Monday, 18 February 2013

Warhammer 40K: Deathwatch - Play Impressions

Yesterday our usual Sunday gaming group got to play our first session of Deathwatch, FFG's Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game where you taken on the roles of a unit of superhuman soldiers called Space Marines.

My buddy did a really good job GM'ing the game and brought us right into the grim darkness of the Warhammer 40K RPG line. I'm the only one for our group who has never played Warhammer tabletop, and knew probably the least amount of in-universe lore. But I did do a bit of research into the general history and themes inherent therein to attain the proper mindset. Aside from reading up on it I've listened to an audiobook, watched the mediocre Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie, and even built an appropriate music playlist. (A possible future Music To Roleplay To segment..)

Our kill-squad consisted of a Storm Warden Tactical Marine, a Salamander Librarian, a Dark Angel Apothecary, and my Dark Angel Devastator Marine. Our GM provided us with the Space Marine bitz, pieces, and paint to craft our own custom PC miniatures. Here's a snapshot of my dude, Glaucus, painted up Deathwatch style:

Glaucus, Deathwatch Devastator Marine

I'm hoping to spend a bit more time detailing him. I'm not a huge tactical/war gamer and the cost to buy into 40K is far too high IMHO, though I did enjoy painting my own mini. Alas, I can also see that enjoyment wain when one has to spend time painting an entire army. I'll stick with my one mini and the RPG. :)


Our squad attempting to rescue a group of Imperial Guardsmen from a Tyranid hoard.

And although I'm not a player of tabletop 40K, I can totally see the appeal for those that play it to also play/GM Deathwatch, particularly being able to get additional use out of their miniatures! :)

Our final battle with a Hive Tyrant. We were victorious!

I found the d-percentile based system a little crunchy, but gameplay flowed pretty simple otherwise. There are a number of Space Marine Chapters and career specialities to select from, along with a decent helping of starting XP to customize your character and differentiate him from your fellow Deathwatch battle-brothers. The game gets a little bogged down having to reference what certain abilities, weapons, and/or special ammunition deal versus a variety of things; a similarity with the amount of referencing to most d20-based games, but the same could also be said for many other RPGs. 

An interesting feature is Solo mode and Squad mode; certain abilities only work in one of the two modes. Solo mode works best for individual combat and is very similar to how most PCs function during combat in most RPGs. Squad mode allows your team to link together and function as a single cohesive unit, gaining access to specific abilities, actions, and/or attack patterns. Quite novel.

All in all, I look forward to continuing with our Deathwatch sessions.

Glory to the Emperor! ;{١