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Godslayer Review: Good Miniature Skirmish Game?

Godslayer is a skirmish game from Megaltih Games, a UK based company, with official translations in English and German. Its main shopping website it’s available in both GBP and EUR, few other retailers have (or had) stocks related to this game, for example Wayland Games and Black Dragon Miniatures in UK.

The miniatures are mostly in metal with few resin options and are split between different armies, each with their own sub-factions, and classes. The world is compelling, rich of history and with plenty of options for different playstyles.

The range is wide enough without being overwhelming.
The rules follow the “I Go, You Go” rules where players alternate miniature activations one after the other in a turnaround sequence. To play the game to its fullest the rules can be imposing, with a 100+ page rulebook, but to have a flavour of the game is also possible to play just with a quick-start guide.

On the Plus side, the core rules are free!

The game in the past had been funded via Kickstarter and, although the last one was unsuccessful, the second wave has been successfully sent to their backers nonetheless. A further wave is expected sometime at the end of 2020/early 2021 (if Nurgle wills it).

But how do you play Godslayer and what is the look and feel of the game? Let us discover it together!

What do you need to play Godslayer?

The most important thing you will need are the rules. They are available in pdf format from their website in quick start and full format. The full format will keep you busy for few hours, the quick start enables you to start playing in no time. Ohhh, and they are free btw.

You will of course need miniatures, and those are available mainly from their main site. How many miniatures you need greatly varies depending on the size of the game and the type of army, but around 15-30 using the recommended size of 300 points. This format should allow completing a game in around 90-120 minutes. A little on the long end for skirmish games, but not too bad.

It is of course possible to play different sized games. There are different starter boxes and warband deals available on their site, so after checking which one represents your favourite playstyle you can decide which to buy taking advantage of those offers.

You will also need dice, a tape and profile cards. Those are available in each box of miniature purchased.

The boxes also include equipment or spells which are not available otherwise. From their main site it is possible to download, for free the, cards related to the starter boxes, but for more details about the other miniatures available you would need a Wave-1 Codex book. Wave-2 Codex is not available yet.

While on one side it is possible to try the game for free with the quick start rules, the free cards and proxying some miniatures, expanding on one faction is more of a blind purchase not knowing the point costs of the miniatures or their characteristic in advance. This is a bit of abummer.

Artwork from the Godslayer miniature game

It is now available an army builder that allows in Excel to calculate the warband costs, but does not provide further description of the items or models.

You may also need some templates for area of effects: those can be printed from a downloadable pdf, photocopied from the rulebook or purchased in plastic. You will also need to track the health bars and the game suggests using card protectors and non-permanent markers for re-use. Alternatively, you can also keep track of the health bar with home-made tokens or dice.

The Warbands in Godslayer

At the moment there are 6 factions available in the game, each divided in further sub-factions.

But the universe is prime for further expansion and specialization. While it is possible to play each faction as a mix, each unit or model will get a further sub-faction bonus if it shares it with the warband leader, favouring the use of how many synergistic units as possible.

1. Banebrood

The Banebrood are mutated horrifying creatures that prowl the wilderness and are the doom of any civilization. They are divided in four categories, but only two have miniatures so far: the Beastspawn, half-man, half-beast, and the Reavers, cannibal tribesmen.

2. The Halodynes

The Halodynes are a civilized population divided in 12 City-states, reminiscent of the ancient Greek states, formed of a core of hoplite soldiers. They are extremely religious with the Temples led by an Oracle forming an equally important component of their political life. Finally, the Amazons are a matriarchal and nomadic culture living in the steppes around the Halodynes territories and often hired as mercenaries.

3. The Mortans

The Mortans are an extremely organized empire dedicated to necromancy. Their core is made of Legions, extremely disciplined soldiers, while the Magistratum is made of the most powerful wizards able to resurrect as undead the fallen (or disappointing) soldiers or other horrifying creatures. But the empire does use only magic in his ever-expanding conquest: technology is equally important and the Technostratum is responsible to produce chemical weapons and impressive war machines.

4. The Nordgaard

The Nordgaard represent the Dwarven Kingdoms of the North, linked to the human Skannfyrd tribes and Ogre tribes. The Dwarven political world is divided into Clans, stronger in the rural areas, and Guilds, stronger in the urban contexts.

5. The Troglodytes

From the plane of Shadow come the Troglodytes dedicated to exterminating humankind. They can have different shapes and forms, from the diminutive and cunning Gnolls, to the brutal heavy-armoured Trolloths passing by the ethereal Shadow Trolls. But they are far from united and different kingdoms exist across the world of Calydorn.

6. Wyldfolk of Annyr

In the deepest wilderness exist the Wyldfolk of Annyr, linked with nature and able to tame the most powerful beasts. Experts in skirmish tactics, they can live in small secluded Tribal communities led by druids or live the nomadic lives of the Fiannor while the Tuathan are spirit-kin spreading their cult across sacred sites.

Quick summary of core rules of Godslayer

As I already mentioned, the rules can seem extremely complex but for the most part they follow common sense and are easy to remember.

The miniatures are divided in 2 categories:

  1. Individual models (representing warlords, characters, creatures, etc.)
  2. Units (different miniatures of the same type united in a cohesive group).

