Buenos dias folks. Time to delve a bit deeper into the steamy lands of Ulaya for part two of Learnin’ The Drowned Earth Beta 1.0. In the first part of the series we discussed the basics of the game a bit on the fluff and the basic d10 mechanics that drive the system. Today who knows what we’ll get through but I imagine it’ll be Turn Structure, Action\Activations maybe more.
Let’s run through Game Setup to begin. The first step is to gather your crews by building them to a specified points value. Looks like the recommendation is 150 to 200 points. Both players choose a faction and build their list. There was a note earlier in the book about mirror factions. Since the Narrative element is strong in this game it’s not recommended to play mirror type lists. Where both opponents take Artefactors for example. This also makes some since in the fluff as Ana above wouldn’t fighting some other Ana to escape the jungle with the old world treasure she found. No! She’d be fighting the The Firm (think jungle gangsters). Once the lists are made mutually agree on one of the provided 5 skirmish scenarios or choose randomly. The third step in the process is the board itself. ‘The more scenery the better’! Think infinity level here with many levels, ledges and walkways. All mushed together the scenery should fill 1/3 of the table at least with varying heights and plenty of 4-6″ gaps for jumping (or falling through let’s be honest the dice normally hate me). All this facilitates more space for your models to shoot from or hide behind. Open boards make for a fatal quick game. That’s not really the ‘theme’ of this ruleset though. It wouldn’t be The Drowned Earth without water elements! They recommend 1/4 of the table being water at least. Looking at you bottle of water effects on the top shelf of the modeling closet. But this will come into play because unlike any game I’ve seen models can swim and stop in the swimming state. So the tables set and your crews are ready. Time for the initiative roll.
Ro roll for initiative both players roll d10, the lowest can take the initiative or grant to their opponent. Whomever gets it is to decide which deployment zone by deploying first. The player who doesn’t have initiative can deploy second. (this is a vital stage in some games, eyeing your opponents placements and mulling over possible counters.) Some models have special deployment rules and they’re set aside. Deployment zones are 4″ from the board edge. I’ve not seen any notes on the size of the board for this game but I’m guessing 3×3? After both crews are deployed models with special deployment rules can be deployed too.
The turn structure is broken out into three phases. Initiative, Activation and Cleanup. In the first phase, initiative is decided in the way we discussed above. After that both players give each model APs equal to the models first AP characteristic. ‘Downed’ models are not granted any. Players should denote this AP allocation by setting counters or beads near their miniatures on the table. This allows both players to see what has activated easier.
Activation time kids! The active player chooses a mini (one of theirs of course) and spends it’s AP on things and stuff. Models don’t have to use all of their AP, their activation is over when they run out or their controlling player declares the end of the activation. Their opponent then does the same thing for one of their characters. Rinse and repeat until there are no more characters with AP left to spend. If a model finishes it’s activation with left over AP leave it on the model because there are certain game situations that allow the model to spend this taking ‘Reactions’ a la infinity the game or Afterglow style perhaps? The third and final phase is cleanup during which any unspent AP are lost. (Is the plural of AP AP’s or is that the possessive so the plural would be AP haha questions for a grammar teacher.) Once AP are cleared scenario or model specific ‘End of Turn’ events are done. There may be tokens and templates to be removed as well as pass tokens. More on that stuff later I’m assuming. Record the turn number with a big die off to the side or some method and return to the initiative phase. The next chapter in the book is related to Actions and Activations themselves.
This section is going to get a bit lengthy but I’ll do my best to be concise. Stick with me folks as we uncover how models are actually doing all the things we’ve been alluding to. If play passes to you and you’ve got no AP left for a model then declare a pass and it goes back to your opponent. Each action is 1 AP, it’s spent as the action is declared. There are 6 actions to choose from in TDE and there are no limits on how many of each a model can choose to spend AP on. The six are Move, Shoot, Close Combat, Dodge, Skill Action and Interact. Remember each model can chose to end it’s activation with remaining AP but it will not get another activation that turn and the AP will be wasted if the model doesn’t take a reaction before the end of the current turn. Reactions are ‘out of activation’ actions and we’ll cover them in due time.
First a brief not on the order of events. It’s not so linear in that first one action must be complete before the second one can be taken. For example a model taking a move action may spend 1 AP to run past an alley guarded by The Firm, in the middle of his movement he can spend his second AP to shoot down the alley. To better understand this example let’s touch on Movement Action in general. There are seven types of movement, all movement that requires a test is called ‘Dynamic Movement’. If you recall the speed value of each character is stated as two numbers and the speed you use depends on whether or not you Pass the roll or Nailed It.
As long as you have the speed remaining different types of movement can be combined like running and leaping off an edge. Speaking of ‘Run’ that’s the first of the movement types. Running doesn’t require a test, think open ground unimpeded movement. This action is always performed at the models Nailed It speed value (the second one on the stat block). Next we’ve got Swim something I’ve not seen in a miniatures game yet! Swim can be done to move at the models Pass speed (first number) through water too deep to wade through. If you combine Swim with a Run action like running into the ocean perhaps the model can only move up to it’s pass value in speed total. So in a way movement needs to be declared and assessed before the model is moved.
Next on the Movement possibilities list we’ve got yoga! Nope, just kidding it’s ‘Prone’ for 1 inch of movement models can go prone during a move action. Then we’ve got ‘Traverse’ this is like running but over uneven ground or that which requires balance and care to cross. The action requires an Agility Test to determine the results. It may fall and take damage on one extreme or succeed and get an extra bonus AP on the other extreme. Next is ‘Leap’, think running from one object to the other as long as the gap is more than an inch and the destination object is no more than 3 inches higher than the origin object. My bad for the jargon/patois check out this chart for a visual aide before we cover the last two movement options.
We’ve got ‘Jump Down’ up next, when a model can jump down from something 1-3″ if the test is passed the movement is free and they can continue on with the action. Like Traverse there are various outcomes to Blundering or passing this test. The final option is to Climb, models can move up or down the side of an object. Climbing is always an option when it comes to Jumping Down so choose your level of caution there. An Agility test is used for both to determine the level of success.
Movement is a huge deal in this and all miniature games so it’s great to see this kind of detail. It especially adds to the narrative feel of the game. You may be wondering how to measure or prepare for movement if you don’t know which speed you’ll be using. The basic principle is to decide where\how to move with the second movement characteristic the Nailed it value. Next make the first test if any for dynamic movement. Then move the model as many inches as you can along the movement path declared previously. We’ll go through some movement examples when I actually get some models and dice on the table.
These interesting movement rules lead to two more things to discuss. The first being that declaring a move action with some dynamic move at the end of a movement may mean the character doesn’t actually get to the dynamic movement part without a ‘Nailed It’ result. The other but is legal resting points. It’s necessary to define these on your table before the game. As a model can only finish it’s movement on a legal resting place. A model may end it’s movement while swimming, climbing, traversing, running or prone. If the physical model doesn’t fit then place it as close as possible to the target, when drawing LoS to models like this it may be necessary to hold the model up in the position to determine what can be seen.
That’ll wrap up this entry of the series. We’ll get to Combat Actions, Reactions and perhaps Terrain in the next article. Head on over to the twitter and follow me @vorgames and The Drowned Earth @TheDrownedEarth . I believe we’ll be setting up an interview with James the creator and writer of the game down the road here.