Science Fiction Rules?

The last time we touched on the sci fi project I was busy constructing buildings but after a few more I got a bit bored so we had a chat and thought “well we’ve got painted figures, enough buildings and clutter for a set up, let’s try some rules”

Now this hasn’t been our most well thought out project so several rule sets have been bought over time and have just sat on the shelf staring back defiantly. We knew we didn’t want light sabres and lasers so given our experience with squad level WWII and modern wars we’ve opted for a ‘near future wars’ kind of vibe; guys in fire teams with pulse rifles (or whatever) bailing out of APC’s and blazing away at each other with minimal ‘alien’ interaction.

Best fit for this vibe seemed to be the ‘Tomorrow’s War’ set written as part of the Osprey/Ambush Alley Games collaboration back in 2011/2012 and carrying a lot of the tropes from the Ambush Alley sets like the magic 4+ roll for success. On the face of it the book (a weighty hardback) is quite daunting, 200+ pages of detailed script printed on the worst colour combination ever – I think they were trying to be ‘edgy’ but it’s a huge fail. However after taking a deep breath and wading through, two things become apparent, (1) the rules you need for a trial game and most follow on games are in the first few pages, (2) a good deal of the book is taken up with back story and I love back story because unlike the ‘real world’ where you know the setting of your game and can build a narrative around it a sci fi game lacks all of that and without some kind of grounding it can become like some of the more silly episodes of early Star Trek. So without further ado we jumped in.

Our game, such as it was, featured an attack by a rifle squad of the Democratic Peoples Army of Glory (Chinese deep space colony) on a Republic of Arden (France) position. As a game it went surprisingly well, a lot of time was spent flicking through the book to make sure we were doing things right (generally we were) and the downloadable quick ref’s aren’t the most intuitive of aids but we got through a game, got a result and the rules seemed to have a logical flow. We didn’t use any of the advanced rules and weren’t sure about the ‘fog of war’ cards – more reading required by me but came away pleased enough to get some more figures painted and maybe buy one of the expensive vehicles that are around 🙄. What did become apparent was the number of figures required, we were playing with essentially a rifle squad each, around a dozen figures, but the rules seem geared towards a platoon action which would mean multiplying by 3 or 4 and I’m not sure we want to do that.

Having finished the game in around 2 hours, Dave suggested we try ‘Black Ops’ the Osprey near future skirmish/secret agent game which we’d used once in a Syrian skirmish game as an experiment in a simple participation game mechanic idea we were contemplating. The game is based on the use of the court cards from a standard playing card deck divided into red and black with each card representing a certain troop type – Jacks are troopers, Kings are ‘heavies’ etc, so when their card turns up they get to do their thing.

We used basically the same scenario and the game played through quickly but because the rules are pretty generic the game felt generic and a little sterile although it was pretty bloody! At the end of it we felt a little ‘meh’ but if you want to just bang down some figures in either a modern or futuristic setting and blast away for an hour or so these will do the job.

We didn’t get to play Osprey’s ‘Rogue Stars’ but I’d already played this a couple of times with some other guys and my takeaway from the set is that for it to work it needs quite a detailed scenario and very few figures per side so that it is more like an RPG than the skirmish game it advertises itself as. That said we have a number of figures that have more of an RPG feel to them so Dave and I talked about the idea of having a ‘Tomorrow’s War’ set of ongoing actions between two of the factions on some contested planet and then maybe running alongside some more detailed personalised games that don’t progress the broader narrative; food for thought 🙂.

Anyway, that was it. More buildings to construct in the new year and maybe some heavy weapons troops to get painted.

That’s it for the year I reckon so Happy Christmas!

4 thoughts on “Science Fiction Rules?

  1. What was wrong with early Star Trek? It was fantastic! By the way Uhura officially retired last week.
    Yes you are right about Rogue Stars being very much a hybrid RPG
    It did give Peter and I a few fun games. I sort of miss it a bit, it was nerdy and satisfying.
    In comparison FFoL/Galactic Heroes is very simple and fun but a couple of hours after I have played it I have forgotten what happened in the game. It is like a Chinese Takeaway rule set.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t want to do loads of Rogue Stars but at least it makes an effort. Your comment on FFoL applies to the whole franchise, fine for a pick up game where no real thought is involved or using to run a participation game at a show but once it’s done there’s no lasting after glow.


  2. I have some preferred “near future” troopers I have hoarded but not painted up yet.
    They are the old Iron Wind Metals
    “Union” troops from the Void range. Picked them up second hand. There are a few poses I don’t have, I always intended to send off to the US for them. Ah well maybe someday…

    Liked by 1 person

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