AAR- Planet28: “Why are there so many planets?”

“Why are there so many planets? The brochure said there’d only be a few planets.” – Don Knotts if he played sci-fi skirmish minis games.Salutations friends and onlookers! It’s been a long while as this world has been thrashing and whirling in a fit of unsurety the past year or two, so it’s good to see you all once more. Seeing as how some semblance of normalcy has been returning, and to break in CSW member Karl’s new abode, some of the group assembled to enjoy a grand night of gaming…in person!

CSW Part II: The Regroupening

Three games were brought to the table: a mighty 4-player battle of Kings of War, the brand-spanking-new version of Steve Jackson’s Car Wars, and an exploration in to the indie sci-fi skirmish ruleset that’s been making some rounds: Planet 28.

Kings of War, I love seeing massive battles on the table.


The new Car Wars. How cool do those dashboards look?!

Other respective members will be talking about their personal games, but for Mattias and myself we partook in the sci-fi ‘pew pew pew’ narrative of Planet 28.

Fancy Schmancy Dice!

Planet 28 exists as a narrative skirmish ruleset, that’s currently pay-what-you-want on Wargamevault. It’s a brief read and easy to play. A bonus is points based character creation is a breeze, and even with what seems to be few options you can create some very flavorful characters. It’s got a very ‘zine’ feel to it due to the art, which harkens back to the old Rogue Trader days (or Inquisitor), and I believe was made as a throwback to that style of narrative gaming; A time when your characters mattered more than the colors and spam abilities of your army, and your procedural story unfolding on the table mattered more than simulating the latest published lore novel.

First, let’s jump in to our game:

We agreed to a starting warband of 600 points. Initially I assumed I could get 6 characters out of this, however if I wanted my characters to actually be able to succeed on tests and have some flavorful abilities, I found those 600 points vanished quickly! I wound up with 4 moderately abled characters. Interestingly enough, Mattias had the same.

As an addendum, we also included some of the vehicle expansion rules (also available on Wargamevault) to try out a more embellished rules system. I’m glad we did because it showed how easy it was to integrate new parts in to the core game, and rather liked the basics of the vehicles driven.

Let’s get in to the narrative and then a rules discussion afterwards.

My warband:

T'sha the Banshee, Grulung servitor of Stink, CB-99 robo-sniper, Magister Yado totally not-a-jedi. ;D

To start, I had to include some old GW models in my group because the flavor exuded by the system practically begs for it. When I see the old art, I love to dig through the bins for some old sculpt to paint up and use. Here I found an old Nurgle Plague Marine ‘ from a group I started painting some time back, an old Howling Banshee ‘T’shar’, a Rogue Stars (Northstar) rifle bot ‘CB-99’, and a not-yoda, ‘Magister Yado.’ I based my character creation off of the sculpts. The Plague Marine had characteristics like a stinky aura, tough in melee, poisonous dagger, berserker who loves to fight. T’shar was a well rounded, agile fighter with a power sword and laser pistol. CB-99 was pretty much only good at shooting and climbing, given that I wanted it to be a sniper bot and to find a perch early on. (Arguably this backfired on me several times in that my rolls to shoot were absolutely terrible…even with re-rolls!) Magister Yado was probably my favorite to create because I made him a nimble little close-combat jerk who had arcane abilities and could throw opponents around.


Mattias’ warband:

Cybernetic Arms dealer Ludo, his orcish flunkies and their brawny beast.

Mattias is really quite adept at coming up with scenarios and fluff. He didn’t let down in this aspect having a very fleshed out group of syndicate tech seekers. His leader, ‘Ludo’ (I believe), was a cybernetically enhanced corporate tech-monger. He brought with him two orc-ish ruffians (really cool classic looking sculpts) as firepower, one with a mighty anti-material rifle, and a large war-beast of burden to shamble through the battlefield and act like a blockade. Overall, it gave me a very Fifth Element/The Incal vibe.

The scenario: Mattias brought along some toy-bashed mechs to use for our scenario. We utilized the vehicle rules and said that the galaxy was full of ruined worlds and outposts with abandoned technology strewn about that’s fought over by small rag-tag bands of explorers. Our table had a set of industrial style modular ruins, and we used some mech markers as technology to be taken and utilized. We made the rule that if a character spent two uncontested actions (ie: a full turn), they could manipulate those mechs and use them as powerful driven battle-suits. For symmetry we placed them in the center of the battlefield. Since we also wanted to test out hazardous terrain rules we placed the round templates to be considered as toxic pools of radioactive sludge left over from the decades/centuries of colonial lack of regulation. We had 8 turns to acquire these and turn your enemies in to quark-gluon plasma.

