Laserburn: Aftermath

Byakhee Rich & I played a game of Laserburn today (Weapons Factory), here’s some thoughts:

  • How do we play this game again ? (After 6 months)
  • Even after 30 years of playing them of and on, its still difficult to follow the rules. They’re all in the rule book but just not in a logical or sensible order – they need editing.
  • Setting up gang rosters – we forgot to amend Initiative stats for the weapons and armour
  • Initiative, surprising how big an effect the modifiers had
  • Game was dominated by the three guys who had a chance to hit anything (it would have been four, but he got shot in the face in the second round)
  • Anybody of regular skill level with an inaccurate weapon can’t hit a barn door at 5 paces (cruel)
  • This affects tactics – I certainly wasted three guys who were flanking for most of the game and had little input
  • Cover isn’t much use
  • You’re harder to hit moving at walking pace
  • Move, shoot, move (into cover) is a good option
  • Out of sight is the best option (How not to be seen)
  • Being in the open is a death sentence, being out of sight is best because then you can’t be shot !
  • Take a chance (on me) and do the reaction roll (Rich got lucky on that many times…but when it really counted !)
  • Duckback ! Where the hell is that in the rules ? Turns out it is on p10, but we couldn’t find it when playing Grrr
  • Left leg – the most common location for being hit
  • Laserrs vs Armour = no damage
  • Morale & Unit coherence, applied by the players not the rules, maybe they need to be beefed up
  • Along with the deployment rules these are all missing because it is more like an adjunct to a RPG as opposed to a wargames system.

Next up, some photos of the game. 🙂

(Now editted for the typos, and a new link added)

6 Responses to Laserburn: Aftermath

  1. ruarigh says:

    Regarding your comments, I agree about your first point, but that is something that crops up with most rules I play. It always takes a game or two to get back into it.

    It may be cruel that normal shooters with inaccurate weapons cannot hit people at distance, but it feels right to me from a reality perspective.

    Move, shoot, move into cover seems like a real-world solution to not getting shot, so that works too. Likewise, standing around in the open is generally not a good idea in a firefight.

    You must have been rolling high to get all those left leg hits! We have found in the past that there are often runs of hits on the same location in our games. It’s just weird happenstance.

    I’m not sure I get your comment about morale and unit coherence. The rules are there for both, and you pay a premium for characters than can act on their own, so it should be ok, unless you think that the distance between figures needs to be shorter.

    I’m not sure Laserburn needs deployment rules adding, although it would not be hard to add them. For me, Laserburn comes from an older tradition, where more is expected of the players, such as setting up scenarios. I realise that Laserburn states that they were developed as an adjunct to an RPG, but the point on pp. 2-4 about setting up scenarios is a good one. In this respect, they are not much different from Stargrunt and other rules systems that do not give you any real guidance on force composition and expect you to set the game up yourself.

    One thing you have not included in your comments is the number of modifiers. I have always wondered if it would be possible to reduce that list by incorporating some of them into the main weapon stats or onto the character sheet, e.g. as a marked up change to the WS if the character is wearing armour that reduces their chance to hit. Also, with wounds, you might allow space on the character sheet to make changes when the character takes a wound that reduces their chance to hit. Basically, redesigning the character sheet to accommodate this stuff could help speed up play, as might putting the wound penalties onto the damage chart, so that they are recorded directly on the character sheet rather than being remembered and applied each time you fire.

    Another option to improve play would be laying out the QRS in a more logical and clearer manner. Steve and I usually comment that QRSs are the biggest failing of many games.

    For the rest, restructuring the rule book and providing an index would be a great help, as would sorting out typos and errata. There is not actually anything more than I have mentioned that I would want changing though. One of the things that I could imagine others wanting to change is the ‘variation per metre’ on firing. That is also one thing that I love about the game. It just feels so right and much better than range bands.

    Looking forward to the battle report and newly re-enthused about Laserburn thanks to you. I think I need to finish painting the robots for Sea Prison Siege next.

    • Yes, the stand around in the open option is not an option for continued life and that is a totally realistic (non) option as shown by real life experience in Iraq/Afghanistan etc.

      I think my problem about deployment rules is their total absence, so we should have a range of them to help the umpire write the scenario so it isn’t just a toe to toe scenario every time, sometimes it can be head to head for some !

      The left leg option is a bit of a standing joke for our group as we often roll that hit location. We did this time remember roll to hit location before penetration.

