My teenage years were troubled.
Each week I would scrape together as much money as I could possibly find, so that by the weekend I could make my way to the seedier part of the town where I would meet Jon.
Jon was older than me. Jon was cool. Jon had long hair. Jon could very nearly grow a beard.
Jon got me the stuff that I needed.
I would spend most of my Saturday hanging out with Jon. He would hold court over me and several other like-minded wastrels, acting as arbitrator for all disputes and encouraging us to compete for rank and position within our little social group. Hours later we would leave, our pockets lightened of coin, each one of us eagerly clutching a small plastic bag, the contents of which would sustain us for the week to come.
I’ve not been into a Games Workshop in a long time now and I haven’t played a miniature war game in years. Yes, okay – I dabbled in a game or two of X-Wing of late but that’s not the same! I’ve not had to paint a single tiny angry Space Viking in order to play X-wing. Not once have I been told that I am not allowed to play X-wing because I have failed to paint several hundred minuscule murder rodents. X-wing miniatures come gloriously fully painted.
X-wing is different; right?
So last weekend, three of us played the Doctor Who Exterminate miniatures game. Published by Warlord Games; The core box set allows you to take control of two of The Doctor’s worst enemies, the Daleks or the Cybermen, as they fight for supremacy of a double sided 36″ battle mat. Or the universe, y’know – whatever.
Because there were three of us playing; whilst two of played with miniatures from the core set – the third played with models from the extensive range of additional box sets.
One of use took control of a sizable force of Cybermen (led by Missy), the second took control of an entire legion of Daleks (led by Davros) and the third player took control of two Victorian ladies, one Victorian Space Potato and (of course) The Doctor.
I was the third player; I was concerned.
As I set up my four measly miniatures and glanced over at the horde that I would be facing it occurred to me that, unlike the Doctor Who TV show, there was no Deus Ex Machina to ensure my victory; I was vastly outgunned and outnumbered and without Steven Moffat to write me to safety, it was very likely about to take a serious pounding.
Thankfully the rules were on my side.
Let me make one thing entirely clear. None of us knew the rules of Doctor Who Exterminate when we started playing; and I’m fairly sure none of us knew the rules of Doctor Who Exterminate after we finished playing either.
Now I like to think we are all relatively intelligent people – I once won a trophy for playing chess. I wear glasses. I carry an inhaler in my pocket – each one of these statements is sure-fire Hollywood sign points toward me being “one smart cookie”. But the rules to Doctor Who Exterminate, a game aimed at 12 year olds, utterly bamboozled us.
Despite that however, we all had a lot of fun playing the game. The rules, whilst seemingly mystifying, worked. Admittedly there were some rules we didn’t like; but to be completely honest – I’m fairly sure that we might not have been playing them correctly. So let’s ignore the rules for a moment.
Not the Rules
The game itself is beautiful. All the miniatures, be they the plastic miniatures that come with the core set or the metal ones that come as part of the expansion sets, are all amazing quality. The Doctor miniature looked like The Doctor, the Daleks miniatures looked like the Daleks and the Victorian Space Potato miniature looked like the Victorian Space Potato. Everything and everyone looks like they should and this really gives the game the right feel.
The battle mat is wonderfully illustrated and double sided; we played the “Some warehouse within driving distance of BBC Cardiff” side; but you could just as easily play the “Welsh Quarry” side if you flipped over the mat.
The playing pieces too were of excellent quality. From the tokens (of which there are plenty) to the double sided cards for each miniature; the production quality was very high. The game is beautiful, it looks right. It looks like Doctor Who.
Back to the rules.
The Rules (Again)
The rules are complicated, but I do not think that this is necessarily a bad thing – on several occasions we found ourselves nodding to each other in agreement; thematically the rules made sense.
I think I said “Oh that’s clever” at least three times after we had looked up a particular rule that, up until then, we had been playing incorrectly. The rules might not be completely accessible on the first time run through; but they do seem to make sense and the game seems balanced.
The game was a lot of fun and we need to give it another chance. With that in mind, I will not be surprised if within the next few weeks we don’t get the out battle mat again; flip it to the quarry side and try to exterminate the living crap out of each other in the name of classic British science fiction.
I’m not entirely sure how many Daleks that is out of; Nor am I sure what the Meeple/Dalek exchange rate is, but I think three Daleks is quite a few Daleks. Plenty even. It’s certainly more than three Cybermen.