Rules Review: Crusade of Fire Part 2

Last time, I had a look at dogfights. Planes, not canines, you sick person, you. This time, I have a look at even more Flyer stuff, Daemon Worlds and Arena of Death. Onwards!

Special Manoeuvres

Free new special Flyer rules, as if they weren't good already. Notably, Eldar, Space Wolves and Tau get them even if they don't have real flyers yet. Each Flyer gets three characteristics, Ld, T and I, which are race-average (weirdly, Grey Knights are Ld8 despite being 10 for Fortitude), to test with. This isn't so much important except to give each of the two new manoeuvres a difficulty class. Some of them aren't great (Eldar and Necrons each get the same manoeuvre but it is easier for Necrons for some reason?), while others are awesome (Orks can take a T test to sacrifice a Hull Point to inflict D3 Penetrating hits on an enemy Flyer), so it's the usual GMW Mixed Bag O'Traits. Nothing exists for Daemons or Nids, of course.

Fighter Aces

What, the free new rules weren't enough? Well, pay 50 points and get a Warlord Trait! Sort of. It's a random choice of 3 options. Some of them are recycled between armies (pivot 180%, +1 Front Armour), but generally each race gets one unique thing (Resurrection Scythe anyone?). Of course, 50 points is a lot to pay for a random trait, so the effectiveness of each table is determined by how many of the things on it are worth 50 points. For example, +1BS for 50 points is bloody overcosted. Re-rolling To Hit rolls of only 1 is overcosted. The aforementioned Resurrection Orb with a 12" aura is worth it worth it worth it, being loads better than the Overlord one and not much more expensive. As is the 12" Relentless Aura Marines get.

My general idea is if 2 out of 3 are unquestionably worth it, it's passable. Therefore, the good tables are Space Marines, Space Wolves (who can't use theirs yet), Imperial Guard, Orks and Necrons (the Orb is really worth the punt). Weirdly, Black Templars get a table here but no Special Manoeuvres. I don't get this.

Daemon Worlds

Do you like Mysterious Terrain? This is Really Mysterious Terrain. Really Mysterious Fluffy Terrain With A Chance of Possession.

The Possession rules really make this set. They're a double-edged sword that give your units benefits for failing a harder Leadership check, but your opponent can remove any number of your counters to cause bad things to happen to you. Especially Nurgle. You do NOT want your unit to have 5 or more Nurgle counters unless you want to lose most of it. Thankfully that shouldn't happen too often unless you're Ld7 and unlucky.

Other than that, my standard opinion on randomness applies. There's also a scenario that makes your units even more frakked.

Arena of Death

Here, I confess, is the reason I picked up this book. I like one-on-one things, and this is an interesting spin. You see, a properly awesome narrative duel is hampered by the standard 40k rules by things like Instant Death weapons, natural Strength values, Armour, etc. These things make the outcomes of combat more black and white.

Arena of Death averts this by throwing everything south of the Charge sub-phase into the proverbial bucket and replacing it with its own system. It's pretty complicated, so I'll bullet point it for you.
  • First, some context. You get a predefined points limit to build your character, the book uses 150 as an average. Of course, it is possible to split this between multiple models, but that makes the next bit Even More Complicated.
  • In addition to your models, you have a hand of 6 Manoeuvre Cards. Each player has a 12-card deck containing one copy of each Manoeuvre, and the hand is drawn at random.
  • Once you are engaged in combat, each player selects a card from his hand and places it face down.
  • Each player then reveals their cards and rolls 2D6, to which about 500 modifiers are added, including Initiative, time of day, model facing, height of the model in millimetres, numbers on the Manoeuvre Cards, wind speed, GDP of the model's home planet and the dreaded Fuzzbuzzle Save*.
  • OK, I may have made a few of those up. But there are a lot of modifiers.
  • Whoever has the highest total after applying everything resolves the Major Effect of their card. If the other combatant is still alive after this, they apply the Minor Effect of their card.
  • Played cards remain in play to offer modifiers, but one can be recalled at the end of the phase. You can't recall the card you played that turn. A hand of 0 makes you lose by default, so it's important to recall.
  • Oh, and the success of your fancy moves makes your Roar of the Crowd (thankfully shortened to RoC) rating go either up or down. Generally, it will increase with a Major and decrease or stay the same with a Minor. If your RoC reaches the points cap of the match, you win by default. This will hardly ever happen in one-on-ones at 150, but in team matches it's important, as slaying a model earns you RoC points equal to its value.
*This is NOT to be confused with the Fuzzbuket save, which is taken when you are attacked by Red Pandas**.

**The animal species, not Marxist bamboo lovers.

This system encourages you to think ahead, which is nice, as your Manoeuvre cards give bonuses so long as they remain in play and some of them give negative modifiers. The randomness thing is annoying but you could just pre-select them depending on the natural traits of your fighter for extra roleplaying goodness. Oh, and even if there are a lot of modifiers, this is good, as if it were just 2D6 plus Initiative, some races would hardly ever get anything done.

The actual Manoeuvres are a mix of offensive, defensive and evasive. Therefore, you could try dodging or defending a lot to get loads of modifiers then go in for the kill, or try an initial offensive to end it before the opponent can get going, or anything you want. The game is nice like that.

Importantly, there is NO Instant Death here at all. The spectators want a good show, and this helps give it to them.

I like this set a lot. In a weird way, it reminds me of Munchkin, but with less potted plants. Must be the shedload of modifiers. It's also really easy to add your own Manoeuvres or construct a short Gladiator-style campaign, possibly with a running Roar of the Crowd as you gather more fame and 1000 points across all your fights granting you your freedom.

There, that's my thoughts on Crusade of Fire, as ever saying a lot without saying anything at all. Feel free to shout disagreement at me later. Signing off...

Oh wait, yeah, one last note. The cost. It's high. But a lot of the extra stuff looks fun, so it's probably worth it provided you have and use Planetary Empires, as I sort of do. If you want it purely for the extras, try to go second hand. Signing off for real, you hang up...

...Wait. There is one last thing.