Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Trying Out Turnip28

Last summer, my attention was drawn to the Turnip28 project, which primarily involves hacking together and modifying Napoleonic miniatures to be wearing high medieval period helmets, plus a hearty helping of a mutated turnips which have over grown everything and lend everything a dark sci-fi fantasy tone. Because I had dozens of 54mm plastic Napoleonic figures in the basement, which I knew I would never use in a game and also knew had little resale value, I set about converting a few, then a lot, of those figures to helm-wearing, gaiter-sporting post-apocalyptic Napoleonic soldiers.  At the time there were also some very beta-version rules available (just a page or two, as I recall), but they were a little two rough around the edges for me to use at the time, so the Turnip54 army proceeded to sit on top my miniatures cabinet for about a year.

First try-out game, midway into first round.

Fast forward to a month or two ago, and Version 15a of the drafted rules comes out (further revisions are certain to follow, so I'll try to avoid getting into details too much), and in the intervening year they had evolved into a ruleset quite unlike anything else I have ever read or played.  The Version 15a rules has just one scenario, with both sides trying to capture the majority of 5 objective markers.  For this first try-out game, I did not have objective markers yet, and had to quickly make some terrain, but just  happy to get the figures on the table and slug away at each other for 4 turns to get a feel for things.

The figure with the red token is a Toady (a subordinate officer) who has taken a wound. Snobs can take two wounds instead of of one.

The length of the game is only 4 turns, and four "deadly terrain" (if a figure ends up in a deadly terrain piece, roll a die: on a 1 the figure is "brutally murdered" by the terrain and removed) pieces do a lot to clog up the available open space.

Lots of musketry and counter-musketry fire. You have to be careful in your target selection, as fire is simultaneous and a careless pot-shot by one unit can end up replied to with a mighty volley!

The rules follow a basic underlying premise: all of these troops are pathetic.  These are scavengers not soldiers, so they are lousy shots, lousy in a hand-to-hand fight, and huge cowards. Needing a six to do anything is the norm, and occasionally you even need a "7+" (you need to roll a 6, then roll again and score a 4 5 or 6).

My Toff (a warlord) on his sickly steed ordering his Brutes (elite ('elite') troops) to advance, probably.

To this pathetic-ness, add the following interesting and clever mechanics: 
  • Every order (march, move-and-shoot, volley fire, or charge) can be blundered, where the action can still be carried out but at lesser effect.
  • You have three Snobs (the collective name for Warlord and his two subordinates) to each give one order per round, but have four units, so one unit must give itself an order, and if it blunders, it carries out the lesser action but also loses 1d3 figures as it "gives into its ravenous hunger" (snicker).
  • Units retreating through other units (be friend or foe) take a dangerous terrain test (loss a figure on a 1).
  • When you fire at a unit, they must shoot back (if they have not shot yet this turn) and this is considered simultaneous - however, in hand-to-hand, the attacker attacks first and defenders casualties are removed, then defender generates dice and counter-attacks.
  • Units acquire a panic token every time they take a casualty in shooting or participate in a melee, and panic tokens cause you to be more likely to turn tail when charged.

Powder markers are essential since you can only shot once per turn and being fired at will cause you to return fire.

All of this adds up to a game with remarkable thematic consistency - troops are pathetic, but you also lose models at a brutal pace.  There are many opportunities to lose figures to circumstances beyond your control (falling victim to the environment, being eaten by your fellows) but none of them feel unfair, and I never had that dreaded "roll dice, stuff happens" lack-of-control feeling during the game.  

So, somehow, you still feel remarkably in control of the game despite all the thematic stuff going on and removing your figures randomly.  

Turnip28 is a good excuse to make banners.

There's still good tactical opacity, I guess - Chaff are hard to target, so have them shoot at a unit and force them to counter-fire, and then charge that unit with your Brutes, because the target unit can't offer closing fire because they already discharged their weapons at the Chaff (there's that pathetic-ness again).

In our try-out game, figures died in great numbers. We forgot to use certain special rules for Fodder and Brutes.  The rules are short and quite succinct, so you don't have flip through pages and pages of photos and long paragraphs to find what you are looking for.

The rules are fun (and funny), and well worth the effort of converting figures (in whatever scale). 


  1. I love everything about this! I don't know that my conversion skills are up to snuff but it does look fun.

    1. The conversions were great fun, for sure!

  2. Amazing conversions, quite a game too!