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Missile Threat (Modern Air Combat)
Publisher: Ostfront Publishing
by Lorne F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2023 06:40:49

The SHORT version: Ticked most of my air combat gaming boxes, so yes, I'd rate it as a good buy.

I'd thoroughly recommend this game for some exciting modern aerial action. If you want to get a look at the general feel of the game before parting with your currency, you should have a look at the demo play video on the product page here on Wargame Vault. That should tell you at a glance whether this is the type of air combat game you want to investigate further. The game is designed to be played with miniatures on a 6' x 4' (approximately 1.8m x 1.2m) table and use a 4" (10cm) wide protactor to measure turning, but if you prefer using your old war-game counters or have less space, you could easily adapt it to a smaller playing area, measure in centimetres, and use a smaller protractor or make your own scaled-down turning key.

The LONG version:

The rulebook itself is comprised of a large number of aircraft and ordnance lists allowing you to play any missile-age air to air, and air to surface, missions, from the 1960s to the 2000s and beyond. The rules occupy a small part of the rulebook. They are tightly, efficiently written rules that in the main I found easy to comprehend and implement in play. Those few exceptions were probably as much to do with me being biased or coloured by experience with other air combat games and doing things by habit or rote rather than as-written in this book, and easily sorted once I realised the error. The rulebook is basically no-frills, no-nonsense. It isn't overloaded with fancy drawings and pictures; it's efficient, big print, easy to read, and has a few interesting photos and diagrams, but is certainly minimalist in this sense. All around, for someone sick of wasting printer toner on tons of unnecessary art and black chunks of diagram, and whose ageing eyes struggle with tiny print in many rules sets, this was a wonderful change. On the subject of print-friendly, the rulebook and supplements when purchased should come with a background-free printer friendly edition as well as the main edition; if this is NOT the case contact the publisher or author and they'll fire off a copy of the relevant file with the background removed.

The game will NOT appeal to simulation buffs who enjoy simulation- or physics- heavy gaming (I don't mind games like that, but I can go either way; those of you who insist on accurate physics and simulation mechanics will be disappointed by Missile Threat). For those who prefer a less crunchy (and much faster to play) game, or who can straddle both sides of the fence, Missile Threat offers some interesting mechanics. Firstly is the notion of a mandatory straight move before anything else; while this is completely not realistic in many ways, it has the effect of constantly changing relative positions and making the player's job of keeping track of situational awareness quite difficult. Following this is an action phase where each aircraft can execute two actions. These are things like turning, making a special manoeuvre, making an attack, or certain other actions. This is where the manoeuvring for position, the launching of missiles, and the cannon attacks take place. Many aspects of the aircraft performance are abstracted and not 'real world' in physics, but in the sense of giving a sense of constantly evolving relative positions, losing track of something or being out of place (or fortunately lined up just so, if you're lucky or have planned well), the game felt more true to some of the things I've read by jet pilots, than the simulation heavy games I've played previously.

Various movement scales - infantry, naval, air - are incorporated into a system that has no relative real-world bearing on one another, but that achieves its aim of modelling a rapidly changing and evolving combat situation. If you're interested in the outcome, rather than the process, and can suspend disbelief at the 'physical abstractions' taken with movement and so on, this is nothing to concern yourself with. That infantry unit moved half as fast as my fighter? WHAT? Well, this game isn't a simulation; simply view it as 'that infantry unit isn't where I thought it was' as you lose some situational awareness. Easy. If that sort of thing doesn't work for you, then don't play this game, as you won't like it. If you're okay with that sort of thing or are willing to chance it, I suggest you try the game.

