AT-43: The Rulebook
Reviewed by: Ron McClung
AT-43: The Rulebook is a new Core Rulebook from Rackham.
AT-43 is a very unique and dynamic game universe and game system. A player starts out with the starter set, Operation Damocles, and if they want more, they can start by buying the AT-43: The Rulebook.
From the back cover:
“No one escapes war”
The AT-43: The Rulebook takes you beyond the basic scenarios presented in Operation Damocles and introduces the core rules in one comprehensive volume. Not only does it have rules but it also has chapters on each of the four factions in AT-43. For those that have read the rules presented in Operation Damocles, those rules were the basic rules. AT-43: The Rulebook contains the advanced rules for the more experienced miniature game player.
The Introduction to AT-43 gives you the rundown of what the game concept is – the basics of the universe, the starter box, unit and attachment boxes, accessories, and some general information about the miniatures themselves. It tells you what you need to play and what would be nice to have as well. It is a short guide that basically tells a person what getting into AT-43 entails.
After the intro, the book delves into the game universe. Aside from the game play, the rules system, and the minis, this is what really grabs me about the game. The universe is rich with potential and depth. I am not sure how important that is to hard core minis players, but it is to me. Humans from Ava have expanded from their own little world under a central world government known as the United Nations of Ava. After a period of turmoil and rebellion, the Red Block was born – a new faction within the humans that believed in Collectivism (aka Communism). Then the Therians came – an alien race of machines bent on re-sculpting the universe to their liking. Among the many races that the humans of Ava encountered, only one was successful in fending off the Therian attack – the ape-like Karmans.
The first faction that the book covers is the UNA – the United Nations of Ava. With their White Star elite forces, they see themselves as the defenders of good and part of the most advanced human power in their universe. All the factions are divided up into three sub-factions. The UNA is made up of Central Command (CentCom), the Military Industrial Complex (M.Ind), and the Union (a.k.a. the Syndicate). CentCom is the military command structure of UNA. M.Ind is industrial complex, producing all the goods the UNA needs. The Union or Syndicate is the civilian governmental and legal structure.
Next are the Therians, the scourge of the galaxy. They are the re-sculptors of the universe, molding it to their liking. They are masters of technology beyond anything the humans of Ava have seen. They are linked under a single chaotic mind known as the Consensus. These creatures remind me of a cross between Star Trek Borg, Terminator’s Skynet, and the machines of the Matrix. The sub-factions of the Therians are the Cyphers, the Warriors, and the Web Striders. The Cyphers are the engineers and scientists of the Therians, forging the technology they need to sculpt the galaxy. The Warriors use the technology to do the will of the Consensus. And the Web Striders are incorporeal beings that travel within the Therian technology searching for their mechanical gods hidden in their collective consciousness.
The Red Block is the other faction of humans, born from rebellious colonists within the UNA. Modeled after the communist Soviet Union, the Red Block philosophy focuses around the central concept of Collectivism. After the UNA reached out to the stars, one colony rebelled and created a new faction of humans. There is no love lost between the UNA and the Red Block, but with the new invasion of the Therians, they have been forced to put their differences aside (for the most part) to fight a common enemy. In their society, the Supra is the iron-handed government; the ARC or Army of the Revolutionary Collective is the military; and the Local Collective of Ava or Frontline is the “paradise” the Red Block is establishing on Ava, the factory base for the faction, and the capital of the Revolution.
The Karmans are wise simian creatures, with a strong fatalistic philosophy. They divide themselves out into the Libra, the Nova, and the Flux. The Libra preserve the philosophy of the Karmans and lead them into whatever path they take. The Nova are the arbitrators of the Karmans, ruling on law and consequences. The Flux are the soldiers. The Karman have a strong philosophy of action and reaction. They believe that their current life has been determined by actions of a previous one and so on.
From the back cover:
“Ava. A planet lost in the midst of many others, and yet the cradle of a bold and aggressive species: Mankind”
After giving you the primer for each faction., the AT-43: The Rulebook takes you into the rules of the game. These rules advance those given in the Initiation Set. The rules in Operation Damocles get you through just enough to play with that particular set. The Rulebook gives you the detailed rules enough to start playing any scenario of AT-43. Needless to say, there are more rules involved in this version.
Units are a group of one or more fighters of the same category. These units must maintain group cohesion while in play, as defined in the rules, always moving together. Units are divided in two primary categories and they are in turn broken down into two subcategories. Infantry figures are either Soldiers or Support Units, and have a ranking of one, two or three stars (regular, elite, or battlesuit respectively) representing their role in the army. Armored Fighting Vehicles are either Combat Striders or Vehicles. There can also be special fighters – support weapons/gunners, officers, heroes, special weapons bearers, and specialists. Each type of figure is accompanies with a corresponding card, which displays the various stats describing the combat abilities. Cards include variations including officer versions of the unit.
