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"Intro level ww2 skirmish game, input is welcome" Topic

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Kaunasan23 Oct 2018 10:00 p.m. PST

This ended up as a long post so in summary: what are the pros and cons of the systems I've listed below. How do they differ in feel? Which one generate tense decisions and moments? Which one would you recommend from fun perspective?

I've been looking at intro level, squad level, skirmish games. I've read some posts and found a couple of games that seems to be interesting but I have a hard time getting a feel for the game since I'm inexperienced. I'm hoping to be pointed in some direction. Feel free to interpret the things I say if there's a "you think you want that but you really don't" kind of scenario going on. I also apologize in advance for any misconceptions, errors I make and the long post.

I'm thinking something where each side controls 12-16 miniatures, or maybe 24 at most (looking at Wikipedia this would make it a section or patrol with 1224 persons in 12+ squads or 36 fire teams). Having the option for one or two vehicles, a canon or big gun would be fun as well. The types of scenarios I'm looking for is things like assaulting an enemy nest, passing through a town getting ambushed or some other small scale objective.

I've played Chain of Command once and this is what got me interested. I liked having a few squads trying to accomplish the mission. I also liked how one wasn't sure which guys one would be able to activate from turn to turn and how one wasn't sure how far one would get when advancing. I liked the risk assessment in deciding on passing an open area. I also liked the scale of the miniatures, where each dude represented one person, even though some moved in pairs when they operated some equipment or weapon together. The thing I didn't like with CoC was the fact that it needs a game master. It doesn't appeal to me since I will most likely play with one other friend and ideally want to be able to play solo.

The games I've found looking around are and the impressions I have from reading about them are:

Nuts! I really like the idea of breaking away from IGOUGO. This is often mentioned as an intro game but I'm a bit worried by the 100-page rulebook. Seems like more rules overhead than I'm willing to get in to at this point. How is the learning curve on this one, is it easier than it seems? I play a lot of board games so comparisons with would help. People say that it has a good solo system and I like that I'd be able to play with someone as a team against a bot.

Fubar Short and simple rules, which is something I'm looking for but may be too simplistic.
Rapid fire for Rookies same as with Fubar but seems a bit more detailed. Seems to be meant for battalion level, can one scale this down to level I'm looking for?

Red Poppy I like the idea of units getting more experienced but it seems like it would be fiddly to keep track of which figure has what ability. I'm not sure on this but it seems like the turn length is variable, which sounds fun. Similar to CoC one isn't sure how much one will accomplish in a turn, or the opponent for that matter. Stats are included, which is good.

WW2 Skirmish rules I like the idea of having a point system to "purchase" your army. This seems like a good way to balance the two sides and makes it easier to make one's own scenarios. This may not be an issue with other systems if there are plenty of scenarios that are available(?).

WW2 plastic skirmish nothing really stood out here but may still be good. I like that there are a bunch of scenarios available in the rule book.

Pz8 – Often gets recommended but it seems that the scale is 1/300 scale at the least. Can this be adopted to be played at the scale I'm looking for?

Hail of Fire Seems good but it doesn't use individual miniatures according to the rules. Perhaps one can ignore that(?). The activation seems interesting where one can have parts of a team moving while the rest are shooting.

So that's what I've been able to pick up from a mechanical system, how does these systems differ in feel (i.e. things like how chaotic it is, how much planning or in game logistics are required, is it more a simulation or game)? The feel is what's most important to me but I have no idea what I'm looking for. Hopefully you've gleaned some indication about that in the text above. Ease of play is also a bonus since I don't want to get too bogged down in constantly flipping through pages trying to find the right rule or chart. Which one would you recommend and why?

Nick B24 Oct 2018 1:30 a.m. PST

Chain of Command does not need a game master. This is played a lot at our club and never with a game master.

Indeed I know a couple of guys who play CoC solo as the game mechanisms make this perfectly possible.

If you saw this as a demo game the outfit running it will undoubtedly have used a game master to guide and assist new comers to the game but it is definitely not needed.

