Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reading Rogue Trader, Part Three

Moving on with the Combat chapter of my review of Rogue Trader...

These rules are a bit fiddly for my tastes, with 1/2" movement penalties, encumbrance, and facing considerations. These rules would not be bad with a dozen models on the table (perfectly acceptable in Rogue Trader), but will bog down the game with 30-40 models per side.

I am not against the encumbrance idea, but most armies had access to Suspensors, mini anti-grav generators that removed these penalties. Armour could cause encumbrance penalties as well, but these were some of the 1/2" penalties mentioned above that could make measuring a bit of a pain.

Facing of individual models was also an issue. Models could be turned up to 90 degrees before, after, or during their move. Any additional turns cost 1/2" of movement. The Example is tortured...

Example: A Space Marine is being pursued by his foes. He is facing them, and must make a 180 degree turn to face in the opposite direction ( a 1/2" penalty - the first 90 degree turn is free). The player moves the model a further 2 1/2" and turns 180 degrees to face his enemies once more (a 1" penalty). Total 1/2 + 2 1/2 + 1 = a move of 4 inches.

Arrgh! First of all why bother to get a whole 2 1/2" farther away when your enemies can probably advance 4" toward you without turning? Second, The game will run a lot slower, both because of the additional calculations and slower effective movement rates. Third, even though Space Marines lack the 'And They Shall Know No Fear' rule in Rogue Trader, MY Space Marines don't retreat voluntarily.

There is one rule I miss from this chapter and will certainly use when I get some games on the table...

Splitting Units
If a player wishes, part of a unit may be split off into one or more smaller units of as few as one model. These sub-units must be given specific tasks such as 'hold the ravine and give cover' or 'scout to the ridge and report enemy activity'. The new unit must obey the instructions AS INTERPRETED BY THE GM (see part one of this series if you missed it). The only action the sub unit could take beyond their orders was to move to rejoin it's parent unit (and would automatically do so if forced from their task). I could see ordering the guy with the Slow weapon (move or fire) to take a static position and cover the advance of the rest of the unit.

The inability to change a sub-unit's orders after they are deployed gives me the impression that the average soldier's personal comms weren't very advanced. I think that fits in perfectly with my vision of the Rogue Trader universe. This one of those forgotten rules that added a lot of character without being overly complicated (like the turning rules above). I'm sure there are goofy ways to take unfair advantage with this, but I don't play that way (yeah, I lose a lot).

Reserve Moves
Basically the same as the modern game in the fact that models that do not shoot may move double their normal speed. In Rogue Trader it was just split into two phases. Again, not a problem for small games and I like the tactical aspect of it, but moving 100 orks twice per turn could be a pain! The second round of movement takes place after the Close Combat phase.

Next time, Shooting!


  1. I'm enjoying reading these write-ups, thanks! :)


  2. I agree with most of your assessments...but I must say that I'm a big fan of reserve moves. I know most people these days prefer "marching" instead...but reserve movers allow you to be more tactically flexible. the tactical situation can change dramatically between your movement and reverse move phases in which case you may want to shift your troops in a different direction than you would have at the beginning of the turn. Thats my two cents...and probably over priced at that! :)

    1. Yes, Reserve Moves was meant to be one of the things I liked. I'm not planning on games with more than 20-30 models per side right now, so I don't think it will be a problem at all. I just have a 'modern' 40k Ork army, apparently designed with the goal of not being able to fit into my deployment zone, and thought of moving them twice per turn is a bit vexing!