Skirmish Wargames (fantasy and scifi)

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Black Leaf

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Five Parsecs would be easy enough to play as coop. Just split the crew between the players. It's even easier because generation is random rather than point buy.
 

Black Leaf

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I've got several of the Osprey skirmish games on the way (Black Ops, Kobolds and Cobblestones, Outremer, Mad Dogs with Guns).

I'll report back when I've had a read.
Black Ops.

Solid enough modern skirmish warfare game. It uses card driven activation (I'm fine with that but some people hate it as a system). It covers everything you need in a short rulebook - suppressive fire, cover, calling in air strikes (!).

Probably its most impressive feature is the introduction of "blinds" to cover where people don't know where the area are and the stealth rules. This would handle infiltration well from what I can see.

A really good variety of scenarios, 3 standard and 6 stealth missions. It also gives six play boards from terminals to villages.

It'll do almost any faction you could want from the SAS to the Red Army Faction. (It also adds ninjas because fuck you that's why).

Writing is fine but if I'm honest it's a bit dry.

The campaign rules are only two pages and pretty basic. They feel like a bit of an afterthought. This is much more of a game for single battles.

Sample Squad:

SAS (50 Point Squad)

2 x Special Forces Soldier
Accuracy: 3 Close Quarters Combat: 3 Dedication: 4 Save:3 Card: Jack Equipment: Assault Rifle, Body Armour Speciality: Tough (-1 Save)

Special Forces Heavy

Accuracy: 3 Close Quarters Combat: 3 Dedication: 4 Save:3 Card: King Equipment: Sniper Rifle, Body Armour Speciality: Tough (-1 Save)

Special Forces Ace

Accuracy: 3 Close Quarters Combat: 3 Dedication: 4 Save:3 Card: Ace Equipment: Assault Rifle, Body Armour Specialty: Tough (-1 Save), Leader (May Use DED to influence troops)

Squad Upgrades

Grenades (one member of a squad may throw a grenade per activation), NODS (No penalties at night).
 
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Brock Savage

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Black Ops.

Solid enough modern skirmish warfare game. It uses card driven activation (I'm fine with that but some people hate it as a system). It covers everything you need in a short rulebook - suppressive fire, cover, calling in air strikes (!).

Probably its most impressive feature is the introduction of "blinds" to cover where people don't know where the area are and the stealth rules. This would handle infiltration well from what I can see.

A really good variety of scenarios, 3 standard and 6 stealth missions. It also gives six play boards from terminals to villages.

It'll do almost any faction you could want from the SAS to the Red Army Faction. (It also adds ninjas because fuck you that's why).

Writing is fine but if I'm honest it's a bit dry.

The campaign rules are only two pages and pretty basic. They feel like a bit of an afterthought. This is much more of a game for single battles.

Sample Squad:
Thanks for the review, this sounds right up my alley.
 

Black Leaf

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Next up is Mad Dogs with Guns: Wargaming in the Gangster Era.

The main thing I can say about this is that it looks like it would be an absolute blast (pun intended) to play. This is definitely a simulation of gangster movies rather than real life gangsters and has all the amusing tropes and stereotypes you'd expect. Support for several different gang types are given from the Sicilian Mafia to the Irish Mob. It also has rules for feds and police so you can run raids etc.

It's worth noting that this is pretty low powered, especially where starting gangs are concerned. Pistols are too be expected and tommy guns are for your top guys, not a matter of default.

The system is straightforward and again uses card activation, this time with a chaotic twist. If two jokers are drawn the round ends, so some gangsters may fail to get their go. If two jokes are drawn in a row the police arrive and everyone has a round to get off the map! The rules cover a wide ground, from simply blazing away to chucking dynamite to cars and even giving your enemy a particularly scary stare.

It does seem surprisingly forgiving when it comes to damage though. Even a lowly slugger only has a 1 in 3 chance of being killed by a rifle shot.

I did find the introduction of a flicking mechanism for bombs a bit odd, because it doesn't really fit with the rest of the rules. Thankfully there's an alternative provided though.

Where Mad Dogs With Guns really shines though is the scenario/campaign material. There are 11 given scenarios which cover pretty much everything you could want from a simple gangland hit to a full on raid by the feds.

The campaign system is even more extensive, taking up more than a quarter of the book. There's definitely enough support for a fun campaign here and it's carefully integrated with the scenarios. As well as the obvious combat, you can do such fun things as buy off the mayor and roll to see if the forces of law have finally had enough of your opponent's gang. This is definitely one of the best campaigns I've seen in a skirmish wargame.

As you can tell, I was really impressed by Mad Dogs with Guns. The flaws it has are minor in my book. It can be unbalanced in some parts (I'd strongly suggest making everyone use the same gang generation system rather than allowing mix and matching as the totally random gangster generation averages out as much stronger) and there's some unclear parts in the campaign system that would need house ruling. But this is great.

With Black Ops I'd like to play a one off some time to try it out. But with Mad Dogs With Guns I'm actively wanting to try and find people willing to play a campaign next year.

My sample gang:

The Zhen De Tong


Name: Geng 'Papa' Shuren Tong Boss

Fists: 4 Gats: 4 Guts: 4 Stunts: 4 Smarts: 4 Hits: 5

Skills: Martial Artist +1 STUNTS in close combat situations. Brutal Champ. +1 FISTS when he’s in public and people are watching.

Weapon: Pistol



Name: Xia 'The Mountain' Yijun Underboss/Martial Artist
Fists: 5 Gats: 5 Guts: 4 Stunts: 4 Smarts: 4 Hits: 4

Skills: Martial Artist +1 STUNTS in close combat situations.

Weapon: Double Barrelled Shotgun



Name: Du “Baby Face” Fen Accountant

Fists: 2 Gats: 3 Guts: 2 Stunts: 2 Smarts: 5 Hits: 3

Skills:

Weapon: Pistol



Name: Mrs Shuren Gun Moll

Fists: 3 Gats: 3 Guts: 3 Stunts: 3 Smarts: 4 Hits: 3

Skills: Nice Girl (Opponents -1 Fists and Gats when facing her)

Weapon: Pistol



Name: Xiong “Two Toes” Feng Hoodlum

Fists: 3 Gats: 3 Guts: 3 Stunts: 3 Smarts: 4 Hits: 3

Skills: Squeamish (-1 Guts when rolling because of your or a friend's wounds)

Weapon: Rifle, Flick Knife



Name: Luo 'Smokes' Rong/Xing 'One Eye' Guo/Tan 'Action' Fu 3x Hoodlum

Fists: 3 Gats: 2 Guts: 3 Stunts: 2 Smarts: 2 Hits: 3

Skills:

Weapon: Various Hand Weapons

Chinatown Rackets: Projection Racket, Opium Den, House of Ill Repute
 

RunningLaser

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I like Thud & Blunder by the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare. It's a fantasy skirmish toolkit.
 
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