A DARK HALL, empty save for a high dais, and atop it, a throne illuminated by a single overhead light. A cloaked figure, wreathed in shadows despite the light, sat there.The figure raised its head as the doors at the far end of the hall slid open. A gleaming, mechanical humanoid strode forward.
The robot halted before the throne, bowed its head. “At your command,” it said, a buzzing rasp.
“Speak,” the throned figure replied, its voice rich and sonorous.
“Our troops are in position on the Hazemeth moon to secure the necessary fuel cells, as you directed,” the robot reported.
“There is a complication.”
“Our approach to the moon was detected by a nearby human expeditionary fleet. They have dispatched two forces of Imperial Space Marines to engage us.”
“We must have those supplies for the technomancers’ project. Seize the cells, and destroy the Imperials. Two groups, you say?”
The figure gestured, a burst of light spraying from its hand. The robot shimmered for a moment, and then a duplicate of itself appeared beside it.
“And now there are two of you, Lord Lucifer, the better to carry out the will of Yblis.”
Both robots bowed simultaneously, replying as one: “At your command!”
Last year, I stopped playing overly-complicated 9th Edition Warhammer 40k, and I have resisted the siren song of 10e. I turned to Grimdark Future from OnePageRules, a streamlined version of 40K that’s not only easier to play, it’s also absolutely free. Last November, I played an intro game with my brother-in-law Drew, and really enjoyed it.
Alas, I hadn’t a chance to play since, as Drew has been busy, and Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel has been dealing with personal issues. So, I was pleasantly surprised when my neighbors Nathan and Dylan Becker (whom I’ve known since they were small) recently asked if I could teach them the game.
Brothers Nate and Dylan got into 40K a few years ago: Nate with Space Marines, Dylan with Space Wolves. We played several times whenever they were home from college on breaks. Now that they’ve graduated, they have more time, but they share my distaste for 9e 40K, and were not looking forward to spending more money for 10e.
The more I told them about Grimdark Future, they more they liked it, so they downloaded the rules, wrote up 1000 point-army lists for each of their forces, and agreed to meet my Robot Legions/Necrons on the table to walk through the game.
Yblis’ Centurions Robot Legion (Necrons)
As I mentioned in this post, I bought a Necron army from Pat nearly 20 years ago, expanded on it, and have had some success. Currently, I have three 3000-points lists: an infantry-heavy collection of mostly Warriors; a “flying circus” list of Night Scythes and Doom Scythes; and a force based around Lokhust Destroyers.
I brought a scaled-down version of the last list to this game. To avoid intellectual property infringement, GDF uses generic names for army units. I’ll list the units using the GDF names first, with the GW names in parentheses. If you’re familiar at all with Necrons, you won’t have a problem recognizing what’s what.
- Lucifer 1.1.4 Robot Lord (counts as Necron Lord). Accompanied by Unit 2.4
- Lucifer 1.1.5 Robot Lord (counts as Necron Lord). Accompanied by Unit 2.5
- Unit 2.4 Ten Warriors w/ gauss rifles (gauss flayers)
- Unit 2.5 Ten Warriors w/ gauss rifles (gauss flayers)
- Unit 4.1 Six Annihilators (count as Lokhust Destroyers) w/ gauss cannons
- Unit 4.2 Three Annihilators (count as Lokhust Destroyers). Two w/ gauss cannons, one w/ heavy gauss cannon
- Unit 5.3 Heavy Annihilator (counts as Lokhust Heavy Destroyer) w/ heavy gauss cannon
Those are fewer bodies than I prefer to have in a Robot Legion/Necron army, but the Annihilators have 3 Wounds each, so there’s that going for it. Nevertheless, I would need to be wary and keep my distance, especially from Dylan’s guys.
