Nuclear Renaissance Game Report and Review
Last week the post-apocalyptic wargaming bug bit the club pretty hard, so we cleared our schedules to play a game we've been interested in for quite some time: Nuclear Renaissance.
This title from Ramshackle Games is a gang-based skirmish game that's particularly well-suited to multiplayer games. That's great for us, as our club nights tend to have an irregular number of players from week to week. For last week's game, we had 5 players, so we decided to bite the bullet and run a post-apoc free-for-all game using Nuclear Renaissance.
We met at Josh's house and put together a fairly epic 4x8 foot tabletop featuring a tumbledown industrial area alongside a wooded settlement. Here's a pic of the setup:
Looks like a great place to battle, right? We played a variation of the classic "Scavenger Hunt" scenario, with 10 little pieces of lost tech hidden all over the battlefield (most inside buildings or atop balconies, to encourage some mobility.
Nuke Ren is a single-figure activation game, where the players roll initiative and then take turns activating individual figures. Typical actions are move, shoot, drive, etc. Unlike games like Warhammer 40,000, vehicles don't come with a crew or pilot ... if you want your truck to move, you have to have a guy behind the wheel! Same with that sweet machinegun on top ... it won't fire unless a member of your warband is in the turret!
What this meant is that my warband (5 guys plus a buggy) was actually three guys once I got the buggy fully staffed with a driver and a gunner. Here's my team -- keep in mind that two of these guys basically weren't on the table for most of the game, since they were aboard the buggy and thus didn't need to be represented on the tabletop.
So anyway, that's something to keep in mind about Nuke Ren.
As the game progressed, each player's gang advanced toward a few of the scavenger tokens on the battlefield. Figures walk 10cm or run 20cm, and with such a large battlefield we found that our guys weren't mobilizing very quickly.
In contrast to the fairly short movement rates of infantry, vehicles proved much more mobile. This seems to be by design, probably to encourage vehicles to race around the battlefield on taxi runs.
As the vehicles moved into the center of the battlefield, we discovered the true potency of ranged firearms in the game. Such weapons are quite expensive in Nuclear Renaissance, accounting for half (or more!) of a typical figure's point value. But they're also quite powerful, and most have extremely long ranges. My assault rifle had a range of 80cm, longer than our fastest vehicle could move in a typical turn!
What this meant is that the few gangs that had assault rifles and sniper rifles were able to really rule the battlefield, despite what we thought was a pretty cluttered tabletop. Mike's troopers climbed a ruined building and took potshots from the upper-story windows...
....while my sniper scaled a warehouse and used his rifle's incredible 200cm range (why not just make it infinite?!) to rain fire down on Josh's squad.
As the game progressed, little mini-battles developed around various buildings as players fought for control of the scavenger tokens. In these two pics, Karl's wastelands raiders skirmished with Mike's troopers around the base of the high-rise. Later you can see Karl's chaingunner atop a ruined building, ready to seize another piece of lost tech.
Toward the end of the game, Josh wanted to try out the vehicle ramming rules, and he picked the only other vehicle nearby as his victim -- alas, it was my buggy! The ramming rules were fairly straightforward, and Josh reduced my buggy to a heavily damaged (but still driveable) wreck.
We agreed that Nuke Ren was a lot of fun. Trying to play a 5-player multiplayer game while also learning a new ruleset was probably a bad idea, as we only got through 5 turns before we had to wrap up for the night.
The size of the battlefield meant that we never even got close enough to try the close combat rules, which is a bummer considering that the game seems heavily slanted in favor of close combat.
The best part of the game is probably the well-developed vehicle section. We have lots of post-apoc vehicles in our collection, so we've been really excited to try Nuke Ren and get them all on the battlefield.
The suggested point size in the rulebook is 650 points, but in practice that gets you maybe 4-6 figures plus a vehicle, so we'll almost certainly bump the gang point total up to 1000 for future games. We'll also shrink the table size down to either 4x6 feet or 4x4 feet for most games. All in all, the game is totally playable and we'll doubtless give it another run-through in the near future. Stay tuned!
-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member