As a club, we play an ever-changing, ever-growing number of tabletop games. Some are well-known staples, some are newcomers that recently riveted our attention. To give you some insight, we have started this irregular ‘Games We Play’ column where we’re going to present selected game systems that bring us joy. Today we will give you an overview of the author’s favorite game: Turnip28!
The contents of this post represent the author’s opinion and are not representative of the ITGC Berlin as a whole.
What Is This Game About?
Turnip28 is a root Napoleonic tabletop game designed by Max Fitzgerald (patreon). The rules are available free online and there are no official miniatures to purchase – turnip28 is a miniature agnostic kitbasher, which means that you’re free to provide – and build – your own miniatures.
But wait, what does root Napoleonic mean?
I made it up a bit, but in Turnip’s world the Napoleonic wars never ended; they’ve been still going on for the last 1000 years, in fact!
What is more, a strange root (vegetable) has taken over the earth, poisoning the land and filling the air with thick vapour. Humanity, of what remains of it, harvests this strange tuber to survive and, in return, is bestowed with strange dreams of lost vegetables – once the digestion has run its course, obviously.
Life is misery in Cist, the landlocked country somewhere in what used to be Europe. Mud squelches under the boots of thousands of malnourished wretches, brandishing their rusty muskets, marching to war under banners of eerie cults. Everyone in Turnip28 is an incompetent and feeble murderer.
Don’t expect much of your followers and you’ll do just fine!
That is not to say that Turnip is a grimdark game – on the contrary! Turnips is grotesque, in Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s paintings or Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. In general if vomit, fecal matter, violence, people slipping face-first into mud, muskets exploding in their faces, charging just to quickly retreat are your things – don’t wait and jump into turnip!
If you want to learn more about Turnip28’s world, read their first official zin – The Swollen Magglet!
Ok, I kinda get it… what about the “kitbasher” bit?
As mentioned above, Turnip28 is a miniature agnostic game. You can bring any minis you like, the rulebook only provides base size suggestions, so that e.g. your infantry models have bases between 20 and 30mm in diameter; these are pointers only, though, so if you feel like it, you can go wild and build bigger or smaller 🙂 And speaking about building!
Turnip28’s original setting and no big company behind it means that there are no official miniatures, even if you wanted to get them. The official suggestion is to kitbash them, i.e. to use two or more miniature kits to create minis (to “bash” them together). The Swollen Magglet has step-by step suggestions on doing this – I followed their guide, never having kitbashed anything really before.
As to which kits to bash – the suggestion is to go with Perry and Victrix miniatures, since they cover the napoleonics ranges quite well. As you can see from a quick Instagram search, though – the mud is the limit! And I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people are heeding the call of the root.
Players cheer on as pathetic peasants kick each other to death in the mud – or, how do you actually play this game?
Ragged Rabble Roaming Rugged Regions
Every woeful attempt at adventure in Turnip28 starts with players creating their regiments. They start with their Toff – who is a general, a demagogue, a charismatic cult leader – a person that has the gift of the gab or some other ways or leading throngs of underqualified, but overeager followers.
Followers – yes! it’s a common name of “units” in turnip. A stump gun (rickety cannon with terrible crew) is a follower, same as a unit of 12 Fodder – atrocious soldiers that make up their low quality by sheer quantity. There are 3 infantry follower types, 2 cavalry and 1 artillery and cults add more to this number. Cults are a bit more advanced “factions/armies” that players can use that add special units and change how you play; they’re too many to discuss here, but if you’re interested in rockets, crabs, balloons, growing vegetables or being a leech lover, Turnip’s got you covered.
A Toff can bring two units of followers with themselves; next to the toff you add two Toadies, snivelling sub-commanders, which bring 1 unit of followers each. Your Toffs and Toadies are called Snobs in general, while your followers are, well, followers.
Nothing stops you from bringing multiple of the same follower; you can bring four cannons if you like, but remember they can’t move. Several units of “heavy” cavalry might seem like a good idea, but then losing models to dangerous terrain can be iffy. But at the same time – build whatever is to your hearts content, because Turnip is really about the atmosphere and stupid stuff happening all the time.
Stupid stuff happening all the time – the gameplay!
Players face each other using comparable-strength regiments on a 3×3 map with pre-defined terrain and objectives. It’s worth noting that current iteration of the rules (16a) says it’s 4×4 and the terrain is mostly do-as-you-please, but 7 new scenarios for the upcoming new rulebook say it’s 3×3, so I stick to that.
Scenarios mostly ask you to control most of the objectives at the end of a 4-round game. You do this by either deploying within 1″ of objectives or finishing any kind of move within 1″ of an objective.
