Some of what I’ve been working on lately…

December 31, 2011

Greetings everyone!  I hope this new year will be great for you all!

I *was* going to enter the Ambush Alley Games “Strike Force” contest with these forces.  Then I saw the paint jobs on the competition and realized I was sorely outclassed in painting skills.  However, I will provide a band-aid to my vanity and show the pictures off in my Blog.  I paint things so they look okay on the table for gaming.  I don’t think I will ever be a contest-winning artist.  However, I do have fun with it and that is what really counts! (I keep telling myself that…)

Here is my first completed force: A strike force for the “Order of St. Mauricius”, the military arm of the “Primacy of Alterarum Terrarum”, also known as “church space” in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook.  This is a region of space with worlds colonized by the Catholic Church.

I am preparing a campaign on a planet where the Order of St. Mauricius is being used as the “bad guys” to overthrow a successful colonial rebellion.  Thus, I needed a coherent-looking armed force.  I wanted them in reddish colors and found that “rust red” paint ended up looking pretty good.

The Order of St. Mauricius Strike Force

The forces of the Order of St. Mauricius, at least how I am developing them, include “Indoctrinators”, armed deacons who work to keep the morale of their squads burning at a fever pitch.  Sort of like “”Commisars” from the Soviet Union and certain “not-to-be-named” games…  I used Rebel Mini’s “Gun Clerics” for those figures.  The rest of the OSM infantry figs are Rebel Minis “Earth Forces Drop Troopers”.

Closeup of 2 Scout Squads and their Grav Scout APCs

The vehicles in the force came from Combat Wombat Miniatures and from Matchbox Cars.

Closeup of Scout Squad Baker 9 - note the military crest for the Order on the nose of the Grav APC

Closeup of Recon Squad Able 5 - including Armed Combat Bot

My force needed some infantry heavy weapons and Rebel Minis didn’t provide anything suitable, so I added some “combat bots”  by raiding my supply of re-based power-armored figures from “Mechwarrior Dark Age”.  The arm/leg length ratio on the MDA figure is not really proportional for a 15mm scale human, but if you say it is a humanoid combat drone carrying heavy weapons then it fits right in.

Note the small gun poking out of the lower front of the wheeled APCs.  I added this to make them “armed” as opposed to “unarmed”, plus it fills a rivet hole in the Matchbox “Armored Response Vehicle”.

The "Armored Fist" of the Strike Force - Grav Tanks via Combat Wombat

The heavy punch of the strike force is provided by two Medium Grav Tanks and three Heavy Grav Tanks.  These units can be either hammer or anvil as needed.  They are also fun to paint.

A look down the line of the Strike Force

Now, I have been playing around with “alien” concepts too.  I had some lucky finds when shopping at “Recruits” and bought a batch of “Battlestations” miniatures.  I thought they would make great “Tomorrow’s War” aliens that did not look like “men in rubber suits”.  Thus I created the “Nirs Empire”, a multi-species polity that human space is just about to start bumping up against.  None of the species in the Nirs Empire are humanoid at all…

Exploratory force of the Nirs Empire

The “Battlestations” “Canosian Marines” are heart of the Nirs Empire forces.  They are backed up by the physically stronger, six-limbed “Xeloxians”, who even have some power-armored figures.

The Nirs Scout Marines (from Battlestations Canosian Marines)

Closeup of the Nirs Heavy Weapons units (from Battlestations Xeloxians)

Another Closeup of the Nirs Heavy Weapons Unit, because I liked the picture

So that is some of what I have been playing with.  There will be more soon!

Thanks for looking!


Tomorrow’s War After Action Report – Scenario “Tigers by the Tail”

December 31, 2011
Greetings everyone!  I hope the holidays are being good for y’all!

I have been busy with lots of things in life and haven’t gotten much gaming in.  Today I managed to play a game of “Tomorrow’s War” with my friend Mike.  I chose the scenario “Tigers by the Tail” from page 121 of the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook.  It seemed like a fairly simple “tanks only” scenario and would be good to keep trying to familiarize my friend with the TW rules.

The scenario takes place on the colony world of Glory, during a war between the “Democratic People’s Republic of Glory” or “DPRG” and the “Republic of Arden” or “RA”.  The DPRG is a reincarnation of North Korea, only worse.  The Republic of Arden is a growing, free country.  Expansion on the planet of Glory has led to conflict between these two powers.  The United States has chosen to aid the Republic of Arden and has sent a Marine Expeditionary Force to help.  This scenario is based on the first contacts between the advancing armored columns of DPRG tanks and the point scouts of the USMC forces.  It also represents a clash between obsolete tanks fielded by the DPRG and the most advanced tanks fielded by the United States.  The DPRG tanks are Tech Level 1 and the USMC tanks are Tech Level 3.

Overview of the battlefield for "Tigers by the Tail".

Here is the battlefield setup for the game.  The trees go right to the edge of the road, actually slowing the vehicles down as they pass through.  Vehicles can go no faster on the road through the woods than they can in the woods off road.

Two of my "Hammer's Slammers" blowers are used for the "Perkins" Main Battle Tanks for the USMC

The USMC sent a force of two tanks to try and delay and disrupt the advancing column of DPRG tanks.  The “Perkins” grav tanks are armed with 180mm fusion guns and gauss machine guns that have some anti-tank capability.  They are deadly customers and very heavily armored too!

Two of the DPRG "Chonma-Ho III" Main Battle Tanks

The “Chonma-Ho” Main Battle Tanks fielded by the DPRG were considered obsolete when they were used in this conflict.  Their armor is light and they are uparmed with Tech Level 2 Advanced Ballistic Main Guns.  They are outclassed in every way by the USMC tanks.

The DPRG column on-road at the beginning of the scenario. Platoon Leader Bai's tank is #65

The scenario starts with the DPRG tanks in column on the road and the USMC tanks starting somewhere within one foot of the west edge of the map.  Mike played the DPRG forces and I played the USMC forces.  I set one of my tanks in the little clump of woods in the northwest and the other deep in the western woods.

At the start of Turn 1 the USMC tank gets its fangs pulled

At the start of Turn 1 the USMC tank in the small clump of woods executed a “Fire and Move” command.  The rearmost DPRG tank was the target.  That tank chose to react with fire.  When we rolled our troop quality checks that tank go to shoot first.  Wham!  Main Gun destroyed on the USMC tank.  The “move” portion of the “fire and move” turned into a pull back. My dice hate me!

