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"Review of The Regiment: Roughneck Country" Topic

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Action Log

03 Mar 2013 6:27 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to Dirtside board

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1,977 hits since 3 Mar 2013
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Mar 2013 6:17 p.m. PST

As with my previous review of the first product in this series, I should mention from the outset that I have not played through the scenarios. (In fact, in the case of the original book, the scenarios are unplayable without further information from the author.)

Roughneck Country is the sequel to Rolling Thunder, in which The Regiment a GEV-mounted mercenary group similar to Hammers Slammers is contracted to put down a miners rebellion. There are 12 linked scenarios six for Dirtside, six for Stargunt.

The same campaign system is provided as was seen in Rolling Thunder, so the same comments apply: While it makes sense for The Regiment to track its losses in terms of Logistics Points, having the opposition the Thunderbolt Division, mercenaries employed by the miners do so makes little sense, since they field a new force in almost every scenario. The system still refers to Intelligence Points and Full Thrust scenarios (not used in this campaign). The system also claims some scenarios are 'unique' (can only be played once per campaign) while others are repeatable, which the author's comments on the previous book indicate he intended for all scenarios in The Regiment series to be 'Unique.'

Stats are provided for Thunderbolt Division vehicles (mostly slow, tracked vehicles): the Mamba MBT, Black Rhino tank destroyer, Dragon self-propelled artillery, Minerva command vehicle, and Destrier APC. The scenario book does not state this, but based on the author's previous comments, I believe he intends for the Division player to be restricted to these vehicle designs only. Unfortunately, the author provides no suggestions on where these vehicles can be purchased as models.

Stats are not provided for The Regiment's vehicles and since the author has said the previous book should be played with the designs provided in Rolling Thunder, I would assume he intends the same with Roughneck Country. Therefore, you need the stats from Rolling Thunder to play Roughneck Country scenarios.

Another problem for the StarGrunt scenarios is that squad size is left undefined. (In StarGrunt, higher-tech forces such as The Regiment usually have smaller squads compared to lower-tech forces.)

A major change between this book and Rolling Thunder is in the campaign design. In the first book, the players played scenarios that were roughly similar, except that the point limits changed so that there was a progression from imbalance in favor of The Regiment to imbalance in favor of the opposing force by the end of the campaign. In this product, the difference in point levels is much less, though still going from giving a benefit to The Regiment at the start, to balanced scenarios at the end of the campaign. (However, the campaign system may limit a player from fielding all the points available in a scenario, if he's taken a beating in terms of Logistics Points though the campaign rules aren't 100% clear on this.)

One problem is that victory conditions are often in terms of reaching an objective with some percent of your forces, but it doesn't specify how to measure this (number of stands? point totals? including offboard assets?).

Some comments on the scenarios:

Scenario 1 is an ambush at the starport, using Stargrunt rules. It presumably uses a 4' by 6' tabletop (which the author has previously said is normal for this series, though the campaign book doesn't mention it). There is no terrain other than two trucks in the center, from which rebels have just debarked. The Regiment's infantry is assumed to have just come down the ship's ramp (at the edge of the table). 3 veteran squads vs 5 regular squads. Seems to be a rather boring shoot-out with no tactical challenges. And can't the landing ship fire on the rebels and scatter them???

Scenario 2 is a table full of buildings, with 12" on the short edge clear of buildings. The Regiment must penetrate a capital city and enter a 1' x 1' compound at the center of the tabletop. Regiment player gets 10,000 points; Thunderbolt player gets 5,000 points, plus 2,000 points of rebel infantry. Main problem here is that the designer doesn't define the terrain in Dirtside terms the terrain is described as "plenty of buildings and roads," but does it count as "isolated buildings" (much easier for the attacker) or "urban terrain" (very difficult!)? No guidelines on whether anything is fortified, or if the rebels begin hidden or not. Also, no guidelines have been provided for the miners (rebels), but if we assume they're militia-grade infantry (15 points), 2,000 points is 133 rifle teams!!!

