Feb 252011

Me and Ruben played a pretty fun game of Troops, Weapons & Tactics (yes.. it abbreviates to a rather rude word. Yes, this is probably intentional) today.

The scene was Italy 1943, the force a platoon of fairly inexperienced Americans, supported by a machine gun team and a 60mm mortar. Opposing them a platoon of somewhat fresh but unsupported Germans.

We had rolled up characters with personalities, using the excellent “Platoon Forward” supplement, likewise available from Toofatlardies. I’ll let Ruben talk about his characters and the story as it unfolded.

The battle ended with 7 or 8 casualties on each side, at which point my Germans conceded the field. While they were still putting up a fight, the flanks were getting worn down, and it didn’t seem reasonable to expend more men on a routine patrol action.

Some general lessons:

As always, TW&T captures the old saying that in battle, even simple things are hard. Troops almost invariably do not move at the pace you expect them to, squads get bogged down or decide to hold their safe spot rather than move up to the firing line, officers find themselves in the wrong spot, and coordinating anything becomes extremely difficult. The “platoon attack” that seems to easy on paper is a lot more difficult in real life.. and in TW&T.

Deciding whether shots counted as “great”, “okay” or “poor” proved no trouble at all. We also generally agreed on target numbers for spotting. I imagine once we involve vehicles, it’ll flow just as easy.

Platoon officers are vitally important if you want to get anything done. Having two big men with an important squad vastly raises their chances of getting to move, directing their fire and keeping them in good shape.

Close range fire is extremely unpleasant. One unfortunate yank rifle team took multiple casualties from close range grenade throwing and MG42 fire. One of my german teams found the same fate as they found themselves on the receiving end of two BAR teams without much cover. Once you are outside 12″ and in some cover, firepower tends to slack off quite a bit.

Grenade throwing worked out extremely well on my end.

I forgot that mortars have a minimum range of 24″. Also forgot about smoke grenades. Maybe next time.

Overall, an enjoyable game with a good historical feel.

Nov 242009

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’d like to talk a little about the past, present and future of FAD.

These rules have been around for 7 years now. They began as hastily written comments on a notepad, after playing and having my mind blown by Stargrunt II.

The things I knew I wanted, when I started the project was this:

Suppression should be automatic.

Only 6 sided dice.

Combat should be squad based.

The core mechanics would be roll 2 dice and pick the highest or roll 2-3 dice and see how many score over a certain target number.

With that in mind, the original game came into existence. My friend Paul liked it and gave some feedback, and I proceeded to talk it up a little on theminiaturespage.com and the old GW fan site Portent.net. As time went on, I realized that I had struck something that people actually took an interest in. I saw threads where people asked for advice on a rules set, and people I didn’t even know would suggest FAD. I googled it occasionally and found it mentioned on forums and websites I had never even frequented.

As time went on, I even learnt that people had run games using FAD at a few conventions across the world. That blew my mind.

Yeah, it’s nowhere near the popularity of games like 5150, Stargrunt II, Warhammer 40.000 or any of those. The twohourwargames yahoo group has 3600 members and multiple posts every day. The FAD group is fairly quiet and has just shy of 500 members. But it’s something I had never anticipated or experienced before.

Now it’s November of 2009, and FAD4 has been out for a good while now. So what is lying ahead of us all?

First and foremost are a few projects that have been in various states of development for the past year. We have a lot of little additions to the core rules (night fighting, more traits, some clarifications of points that could be clearer, that sort of thing) which will eventually become FAD 4.3. I don’t think there’s any chance of having this done by December so expect something in the first half of 2010.

We have been working on a campaign setting as well (Cyberia) which will give a “out of the box” option to people who don’t want to fiddle with designing their own units from scratch. There’s also work on a WW2 and possibly modern day options. These are propably more distant projects though.

One thing that have been churning in my head lately is the idea of having money go into, and come out of, FAD. I am not talking about making the game commercial only (I watched my old ww1 rules Trench Storm whither and die from that decision) or making a living off it. Let me explain:

There’s a lot of things I think could be achieved with a bit of cash. A few include:

Commissioning artwork, writing etc: This is by far the biggest one. We’ve been extremely lucky in having some very talented volunteers provide us some great art to use. However, volunteers are subject to the randomness of life, and are motivated mainly by interest and passion.

Being able to have some artwork commissioned for FAD products would give us another, additional source of material. It could also go to additionally reward and motivate people who have volunteered their efforts.

It would also permit some additional incentive to prospective rules writers who may otherwise be disinclined to spend hours developing a rules supplement.

Advertising: I would like to do a bit more work advertising (and thus paying money into supporting) popular tabletop gaming sites like theminiaturespage.com and rpg.net. Having some cash flow would allow for that, as well as give FAD some additional exposure.

Miniatures: This is faraway and expensive idea, but having a range of miniatures developed for FAD would be pretty cool.

Conventions: I’d love to have something setup where we could showcase FAD at conventions, and possibly provide some stuff for that, such as freebie print copies of the rules or whatever might be the case.

