Today we tried out This is Not a Test, a set of post-apocalyptic skirmish/warband rules from World’s End Publishing.
The campaign is set following the Great Fall, the cataclysmic war that erupted in 2077. Nuclear weapons, bio-toxins, and other weapons of mass destruction devastated the United States and the world beyond. The days of darkness that followed are known as the Long Night. Most electronics—including vehicles—have been rendered useless by the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) of nuclear detonations, forcing the few survivors to rely on more simple technologies. While a few small “free cities” have emerged, must of the United States has become vast wasteland. Various mutations and other dangers abound.
Our first game was the “Snipe Hunt” scenario. Two rival warbands were searching a ruined torn search of salvageable materials, and perhaps even still-functional relics of bygone technology. The area is full of dangerous mutant creatures however: giant insect, huge scorpions, and mutant spiders.
My opponent fielded a group of raiders led by Sally “Fifty-Cal Sal” Beretta, a dangerous warlord armed with a powerful sniper rifle.
- Fifty-Cal Sal (Warlord, sniper rifle)
- Dick Danger (Champion, pistol)
- Jaxxon P. Samuels (Champion, shotgun)
- Mohawk (Raider, assault rifle)
- Finius (Maniac, axe)
- Fido (Mongrel)
- Rex (Mongrel)
For my part, I assumed the role of Judge Jakob D. Redd, a brutal travelling law-enforcer. Together with my officers, I also had several convicts with me—all of whom had been given a chance to earn their freedom by doing the dirty work of the Court, and all of whom had been wired with explosives in order to assure due compliance with the Law.
- Judge Jakob D. Redd (hanging judge, submachine gun)
- Sgt. Igneous Rok (Quartermaster, assault rifle)
- Officer Alfred Alpha (Officer, submachine gun)
- Officer Betty Bravo (Officer, submachine gun)
- Officer Charlene Charlie (Officer, submachine gun)
- Convict 276 (Sacrificial lamb, shovel)
- Convict 372 (Sacrificial lamb, shovel)
- Convict 491 (Sacrificial lamb, pick)
It started off well enough—Sal took a shot at one of the officers, but he was saved by his riot armour. Then a giant mutant mosquito attacked, but Sgt. Rok quickly dispatched it. Finius and the two mongrels came racing towards our positions, but I sent a couple of convicts forward.
Jaxxon sneaking through an abandoned factory.
One of the prisoners was taken down, but the other I managed to detonate—putting one of the rabid critters out of the fight. Further to the west, the third convict even managed to find one of the objectives, before being devoured by a huge scorpion lurking in a ruined church.
Inside a ruined church, a convict becomes scorpion-food.
Finally, Officer Bravo climbed atop a huge industrial complex in search of another objective, pursued by Jaxxon. Judge Jakob turned, fired a burst from his SMG, and took Jaxxon down.
Jaxxon and Officer Bravo face off atop the factory. Moments later, Judge Jakob would gun down Jaxxon from below. Moments after that, Officer Bravo would be taken out by Fifty-Cal Sal from her sniper’s perch across the street.
Then things began to fall apart. Officer Bravo was hit by Sal and her fearsome sniper rifle. Dick Danger shot the Judge twice, putting him out or action. We decided to retreat while we could. Fortunately none of our wounds were fatal. Still, that left Sal and her gang to discover four of the objectives—and vital clues to a hidden relic.
All told, it was a very good game. The rules are straight-forward, gameplay is fast, and the initiative/activation system is outstanding. We did introduce one house rule: rather than have control of creatures alternate between players, we diced for for control of each one each turn, thus introducing somewhat greater unpredictability.
The campaign/RPG rules are good too—not too much detail, but enough to allow you to grow, equip, and customize your warband over time. It looks like we’ll be playing This is Not a Test again soon.