It’s time for games day here at spalanz.com, and today sees a first look at the latest board game release from Games Workshop: Gangs of Commorragh!
First of all, I absolutely love the fact that I can say something like “the latest board game” in conjunction with GW. I picked this bad boy up on Friday, along with a few other reinforcements for my growing Dark Eldar army, and while I don’t think anybody is going to be picking this box up for the actual game, I nevertheless wanted to take a look at it from this perspective to see if it’s actually worthwhile getting even if you aren’t a Dark Eldar player.
Some obligatory background: I started collecting a Dark Eldar army just before New Year, and when this game was announced I was quite impressed. The box costs £35 retail, but comes with £79-worth of miniatures alone. That in itself is cause to really celebrate, I would say! However, while the main selling point for this game is undoubtedly going to be based on that saving, GW has been quite committed to marketing this as an actual boardgame for folks to play independently of the main 40k tabletop war game. I caught the last half hour or so of their live stream last week, where they were demonstrating the game, and I have to say, it did seem like it should be a pretty interesting experience!
So, first of all, you get the miniatures. Six reaver jetbikes and ten hellions. As I’ve said, it’s a better-than 50% saving, so you could get this box to bulk out a Dark Eldar force, albeit with miniatures that are regarded as sub-par on the tabletop, and we could stop there. However, Gangs of Commorragh is a pretty interesting game, from my read-through of the rules, and I think it’s actually worth your time to look into playing it for its own sake…
The game is for two players, who each control a “murder-pack” of Hellions and Reavers. The rulebook suggests that you start with a pack of either six Hellions or five Reavers, but it also includes rules to allow you to create your own pack that can actually be mixed model types. Packs are created and upgraded using a points system not unlike actual 40k (more on this later).
The game is played on a 3′ x 3′ battlefield, with cardboard terrain that signifies the sky-scraping towers of Commorragh. After deploying your murder-pack, the game begins with the players selecting hunters and quarry. Basically, a model can hunt another if it has that model in its front arc of 90º, and the hunted model has that hunter in its rear arc of 90º, and both are within 18″. Markers are used – much like the target lock markers in X-Wing – to denote those models which are Hunters and their respective Quarry. These models are then moved, the Quarry moving first, and the Hunter chasing after it.
The models have specific distances they can travel, and can choose to turn by using the semi-circular template either before or after they have moved. Once the Hunters and Quarry have moved, any remaining models can then also move, before it’s time for everybody to attack, with the first attacker determined through a roll-off.
The attacking player rolls 2D6 and compares the result to the agility value of the model he is attacking. If the roll equals or exceeds the agility value, then he scores a hit. He then looks on the reference chart against the weapon used, and rolls 2D6 again – the “kill roll” – and if he equals or exceeds the weapon’s kill value, the target is destroyed and removed from the board.
For example, let’s say I’m attacking a Hellion. The agility value is 8, so I need to roll 8+ in order to hit it. I roll a 10, so I score a hit! I then check the weapon I used – let’s say I was firing a Splinter rifle. I need to roll 10+ in order to kill that Hellion, but I get +1 to that roll because I’m targeting a Hellion (they’re more vulnerable), and I’d get another +1 if I were within 12″ thanks to the Splinter rifle’s special rule. I roll 11, modified to 12, so the Hellion is destroyed. Hooray!
It’s worth pointing out that a natural 2 is always a miss, and a natural 12 is always a hit.
If I had hit the Hellion, but missed on the Kill Roll, the Hellion takes one point of damage. While there are no hit/hull points in this game, damage reduces a models agility value by 1 and provides a +1 bonus to subsequent Kill Rolls made against it, so you effectively wear the model down over time. Damage is denoted by placing a marker next to the model, which I imagine would clutter up the board quickly unless the model is quickly killed off!
Battles continue until one side Breaks – either voluntarily, or by failing a Break Test at the end of the fight round. If a murder-pack has lost one third of its models during a fight round, roll a D6 – if the result is less than or equal to the number of models removed, then the murder-pack breaks.
Gangs of Commorragh features campaign rules to provide a really customised feel to the game, starting with the models that make up your murder-pack. You get 750 points to spend on your gang, with each model and weapon option having a points cost (which has no bearing on that weapon/model’s points cost in 40k, I might add!)
Campaigns are basically linked games of Gangs of Commorragh, with some rolls made on pre-fight and post-fight tables in the rulebook to determine things like what level of income or victory points you’re fighting for, and any special effects that take place during the fight. Income can be used to recruit new models into your gang, though you will only be able to fight with a murder-pack of between 3 and 10 models at any time. There are also rules for a campaign game where the rival gangs come together in one massive Skywar, though!
Gangs of Commorragh looks like it should be a really fun game!
It feels very much like it is intended to bring new gamers into 40k, with a lot of the basic concepts such as movement and line of sight, and even list-building involved. While the points costs have no bearing – if only an agoniser was +5 points to equip in 40k – things like cover saves, jinking and weapon ranges are all things that will prepare new players for making the move into 40k. While one copy of Gangs of Commorragh isn’t going to get them started with a decent army (the models represent just 226 points of models, unupgraded), I can see people getting their toes wet with this, before moving on with a Start Collecting box and maybe a Kabalite Skysplinter to get the basic combined arms detachment. Sure, that’s an additional £82.50 at retail, and you still need the Codex and rulebook, but there are definitely more expensive ways to build an army. (These sorts of hypotheticals always come down to what your meta is like, though; I would be perfectly fine with playing a game with someone who had the contents of this game and the above-mentioned add-ons, even if it’s nowhere near a competitive list. It’s small scale, and should be a great way to get used to the game, so why not?!)
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with how straightforward yet tactical the gameplay appears at first glance. It does actually seem like a really good game, not just worth getting for the models alone – in fact, in many ways it reminds me of X-Wing. And at this price, I don’t think anyone could really complain too loudly! Look out for more blogs once I’ve managed to both build my models, and hopefully start a campaign!