Turnip is an alternating activation game, meaning that players usually alternate using their units; usually! if one player’s snobs die, then they’ll start losing initiative and might have to wait for the other player with more snobs to activate first. Activating an officer means that a player has to select a unit of followers within its command range to activate and fulfill an order. Because of this, protecting your (somewhat competent) officers is a key to victory in Turnip.
Turnip has a couple of original rules and solutions, for readability I’ll list them here:
- models must target and charge closest visible units
- only 1 model needs to be in range and line of sights/make the charge for whole units to shoot/fight in melee (I love this rule)
- units accrue panic tokens (up to 6) for being hit, fighting in melee, failing dangerous terrain tests and many other sources
- gunpowder units can shoot only once per turn
- models must return fire if shot at (if able) and the shooting engagement is happening simultaneously
- if there is a winner (unit caused more unsaved wounds) of a shooting/melee engagement, the loser must retreat d6+2″ for every panic token directly away from the other unit (yes, you can withdraw 18″ away)
- if there is no winner in a melee bout, units fight again until there is a clear winner
- there is a big use of dangerous terrain (roll d6 for every model, one a 1 you lose that model), also only touching the dangerous terrain with 1 model causes whole unit to do the test; withdrawing through your own or enemy units causes dangerous terrain tests, too!
- finally, as mentioned several times in this post, your followers aren’t the brightest bunch and can botch even a simplest order, so after saying which unit will do which order but before executing it, player does a blunder roll, i.e. if a unit is that incompetent at this very moment. If you roll a 1 on a d6, then the unit blunders, which usually means getting a panic token and doing a worse version of an order. There’s a special category of scenario blunders, though, which are more deadly (e.g. models eat themselves) but they trigger only if a follower isn’t ordered by a snob. So again, keep your snobs safe!
Lastly, again, your followers really are a terrible bunch; Turnip uses Inaccuracy stat to show how (relatively) terrible your units are at hitting what you ask them to hit.
There are no elite units in turnip and if a unit’s Inaccuracy become 4+ after modifiers, you’re gonna jump up and make splurgy noises, believe me!
Why do we play Turnip28?
I’ve asked several of our club’s members about their experience with Turnip28. Interspersed are pictures of their regiments.
The first thing that caught my eye with Turnip28 was the name, I was intrigued about it and then I looked it up to find a lot of weird (in the best way) miniatures.
I was fascinated by the possibility of making my own personal army without being pushed to buy the same models as everyone or spend that much money. But that was only my first impression. Then I played the game, and it was so much fun.
Turnip is a fast paced game that punish you all the time, failing dice rolls is something that will happened A LOT, but your opponent will also fail, so it balances pretty well.
It’s the perfect game for people that want to watch the world burn and enjoy a dark but humorous setting.
I read an interview with Max (the original Rootling) on Goonhammer and the pictures there got me interested. It took me around a year still to conquer my fear of kitbashing and in general feel comfortable about doing something that isn’t the default grimdark. Turnip pulled me into with its wackiness, grotesqueness and a general lack of competence – it serves as a great comical relief in our world where speed, precision and skill is valued at a premium.
What is more, Turnip is only a universe that oozes atmosphere – it’s also a tight, well-designed game system! It isn’t some kind of weird music piece you only put on when you feel in that special mood – it’s a banger in it’s own right!
It all started when I wanted an alternative to the gaming systems of the big companies. I’ve always had a very twisted and messy style of painting and when I stumbled across Turnip28 while browsing the internet I was instantly blown away. The story behind it grabbed me right away and never let go. It also gave me the excuse I’ve always wanted to use miniatures from different manufacturers in an army. Furthermore, you create a very individual squad that you can be really proud of. You lose yourself very quickly in your project if you want to. There are still many things on the drawing table, be it more line troops, various units for the cults or just terrain. The goal, of course, is to lead an entire painted army into battle and hope they come out of it semi-victorious (but that will never happen).
What do I need to play?
Available on Max’s Patreon. All resources listed below are free:
- Rulebook (rules, cults, some backstory)
- (optional) Swollen Magglet zine (backstory, kitbashing hints)
- make your own: a good kitbashing start are boxes of Perry Napoleonic Infantry and Foot Knights; make sure they are multiposed since you want them to be adjustable
- Max has his own STLs for 3D Printing in the works, so keep your eye out for them!
- d6 dice (up to 12)
- tape measure (inches)
- run-down terrain, muddy, decrepit houses and farms
- 3×3 game board
How do I play with you?
Join our Discord’s #turnip28 channel and we’ll get you sorted!