Monday, 3 March 2014

Hybrid - First Impressions

So a while back I had said I was getting back into Hybrid, Rackham’s miniature based board game. I thought I would post my first impressions of playing what amounts to perhaps my first play through the game in 10 years, and previously having only played it twice.
But first some introductions.

In Hybrid, due to the upcoming Ragnarok, and magical energies running rampant about the world of Aarklash, the hidden laboratories of the Alchemists of Dirz have reawakened. These laboratories were often only accessible from the outside, and so many of the alchemists were locked inside, conducting their experiments to create the perfect creatures, clones, and warriors for the forces of Dirz.

With the reawakening of these facilities, and their occupants dead, many of the cloning machines have gone into autopilot, creating monsters that have escaped the laboratories and killed the local populations in the villages of the nation of Akkylannian.

In response to this threat, a secret order of warriors within the forces of the Church of Merin, the Lodge of Hod, has dispatch it’s men to tackle the monsters and recover what could aid their nation against the forces of Dirz.
So Hybrid, as you have seen from the earlier post makes use of card tiles that represent the laboratories. Other counters include doors, passageways and more, allowing for a variety layout arrangements - even enabling you to create your own missions. But there are plenty of missions in the core box, plus the expansion, and also available in the Cry Havoc magazines.

Hybrid relies on a grid based movement, much like GW’s Space Hulk. Dice rolls are a D10 system, where the aim is to roll under a target. Characters consist of an number of things. They all have a Natural Value. This is their innate skill at actions, and also their health. Thus when a warrior takes a wound their NV drops a point. The typical values are around 3 for normal warriors. Thus for actions, this value is further modified by weapons and armour, leading to a Skill Level of around 5-7 depending upon the NV and the equipment and further modifiers and wounds.

Characters also have a movement value, which is in terms of squares. Of course movement costs more if moving backwards, turning lots etc. Movement is reduced by wounds.

Characters also have aptitudes: Offensive Combat, Defence, Ranged Combat, Movement. The rank is from 0 upwards. The higher the rank, the model has access to different manoeuvres in each class. There are 6 types per aptitude type. Some characters and monsters have ranks higher than 6. Why? Well ranks are reduced by wounds. This means some monsters are not hindered by their wounds and still able to perform high rank actions - which tend to be the most devastating.

One the game board is set up, models are picked for each side, with a limit on the total combined model rank of the figures (not the same as aptitude ranks), and a limit on the total number of figures. Given that beyond the core box and expansion many other figures can be used in the game, and that there are a number of different abilities that are used in the game, there can be many different ways a mission can be played out as the models used for it are varied. There is a lot of replay value in this game.

The game sequence is a model by model activation, switching back and forth between the opponents. The order this happens in is two fold. First there is an initiative roll, for who decides to go first or second. Then once that is decided, activation counters, which are numbered, are placed next to each side’s models. And secretly. This means your opponent has no idea which order you will activate models in, and vice versa. This secret activation order means that you have no guarantee a target will remain in line of sight, range, or even be alive by the time you next model activates.

The other element of the game is action cards. 4 are drawn for each player as a hand at the start of the game. They can play these in a multitude of ways to boost the NV and Aptitude of a model to compensate for wounds, or to ensure they hit. If a player does so, the opponent can play one in return to hamper the roll, or do so even if the play never did boost their values. The player then has one last chance to respond, even if they had already boosted. These cards are only replenished if you lose a model in the game, in which case you get to draw a card.

Beyond the above, there are mode cards for events, equipment, magical powers and mutations, which simply add more effects and dice roll boosts.

Overall the first true game I played of it took the best part of 2 hours as we grappled the rules (which are really quite simple). I think next time it should go very fast. The game clearly has a lot of options and room for lots of tactics depending on the models used, the mission, and the types of cards drawn in the game. Given the expansions there are maybe 30 missions in total, rule for campaign play, extra rules for different environments, and even ways to play the game in a more MMO manner.

Hybrid is perhaps a lost gem, and something the Cyanide should really look into either reproducing or even porting to a computer game.

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