As I write this, there’s about a week left for DriveThruRPG’s New Year, New Game sale, which offers over 1,000 indie RPGs and tabletop games at 30% off regular price. I was thrilled to find Wreck Age, a post-apocalypic wargame with heavy RPG influences, among the titles included in this sale. I’d been aware of the game for some time, through the Tabletop Minions YouTube channel on YouTube, and was happy to have an opportunity to check it out for myself. Here’s the low-down on Wreck Age, and some recommendations on how to skirmish over the remains of our civilization on your own tabletop.
Not with a bang, but a whimper…
Two hundred years ago, humanity’s elite fled the polluted, over-crowded Earth in colony ships bound for new worlds in neighboring solar systems. Their Exodus left billions of people left struggling to survive on a sick and dying planet. The old order crumbled; new governments rose and fell once more. Chaos reigned as coastal cities drowned and diseased farmlands lay dry and barren. No war, no nuclear holocaust, no machine uprising was necessary to end civilization; man’s own greed and short-sightedness were more than enough to do the job.
Six decades after the Exodus came the ultimate Collapse of civilization, plunging the world into the Dark Times. During this period of ignorance and misery, information, technology, and currency lost all value. For more than a century and a half, food was the only thing worth fighting or dying for. Only recently has light appeared on the horizon.
Welcome to the Resurgence
Now is the time of the Resurgence, when diverse factions emerge from generations of darkness to compete for dominance of the broken continent called Merika. The once-diseased soil has finally begun to recover, making it possible for stoic and hardworking Stakers to build fledgling farming communities. Nomadic raiders known as Drifters comb the Wilds of Merika, taking whatever they need from any too weak to defend it. The Stitchers, murderous heirs to the healers of the old world, harvest human organs and prolong their own lives through macabre procedures that would have horrified physicians of prior centuries. Fanatic Reclaimers scour the wastelands for fragments of pre-Collapse technology, hoarding their knowledge in hidden Data Havens. Many other groups also vie for precious resources, including the hedonistic Church of Fun, the shadowy Unicephalon, the militaristic ARHK, and the mercantile Caravaneers. Which group will you decide to join?
Wreck Age: About the Game
Publisher Hyacinth Games bills Wreck Age as “A post-collapse tabletop miniatures game.” While that tagline is accurate as far as it goes, it doesn’t really do the game justice. In fact, Wreck Age is a skirmish-level miniatures wargame with strong roleplaying and narrative campaign elements. On the table, it plays a lot like a post-apocalyptic blend of Warhammer 40K/Kill Team and Frostgrave. The official setting, Merika, depicts a rich, detailed post-apocalyptic world, with an all-too-plausible future history.
Game mechanics rely on pools of six-sided dice, rolled against target numbers, to determine success when attacking, defending, inflicting wounds, or performing other actions. The general process will be familiar to veterans of any Warhammer-related rule system, although in Wreck Age, models activate individually rather than in units, so most rolls call for just two or three dice. Rolls of five or six dice are possible, but unusual, so as long as each player has a half-dozen d6’s, you’re set. Most Wreck Age scenarios call for about three to six combatants on a side, so the necessary investment in miniatures is modest and playing time is quick compared to GW’s Kill Team.
If the wargame side of Wreck Age echoes Kill Team, its narrative and roleplaying aspects have more in common with Frostgrave. Wreck Age characters are quantified by eight numeric attributes—action points, movement, power, shooting, fighting, wits, nerves, and renown—and a wide array of traits, such as animal handling, fleet-footed, lucky, stoic, and tinkerer. Archetypes provide a prepared set of character options for quickly creating a crew, but rules are also provided for creating unique characters from scratch using a point-buy system. Character advancement is handled through four levels of training (green, trained, veteran and elite). As in Frostgrave, each player designates a single model as his Player Character, leading his crew into battle, but unlike Frostgrave, character customization and advancement are available for all models in Wreck Age, not just the player’s in-game avatar.
Where Wreck Age separates itself from other skirmish wargames is in campaign play. The core rulebook includes extensive sections on designing encounters, campaigns, and player-run communities within the game world. An on-going campaign is conducted through a series of campaign cycles, with phases for community upkeep and development, exploration and non-violent interaction with the environment and other factions, as well as combat encounters both random and designed. Although it is theoretically possible to run a Wreck Age campaign relying on player consensus and random tables, the game’s developers strongly recommend one player serve as a neutral gamemaster, called the Narrator, to oversee the action.
