Monday, December 28, 2015

Death in the Dirt

Or, how I quite possibly killed my kid's enthusiasm for Force on Force in the very first turn of their very first game!

Here's how it went down - one of the boys was keen to have a go at Force on Force. Force on Force are rules for modern warfare: the earliest edition focused on asymmetrical warfare. So I dug out the old cork buildings and my 15mm insurgents and US marines.Being their first game, I went for the basic scenario: Contracting Trouble. A pair of contractors have been ambushed in a bad part of town. Two fireteams of marines have been sent in to pull them out. I played the insurgents, the boys took a fireteam of marines each.

Contractors top left. You can also see three out of five groups of insurgents. Lone RPG men on the rooftops at the top left and right. Six insurgents in the foreground.

Four insurgent leaders in the foreground. There are another two insurgents skulking down the alley between the SUV and the marines.
Marines on their way in - just down the street and back again. Simple, right?
First encounter and everything goes like clockwork - the marines smoke the guys in the alley.
Once the marines have moved, one of the RPG guys pops up to have a shot. He manages to get his shot off first, causing one casualty.
Not only that, the marines roll a one for their reaction test, meaning they must draw a 'Fog of War' card. I use the original cards from Ambush Alley - most are bad for the regular player. The only question is, how bad? When I introduced one of my gaming mates to the game, he always used to manage to draw the worst possible card. Not that it put him off the game, as you can see. Anyway, his favourite card turned up for the boys.
The insurgents are now every bit as good as the marines, and there are more of them!

Things just went downhill from there. A big group of reinforcements right on top of the marine positions.
Another failed reaction test halts the marines in their drive towards the contractors.
The group of six insurgents from the start of the game smell blood in the water. They burst into the street, guns blazing.
Again, the insurgents win the reaction test and the entire marine fireteam goes down as casualties.
The noose tightens.
It's just the start of turn three and the other fireteam is faced with a dilemma: try to extricate themselves as quickly as they can, or rush to the aid of their injured brothers? Well, leave no man behind!
Or, leave every man behind. Marines beaten to the trigger again and down they all go.
Total casualties:

Marines: 9
Insurgents: Just 4.
Boys' desire to ever play Force on Force again: Yes, quite possibly!


  1. Hmm, I'm looking for rulesets for this ambientation. I have only played Skirmish Sangin and I'd like to try other games. How easy/difficult is the game to learn? How long does a game take more or less? Looks deinitely interesting!

    1. I haven't played Skirmish Sangin myself, so can't compare directly. Games can take from 45mins to 4+ hrs: a lot depends on force size. This game was right at the bottom end: two fireteams for the marines. I've played games up to about a reinforced platoon size: six or more fireteams a side, plus multiple tanks, air and arty support. Check the blog I've linked to for some of these games.

      I'd say the rules have one or two tricks to learn, but the rest is straightforward. The main trick is the reaction system. One side has the initiative, the other side can interrupt their fire or movement with fire of their own. At times, multiple units will be trying to interrupt the one active unit. Sorting out these chains of reaction can be tricky to know you've got right.

      Apart from that, the rules are straightforward. Most tests are made against a units Quality, which is a die type: d6 for irregulars, d8 for regs, d10 for elites. A 4+ is a success. Combat involves opposed die rolls: who rolls more successes - attacker or defender? Most other tests are based on the Quality dice: makes things easy to remember.

      Hope that gives you a decent indication of the way the rules work.

    2. Perfect then! Thank you very much! I definitely need to give this a try! :)

  2. Ow! Lesson 1 - Move to cover :)

    1. Lesson 1: don't pull the 'Better than they look' card!

      Oh, and the package arrived today, thanks. I'll pass the bases on. And I can see why you chose a dark pj for the daemonettes: hides the twisted details!

    2. I felt that cards wrath several years ago...from the same cruel school master. Tell your boys not to be too hard on themselves, the UN/US in Moggy learnt the same two lessons. Don't underestimate the enemy and don't stand against a wall which makes a nice fire lane.

    3. The daemonettes are nice and androgynous. I used their heads for my Imperial Guard (the Grey Knights have no clue!) and will use the spikey arm bits to make some nice half-tyranid thingies.

    4. Yes, I did have a chuckle when they pulled that card - brought back memories. The boys don't feel too bad about it actually: mid-way through the game, they were pretty despondent, but I asked them this afternoon and they said they'd be happy to play it again sometime.

  3. Have you considered giving black ops a shot?

    1. Yes, that is the other option worth thinking about. I haven't played them yet. Read your report on the blog. You have to be happy with a certain level of abstraction - a SAW and an M203 work exactly the same. They're both just light support weapons.

      Out of interest, is there a sweet spot in terms of game size for Black Ops?