I moved the other USMC tank out of the woods to get a shot at the middle of the column. One of the DPRG tanks reacted to my movement by trying to get a rear armor shot on me. I responded to the fire, losing some of the distance I intended to cover in the process.  A quick exchange and “BLAM!”, the DPRG Platoon Leader’s tank went “kablooey” (that’s an ancient military technical term for “blown up, sir”).  Some of the other DPRG tanks had reacted with movement and so were further down the road. My tank ended up not close enough to the road to see it through the trees.

Not the glorious ambush I had intended...

The Perkins MBT didn't quite get close enough to see through the woods.

When things go right they are singular.  When things go wrong they come in clusters. My tanks were no not where I wanted them to be.  It was the DPRG (Non-initiative player) turn to move things.  The lead elements of the column moved down the road to get closer to their exit point. Then one of the DPRG tanks went on the offensive and charged up right behind the fully armed and undamaged USMC tank in the woods.  He was executing a “move and fire” command.  I intended to return fire.  We rolled our Troop Quality rolls – he rolled a “6”, I rolled a “3”.  He shot first and got one hit through my armor.  A quick roll on the vehicle damage table produced an “8”.  Sigh…vehicle brew up and casualty check.

The DPRG tank zooms up behind the USMC tank and delivers a knockout shot!


The rest of the DPRG column was heading for the exit point.  I had one tank left with a Heavy-Duty Machine gun on it that had an anti-tank firepower of 2D8.  Not exactly fear inspiring.

The rest of the DPRG column rolling down the road.

I was not able to do a move and fire with the remaining USMC Perkins tank (no targets) but I did perform a rapid move behind the woods to see whether I could get some luck long shots at the column as it emerged from the woods.  The crafty DPRG player used his successful killer tank to chase mine down by cutting a diagonal through the woods.  He took a shot at my tank so I responded as best I could with return fire.

The DPRG tank that made the first kill tries to make another one

This time the DPRG shot went “clang” off the armor of the USMC Perkins Main Battle Tank – as it should.  The shot from the Perkins HMG (heavy machine gun) scored one hit on the Chonma-Ho III tank.  The resultant roll on the damage table was “Main Gun Destroyed”.

Hmm, what's wrong with this picture?

The DPRG won the initiative for the remaining turns of the game.  My only other shots with my HMG were futile, just clanging off armor.  The DPRG scored a very decisive victory in this engagement.

Game end - Decisive DPRG Victory!

The Victorious DPRG Tanks

The Battlefield Carnage!

The game took only about an hour to play, flowed well and was lots of fun.  The scenarios in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook are pretty good and I enjoy playing them.  I must admit I was concerned with the game balance on this one.  I thought it would be unbalanced in the USMC favor.  Well, that turned out to be hubris on my part.

Oh, and did I mention that my dice hate me?  I’m sure I did…


“The Doom that came to Elkhorn” – A playtest that went very well

October 12, 2011

Greetings all!

As I hinted in my previous post, this Sunday’s “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts featured a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario placed in the present, covering an invasion of horrible, carnivorous aliens.  I decided to use the town I live in as the template for the scenario.  I had to compress some of the details and change a few others (I don’t have a 15mm replica of “Burger King”).  While I still have to add a few more buildings before “Rock Con” I think it is turning out pretty well.

The prelim results of the playtest showed a pretty good balance of the forces and the goals.  I was concerned the Space Demons would be too powerful but that did not turn out to be the case.  I will make a couple of tweaks before “Rock Con” and I think it will play well there.

My intrepid playtesters were an Ambush Sunday regular, John, then my son Thomas and…well, me.

So, without further adeau…adew…uh, blather, here is an After Action Report of the game.

The Doom that came to Elkhorn

A “Tomorrow’s War” Scenario by Mark Gipson

On a stormy Sunday morning the tremendous flash and bang in the skies over southern Elkhorn,
Wisconsin was not a spectacularly large lightning strike.  Lightning strikes don’t cause low-grade electromagnetic pulses that knock out electronics for half the county.  What followed the
“flash and bang” could only be described as a “hole” that briefly opened up in the sky.  Out of the hole fell several large, organic-looking shapes.  These shapes, if put together, looked like they would form part of a menacing-looking egg – if eggs were the size of office buildings!
These objects crashed into the ground on and around the overpass over Interstate 43.  Before the shocked onlookers in their now silent cars could even grab their now silent cell phones
a flurry of smaller figures started pouring out of the wreckage that fell from the sky.  These figures charged at the watching people.  And then the screaming began…

This is a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario with 4 different armed forces.  One force is the invading
aliens, being played by Khurasan’s “Space Demons”.  The other three forces are members of the
U.S. Army Reserve, stationed in and around Elkhorn, members of the Elkhorn Police Department and groups of Armed Citizens (all courtesy of Rebel Minis purchases).
The goal of the three human forces is to rescue other humans and try to hold back the alien menace.  The goal of the aliens is to feed!  The two possible choices for food are the humans and a small herd of cows, the cows being in town by the fairgrounds for a dairy show.

Looking from the north to the south down Hwy 67 - Space Demons are deploying at the top right of the picture

The troop stats:

Space Demons – pretty much as described in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook..oh, wait, most of you don’t have that yet…okay, let me be more detailed:

Regular (Close-Combat) Space Demons: 12x Troop Quality (TQ): D10 / Morale: D12 – 1D Armor (tough skin), 2 close combat attacks per figure, and use the Intimidating special rule – if they charge you then you must make a morale roll.  Failure leaves you “suppressed”  – very bad!

Hammerhead (Shooty) Space Demons: (home-made characteristics) 12x TQ: D8/Morale: D12 – 1D Armor, only one close combat attack BUT they have a shooting attack: They shoot bolts of electrified plasma out of their “eyes”, the round orifices at the ends of the hammerheads (which aren’t actually eyes, by the way).  These are 1D damage shots with normal combat ranges, i.e. they can shoot a long way just like a rifle.  Note: the *pair* of “eyes” work together to create the 1D shot.  Not “1D per eye”, it is “1D per alien”.  So a group of 5 of the “Hammerheads” would have a 5D8 ranged attack and a 5D8 close combat attack.  But wait, there’s more…

The electric plasma bolt has a “Super-Taser” effect on humans that stuns them if it doesn’t kill them outright.  If troops take casualties they assess them as normal with the normal first aid table.  Dead is dead, Okay is Okay.  The Lightly Wounded and Severely wounded categories leave the person in a stunned state – good for live food (or worse).  The exception to normal is that the casualty may be reassessed each turn.  The only result that counts is an “Okay” result which means the person woke up.  Any other result leaves them stunned.

