Black Powder Red Earth 28MM | Fortified Niche Playtest!

The podcast crew takes on Black Powder Red Earth 28MM, probably the most lavishly designed and illustrated modern military skirmish wargame. There are no survivors, only loitering munition wreckage.

Black Powder Red Earth 28MM takes place a fictional failed Middle Eastern state of Awbari. The local government/military junta hires Cold Harbor PMCs (who helped with the coup) to deal with the Ayari Network, a not-ISIS aided by a Chinese conglomerate supplying it with advisors in the shape of North Korean specops and failsons from from foreign Republican Guard-type units. They’re all fighting for REMs, and everyone’s a terrible asshole.
BRPE28MM features pre-set mission maps, so we extracted those from the rulebook. They even sell neoprene versions of the buildings, which we liked. The maps are small and tight, fitting well within the narrative of brutal sprawl CQB.
This is a very small game; CT Scorch (the Cold Harbor unit) will only ever have like 5 dudes while the Network can flood the board with bodies – terrible, inaccurate, horrible-save having bodies. It’s a shame the studio has only produced minis for the Scorch troops – the art for the Guard (the armed forces of the Network) looks great.
One thing to note is that everything dies in Black Powder Red Earth 28MM. CT Scorch may have much better accuracy, but their saves aren’t amazing, (needing 15-20 on a d20 not to die). They’re not going on Force on Force-style rampages down the board. Consequently, the game moves FAST.
Thus, you can run a full three-mission Night Raid in a time that it would take you to run a single game 40K. There’s even a mechanic for mission rewards (special cards) that you get to use in subsequent missions. It’s an important detail, because basing rewards on troop survival a la Necromunda wouldn’t work with the short timespan (a single night) and the insane lethality.
But while we didn’t miss vehicles in the game (half the fluff is dedicated to justifying that), we did think that options to shape battlefield to your favor – via suppression, smoke, flashbangs and the like – are missing. Was it a conscious omission to keep the rules as a light as they are? Did the devs feel like such things just wouldn’t impact firefights that are this fast and this tight? Nobody knows.
All in all, Black Powder Red Earth 28MM is actually quite fun and we had a blast playing. Now, about those flashbangs…
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