Review by Rossco Watkins
Scrappers is a game set in a post-apocalyptic future where resources are few and are contested fiercely by rival factions. I have to admit that when I read those words I have a tendency to think “Yeah this one, and the last one I read too”, so when I go into these books it is, with a genuine hope, that even if the tagline is similar to that of other rulesets, what I get in the book will set it apart from those other games. Did it deliver? Well, yes, I’m very pleased to say that it did!
The game is a ‘true skirmish’ game, forces will be typically small ‘gangs’ of models with a minimum number of three and a stated maximum of fifteen. Players begin by ‘hiring’ their crew and the book allows for 750 supply points per player to do this with your crew's supply points being added to should they prove successful. Of course, once familiar with the rules I’m sure players will set to tinkering with the rules to suit their own needs, although it would take more management I see no reason games couldn’t be played with larger forces.
The book provides the player with the backdrop to the earth on which ‘Scrappers’ is set, here players are introduced to the different types of zone to be found and, the barren ‘Alpha Zones’ the deadlier ‘Gamma Zones’ and the pickings rich ‘Omega Zones’, and to the seven main factions from which they may choose from the Puritanical ‘Purge’ who will only accept ‘True Humans’ into their ranks to groups such as the ‘Freelancers’ and the ‘architechs’ who are far less picky! Then we meet the ‘lifeform’ types, here there are only three; ‘True Humans’, Mutants and ‘Synthetics’. I think the best way to choose your faction is to look at the models you wish to use, select which of the games three ‘lifeform’ types you feel they fall into and then select a force type that will accept them all. Of course, every individual on the battlefield can be equipped as players see fit and can afford from their supply points and there is a large variety of options for equipment, traits and mutations meaning most things are possible and almost any figure is likely to be able to be used.
The game turn itself is carried out almost simultaneously (personally I love this, no one spends too long doing nothing and becoming disengaged) there are three phases to the turn, the ‘Sitrep phase’ where morale issues such as rout and panic checks from the last turn are. Resolved. The ‘Orders phase’ where players determine who has the initiative or ‘edge’ and who has ‘The Break’ (the ability to interrupt an action) This will depend on the roll of a dice combined with the current status of your crews’ leader. and then finally the ‘Action phase’ whereby the player with ‘The Edge’ can decide whether he wishes to start the execution process first or force his opponent to tip his hand.
One of the things I enjoyed about the game is that both ranged and close combat are resolved in the same way, keeping things relatively simple helps keep the game flowing and avoids too much getting bogged down in unnecessary minutiae. Players simply roll a D10 and add their figures combat rating to the result, the opposing player makes an opposing roll also adding their combat rating and the player with the highest result is the victor. The damage done is then resolved by the further roll of a D10 added to the excess of your attack result plus any bonuses for their weapon. The defender then tries to avoid this damage using a D10, their figures constitution and any armour they may or may not be wearing. The book is laid out in such a way that this whole process is easy to follow and easy to track.
Of course, the book contains rules for a great many things, such as morale, terrain, breaking from combat, far too many to rewrite the book here but suffice to say that most eventualities are covered. My biggest bug-bear here is a lack of vehicle rules, I would have liked to have seen bikes and buggies if not larger vehicles represented.
I recommend players have several easily distinguishable tokens to hand, the book does also suggest this, they will come in handy for tracking several things. Smoke is one of the things it is suggested you use tokens for but personally, I would have some dedicated smoke markers or a large amount of ‘wargamers cosmetic smoke’ (cotton wool) to hand, it just looks nicer on the table.
The book itself is not one of Ospreys smaller, softback ‘Wargames’ range which I’m sure you will be familiar with but a larger more substantial Hardback, much more akin to the ’Frostgrave’ rule book. The production quality is incredibly high and everything about the book is beautifully presented. It really is worth the extra money you pay for a hardback, and honestly, when you have something this nice you want it to stand up to the rigours of being carted about in your gaming bag and being passed from player to player on club night. This book will certainly manage that.
Unlike many of Ospreys recent rulesets ‘Scrappers’ is not supported by its own range of figures and I feel this may be something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives players the absolute freedom to choose figures from wherever they choose, after all, there are many manufacturers out there producing some amazing miniatures that could represent mutants or synthetics in your crew and it almost guarantees that every player's own faction will be pretty much unique. But I do worry that rulesets in this vein without at least a small range of dedicated figures can struggle against those that do and can sometimes get ‘lost’ in the mix. In this case that would be a crying shame as ‘Scrappers’ is an excellent ruleset and those looking for a 'post apoc' game with a strong sci-fi tilt will get a lot of enjoyment from this book.
Authors: Robert A Faust & Andrew N Davies Publisher: Osprey Games Format:152-page hardback Dice & initiative: D10, initiative based Price: £19.99