Don't step in the green stuff!


Ready to snag those mechs!


Unsurprisingly in the first turn it was a mad-dash to get to those mechs seeing as how they could be a tide-turning weapon early. Mattias’ leader obviously made this move, however kept his model in more of a supportive position letting his grunts do the work under his inspirational influence.

"Go forth peons...err, I mean, companeeons...yes, companions is what I meant."

My banshee, with a similar incentive but eschewing backup and with the fast trait giving a bonus to movement, was quickly able to run up to the first.

"Press CTRL...catarl...what's that do?"

Magister Yado made a dash to the opposite mech, but spent an action mind-controlling one of the orc-ish brutes to turn around and take a shot at their employer! Hilarious, but he also missed. *grumble stormtroopers grumble*

The opposite way, go we will.

My robot sniper as well as Mattias’ gunman both took the high road, attempting to get a better vantage point of the mess about to occur beneath the bridge.

...and now we wait.

Mattias’ beast took the long, slow route as a sort of flanking maneuver. Unfortunately, it crossed through some toxic waste on the path but did not damage it much.

With a flick of the control panels and the random mashing of buttons the banshee was able to get the first mech activated and armed!

Initiate Protocol: A55-K1CK3R

Magister Yado and one of the orcish brutes contested the 2nd mech, demanding a trial by combat!

Magsiter Yado decided to run across the toxic waste pool to make the brute in to finely sliced orcish lunchmeat. However, it was more fun to use his force-push powers and send the brute flying towards the bridge pillar and in to the toxic pool! Ouch! While this left the mech uncontested, it also left Yado wide open.

I always wanted to try out this Jedi power...

Ludo also left the confines of cover to assist in the combat, but the giant mech gun had a few things to say about that. Something along the lines of “Boom. Scream of agony. Melting noise. A brief but satisfying sizzle.”


Hilariously, the orc brute caught in toxic sludge tried running towards the mech to keep it from being activated, melting as he did so.

Ouch, that stings!

Mattias’ second brute, capitalizing on a distracted Yado fiddling with mech controls started blasting away from his upper vantage point. With some solid rolls, this hurt. Yado got dematerialized, his ashes settling to the ground. His force spirit mumbling something about doing and trying.

Clear shot from above. This game gives you high ground advantage...because Anakin hates that. ;P

All the while, my robo-sniper kept taking stationary shots at Mattias' gun-brute. I feel like, even with sniper re-rolls, I missed 9/10 times. ☹

This also happened several times with the big mech shooting *with advantage*.

Sometimes dice rule the day…oh my.

Click. Whizz. Click. Whizz. Click. Whizz. Does not compute.

Mattias retaliated and wore down the sniper’s armor dematerializing him as well.

A powerful sci-fi blaster is a terrible thing to waste.

At this point, we were basically at the final round. The 2nd mech wasn’t going to get activated, and there was a good chance of prolonged combat, so the soldiers gathered their gains and losses and sped off to fight on another world.

The Stinky soldiers stick together in hand-to-hand mortal combat. (It was honestly difficult not to write Kombat. I'm a victim of my culture.)

Some thoughts on the game:

Cover art for Planet 28 by Mammoth Games

First off, it’s EASY to play. Anybody who wants a small, use-whatever-models-you-want game to play a quick afternoon game with a buddy or two will enjoy this. Character creation is brief, you only have a few basic stats. It’s points-based, and feels ~sorta balanced. I say “sorta” because some of the abilities  seem a little more like statistically-obvious-takes than boosting a stat for example. Or vice versa. However, even with a somewhat small set of options, you can really make some fun and flavorful characters. It’s cool being able to pick a model, look through the options, and quickly make what you think that model should act like on the table. I felt like all of my characters were good representations of their sculpts or pop-culture basings.

I feel like this is a good "run awaaaayyyy" image.

It is metric based in the ruleset. Base movement is 10 cm, which is ~4", which might seem small compared to many games nowadays with 6" movement. This also applies to ranged weapons. 20-40cm may seem like a lot to us non-metric doofuses, but when you measure it out it's quite short! This encourages you to get in close!

Initiative is essentially a state based on character agility. If you WANT to go first all the time, boost a characters Agility stat higher. The game cycles through agility for turn order. This is great for people who hate rolling for it. (Granted there are tie-breakers, but with a diverse crew it shouldn't happen too often.) I think this also adds some strategic dimension for your actions since you can predict the turn order.