The Space Demon King and Queen are worse: TQ: D10/Morale: D12, 4D10 Close combat attacks each, 2D body armor (big, thick boney plates), Intimidating, and Hard to Kill – when hit roll a D8; on a 4 or better they bounce right back from the hit.  Nasty killing machines who lead their troops telepathically.  If they are killed the regular and hammerhead Space Demons drop a full TQ die and go to D8 morale.

Finally, the Space Demons have a Colossus with them.  This is effectively an organic, walking Medium Tank with Walker Close Combat Weapons as well as a ranged attack.

Walking on three legs and standing the height of a house, the Space Demon Colossus (which is a
pain-in-the-butt word to type, incidentally) in this game comes armed with a ranged weapon and close-combat weapons.   The ranged weapon “spits” acid-coated teeth and counts as a AP:2/AT:4
Medium weapon.  It is considered armed with an “anti-vehicular melee weapon”, AP:5/AT:3(Medium).  It has a high Anti-Personnel rating due to the bone-tipped tentacles that I added to my “Space Demon Colossus” figure.

Armor is 3D10 all sides, treated as a Medium Vehicle.  The underside is the weak spot, being 2D6.
Underside can be directly targeted by anti-vehicular weaponry at 6 inches range or less.

The Colossus moves like infantry: 6” or less for “cautious” speed and 6” to 12” for “rapid” movement.


The Armed Civilians – Townsfolk who have grabbed their various hunting weapons and run out on the streets to engage the invaders.  These use the Irregular Unit rules and act effectively as Insurgents.  They come from 4 Hot Spots on the map.  The Hot Spots can be neutralized by a squad of Space Demons who spend a full turn next to one (within 2 inches).

Armed Citizens: TQ:D6 / Morale: D6, require a successful TQ check to be activated.  If they are within 8 inches of either a squad of Police or a squad of Military they can be activated normally.  Their weapons have normal ranges.  As they are killed they will be recycled through available Hot Spots.


Elkhorn Police – The Police men and women are forced to go on foot and communicate with runners since the EMP shut down their electronics and vehicles.  They are arranged in squads of 4.  Two squads may consolidate into one squad of 8.

TQ: D8 / Morale: D8, 1D body armor – trouble is they are armed with pistols and shotguns.  Any fire at a target greater than 8 inches away causes them to drop a TQ die from D8 to D6.  Their goal is to rescue civilians and get them off the north side of the map.  I have about 20 of them and in this game did not get them all deployed.


The Army Reserve Unit – The local Reserve unit was put on alert the night before.  They have some equipment and ammunition available but not a lot.  They come into the game at the beginning of Turn 2, from the Northeast Road.  They have 2 up-armored Humvees, one armed with an M2 turret and one armed with a M19 Automatic Grenade Launcher.  The specs come from “Force on Force”:

TQ:D8 / Morale: D10 – 1D Body Armor

M1043 HMMWV (Up-Armored Humvees)

FIREPOWER: M2 HMG: AP:4/AT:1(L)  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

FIREPOWER: Mk19 AGL: AP:3/AT:0  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

Two 9 man squads consisting of two 4-man fireteams and a squad leader w/M-4 .

Fireteam – 1x Fireteam Leader w/M-4, 1x Grenadier w/M-203 (RGL, LT. Support), 1x Gunner w/M-249 (SAW, Lt. Support) and 1x Assistant Gunner w/M-4

There are also 2 Hvy weapons teams with AT rocket launchers and M-4s. Rocket Launcher is AP:3 / AT: 3, plus team bonus.


Normal Unarmed Civilians – will react to any Space Demon that moves within 6 inches with a D6 roll.  On a 4 or better they will move a full 6 inches directly away from the approach of the alien.  on a 3 or less they freeze in place, panicked.  Unarmed Civilians will automatically join any group of Armed Civilians, Police or Army who move within 2 inches of them.  They will then move with the group, contributing no defense or offense but can be targeted if the group is attacked.  They can perform rapid movements.


9x Cows – HO scale cows – given a nominal 1D6 defense and no attack value.  Humans can herd the cows away from the Space Demons by making a successful TQ check.  If failed then roll a D6.  On a 1 they don’t move.  On a 2 they move north 3 inches, on a 3 they move east 3 inches, on a 4 they move south three inches, on a 5 they move west 3 inches and on a 6 you get another chance.  They react to Space Demons as per humans.  They will normally move at cautious (6 inch) speed.  Another TQ roll is required to make them perform a rapid movement (up to 12 inches).


The game started with the Space Demons deploying on the western half of the southern edge of the 4 ft x 4 ft map.  Two squads of Police and one squad of Armed Civilians are placed anywhere on the map more than 18 inches away from the Space Demons starting area.  Unarmed Civilians are placed randomly around the map by all players.  They must be at least 12 inches from the Space Demons starting area.

On Turn 1 the Space Demons have the initiative.  On Turn 2 the Humans have the initiative.  After that Initiative is rolled for normally.  “Tomorrow’s War” Fog of War cards are used, but they have to be looked at closely.  If the card drawn just won’t work then discard it and draw another one.

So, the game started with the Space Demons charging northward from the crash site towards town.  There were a lot of helpless civilians who had been hurrying towards the crash to try to help.  They now needed help themselves.  A couple of groups of police officers were also running south in groups of 4, having abandoned their non-operational squad cars.  A group of civilians heard the commotion and grabbed some weapons before they came running.

Space Demons advance towards a small neighborhood

The Police were the first ones to start gunning for the Space Demons.  Sadly, at the longer ranges they were of limited effectiveness.

The southernmost squad of Police engage some Hammerhead Space Demons

At the same time the group of Armed Civilians attempted to engage some Space Demons at a distance.  The Space Demon Colossus responded, HARD!

Hunting rifles and enthusiasm don't help much against acidic explosions!

At the top of the next turn the Human forces had the initiative.  The Army Reserve forces charged in and tried to use the speed of their Humvees to get some heavier firepower laid down.  An up-armored Humvee is still just a truck, not a tank.  Fire from the Hammerhead Demons damaged one of the Humvees.

The Humvee took damage and so did the squad of Police in the taco shop's parking lot.

The Army Reservist squads were sweeping up some civilians with them.  For the moment the civilians were being herded towards danger, because the Reservists needed to get to more of them.

One of the Anti-tank Squads picks up some civilians outside of the Middle School

The other Anti-Tank squad heads west to another building.

