Thanks to kaled for this article.
- What is Inquisitor? -
Inquisitor is often described as a narrative skirmish game, and primarily deals with the intrigues and opposing viewpoints of the Holy Inquisition, with Inquisitors frequently coming to blows over their differing philosophies. Unlike most of the games set in the 40k universe, Inquisitor is not set on the front-lines of a war zone where vast armies clash, but on the front-lines of another war; a shadowy secret war where there is no wrong and right, no good and evil, only shades of grey.
Those of you who have read Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn will have a good idea of what the game is designed to represent - an Inquisitor and his closest followers fighting a secret war to defend the Imperium against powerful, well-connected enemies. As in Eisenhorn, the characters in Inquisitor are often not members of the Imperial military; they are usually not renowned heroes just man and women gathered by an Inquisitor because they have the skills and determination necessary to fight the encroaching darkness. Often they die alone and unremembered by the millions of citizens whose lives they have saved. Inquisitor is your chance to tell their story.
Of course, you could just play Inquisitor as a highly detailed skirmish game, but generally you'll find that without the story element, players will get bored and go back to games like Necromunda and Kill-team which are designed with these small scale skirmishes in mind. A good Inquisitor campaign will have players desperate to find out what's going to happen next, and often as the characters develop the story will flow organically from one game to the next.
- What kinds of characters can I play? -
The simple answer is that you can play as anyone in the Imperium (or even as someone from beyond it's borders). Warbands are typically led by a powerful individual such as an Inquisitor, Rogue Trader or Tech-Priest, but their warband or retinue can include warriors, scribes, psykers, assassins, servitors and anyone else you'd care to mention.
New players often make warbands consisting solely of archetypes taken straight from their favourite army, and although there's no reason an Inquisitor couldn't recruit a Stormtrooper, Battle Sister or Imperial Guard Sniper; these players are missing out on some of the fun of the game. With Inquisitor you're not restricted by army lists and codexes, so let your imagination run wild.
- Can I play as a Space Marine? -
You can, but it's worth remembering just how tough, and how rare the Astartes are. Space Marines in Inquisitor live up to their superhuman reputation – they are incredibly powerful; able to punch a man's head off his shoulders or charge through a hail of gunfire unscathed. And this is how it should be - they are humanity's finest after all. However, their prodigious strength, deadly weapons and the near invulnerability their power armour affords them means that should one appear on the tabletop, the entire game will often revolve around them distracting players from the real objectives and skewing the narrative. For this reason, their use is often discouraged or restricted.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't still have an Astartes themed warband. Why not have a band made up of a trusted Chapter Serf accompanied by a failed Neophyte and a servitor? Perhaps they were sent on some secret mission by the Chapter Master, during the course of which they might cross paths with an Inquisitor on a mission of his own.
- In Warhammer 40k I play Chaos/Orks/Eldar/Necrons/Tau etc, can I use them in Inquisitor? -
Chaos players will find it easy to fit a warband into a game of Inquisitor. They could play a warband consisting of a Cult Magos attempting to overthrow Imperial rule; or as an Inquisitor who has delved too deeply into the forbidden and succumbed to the power offered to him by the Dark Gods. Players who want xenos-themed warbands will probably find it more difficult to fit their characters into the game, as Inquisitor is generally Imperium-centric. That said it's not impossible to run a xenos-themed warband, you just have to think outside of the box a little more - see below for a few ideas.
- Tyranids - Genestealer Cults are tailor made for Inquisitor. A warband might include the Cult Magos, a hybrid and a brood brother. Other options include the sad deluded fools who have come to worship the Great Devourer.
- Eldar - As you'd expect, Eldar in Inquisitor are highly skilled but fragile; even so even a single Ranger is capable of taking on an opposing warband. For this reason Eldar warbands typically consist of just 1-2 members, and are usually made up of outcasts such as Pirates and Rangers.
- Dark Eldar - The Dark Eldar have been known to sponsor anti-Imperial cults, and so a good Dark Eldar warband might include a Haemonculus with a couple of his rather nasty creations.
- Necrons - The Necrons themselves are not well suited to Inquisitor, being either extremely powerful or mindless automatons - however there are rumours that some within the Adeptus Mechanicus worship an ancient God who is buried beneath the sands of Mars...
- Tau - The Tau have made many attempts to bring Imperial worlds into the Greater Good without resorting to force. A warband of Gue'vessa (human renegades) commanded by a Water Caste envoy would make a great warband. Or how about a secretive Fire Caste black ops character accompanied by reconnaissance drones.