I also discovered that: I like armor rolls. Sure, it’s an extra roll that many games do away with entirely, but it’s kind of fun having that last chance based off your dice and your points investment. Initially I was worried that armor was *TOO* powerful, but when we did start rolling well enough, that damage added up quickly. The characters that died did so in 2 or 3 turns. There is still a question of whether some items are a bit too powerful. Power Armor seems really strong (and maybe it should be?), but so does the anti-material property in custom guns which can basically negate that armor bonus. In a sense, it can feel like a points-eliminator, but it takes a few turns to do it and it’s a pricey initial buy.

Some games give me a feeling that you could probably spend all your points on 1 mega-character who just can’t be killed. This is a non-issue for objective based games I suppose, where you need a good action economy, but I’m still wary of that.

The vehicle rules we implemented *on the fly* were fun and pretty easy to understand. This adds a lot when you want a small skirmish scenario but with some added vehicle as an obstacle in there. Imagine those WWII scenarios with a group of 4 or 5 trying to outmaneuver and outgun an enemy tank. I feel that this is doable and would be kind of fun in a game like this.

There are also solo-rules which I have not tried. I’ve paged through it, and it seems like a pretty standard affair for enemy activations, but it could be a fun one-off here or there.

My overall impression: Simple but clever, and deceivingly robust. It's a great game for convention or event play. It's not for tournaments, but good for telling a story. I actually have some future plans for the fantasy version, Brutal Quest, and am glad to have come away with positive thoughts about it's progenitor.

On the table:

Modular terrain setup on a card table.

Mattias deserves some major shout-outs for the modular terrain setup here. The terrain was all hand-crafted out of hobby store chipboard. It uses a tab-slot design to piece things together and add rails/ladders or whatever other items you could think of. The buildings stack, fit inside each other, and everything condenses in to a single box for storage. It’s really clever.

Note the slots on the sides for inserting accessories. (guard rails, ladders, bridges)


Below: A stop motion animation by Mattias showing the modularity.

To top it off, all of the textures were HAND-ILLUSTRATED and painted. It has a total Moebius-comic style to it, maybe some Blanche, that I find truly inspiring. You can tell he put in an immense amount of time and effort in to this and it shows.

Just look at some of these images! How fantastic is that?:

In fact, it was good to see many of the CSW members again after such a long time. I almost forgot how creative and talented this group was seeing so many painted classic sculpts, kitbashed models, markers, table pieces, etc. I probably have some convention withdrawal; the feeling I missed from minis conventions the past 2 years, but it was good to get some of that going again by seeing these guys.

Thanks for hosting Karl, and everybody for the games and inspiration!

15 responses to “AAR- Planet28: “Why are there so many planets?”

  1. Excellent report and what a great looking table! It was great to see you at the game night.

    I’m now quite interested in this Planet28 ruleset. How would you say it compares to Song of Blades and Heroes in complexity and flow?

  2. Thanks Karl!
    I’d say the flow and complexity of both games is similar. P28 and SoBH both seem easy to pick up, play, and teach. The rules don’t need much referencing outside of a few little things you might forget during your first game. That applies to most game systems though so it’s not a big worry.

    I’m honestly not the biggest fan of the basic SoBH rules personally, so I might be a little biased. I think in terms of character creation I enjoyed P28 more because my characters felt more "characterful." I think that while, SoBH has more options to customize a unit (MUCH more if you include all of the expansion content), that none of them really feel like individuals. From my experience in that game, they felt like slightly tweaked troops. I think that while P28 has fewer options to pick from in the core rules, that those options are generally more powerful and impact the game or unit more in a flavorful way.

    For instance, my Magister Yado had some traits like Fast Moving and Climber. It was intended to make sure that he was maneuverable on the ground and take advantage of the vertical planes because his only weapon was a melee power sword. He also had arcane abilities (mind control, "throw" which was like a force push, and one to cause fear). Then, during gameplay due to movement rules/height differential rules/armor rolls/contested rolls it makes that character a bit more difficult to kill because you don’t want them to die instantly. I don’t feel like the few times I’ve tried SoBH I’ve had an attachment to a particular trooper in the same way. They just didn’t feel differentiated *enough* to me for some reason.

    Another thing is the feel (possibly illusion) of control. I really dislike the roll-to-activate of SoBH. It’s my biggest beef with that game. Just to do *anything* you’re playing with luck and mitigation. Those turns when you roll poorly and your character stands there like a statue is a peeve. In P28 (or Brutal Quest), you’re guaranteed to have a turn. It’s taken in a mostly pre-set initiative based on your Agility stat. If you REALLY want to go first, then during your character creation you need to prioritize your points and boost that stat. But if you don’t get that, at least there is something like the armor rolls where you feel like, "well those points I instead spent on good armor for this slow guy can at least save me if I’m slow to activate." I mentioned illusion because in these types of games dice always come in to play somehow; just not in an immediately unsatisfying way as those failed activation rolls in SoBH.