The southernmost squad of Police were heroicly standing up to fire from the Hammerhead Demons.  They were being enough of a problem that the Space Demon player chose to engage them with the Space Demon King.  The incredibly brave Policemen held their ground and actually knocked the Space Demon King down with their shooting…go Glock!  (Bad defense dice and horrible Hard-to-Kill roll) Tragically, the Space Demon King was immediatly followed by a Squad of 4 normal Space Demons.  The brave Policemen were no match for 8 x D10 close combat attacks…

The sad aftermath of an Heroic encounter...

The Space Demon King made his “First Aid” check the next turn and popped up as good as new.  Meanwhile, the big meat pile…I mean the herd of dairy cattle in the pen in the center of the map were attracting the attention of the Space Demons.

"There's the beef!"

One of the squads of Reservists on foot got into some long-range firefights with the Hammerhead Space Demons.  One example is shown in the next picture.

The fireteam at the bottom of the picture engages the distant Space Demons at the top of the picture.

Note the Anti-Tank Rocket team on the middle school roof.  They engaged in a significant exchange of fire with the Space Demon Colossus.  After trading some shots they scored a good hit on the “main gun” of the Colossus, i.e. they shot it in the mouth, rendering its “main gun” inoperable.  This turned the Colossus into a close-combat machine that was not very close (yet).

Now remember that some civilians had followed the Anti-Tank team?  Well, I decided that they were going to stick close to the soldiers and would not know that they should NOT stand behind a rocket launcher.  I gave them a chance to get hurt.  I rolled a D6 for each civilian and on a “6” they stood in the wrong spot.  Unfortunately, one of the civilians did just that…swoosh…oops…

A group of Space Demons on the west side of the map were charging past houses towards the more crowded part of town.  Their battle cry was “NOM! NOM! NOM!” or something like that…

The Space Demons approach the yummy humans hiding in the bar...hmmm, snacks AND drinks!

Finally, at the center of town the humans had not reached the cows to rescue them.  The Space Demons, however, DID reach the cows.  If you want a good mental image of what ensued next, just take a blender, then put a tomato in it, then drop in some ice cubes (for crunch).  Then run it on “High” with the top off…


The Army Reservists, the Police and the Armed Civilians were all engaged in various firefights on the central and northern parts of the map.

Troops engaging the Hammerhead space Demons.

Chaos in the streets as more Police show up...

Things were starting to go from grim to desperate for the humans.  THEN the Space Demon Queen, who had been weaving her way between houses and buildings, charged across the street in front of the Napa Auto Parts store – her target a squad of Policemen.  The Humvee, a squad of Reservists AND the squad of Police all successfully reacted.  Before she could reach the Police she dropped, for good, under a hail of fire.  Sadly, 3 Policemen were victims of military “Friendly Fire” in this engagement (creating rules on the fly for the situation).

The Space Demon Queen gets gunned down in front of the quonset hut garage.

A group of civilians and a damaged squad of Police grabbed the body of the Space Demon Queen and dragged it off the map while they escaped.  They just barely dodged a charge from another group of Space Demons who were trying to recover the body.

The green Space Demon in the picture didn't quite make the charge.

On the east side of the map things went less well.  Space Demons mowed down some groups of Armed Civilians like a pack of starving Basset Hounds on the last pizza slice on earth.  They then engaged and defeated the Anti-Tank Squad in the Middle School.

The Space Demons make kills while horrified civilians look on...

The game ended (due to time constraints) with significant chaos still occurring in town.  The Space Demons were WAY ahead in “Civilians and Cows” killed compared to the humans “Civilians and Cows” rescued.  But the Humans had scored big in not just killing the Space Demon Queen but capturing her body for study.  At this point we judged it a slight Space Demon victory.

Chaos reigns as Space Demons rampage in the background

This scenario was incredibly fun.  The different elements fit together really well, with the Police, Armed Civilians and Military all having their unique abilities to throw into the mix.  The addition of distance weapons and heavy weapons for the Space Demons makes them a multi-dimensional threat (pun intended).  The requirement to rescue humans was quickly forgotten by the human players – which was expected by the scenario designer (who was one of the Human side players).

Using the “Tomorrow’s War” rules in a “modern” setting worked fairly well.  There were no real Tech Level differences between the sides but the Space Demons were still quite alien.  The “Fog of War” cards took some interpreting and discarding to work but they did their job well.  Funniest “Fog of War” moment was when the Space Demon player rolled a 1 and got a “Fog of War” card that said one of his troops had set off a mine or booby trap.  In the city of Elkhorn I can guarantee we have few booby traps and no minefields.  However, we ruled that one of the aliens tore into a ground-level transformer that held some residual energy and was injured that way.  Aliens would not understand why you should not claw up that warm box…oops!

This should make an excellent “Convention Game”.  It is cinematic, dramatic and fun.  There are enough troops for 4 to 6 people to play without bogging things down.  I am so looking forward to running this at “Rock Con” on November 5!

Review of the Fall 2011 release of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games and Osprey Publishing

September 20, 2011

Greetings All!

I have had my hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games for a little over a week now.  I have read it, referenced it, waved it around and used it in the games I ran at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  I recently read that some folks are looking for some reviews on the “Tomorrow’s War” rules – it being a couple of weeks before it is officially released.  So, here goes my review of the Fall 2011 release of the “Tomorrow’s War” rules.  I hope my tens of readers of my blog will like it! 😉

“Tomorrow’s War” – Review by Walworth County Wargamer

So…where to begin…well, first the Earth cooled.  And then there were dinosaurs!  But they all died and became oil…oops, that was the movie “Airplane”.  Let me try again.

About a year ago I was intrigued by the Ambush Alley Games talk of “Tomorrow’s War”.  I found a local gaming con last November where I had a chance not only to try it out but to meet Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games and to also meet Jim Roots, one of the developers.  I lucked out in that Jim is somewhat local to me.  Okay, about an hour drive to game with him at a friendly local game store, but I have a Prius and an iron @$$, so it works. 

I liked what I played enough to immediately purchase the “expansion” version of “Tomorrow’s War” that they were bundling with a copy of “Force on Force” if you bought them electronically as pdf files.  Within a week I created my first horribly unbalanced scenario involving Warhammer 40K Tau and Orks.  I got better at balancing things after that. 

I also got to game somewhat regularly with Jim Roots and his son Wil, who taught me a lot more about the game.  Being an enthusiastic glutton for punishment I joined the development group as a playtester and have played quite a few really cool scenarios.

