SUMMARY (based on one full test-game):
A very nice ruleset. Arguably an ideal introduction to this scale of wargaming, and likely also a safe bet for more experienced large-scale gamers who want a faster, more streamlined experience. The game has some but not too much book-keeping (though see my caveat below). Play is fluid, tactics are important, reaction fire and suppression are important and consequential. You can play a brigade-level engagement in an hour or two.
SOME POSITIVE IMPRESSIONS:
- the game is just abstract enough to keep play fast. It focuses on your perspective as the Brigade Commander, NOT the sum of all command perspectives from the platoon level up. Because of this, you have a fairly abstract classification of units - for the most part, for example, “infantry is infantry.” Yet a clever “unit attachments” element in the rules also allows you more granularity to distinguish units with different capabilities. The attachment system is quite flexible; I used it to good effect for the sci-fi elements in our (Warhammer 40k-themed) test battle. Space Marines actually felt like Space Marines, without being overpowered...
- on that note, the game is quite playable as written, but also quite open to tweaking, hacking, and flexibility - without breaking the game.
- fluidity of play: units advance - but sometimes get halted or pushed back by fire. Tactics, reaction fire, suppression, all felt very important. This is not a game for units to slowly add up their mounting casualties while they roll inexorably across the battlefield. This is a game where tactics and planning matter, but ‘no plan will survive contact with the enemy’ - probably - and you may find yourself scrambling to stop, or to exploit, a sudden hole in the lines or enemy breakthrough...
A FEW CRITIQUES, AND A FEW TWEAKS:
- there are some occasional typos and ambiguities in the rules. These never presented a major problem. Becoming more familiar with the rules may take care of much of this ambiguity for me. Second, the author is highly active online and helpfully responsive to emails with rules questions, etc.
- the Quick Reference Sheets for the game are included but they do not provide quite enough detail, at least not for a first time playing the game. I printed off some extra content (the more detailed description of firing results) and I may create my own, more detailed QRS for future games.
- for our first game, at least, I felt that the possible unit statuses inflicted by Shock dice were one too many (rolling a 1 on a Shock die will inflict a different Status based on whether the target was in covering terrain or not). Long-term, familiarity with the game may let me exploit the nuanced added by the full option, but for now, I just treated all Shock dice “1s” the same. Not surprisingly, this did nothing to ruin my enjoyment of the game, kept things even faster, and worked fine.
IF YOU ALREADY PLAY GAMES IN 2-10MM SCALES:
…then I’d suggest this if you want a more streamlined, faster way to play large battles.
IF YOU ARE NEW TO THIS SCALE OF GAMING:
…then you should know that it isn’t a difficult level to break into. Armies generally can be acquired more cheaply than at other scales. For our test-battle, I just made up my own top-down unit stands on the computer and printed them off onto foam core bases. Worked fine. The rules offer a really nice introduction and a way to play battles with, say, 15 companies to a side.
IF YOU PLAY SCI-FI WARGAMES:
…these rules are written for modern, ‘real-world’ wargaming, but they are not difficult to modify for sci-fi play (as noted above, my test-battle used a 40k setting). The attachments system offers a great way to add unit differentiation. 5Core is a set of rules that run from the skirmish up to brigade level; the 5Core Company Commander level rules have an inexpensive expansion called “5Core Company Commander in Spaaace…” which is not essential but has some ideas that can be modified and carried up to brigade level.
OVERALL: a fun fast game where tactics still matter. I look forward to playing again.
[5 of 5 Stars!]