For easiness in the following section we are referring to both as “models”.

Each model has a profile card with different characteristics. The basic statistics involve attributes like Movement, Melee or Defence.

The action tokens represent how many actions it can perform in a turn. Different actions have a fixed cost (Movement costs 1 action, etc.), but on the card itself there can be some extra actions that the miniature can perform and the associated cost. Every weapon profile also has an action cost associated; more specialized units may have several profiles with different effects.

Cards can also display abilities (do not cost action tokens), tactics (special abilities that can be used after testing the Leadership of the unit/model) or even slots available to be equipped with weapons, items or spells. Warlords for example can choose between different types of accessories, each associated to a point cost, that will provide them an edge on the battlefield. Note that, while not mandatory, sending a warlord in battle without a weapon would mean he/she is not able to attack as lacking a weapon profile.

Before forming a warband you need to agree to a point cost. The quick start guide recommends 160 points, but a standard recommended game is at 300 points. We are going to refer to this format as it requires at least one Warlord, some characters and various units. Each model has a maximum deploy value that means how many of those individual models or units can be brought in a game up to 499 points.

Every 500 points increase the deploy of 1. Each unit has a core cost, to which can be added extra miniatures as detailed in their profile card for an extra cost. As described above, every item and spell also have a point cost to be calculated. Each model in a unit has its own health bar.

Another important rule is the line of sight. Each miniature has a “sight value” depending on the base size and can see any other terrain feature or model if there is an unobstructed line from its base to the other base or if one of the models is bigger than the other. The rule seems more complicated to explain than it really is, basically a giant can always see little goblins even if they are behind a small fence or the other way around, but humans cannot see each other if there’s other humans or human-size walls in between.

The first roll of the game is to decide who starts, that will affect the order the units are deployed as well. This is done by rolling 2 D6 (dice with six faces) and adding +1 for the warlord with the highest Leadership (LEAD) and +1 for the one with less profile cards. The winner starts the deploy and then has the first activation. Normally a player can activate 1 model, 1 unit, 1 model and 1 unit or 2 models, but the first turn a player can activate only 1 model or 1 unit. After the first activations it continues as normal.

Each action costs action tokens, there is a limit of how many times a unit can move depending on their specific type (light infantry is more mobile than heavy infantry, etc.). Once two units are engaged, as part of a previous involvement or because of a charge, the melee can start.

The melee process involves 2 D6 as many other tests and abilities in the game. While providing more spread between similar models (a +1 now is a small increase in characteristic compared to a single D6 based system), it also means calculations are a bit harder. To hit an enemy, you need to add to the 2 D6 to your Melee value and subtract the enemy Defence. If the value is higher or equal, then it’s a hit. If the 2 dice have the same value, then the hit is a critical hit and provides extra damage.

To calculate the damage, you roll another 2 D6 and add the Power value but subtract the enemy Armour. At all stages, various effects can increase or decrease one or more of those values making the formula more and more complex.

The 2 D6 system also applies for ranged combat there you use your Missile value instead of the Melee and the rest is similar. Those values can be further modified if the target is outside of the normal range but inside double the range (called long range shot), if it’s screened (partially obstructed) or covered (within 2” of the obstructing object but still in line of sight). A particularity of the game, in general, is that any range is measured after spending the relevant resources (usually action tokens), therefore it is possible to fail a missile attack or a charge if out of range and waste the relevant action (this is a really old school way of writing rules, but it has it’s charm).

There are other special rules, including fear and horror, leadership tests for units that lose half or more of their models, spells, area of effect, war machines, and so on but those are for more advanced warbands.

Verdict on Godslayer: How Good is it really?

In summary Godslayer the miniature game has a rich history, is well detailed but is played by a relatively small fan base. The rules can seem complicated but most of them follow intuitive logic and can be easily remembered. The only exception is the 2 D6 system that makes calculations a little bit more complex but nothing that requires a master’s degree in mathematics. But it can slow the game down a bit.

Some miniatures from the Godslayer game

The miniature quality varies a bit, from the first models in the range quite dated to the most recent that have a great appeal. Most miniatures are in metal and the cost is in line with other similar games. A box set at around 75€ allows you to field a 300 points thematic army with one single purchase. Overall the quality is not the best of the best, but with a decent paint job they do the job.

The game itself is a skirmish game with focus on individual models without disdaining units. One of Godslayer’s best characteristics taken from skirmish games is the alternating sequence of activations between players making a turn an interactive moment for both. Even during an attack, it is still possible to receive a counterattack: in that case both units attacks are calculated at the same time meaning that is possible that two units can destroy each other in the same melee round!

Game rules are completely free to allow to try the game in advance by using other miniatures as proxies, that is something I strongly recommend. However, the full range of profiles is not freely available and sometimes requires even buying the miniature before discovering what it can do, encouraging more blind expansion rather than calculated warband building. Not the best way of doing things.

Overall, I really enjoy the game (even though the fanbase is not that big).

If you are interested in the game, head over at their website and have a look yourself. There is also a subscribe button that hopefully will be used to provide details about the next releases or kickstarter.