So, what do you get if you purchase this Osprey Publishing version of “Tomorrow’s War”? This is not an expansion or a supplement.  This edition of “Tomorrow’s War” is a stand-alone game. The basic print quality of the hardbound book is excellent.  The photographs, artwork, tables and such just explode off the pages.  It feels like it is worth what you paid for it.  The printing of black text on the often blue backgrounds can be a little hard to read at times but that is a fairly minor fault.  I can still read everything.

After getting my hands on my very own hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” I dived right in with it at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  Having the *real* book as opposed to my “big honking binder” with my playtester’s copy was very nice.  The tables were easy to flip to, the table of contents was nice and having an Index is awesome.  I wish the Index was a little more extensive but it is not bad.

Well, that’s the book, but what about the game?  I’m getting to that, okay? [mental note: when you are writing a blog and you start hearing your readers in your head, perhaps it is time for a vacation]

“Tomorrow’s War” – The Game

Whether somebody likes, dislikes or just doesn’t care about a game is a very subjective thing.  Me, I like the Ambush Alley Games products a lot.  “Tomorrow’s War” is turning out to be *that game* that I have been looking for.  It works for me.  Very obviously your mileage may vary.  So let me go forward with what *I* like with “Tomorrow’s War”.

Top of the list is the concept of “Action – Reaction” that is the basis of the AAG gaming system.  It goes roughly like this: Player 1 (who has the initiative) activates a unit.  That unit could be infantry, like a Marine fireteam, or it could be armor, like a tank or an APC. Player 1 could choose to Move, to Fire, to Move and then Fire, to Fire and then Move or a few other special options. Player 2 happens to a have a unit within “Line-of-Sight” of this activated unit.  Player 2 *may* choose to attempt to “React” to the action of Player 1’s unit.  This is done by declaring the Reaction and stating what you are going to do, i.e. Fire or Move.  The players then roll Troop Quality dice to see whether the Reaction was successful or not.

I love this basic “Action-Reaction” game mechanic.  If you are the non-initiative player you are never just sitting there waiting for your opponent to move and then to fire on your immobile forces.  You *always* have your head in the game.  You are always looking to perform that perfect maneuver, to line up that great shot or to successfully take cover so as to spoil the other guy’s great shot. By its nature the mechanic emphasizes mobility and fluid combat.  It encourages it.

This is well-polished in “Tomorrow’s War”.  I find that the book guides you through the sequence of play and provides decent examples of how to perform the basics.  The rulebook is divided up into several sections, each section capped off with a sample scenario that “puts it all together” for what was covered before.  These are good scenarios too!  They are fun to play.

The Number 2 thing I like about “Tomorrow’s War” is how the rules are “layered”.  You can play perfectly fun games with just the very basic rules and not miss much of anything. 

I am *not* an expert at the game but I was able to get groups of people playing a moderately complex scenario with about 20 minutes of convention time.  After the first couple of turns they needed very little guidance.  The only charts I had to keep referring to were the Vehicle Damage charts and the First Aid charts for casualties. They didn’t miss Morale and Bail-Out rules for tank crews or deck attacks from infantry-launched missiles.  Those could certainly have been included but I didn’t see a need to add the complexity to the scenario.

The rulebook is *replete* with examples and explanations.  It makes it seem like there are a lot more rules than there actually are.  The explanations guide you through things pretty well.  If you still have questions, the Ambush Alley Games Forum on their website has lots of friendly people.  Shawn and Peggy both post there frequently (many times daily) answering questions and making comments.  People will help you if you don’t understand something.  More importantly, if you just plain don’t like a rule then Shawn will happily advise you to change things to your heart’s content when you play.  It is *your* game, after all.  You’re supposed to have fun with it.  😉

The rulebook is written with 15mm scale miniatures in mind.  However, if you want to scale up or down that is no problem.  You may just have to adjust move distances up or down accordingly.  I have used 6mm, 10mm, 15mm and 28mm scale minis in TW games.

There is no worry about weapon ranges.  With a few exceptions all weapons are assumed to have unlimited range on the game boards we are using.  If you consider that at 15mm scale an M1 Abrams has a range of over 40 feet (over 12 meters) then you can see why this is.  There are “optimum’ ranges, based on Troop Quality, where troops have an easier time hitting their targets.  Nothing too complicated.

Okay, now does “Tomorrow’s War” deliver a “sci-fi” feel to the rules and gameplay?  You betcha!  This is not just an add-on for “Force on Force”.  This is written from the ground up to be a hard Sci-Fi wargame.  From basic body armor rules up to full powered armor, from low-tech slug-throwing combat rifles to laser rifles to energy weapons that project streams of plasma, from track-laying tanks to air-cushion hover tanks to grav vehicles – it’s all there, fully integrated.  There are rules for combat drones of all sorts, how to fight in a vacuum and even how to deal with a unit that is overstressed from being on the sharp end for too long.

You also get asymmetric engagements (we have them today; we’ll have them tomorrow), Close-Air Support and Off-Board Artillery.  A full 3 dimensional combined arms battlefield awaits.

The first thirty-two pages of the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook are taken up with the author’s “game universe” describing events and places for about the next 200 years.  Some folks have commented that this is the weakest part of the rule book.  You can certainly ignore it and play the game to whatever background you wish.  Me, I have gamed David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers”, things from Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe and even just scratch games of no particular background.  It all works.  BUT, the “game universe” the authors created for “Tomorrow’s War” is actually kind of cool.  There are some good ideas there that can lead to creating some great scenarios and campaigns.  Read it, digest it and think about it.

What does “Tomorrow’s War” not have?

If you look through what I have discussed so far you might notice something lacking.  How do you set up a game?  Are there points so you can have balanced forces? Well, the rule book and core mechanics for the game are NOT written with “points” and “1000 point armies” in mind.  Like “Force on Force” and “Ambush Alley”, “Tomorrow’s War” is a scenario-driven game.  And the scenarios are mission-driven.  In a scenario the goals of each side can be wildly different than just “kill all the opposing side”.  More importantly, just as in real life, the forces available may be quite uneven.  In war you fight with the army you have, not the army you want.

How does this equal fun games? How do you set up a scenario that is going to be fun to play?  Well, the creators of “Tomorrow’s War” have promised some sort of basic “points” system to be available for download by the official release time for the rulebook.  I think it will help people get started with the game but I also think that most folks will “outgrow” it.  For one thing I know that many people are developing TW scenarios of all sorts that will be freely available.  These will take place in various science fiction backgrounds from movies, books and video games.  For another, if you play a few games of this you quickly get the feel for how to balance a scenario.  They play quickly enough that if you figured wrong it is easy enough to adjust things and try again.