- Orks - generally Orks are not well suited to Inquisitor; they care nothing for the subtle plots and intrigue that are the staple of Inquisitor campaigns. However, if you do want to play as Orks then how about the Freebooterz - an ork pirate kaptain and his crew? Or a bunch or renegade grotz who have struck out on their own.
- How do I know whether my warband is balanced or fair if there are no points values? -
Simple answer, you don't. But then Inquisitor is not about perfectly balanced teams fighting to the death; and some games may well be won through use of brains rather than brawn. That said, it's no fun if your warband just gets slaughtered by the opposition before you get anywhere near your objective. The Games Master (GM) is there to ensure that everyone has fun and no one feels that they don't have a chance. He may do this by restricting the number of powerful characters on the board, or by giving the more powerful side more difficult objective to perform. The ideal situation is for the GM to sit with the players while they develop their characters, and ensure that each warband is roughly equal and then make adjustments as necessary over the course of the games.
It's worth pointing out that although it might be fun to design characters who are great warriors, armed with the best weapons and finest armour, the sorts of heroes who can scatter entire armies – these are often not the most fun to play. If your opponent is totally outclassed then the game probably won't be much fun – where's the glory in slaughtering an opponent who had no chance in the first place? (On the other hand, if your opponent does manage to beat you, he'll be able to brag for weeks!) Characters need to be at such a level that they have to strive to succeed, you don't want to make it too easy for them, and you definitely don't want the game to turn into an arms race as players take ever more powerful weapons and armour in order to defeat their opponent.
Think of Inquisitor as being like an action movie – Die Hard is exciting because Bruce Willis is one unarmed man against a whole building full of terrorists (and that's before he loses his shoes!). When he wins in the end, we all cheer because we watched him strive to overcome the odds. If Die Hard had starred Batman instead of Bruce Willis it'd have been over before the opening credits and we'd all be waiting for the real villain to turn up and make it a real challenge.
New players will no doubt notice that at the back of the rulebook is a Ready Reckoner that attempts to assign points values to characters, and they may be tempted to use it. Experience has led veteran players to conclude that the Ready Reckoner is worse than useless, it doesn't give an accurate indication of how powerful a character is and can often be misleading. Therefore, use of the Ready Reckoner is strongly discouraged.
Remember, with great power comes great responsibility – Inquisitor gives you unrivalled power in designing your characters, be sure to use it wisely.
- How much does it cost to get started? -
Less than you'd think. The rulebook is free (see below) and all you need to play your first game is one character each. Most games are played with 2-3 players, each with 3-4 characters (any more than that and the game slows to a crawl due to the level of detail involved), so even a good sized warband costs less than a couple of squads for 40k. A good way to think about it is that a single Inquisitor miniature is about equivalent to a squad in 40k, both in terms of their effect on the game and the amount of time you'll spend converting and painting them – when thought of in those terms, Inquisitor can seem a lot cheaper than at first glance.
- Do I have to play at 54mm? -
Of course not, many players play Inquisitor using 28mm models (known as Inq28) by simply using a scale of 1 yard = 1/2" (or 1yard = 1cm).
There are pros and cons to both 54mm and 28mm. The 54mm models are undeniably cooler, are better proportioned and somehow feel more like real characters than the rather impersonal little grunts we're all used to killing in droves in games of 40k. On the other hand, it is true that you can build a whole 28mm warband for the cost of one 54mm miniature.
The real disadvantage to Inq28 is that the temptation to use a squad of Grey Knights, a Daemon Prince, or a Necron Lord can prove impossible for some people to resist; and while such things might make a great climax to an Inquisitor campaign, they're not really suited to most games.
- Do I have to build all new terrain to play at 54mm? -
The lack of 54mm terrain is a common reason new players give for playing at 28mm, but in reality this is a non-issue. Much of the terrain available from GW works great at 54mm. Hills, jungles and ruins can be used without difficulty, and the imposing proportions of the Cities of Death terrain means that they too are well suited to 54mm gaming. In addition, Necromunda terrain is perfect for playing games of Inquisitor - what does it matter if the odd doorway is a touch small? If you're one of those people who prefers to make their own terrain, then it should be obvious that with a bit of thought it's easy to make terrain that will work perfectly well for both 54mm and 28mm.
