Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gaming: AT-43 A New Option Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my in-depth look at Rakham Entertainment's AT-43 system.  Last week we took a quick look at the Universe of AT-43, so this week, let's take a look at the rules.

The Rules

Thankfully, the rules of AT-43 are very simple, easy to learn, and contain almost no ambiguity (even though some of the earlier translating work was a bit spotty).  While the British sensibilities for flavor pepper 40K’s rules, the French need for simplicity and clarity make this a much easier game system to work in (even if the fluff is slightly ridiculous).

Like 40K, AT-43 works on points-based missions and scenarios, though there are a lot fewer models in a 2000 point army here than in 40K as most basic infantry squads run about 200 points or more.  Terrain is handled using a combination of flat terrain maps, 3-D structures and models (mostly the ubiquitous shipping containers), and in many cases, weather can be more destructive than any other force in the game.  Once the scenario is determined, the forces are assembled, and the terrain established, the mission can begin.

Now, that we have addressed terrain, we should look at the anatomy of a game round.  Each Game Round is divided up into phases, with each phase containing a unit’s full suite of activations and abilities.  Phases include activation, moving, shooting, and assaulting, during which units can be given orders, referred to as combat drills.  An interesting concept here is that the unit can be utilized in any way the player desires, so long as the Assault command is the last thing that the unit does.  What is nice about AT-43 is that each phase includes only one unit’s activation per player, and players go, in order until all units have been activated (at which point a new Game Round starts).  
Prior to the beginning of each game round, all players take the cards representing their various units, turn them face down left to right in the order they wish to activate them, and count the number of activations.  This number is added to the leadership score of the army’s commanding officer to determine your leadership points (LP) for the round.  Players can wager up to their highest ranking officer’s Leadership in LP during the initiative test, and then players go in order from highest to lowest with each player taking one activation, in order from left to right, and continuing until no more units remain inactive.

Unit activation is easy, though not as straightforward as 40K.  Each unit that has an officer (i.e. a character rank 1 or higher) can be activated for free.  Units that have no officer can be activated by spending a leadership point.  Once activated, units may act out their phase, receive drills, and capture objectives, etc.

All units move in centimeters, and may move only up to their maximum move unless they are running (in which case they cannot shoot, but can still make assault attacks if their run leaves them close enough to use them).  Unlike 40K, in this system you can shoot, then move; move then shoot; or move-shoot –move, thus allowing more flexibility for the squad.  This flexibility means that a squad in cover can always jump out and then back again to narrow down the range.  In addition, rough terrain is not random, like in 40K, but rather the unit simply moves doubles the distance traveled over the terrain.  For example, if a Red Blok Krasnye Soldaty unit with a 14cm move wishes to traverse a 4cm area of terrain, they treat that area as being 8cm for measuring purposes, which leaves them with 6cm of move once they arrive on the other side of the terrain.

Shooting is resolved in a similar way, however instead of cm, we use Rackham’s customized range bands (found on the obverse of the official rulers, each one is equal to 10cm) and the dread Universal Table of Resolution (UTR).  Unlike 40K, where weapons have arbitrary fixed ranges, in AT-43 we measure squad leader to squad leader, determine the range band, subtract accuracy, and look at the value on the UTR.  We then role the appropriate number of d6’s, and any of these that roll equal or greater than the number on the UTR are considered impacts (against which cover saves apply if the targets are in cover).  Once impacts are calculated and cover saves made, the shooters then attempt to damage their targets by taking the weapon’s strength and subtracting the unit’s defense and getting an appropriate value on the UTR, then rolling (unless the shots are auto-kills).

Assault in 40K is a completely different animal from AT-43.  While 40K gives you an extra assault move to close with an enemy, AT-43 works it so that you can use your movement in whatever increments you want to end your unit within 2.5cm of an enemy unit for close combat.  Keep in mind, though, that only models within 2.5cm of an enemy model can attack in close combat, and defenders don’t get to hit back until they activate.

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