“Tomorrow’s War” is like all the other Ambush Alley games in that Troop Quality is the most important factor.  It is not the weapon the soldier holds that makes him or her effective.  It is the training, the conditioning, the esprit de corp.  The rules as written reflect that.  Some people don’t like that focus as much.  That is fine.  This game, like all games, will not appeal to everyone.  I like the whole troop quality vs weapons quality concept.

The gaming system created by Ambush Alley Games is focused on results.  It is not focused on the precision minutia of weapons and ammo performance. It abstracts them, instead concentrating on the importance of the QUALITY of the soldiers who are using the tools.  The way I explain this is: “Give a group of U.S. Navy Seals some cornmeal, some popsicle sticks and some hot dogs and I am sure they can use them to kill the enemy.  Give a group of fresh soldiers right out of basic the same materials and they might, maybe end up with corn dogs…probably burned. Give those materials to the average third-world insurgent and they will probably harm themselves…

“Tomorrow’s War” also has a scale it works best at.  Not scale as in 15mm, 28mm or 6mm – I have played TW with minis at all those scales.  What I mean is that it best represents squad to company sized engagements.  You would get a bit bogged down with larger ones and it is not a “skirmish” game for individual characters.  In fact, the structure of the game system doesn’t have “characters”.  When played at the scale it is intended for the game plays very well.  I have had games last a half hour to about three hours. That varies with the size of the game and the experience of the players.  They have all been fun, so far.

What else “works” with “Tomorrow’s War”?

Well, the “Action/Reaction” system works really well for big tank battles. I have had two people play a 2 hour game that involved over 2 dozen heavy and light tanks, contesting a river crossing.  They were both new at it and they still had a great time. [note: I need to run that one again.  It was way fun to do.]

Finally, I have a “love/hate” relationship with the “Tomorrow’s War” “Fog of War” cards.  What are they?  Well, one of the optional rules you can layer on for great fun and randomness is the addition of “Fog of War” cards.  If one side or the other rolls a “1” when making a troop quality check during an “Action/Reaction” they then must draw one of the special “Fog of War” cards.  The results of the card usually take place immediately.  These results can be things like one of your vehicles breaking down, a random artillery round strikes one of your units, a storm blows up and visibility drops for everyone – any number of things.  It is a mix of things that will mess with you and help your opponent or vice-versa, or even things that will mess with everyone.  They really tend to flesh out the scenario and can turn it from a “game” into a “story”.

Why the “love/hate” relationship?  Because the cards seem to hate me and tend to screw me at every opportunity, that’s why! 😉  I think they are in collusion with my dice…

Should “Tomorrow’s War” be on my “I gotta have it” list?

Confession time – I am a Ambush Alley Games fanboy…sort of.  I like the games, I like the game system.  As I said earlier, it “works” for me.  I have fun while playing TW and I have noticed other folks have fun too. 

“Tomorrow’s War” is not a game aimed at competitive tournaments. It is a game for gamers to have relaxed, fun games where they question their opponent’s parentage and threaten their own dice with the microwave…well, yeah, but still having fun and laughs while doing it.  Many of the games I have played are worthy of stories because of how they turned out.  This will work for some people and not be other’s cup of tea.

If it sounds good to you then check it out.  I have had fun with it and I think that other people will too.  If it seems like it is not for you then that is fine too.  Life is short and gaming time is shorter.  Play the games you enjoy!  I will do the same.

After Action Report on gaming at “Recruits” Gaming convention in Lee’s Summit, Missouri

September 12, 2011

Greetings everyone!

I am back home, relatively rested and have transferred the pictures off my Droid.  Time to write up how things went at “Recruits”.

It was great!

Okay, maybe a wee bit more detail is required… 😉

We (my son Thomas and I) made the 9 hour drive to Lee’s Summit from Elkhorn, Wisconsin.  The drive was blessedly uneventful.  We met up with Shawn, Peggy and Jim of Ambush Alley Games and followed them over to the event site, Lee’s Summit High School.  There Thomas and I helped them haul stuff in so they could get set up.  Peggy had the amazing timing to have us haul the stuff in during a strong rain shower that stopped moments after we got the last load inside.

Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games hard at work getting their tables organized

My slightly damp son Thomas, after hauling stuff in the rain.

Of course there was method to my madness! The sooner the AAG folks got set up the sooner I could buy my copy of “Tomorrow’s War” from them.  Hee-hee, it worked!

A very happy Walworth County Wargamer. Got my copy of "tomorrow's War" and a set of "Tomorrow's War" Fog-of-War cards.

Later on that evening I spent time and money by “Combat Wombat’s” table buying 15mm scale sci-fi vehicles.  Now I have some future projects.
Saturday came bright and early and we had a frustrating time trying to get to the darned high school.  There was a marathon being run and the police had blocked off all the routes we knew to get to the site.  Geez, wouldn’t the marathoners get much better times if they were running away from cars?  Oops, that was not my “inside voice“… 😉  Anyway, we finally made it and I got my game set up.

My "Tomorrow's War" game layout for Saturday at "Recruits"

The “Tomorrow’s War” scenario I was running was one of my own design, based on material from David Drake’s book “Paying the Piper”.  It is one of his many books about “Hammer’s Slammers”,  a future mercenary armored regiment.

The book is available as an e-book for free from the Baen Free Library:

To keep it simple, the scenario involves a platoon of Hammer’s Slammers heavy hovertanks, known as “blowers” and a short platoon of Hammer’s Slammers “Combat Cars” all trying to make it to a river crossing.  The blowers may be air-cushion vehicles but they are too heavy to cross the river anywhere except a ford.  The combat cars are light enough to cross the river directly or go over the river bridge.  Sounds simple, right?

The opposing forces are locally-manufactured armored vehicles in the service of the city-state of Solace on the planet called “Plattner’s World”.  These vehicles are built by slapping an armored frame on top of a mining crawler chassis and mounting guns and/or turrets to them.  They have one gunner/commander and an Artificial Intelligence unit to drive the vehicle.  Though mounting fairly strong guns they still epitomize the concept of “a hammer, protected by an eggshell”.

