Monday, 7 May 2012
So glad we met, the second time around.
I had a selection of rules that I wanted us to try out - as mentioned in the previous post, Valor Steel and Flesh had recently arrived along with the new 5th edition FUBAR & VSF supplement. Jonesy had also printed out copies of "Through the Mud and Blood", a WWI ruleset from Two Fat Lardies, and Wolsung Steampunk Skirmish Game for me. After a little hemming and hawing and some dice rolling, we settled on giving the new FUBAR a run out.
We actually got in two games in the afternoon. The first was a combined arms affair, with mini-Me Dr Vesuvius leading two platoons of Masked Minions and a troop of Iron Men supported by the Brass Coffin, against three platoons of British infantry and HMLS Pinafore. We found a couple of major mistakes in the rules-as-written plus a few other things that needed a bit of interpretation, but nothing we couldn't work around fairly easily. My Iron men marched up the main street and charged a unit of waiting Brits, but after being victorious they found themselves caught by enfilading fire from the buildings occupyed by a second platoon. Meanwhile on the far right, a unit of Masked Minions in the hedgerow found themselves pinned down by weight of fire from an advancing platoon of Grenadier Guards. Although the Brits were in the open, their superior discipline and training, combined with some very unlucky activation rolls from me, meant that the Minions were never able to bring any significant fire to bear on the Guards, who gradually whittled down the Minions' numbers until their morale broke. With two of my three units rendered ineffective versus the one Brit, I yielded the field gracefully. You know, like wot a proper gentleman gamer does.
Since in the first game our vehicles hadn't quite made it into engagement before the game was resolved (both of us had lousy activation luck) we decided to try an all-vehicle game. We cleared off the village buildings and rocky hills, kept the overall layout of the roads and added some more rolling hills to break up the terrain. We each picked 7-8 vehicles that felt roughly balanced and statted them accordingly. We then split up our forces into three groups, one to enter the board at the start and two groups of possible reinforcements which we diced for every turn. Jonesy stuck with the British while I led the forces of Imperial Germany.
The second game went fairly well, though not as well as the infantry game. We ruled, mistakenly in my opinion, that vehicles up against hillsides were "hull down" and got the benefit of heavy cover. This kicked the to-hit target number up to about 8 on a d6, which meant that to hit an attacker needed to score a 6 followed by their normal expertise (5+ for seasoned troops) Combined with the fact that FUBAR doesn't differentiate between close and long range, once both sides got their vehicles into cover within range, there wasn't much motivation to keep moving forward and the battle largely settled down to be a slogging match of attrition. In the end we called the game before reaching a definite resolution, but personally I think Jonesy had the edge in weight of remaining firepower and tactical position.
We both enjoyed the games though and Jonesy felt that the game played a lot quicker than GASLIGHT. I've fed back our thoughts and experience to the author and we're looking forward to seeing the game develop further. I'm definitely more impressed with FUBAR after this second playtest. I'd quite like to give the standard sci-fi/modern version a go sometime.
If you want try VSF FUBAR out for yourself, I have the following recommendations (if Lanse doesn't make them part of the rules)
1) Instead of giving units that aren't in formation a -1 Activation penalty, flip it to give units that are in formation a +1 Activation bonus. It's so easy to fail activation already, this felt a lot more balanced, and I think was one of the reasons the infantry game felt so much better. Figures in Formation should not be able to use the "Duck and Weave" action. Figures with the Skirmisher advantage should get the +1 in open order as well, and maybe be allowed to Run and fire (not sure about that last one)
2) The Morale rules as currently written (2d6 - Activation, if over remaining number of figures) is plumb broken, as it means better units are actually more likely to fail. We simply changed the roll to 1d6+Activation, and it worked better and made sense.
3) We couldn't find it written anywhere, but we ruled that vehicles could not move and fire. It gives a bit of an advantage back to the PBI.