Stargrunt and tomorrow's War, among many others.

Yes, that's certainly true. I have quite a few Critical Mass 15s myself. But if the company owns the game, it's odd that it doesn't even have it available as a PDF - especially as it describes the game on the front page of its website! Perhaps there's some rights wrangle there too or something.

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2021, 11:40:01 PM »
But if the company owns the game, it's odd that it doesn't even have it available as a PDF - especially as it describes the game on the front page of its website! Perhaps there's some rights wrangle there too or something.

I suppose they might not have gotten the files, just the minis.  It's also possible they have them but don't know it, or know where they are.  Not to dismiss RPE, but they seem a bit disorganized from the outside.  For ex, I contacted them about their Noble Armada starship range when they got it from Mongoose years ago and they told me the rest of the minis that weren't on the store were somewhere in the pile of molds and masters they'd gotten in the deal and they'd be putting them up when they figured out what was what.  That was more than half a decade ago now and nothing's changed.  Either the gent I was trading emails with was wrong, or Mongoose only gave them some of the range, or there's still a big pile of molds somewhere still awaiting attention.

Offline fred

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2021, 07:50:33 AM »
I dont think this really fits the specifics of your question Hobgoblin, but it does fit the title of the post - so putting it out there in case it helps anyone else.

GWs Epic (and the many variants of it) are element based - but at a much smaller size of base and scale of figures. Infantry bases are either 25mm square or 40mm by 12mm rectangles with 4-6 figures (6mm).

Offline LazyStudent

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2021, 07:54:32 AM »
HOTT will work with square bases. As long as the bases are the same frontage. It is not exactly a Sci-fi game, but we find it always gives a good game with a lot of decisions.
"History is a set of lies agreed upon.
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Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2021, 08:27:46 AM »
I dont think this really fits the specifics of your question Hobgoblin, but it does fit the title of the post - so putting it out there in case it helps anyone else.

GWs Epic (and the many variants of it) are element based - but at a much smaller size of base and scale of figures. Infantry bases are either 25mm square or 40mm by 12mm rectangles with 4-6 figures (6mm).

Ah - now that's an interesting point! The only version of Epic that I've played was the original Adeptus Titanicus - I think we played it after infantry had been introduced, though I can't remember how they worked.

HOTT will work with square bases. As long as the bases are the same frontage. It is not exactly a Sci-fi game, but we find it always gives a good game with a lot of decisions.

Yes - I'm a massive HOTT enthusiast, and it's probably the game we play most (chiefly the D3H2 variant now). Oddly enough, some of the elements in my Alien Squad Leader project started life as a "40K HOTT" project that I started before lockdown to introduce some friends to the game. I've since introduced them to HOTT with more traditional armies, so I've been recycling the elements into Alien Squad Leader.

With the rules as written, sci-fi HOTT would certainly be a good game, but it would be very 'zoomed out'. I was using 40K orks as warband and space marines as blades, so bolter fire would have been part of close combat.

I've been wondering if Mayhem might be tweakable for sci-fi. The weapon ranges are short, with 20" the maximum (i.e. you roll d20 to hit and need to make the distance to the target in inches to hit), but for sci-fi weapons, this could be tweaked to d20 +10 or d20 +20 - so that close range offers a "killing zone" in which the damage roll would apply automatically. The overdrive rule would still allow units to storm through fields of fire when the command points were available.

Offline Sir_Theo

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2021, 09:11:18 AM »
Mantic make a mass battle sci fi game that uses elements called Warpath. I have not played it so no idea what its like but the rules are free on their website so maybe worth a look?

Offline Hobgoblin

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2021, 09:49:57 AM »
Thanks for the tip! I've just had a look, and it seems that the first edition of Warpath did use elements, but it now uses individual figures. I'll download the rules and take a look anyway, though.

Offline Chief Lackey Rich

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2021, 12:12:47 PM »
The mention of Epic belatedly reminds me that GW did a 28mm scale element-based variant of 40K a few years back.  It was called 40K Apocalypse and while I think it's already OOP and doubt it's of much interest compared to ASL, there's a review here if you want to take a look:

https://www.goonhammer.com/warhammer-40000-apocalypse-review-and-unboxing/

Never tried it but it doesn't seem to have been very popular or lasted very long.

Offline fred

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Re: Element-based sci-fi games apart from Alien Squad Leader?
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2021, 12:22:53 PM »
Im not sure 40k Appocalyse was element based - but as it treated each unit as a single entity, it could easily have been. It was an interesting game, and we stole some ideas for our home brew rules. Probably the main one was that whilst hits were applied to units within the normal phasing, the effect of those hits was only evaluated in the end phase. So your unit might get shot up early on, but could then still conduct its actions.

This stopped a lot of the alpha strike nonsense that often dominates 40k.

 

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