River Crossing Scenario

Hammer’s Slammers Forces – Tech Level 2 – Troop Quality: D8/ Morale: D10

3X Blower Heavy Hover Tank armed with a 20cm Energy Gun

Heavy Energy Tank Gun – AP:4/AT:6 (Heavy) (Slow) (Heavy Hitter) – Turret

Against Armor: Roll 6D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter plus 1D8 for Tech Level
Shift, Ignores 2D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 2D less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 4D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter plus 1D8 for Tech Level

Slow Firing – Loses 2D8 each time it fires after 1st time – 8D8, 6D8, 4D8, 2D8

Front Armor: 4D12 Side Armor: 3D12 Rear Armor: 3D10

6X Combat Car, 4 armed and 2 “Trucks” hauling infantry

Three 2cm Rotary Energy Guns, Combined Firepower AP:4/AT:4 (Medium)

Against Armor or Troops: Roll 4D8 plus 1D8 for Tech Level Shift

Front Armor: 3D8 Side Armor: 3D8 Rear Armor: 3D6 (Open-Topped vehicle)

Troops: TL2, Hard Body Armor (+2D), TQ/Morale: D8/D10

Slammers Fireteam Alpha

3X Rifleman, 2cm Powergun (TL:2, AP:+1) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Gunner,  2cm SAW Powergun (TL:2, Ap:+2) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Slammers Fireteam Beta

3X Rifleman, 2cm Powergun (TL:2, AP:+1) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Gunner,  2cm SAW Powergun (TL:2, Ap:+2) Ignore 1D of armor or cover

Combat Drones assigned to the Slammers (TL:2): (not in the novel)

2 Hover Drones, Troop Quality D8, “Dumb” Bots (-1 Reaction Roll)

Cautious move 8”/Fast move 16”  Hard Armor: +2D

Armed with Advanced SAW and Grenade Launcher: AP: 4D8, AT: 2D8

All Bots survive on a 4+ of a 1D6 roll.


Solace Government Forces – TL1 – Troop Quality: D8 / Morale: D8 Troops/D10 Vehicles

6X “Trencher” Light Tracked Tank (Medium Vehicle) armed with a Medium Gauss Cannon

Medium Gauss Cannon – AP:2/AT:5 (Gauss) – Turret Mounted

Against Armor: Roll 5D8,  Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 2D8

Front Armor: 4D10  Side Armor: 3D10  Rear Armor: 3D8

Also armed with 3 Gauss SAW Machine Guns: AP:2/AT:0 (Gauss)

Against Troops: Roll 2D8, Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

2X “Stalker” Tracked Tank Destroyer armed with fixed mount Heavy Gauss Cannon

Heavy Gauss Cannon – AP:4/AT:6 (Gauss) – Fixed Mount

Fixed Mount requires successful Troop Quality roll for every shot after the first. Front Arc Only.

Against Armor: Roll 6D8, Ignores 1D of Defender’s Armor (Defender rolls 1D
less on defense roll)

Against Troops: Roll 4D8

Front Armor: 3D10  Side Armor: 3D8  Rear Armor: 3D8

1X Stalker with an “Ultra-Class” Heavy Gauss Cannon

Ultra Class Heavy Gauss Cannon – AP:4/AT:6 (Gauss) (Slow Firing) (Heavy

Against Armor: Roll 6D8 plus 1D8 for Heavy Hitter, Ignores 1D of Defender’s
Armor (Defender rolls 1D less on defense roll)

Slow Firing – Loses 2D8 each time it fires after 1st time – 7D8, 5D8, 3D8, 1D8

Solace Troops

Troops: TL1, Soft Body Armor (+1D), TQ/Morale: D8/D8

Solace Fireteam One

3X Rifleman, ACR (TL:1, AP:+1)

1X Rifleman, Buzz-Bomb Rocket (TL:1, AP:2/AT:2)

Solace Fireteam Two

3X Rifleman, ACR (TL:1, AP:+1)

1X Rifleman, Buzz-Bomb Rocket (TL:1, AP:2/AT:2)

Solace Combat Drones (TL:2) (Off-Planet Purchase): (Not in the novel)

3 Walker Drones, Quadruped

Troop Quality D8, “Smart” Bots Cautious 6”/Fast 12” Hard Armor: +2D

Armed with Gauss Squad Support Weapon: AP: 3D8, Ignores 1D of Opponent cover

Also armed with RPG: AP:2D8/AT:2D8

All Bots survive on a 4+ of a 1D6 roll.


Those are specs provided for the gamers to use.  The “Hammer’s Slammers” vehicles are from Old Crow Models in the UK.

The Solace vehicles are from Proxy Models.

The infantry is all from Khurasan.

The combat drones for both sides were modified from WizKids “Mechwarrior: Age of Destruction” miniatures.

The Slammers forces

The Solace forces

One may notice that there are COWS in with the Solace forces?  What’s up with that?  Are we playing “To-moo-row’s War”? In the words of Inigo Montoya “Let me asplain…no, that will take too long.  Let me sum up.”

I wanted to try a different mechanic for “hidden forces”.  In most miniatures wargames each side sees all the other forces already on the board and can react to their presence by how they deploy and move.  I wanted to present one side with a different tactical problem: you know something is there but you aren’t sure what it is.  It could be a tank, a squad of infantry, a tractor or just nothing.  So the Solace forces deployed numbered markers on the game board.  Their minis were placed behind a wall on boxes that were numbered matching the counters.

The Markers for the Solace Forces are placed on the battlefield

The Solace minis were placed on the sheets with the numbered boxes.  Cow miniatures were used as “nulls”.  We decided the cows were wandering around with small radio transmitters on collars around their necks.

The Solace minis are hidden from the view of the Slammer's players

For the markers to be “hidden” they had to be placed out of line-of-sight of the opposing force, either behind a building or hill or more than 3 inches inside of the forested areas.  The trees placed on the gameboard outlined forested areas in the battlefield.  These areas limit visibility and provide cover.

In order for a Slammer’s player to “reveal” one of the hidden markers they had to move a unit to within 8 inches of the marker and then make a successful troop quality roll.  Alternately, they could simply move into line-of-sight of the marker.

To keep the markers from “revealing” themselves the Solace player could move them no more than 3 inches.  The markers would also be revealed if they moved into line of sight or performed any combat activity, like shooting.

So, some markers would be revealed as combat units and others would be revealed as cows.

The four players, 2 on each side, figured out their strategies and the game started.

The Slammers forces enter the battlefield

The Slammers forces entered the map and made a right to check out the woods.

The Slammers forces enter the forest and uncover a cow.

