Rules Review: Crusade of Fire Part 1

As you know, I've been gone for a bit. Apparently, this happened when I wasn't looking. Or perhaps it just wasn't given a massive fanfare while I was here, I'll never know. Either way, GMW has released a new campaign book, which, for those who don't remember the old ones (myself included) is a book that contains a campaign. To alienate you further, this one is for use with the Planetary Empires expansion, which again you may not be aware exists due to the lack of fanfare.

Thankfully for you then, GW has included a shedload of enticing tidbits within the book to lure you in. And those things are what this article is mainly going to be on. Because if you're going to entice people with tidbits they'd better be bloody good tidbits. Especially since this book costs £25, approximately half the cost of your average university textbook. Jump cut.

I will say a brief few things about the campaign bit though. This massively expands on the tiny amount we were given to work with in the Planetary Empires book and even gives you campaign-orientated Warlord Traits, which is a nice touch of realism. Well, I say realism, but what I mean by that is it's more realistic if Lord Immaboss Skullthrasher XIV has a trait that contributes to winning the campaign as a whole rather than a single battle. There's even a nod back to Rogue Trader in the form of a rough set of guidelines for GM'ing a campaign.

Anyway, let's speed through the book. Fluff, new missions I won't touch on for no reason, pretty models, aha, here we are, page 72 of 96. Here's where my work starts.


Do you and your gaming buddies now have a giant slew of flyers? Well, unless that flyer is a Heldrake with a Baleflamer, a word I still struggle to type properly, these rules are for you. If your flying plastic brick ends your Movement Phase within 12" of an enemy flying plastic brick, you can play what essentially boils down to a slightly more complicated round of best-of-three Rock Paper Scissors. Or Paper Scissors Stone, depending on which one you shout last louder than the other two to try to psychologically shock your opponent into choosing that one.

As is GMW tradition, to play this game of random chance, you must play another game of random chance, a roll-off, with modifiers as is the norm. Win, and you Dogfight, lose, and you can't shoot, which conveniently gives your opponent a chance to fly behind you to get a better modifier, which is nice.

The actual Dogfight, as I mentioned, is resolved by three rounds of Rock Paper Scissors, in which the Attacker and Defender choose from 3 different tactics each. The rules suggest hiding dice with a number corresponding to your chosen tactic, but I say go with the real spirit of the rule and say Tactic 1-2 is Rock, Tactic 3-4 is Paper and Tactic 5-6 is Scissors. Much less kerfuffle than messing with cups.

In each round, you each choose an option, reveal them and then consult the chart of 9 resulting possibilities. The rounds are technically divided into Pursuit, Lock-On and Destroy, but since on all tables at least 3 options involve firing a weapon at the Defender, it's more of a distinction between rounds than genuinely different things.

The tables themselves are a fairly nice balance of risk/reward. The defending player's tactics generally give a 'safe' option that may help them stay alive and a 'risky' option that has a 1/3 chance of letting you fight back but a 2/3 chance of being shot at. Especially notable is the Destroy round, where the Attacker's options are:
  • Try to shoot one weapon, which has a 1/3 chance of a null round.
  • Try to prevent the enemy shooting next turn, which has a 1/3 chance of a null round.
  • Try to shoot all your weapons, which has a 1/3 chance of being shot at yourself instead.
At the same time, the option that lets the Defender counter-attack an all-out offensive has no protection against the other two tactics. It's definitely not a no-brainer, which is the main worry with these types of multiple-path systems, so I like this. You even get a bonus Victory Point for downing an enemy plane in a Dogfight, which means using this rule could actually be worth it.

There is only one Flyer in the game that doesn't like these rules, and that's the Heldrake with Baleflamer I mentioned earlier, due to having no eligible weapons it can shoot. But since the unit wasn't built for that anyway, it isn't a big deal.

I've gotten up to vaguely the 750 word mark, so I think I'll save the rest for another day.