- There aren't many 54mm models in the Inquisitor range, so why would anyone play at 54mm? -
The 54mm models give huge scope for conversion, especially when you realise that many of the parts designed for the 'heroic' proportions of the 28mm range will work perfectly well on 54mm models. The larger scale means parts are not as fiddly, and sculpting is easier as you don't need a magnifying glass to see what you're doing – in fact many people find that their converting, sculpting and painting skills improve no end when working at the larger scale.
In addition, 54mm (or 1/32) is a very common scale and there is a huge range of non-GW models who with a little conversion work will fit perfectly into the 41st millennium. Some alternate manufacturers include Andrea Miniatures, Pegaso Miniatures and Romeo Models. In addition, companies like Tamiya and Airfix do 1/32 military miniatures which are a good source of cheap NPC goons.
- Isn't Inquisitor a dead game now that Specialist Games is no longer around? -
Inquisitor is far from dead, and as long as players continue to play then it won't die. Like the rest of the Specialist Games range, Inquisitor no longer gets much in the way of support from GW. Fortunately there is a hard core of dedicated players who have taken on the mantle of support, and in many ways this has worked to benefit Inquisitor. Unlike most games, the Inquisitor ruleset is designed to be treated as little more than a set of guidelines for players to take and expand as they see fit, and for this reason the distinction between 'offical' material produced by GW and 'unoffical' fan produced material is essentially meaningless.
The fan community is producing a steady stream of material for the game, in the form of new rules, scenarios and more - many of these are published by Dark Magenta (see below) in their on-line fanzine. Recently Dark Magenta have also started to publish sourcebook detailing some of the many factions of the Inquisition (in the same manner as the Thorian Sourcebook published by GW). A group of fans have also started work on overhauling the ruleset with the intention of creating Inquisitor v2.0 - these plans are at an early stage, but already there has been some interest from the games designers at GW.
- The rules look complicated - don't games take forever to play? -
New players can feel overwhelmed when they first read the rulebook, there are a lot of rules and loads of modifiers, but don't worry - as with most games, the rules are a lot simpler than they first appear. You probably will find yourself refering to the rulebook quite a bit at first, but almost all of the charts you need are collected together on a single A4 reference sheet.
The important thing to remember is to have fun and if the rules are getting in the way of either the story or your enjoyment, then do what most experienced players do and ignore them! The GM is there to arbitrate the game and to make sure it's fun - if a player wants their character to do something that's risky and exciting, then the GM isn't there to punish him by imposing stiff penalties. In fact he probably ought to give them a good chance of success (even if it means ignoring a few rules), because a game where characters heroicly leap between buildings, dive through plate glass windows and swing across bottomless pits is more fun than one in which everyone cautiously skulks around and never does anything remotely dangerous.
The biggest mistake new players make is to have too many characters on the table - this is understandable if they're more used to playing whole armies in 40k, but it slows the game down to a crawl. The consensus is that a good size for a fast pased and fun game is for each player to have 2-4 characters, and not to have more than about 10 characters in total (some of which may be NPCs controlled by the GM).
If you're still feeling overwhelmed, issue 1 of Dark Magenta (see below) contains a great set of 'training' scenarios designed for the express purpose of learning the rules.
- Okay, I'm interested - where do I go now? -
Well, the first thing to do is get hold of a copy of the rulebook, which can be bought from the GW on-line store. Alternatively, the Living Rulebook is available to download free from the Resources page under the Specialist Games->Inquisitor section of the GW website. The Living Rulebook (or LRB for short) contains all the rules in the bought version (in fact it's a more up-to-date version of the rules), but does not include the colour sections showing pictures of the models.
Next you need to get some models and design a warband. Many new players often find it helpful to get some feedback on their characters by posting them on an on-line forum (see below), if you do this it's worth writing a couple of paragraphs of background so people know something about the character. That way you're going to get more useful feedback to help you come up with a well-rounded character, and more importantly, one who's fun to play.
The Conclave (http://www.the-conclave.co.uk) is the only on-line forum dedicated to Inquisitor, and is a great place to discuss the game and find other players. Many other wargaming forums (such as this one) also have a sub-forum dedicated to Inquisitor or the Specialist Games range in general, so finding other players is not difficult. In addition, members of The Conclave organise regular gaming days at Warhammer World (including the annual Inquisitor Grand Tournament each December) and new players are always welcome.
There is also an on-line Inquisitor fanzine, Dark Magenta (visit http://www.darkmagenta.co.uk). Dark Magenta contains articles on all aspect of the Inquisitor hobby including rules, battle reports and modelling and converting.