A random series of articles on war gaming in 40K, FOW and other systems. The headings are, WiP; Conversions and models in various states of assembly. PiP; Paint works on various models. Mission Critical; scenarios or missions to bring a bit of a twist to a normal game. MiA; rules for units and characters that could/should/might appear in a game. Dig In; How to guides on making various types of terrain for different game systems. Sit Rep; Battle reports and after action reports on games played

Monday, July 15, 2013

It is a war out there (comparing WW2 rules sets)

It is good times for WW2 wargames players these days. For reason unknown several new rules are out or coming out to challenge some of the traditional rules sets. As a bonus most of these new rules sets are backed up by some generous new miniature lines.  But which system to pick from?  Below is my thought on some of the WW2 rules set I have tried or would like to try.

Rapid Fire (the Grandy Daddy)
Rapid Fire was 1st WW2 game I played. I still have fond memories of massing 20mm plastics models to form the US 2nd armour division “Hell on Wheels” and the US 82nd Airborne “All American” division to do battle at the local club.  The game is aimed at battalion level scale. The rules did not seem very robust but most if the games were narrative driven among friends so tight rules were less of an issue.  I still reference some of the  Rapid Fire material for drafting scenarios to play with friends and to generate a research when making a WW2 force. But unfortunately can be difficult to track down players,

Flames of War(The current king of the hill).

Flames of War (FoW) is a platoon company level game by BattleFront. Currently 2nd largest wargames company out there (apparently). It is my work horse rules system for WW2. The game is aimed at a company level scale 15mm models is a good scale for ww2 company level actions although arguable the it might be a bit too big for 6'x4' table. but 6mm is too small for my taste and 10 mm does not seem to have as many companies to pick from.

The highlights of FoW
-Simple game mechanics that are easy to pick and let you get on with the game without having to reference much in the rulesbook.
-Lot of manufacturers to choose from
-Has critical mass making it easy to find players.
- Each book release get supported with new models

The lowlights of FoW
-Some of the combat system is pretty weak, I do not like attacking one platoon at a time but rather prefer to yell charge and have them all go at the same time. It is more cinematic and it allows three of four smaller platoons to overwhelm a bigger platoon which seems right. Also it can be a pain to move a platoon then have it pinned and have to move it back. 
- The "I go, you go" mechanic some times is problem, particularly when that canny opponent is weaving in and out of line of sight in front of your King Tiger.

Battle Group series, Kursk, Overlord  (New kid on the block)

BG is a platoon level game it is aimed for 15mm, 20,28mm market. The rules are done in collaboration with plastic soldier company so each book coincides with the release of a model range for PSC.  I am kind of curious what was PSC reaction when Battle Group Overlord came out with suggestions to play the game in 6mm

The highlights of the Battle Group series
-Really clever morale system. The break point for each force is determined randomly for each force so you are not quite sure how you are doing relative to your opponent.
-The chit system each destroyed unit generates a random event. Generally they are bad for the guy whose unit has been destroyed take him closer to breaking point but there is some clever random evnt thrown in to  make it interesting like one of your opponents unit runing out of ammo or breakdown and needing repair/reload.
- Each book release get supported with new models

The lowlights of the Battle Group series
- The orders system are bit weak. The ability to move, then start your turn is a bit too strong with few penalities. Incidiently this can be done in FOW but only for the first turn and is more difficult to pull off.
- Artillery seems wrong. The ability to rounds on a random spot on the table in the knowledge your opponent has units out of sight but within the area of effect seems wrong.

Bolt Action (Another new kid on the block)

Squad level game aimed for 28mm (probably one of my favourite scales thanks to 40K). It is similar in design to 40K 2nd according to one of its editors. Each army book is written by a different author, usual somebody who has already publish rules set. It brings different plays style ethos to each army. the German book was done by the author of the Battlegroup series, Warwick Kinrade.

The highs
-Pretty cool unit activation system. Players take turns picking dice out of a bag if it is yours you get to pick a unit and move it. If the dice is your opponents they get to active a unit.
-Pretty cool Command and Control mechanism with pin markers. As a unit takes fire it gets pin markers making it harder to activate and move forcing the player to decide if they want lose time re-organising the unit or would risk pushing on.
-Lots of manufacturers to pick from

The lows
-Some of the support weapons seem a bit weak eg a Machine gun firing on an advancing squad will have limited effect unless it gets good rolls.

Chain of Command (as of yet unreleased new kid on the block)

By two Fat Lardies. It is a 28mm scale section level game with players controlling a reinforce platoon in WW2.

The highs
-Really interesting deployment mechanic. At the start of the game player move patrol markers into position to determine their deployment area in effect getting two game in one.
-28mm so there is lots of manufacturers to pick from.
- Interesting activation mechanics, players roll dice at the start of their go and the results how many units can active, which player gets to roll next (ie a player could get to go twice in a row) and some other quirk events.

The lows
-The game is aimed for command and control challenges at the rather than movement and fire power meaning players might spend more time doing things like rally and reorganising units instead of (arguable more fun things) like running around lobbing grenades at people. For example, in one the demo on line one of the players opts to do nothing for a few turns waiting for a time to strike.
- The activation dice may not scale well if you want to play a bigger or smaller game. Players get five to seven dice to determine what units activate. If there is more units in play than dice then the units do not get to activate.
- Some of the mechanics encourage players to keep models of the table while it is good for tactics it cuts down on the amount of toys people get to play with.

And that is only a summary of four of the games systems out there. I have not looked at Command Decision, Panzer Commander or the many other rules sets out there.  The diversity of rulesset for WW2 is both a strength and curse. The chances are you will be able to find something scale and style you like but it might be a struggle to find simliar minded players.


Frank O'Donnell said...

Very nice article mate, I've only played two of the games & bolt action is one I'd like to try out from reading the few reports you've done on it.

Dakeryus said...

Can do this friday.

If you remember to show up this time ;)

Ricky Bryant said...

The bolt action system has to be the fakes gaming system besides flames of war to date every battle looks like the battle of Kursk lol same with bolt action with 105mm howitzers on the same table with the infantry

Ricky Bryant said...

Chain of command is the best game system for World War Two skirmish to date !! For fire and movement and command and control and form realism . That's why fantasy gamers play bolt action and flame of war because it's fantasy with historical figures and terrain ..

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