Battle Brothers/Wolf Brothers (Space Marines/Space Wolves)
- Two 5-man Battle Brother (Space Marine Tactical) squads
- 5-man Battle Brother Pathfinder (Space Marine Scout) squad, including two w/ sniper rifles
- 3-man Support Battle Brother (Devastator Space Marine) squad w/ heavy weapons
- 3-man Destroyer (Terminator) squad
- Wolf Brother Lord (Space Wolf Battle Leader) “Logan Wulfgar”
- Two 5-man Wolf Brother (Space Wolf Grey Hunter) squads
- Wolf Heavy Gunship (Space Wolf Stormfang)
Note that the Support Battle Brothers (Devastator Space Marines) and the Destroyers (Terminators) have fewer members than their 40K counterparts. In their army write-ups, GDF has a base of three models for these units, though you can combine them with another three-man unit of the same type to make them six in a squad.
And all of the “Devastators” can have heavy weapons, so you could have six guys with whatever big guns you want, and they can shoot at different targets. Yowza!
Experienced 40K players may believe that neither side has many figures for 2000 points, and you’re not wrong. Point costs are higher in Grimdark Future for almost every unit compared with their 40K counterpart: you can find some examples here. Hence, the lower number of models.
We played at my house, on a 4′ x 6′ table that my old friend (and #1 Jungle Fanboy Luis Nunez) made for me about 20 years ago. Dylan placed some of my jungle terrain, and we spread out five objectives for us to fight over.
GDF has standard 12″ deployment zones along the two long edges of the board, so we then took turns setting down one unit after the other: me first, then Nate, then me again, then Dylan, then me, etc. As I had set up first, I got to start.
As has become our custom here at the Jungle, the battle report is done in narrative style. If I need to mention a rule or clarify something in game terms, I’ll put it in [brackets].
One thing you’ll notice is that in GDF games, players alternate moving and shooting/fighting with their units within the same turn. First, one player moves a unit and does something with it, then the other player moves and does something with one of their units, then the first players goes again with a different unit, and so on, until all units on the board have done something. Thus, there are no phases for Movement, Shooting, Psychics, Assault, etc.
This is in stark contrast to 40K games, where one player moves and uses all of their units in distinct phases while the other player takes no action except to make saving throws or fight back in close combat.
Another thing you may notice is that GDF games only last four turns, and that there are no victory conditions like Slay the Warlord, or Linebreaker. Other than that, GDF plays pretty much like 40K, where armies want to kill opposing units and claim objectives. You can find the basic GDF rules here.
The commanders of Yblis’ Centurions—Lucifer 1.1.4 and Lucifer 1.15—shared more than just a name. They were, in fact, the same entity, the same mind, merely separated into two bodies to better carry out the will of their master. Yblis had demanded that they come to this jungle planet and retrieve lost fuel cells for a special project, and had deemed it best that his Overlord be in two places at once. The Lucifers were in sync and worked together as easily and flawlessly as a warrior’s two arms when he wields a rifle in both hands.
That the robots were confronted by a newly-arrived combined detachment of Battle Brothers and their cousins, the Wolf Brothers, was no surprise to Lucifer. Often, it seemed, forces of either man or xeno opposed Yblis’ plans, and it was the Centurions’ task to remove that opposition, be it human or alien. Lucifer 1.1.5 gave the silent order, and Unit 2.5, the Warriors accompanying him, opened fire, their crackling gauss rifles atomizing a nearby squad of Wolf Brothers before they could assault or discharge their weapons.
A nearby squad of Pathfinders fired on Warrior Unit 2.5, to no avail. Meanwhile, Unit 4.1 advanced, the six Annihilators unleashing their gauss cannons on a squad of Support Battle Brothers, obliterating them. The Wolf Brother Heavy Gunship took some small revenge, killing an Annihilator, but Unit 4.2 moved up and claimed a cache of fuel cells [an objective] on the left flank of the Robot Legions. Fire from the Heavy Annihilator took out a Battle Brother from an approaching squad.
The battle had just begun, and it was already looking very much like the inhumans were winning.
Unit 4.1 moved closer so that their gauss cannons were in range of the Wolf Heavy Gunship [when targeting Aircraft in GDF, weapons are at -12” range, and -1 “to hit”], and fired, heavily damaging it [-4 Wounds out of 9 total].
