Thursday 2 April 2020

Tabletop Review - Urban Manhunt: The Miniatures Game

Urban Manhunt: The Miniatures Game
Spectrum Games
Designed by Cynthia Celeste Miller

Reviewed by Dave Mustill
All miniatures painted by the reviewer

Buy the game Here!

Tonight's main event is a man vs. man, no holds barred, fully armed and operational TV gameshow fight-to-the-death! The zone has been cleared, the supply pods are activated, the crims are in the tubes and the hunters are making their way to the entrance areas. Welcome to the future of post-apocalypse viewing. Welcome to Urban Manhunt.

Set in an alternate timeline 50 years from now, Urban Manhunt is a tabletop miniatures game that draws its inspiration from 70's and 80's pulp movies like Escape From New York, The Warriors and The Running Man. The players control larger-than-life Hunter characters as they pursue their criminal quarry through decaying urban zones, all the while being filmed for prime time television. Each hunter is armed to the teeth with weapons and survival skills, but the "crims" are no pushover! From Cheap Thugs and Petty Crooks to Cyborg Bullies and Ex-Commandos, these dregs of the near-future are fighting for their freedom and someone thought it would be more sporting to give them weapons to do so! Points are awarded for kills, with more spectacular finishing moves earning a higher reward. All this inside a 4ft square play area, you know it's going to be brutal!

As this is just a rule set you will need to provide miniatures and terrain to play the game, as well as a set of 8, 10, and 12 sided dice and a measuring implement. A densely packed urban wasteland is the recommended setup, ideally crammed with as much rubble and debris in the crowded streets as possible! "Tubes" are placed within the zone to represent the Crim entry points, followed by the "Pods", used for resupply and replenishment. Each Hunter is placed in a different corner, the initial Crims are generated and the game is ready to begin.

There are 3 different types of cards that define Urban Manhunt: Control, Crim, and Event cards. They are available as a download/print-and-play when you buy the game. Crim cards are shuffled and randomised to determine which of the lowlife scum you will be hunting in this session. Control cards form the basis of the game direction, including when to use the Event cards. Event cards are unexpected happenings that keep the action interesting...Each turn is broken down into four phases: Control, Hunter, Crim, End. In the Control phase the top card of the Control deck is revealed by the First Player, and remains in play until the next turn. In this phase it indicates whether pods should be re-stocked, Event cards should be played and if fresh criminals should be added to the Zone (always at a maximum of 1 per hunter +2). Then it's on to the main part of the game, the Hunter Phase. Players activate their Hunter(s) in turn, each receiving 2 actions per phase (Move, Shoot, Fight, Spot, Rest, Focus, Universal) which may be the same one twice if required. Any checks involved (i.e. Shooting or agility) are made rolling a number of D10s equal to the Hunter's relevant attribute score, requiring a 6 or higher to score a success, with a specified number of successes required to pass the check. One of the D10's is designated the "Impact Die" and has effects in addition to the normal success rolls; On a 10 Momentum is gained by the Hunter, as well as an additional reward, and a potential push back in combat. Momentum can be used to enhance Hunters, using bonuses listed on the specific character's data card at a variable cost. Dice (except the impact Die) can also be up- and downgraded to D12 or D8 to give advantages or disadvantages to rolls due to various circumstances, skills, or dirty tricks. When all Hunters have been activated, it's the Crim's turn...

For this phase we refer back to the Control Card. Each Crim has a demeanour listed on their character card along with actions listed as 1, 2, and 3. The Control card lists each demeanour type and a number to indicate what Crims of that type do this round. Some actions have choices and a die roll to make , others are simply listed. The actions will be Fight, Shoot, Flee, Hide, Seek Cover, or Charge and are activated using a simple automator system listed in the rulebook. The First Player activates each Crim on the Board once in turn and the phase is done.

The End Phase is a simple clear up, unless the last Control Card was drawn from the deck at the start of the turn. In this case the First Player rolls a die against the "Game Ends On" score listed on the card. If it succeeds, the game ends!

The first thing that strikes you about this game is its inspirations. Not just the movie feel mentioned earlier, but also the look and style of the rulebook. It's very 80's, almost like it comes from that time when independent companies and writers would just put a book together and get it out there into the wargame shops. I have several books on my shelf right now that this could be a direct descendant of (Kryomek and WH40k Rogue Trader 1st ed. come to mind). This is by no means a bad thing! I experienced a huge pang of nostalgia as I flicked through it for the first time, and that certainly drew me further into the game. It does have a slightly amateur (yet consistent) look about it, but don't let this put you off. This game is obviously a labour of love for Cynthia Celeste Miller and friends, and this passion shines through the rulebook! Too many over-priced books these days are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and padded with half-arsed stories and product placements. Here all of the background and fiction are relevant and immersive, helping to build a fairly deep world that many writers would be jealous of! The system is also miniatures-agnostic, which means you can use pretty well any sci-fi miniatures you want (post-apocalypse seem to understandably work the best) but if you find yourself lacking the right figures the download comes with a stack of printable paper stand-up characters! The back of the book has a large section on the hobby too, from creating your own terrain to miniature modification to advanced hobby tips, making it great for first time gamers too.

I guess I have to pick a few holes for balance... Although the background and setting sections serve as an introduction to the game I feel that there is a bit too much before the rule set itself. There are 30 pages before the "Getting Started" chapter, and excellent as the writing is, I think quite a bit of it could have gone after the rules instead for a quicker jump in. Also the card downloads that came with the book are all in black and white. This is great as a printer ink saving tactic, but I would have liked the option of colour. There's sometimes the option of printing at work when the boss isn't looking (your mileage may vary)... The character creation is a little complicated for a quickfire skirmish game, so you could be spending more time creating characters than playing the game, but at least you will get a detailed, personalised hunter to create game show legends with!

I think this is a quality package, well worth the price of the download, with enough depth and helpful tips to get any level of gamer immersed in this world.

It's time to start running!

By day, David Mustill is a Human Workhorse for a chemical company. Naturally, every possible moment away from this existence is spent gaming and painting miniatures.

A steady diet of rock, metal, punk, comics, gaming, miniatures and genre movies has moulded David into a renaissance geek, for whom no gaming company or genre is too obscure, and no graphic novel is unreadable.

He is currently the Chairman of Milton Hundred Wargames Club, which affords him the privilege of running the Broadside Games Show. He will not let you down. Unless you're after selfies. He is rubbish at selfies...

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