Friday, July 22, 2011

Cops and Gangs: a New World Disorder battle report

In a previous post, I have written about my first impressions of New World Disorder, which looked like a promising system with some RPG-like features. However, I still had to play some games to write a proper review. In the meantime, I've also bought the two expansions for the game, Cyber Zone and Zombie Apocalypse, which will be discussed in future posts. This post is a battle report of a solo test game.

The scenario
In a dystopian near future, whole cities have turned into ruined slums, and there is constant fighting between gangs and corporation-sponsored police. In this game, a patrol of corporate cops chases Massive, a notorious gang leader, along with two gang members, to a dead end in the slums. The cops decide to try to take down Massive instead of waiting for reinforcements, interested in the bounty on his head.

The opposing forces
From left to right, we have the three gang members: Red (Punk, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1, carrying a light assault rifle), Massive (Thug, Brawn 2 / Brains 1 / Guts 2, Fearless, with a medium submachine gun) and Skid (Punk, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1, with a medium semi-auto pistol).

The corporate cops are numbered 1 to 4 on their bases. Cop #1 is the squad leader (Thug, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 2, Iron Jaw, carrying a pump-action shotgun and equipped with light armor.) Cops #2-4 have the same stats (Punk, Brawn 1 / Brains 1 / Guts 1, carrying medium submachine guns and equipped with light armor.)

The map
The map is a 2'x2' zone with several buildings. The gang members deploy within 3" of the south edge of the border. A 4"x1" rectangular template should be placed on the north edge to indicate the exit region. The cops are deployed there.

Scenario objective and rules
The gang members win if Massive manages to escape the map through the exit point or all cops have been defeated or fled. They lose if he is captured or killed. They also lose if the game goes on beyond the 10th round, when the police reinforcements arrive and escaping is no longer possible. Since it is night and the slums aren't well lit, visibility is limited to 12".

Cop strategy
The cops are organized into two groups. One group will try to stay between Massive and the exit point, while the other will try to flank the gang members. They will advance towards the gang members following this pattern, using cover whenever possible. If only two cops remain, they will reform into a group if necessary and defend the map exit, waiting for reinforcements. If only one cop remains, he will try to escape the map through the exit, using fast movement when possible.

Battle report
I played the scenario solo, simply alternating sides while trying to perform the best possible actions I could think of. Here's a view of the board setup. The gang members won the initiative, thus being entitled to the first turn on each round.

On the first round, Red moved towards the blue building, then used a forced movement action to run towards the green building. Halfway there, cop #3 spotted him and interrupted his action with opportunity fire. A direct spray from the medium submachine gun, even with severe modifiers, put him out of the fight. This used up cop #3's activation for the round. The rest of the characters just moved towards cover.

The police officers advanced while the gang members waited for the right moment to sprint from behind the blue building. Eventually they ran to the left, trying to take advantage of a narrow corridor. From his hiding spot, Massive fired a direct spray at the two officers that were moving along a container. This caused one wound to cop #3 and two wounds to cop #4. Since both were just punks, they were put out of the fight. The use of direct spray revealed Massive's position.

On the following round (the fifth,) Skid moved behind cover up to a position to shoot at cop #2. He would suffer a penalty from moving before shooting, but it was negated by using an aim action. He hit and caused a wound, taking cop #2 out of the fight. The last surviving cop fled the board.

The action resolution system in New World Disorder reminds me of RPG combat rules (attribute-based, with several possible modifiers) and thus takes a little while to getting used to. However, once that happens, it proves to be a very flexible and fast system. The alternate activation and Guts check keep the game dynamic and add some welcome unpredictability to the battle.

Automatic fire is very scary in this game -- at one point, a single attack resulted in ten hits being rolled against the enemies. The natural countermeasure is body armor, which can make a character very resistant to damage, unless attacked with armor-piercing ammunition. The nice thing is that all these options seem balanced by their costs.

The rule for opportunity fire means that you must maneuver very carefully using available cover and hiding. In fact, sneaking and firing "around corners" seems to be the only way to avoid opportunity fire from enemies who have not activated yet. In future games, I'll have to add more terrain, including some lower walls that provide partial cover.

In this game, I did a couple of bad moves. I think that playing more carefully, the gang members would not have stood a chance against the cops with armor and submachine guns. On the other hand, these crews were very small and given the lethality of the game, I think that using larger groups, like 6-12 figures per side would have been even more fun.

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