In a Wreck Age campaign, each player’s combat crew protects and is supported by a community. A community is essentially a collection of permanent structures, semi-portable assets and heavy equipment. In a system that reminds me of the sort of resource and production management in real-time simulation computer games like StarCraft and the original Warcraft, each structure consumes specific resources and produces useful goods, such as medicine, leather, food, or even generic “resource units” (RUs), the abstracted trade goods used as currency in Wreck Age. A certain amount of RUs are necessary each cycle to maintain the community and its defenders, but the surplus can be reinvested in production, in adding new structures to the community, and to upgrading the combat characters that protect the community. It’s certainly possible to play Wreck Age as stand-alone combat encounters, or even as a series of connected battles forming a simple campaign, but it’s the full campaign cycle and community rules that really set a Wreck Age campaign apart from campaigns in other games. This campaign system adds a layer of strategic planning on top of the tactical decisions made during violent confrontations, giving meaningful context to the battles fought out on the game table.
What You’ll Need to Play Wreck Age
Obviously, if you want physical books and metal miniatures to play Wreck Age, you won’t be able to download those. You can order the rulebook and shop through a large line of official Wreck Age miniatures at the Wreck Age website and online store. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably more interested in downloadable versions of Wreck Age-compatible gear, so here’s where to find what you need.
The 132-page Wreck Age core rulebook can be purchased through DriveThruRPG. It contains the full rules of the game, including the sections on encounter design, bespoke character creation, campaign management, and community operation. It also offers a thorough overview of the official setting, the Wilds of Merika during the Resurgence, including a detailed, three-century-plus history of the collapse of civilization, overviews of the major settlements across the continent, and information about each of the major factions available for play. The regular price for the PDF of the core book, $12.50, is half the price of the physical book ordered from Hyacinth, and during the New Year New Game sale, it’s discounted an additional 30%, to just $8.75.
If you just want to try out Wreck Age, or aren’t interested in the setting or the full character and campaign rules, the basic rules can be downloaded for free from DriveThruRPG. The Wreck Age Quickstart and Basic Rules package includes a 48-page booklet containing rules necessary to play out post-apocalyptic skirmishes on your tabletop. The basic rulebook omits the setting information, the in-depth character creation, the campaign and community rules, and most of the amazing artwork from the core book, but it will get you into battle. The included Quickstart guide introduces the basic mechanics of the game in four fully-illustrated pages.
Okumarts’ Armageddon Outta Here Set One: Punks and Raggedy Men is the most dead-on single set of printable miniatures I’ve seen for Wreck Age. The set includes 12 unique post-apocalypse warriors, armed with an assortment of melee and ranged weapons, and includes uses PDF layers to create five re-colors for each miniature. As a bonus, the set also includes five pages of cross-piece terrain, perfect for populating your Wreck Age table. You might find other appropriate minis in some of Okumart’s Extrasteller and RetroSpace sets as well, depending on your personal armageddon aesthetic, though no single set is as perfect as Punks and Raggedy Men.
Prolific miniature artist Distrigillator offers over 30 post-apocalyptic sets for his Roads of the Apocalypse setting, many of which work well for Wreck Age. The line has a very Mad-Max-meets-death-metal feel, which is lots of fun. The Distrigillator’s world involves a lot of genetic mutation, however, so some sets may have a few too many tentacles to fit strictly into Wreck Age canon. The Settlers and Fuel Templars sets are both appropriate for Wreck Age; RoA Set 20: Fuel templars Blackhead Piersers includes ten riflemen in scavenged armor, perfect for a Drifter assault team. Distrigillator also has a Patreon featuring Roads of the Apocalypse miniatures.
Several cardstock mini sets from Mayhem in Paper can work in Wreck Age as well. The Apocalyptic Warriors set works as Drifters or Stakers. The various Terra Force sets make excellent ARHK soldiers and Unicephalon operatives. And although the miniatures released by Darkmook are intended for survival horror genre games, several of his sets include figures that work just fine for post-apocalyptic play. For example, the BlackOps figures in Survival Horror Set 7: Extraction might stand in for Wreck Age‘s mysterious Reclaimers, while the two player characters from Set 10: The Traveller work as Stakers. My personal favorite, which Darkmook has vaguely labelled Tg-combat Specialist, is obviously Tank Girl. She is one of several free offerings from Darkmook, all of which include figures you might be able to use for Wreck Age.
