I have had a copy of In The Emperor's Name since 2nd edition, never played it nor really read much into it. Then I was googling, looking for a sci-fi skirmish ruleset to use with my new EM-4 miniatures. I came across ITEN (In The Emperor's Name) now in its 3rd edition and decided to give it a try.
ITEN, for those who do not know, is a sci-fi skirmish game (~4-10 figures each), thematically designed for the use of Warhammer 40k miniatures. With that said, it comes with a sandbox approach to designing your own characters. This opens up the ability to use ANY miniature you own, which can also potentially lead to imbalanced situations. This game is not for tournaments, it's to play games with a like-minded friend, to have fun telling stories with little figures.
I won't delve too much into gameplay, because it's free to download and worth checking out. But essentially each player makes a small team with a leader. You can outfit each character with all the typical 40k weapons and armor and equipment. There are three phases of the game; Movement, Shooting, and Melee. Combat is 1d6 + combat value + modifiers versus the target's armor value. If hit the target rolls their Grit stat or will be removed from the game.
Simple, easy, and only a handful of pages for the official rules. I learned as I went for my first battle. After a couple turns I didn't need to look back anymore.
So I got some stats up for a five man Space Ranger squad. Three of them carry bolters, one has a plasma gun, and the leader has a plasma pistol and chainsword. All five took the Gun Kata ability.
Then I made a motley crew of mercenaries led by a Rogue Trader. The Rogue Trader had a powerfist, autogun, and jokaero digital weapon. Then some Reaper Bones to play a Medic, a two-gun Mercenary, and an IMEF gunner with Stealth and tricked out autogun. To fill out the Rogue Trader's crew were the EM-4 Gangers; two veteran mercenaries with plasma pistols and power weapons, a bionic merc with autogun, merc with heavy stubber, and merc with sniper rifle.
This was my first time playing, so it went slow as I tried to figure out the rules as I was playing solo. Eventually I got into the flow of things. The gameplay was smooth and things picked up faster by the end. I think next time I'll try a scenario instead of kill 'em all, which became apparent as casualties started mounting. Which comes to my conclusion about the game....
Higher armor and cover versus weaker units equals game over. The Space Rangers had stats like Space Marines (3+ everything and an 8+ armor save), which is why there is only 5 of them versus 9 regular mooks. Once they were behind hard cover, that armor went up to 10, which is impossible for the mercs only adding 2 or 3 to their die roll to hit. So having an objective is key, and perhaps more ganging up with shooting and melee is the answer. Then again, with Space Rangers moving cover to cover, blasting away, knocking down targets and shooting again thanks to gun kata, they acted like the brutal Space Marines they were emulating.
And I'm not sure why the dice gods were so ornery, but some odd things occurred. For example, in one bout of Space Ranger shooting three mercs were hit, and all three rolled exactly their Grit which made them all knocked down. Then in the post game, the Space Ranger leader recovered, the Rogue Trader made exactly his Grit so he would miss next match and the other dead mercs from the match all officially died. Fickle dice.
TL;DR - All in all, it's a great skirmish game, obviously designed for Warhammer 40k. I would recommend exploring more of their scenarios especially the campaign system. I also recommend players make more random crews without allowing too many powered armor units on the same team and see how that plays out. Try it if you have a desire for fast paced sci-fi skirmish using any miniatures you own.