Thursday, 29 September 2011

Tomorrow's War review part two!

In part two of the review I would like to discuss the rules of Tomorrow’s War.

I haven’t had any real experience with Ambush Alley Games rules before, however I have read ‘Contracting Trouble’ which i believe was a free introduction scenario/rules set way back when. I never did play those rules. I believe AAG rules all have the core mechanics pretty much the same but with subtle variants between genres.
The rules are split into 9 main sections which all complement each other to add greater depth to your games. The 9 sections are: The turn sequence; The basics of Play, this is most probably the most important section of the rules and is well described; Units & leaders; Infantry combat; Mechanized Combat; Close Air support & interface Operations, TW allows flyers, drop ships and my favourite ‘Hot Drops’ think of deep strike in 40K but it really reminds me of Star Ship Troopers the CGI version. Where the Rough-necks make planet fall in big over suits, before they burst open and release the grunt from within; Off board Artillery and finally special unit types. The book goes further to describe how to play asymmetrical engagements, regulars versus irregulars. There is a nifty campaign system, which has its own guide lines for setting the scene and establishing forces with any assets that are available.

The final part of the book has several appendices which cover unit attributes; Organisation examples based on the forces described in the ‘fluff’; Some vehicle examples which are great to get you started with common AFV of the not too far future. They also provide a base from which to create your own. There are several scenarios described ranging from capture the objective to valiant last stands. Each scenario is well described and has a map plus ORBATs for each.  
I have only played a very small encounter that has a couple of squads on each side and some terrain on  a small table. It wasn’t worthy of an AAR but it has help clarify some of the game mechanics.

What i really like about TW rule are they are very comprehensive, all though there is a mention of future books which adds more tot eh game, you most probably will be fine with this one book. It covers squad to platoon combat really well, it might work at company size engagements but i wouldn’t think it would handle any bigger. I am sure to be proven wrong at some point in the near future.
The rules themselves are really simple to understand, i think this is mainly helped by the amount of explanation that has gone it to each section. I also like the end of section scenarios, ‘putting it all together’; I think this is a very good idea as it breaks up the sections of the rules nicely. One of the best aspects of the rules are that the dice used to describe your troops and units also describe certain ranges for combat situations. I don’t really have to remember much in terms of weapons ranges and the like.

I really like the ‘nearly universal’ game mechanism, which by you have to roll over a fixed number and beat your opponents dice scores. It keeps everyone involved. The reaction mechanism is brilliant and much better to understand than 5150 by THW. I am not knocking THW rules at all, I own a fair few but AAG has it hands down on how to fully describe their reaction mechanism.
The presentation of the rules is first class, all the more better for not having skulls everywhere. The art work is pretty inspiring and the level of detail on some of the images is amazing. Check out the ‘Doc’ on page 210 if you don’t believe me.

So what is there not to like? Well to be honest, I can’t think of anything I don’t like. I guess the rules do lack point values which may be an issue to some people who think conflicts are fought with equally balanced points values...
The weapons are very generic and to some people that might be off putting, the rules are more focused on the ground pounders rather than fancy hardware.

I think the ‘Fog of War’ cards could have also been done as a table using dice scores to determine the result.  However this would only work for those situations which are played immediately.
I guess I the big question will be is it worth the £25 investment? My answer is YES. I firmly believe if you enjoy ‘hard’ sci-fi, in whatever scale you prefer, then you will enjoy these rules.

Enjoy and remember Tomorrow’s War is today!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tomorrow's War today!

Tomorrow's War Review Part one
I kindly received a copy of Tomorrow’s War from Joseph McCullough (Osprey Joe) at Osprey Publishing after i replied to his call for a review of this new set of rules that he put out on ‘The Miniatures Page’.

The main reason for my interest in these rules, aside from all the hype and ‘preview’ stuff that has been shown on ‘Drop Ship Horizon’ was that I wanted to get back into hard sci-fi and introduce my two boys in to the wider world of sci-fi gaming. Sure they have played Fling Lead and MDRG but to them sci-fi is 40K. All is not lost!
What I intend to do is bring you a review of Tomorrow’s War in bite size chunks as we learn the rules and play games, hopefully giving you a better, deeper review than normal. One of the main aspects I will be evaluating of these rule are how easy are they for the younger generation to pick up and understand? If my two boys get it then the whole team at Ambush Alley Games and Osprey have done their job above and beyond, in my humble opinion.

Below is the first of several reviews, read on and enjoy!
To look at Tomorrow’s War is a little bit strange, why you may ask? Well the size of the book is odd, it’s not A4 and not A5 but somewhere in-between, I am guessing is it a weird American size. Now I am not saying this is a bad thing, quite the contrary it is a good size, it wil not take up loads of room on the gaming table where most rule books end up during play. It is hard backed with pages that stay open on the page you want them to stay open on, again a plus. I hate having rule books which just don’t stay flat.

The main winner for me is the cover art, it is fantastic and gives a real sense near future combat, it reminds me of a consol game like HALO, Gears of War.
This art work is scattered through the whole book and all of it is great. My eldest had a look at the book and he was blown away by the entire thing. I couldn’t believe his enthusiasm for it, he loved the whole packaging and he said it looked like all the best X-Box games rolled into one. He even asked when we can play, which is unusual as he is at that ‘playing games with dad’ is slightly un-cool.

Luckily I do have quite a few 15mm force made by GZG, which I never really got to use. However I can now.

Talking of GZG, Jon Tuffley has written the introduction, which i think is a really nice touch as these rules so remind me of Star Grunt, yes the original Star Grunt rules, not the second edition which most people talk about.

So far, and that is all within a day and an evening, I have read the first 32 pages, which I guess is the ‘fluff’ of Tomorrow’s War. Optional to use but I have enjoyed reading it and it reminded me of the Tuffley Verse, Hammer Slammers, Dorsai books and Jefferson’s War all rolled into one.

I have skimmed over the basic rules and found them really well written with really excellent examples showing multiple ‘what if’s’ answers to a particular situation.

The main thing that strikes me about these rules is they look like they will be easy to use solo and as a team game. My boys love ‘team’ games just like playing on the same side on the X-Box on HALO. Typically ‘us’ against the horde!

The rules also look like they cove most things a sci-fi gamer needs including ‘gigantic vehicles’, air support assets, off board artillery and a campaign to get you started. However one of the most interesting aspects of these rules i do like the look of is the ‘combat stress’ and morale section. I feel these rules give a more realistic slant to the game. I am looking forward to investigating these rules as we get into the game.
The rules also cover aliens in the form of ‘Crusties’ which are very ‘district 9’ prawns! Very cool indeed.
I think that is a winner for me from the outset, my imagination is fired up with loads of ‘brush fire’ war type scenarios but there is still more to come in terms of reviews. The next instalment will cover the main rules and hopefully a small AAR showing the game mechanics in action. This will be a nice acid test to see if the rules are user friendly and can be understood by the younger generation.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Its been a long time....

.. well the reason is my wife gave birth to our son 4 months ago and I have been in new dad mode ever since. But not to worry, I now have free time in during the nights as he goes to bed at 7-30 to 8:00 ish and sleeps until 6:30 7:00 in the morning which is awesome. I have even managed to get a little bit of painting done. Photos up soon. Also watch this space for some very special news and reviews......