On Friday night Doug, John and I got together for first playtest game of Richard Humbles 'Whiteout' Arctic survival rules.
Whiteout is a solo / co-operative play game of small team missions set in the Arctic Wastes where the environment is at least as big a threat as the opposition. A team normally contains 3-5 characters. Stats for common character types such as soldier, sniper, explorer are provided along with rules for generating your own unique characters with abilities and traits that you have chosen.
As this was the first game we had played, we decided to use the standard character types provided with the rules. My character was the explorer. His character card is shown below.
The character card has a box at each corner which represents what they can hold in their hands or carry in a rucksack. My character had the 'Pack Rat' trait so could carry an extra item in his rucksack. The team was also allowed to take two small, man hauled sledges. Each of these could carry 4 additional items. My explorer started the game with a Magnum, Knife First Aid Kit, Tent and Provisions. With hindsight, we should have taken far more provisions with us, as out on the ice things can go wrong and you can be holed up in a location for several days and without enough provisions morale & sanity soon start dropping.
The game makes use of three decks of cards for maximum replay value of the scenarios. These are the terrain, encounter and equipment decks. At the start of the game the explorers start on a single tile (either 10" or 12" square), when they cross the tile edge onto a new one the top card from the terrain deck is flipped and that type of terrain is laid out. The explorer is moved 1" onto the tile and the top card from the encounter deck is flipped. The first tile we moved into contained the wreck of a crashed aircraft. This could have provided shelter for 2 and a piece of equipment but would have triggered a close encounter if we had explored it. As we had just started out and had taken all the equipment we could carry we decided to skirt around it.
After crossing an expanse of open ice where we encountered a local dog sledge team, we moved on to discover an isolated hut. This looked like it could provide warmth and shelter until a polar bear lumbered into site from behind the hut’s steps.
The polar bear was dispatched with a number of shots from the team’s rifle and assault rifle before it could charge us. This provided 3 units of provisions which we proceeded to trade with the scientists that we found inside the hut for some local knowledge. This revealed three unexplored tile locations, including a handy vantage point.
Moving out from the scientist’s hut, we were ambushed by a lightly armed patrol of enemy soldiers. A fierce firefight broke out, which we eventually won. Unfortunately, my character took a serious wound in the exchange and slipped into unconsciousness.
My comrades dragged me back into the explorer’s hut and we decided to hunker down there for the night. Despite the team’s best efforts to help me by spending provisions, I failed my night-time endurance check and failed to make it to morning.
As we were in a hut full of scientists, we decided that I could play one of those as a player character for the rest of the game.
Fate was however stacked against us. There are only 2 light patrol cards in the encounter deck, but when we moved out of the tile the next morning the second patrol arrived, and another firefight broke out. This time there were no fatalities on our side, but we took wounds and the psychological trauma of killing would take its toll when it came to the next nights sanity checks.
The following night saw us all weakened by the days exertions, when we were ready to move out the next morning we discovered that the satellite we had been sent to recover was in the next tile, but it had landed with in the enemies camp. The decision that we were all to weakened to attempt that encounter was unanimous, so reluctantly we admitted that 'Whiteout' had beaten us this time around.
However, the game had been a lot of fun, and we are very much looking forward to playing it some more.
Richard Humble's 'Whiteout' together with the Arctic Miniatures, vehicles, terrain and scenery are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign that completes at 09:00 BST Monday 15th July.