Yesterday i was fortunate enough to get along to Salute and so was able to get a look at The Drowned Earth first hand before putting fingers to keys and creating this article. I have been chatting with James the creator via email for a few days in the run up to the show so was keen to meet up in person.
The guys had put together a great setup of three demos, with this mad T-Rex hunt as the centerpiece! The other two were traditional 2x2 foot demo boards with three models a side to show off the mechanics:
I was able to gave a good chat with James about the game, the setting, the models and the mechanics that he hoped would set it apart from other low model count skirmish games.
In his own words, the world doesn't need another skirmish game that's exactly the same as all others, so to succeed and stand out it would need some interesting mechanics, great stand out models and have the depth and interplay that the larger systems are able to provide.
When i asked him before playing what it was close to he said superficially Infinity with its action/reaction play... but in this case those reactions will cost you action points from the model doing them so it doesn't just become a cover hugging exercise. There is also a strong rpg element with ability tests that have critical success or failures (The feat Mechanic).
After playing and reading the rules after, i can see a resource system like the Influence in Guildball in play with the action points of models, some like leaders are able to move AP around the board to models up to a set cap to enable an important reaction or get someone to an objective they couldn't normally reach. This opens up a greater degree of tactical options and synergy between models that i personally find very important in games.
Below are a series of photos from the demo board that i played on; The Firm and the Artifacters racing to take a piece of lost tech from the central objective on the gantry.
The beta rules can be downloaded from the website or kickstarter page, the game has been in development for two years now and is pretty close to being finished, nothing came up in my demo or reading the rules so far that didn't make sense, and the unlocked stat cards contain the info you need to run each model.
In fact the only tables you might have to refer to are the success/feat results that will become second nature after a game or two. The guys recommend a few games at 3 aside, ignoring points, to get a hang of the feat mechanic, before stepping up to 5 or more aside.
The feat mechanic is what sets this game apart really, every time you try to do something other than the basic walking or swimming such as climbing, jumping a gap or shooting, you roll two game dice (D10s); one is your ability test which you have to roll below, the other dice is your feat dice which if a '1' is rolled you can gain an extra AP, a success on this can open up increased speed, distance of shots, damage etc, but critical failures can lead to gun jams and falls from height!
Multiple feats can be combined into some very cinematic action with your model leaping across bridges and up walls to gun down an opponent all whilst dodging through a flurry of bullets haha, its great stuff.
As well as the demo models in use for games, a selection of grey primed minis and the studio painted display models of The Artifacters and The Firm were on show for people to check out. I think they are very characterful, full of animation and the paint jobs were amazing too!
I think this game is going to be a success, its well though out, has an original take on the post apoc game setting, has great mechanics and essential interplay between faction models that some games lack. I'm backing this, and i know a few of my readers are already from seeing discussion on forums and facebook
One last thing, here's a selection of some of my favourite art from the concepts... Hopefully the top and bottom ones are hinting at future releases!