Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Inquisitor - First Impressions

Last night I mostly played inquisitor for the first ever time; although possibly played is a strong word given my level of input into the drama unfolding outside a space port, which was somewhere near a planet that I couldn’t pronounce let alone spell (a bit like trying to campaign in Russia in fact so I should have felt at home!). Inquisitor in 40k scale has been a big hit at the RGMB club over the past few years, and there’s always a constant stream of laughter and tall tales coming out the each game which makes you wish you had taken part. However, after such a big build-up, I was a bit disappointed when I took part.

Now to be absolutely clear about this: The storyline was fine, the games master and his delivery/direction of the action was good, and all my comrades in arms were the ones I would have picked to play a game of Inquisitor with. The reason I was disappointed was actually down to the number of people playing the game.

Having played Warhammer Quest for many years I should have remembered the problem that a large number of participants brings. Because the type of game encourages free thought and speech in deciding what each individual will do next, then the more players there are will increase the length of the turn significantly. Four tends to be the magic number which gets everything flowing smoothly in Quest, and I think that may also do well in Inquisitor. As it was there were eventually seven players, and as is to be expected a few were left a bit in the shadows and unable to make a telling input on the game. I certainly struggled to work out at times what exactly was going on, and felt that not a lot of what I did as my character changed or drove what the group did.

The slow speed at which it all progressed meant that it took until 9pm (2.5hrs) for models to be placed on a board, but due to the exploring being done there wasn’t enough time for any actual fighting to be done. Not being part of the exploring I decided to head off once my lift arrived at 9:45pm feeling a certain level of jealousy towards those playing 40k and Warhammer downstairs!

What actually happened from my point of view:

I chose a character called Maximus Gittus (nickname - ’The Bear’); a storm trooper by trade armed with the traditional hellgun, rangefinder, laspistol, grenade compliment and carapace armour. All of which combined to make me very slow, although never really got the chance to test that.

I was initially joined by two imperial guardsmen (Red & Neil), a sniper complete with batty/raven thing (Malc), a gunslinger (Alan), and an Arbite with a cyber doggy (Beth). We were travelling towards a planet which had been subject to a rebellion, I think we were advancing ahead of an imperial fleet but I‘m not sure on that.

Upon arrival we decided to dock with the space station in orbit above the planet which was obviously on fire and clearly didn’t anything to do with us - all the computers were down and we had no way of docking with them. Eventually we made our way down to the space port of the planet, and after lengthy negotiations with the Arbite defenders managed to land where we gained some intelligence on the rebellion (some sort of inciting the masses - “grab your pitchforks and follow me!” job).

Our Inquisitor (Mr Crish - aka the man who pay the wages) having joined us, he, the Arbite and the gunslinger went off on bikes and a Rhino to check out some wreckage that might hold a clue as too how the rebellion started, while the sniper organised the Arbites into a defence against a predicted incoming rebel assault, while me and the two guardsmen stood around like lemons waiting for some action (not strictly true, the other two got to hover in a valkyrie armed with heavy stubbers). With action not appearing to be imminent my character slopped off to find the nearest bar.

Looking back I originally thought we were on our way to meet another Inquisitor who had a potentially important artefact but we seemed to get drawn into a civil war, I could be wrong on this though.

First impressions of the game then:

The level of detail of the world which is created around the players was very impressive, as is the variety of things you are able to do in this world - both silly and sensible. Intelligent thought is generally rewarded and the games master did a good job of guiding the group to roughly where they needed to be with plausible reasons rather than just saying ’no, you can’t do that’. Having looked at the rules for the actual fighting they look enjoyable and realistic, and I think my storm trooper would do quite well, although I also got the impression that the lack of a psyker or healer would have cost us at some point once combat arrived.

Final conclusion:

Inquisitor is a fun game which plenty of scope for imagination and independent thought, as well as blowing the crap out of anyone that gets in the way. I will play it again if I get a chance to, but preferably in a smaller group where the action should move quicker. This would also mean I would have much more of an idea of what was happening and have an actual effect on what was happening around my character, rather than being doomed to wait for the inevitable gunfight to erupt, which last night it sadly didn’t.

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