Scenario 3 is about The Regiment fighting its way across a tabletop (long edge to long edge), with a river (and a destroyed bridge) in the way. The problem is: why does a GEV-mounted force (The Regiment) need a bridge??? The rules give The Regiment player an extra 2,000 points worth of engineers… which presumably include bridgelaying vehicles, although no stats are provided! However, this is a "giant" river in Dirtside terms one foot wide on the tabletop and Dirtside only has rules for bridging "smaller rivers." Yet the victory conditions don't mention anything about laying a bridge, but give points for "crossing the bridge" but which one? the new engineer-built bridge, or the 'destroyed' bridge? If the destroyed bridge, then does the author envision the engineers making bridge repairs (for which no rules are provided)? This scenario is a design mess.

Scenario 4 is another cityfight, using Stargrunt this time. Tabletop is presumably 4' x 6', "plenty of" buildings, with roads too narrow for armored vehicles (but presumably wide enough for the Regiment's gun jeeps). Simple fight, with The Regiment getting bonus points if they locate and destroy the Rebel HQ. 3 veteran squads and 2 jeeps versus 8 green squads.

Scenario 5 (Dirtside) is an ambush, with the Regiment player starting with 6,000 points vs 8,000 points for the Division player, but the Regiment player gets 4,000 points of reinforcements on a random turn. The Division player can deploy within 1' of the Regiment forces, and will no doubt attack to attempt to win before the random reinforcements arrive. Terrain is open meadows and trees.

Scenario 6 (Dirtside) is an assault through a mountain pass to reach a city. Most of the tabletop consists of terrain impassible for the Regiment's vehicles (GEVs can't go into mountainous terrain), so they must assault down a 1'-wide corridor going the length of the table. Regiment gets 8,000 points; Thunderbolt gets 4,000 points plus 2,000 points of miners (see earlier comments!).

Scenario 7 is a repeat of Scenario 4, except that the Regiment player only gets infantry this time 4 veteran squads vs 6 green squads.

Scenario 8 is a repeat of Scenario 4, except wide roads allow use of armored vehicles, heavy rain rules apply, and fatigue levels are down to exhausted for both sides. 3 veteran squads, 2 ACAVs, 1 command blower vs. 8 green squads and two Black Rhino tank destroyers.

Scenario 9 (Dirtside) asks the Regiment to break through the Division's blocking forces. Terrain is rolling hills and scattered trees, plus a highway (which may be the 'coastal highway' mentioned in the background, in which case, why wouldn't the Regiment's GEVs just bypass the blocking forces by taking to the water???). Even-points battle, but the Division is limited to a "motorised rifle company" presumably infantry in APCs, plus some limited supporting armor?

Scenario 10 (Dirtside) is a close replay of Scenario 2, but this time the Regiment player gets points for locating the Division staff (random chance in every building) and eliminating the rebels command element. Even-points battle, but the Division player gets "stragglers and rebel militia" (whatever that means, no further guidelines provided).

Scenario 11 (Stargrunt) asks The Regiment to break through rebel blocking forces along a river mouth. (Um, they're riding GEVs, just swing out to sea???) One bank of the river is mined (1' depth on the tabletop), and there is a 6" ford. Terrain is trees and small hills. Fatigue level: exhausted. Regiment gets 3 veteran squads, 2 gun jeeps, 2 ACAVs. Division gets 10 green squads, Mamba MBT, and Black Rhino tank destroyer. The obvious question what happened to all those engineering vehicles from the earlier scenario, would be great to clear some mines!

Scenario 12 (Stargrunt) takes place inside a "large building compound" (the usual 4' x 6' tabletop???) built with "interior tiles." Regiment player must rescue hostages before turn 10, but gets fewer points if he rescues them before turn 6 (maybe a typo?). It's not clear if the hostages are in one group, or separated. Exhausted fatigue levels. 3 veteran squads vs 4 regular squads. The 10-turn time limit seems an obvious design problem.

