Mark Latham, (previously responsible for work on such titles as: the Batman Miniature Game, Marvel Universe Miniatures Game, Sedition Wars, Star Wars: Edge of Empire RPG, The Walking Dead and Kings of War 2nd Ed) so not really that big a deal talks about writing the rules for armoured syndicate. both the Batman Miniatures Game and the Marvel Universe games are great and Kings of War 2nd edition is just going from strength to strength so you know this ruleset is going to have some legs on them.
Mega-corp boss Ben has asked me to spill the beans on the Armoured Syndicate game, and as he put a phased plasma pistol to my head, it was hard to refuse…
The game mechanics are still very much in progress, but like all my projects I started with an exciting ‘hook’, and then tried to work out the big themes – what does a typical force look like, how should a typical game play, how long should it take, how do you win, etc.
The hook for this game was really easy, because the guys at Megaton already had such a strong idea for the setting and miniatures line, that it almost wrote itself. Essentially, this game hinges on the use of corporate tactics to gather resources for your faction. During the game, you must take every opportunity to turn your actions into cash money – seize vital objectives like tech caches, power nodes, mines and server banks; convert your mechs’ energy into bankable units; steal your opponent’s hardware; negotiate deals with enemy models… all of these tactics represent a greater income than simply killing the enemy. The art is knowing when to risk raising funds, and when to go in all guns blazing in order to protect your assets.
More important than wounds in this game is Loyalty (often thought of as morale). As the game progresses, Loyalty ebbs and flows into one of three coloured zones on your character record card. If you’re in the green zone, your model is rock steady and is unlikely to waver. In the amber zone they’re open to negotiation, and might turn a blind eye to enemy movements (or be slightly easier to hack if they’re a mech). In the red zone, things are pretty dire – they’ve had enough of fighting, and might not act as you want them too if the enemy make them a good enough offer. Mechs can suffer hits to their loyalty too – you might over-exploit them for resources, which makes them mistrust the company directives, or they might be forced to disobey one of their prime directives by an unscrupulous hacker, and be filled with ‘remorse’ afterwards.
And how do you make offers? With that cash I mentioned earlier, of course. This is a game of near-future corporations, using dirty tactics that are almost as effective as the high-tech weapons they bring into play. If you have liquid assets, you can spend them to activate your models, hack enemy mechs, perform special abilities, or pay off enemies whose Loyalty is shaky. Of course, if you’re spending resources left and right, you’re not banking them. The only way to actually win is by having the most money in the bank when the game ends.
So this is all well and good, but what about the slice of carnage that we all enjoy? This is a wargame after all! Well, the game will obviously include plenty of combat options, and often the only way to rest a vital resource from the enemy’s hands is to bring the thunder, especially if the enemy in question is unswervingly loyal, like a Dromeda Executive, for example.
I’m currently going through the awesome backstories that Megaton have sent me, getting inspired to write all the special rules and character cards that make each model unique in the game. It’s really exciting to have so many possibilities for weapons, futuristic gear, cybernetic enhancements, dirty tricks and special abilities.
We’ve got everything from big robots that like to hit their enemies with gigantic sticks, to corporate assassins who’ve achieved transcendence and now only exist in the physical world by possessing mechs, friend and foe. It’s this variety, contained within comparatively compact forces, that’s making this game such a challenge and a joy to write.
Until next time,
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