The crew of the Gunship lashed out, firing its storm missiles, twin minigun, and typhoon missile, killing two Warriors from Unit 2.4, two Annihilators from Unit 4.2, and severely damaging the Heavy Annihilator [-3 Wounds out of 6 total]. The Robots continued to plod forward, taking more valuable fuel cells, with Unit 2.4 shooting another well-concealed Pathfinder.
A three-man squad of Destroyers [Space Marine Terminators] teleported onto the field, and charged the now five-strong Annihilator unit, 4.1. The Destroyers wounded one of the Robots twice, and the crippled one retreated to attempt repairs [Robots automatically pass Morale tests, but the player has to roll as many dice as there are remaining models in the unit, and for each result of 1 or 2, the unit takes one Wound. Three total Wounds were taken in this round, so I removed one Annihilator].
The Heavy Annihilator returned fire on the Gunship, destroying it. Battle Brothers rushed to reinforce their Destroyer brethren, damaging one Annihilator at the cost of one of their lives.
Realizing that the robots were gathering fuel cells, Wolf Lord Logan Wulfgar seized some, while a squad of his men ran for others. It would be good, Logan reasoned, to know why the enemy wanted these items, but even if that could not be determined, at least the enemy would not have them.
Robot Unit 2.5 shot another Pathfinder, but their sniper rifles picked out Lucifer 1.1.5, neutralizing him.
The Battle Brothers and Wolf Brothers had counterattacked, but would it be enough against the seemingly implacable Robot Legions?
The Annihilators fired on the Destroyers, killing one. The Destroyers charged again, striking down one of the anti-grav ‘bots, but lost one of their own in the melee.
The two groups pulled back [after assaults, units that fought in hand-to-hand are required by the GDF rules to move out of base-to-base contact, so there is no tying up units, as in 40K], and the Heavy Annihilator fired on a Destroyer, the Imperial warrior’s tactical armor saving him. The Battle Brothers who had reinforced the Destroyers fired on the Annihilators, wounding one.
On the Robots’ right, the Warrior Units 2.4 and 2.5 continued their advance, seizing more fuel cells and wiping out the Pathfinders. That flank was now firmly held by the mechanical xenos: how would the Imperials respond?
In the center of the field, the Annihilators concentrated their firepower on the Battle Brothers who had assailed them, wiping them out. The Wolf Brothers slammed into them to avenge their cousins, dragging down one Annihilator, but losing two of their number in the melee.
On the Robots’ left flank, a unit of Battle Brothers rushed up and grabbed the fuel cells that an Annihilator from Unit 4.2 had previously picked up, but had dropped [I had taken the objective, but had moved off it, and Nate’s guys claimed it]. The two armies were bloodied and broken, and both began to withdraw with the supplies they had captured.
Yblis’ Centurions: Two objectives
Battle Brothers/Wolf Brothers: Two objectives
Outcome: Tie game
I was winning handily throughout the game, but fumbled at the end, and only managed a tie. One of my Annihilators took an objective on my left flank, but failed to stay within 3″ of it, which allowed a squad of Nate’s Battle Brothers to rush in on the last turn and take the objective from me. That was a careless error that I will chalk up to being rusty, seeing as how I hadn’t played in about nine months. That will teach me to pay more attention next time!
Nate had a solid list, and played decently. The only big error he made was deploying his three-man unit of Support Brothers (Devastator Squad) out in the open, where my Evil Robotz™ could vaporize them.
Dylan needed to get his Wolf Lord into that big hand-to-hand scrum in the center of the board, not taking pot shots from the sidelines. Dylan also has this bad habit of flying his Gunship right up into the bad guy’s faces, which then allows said bad guys to take it out. This isn’t the first time that’s happened.
When shooting at Aircraft in Grimdark Future, there’s a 12″ penalty to range: had he kept his Gunship back, it would have done a lot of damage and come through the battle unscathed. Now he knows better.
A rematch will soon be in order!
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