Not only is this a great game has a huge number of cheap historical pf d scenarios/campaigns. Also also lots of online support and advice on the TFL forum.

Personally I would look no further than CoC.

Warcolours Painting Studio Fezian24 Oct 2018 1:46 a.m. PST

We paly a lot of CoC here, but we don't use a game master, unless there is a peculiar scenario where we want to keep an element of fog of war for both parties. CoC does not need any third party otherwise

saltflats192924 Oct 2018 3:06 a.m. PST

From your list I've only played Nuts!, but it will do everything you mentioned you want.

TacticalPainter0124 Oct 2018 3:30 a.m. PST

I've never played CoC with a game master. The odd scenario features options for an umpire, mainly to layer on additional unknowns but even in those instances the umpire is not essential. It's a great two player game straight out of the box.

Achtung Minen24 Oct 2018 4:20 a.m. PST

A gamemaster or umpire does not mean you can't play with just two players or solo. In both cases, the umpire is just one of the players. The umpire doesn't make decisions on who wins or something… the role is entirely to make judgment calls about things during the game and to reveal surprise events that make the scenario interesting.

In fact, whenever you play any game or any system solo, your are automatically being an umpire. You can even have both players effectively be umpires, by talking about a situation that comes up like reasonable adults do and injecting a little of their knowledge on the period into their decision-making.

There's been a really strong swing against games with umpires, even from publishers who used to lead the charge on that, which is too bad. No system can account for every contingency, and rulesets that don't provide for umpires just inevitably feel more "gamist" than historical… That's fine for folks who just want to throw dice around and see which player beats the other in the club that week, but I like my games to capture the feel for the period. Maybe I'm weird…

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Oct 2018 5:14 a.m. PST

Do not be intimidated by the length of the Nuts! rule book. The basic rules are relatively short and easy to grasp. Don't forget that a lot of that is army lists and stats. At the skirmish level, my favorite game for just what you describe.

Try the "free" rules from Two Hour Wargames. If you like them, buy Nuts. Cost you nothing.

blacksmith24 Oct 2018 5:22 a.m. PST

What Extra Crispy said. And as the author says, Nuts! (or any other THW ruleset) is like a toolbox where you pick what you need. The basic rules are just a few pages and the learning curve is one simple: when you suddenly say "Oh!"

Achtung Minen24 Oct 2018 5:33 a.m. PST

If you want to play basically any skirmish ruleset solo, I would highly recommend checking out "Platoon Forward!" by Joseph Legan. It is a basic solo system with campaign and scenario generation that is not specific to any one game and is meant to be used with whatever ruleset you prefer. It's a little similar to Nuts! in that it helps you give personality and character to your platoon leaders and NCOs and has a random method to determine what kinds of enemies appear on the battlefield, but I personally feel there is a little more there in the way of scenario generation. Nuts! is also good, though, if you can wrap your head around the rules. Nuts! has gone through a lot of editions though and while the basics stay the same, there are often a lot of small differences that change the feel of the game. Finding the right edition for you can be time-consuming… I personally like the 1st Edition best, but had to buy all the other editions to figure that out!

22ndFoot24 Oct 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

Don't know what a "Game Master" is but I can assure you that Chain of Command doesn't need an umpire – we never have one.

SBminisguy24 Oct 2018 10:01 a.m. PST

My preferred WW2 skirmish system is NUTS! from Two Hour Wargames, where I've become an author of several NUTS books. The system work great from a handful of figures on up to a platoon per side on the table and is designed for head to head, co-op and solo gaming.

NUTS! is a squad-level WW2 skirmish game based on THW's "Chain Reaction" rule system, which eliminates many of the disadvantages of standard IGOUGO systems. In the game each player basically plays a squad leader, and starts the game with a core squad or vehicle that is "his" for the game or the campaign.

The book is laid out to teach you the game in steps -- first how to do small infantry action, then add vehicles, then add campaigns, then add the LiteRPG rules, etc.

Moral/training is represented by "Reputation" levels for each figure or unit, running from 1-6, which are the target numbers for dice rolls in the game. Each figure is an individual in the game, each vehicle is crewed by individual figures (TC, Driver, Gunner, etc.)that have a role in the operation of the vehicle and make relevant dice rolls for morale, shooting, crossing obstacles, and so on.