Cooperation with a miniatures supplier: This talk has come up before, and at least one supplier showed interest, however the arrival of my son into this world made me unable to follow through on this. I am however very interested in having some cooperation with manufacturers of scifi figures, particularly some of the small-scale operations. This would enable us to provide FAD stats and points values ready to use, and give them more exposure and advertisement, while giving FAD more exposure as well.

There’s other incidental expenses that could occur as well, such as server space if we move to our own server, website maintenance and whatnot.

So where does money for these ideas come from? Well, it can come from my pocket. I generally can’t really afford that, and I’d love for FAD to sustain itself.

I am also not keen on the idea of selling PDF’s. Anyone can develop for the game, and that is how it ought to be. So if I sell a supplement on urban warfare, and another guy does it for free and his is better, nobody will buy mine, and for good reason.

The core FAD products should be free and readily available.

Printed copies: An option that will almost certainly be used is to offer the printed version of FAD through a print-on-demand service such as lulu. Last I checked the cost of a book of this size would be about 10 dollars, so it could sell for a few bucks more. Based on polling on the yahoo group and comparing to existing products, most people are willing to pay 12-15 dollars for a game of this size.

This would not change the fact that it’s available for free, and there’d be no “exclusive” version. It’d simply be a service to people who prefer getting a printed, spiral-bound copy, rather than dealing with pdf’s and printing it themselves.

Ransom model: Those who play RPG’s may be familiar with Greg Stolze’s ransom model. You offer up a game or supplement and set a ransom. People pledge whatever money they feel is fair. When the ransom is met, it’s made available for free to everybody. This avoids PDF piracy, and nobody pays more than what they want to. If the ransom isn’t met, the money either never gets deducted, or is donated to charity.

Donations: Asking for money is basically begging, and in addition to being distasteful, people aren’t inclined to give money just for the sake of doing so. In the past when the topic of commissioning artwork came up, a few people showed an interest in donating towards that, so its conceivable that specific expenses could receive some funding through donation.

These are all ideas I have been mulling over, and I am still trying to lay out the best path to really push FAD forward into the spotlight more, and capture more ground.

Lastly, I’d like to put out a call for support and aid. I am at a spot where I have projects that I think FAD needs, but I do not have the luxury to work on all of them myself. I need people who are competent designers and tinkerers, creative writers or just plain thinkers, who may be willing to pitch in for some specific projects.

I’ll put forth more specifics, but the two main projects are: FAD WW2 and help with the Cyberia setting. I have two people lined up for the latter, but I need more, to really make progress in a reasonable time.

It’s been a strange and amazing 7 years, and I’d like to thank all of you out there for everything you’ve done. Here’s to another 7 years of fast and dirty wargaming

Ivan – authordude

Aug 092009

So this kicks off the WW2 rules quest.. what will hopefully become a series of blog posts about ww2 wargaming, as I and my friends go through a ton of wargame rules, analyze and talk about this, and test out the same scenarios with each system.

The series will cover both commercial and “freeware” rules.

The first on the list is Landser, which is free from the yahoogroup located at http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Landser/

This is a first glance before putting the rules to the test. The rules are short and compact: Only 4 pages in total and only covers infantry combat (which is all I am interested in, generally). No army lists are included, though the downloaded included separate PDF’s covering US, German and Soviet squads. The game is aimed at about a squad on each side.

Turn sequence is a straight (I go, then you go). When its your turn to go, each figure can perform one action, such as moving, hiding, firing etc. Its possible to fire on the move, but at very low accuracy. There’s a fair number of actions, and I like the inclusion of a hide and sneak option, though I’d prefer an alternating activation sequence

There’s not much in the way of command/control. Figures can move off as they see fit, and there doesn’t seem to be any particular benefit to the squad leader.

Combat looks very quick and dirty. You roll to hit, and then roll for effect. Automatic weapons get a template, and there’s rules for the most common weapons types (various machine guns, grenades and rifle grenades). As an interesting touch, most hits will simply force the target to hide, causing a suppression effect.

If you do get wounded, the wound may be light or heavy, and each has a small chart to roll the actual effect. Very nice touch as it gives a good range of possibilities. As it reads, it looks like long range fire will be relatively safe but can easily disrupt a squad, while an MP40 at point blank range is bad news.

Morale is simple. Once 2 men are dead, you test morale with a D10 against the number of men left. If you fail, you break off the fight. Its unclear if you are supposed to test once, every turn, or every turn you take an additional casualty, though the latter makes the most sense. This “break point” increases for more determined or well trained units.

National traits are briefly discussed in the separate PDF’s. Soviet soldiers cannot fire on the move, while Germans and Americans can only assault if a leader does so.

Fielding most infantry types should be relatively easy, though I did not find rules for the Sturmgewehr and no distinction between self-loading or bolt-action rifles.

Overall, Landser is nothing anyone havent seen before. It is however a nice, quick and effective skirmish game, with some fun touches to it. I definately look forward to playing it, and I could see this little freebie becoming a recurring game at my table.