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"Is FUBAR 4.0 really broken?" Topic


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Tgunner22 Jun 2014 3:00 p.m. PST

Some time ago Craig, the game's designer, said this:

I shall revisit each rule in turn to see if it has worked and can we improve it. For example: upon reflection, and having read hundreds of posts and comments on the subject, I think Activation is broken in that it makes elite forces far more powerful than less skilled ones. Players are losing games not because they are poor tacticians but because they had poor dice rolls. I have ideas on how we improve this.

I played another round of FUBAR today, but this time I played with the regular rules instead of my normal "ultra" rules. I switched to "ultra" because I too thought that the activation system was broken. But today I went back to the original rules just because I was tired of my "ultra" game and wanted to try something different. The results surprised me!

To set things up, I played a small infantry game with about 6 troops on one side and around 11 on the other. Yeah, really small. I played the game with the rules as they stand but with one change. I changed the stats for troops types. Here's what I used:

Type Activation Expertise Suppression
Green 4+ 5+ 2
Seasoned 3+ 5+ 3
Veteran 3+ 4+ 4
Elite 2+ 4+ 4

Yeah, I just knocked the values "down" some. Why? Well, as they stood Green troops were pretty worthless. The only activated 1/3d of the time, were suppressed by dirty looks, and they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from the inside!. So I took what were seasoned troops and "demoted" them to green and then used that the base for the other troop types.

So what do I have now? My green troops activate about half the time you need them to, they hit about 1/3d of the time and they can take some hits before falling to suppression. That feels right for trained, but inexperienced nubes. These are useful troops, but not overly dependable. The other troops work up from there until you get to the kickbutt Elites who activate nearly all the time, hit most of the time, and take some serious work to suppress.

So how did it go? I'll post a full AAR later, but let's just say it went very well! Most units activated and did useful things, but you still had times where it seemed like some units struggled to get things going especially when suppression started stacking up… which is combat! This game felt right. It was the right blend of control vs. lack of control in battle.

So maybe the basic game is fine, the perceived problem with activation is just how you stat up the units. Like I said, I'll post an AAR with pictures later. I tried to catch die rolls and mechanics in the game so I can make my points.

But yeah, I think I've changed my mind about FUBAR 4.0. I think it's just fine in its current state. It just needs to go to a conventional format to explain the mechanics. Like I said, more later.

Tgunner22 Jun 2014 3:17 p.m. PST

FYI- Here's the problem I found and it seemed like many others had that same issue.

This was my first game of FUBAR-


And here's what bothered me…

One thing I'm torn about is the activation mechanic. On the one hand I really want to change it because it's truly annoying that a bit of bad luck can really shut down any plans you come up with… but! I LOVE the fact that this CAN happen and you just can't predict what will happen in any given turn ("Any Given Sunday" anyone???) because any die toss for activation could radically change the flow of the game.

If you dig through the AAR you'll find times when, inexplicably, units were just nailed to the ground for no real reason than bad activation rolls. The "sleeping" Stryker really bothered me at the time and still does now. FUBAR is a great game. It must be because I keep coming back to it. But there's something to the activation rules that 'break' it. I believe now that it's simply statting out the troops!

Weasel22 Jun 2014 3:36 p.m. PST

I think the problem gets worse if one side is all Green troops and the other is not.

A simple fix might be to have a number of minimum activations. If you blow all your rolls, you get to activate one unit (or two or whatever) at least.

Tgunner22 Jun 2014 3:55 p.m. PST

Green troops are just about unplayable on their own. Now you do get a +1 to activate if the troops don't have LOS to an enemy unit. So that means, at best, they only activate 1/2 the time at the beginning of an engagement. Afterward they pretty much get rooted to the ground and just sit there with an occasional burst of action. There's simply no way to attack with a green unit.

Seasoned troops were just a bit better with a 1/2 chance of activation going to 2/3ds at the beginning of the game with no enemy in LOS. Just shifting everyone "down" makes the game more dynamic and makes "green" troops somewhat useful. You're still not going to get much done compared to the better troops though. This feels right to me.

zircher22 Jun 2014 4:56 p.m. PST

Just an opinion, but I don't play games with activation rolls. It's not the kind of thing that I want to model in a game. Other mechanics are fine such as an activation/command budget, but not a random chance. If the game doesn't want me to play, I don't want to play it. :-)

tkdguy22 Jun 2014 6:58 p.m. PST

My group didn't like having to activate every round, especially during a firefight. I was thinking of switching from d6 to d8 to give green troops a better chance to activate. Also, it may help the troops actually hit something when there's a lot of cover, especially during urban combat.

