Whilst I attended the recent Fiasco show (great to meet up with a few people but the show wasn’t great- not a good look when a third of your demo/ participation tables are no shows…) I picked up a few bits including the new Black Ops rules from Osprey.
Written by Guy Bowers and subtitled ‘Tactical Espionage Wargaming’ it is in the common ‘Men at Arms’ sized format and is clearly designed to bring the feel and flavour or many FPS PC games to the table top.
By the Tuesday following the show I had read through the rules and decided to run a couple of quick games to test the rules.
I’m not a fan of points in games; there is nothing wrong with in principle but their mere inclusion in a set of rules brings out the worst in a significant minority of gamers who represent the antithesis of my preferred gaming style. Still I created two roughly equal sides from the extensive faction lists: One a conscript squad the other a 4 man SOF team and got the table set up.
The first game was a quick encounter game to get the basics of activation, movement and firing worked out.
The game is run using a deck of cards- much like the old Arc of Fire rules that I’ve played lots of but with types of figure activated on each card rather than discreet units. Movement and activations are simple and firing is just rolling over the required hit number.
As a basic skirmish game the rules work well enough, not better or worse than other comparable sets really though I would have preferred a bit more friction in the activation system. However that is not the rule sets raison d’etre so I reset the table to run a stealth mission.
Here the rules really came into their own with wandering guards and noise token which had to be minimised by the raiding player to avoid raising the alarm- though I’d like to see the noise list extended. This style of game is great fun and I can see it being played a lot in the coming months here, especially as I’ve plenty of figures and terrain that are suitable and ready to be used.
My only real criticism of the rules is that I thought the close combat system is a bit weak and breaks down quickly when you have a large melee. I will say however that I’ve yet to find a close combat system in any set of skirmish rules that I’ve really thought was good.
The rules seem to be marketed as a Science Fiction set but in reality they are really decent set of modern i.e. 21st century skirmish rules, the SF parts only really amount to one small table of extra equipment. Equipment that in the most part can be found in prototype form currently.