Differences between aircraft radar ranges, ECM effects, turning ability, pilot ability, and weapon systems are modelled in the game, and are all critical components in tipping the odds of winning or losing, although player decision and choice in the game is by no means overshadowed by the statistics or the dice. I felt that the aircraft were easy to fly, the weapon systems fairly easy to figure out, and that the hardest part was deciding on what to do and when to do it. Better quality pilots go first in this system, allowing them to position themselves and attack first, but it also means that they can be disadvantaged as a poorer quality pilot can react to their move and come after them. This just encourages you to make sure your good quality pilots don't make rookie moves like getting target fixated to their detriment, or positioning themselves so that they can cover the planned move of a friendly pilot who moves later in the turn, to ensure nothing slips in behind them later. Fire-as-you-move, rather than a distinct 'combat phase' where everything happens simultaneously after movement, is the order of the day. This has both advantages and disadvantages, but does avoid any questions of having to note who moved and when and who has fired or not in a given turn.

The author provides a points system which, after two played games, appears to be well balanced, with forces of roughly equal points value feeling like a 'roughly even' fight. There is a victory system to determine the winner of each mission, and even an annex showing the costing method used so you can convert statistics from aircraft books or Wikipedia or some other source, into game stats and the appropriate points cost for balance.

Missile Threat is simple, but not so simple that it's simply a dice 'luck' game; it's easy to play, but not so simple that tactics, deployment and player decisions aren't vital to the outcome; it models major differences between aircraft, but probably won't model the difference between two minor upgrades of a given weapon, radar or aircraft; it takes a short time to play (depending upon how many aircraft you want to use, of course) but is still lengthy enough that it engages you and makes you care about the outcome.

All around, it satisfied most of my air combat urges (except the detail-crazy simulation buff that still lurks within).

For those who prefer solo war-gaming, there are (separately available) supplements covering solo rules and a mercenary campaign, and (by a different author but same publisher), an advanced solo campaign. I have purchased these, but have yet to try them out.

I am not, other than as a customer, affiliated in any way with Ostfront, or game author Tim Jensen, and was not offered any incentives to write this review.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Missile Threat (Modern Air Combat)
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Hellcats and Hockeysticks
Publisher: Corone Design
by Lorne F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/25/2016 16:41:47

I'm not usually a reviewer, and am not affiliated in any way with the writers or publishers of this game except that I've bought a copy and played it.

The potential humour within these pages made me think hard about buying it several times, but the price put me off - just how much COULD a game about a bunch of uppity 'it-girls' at high school playing hi-jinks on one another be worth, given the limited mileage?

So I bought it anyway; I'm weak like that. This is one of those occasions where I am glad I'm weak in the face of temptation. This game is a little gem.

Firstly, the book runs to about 160 or so pages. It's printed in a one-column-per-page layup, which normally doesn't appeal much to me, but in this case it's done in such a way that it's easy to print two .pdf pages to one print page, and still read it fairly easily. This cuts printing to about 80 or so pages, give or take, and I find that appealing. The book has enough artwork (of a cartoonish and amusing style that suits the subject material) to be easy on the eye, without having any amazing graphics, plates or other distractions. Some people may find the artwork lacking in either quantity or quality, but for what it's worth my opinion is that the artwork included suited the book just fine. The text is easy to read, easy to understand, and is broken into sections that logically follow one another. You can found most of what you need by looking at the Contents in the front of the book.

The setting is very English, and full of English tongue-in-cheek madcap humour. It's at first glance a very limited setting - I mean, really, just how much CAN you do with a bunch of uppity school girls in a slightly off-beat English school for girls? - but there are enough scenario seeds, hooks, and listed inspirations that you can pretty much turn this into whatever you like - a supernatural game in the style of Buffy, a spy game, a simple competitive angsty teens vying for number one game, or a reform school for little freaks game.

Some players or GMs might be put off by the fact that you apparently have to play teenage school girls; however if this is beyond the scope of your role-playing abilities or your willingness to delve into that field, there are options presented in the book to make it an exclusive all-boys school, and the format of character creation and rules mechanics is easily adaptable with little work to just about any other setting if you have a little time and a little imagination.

Character creation involves selecting a class, which grants a special ability and 5 skill points to spend on 4 'curriculum' or core skills. You then get 15 points to spend on any available skills, including the curriculum skills. Curriculum skills can have a higher level than others. This could easily be adapted to other settings, for the record - you could have classes of soldier such as SAS or Para, or have a medieval game with Knights, Archers, Rogues, Wizards, or whatever - and with very little work and a little imagination, and probably a custom characater sheet, you could easily adapt this system and the rules mechanics to whatever you like. Having allocated skills you select a secret fear, a rival, a best friend, and a secret loathing for your pals (i.e. you think Charlotte's great, but you HATE how she bites her nails all the time).

