Monday, 15 July 2013

Tomorrow's War "By Dagger & Talon" Review

By Harold

Available here:  $30.00

Ever since I've first heard of the supplement to Tomorrow's War by Ambush Alley Games called "By Dagger & Talon" I've been looking forward to it.   While the main Tomorrow's War rulebook did an excellent job in capturing the idea of what future sci-fi warfare would be, it didn't have the space to expound on some of my favorite sci-fi elements: aliens and special forces.

The cover, the figures are available from GZG, and the buildings from GameCraft Miniatures

"By Dagger & Talon" became available for pre-orders last week, and had a great deal that if you pre-order the print book, you get the PDF immediately and for free!

Well, of course as soon as I saw that I had to pick it up.

From the website:

The book focuses on alien races and "Enhanced Special Operations Forces" (SpecOps units that make heavy use of everything from cybernetics to nanite enhancements), and contains detailed guidelines and specialized Attributes to assist you in developing your own alien and ESOF forces for Tomorrow's War.

With a description like that, how could I not pick it up?  One of my favorite things about the Tomorrow's War rulebook is the history, artwork and pictures.  It's really easy just to sit down and flip through it for inspiration.

"By Dagger & Talon" does not disappoint.

Now, of course, I don't have the print book yet, so this review will focus solely on the PDF.  What I first noticed as I opened it is how clear and well laid-out it was.  Most pages have a picture on the bottom that fades up to white for most of the text.  It is very easy to read, something that the original rulebook (while fine most of the time) has problems with sometimes.   It also has easy to read tables and bullet points.

A table showing some of the power armor available to Special Forces troops. 

The book starts out with the "history" leading up to the scenarios in the back of the book.  The main players are the Marshborn (Crusties) that are aliens generally on friendly terms to Humans who are fleeing the Darghaur, the main threat to both humans and other sentient life.

The stories are great, I really enjoyed reading the history.  There are some surprises and plenty of ideas for games.  The prose also does a really good job of setting up the identity of the two main aliens species, while leaving the ultimate motivations a secret.

An example of some of the awesome photography in the book.
After the history it goes into "Xenobiology", or how to put together your alien species.  It isn't so much of a list of species, but a write-up on what attributes to give to the aliens you already have in your collection.  It also has an in-universe explanation of the diversity of species, which is done really well. 

I think it's an excellent way to go, since it really allows you to build the alien species you've always wanted to field, but still have the same justifications for their attributes that the "official" aliens have. 

It also gives you a couple of examples of alien species for you to either use or reference.

After the aliens it goes on to explain and introduce Enhanced Special Operations Forces.  My favorite section, it goes over all the exciting things that humans have been doing to themselves to make the perfect warriors.  There are rules for genetically enhanced, cybernetically enhanced, synthetics, nanite enhanced, power armored, natural super-soldiers and more.  Very comprehensive. 

Each has it's pros and cons, and I feel like it's been done very well, and "realistically".  Of course, you can have a combination of the four as well.   It also lays out how each nation views the enhancements differently.

There are then a list of attributes that can be both for ESOF and aliens.  Everything from "Old School" to "Teleportation (Tactical)" to "Psionic". They really run the whole gamut here, and really give the players a lot of options when designing their ESOF and Aliens. 

You then have a collection of sample forces for the nations and forces of Tomorrow's War.  It covers all the major players and it well laid out.

The only thing I wish they would've gone over is to include more "in-universe" descriptions of power armor systems.  While they include the rules, and reference them a bunch, I would've liked to be able to reference what model of power armor my troops were wearing, other than light/med/etc.   Of course, that's just me, and I am probably spoiled since they did include descriptions of a lot of the weaponry.

After the forces, you have the scenarios.  I counted nine different scenarios. Each one represents a point in the initial war with the Darghaur, and they fit together nicely.  They are also very diversified and could easily be adapted to represent almost any type of conflict.   I would've liked to see a scenario set inside a spaceship,  especially since some of the "history" includes some really cool accounts of boarding actions, but otherwise these scenarios are well-written and I look forward to trying them out.

I really enjoyed reading through my copy of  "By Dagger & Talon."  If you play Tomorrow's War you really should pick up this book.  Even if you don't I would recommend it for the pictures, history and scenarios that could be easily adapted to other systems.

I give "By Dagger & Talon" two cybernetically-enhanced thumbs up!


  1. Nice review. I can't agree more!

    You beat me to the review though :)

    1. Nice review, Mr H.- looking forwards to your take, Eli!

  2. I already got it on order. Great review by the way

  3. It's been pointed out to me that Khurasan Miniatures wasn't given credit in the photo by Jim Klein shown here, so I'd like to point out that photo does, indeed include Khurasan figures and vehicles - we missed attributing them somehow, for which I apologize!

    Khurasan figures appear in several places in the book, along with figures by Pig Iron, Critical Mass, Combat Wombat, and GZG. We made every effort to identify whose figures were used in photo captions, but we dropped the ball on that photo! I guess we were just too impressed by Jim's awesome photo and brushwork!

    Our apologies to Khurasan for the oversight! Be sure to check their stuff out, because it's top notch!

    All the best,

    Ambush Alley Games

  4. I will be picking it up sooner than later, nice review by the way.

  5. I will be picking it up sooner than later, nice review by the way.

  6. any european seller? I like the book but shipping is too expensive!

  7. GZG would be perfect, great service and "naturally" involved in the game :)