I'd be interested to see what more experienced players think of the scenarios. I'm very concerned about the points per side, considering the terrain, and the fact that the Division player has cheaper vehicles (i.e., more guns to shoot).

The cover art showing a MBT GEV in a desert has no connection with the contents of the scenario book.

Personal logo Dale Hurtt Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2013 7:57 p.m. PST


He really got your goat, didn't he?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Mar 2013 7:59 p.m. PST

Not particularly. But I had promised to review this one, so I did.

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2013 8:25 p.m. PST

is it just me or does The Regiment seem a bit… toward the bad guy end of the spectrum?

In the last book they're trying to preserve a local star port monopoly, and in this one they're strike busting miners. Without wanting to get into Blue Fez territory, neither of those things seem noble at all.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Mar 2013 8:29 p.m. PST

Some Logistics Points analysis:

You start with 100 points.

Playing the scenarios costs 140 points. So you need to earn at least 40+ points to not lose the campaign by running out of Logistics Points.

The StarGrunt scenarios seem rather profitable. Take scenario 1: You get 10 points if you reach the objective, 0-60 points depending on how many enemy units you rout, 0-120 points depending on how many enemy units you destroy. ("Unit" is not defined, but I'm assuming it means squad or command element.) So if you cream the opposition, and rout them before you destroy them, you could make 190 points right here.

OK, but if you want to be able to field your infantry in the next StarGrunt scenario, you'll need to spend Logistics Points. Now, the size of the squads is undefined (!), but a typical squad in StarGrunt is 6-8 men, plus maybe 4 men in the command element so in this scenario, you have 28 figures. If they all died, you could replace all of them for 28 points (1 point each). It also costs 1 point if you need to re-arm a squad (though the campaign rules don't explain when/why you would need to do this), so maybe another 3 points for re-arming maximum Logistics Point expenditure in the worst case, 31 points.

So it seems like the StarGrunt scenarios are good at earning Logistics points.

Let's look at a Dirtside scenario #2, just to pick one:

You earn 0/20/40 points for meeting the victory conditions (maybe more, if the two are additive rather than exclusive), plus 1 point for each enemy unit routed or destroyed.

As an estimate, let's say the Division player only takes his most expensive fighting units (the MBTs) in units of four (typical for Dirtside) he could field at least 8 units in this scenario, plus the rebel infantry (note problems about the rebels noted above), which we'll estimate charitably as another 8 units.

So the Regiment player could earn 0/20/40 (or 60?), plus at least 16 if he routs everything, and at least 16 if he then destroys everything max possible of 72 points.

On the other hand, the Regiment player could spend all of the possible points just replacing 9 of his vehicles. And out of a 10,000-point force, he could lose a lot more than 9 vehicles in one scenario.

So it looks to me like the Dirtside scenarios could get expensive fast, in terms of Logistics points.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Mar 2013 8:32 p.m. PST

is it just me or does The Regiment seem a bit… toward the bad guy end of the spectrum?

Yes, though he might be basing this off Hammers Slammers stories?

Personal logo optional field Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2013 9:22 p.m. PST

Yes, though he might be basing this off Hammers Slammers stories?

I wasn't aware the Slammers were so… amoral. I may need to read some of the stories when I get a chance.

John Leahy03 Mar 2013 10:09 p.m. PST

Yeah, the Slammers took contracts that were morally questionable at times.

Rubber Suit Theatre03 Mar 2013 10:54 p.m. PST

I can no longer listen to a discussion of the morality of armed conflict without thinking of these guys:

YouTube link

and collapsing in giggles.

Thylacine DF04 Mar 2013 4:02 a.m. PST


The editor wrote: "why does a GEV-mounted force (The Regiment) need a bridge???"

Well we all probably make that mistake at least once. I sat there ready defend the crossing from GEV, grav, VTOL and aerospace craft.





Chef Lackey Rich Fezian04 Mar 2013 6:03 a.m. PST

The problem is: why does a GEV-mounted force (The Regiment) need a bridge???