The biggest surprise about this book - and the thing that to me justified the price - was the rules mechanic. This is a very rules-light system, but having said that, it is a robust system that works rather well. It's easy again to tweak the system if you're not happy with the numbers or probabilities.

Essentially you roll a pool of dice equal to your skill level plus one; for instance if you have Physics at 3 and are attempting to build a bear trap, you would roll 4 dice. For most purposes you keep the highest die in your dice pool, and compare that to the target number of the task at hand (as set by the Headmistress, who is scarier than the average GM). You may spend Willpower to increase the number of dice in your pool. In combat, damage rolls are a 50/50 split between 'slapped' and something more annoying and debilitating, but in keeping with the light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek flavour of this madcap setting, nobody dies in this game (at least in the setting as presented). The worse you're hurt, the longer you suffer penalties of a steadily increasing nature.

There are some basic rules for magic, potions, building weird tech and explosives, and for various combat and healing effects. It's all very simple, really, and yet for a rules-light system it's very nice. There are also rules and guidelines for rejecting a friend or best friend, fracturing groups as a result, and petty rivalries. These things actually seem amusing and 'in context' to the game, but with a little adaptation might easily be used as a framework for an alliance, political, or guild relationship system in another setting.

There is a handy 2-page reference sheet provided at the back of the book; this has the basic difficulty level table, damage table and weapon modifiers, and a few other interesting notes. That and the provided character sheet are really all you need to get playing once you've read through the rules.

The first session I ran with this was a total scream; many laughs were had and despite the silliness inherent in the setting and the attitude of those playing, the characters still seemed to have some depth.

If you want something amusing and rules-light, or are keen to find a relatively simple system open to creative adaptation to other settings (for your own gaming use, of course), then I'd thoroughly recommend this. If you find it on sale, even better.

At the time of writing this title is listed as $12.00 U.S. or about $17.00 AUD, and at that price, I consider it well worth the buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hellcats and Hockeysticks
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Prosthetica
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Lorne F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/28/2014 01:15:45

Prosthetica is an expansion to the Victory Core Rulebook. That rulebook is required to make sense of the statistics, and some of the terminology, presented in Prosthetica. If you don't have Victory core rules, this book has a few things that might be of interest in terms of 'what is life?' or 'can an artificial construct be a slave or a free entity?', but you really won't get a lot of it without the Victory Rules (if you're not sure about Victory System, try the Party Pack starters from Dakkar Unlimited - they're free at the time of this writing, and contain a very basic introduction to the mechanics of Victory, as well as some starting characters and villains, to allow you to see if you like it enough to buy the core rules).

Prosthetica covers in detail 'Mechanica' - cybernetics, steampunk constructs, clockwork machines, artificial intelligences, mental imprints, and robots. There are heaps of example designs you can 'pick up and play with', as well as lists of features, parts and so forth that allow you to custom-build or customise an existing robot. If you want a simple replacement robotic eye with a targeting scope or information display, or a whole body replacement cybernetic package, or wish to build a heavily armoured clockwork golem to taunt your enemies, this is the book for you. It uses the same costing and design system as found in the Victory Equipment Manual and other supplements, so meshes nicely with the other rule and source books for Victory.

Well thought out, well laid out, and with enough information to suit both those seeking a quick and nasty 'villain-bot' and those wishing to explore a variety of unique designs tailored to a given setting, it is well worth the price to my mind (about $7.50 US, $8.55 Australian at the time of writing this review).

As another module to the modular expansions that attach to Victory Rules, you can buy as many or as few as you need for your own gaming requirements, but they all work together and mesh rather nicely.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prosthetica
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The Victory System Equipment Manual
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Lorne F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/28/2014 00:54:55

The Victory System Equipment Manual is hours of endless fun...torture...fun, much like another reviewer stated. I love this book.

