A place to contain all my ramblings , rantings and ridiculous plans mostly hobby related but with a smattering of comment on real life . The hobbies are basically all things gaming this covers a wide scope for me everything from tabletop wargaming through boardgames , card games and roleplaying to Live action role-play and re-enactment ; there may even be a little computer gaming comment.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Cutlass - A first Impression

                     Last night at 4TK we played our first couple of games of Cutlass by Black Scorpion . The basic premise of the game is a pirate skirmish game with an ongoing campaign system . Having always enjoyed Mordheim the chance to play something similar but with pirates was not one I could avoid . Alongside the more "normal" human pirates , privateers and Royal Navy the game allows for dwarves, elves, undead and orcs (including a cracking giant) so there is a good range of options to suit everyone .
                        Our games last night were just a trial of the rules system and we didn't go into the campaign rules as we wanted to get to grip with the basic mechanics first of all . I have to say that the mechanics were quite different from the usual run of the mill stuff but really rather excellent . Now assuming we had got it right (and given the experience of the players , somewhere in the region of 90 years between the 3 of us, I think we did) the first interesting element was the action point system .
                        Both forces roll for their action points at the start of each turn and the highest scorer becomes the active player , they then spend their points and keeping activating models until the opposing player can interrupt , they decide to pass or they run out of points . Each action point that is spent allows the player to do a single action (move or shoot or fight etc.) with the number of models indicated by the number of remaining action points ie. if a player has 8 action points and spends his first point on a move then he can move 8 models if he then uses an action point to shoot then he can shoot with 7 models and so on .When an opponent finds that he is in a situation to interrupt he must spend an action point  but only gets a chance to activate the interrupting model despite the number of remaining action points . This means that the spending of action points in itself is a very tactical decision and can lead to some excellent and difficult choices.
                           The core combat mechanic was another excellent surprise and very intuitive when shooting fighting and damaging the players dice against each other ( a system similar to one we used in Rezolution ) which keeps all the players in the game all the time . A models stat line is given as a series of dice ranging from D4 to D20 and is effected by various conditions that either raise or lower the dice used according to whether they are beneficial or detrimental , ie. if a model was shooting it would be using its accuracy dice lets say  a D8 and its opponent would roll its dexterity dice a D6 for example , the shooters dice would get reduced to a D6 as his target is behind cover and the target may be injured and thus his dice would be reduced to a D4. these dice are then rolled and the defenders is taken away from the attackers and the charts in the book are checked to see the effects . These rolls are open ended so if the highest roll is scored on the dice then another  similar dice is rolled and it's  score is added to the result . This system is used throughout and makes it very quick to pick up and easy to judge what needs rolling .
                                        All in all we found the system very playable and enjoyable with a sound set of core mechanics that led to some excellent tactical decision making and fast play with plenty of mayhem and unexpected results.


  1. Hey dude, nice write up (could do with some paragraph breaks though, cos wall of text crits you for 320 damage)

    Had a quick shufty through some of the special actions you can do (the only one of which we were using was reload) and there's a whole bunch of extra stuff you can do, including hide and more importantly ready. Ready seems to allow you to a) get a bonus to any Reaction rolls and b) make reactions not cost you an action.

    Thinking about it though, you'd have to do it sometime when you want to pass, cos they have to be readied when you're active and can only really be used when you're not...

    Anyway, there's a whole bunch of other stuff we weren't doing/using, but I think we got the basics pretty much right in the end. Few minor hiccups for the details but we'll get there in the end :)

  2. Ok, this one i'll entitle "Things what we was doing wrong and stuff" I'm doing this as i'm reading the book, so it's gonna be a bit of a mess :)

    So, first off and not a particularly huge one, but the bonus dice? Yeah, that's choose the highest, not add them together :D (I wondered about that, cos it seemed that bonus dice was waaay more powerful than additional levels...)

    We also definitely need to remember that leaders can make reaction checks even if you have zero action points left...

    If the leader is taken out or legs it, the temporary leader is the next highest cost model and has a temporary AU of D4 (not -1 level like we played it)

    Also gotta remember to do the spooked test after being hit by ranged fire. Think we missed that quite a lot.

    Skills. Need to remember those too. Also dual wielding can be done with weapons that aren't two-handed. Could be handy :)

    Other than that, it looks like we were doing ok. Just need to incorporate the encounters and campaign play next time to get a handle on that!

  3. Thanks for the mini review - it sounds very interesting.

    My buddies (including my Lad) are been doing some Dark Age skirmish gaming with Vikings and Saxons, but maybe Pirates can be next!

  4. Been keeping an eye on this, but depth of detail in most previews seems rather thin. I like the sound of the campaign system, and greatly prefer skirmish level games, but to be honest the names associated with it do not fill me with confidence.

    But, since I can't get my hands on it for a while anyway, perhaps you wouldn't mind answering a few questions:

    1. What's important for the models? Are there a ton of special abilities (Malifaux) a balance (Warmachine) or really none to speak of(Flames of War)?

    2. How large (model count) is a standard crew?

    3. How long did a game take to play at the standard level?

    4. And an actual rules question... Reading "When an opponent finds that he is in a situation to interrupt he must spend an action point but only gets a chance to activate the interrupting model despite the number of remaining action points" set off a vague red flag. If the activating player basically gets X actions per AP spent, but the interrupting player gets 1 AP for each spent, it would seem to make reacting a very, VERY bad idea? If we've both got 7 AP and I react, I've sacrificed 6 AP.

    Also, what's the actual roll? The action counter is basically geometric - if I roll 8 AP and you roll 6 that's FIFTEEN extra actions I have over you. That seems pretty huge.

    Honestly, I trust there's something in there I don't know about, because it sounds too stupidly huge an imbalance to not have something. But then again, there's a reason I don't play GW games... ;)

  5. Thanks for the comments chaps
    Just a quick answer for now I'll go into more depth once the holiday's are over.
    1.Very similar to Mordhiem A couple of skills per model and a few weapon options.
    2. Our starting crews were between 6 and 10 models but they seem to rise fairly quickly to the 20-30 mark once in campaign
    3 . Our second game took about an hour and this was whilst we were still learning the rules
    4. basically yes if you spend an action point to interupt it can be very detrimental however by careful use of the "ready" action this short fall can be avoided TBH we're still get to grips with the rules so sure theres loads that we're missing.
    The rolls for starting gangs are D8 for APs .

  6. I'll be curious to see how it works out in practice with the AP rolls. I'm having a hard time seeing how a bad AP roll doesn't hose the entire game - I roll a 2 and get 3 actions, you roll an 8 and get 36.

    Looking forward to more review.