Spec Ops a Gruntz module
Spec Ops is a new addition to the Gruntz game system. It differs from Gruntz in that the missions center around highly trained teams of 3-5 soldiers rather than the squads and vehicles of a typical Gruntz game. It does contain many of the features familiar to Gruntz players, but because of the significant difference in scope Spec. Ops. has a flavor all its own. A big difference is that all soldiers are deployed on “blips” which lends to the fog of war on the table. Since each force gets one decoy blip to begin with and there is equipment which can generate more decoys, one never knows exactly what that blip lurking around the corner really represents!
Games are generally played on a 2ft by 2ft table, though bigger tables can be used. Since the game is designed for 15mm play 2X2 is quite big enough for a typical 6 turn game. This is one of the strengths of the Gruntz system, games are short and sweet. The time limit encourages bold play, which does sometimes work against the theme of covert operations. Spec Ops troopers have to keep moving to succeed in the game, which makes for more sighting opportunities.
For those familiar with Gruntz, Spec Ops soldiers are very similar to the specialist class in Gruntz. Like the Gruntz Specialist, Spec Ops troops take multiple hits before they are truly killed, or “waxed” in game terms. Just like the Specialists, Spec Ops troopers are autonomous, they don’t have to maintain unit cohesion distances and operate as one would expect, on their own. A small Spec Ops squad can cover the entire board if needed.
My group has played several game systems where overwatch, reactive fire, sighting play important parts, and with Spec Ops these three areas are also very important. I have to say overwatch and reactive fire are similar, but different, and caused us no end of misery when beginning to play the game. Basically keep in mind that when on overwatch the soldier can continue to sight, spot, and shoot until he fails a sighting/reaction test. Reactive fire is for the rest of the team who are not on overwatch. They may sight or take reactive fire at any blip/soldier who enters their line of sight. They only get one reactive fire per turn, which is important to keep in mind.
Spec Ops caters to those who want to trick out a heavily armed elite squad. Stats are given for the basic Spec Ops trooper and there are plenty of weapons, armor and other gadgets to make pretty much any type of squad wanted. This would be for those folks who like to gear up and get shooting right off the bat with the best and baddest weapons.
But for those who like campaigns which show unit and personal growth, Spec Ops has the basis for a good one. As described in the rule book each side starts with a suggested 100 points. Squads range in size from 3-5 troopers. Each trooper starts as a basic trooper of 14 points and can add guns, armor, and upgrades to his personal starting total which may not go over 18 points. The squad leader also gets a bonus sub commander perk. I have to point out that we tried squads of 5 and 4 to see what difference it would make. The smaller squad had different weapons and more points to spend on squad equipment, which made them a tougher team. We played 5 missions and they won 4 of them. There is a basic branching campaign tree provided, 6 different missions are described, and a detailed section on squad advancement. Since we were playtesting we didn’t set a point limit for victory but simply played through the branching campaign as provided. If we really wanted to we could have finished the 5 games in a couple of evenings gaming. This is a campaign system that we really like.
Spec Ops is a very good game. It is quick to set up missions for one off games and it has a very sound campaign system. There are enough changes and additions to make it a quite different game from Gruntz, yet still is a quick, easy, and fun game to play.
[4 of 5 Stars!]