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"Broken Axles-After Action Report (long)" Topic


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308 hits since 12 Nov 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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DropKick197112 Nov 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

My group finally had a chance to play this game last Saturday. A very enjoyable experience. I ran the game so I tried to keep it as simple as possible. Even at less than ten pages of rules I like to introduce a game with a minimal number of rules and pieces as possible. So, I decided it was best to keep the game at four cars instead of the recommended five. I did mention boarding actions but the group didn't instigate any so we didn't have a chance to try those rules out. What we ended up with was a lot of ramming, spin-outs, car flipping, cars getting bumped into heavy terrain, some boom-sticks knocking out crews, cars catching fire, and some machine gun hits. I'm sure in future games we will see guys attempting to hijack other cars.

I supplied the forces for both teams. Building the teams was easy. It's a straight point buy system. I did find that I added more information to the car sheets because, like with most skirmish games I've played, it stops the questions of how much and chart referencing every turn. I'm sure after a few more games it won't be a problem but for example the sheet will list engine type. The type of engine, whether it's a V6, V8, or V12 affects the amount of maneuver dice you can roll. As a first-time player I just added the amount of dice to the sheet to prevent me having to turn to the chart every turn. Not a big deal for me because I do the same thing with Song of Blades and Heroes and Frostgrave.

The scenario I chose was the first one listed in the book. Just a straight up fight that lasted five turns. After the fifth turn it was pretty clear who the winner would be. Recommended length was not a problem. Even with one car less than recommended I still feel, that with the amount of terrain and cars, five wouldn't have added much time to the game which took about 2 hours. The time included me explaining the basics of the rules as well as playing the game.

Setting up the terrain was easy. Even though it took three dice roles it went quick enough. In fact, later in the game it added a good amount of suspense because terrain placement could easily end any hope you had of eliminating an opponent's car.

Beginning placement was similar to most games I've seen. You dice off for choosing which side and then alternate placing cars.

Initiative will look familiar. It's similar to other games. I did like the cumulative bonus. It added another factor into choosing how you would activate your cars. That bonus is a simple plus one every time you tried to activate the same car in successive attempts.

After activating the car, you would roll an amount of dice determined by engine type for a number of maneuver actions. Failures would result in mishaps to your car. Only one of the mishaps was a car killer and only if you chose to equipment your car with a nuclear engine. The mishaps added a tactical element we found fun namely with a peddle that stuck or over steering the vehicle. So, if you planned on finishing off a car by ramming it as it was spinning out of control you may find that if you fail an activation dice your accelerator is stuck meaning you couldn't move forward and rear end him. Mishaps lasted only for that turn.

Moving is simple. You only have three choices, forwards, backwards, or to the side. I love this because it eliminates the need for wonky turn templates or protractors. It kept the game flowing at a steady pace.

Combat is simple. If you have a gun and are in range it's just a dice role. Each weapon has a number of dice and each hit will result in one point of damage. Some weapons require a roll on a chart. It's simple enough and not overloaded with a bunch of special rules. We did through boomsticks and started fires with flamethrowers. I managed to put out my fire which required a roll on a chart.

We had a great time with ramming. Ramming was easy enough. Each car is an allotted an amount of dice to check with determined by the size of the car and the side of the car that is being rammed. The winner is the one that rolls the highest on one dice. So, your lighter cars that are spinning out of control can still possible win against a large car (except for a big rig. We haven't played those yet but I wouldn't recommend ramming those with a smaller car.) Damage is determined by car type, usually a d3.

We had a couple of cascading ramming attacks because terrain forced the cars to be clustered in a tight furball. It made for some laugh out loud moments when my chariot, the strongest car I had in the game, was forced into heavy terrain. Instant death for The Toecutter.

Ramming, combat, and boarding actions, aren't considered maneuver actions, so they can be done at any point you wish during your movement. The rules state that you can ram only one time per turn and have to roll your full complement of action dice but you don't have to use all the actions if you don't want to. It didn't say how many times you could shoot or through boomsticks so we just assumed that you could only do it once per turn. You have to have at least one crew man to fire a gun and that crewman couldn't perform any other crew actions for that turn. We didn't do much else with crewman so I can't say how the rules for crew actions play out.

After all of this came the terrain phase. To put it succintely….it moves. During the terrain phase the terrain is moved towards the back of the board by ten inches. Any car caught up in the terrain is considered to have crashed into it and either takes d6 of damage or is destroyed. I've never seen anything like it in any game I've played. Thunder Road has a floating board but nothing like Broken Axles. I loved it and I think this mechanic is what set's this rule set apart from any others.

I was afraid that the terrain would become overly fiddly due to the amount of dice rolling. Terrain requires four dice rolls; one for amount, one for type, one for lane, and one for the placement in the lane. After the first couple of turns it went smoothly and we ended up looking forward to it. Terrain would force us to adjust our tactics on the fly.

Let me talk about lanes a little. Lanes only come into play for terrain placement. The board is divided up into six lanes. Each lane is six inches wide. Light terrain is only three inches wide so you'll have to determine how the terrain is weighted. Heavy terrain is six inches wide so you don't have to worry about what side of the lane the terrain is on. Like I said, the additional die roles didn't impact the flow of the game and I found it to be one of the best parts of the game.

The game does have boarding actions but my group was having so much fun ramming into each other that we didn't get a chance to try those out.

We did find a couple of instances were good sportsmanship had to be used. The rules are not clear as to where distance should be measured in terms of movement. Since we were all used to measuring from the front of the base that's where we started most of our measuring from. Swerves were measured from the side of the vehicle. We decided that consistency is the main thing so as long as everyone measured the same way whatever we decided would work.

Another situation was the boomstick. The rules didn't explicitly state how one is aimed. Since the car is broken up into sections we decided that as long as the section is in range from the thrower that it was the throwers choice on what to hit. I think this was the spirit the author intended boomsticks to be played anyways.

I prefer this type of cooperation in a game. It keeps the number of rules down and makes every player a part of the solution so as to not leave room for rules nazification.

The only rule that irritated me was the driving skill rule. Driving Skill and the required roll are not the same number which requires referencing a chart when you need to check driving skill. I think would be easier to say that the driving skill is the same as the required roll.

All in all, we had a really good time with this game. Several references to Mad Max, Road Warrior, and Fury Road were thrown around. No one was declared the Aya Tolla of Rock and Rolla yet but it's only a matter of time. I would whole heartedly recommend this game to everyone. Simple, inexpensive, easy to get pieces for, and a lot of "o crap" moments.

Covert Walrus13 Nov 2017 3:01 a.m. PST

Interesting. Who publishes these rules?

warwell13 Nov 2017 4:20 a.m. PST

link

These rules are on my wishlist, and this review has increased my interest. Thanks!

Twoball Cane18 Nov 2017 4:35 a.m. PST

Nice read. Thanks

Terry3718 Nov 2017 7:49 p.m. PST

It does indeed sound very interesting, and worth getting. My question is, how do you advance down the road? What happens when you get to the end of the road?

I am also sure it would play just fine with 10 MM vehicles too, as I enjoy working in that scale for vehicles.

Thanks,

Terry

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