The Slammers uncovered their first “blip” only to reveal a cow.  They had a beef with that.  They considered it a cheesey maneuver.  Some of the infantry deployed, either to sweep the woods or to milk the cow…

A Solace tank reveals itself to try and get a jump on a Slammers combat car

A solace tank popped out of the woods to take a shot at a Slammers combat car.  They exchanged fire…

The exchange of fire goes poorly for the combat car

The Slammers combat car receives a “Destroyed” result when hit by the gauss round from the tank.  It did knock the tank down to 1/2 firepower in the process.

The deployed Slammers infantry gets the jump on some Solace infantry advancing up the hill

A nasty firefight flared up in the woods on the forested hill when the deployed unit of Slammers infantry intercepted the Solace infantry that was advancing up the hill.  The Solace forces got the worst of that deal.

A Solace tank destroyer crests the hillside to get a shot at the oncoming Slammers armor

The Solace player brought forward another unit and crested the hillside with his one tank destroyer that mounted an Ultra-Class Gauss Cannon. He was trying to take the armor column in the front to disrupt it.

A Combat Car gets brewed up by the Tank Destroyer

Disruption achieved.  A Slammers combat car gets brewed up by a shot from the Tank Destroyer.

Another solace tank comes around the hill. The tank gets hit for a mobility hit and being suppressed - but it survived 2 shots from 2 Slammers blowers

Another Solace tank came zipping around the hill to exchange fire with a Slammers blower.  In a 2-for-1 deal it got to be shot at by 2 Slammers blowers.  Miraculously it survived 2 hits. It was suppressed and hit for half mobility, but it was not blown up.

Much carnage - leading to the Slammers deciding to withdraw

After much battlefield carnage, the kicker comes for the Slammers when, during a simultaneous fire exchange between a blower and the Solace tank destroyer, the Slammers tank lost its main gun.  The Solace tank destroyer was brewed up.  This was on top of more battlefield losses of combat cars and made the Slammers player decide to withdraw.

The "knife-fight-in-a-phone-booth" battle of tanks in the forest

The small wooded section developed a nasty little battle between two Solace tanks, a tank destroyer and a Slammers combat car.  The Slammers combat car was destroyed as was one of the Solace tanks.  The Solace tank destroyer was gun damaged – 1/2 firepower.

The Slammers infantry overruns the Solace infantry

The deployed Slammers infantry overran the Solace infantry but had to redeploy when the Slammers pulled out.

A reasonable victory for the Solace forces.  Painful, but reasonable.  They couldn’t afford to win like that again.

The afternoon gaming session was lively.  I had 4 teenagers, 2 boys and two girls, who sat down and wanted to play.  They had not played this kind of game before but they were sincere about wanting to try and played very enthusiastically.  I didn’t get any gameplay pictures; the players needed more of my attentions.  The end result was a marginal victory for the Solace forces.  The kids seemed to have a lot of fun playing.  In know I got a real kick out of two giggly teenage girls controlling the “Hammer’s Slammers” hardened mercenaries.

The aftermath of the second game - the Slammers got caught in an infantry crossfire

The kids seemed to get a real kick out of revealing the cows!  They found them udderly hilarious.

The “hidden unit” mechanic I used seemed to work pretty well.  The players did not have a problem using it and it didn’t appear to slow things down much.  In the first session the Slammers players commented favorably on the “tactical surprise” element the mechanic generated.  I will have to try it again.

I did more shopping in the evening, buying some 15mm scale alien miniatures so I can put together a very different kind of force.  I will show y’all when I am ready with it. 😉

“Recruits” was great fun, I am glad my son and I went and I am thankful for the folks who ran it.  I had a great time and want to go again.  I want to thank Shawn and Peggy and Jim for their hospitality as well.  They are very cool people!

Thanks for reading this and I hope to see some of y’all soon.  Have fun gaming!

Road Trip – Gamer Style!

September 8, 2011

Greetings all!

I will be hitting the road tomorrow morning for a 9 hour roadtrip to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to attend and run some “Tomorrow’s War” at the “Recruits” gaming convention held at Lee’s Summit High School.  The con runs Friday, 5:00pm to 11:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am to 11:00pm and Sunday, 9:00am to 2:00pm.  I plan to be there for Friday evening and Saturday.  I will be running a “Hammer’s Slammers” based scenario of “Tomorrow’s War” in the Saturday morning time slot.  It ought to be fun!

I hope to see some folks there!

Mark G.

Very Brief Musing on 15mm Scale and Game Board Size

August 15, 2011

Hello all!

I was play-testing a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario on Sunday that I intend to run at the “Recruits” gaming convention.

The game was played at 15mm scale and I was explaining to a new player about the fact that in the Ambush Alley gaming system most weapons have “unlimited range” at least as far as the game board goes.  There are a few exceptions but those are mainly due to the amazing difficulty in hitting something at further ranges with, say, a pistol.  Anyway I explained that an M1 Abrams tank on the table would probably land a shot into the next block from the game store.  I decided to check my math today during lunch at work and it turns out I was over estimating a bit, but still…

For 15mm scale I worked out:

6 feet = 15mm (general assumption for scale)

5280 feet = 13,200mm = 13.2 meters = 43 feet 4 inches for 1 game mile.

Kill range for a M1 Abrams is = 8200 feet (more of less) = 1.55 miles = 20.5 meters = 67.25 feet

Yeah, less than a block – but it would have damaged the “Dollar General” store across the street.  However, it would be a humungous game board.  Longer than the store we were playing in and taking a bit more terrain than I could fit into my Prius.

By comparison, we were gaming on a 4 foot by 4 foot game board.  Let’s see here –

4 feet = 48 inches = 1219mm = 487 game feet = 162.5 game yards = about 1 1/2 average city blocks long.

We carried out a battle involving multiple armored vehicles at a (game) range of less than 2 football fields, basically the size of a small American neighborhood.  Deadly knife-fighting range for these powerful war machines.

Unrealistic engagement ranges?  Heh – go read  the book (not the game) “Ambush Alley” or the book “Heavy Metal: A Tank Company’s Battle to Baghdad” or many of David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers” novels.  Lots of short range engagements occurred during the drive to Baghdad.  The “Hammer’s Slammers” books are replete with them (as well as 10-mile long powergun shots and the occasional satellite being shot down).

The short-range fights tend to be brutal and quick in real life and in the novels.  They also tend to be that way in the games, too.  It makes for nightmarish reality but for very interesting gaming scenarios.  I’m just glad no stray firing from the tanks hit the front of the game store…