    If you were to scale up to a more massive skirmish level, let’s say 12 models per side, I do think SoBH would play much faster because of some of those previously mentioned reasons. 3-6 models per side might be the sweet spot for P28, unless you just make a lot of grunt characters with no equipment or abilities.

    In any case, I think it’s worth giving a shot. Undoubtedly there would be a lot of fun, even for younger players, to be had. The rulebook is also <20 pages. The expansion content (vehicles/solo-coop) are both very short as well and add some fun options without overwhelming you.

  3. Thanks for that!
    Planet 28 sounds like something I’d enjoy. I actually really like the gambling SBH activation mechanic, but I haven’t found a satisfying version of it for games focusing on ranged combat. I do hope to try Fistful of Kung Fu someday, but maybe SBH is best kept for fantasy settings.

    Are the Planet 28 supplements worthwhile?

  4. The two current P28 supplements are definitely worthwhile. They’re short reads, also ‘pay what you want’ on Wargamevault. The solo-coop one has rudimentary rules for an enemy AI, so you could whip up a little adventure with the kids or a buddy who dislikes competitive wargaming and have some fun. As the game Mattias and I played, the vehicle supplement worked great for creating some interesting heavy armor.

    Tim and I played Rogue Stars (also written by Andrea) quite a few years back, but I remember that having a very interesting evolution of the roll-to-activate mechanism. You roll for initiative and whoever has it can basically activate all of their characters. However, each character rolls 1-3 d20s to see how many actions they can do. Failures on those rolls accumulate and give the potential for the opposing player to take reactions during the turn or steal initiative, essentially flipping the turn order. Imo, that system was very engaging because it felt like you were also active during the opponents turn. It used a lot of tokens on the table though, and character creation was far more complex, but I enjoyed the game.

  5. I’ve heard good things about Rogue Stars. IIRC, I didn’t give it further consideration because of the increased complexity and heavy token use. Not a fan of tokens… Having activation failures benefit your opponents is a nice touch though that I think might be part of Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes, though it’s been a while since I played that.

    Definitely going to give Planet28 a read and probably the supplements. If it can do flavorful characters in a sci-fi setting with SBH levels of complexity it could be right up my alley.

  6. I made a 600 point warband for Planet 28 and also ended up with four figures. I agree that character creation is quick and characterful, a fun activity of its own. My enjoyment of that part is on par with Song of Blades and Heroes. i’d like to play some time if you want to try another game.

    I also enjoyed Rogue Stars, which you can read about on our blog . The scenario system in that book is a fun resource you could use in a lot of games.

  7. Ah, yes. Funny enough, I had the Rogue Stars and 5 Parsecs from Home books in my bag during the game night in case we needed a scenario on the fly! The charts in Rogue Stars are great for adding narrative elements and objectives. I think it’s an underrated system that was probably released too soon after Frostgrave, thus the audience likely expected it as sci-fi Frostgrave, but it was not and went obscure.
    I’d be down for P28 again sometime for sure.

  8. Hi,
    I have a question about Planet 28. For the skill table it reads Points cost 10 per -1 level. For the shoot skill the starting level is 7. Does that mean the skill cost is 10 x 7, 70 points? Thank you for your help.

  9. Michael, What I’m reading on the bottom half of page 8 is that each character starts with 2 shooting, 2 fighting, 2 agility, 20 hit points and speed 10cm. That costs 10 points and you pay for increases from that baseline. so, if you do nothing but increase the shooting to 7 the character would cost 60 points.

    it only gives examples of skills going up to 6. So, I’m not sure if you are really meant to take them up to 7. I’m not sure how game breaking that would be.

  10. Hi Tim,
    Thank you for the reply. I see you said ‘on page 8’. I only have two pages of rules so I must be missing a lot.

  11. I suspect you are writing about a different game, Michael.

  12. Just in case, here’s the link to the game rules:


  13. Hi Guys,
    I attached the rules I am talking about.

  14. Hey Michael,
    Those rules might be an early or beta version (pre-kickstarter perhaps). I suggest getting the current version on the Wargamevault link I posted. It’s pay what you want, so you can put $0.00 if you want to. They are much more readable and explanatory than the pamphlet you shared.
    The expansion for vehicles and solo play are also on that site on the same format, and recommended.

  15. Hello and thank you for the clarification.

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