A lot of games provide a tool-kit that allows you to build just about anything, and some of them probably have more realistic designs, more possible tweaks or features, and more something-else. However, I usually find such books to be hideously tortuous to use, and often not very fast until you've designed hundreds of items, which I can never be bothered doing. Victory's Equipment manual is one of the better ones. After a few designs, figuring out how the options all work and referring to the EXTENSIVE lists of tables, tweaks and so on, you can motor through new designs at a rate of knots.

You want radiation proof armoured underpants? You can build them, and have a Victory System-relative price, armour value, durability, and so forth, that fits with the other equipment in the game. You want a super-weapon that weighs a couple of pounds and blows holes through tanks? You can build that too, assuming the GM in your campaign doesn't slap you to death with a wet dead fish for being so silly and saying 'uh, NO!' because such things don't exist in this campaign. You want to build a basic battery charger, or a titanic multi-legged walking vehicle with a rotary plasma cannon and luxury accommodations? You can.

Victory System itself is designed to cover role-playing in just about any genre or setting, and the Equipment Manual breaks its lists down into Fantasy (read: Ancient and Medieval), Near-Modern (read: Gunpowder, Industrial, Near-Future Sci-Fi) and Space (read: Far Future, high tech) eras, with different build options, costs, and weights of items for each era. You can pretty much look up the contents for whatever you want, and start building. You want a big sword to cut up orcs more effectively? Go to the Fantasy Weapons equipment section. You want high-tech radiation proof underpants that illuminate the room? Go to the Space Era Clothing section. You want a Steampunk airship powered by solar energy? Go to the Near-Modern Vehicles section.

In addition, despite the fact that there are almost limitless things you can build from the charts and tables and options presented, the Equipment Manual has an initial section dealing with HOW to build things and use the data presented, as well as a section later in the book on building new powers, character abilities, and things like magic spells, martial arts moves or powers, and so forth. You can literally design ANYTHING with what's in there, and if you happen to find something not covered (and you will, sooner or later, if you try hard enough), there are cost multipliers for different types of equipment in different eras, that help to give you a guideline of how to create the appropriate function and cost it properly yourself.

There are probably a few things you just cannot do with this manual (such as maintain viable social relationships after you get 'design-fever' for a setting you want to populate with lots of custom gadgets), but they are few and far between. If you're serious about Victory system, or running a campaign where natural engineers, gadgeteers or evil super-weapon corporations abound, then you need this book.

It is worth noting that you can create amazingly powerful and unbalancing gear with this book - but as with all things Victory, the GM has final say in what is and is not acceptable in a given campaign. Just because the equipment book lets you design a weapon the size of a penlight torch that can blow up a tank, doesn't mean the technology to do that is actually available in the campaign world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Victory System Equipment Manual
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The Victory System: Core Rulebook
Publisher: Dakkar Unlimited
by Lorne F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/28/2014 00:42:45

Victory System...OH YEAH! My personal feeling is that this game is just plain good old-fashioned FUN. It is not a perfect game (but what is?), but it's one of the best, in my opinion, at what it does - providing a fairly simple mechanic, covering a vast array of genres and settings, and allowing lots of options to customise characters to make them special.

Players of Hot Chicks: The Roleplaying Game will find much is familiar in the Victory System. Victory is a polished, better laid out, and better explained version of Dakkar's Inverted d20 system as used in Hot Chicks. It is somewhat less 'adult-oriented' or 'shocking' than Hot Chicks, but still contains a fair number of mature references and things that sensitive types might not consider 'politically correct'. There are some tweaks and alterations to various mechanics from Hot Chicks (or, at least, the mechanics are more clearly explained in Victory), but the two systems are largely compatible.

Victory System Core Rulebook contains a lot of information, but none of it is complex. The book splits play into 'Eras' - the Fantasy Era, the Near-Modern Era, and the Space Era, allowing you to tailor character generation, equipment, skills and technology available, to suit the 'Era' being played. In addition, it allows for a Custom Era, which more or less allows a GM willing to put the work in, to create any setting s/he likes.

