Hello Vietnam! or trying out the Regiment

hellovietnamLast Wednesday we went to a family cabin of mine with the plan for alcohol, sauna and games. Good times!

I had originally thought of hosting something of a Kaiju-themed evening with King of Tokio and an AWhack called Monster Force Terra by James Mullen. As I was feeling a bit sick at the morning I decided to take The Regiment hack by John Harper instead as I knew it would more or less run itself with the guys I was going to the cabin anyway.

We started out the gaming with a little MTG Commander but quickly turned our attention to The Regiment. As all of the players were experienced with the Powered by Apocalypse World games it did not takes us long to get the things up and running.

I am not a huge fan of players running with multiple characters or henchmen. I might have not had great experiences with such games but I knew this was not the time to try it out either. So the main premises for the little encounter we played was simple.

“Your platoon was caught in an ambush beyond enemy lines and you three are the only survivors.”

And it was all we needed. The players were keen on checking out their characters, coming up with handle names and discussing Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now. We had a short playlist of suitable background music and began the game in less than half an hour.

The survivors of the platoon were “Cake” the Medic, “Blind Shot” the Sniper and “Duke” the Commando. As the commanding officer Duke had the last word on the actions the group was about to take. He was determined to lead his boys back home and aced the setup move called “Engage”.

The Engage move lets you to determine how well the battle plan for the group has been planned in advance. There are eight plans to choose from and they cover most of the option this kind of game needs. Most times this kind of planning takes up most of the session but Engage handily allowed us to skip it and get straight into the action.

Naturally it all went hell afterwards.

The group had a strong starting position on a hill that offered protection. They Assessed the situation and saw that the enemy outpost along the river was not as far as they had originally taught it would be. So naturally they wanted to get into the action and decided to take out a guarding tower with Commando’s explosives before withdrawing from enemy territory.

Commando failed his Combat Action move (which I judged was the closest of Acting Under Fire in this hack) drawing the Medic with him into the trouble. The commando was spotted from the tower and the Medic stumbled on an enemy trap. As I have no clue about the war in Vietnam and are not that interested in knowledge of modern warfare on any front I asked the players what kind of trap they had sprung. Without a moments hesitation one of them said a “grenade trap”. I jumped to that like a hungry fox and exploded the Medic. He did survive though, lucky bastard.

In the following fire fight we had the chance to test out the damage system of the Regiment. It is very different from any hack I have seen and it I had no idea how it would work when we started. But as it turned out it was very well thought of and gave the combat some needed randomness.

The players were able to storm the guarding tower and kill the soldiers posted there (up close and personal, naturally) but the planting of bombs did not go well. Commando missed his move and the hidden enemies jumped them. Knife fighting proved almost lethal to the Commando but with the intervention of the Sniper the Medic got away. The Commando lost all of his gear but managed to crawl back to their starting positing with his guts hanging out.

IMG_6673This allowed the characters with a much needed break to heal themselves and Blow Off Steam. As a non-smoking (and evil) GM I had ruled that even though we were playing outdoors the players could not smoke unless they were able to use the Blow Off Steam-move that uses Smokes. It really heightened the action and the frustration and even though it annoyed the hell out my players they saw it as a great way to support the mechanics.

The three kings held their last stand at the top of the hill and were able to finish of their enemies with a few lucky rolls.

So we managed to play through one encounter and had a lot of fun. So much fun actually that we might some day return to this hack.

There were a couple of minor drawbacks though. As the hack does not have examples and is written in a way that requires knowledge of the original system it is not for all. It is a strategical rpg meaning that most actions involve minmaxing the equipment and planning on how to lead the action on. It can be extreme fun but again only for a group that thinks this kind of game enjoyable. It is actually quite interesting how much it actually differs from Apocalypse World while at the same time keeping what is interesting in the said system.

The main problem our group had was the use of Attack move. It does not require any dice roll. You just deal out damage. In most cases it makes no sense to not to use it as it actually (rules as written) does not offer any drawback. I think we might have ruled it in a wrong way and that it would make much more sense with an example. The hack is not complete though. And in fact there is a 2.5 version of the rules but as they involve space marines (not the ones Games Workshop tried to copyright) we did not use it.

As a final summary I’d say it was an excellent hack that I would very much like to see developed further with added examples to make it clearer.

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