Monday, April 04, 2016

Laserburn - Imperial Commander - A real blast from the past....

It must be my age.
These has been a real hankering of late to go back to the early 1980's and swap the all glossly and background filled rule books for something far more simple. Back to the time when rule books were no more than black and white pamphlets, rule sets where you seem to paint loads of figures and removed loads in equal measure.

This nostalgic trip down memory lane took me back to Laserburn - Imperial Commander my first venture into miniature gaming, played on my mate Dave's living room floor, The Redemptionists badly painted in white, inspired somewhat by Mad Max 2 and the defenders of the fuel compound. The Dreaded Sun Gun killing everything that got within 10cm and the Black Guard I seem to recall who were painted in Black Gloss layered on so thick you could see little or no detail on the figures.

Over 30 years later and Laserburn is still available from the fine chaps at,
The A5 booklet is now an A4 ring bound rule set.
The vehicles had been remastered in resin, boy that Lander was a serious piece of metal in it's day.
But little else has changed even down to having to cut out the Near Miss Counters and Weapon Templates yourself.

As tempted as I am to order a platoon of Power Armoured Troopers and Redemptionist Trikes, afterall I have more than £3.00 pocket money to spend now, I wondered whether I could get away with using the core rules for some of the modern Chechen stuff, I have struggled with finding a suitable rule set so far.
Plus with a few additions I could move the forces on 50 years or so for more sci-fi based encounters?

Imperial Commander is a set of rules for massed skirmishes of around 50 figures per side and half a dozen vehicles just the sort of size games I had in mind.

skimming over the rules at less than 20 pages, it does not take long. The following leap out.
  • Infantry don't last long if caught in the open.
  • APC's tend to brew up on a 5 or 6 spilling their occupants into the street if they get out at all.
  • If you play out your ambush correctly you can move away before the enemy can return fire.
  • Weapons break down just when you have the perfect shot lined up.

The turn sequence is rather nibble for it's time with a dual move each turn for the active player.
First player moves.
Both players fire.
First player takes a second move.
First player resolves any close combat
Test morale.
Pass over to the second player.
All very promising.
Who would have thought that 30 years later I would be back were I started...
Hopefully the painting has improved a touch.


  1. Interesting Stuart- I did have the same Lazerburn Rules back in the 80s and an assortment of Hero type characters in 25mm which I painted up - but, no one to game with - so I just set about designing jet-vehicles for the figures- little two seaters with doors. Gems of the Past - eh! Regards. KEV.

  2. This was a great rule set in its day. I started off playing Laserburn, we used to leave the game set up INSIDE our wooden folding desks at school. It has a lot in common with 40K and with the Inquisitor rule set, though to be honest it is so overly detailed that it seems rather clumsy now and involves too much calculation.

    The fluff, equipment and weapons lists are the obvious ancestors of the 40K ruleset.

    1. Keen to give these a try and see if we can't rattle through a game in a few hours.

  3. Do you remember the figures arriving packed in fag packets? I loved playing IC but only had enough pocket money for a handful of imperial troops and redemptionists including a single trike, which was my favorite. It works really well as a small scale skirmish game with about a dozen figures a side.

    1. Fag packets your right blimey I forgot all about that.
      I remember saving up for a month for a lander.

    2. Heh, I remember the fag packets. Crikey that was a long time ago.

  4. Wow - that's a long run for those rules. Good to hear you still liking it too.

  5. I came to these rules late (7 years ago) they were never big in the states. They really should have done better here as they are for their
    time an excellent set of rules! After a few lucky ebay finds and the
    added fact that they are still commercially available I've amassed
    a good sized force of both Redemptionists and Imperials. Hopefully
    I can get some games in soon....)

    1. Don definetly worth a run out if nothing but for old times sake.

  6. Nice article :)

    I have many many fond memories of playing IC back in the 80s and early 90s :)

    Moved onto Beamstrike and helped with various elements of those rules. The anti-vehicle rules are mine.
    In recent years being playing a sci-variant of FUBAR which is quick and bloody like IC (and Beamstrike) :) Lots of 15mm sci-fi stuff on my blog. I've put a link from mine to to yours.
    Kind regards

  7. I still love these rules it must be my comic book gene, every once in a while I want to pull them out and put a game on. I like it because it simple and no special rules for each army like some other rules.

  8. Having seen this I am getting the box of Laserburn figures out of the loft ,some 300 figures including trikes dreadnoughts and glaive transport. I think I had more fun with these than 40k. Added house rules for exploding mushrooms , the creature under the sand and canal boats shipping arms to the redemption. It all seemed more fun when you were not restricted by official rules with figures which had to be correct