      As for modifiers, we don’t have a problem with them, but then I think we (the main flock of Byhakees) are all science graduates so we are mathematically competent, and as we play math-hammer are able to do a lot of maths in our heads without recourse to calculators or pen and paper. That said….any options to reduce the modifiers would be welcome, not least because it might prevent us from taking off our socks to add things up. 😉

      • ruarigh says:

        Ah, there’s your problem, then. You should have a dress code of sandals with no socks for Laserburn games. That way you would not have to take your socks off! 😉

        With the modifiers, it is not the maths, so much as it is remembering to include all the right ones. Going through the list each time can be tedious. Recording the permanent modifiers on the character sheet would permit a reduction in the length of the list, thus making the game play more quickly, I hope.

        Thinking about deployment, one of my biggest gripes with games that I come to new, is a lack of guidance on table size. Trying to work out what size battlefield will give you the optimum mix of manoeuvre and getting into the action quickly can be tricky and lead to poor games, if there is no guidance. Thinking that way, a few scenarios would really help. It might even be just an attack/defence game and an encounter battle. King of the hill would be a good one for a death match style game too. Keeping the scenarios basic would help people apply their own chrome to the scenarios.

        The left leg option sounds a bit like the Aftermath games we played, where all players bought the best armour for hit location 14 (I think that was the number), which was the groin.

  2. There will be no sandal wearing in my abode thank you very much ! 😉

    Re Modifiers, yes, will have to design the character sheet to record base initiative, and then modified initative.

    WRT deployment, the lack of guidance is the big bugbear. We were playing on a 4×4 table, which may be a bit on the large side, only experience will inform me of what size table I need to use really. from comments after other games, I’ve increased the amount of clutter on the table as it was too open and therefore too brutal.

    The lack of scenarios is also an issue, hence I have started to add them to the blog as I write them up. Ironically, I am using the Rogue Trader book to generate ideas.

    • ruarigh says:

      The problem with table size in Laserburn is the ranges of the different weapons. If you have a crew armed with Glocks and SMGS, then the optimum table size will be smaller than if you are playing a military encounter with Heavy Bolters and Rapid Fire Support Lasers. Terrain makes a difference too. I do think that most modern games do not include enough terrain on the table.

      Looking at the ranges and movement rates, I would think that the table should probably be at least 50cm across to put both sides at extreme range if deploying on their baselines, although you might decide that long range is far enough in some cases. If you make it 2′, then a running figure will cross the table in three turns and a walking figure in six turns, which ought to mean a couple of turns of manoeuvre before the carnage begins. Perhaps you could opt for a standard table of 3′ x 3′ with forces deploying up to 6″ in from their base edge for the encounter battle. This gives you 2′ between the two forces at start and allows a bit more space for the use of grav bikes and hover boards. I think the last game I played that used vehicles was on a 4′ x 3′ table. That worked well because the vehicles had longer movement rates, hence my suggestion of 3′ between base lines.

      With this in mind, here are a few scenario suggestions:
      Encounter battle 1: 3′ x 3′ table. Both sides deploy up to 6″ in. Deployment is done in reverse initiative order, so the best troops deploy last. That saves writing deployment down.

      Encounter battle 2: 2′ x 2′ table. Both sides enter from off-board using the standard initiative rules.

      Attack/defence battle: 3′ x 3′. Defender deploys first up to half way across the table. Three objective markers are placed on the defender’s side of the table before deployment. The attacker nominates the objectives. The defender assigns values of 10, 20 and 30 victory points secretly to each. The winner is the player with the most victory points at the end. Casualties could also count for victory points, so it will probably be necessary to make the victory points values a percentage of the total budget that each player has. Winner is the player with the most victory points at the end of the game.

      King of the Hill: 3′ x 3′. 2-4 players. Each player sets up at the centre of their table edge. An objective (hill, tall building, big landmark) is placed in the centre of the table. The winner is the player that can hold the objective for three full turns without another player being in/on it during that time.

      Another option is to look at the published scenarios. They take place on a battlefield the size of an A3 sheet of paper and are very playable.

      That’s a few more thoughts. I should probably post this lot to the Laserburn group to see if I can get any feedback on there.

      • Yes, I think a collective brain storming session on deployment, table size etc would be helpful and point newbies in the right direction. I don’t think the 4×4 table was too big, and it made for movement being an important issue (along with concentration of force).

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