There are sharp differences between the Initiation Set rules and The Rulebook. Each phase of a round is more detailed and has more options. A game rounds is broken down into three phases:
- Tactical Phase
- Activation Phase
- Control Phase
The Tactical Phase includes Calculating Leadership, Ordering the Activation Sequence, and Authority Test. Leadership points (LPs) are a key concept in the game. They are the points one spends throughout the round to acquire tactical advantages or issue combat drills. At the end of the round, any unspent LPs are lost. Ordering the Activation Sequence is like the similar phase in the starter set. Each player lays face down the cards representing each unit in the order that he wants them to act. This order can not be changed unless LPs are spent. Finally, the Authority Test is used to determine initiative.
There is an important distinction that each player has to understand when the Tactical Phase starts – the one between Leaders, Officers and the Commander. The Leaders of a player’s company command each unit. If he dies, then another soldier takes his role. An Officer is a Leader of a unit if he exists, but is not replaceable. The Commander is the highest ranking officer in the company.
As the name implies, the Activation Phase is where all the action happens. Using LPs for activation, the units can shoot, move, attack in close combat, or perform Combat Drills which allow the unit to perform special actions. These can be Knee to the Ground (take cover), Overwatch (opportunity fire), Take Cover (infantry takes cover), and Split Fire (for special units). The rules go into great detail on combat, dedicating a chapter on Shooting and Close Combat. One key thing to remember when activating is that if you use a Combat Movement, you can attack before AND after you move the unit. Movement, as well as Range, is measured with the measuring tape and done in centimeters.
Combat is easy and fast. There are two roles involved – the attack roll and the damage roll. Like in the Operation Damocles Initiation Set, the game uses the Universal Table of Resolution. Shooting and Close Combat are resolved similarly. The only difference is the values used to calculate the difficulty. From the unit, you get the Action value, and from your target, the Difficulty is determined. The difference between the two gives you the value on the table to look up, which in turn gives you the die value to be rolled. What I like about this system is its simplicity and consistency. It makes for a fast paced and easy to play game.
The Control Phase is where the players assess the overall victory conditions, victory points and reinforcement points. Once that is all figured, the round is over and a new one has started.
An important concept in the game is Morale. A Morale test is made when a unit is in a dire situation. This depends on the type of unit. An infantry unit might require a Morale check if it is down to 3 or fewer members. If the Morale check fails, the unit could be disorganized or routed. These conditions are defined fairly clearly in the rules.
Much of the latter part of the book is dedicated to building your units and armies. The game uses a fairly simple point system that lets you build your units and customize them for the game at hand. Infantry Units are made of specific types of models and can be customized with special weapons and equipment. Many of the striders come with customizable weapons that snap on and off. Smaller striders can form units of 2 or 3 while larger ones are units on their own.
When I played this game, we did a 8000 total point battle between my UNA units allied with a friends Red Block, attacking a 4000 point Karma army. The army building went very fast and simple. It is advised that the players have the Army books (sold separately) on hand when building their armies.
The layout of the book is great. The art is simply stunning. The miniature photography is brilliant. The rules are clearly illustrated and the use of the photography to illustrate some of the rules is very helpful.
In conclusion, this book only reinforced the attraction I have to this game. I do not play a lot of miniature games, but after reviewing the base set and this book, I really do enjoy this one. In playing the game, I found it flowed easy and fast … very fast. The only road bumps we hit were with special abilities of some of the specialized units. The core system ran smoothly and fast.
For more details on Rackham and their new Core Rulebook “AT-43: The Rulebook” check them out at their website http://www.at-43.com and at all of your local game stores.
AT-43: The Rulebook
Type of Game: Core Rulebook
Editorial Director: Jean Bey
Designers/Writers: Arnaud Cuidet, Jean-Baptiste Lullien, Nicolas Raoult, Jerome Rigal
Graphic Artists/Illustrators: Matthias Haddad, Mathieu Harlaut, Goulven Quentel, Wayne England, Davide Fabbri, Paul Jeacock, Karl Kopinski, Florent Maudoux, Adrian Smith, Kevin Walker, Richard Wright, Alessia Zambonin, Paolo Parente
Scuptors/Miniature Designers: Chippy Dugan, Wayne England, Davide Fabbri, Endouard Guiton, Paul Jeacock, Karl Kopinski, William Mordefroy, Adrian Smith, Kevin Walker, Paolo Parente
Number of Pages: 128
Game Components Included: One core rule book
Game Components Not Included: miniatures, accessories, tape measure and dice
Retail Price: $25.00 (US)
Retail Price: 25.00 (EUR)
Number of Players: 2+
Player Ages: 13+
Play Time: 30+ min
Reviewed by: Ron McClung