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Lethal Company meets Warhammer in this new indie wargame

Expendable Employees, currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, pits employees of The Company against nightmare entities in pursuit of profit.

Lethal Company meets Warhammer in this indie wargame - a 3D render of an Expendable Employees miniature, a man in a form-fitting environment suit, superimposed on a screenshot from the PC game Lethal Company

Warhammer fans looking to play something a little lighter and more cooperative, and videogamers who enjoy cooperative disaster games like Lethal Company, Helldivers 2, and Content Warning, should check out Expendable Employees, a new indie wargame currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

Wargamer has had a quick look through the (as yet unfinalized) rulebook. Expendable Employees has a super trim rulebook compared to Warhammer 40k’s colossal tomes – but that’s all part of the theme. See, the rulebook isn’t just the rules of the game, it’s also the orientation document you’ve received from ‘The Company’ for your new life flying from exoplanet to exoplanet, gathering scrap and trying not to be killed by ‘entities’.

So as well as the rules for setting up a game session, or the stats for the nightmarish entities that will try and devour the employees you (and up to three friends) are taking on your expeditions, there’s also disclaimers from the Company telling you it takes absolutely no responsibility for your inevitable deaths – perfect Lethal Company vibes. We’re particularly impressed by the notice that states your mandatory Company spacesuit continuously emits carcinogenic radiation.

The Kickstarter campaign has already funded successfully, and you have until June 15 to back it. A pledge for the rules in PDF format and other digital rewards costs $7.35 USD / $10CAD / £6 GBP.

STLs of Expendable Employees miniatures - figures in hazmat suits

The game plays out in a series of missions, in which you’ll generate an exoplanet to loot, deploy your space hauler on one board edge, and send your employees on a frantic mission to retrieve scattered scrap before spreading darkness devours the board. Bigger piles of loot are worth more, and you need to keep generating profit for the company or risk termination – but of course, the bigger the prize, the more likely it is for a terrible entity to spawn from the shadows and rip your head off.

The game is miniatures agnostic, meaning any models are permitted. The Kickstarter offers STL files for employee figures you can produce on a home 3D printer. Warhammer 40k factions like the Tyranids and Chaos Daemons will be an excellent source for entity miniatures. For minis in space suits, Crooked Dice Miniatures and Black Site Studio are also worth looking at.

We won’t go into the rules in depth, as they’re very lightweight, but we will highlight some fun features. Each game begins with a bunch of scrap falling onto the surface of an exoplanet from orbit – which involves one player holding a handful of D4s two feet above the table and dropping them onto the battlefield.

It’s also possible to play Expendable Employees as a drinking game, in a rules section labelled “Drinking On The Job”. You’ve got to pick an Outlook before you start drinking: if you’re Optimistic, you drink whenever an employee successfully loots a piece of scrap without running into a hazard – if you’re Pessimistic, you’ll drink whenever something goes wrong.

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According to designer Alexei Vella, he created Expendable Employees because he wanted to play Lethal Company and its ilk but didn’t have a compatible computer to play with his friends. We like his hustle.

This goes right to the top of our list of “games to play at the next office get-together”. For more lightweight wargames that work great for parties, check out our Necromolds review – think Warhammer, but with play-clay monsters you can squish when they die. We can also suggest some great drinking board games if you like the idea of a drinking game with a bit of heft to it!