Because the author is cribbing from Hammer's Slammers for ideas, and canonically the Slammers' blower tanks are incapable of crossing rivers or open water. It's a major plot point in one of the stories, where they have to risk a hasty assault on a defended bridge and wind up losing two tanks, one to friendly artillery fire, the other when it falls in the river as the bridge collapses. Combat cars and infantry skimmers can handle water – the heavier blowers apparently displace water too rapidly to stay "afloat" on an air cushion, and sink like rocks.

And yes, making that kind of major change to the standard DS2 rules (where all hovers can cross water just fine) merits at least a comment from the scenario designer. I'm guessing he didn't bother to mention it anywhere, eh?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian04 Mar 2013 7:12 a.m. PST

I'm guessing he didn't bother to mention it anywhere, eh?

I just checked the stats (which are in Rolling Thunder), and no, not mentioned.

captainquirk04 Mar 2013 8:10 a.m. PST

It's been a while since I've read "Rolling Hot", which is where the bridge scenario has been lifted from. But if I recall correctly the bridge was a damaged suspension bridge; it wasn't actually destroyed. At least, not until the Slammer's drove several 170 ton tanks across it and the remaining suspension gave way.

As CLR states, the jeeps and the combat cars (ACAVs) can cross water.

In the Slammer's books, the tanks carry integral mine clearance equipment multiple rockets carrying an explosive net. Maybe this is another thing that the author assumes everyone knows about?

To be honest, these "scenarios" seem to provide nothing that couldn't be worked out from about half an hour's time and a read of one of the novels. Sad.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian04 Mar 2013 10:02 a.m. PST

It's been a while since I've read "Rolling Hot", which is where the bridge scenario has been lifted from. But if I recall correctly the bridge was a damaged suspension bridge; it wasn't actually destroyed. At least, not until the Slammer's drove several 170 ton tanks across it and the remaining suspension gave way.

Yep – they almost got everything across before it gave way. Almost. :)

SgtPrylo02 May 2013 12:13 p.m. PST

This may seem like a moot point, what with all of the other issues with this series, but what is the logic behind dwindling assets as the campaign progresses? I know from reading the other reviews that the designer intended this to be non-combat attrition failures, but why? Why not count beans and bullets then too? Forced points reduction without any basis in the results of the scenarios played is pretty lame.

dwilkie30 Jul 2013 6:19 a.m. PST

Incidentally, you might find you still need a bridge for a GEV – they can't transition from land to water just anywhere as you need to maintain the integrity of the cushion. The same reason as they can't operate in terribly choppy water.

Plus of course rivers often have steep banks and controlling a hovercraft can be somewhat unpredictable at times – you wouldn't want to tip it or flip it!

MrAverage03 Aug 2013 8:41 p.m. PST

You know, reading this review makes me curious to know what you WOULD like in a campaign for Dirtside II, doubly so because I'm working, on the side, on a campaign that I may end up turning into a book of some kind.

I mean, this thing clearly falls down on the job, but what do you WANT to see in a thorough, well-designed campaign book?


Lion in the Stars21 Aug 2013 5:00 p.m. PST

At the starting point, especially assuming a force dropping in from starlift, you need to know what is available to the attacker. How many vehicles of each type. If speed of deployment is an issue for the campaign, need to know that.

In a counter-insurgency type operation, it's safe enough to assume that the insurgents have massive numbers of everything except for milspec vehicles, and don't bother tracking much of their stuff.

You need to include detailed descriptions of any key terrain. (firebases, bridges, whatever)

Don't forget to make sure that your scenarios are actually achievable. If you need to cross the bridge before 8 turns go, make sure that the troops can actually get TO the bridge before turn 6!

At a bare minimum, a description of the local area of operations. Whether it's heavily wooded rolling hills, or obscenely steep, rocky hills with most of the fighting done in the valley bottoms that are crossed by gullies, tell us!

If you are including resupply, have the details figured out and written down for us.

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