This game was originally developed as a training tool for French infantry officers and this shows through. The game is unforgiving of mistakes and seems to revolve around teaching you the by the book methods for assaulting strong points or clearing streets. In Grozny I had to clear out about 12 Chechen rebel squads/sniper teams. The game gave me three platoons of infantry, two Shilkas, two T80s, some snipers, combat engineers and some off map rocket artillery and hello strikes. This is enough tools to do the job, but you are expected to know how to use each tool properly. For my part, the huge defensive bonus provided by the strong points proved costly to overcome.
In practice I did not know how to use these tools, or at least not for the first half of the game, later I did sort of start to figure things out, but only after the loss of one T80, the best part of a platoon and all my spetznaz and sniper teams.
This is a heavy game with a horrible rule book. It’s not necessarily full of errors but the writer loves needless acronyms (a hex is an EP) making it hard to pass and some items such as the combat player aids don’t seem to quite match the written rules. I know we missed a few rules from the dense 30 odd pages in our game but the struggle is not insurmountable, I think after 3-4 games and a couple of forum browses you should be set.
|An RPG from the roof scores a critical on my T80, my Shilka fails to provide covering fire.|
It’s a block game. My feeling at this stage is that the blocks add more of an ambiguity than a fog of war simulation. Combat is fairly deterministic, unless one side rolls a 9 in which case they win a fire fight regardless, but most of the time if your weapon system rates more than 4 over your opponents you’re going to win and inflict a hit. As such there is a benefit to scouting the target block identifying its weapon systems and condition. Most of the time however you are two far away for this option so you just shoot anyway. Block games boast a fog of war, but this doesn’t quite work here. There is nothing to stop you calling in a rocket battery on a building because it has blocks in it, even if you have never had any contact. On the other hand the game often gives the defender a plethora of face down trap counters and allows them to choose the underground map connections.
|My Spetznaz reach the park|
The main draw here is the variety of mil-tech in the box. Incendiary rocket launchers, mid angle armour on T80s spetznaz with dummy counters, this is a box of horrible toys for setting fire to your opponent’s blocks. And if you get good at it you might learn something out modern urban combat tactics. It has two campaigns, 1990s in Mogadishu, and 1985 Fulda Gap and a set of four individual scenarios. There are not many non-magazine games that cover conflicts such as Chechnya, or the French Foreign Legion in Zaire. I cautiously recommend this game. Its top of my list of games to play with Pete, as I like the settings and narratives it tells. I worry that it might be a bit too puzzle like down the stretch, once you have discovered the method it could be a case of getting the die rolls.