The leader figure has some special advantages, and each figure in the core squad has a special attribute like "Crack Shot" or "Poser" which helps or hurts in certain situations, so there's a light roleplaying element in the combat game.

The Chain Reaction system uses leadership rolls to determine who goes first (and certain dice combinations result in reinforcement rolls during the game), but during any given action phase figures will react to developments on the table based on the "Reaction" table system.

For example, figures that see an enemy move into line of sight will take a "In Sight" test to see what their reaction is do they shoot, do they fail to react, etc? Figures that come under fire also may have to check to see if they shoot back, duck for cover, panic and run, etc.

This means that figures engaged in combat *always* take some kind of action, there's never a time in the game where you're lined up to nail your opponent…but your card didn't come up in time and you stood there and got shot, or the guy playing the "leader" didn't have enough action points to let your unit move.

So there's always a good flow to the game, and you don't have total control over your figures. I recall one game, from the "Kampfgruppe Peiper" Battle of the Bulge campaign book in which I had a concealed US 57mm ATG, and a Panther tank was approaching down a road. As a player I planned to take the shot after the Panther turned to follow a bend in the road and take a rear shot…but the "In Sight" test for the unit meant they blew the ambush by firing on it frontally. Doh! They must have panicked and shot as soon as the scary tank approached.

Don't get me wrong, tanks *are* scary and get a good treatment in the rules as well. Believe me, you don't want to be on the receiving end of a tank assault!

Also, the first (only time!) I ever used proper infantry tactics against a tank in urban combat, and it worked, was using NUTS. In a Bastogne scenario a Panther pushed into a US-held town, where it finished movement near a squad of mine. Part of the squad were in an upper story and fired from the flank of the Panther, suppressing the TC and forcing the tank to button up while another element charged the rear of the tank, chucked a demo pack underneath and BOOM! Dead Panther! After that all players saw the value of combined arms.

The system also incorporates a campaign and mission builder system, so you can see your troops gain experience and raise their Reputation level up in the game (or they may lower their Rep if they run away!), replacements for lost figures, battle and mission builders to create a spontaneous game, etc.

The campaign system and mission generator also feeds into a simple optional liteRPG in the rules called "Chocolate and Cigarettes" which lets you game out what happens between missions…take your guys out on the town, do some sneak & peek missions, etc.

Overall, NUTS! is a great skirmish rule system that lets you play fairly accurate WW2 skirmish battles, have a lot of fun and play your game to conclusion in a couple of hours.

It's well supported and there's also a large number of supplement and campaign books for the system as well.

Questions are quickly answered at the THW forum: link

Munin Ilor24 Oct 2018 10:08 a.m. PST

In addition to Chain of Command not needing an umpire, it's also really good for solo play. The fact that you don't know from phase to phase what your "opponent" will be able to activate (or even what the phase order will be) means you're constantly reacting to a fluid and changing situation, which is great. I've said it before, but CoC is the only game I've ever played where I have been able to ambush myself and legitimately say, "Wow, I did NOT see that coming."

There are a few aspects of CoC where having two players helps (namely the Patrol Phase and the picking of Support options in secret), but on the whole the game plays really well solo.

creativeguy24 Oct 2018 10:11 a.m. PST

I have 5Core Five Men at Kursk that I look forward to trying… the only reason I haven't yet is my Cold War projects are eating up all my time.

jdginaz24 Oct 2018 2:20 p.m. PST

Why do you think that CoC needs a umpire? I've never considered playing it with a umpire

Lee49424 Oct 2018 3:50 p.m. PST

You really should give my rules Skirmish Action a look. Cheers!

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2018 5:21 p.m. PST

You know, I've never thought IGOUGO activation was flawed it's act vs. reaction, this exist in physics, and certainly in natural human response, but to me it's never been exceeded by random activation mechanics for gaming utility.

Maybe the OP isn't interested in this (so perhaps I start another thread)?

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