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Wargames - Afterlife playtest on Games Day Budapest 2016 - Gameplay

On the Games Day Budapest 2016 I had the opportunity to try Afterlife, a futuristic wargame from Anvil Industry. Lehoczky Tamás (Zirrian) and Tóth Dániel (Grosh), members of The Forge Club, painted their squads to top quality, and did game demos all day long during the convention. They used the beautiful lava boards created by the Scenery World Workshop. Every player who participated in a demo game received a wonderful Kickstarter exclusive female swordsman, Ellenor Renard.

I played a game with Tóth Dániel (Grosh), so I decided to share my experiences.

Games Day Budapest 2016Lehoczky Tamás (Zirrian) and Tóth Dániel (Grosh) running the Afterlife demo on the Scenery World Workshop lava board

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Browsing through the rulebook

Afterlife was created to simulate futuristic skirmish warfare. The rules cover most of the tropes featured in futuristic games - heavy weapons, power armoured troopers, rebel forces. From what I've seen, the game is strictly hard SF, there are no aliens or magic involved. I found nothing really original while browsing the rulebook, but that also means you can use the system to cover almost any kind of sci-fi combat with your high-tech miniatures.

I have to admit I didn't read through the whole book, nor did I try to understand it, as I knew there will be someone to guide me through the whole game. So my confusions about the game do not come from bad wording or editing mistakes in the book, it's just my laziness.

Playing the game

The game uses d10 dice, and the many dice method to resolve tests, and there was plenty of dice rolling during the game. After a while I got used to the rules, and knew how many dice should I grab, but I have to admit I'm not a fan of the many dice system. If I remember correctly, there's also exploding dice rules, that made me a bit more harder to follow what results I got. Those, however, who prefer rolling those lovely decahedrons will enjoy their Afterlife experience.

Actions are taken by squads, each player activates one of their squads, take an action, then pass the activation to the other player. It's the perfect system for a skirmish game, and I have to admit I have no idea why Warhammer 40.000 still sticks to activating whole armies at once.

The action system is quite straightforward - you try to do something, your opponent has a chance to react to your action, then you both resolve your tests. The reactions complicate the game compared to Warhammer 40.000 or Deadzone. It's a good mechanic, it simulates the uncertainity of a combat, but I'm still a bit undecided whether I like it or not, as it makes every action a bit longer, even if no reaction occurs.

I was somewhat confused by the mathematics of the game, luckily my opponent did everything for me. I'm still not sure how to count the target numbers, but when I'll have some time, I'll read the rulebook as the game got me interested.

I didn't even realise while reading the rules how immersive the game is. There are no intrusive metagaming rules - you lead your soldiers and see what happens. It took me a while to understand this, as I only found this out when I started to compare it to Deadzone, writing this article. This hidden feature should be advertised in the book, as this really gave me a better opinion of the system.

Feeling of the game

It feels like a fast, immersive, intensive system.

Comparisons

Warhammer 40.000: I think Afterlife is better than 40K in every single element. Even though I don't have much experience yet, but I felt the game flows better than any 40K game I have ever played.

Deadzone Ed2: The two games are very similar, so it's easy to compare them. Deadzone plays faster, and as players move single miniatures, it feels more like a commando game. Afterlife is a small scale skirmish system, but I'm pretty sure it works just as well in large scale battles, where a Deadzone game would be practically impossible to play. Taking an action in Afterlife is more dangerous than doing the same in Deadzone. Although the resolution system in Deadzone works faster, if you use many miniatures, it will slow down the play. Both games use many dice and plenty of opportunity for dice rolling. Also, as Deadzone have metagame rules, thinking about them slows down the game, so what you win with the faster resolution, you lose with the meta decisions. If you'd like an immersive experience, choose Afterlife. If you'd like to have more control of the game, choose Deadzone.

Recommendation

If you have some sci-fi miniatures around, and you'd like to play skirmish games with them, Afterlife looks like a good system to use.

If you already use another wargame system you like, you could still have a look at the reaction mechanics that you might borrow from this game.

If you prefer immersive wargames, this is a good start for a go-to system. At the moment no other modern immersive wargame comes to my mind I could recommend.

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Have you played the Afterlife miniature wargme from Anvil Industry? How did you like it? Would you recommend it to others? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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