BrotherSevej22 Jun 2014 8:27 p.m. PST

I like a variable morale system. Troops in pristine condition should be able to activate nearly all the time, even if they're green. Being under fire, in sight of threats… those factors should reduce activation rate, with green troopers suffering more than the elites. A pristine unit with no LoS to enemy units should be able to activate all the time.

But even then, unless they're fully suppressed, a unit should be able to do basic function (snap firing, fall back, etc).

Angel Barracks23 Jun 2014 1:49 a.m. PST

I really like FUBAR.
It is the sole reason I make 6mm sci-fi miniatures of my own.
I think it is the best one page set of rules for skirmish out there, period.

There are four main issues that bothered me though.

I did not have any real issue with units activating on a 4+ which bothers many (I understand why)
But what did bother me was that some orders were no more, or less likely to be carried out than others.
Take a squad under heavy fire in the open.
They have as much chance to attach bayonets and run across the open ground as they do as falling back or dropping to the ground to take cover.
This for me does not encourage using ‘realistic' tactics.

A unit can't take casualties from the same bout of fire that causes suppression.
This means that a squad of men hit by fire from a unit can't die unless they are already supressed.

So, a fresh squad that is hit by an artillery strike can't die.
A fresh squad that is hit by a nuclear warhead can't be killed.
This seemed very wrong to me.

The rules for vehicles seem like a bit of an afterthought, which maybe they were; it is just one page after all.
My main issue was that vehicles move no faster than a man running and that big vehicle guns seemed no more likely to blow up a tank than lots of small ones.

I did not like that suppression is removed when simply attempting to activate.
It created gamey situations where a heavily supressed squad would try and activate to remove its suppression rather than try and activate to carry out the order it is given.
I would rather suppression only be removed if the squad successfully activates, but then this heads back to point one when to remove the effects of being under enemy fire could be to run into the open and wave your knife at the enemy, rather than avoid the incoming fire.

Anyway, I think the game is a wonderful achievement and it got me into 6mm sci-fi.
It was also the inspiration behind my own free skirmish rules.
I played a lot of FUBAR and in the end had so many house rules and mods that I sat down and wrote my own set.

It follows the FUBAR KISS idea but addresses the problems above.
Many think of it as a FUBAR variant; but with different order mechanics, different combat mechanics and different vehicle rules it really is its own set, albeit inspired by the great FUBAR games I had.

Give it a try, maybe you can take the order/command system from my rules and use them in your FUBAR games?

DS615123 Jun 2014 5:10 a.m. PST

The fact that your troops don't do what you want, exactly when you want, is pretty much the core of the idea.
I like it, it seems more real, and it gives good games.

There's a reason the US sends special forces, not fresh boot camp graduates, to do important things.

However, I don't see the mechanic tied to the game. It should work fine with a set number of activations per figure, or card draws, or IGOUGO.

Cincinnatus23 Jun 2014 3:13 p.m. PST

I liked some aspects of the system but I agree activation didn't feel right to me. Far too often troops just didn't do anything. I'm fine with my plans being thrown out of whack by fog of war but having to watch all your troops do nothing over multiple turns because you have a few bad rolls seemed to take it too far. Then the number of tacked on "fixes" around trying to give units opportunity activations also didn't seem to get me to where I thought they felt right.

I think Angel Barracks has some other good points too.

Tgunner24 Jun 2014 7:56 a.m. PST

I like KR 16 a lot. It fixes a lot of problems… To the point where it is a different game! I'm looking at FUBAR as it stands now and what can be done to "fix" it. It really isn't broken, at least IMO. It's just the troop types.

Now the vehicle system is a different story. I agree that they were an after thought. But FUBAR itself is an infantry game so maybe that's okay with some folks. I personally use KR's rules for vehicles (tip of the hat to Angel and those excellent rules).

I know what you're saying . I agree with the fog of war aspect. The problem is that some troop types are too heavily punished like the green type. They are really unusable in their current form. Maybe that's accurate for say ARVN conscripts but is that correct for say green US troops? Maybe I'm too focused on the troop types? Perhaps activation, expertise, and suppression should be pulled away and individual troop types should get their own ratings like in the Afghanistan supplement?

Anyway I'll post my AAR later and show how my experiment went. I love FUBAR. It is ALMOST my go to game now… Well, it and KR16. I want to give it a chance before I move on.

Anyway, great input guys.

Angel Barracks24 Jun 2014 10:29 a.m. PST

One free activation per turn for every four units in play?

Capt Flash03 Jul 2014 3:23 p.m. PST

I just don't bother with green troops too often. Our solution was to have a platoon leader within 6 inches of a squad grant a +1 to Activation and also give an Activation order to squads with no roll necessary.

Jemima Fawr04 Jul 2014 9:09 a.m. PST

As nobody's said it yet… Was the title perhaps tempting fate a little too much?

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