While at Cold Ward, I got the chance to take part in a demo game of Shatterlands, by Stonegate Forge. I found the setting intriguing, the miniatures fantastic, and the rules to have some rather interesting mechanics. So my loot pile at the end of the convention contained the starter sets for the currently available factions.
After getting the Rapani warriors and Dumah rangers painted up, I put on a demo game at Half Day Studio.
The mission was a simple random encounter with each side taking two miniatures per player. I had picked out five miniatures with 2 Initiative each on both sides for the players to chose from, which made it an 8 point game.
As you can see, "terrain" in Shatterlands comes in the form of three types of terrain tiles - brush, trees, and rocks. These affect the kind of dice added to determine hit locations when models fire at one another. From what we've seen, Shatterlands is a game that needs a lot of terrain - models caught out in the open are much easier to kill.
With a few lucky draws from the Initiative Deck, the Dumerai managed to get halfway up the table, into cover, and ready for any Rapani moving onto the board.
This may have been a mistake, however, as the Rapani were able to dash through the trees, avoid the Dumerai rifles and Kesbinets (crossbow/carbine combi-weapons), and close for hand to hand combat.
You may also spot a lot of colorful dice on the table. Shatterlands uses RPG dice, associated with certain colors, to denote various qualities. It basically follows ROYGBIV - a trait marked with a red dot on a character card rolls a d20, while a trait marked with a purple dot rolls a d4. And you want low numbers in Shatterlands.
The Dumerai found themselves being pushed back as the Rapani were able to quickly advance. It also didn't help that the rangers couldn't spend their actions to reload their guns, while the Rapani could fire their bows without pause.
However, as both sides began to take wounds, their Squad Morale decreased, making certain actions more difficult. It also didn't help when one Rapani warrior rolled high during his Sprint action, leaving him stranded in the open.
For a moment, it seemed that the Dumerai might turn the fight around, as two of the rangers ganged up on a lone Rapani warrior, who was incapacitated, causing a big morale hit and stunning several of the other Rapani.
But before the Dumerai could capitalize on the advantage, the Rapani rallied and assaulted a Dumerai rifleman. The ranger couldn't keep the Rapani knives from scoring deep cuts into his flesh, and his comrades watched in horror. Unable to assist, this caused enough morale damage that eventually all the ranger could do was flee, which caused a series of cascading morale failures that saw the Dumerai force run from the table.
It was a fun game, and both sides enjoyed playing. It was also interesting to see the after game, where the surviving characters (and others that gained experience) improved their skills. That's another interesting aspect of Shatterlands - character cards are printed on lottery cards, and as they take injuries and gain experience, you scratch off circles to change the dice they roll when taking actions in the game.
I'm hoping to get this to the table again, especially since I also purchased a scenario book while at Cold Wars.