It turns out that there’s surprisingly little printable terrain designed specifically for post-apocalyptic gaming. Even so, after considerable searching, I was able to put together a decent list of possibilities.
I’ve written about Dave Graffam Models several times, and it’s no secret that I find his buildings to be attractive, easy to assemble, and affordable. Most of his multi-layered building models include versions with wood-plank siding that seems suitably rustic for Wreck Age; Graffam’s Steampunk Building No. 1 and Tool Shed both offer corrugated or sheet metal roof textures, which fit Wreck Age very well. He also offers a wide array of ruined buildings, most of which include bullet-pocked concrete textures perfect for the Resurgence. Appropriate scatter terrain can be found in the Lumber, Logs and Hay Bales set, the Wooden Crates and Wooden Casks sets, and the Spaceport Containers and Spaceport Crates sets. For barriers, Dave offers several sets of crosspiece fences and ruined walls, most of which include concrete, brick and stone textures in a variety of colors. The crosspiece sets are very easy to assemble, and store flat for convenience; you can see the gray stone version on the table in my post covering Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes.
If you want to include some sci-fi or industrial buildings to your Wreck Age environment, I recommend several of Graffam’s sci-fi models, including the Power Generator, the small shelters in the Offworld Habitat set, and the various Battle Bunker kits. The Observation Tower and Outpost model will also fit the bill; both feature optional battle damage perfect for a violent world. For raiders on the move, there’s also the Command Tent and Field Tent kits, which offer a variety of configurations and colors to blend into any post-collapse environment. And of course, Dave’s ultimate science fiction models, the multi-part, modular Babylon sets, are just the ticket if you’re planning to build a major ARHK, Reclaimer, or Unicephalon installation. I’m working on the Babylon Toxic Sand kit myself at the moment—I’ll post pictures once I get a few more modular pieces assembled.
Finger and Toe Models also offers an extensive line of cardstock models for science-fiction gaming, many of which work well for Wreck Age. Some of the most appropriate include Slum City, Ruined Factory, and Kartagrad: Dead City. The El Presidio de Leon set builds a large, modular adobe fortress suitable for an extended seige in a post-apocalyptic wasteland; use the compatible Adobeville set to add more structures inside the fortress walls. Finger and Toe’s Kvartira models offer ruined urban buildings up to five stories tall, for confrontations in a devastated city scape. The Slagtown series of dystopian-future models offers a huge array of modular kits that can be assembled in infinite configurations.
If you want to add vehicles to your Wreck Age encounters, you’ll find the rules in the Wreck Age: Vehicles supplement. Of course, Hyacinth Games offers 28mm vehicle models cast in resin and metal, but there are also some suitable papercraft vehicle models available as well. Finger and Toe offers the Coyote, a small two-seater with roof-mounted guns, while Da Boss is a fire engine adapted for post-apocalyptic combat with weapons and armor plating. The Era of War: Camel FAAV from Grey Matter Games is an off-road vehicle with an open cargo bed for cargo-hauling. Grey Matter’s Deadly Missions Expansion One: Motor Pool is technically a rules supplement for their Deadly Missions game, but it also includes their Camel vehicle in three alternate color schemes, as well as ten printable high-tech soldier figures which may be useful. Mega Miniatures offers two vehicle sets—Police Car & SWAT Van and Taxi Cab & Trailer Park—that are actually modern, not post-apocalypse, but they are inexpensive and would work with just a little roughing-up. And finally, I want to mention the amazing modern and sci-fi military models available for free at Genet Models. Genet offers a huge line of printable miniature kits, but Wreck Age players will want to look at the Hummer-style 4×4 GPV, the 28mm Convoy set, and the Jackrabbit Buggy. Genet offers dozens of fantastic starship and terrain models as well, so be sure to browse the site while you’re there.
Into the Wreck Age!
I don’t know about you, but I’m really getting excited to play Wreck Age. I’m glad the New Year New Game sale gave me an excuse to pick up the rule book. Once I get enough terrain and models put together to fill a table top, I’ll post some battle report pictures here at PnPG. If you’ve played Wreck Age, especially with printable miniatures or terrain, post a comment below and tell us about your experience.
Until next time, keep on printing, and keep on playing!
All images are copyright by their original publishers: Hyacinth Games, Okumarts Games, Distrigillator, Darkmook Paper Miniatures, Dave Graffam Games, Finger and Toe Models, and Genet Models.