The mechanics revolve around a d20 system where you must roll the die for less than or equal to a modified target number; everything from a skill check, damage calculation, chase roll, building a house, or designing a state of the art hyperdrive system, use similar mechanics - this makes it quite easy to play, as you don't have twelve different mechanics for skill tests, opposed arm-wrestles, ranged combat, damage resolution, and so on, as in certain other systems. It's a 'dice light' system, although when dealing with heavy automatic weapons and large scale combats, there are a LOT of individual rolls to make. If there is one small thing missing from Victory, I would say it's a quick resolution 'mass combat' system of some sort, but Victory is hardly alone in not covering such a difficult topic.

When designing a character you can choose to randomly roll your attributes, or purchase points from a budget. There are lots of skills and 'Merits' and 'Flaws' to allow your character to have that extra flavour that makes them stand out. There are various budgets available to buy equipment and improve starting skills, attributes and so on - the more 'uber' your character at the start, the more money you get to buy things at generation (but the more likely the GM's bad guys are going to be better, as well).

What amazes me about Victory is the number of options you have, as both a player and a GM. There are numerous powers (super-powers, magic, psionics, martial arts, cybernetic/steampunk/clockwork) and equipment lists for each Era covering basic weapons, armour, a couple of vehicle samples, a few buildings and furniture and so forth. Victory is enough, as a stand-alone, to start playing a character in any era, in just about any genre, you care to think of. Some games undoubtedly do some of these better than Victory, but to my mind there aren't many that cover such a wide range of subjects and genres, and do it so well, as Victory.

Victory places the emphasis on 'heroic action' - the player characters are way superior to the average mook or the average citizen Joe, although it is quite easy to scale up the minor NPCs (or scale down the PCs) to make it more gritty or action oriented. The game generally seems to aim at 'high adventure' or 'super-heroics' in its combat mechanics - mooks go down with one hit, while the heroes and major villains take lots of damage; players can spend 'Risk' (a generic 'energy level' to fuel heroic endeavours, get dice bonuses, charge up super powers and so forth) to alter the outcomes of rolls, boost damage, and so forth.

If a GM or players wished to run a more gritty, realistic campaign, then simply not allowing various powers, limiting the available Risk, or limiting the available equipment, would easily achieve this goal.

For these reasons, Victory System to me covers everything reasonably well - you can play anything from a lone wanderer in a post-apocalyptic world, scrounging for enough food and water to survive, through to spendex-clad super-heroes who can throw trucks a few hundred feet and fly at ridiculous speeds with no apparent means of propulsion, to the evil wizard who is also a black-belt at some unpronounceable martial art form.

For the price ($11.35 Australian Dollars at the time of this writing, about $10.00 US or so), Victory System is more than value for money, and to my mind, you should take a chance on it and buy it. At worst you'll have something that gives lots of cool ideas about settings, characters, mechanics for unusual things, and enough equipment to form the basis of a customised setting. At best, you'll have a game that you can enjoy over and over again without taxing the brain cells, and that can be used to play in any setting you envision. To me that's easily worth the purchase price.

While not directly related to the core rules, it is worth noting that there are numerous expansions available, if you really like it and want more detail in a given area - Prosthetica covers clockwork, cybernetic and steampunk robots and cyborgs; the Equipment Manual is a must if you wish to design custom gear and have a setting-relative price and statistics for it; the Guide to Space Ships expands on the Equipment Manual's design system and can be used as a stand-alone to build space vehicles and starships, and so on. You can buy whichever supplements you want or need for your own purposes, but what is key here is that you don't NEED any of them to play Victory. In itself the Core Rules is enough to get started, and have loads of fun. Coupled with the expansions, it's even better.

As a note, I am not in any way employed by or affiliated with Dakkar Unlimited or the designers of the game. I have shared e-mail correspondence with designer Scott Corum on several questions about the game, and some other related topics, but have had no business dealings with him directly, or his company, other than purchasing his products for personal use.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Victory System:  Core Rulebook
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