It’s October 31st later this week, better known as Halloween. For me, all that really means is a whole evening of playing Left 4 Dead with my fiancé and the regular zombie bash at my local wargaming club, but I thought I’d theme this week’s Tactica Tuesday to talk about that iconic zombie-killing weapon that we all secretly know we’d reach for in the event of a zombie apocalypse. No, not the baseball bat (though that is a close second) – the shotgun. Heck only knows where I’d find a shotgun in urban England, but never mind that – let’s talk shotguns in wargames!
First off, since I love it so much, Necromunda has a great range of shotguns and special ammunition to make them more deadly. I do like the basic shotgun, but it’s really these ammunition options that make it shine for me. Manstopper shells are a superb choice, offering a solid 18″ range with no to hit modifiers, something that makes a welcome change from the shotgun’s usual -1 at long range. It’s also strength 4, meaning that you’ll be wounding most people on 3’s. This all comes together to make a potent weapon both early on and later in the game, when any armour people may have purchased is usually negated by it’s -2 save modifier(!). It’s a solid choice at mid and close ranges, and is my favourite of the shotgun’s ammo options. Hot Shot shells and Bolt shells are sometimes good to buy for gangers later in the game, the former for if you’re going up against a high-toughness target and the latter for some longer-range sniping. However, when all’s said and done I do think the Manstopper is the best buy for any shotgun-armed ganger :)
Secondly, I’ve played enough games of Legends of the Old West now that I wouldn’t feel bad briefly mentioning my experiences. Understandably given its setting, shotguns are a big part of the game and offer a very nice middle ground between long and short range. The maximum range shot is nice when you’re at a distance, but it’s the close range blast where the weapon really excels. We tend to play Legends on quite a terrain-heavy board, which makes this weapon all the more deadly – wounding most people on 3’s and throwing the unfortunate target flat on his back! Finally, I personally love the reload mechanic for shotguns in this game – the limitation on two shots before you have to reload is brilliantly thematic, especially with the option of firing both barrels at once! In general, I really enjoy games that make you keep track of ammunition – Inquisitor, for example, or the Assault Cannon and Flamer in Space Hulk – and Legends is no exception. A solid mainstay mid-to-close range weapon, the shotgun’s certainly a favoured weapon of mine when I can actually afford it.
Finally, I don’t feel like I’ve written nearly enough about Team Fortress 2 recently, and since shotguns are a pretty mainstay weapon there too, let’s take a look at them on the Soldier and Engineer in particular. When it comes to the Soldier, the shotgun’s a solid backup weapon especially given the small clip size of his rocket launcher and its slow reload speed. I particularly like it alongside the Black Box if there’s no Medics around since the Black Box helps you heal, and the shotgun helps offset the 3-rocket clip size. For the Engineer, the basic shotgun is my second favourite primary just behind the Widowmaker – sure, the Frontier Justice and the Rescue Ranger have their (considerable) strengths, but the shotgun is just so reliable; and plus, those two deserve a whole Tactica Tuesday just to themselves, so I’ll leave them for now! The shotgun lets Engineer put out a respectable damage to help supplement his sentry gun, and makes a great spy-checking weapon with its six-shell clip and decent base damage. When I play Engineer I tend to be very proactive, constantly moving my base up to support the team, and having the shotgun to defend my Sentry while it’s deploying has saved it on numerous occasions. Even when my base is fairly static I still keep moving my Sentry; it’s always been my view that once a Sentry Gun racks up a few kills people know where it is, so by moving it you continue to throw people off and stop them planning a coherent attack on it. The shotgun helps again in these situations, letting me at least keep any Scouts at bay while my Sentry auto-deploys ready to finish them for me.
Thank you as ever for reading – tomorrow night’s the zombie apocalypse at my club, so I’ll be putting up photos shortly afterwards. I’ve managed to paint all my zombies, but sadly my zombie dragon is still sporting the paintjob my 15-year-old self gave him unless that spray paint arrives in the post soon!