CSW tries “One Page” 40k. A 4 Player Battle Report.
Most of our club got their wargaming start with Warhammer 40k. Though almost all of us stopped playing several editions ago we still get the itch to bring out our 40k armies and do some gaming in the grimdark. We've tried Warpath 1.0, In The Emperor's Name, WarEngine/Shockforce, and even games of 2nd and 6th edition 40k. Our founding member-in-exile Pat has been playing played One Page 40k (1p40k) with his gaming group in Oregon, and last Thursday evening we tried it out for ourselves. The quotation marks in the title are deliberate because while definitely a very tight, rules-lite ruleset, it really does take more than one page of rules. More of our thoughts about the rules after the battle report.
Our game was a 4 player affair with:
- Imperial Guard (Mike) fielding a Leman Russ tank, a few squads of Guardsmen and a Stormtrooper Squad.
- Blood Angels (Karl) fielding Two Assault Squads and Two Death Company Squads, all with Jump Packs
- Eldar (Jon) Fielding a Fire Prism tank, two walkers and 2 squads of Howling Banshees
- Tau (Josh) Fielding 4 Crisis Suits, a Broadside, 2 Pathfinder Squads, and a Fire Warrior Squad
As this was our first game, we went for a straightforward team battle. 1P40k uses alternating unit activation but we had each team member activate units together to speed things up. Here's the table mid-deployment:
While the entirety of the Xenos side deployed, the Imperials opted to keep their deep-striking Assault Marine Squads and Storm Troopers in reserve.
The Tau Pathfinders and Broadside settled into cover and elevated spotting positions ,and for the most part never moved more than a few inches from their deployment positions. The Crisis Suits prepared to advance on the enemy:
Not having much firepower besides the tank, the Guardsmen found themselves in the unenviable position of having to advance on an enemy with superior firepower.
The Death Company marines quickly advanced through the ruins using their Jump Packs (allows troops to disregard terrain when moving) to make the most of the terrain.
On their first deep strike attempt, one of the squads of Assault Marines entered the fray directly in front of the Tau Fire Warriors. The Xenos were quickly wiped out in one round of savagery. The Howling Banshees ran to avenged their fallen comrades and promptly took down a marine (chopping off his hand in the process...) with their power swords.
It's in back-and-forth actions like this that the alternating activation of 1p40k really shows it's worth.
On the other corner of the board, the Death Company continued its slow advance, pausing only briefly behind a coal-scuttle.
The Guardsmen's command squad chose not to keep pace with the Marines, hiding behind the industrial grinder.
In the center of the field the Imperial tank began well with its chain gun wiping out one of the Eldar Walkers. However, with little cover and having been tagged by Tau markerlights (These can be spent to ignore cover and/or reroll missed attacks), it was soon destroyed. The surviving guardsmen were minced to pulp by a squad of Howling Banshees.
Back in the Xenos Deployment area, the assault squad was under immense pressure. Taking fire from an Eldar Walker and sustaining another attack by the Howling Banshees (after melee combat units are separated, which can allow figures additional options. This is a major change from regular 40k, where units are locked in combat until one dies), they managed to hold on despite taking repeated casualties and damaging the Banshee unit as well.
The Death Company slow advance through the industrial block continued.
On the opposite side of the table the Imperial Stormtroopers finally arrived (note that the additional tanks are just scenery, not part of the battle) They initially caused some damage to the Crisis Suits, but took heavy casualties that same turn.
Dashing out from the Industrial Block, the Death Company Marines charged headlong into the Eldar Fire Prism. Many hits were scored, but they glanced off the armored hull of the Eldar tank.
The lone Assault Marine continued to hold the line, taking down two more Banshees before falling.
The result of the battle was becoming more and more certain. The last remaining guardsmen advanced on the Xenos but were shot down.
The last of the Death Company were likewise eliminated by combined Tau and Eldar firepower.
On the last turn, the final squad of Deep Striking marines was allowed to deploy.
The final squad of Marines arrived but was unable to take out the squad of Tau Crisis Suits that they engaged. Most of the other imperial units were destroyed in a final round of Xenos firepower, leaving the Alien menace fully in control of the battlefield.
-Thoughts on One Page 40k
One Page 40k is a free fan-ruleset aimed at quick and easy battles in the 40k universe. With a description like that, it's no surprise that I liked it alot. It really captures the feel of the vast 40k universe despite being one of the most streamlined rulesets that I've played. This is right up there with Panzer 8 in terms of rules-lite abstraction, but it manages to feel as tactical as games with many more pages. We sampled 4 different armies. They seemed fairly well-balanced and the authors clearly thought very hard about how to distill the essence of an entire army book into one page of units, upgrade options and simple-but-flavorful special rules.
Though called "One Page", that's a bit of a misnomer. The core rules do all fit on one page, but most players will want to add the second page of "Advanced Rules" and each army has a page or two of army lists. Additionally there is also a "Beginners Guide" document. It is mostly aimed at new gamers but it contains about 10 pages of rules clarifications. This may sound odd for a "One Page" ruleset, but they are well worded, clearly organized, often contain pictures and do help to clear up many potential ambiguities which you will eventually face. All that said, once you get going, most of the time your army list and the one page of rules is all that you will need.
Also notable is that the makers of 1p40k have kept up with many of the new additions to the 40k game including Genestealer cult armies, Adeptus Mechanicus and others. I don't know that many folks would invest in an entire 40k army for this game, but it certainly might cause ex-40k players to add some shiny new units to their old armies.
There are a few things that we discovered (or missed) that should be noted/remembered.
- This game requires more terrain than we used. Firepower is more deadly in 1p40k than in 40k. This is not a bad thing, in fact, I like the way it works. However, if a ranged-combat-focused force has fire lanes and high vantage points all they need to do to win is sit still and shoot as was mostly the case in our game. Luckily the club has lots of terrain so making a more heavily featured board will be no problem at all.
- Deep Striking units are rolled for and deployed at the beginning of each turn. This makes it much more likely that opposing units will have a chance to engage them before they sweep into combat. We missed this rule and deep striking units were able to deploy and immediately move into assault with devastating results.
- Units that are melee attacked strike back after they are attacked. Early in the game we missed this and some units didn't end up getting all the attacks they were due.
- Pay attention to morale rules. They resolve quickly but there are more situations in which morale must be checked than we realized.
Despite our many mistakes along the way we all had a great time. I have no love for the Warhammer 40k rules, but I really like the setting and miniatures. I would be willing to play 1p40k at almost anytime and it's so streamlined that throwing together a quick pickup game would be a cinch. It feels more polished than some of the other indie and free games that we play and if we played this more often I'd probably get around to rebasing and dipping up my Blood Angels and finishing my Squat Army. We all agreed that 1p40k is highly recommended for anyone who wants to do some fast and furious grimdark wargaming.