07 July 2012

The Battlefield: Miniature modern warfare (review)

The Battlefield is a quite different take on miniature wargaming, it is inspired by PC/console games and has a completely new and dare I say fresh take on the classic wargaming mentality. Now before you run off in the other direction (possibly screaming “HERESY!!”) let me describe ideas and basic game mechanics included in this set of rules.

First of all, the game is meant to be played by 2-8 people, at the same time. Either in teams supporting each other, multiple teams or free for all. It has the same backbone that you will find in squad based RTS games where I think Company of Heroes and World in Conflict is the most compatible comparison I can make.

The game can be played with either single or multi based miniatures. Almost all soldiers in this game make up “units/squads” that have to maintain unit coherency and who share a common profile of stats (which are reduced as the squad takes casualties).

Results are generated by opposed rolls using D6s where each 4+ equals a “success”, and the number of dice players roll depend on unit profiles, terrain features etc. The player that rolls more successes than his opponent becomes the winner and inflicts the number of damage points equivalent to his success ratio. The defender may reduce the number of successes with each success of his own, possibly avoiding taking damage altogether. There is a bunch of modifiers in the number of dice rolled, but the basic idea of everything 4+ being a success and everything below being a failure creates a very fast paced and slick system upon which the game rests.

The Battlefield also uses Command Action Points (CAP) which is basically something that you use to pay for unit actions. The game turn sequence depends on the number of players, but playing 2 players it uses a straight IGOUGO. Playing in teams you take turns activating one player from each team at a time rather than the whole team together (Red player 1, Blue Player 1, Red player 2, Blue player 2 etc).

There are no “point costs” for units in this game. Instead each player has a set number of units at his disposal which depend on the number of players. 1vs1 games have the players command 4 units each. Destroyed units may be respawned or spawned as a new unit coming in from your own table edge. Vehicles located on the gametable may respawn on respawn points, you roll for these at the start of each turn.

The Battlefield includes numerous vehicle typs (both ground and air) , off table artillery strikes and various infantry squad types.

This is basically the game and the ideas and features of this game in a nutshell. Now on to some more detailed information about each part of the game.

Everything revolves around Command Action Points (CAP).  You use these to activate units and perform actions. The cost for movement is 1 CAP , the cost for shooting is 2 CAP. Now, a single unit can perform one action at the base cost OR keep repeating actions/performing additional actions at an ever increasing cost of CAP. The system uses x1/x2/x4 etc when determining the point cost of repeating actions. A unit that fires two times in a row would pay a total of 6 CAP (2+4).

The way the game sequence works out players are free to spend their CAP freely on units in their platoon – activating and performing various tasks and not necessarily in a specific order. The game allows you to move one unit, then another and then get back to shooting with the first unit if you want. As long as you have CAP to pay for actions you are free to spend them pretty much as you see fit.

Indeed the game relies upon you performing a distribution of action between your units so that they can support each other in performing tasks rather than play them one at a time.

In 2 player games each player has 12 CAP points each turn. This number can be increased by holding important strategic locations on the map. The more locations you control the more CAP you get. This instant payoff / penalty of holding/losing objectives in “real time” is something that is completely new to me and indeed simulates RTS games such as WH40k: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. CAP can also be used to respawn destroyed/eliminated units, this provides a new feature into wargaming, at least for me. Games become a lot more about countering enemy units and capturing objectives than winning by eliminating the opposition. This may seem very misplaced in a miniature wargame but I think it offers a different gaming experience and completely different possibilities of unit tactics and interchangeable rotating unit rosters on both sides.

Now let’s take a look at how the units are written. There are 4 types of units in this game:
Infantry, fast attack vehicles, vehicles and air units.

Infantry and air move and turn freely, while fast attack vehicles may turn 90 degrees before AND after a move, and move backwards at no additional cost. Vehicles (heavier stuff) may only turn 90 before OR after a move, they may move backwards for additional CAP.
All units have stats, and the stats in this game are:
MOV = number of inches of movement

OP rng = range that a unit can fire their weapons and use their full attack value. Units firing over their
OP rng use only half (rounded up) of their attack value.

AV number of dice you roll in attack
DV number of dice you roll in defense
CQ number od dice you roll in close combat

DT Damage threshold of the unit (physical, mental etc). If the DT is reached a unit is eliminated.
Tokens are placed near a damaged unit to represent the number of damage points it has received.
Infantry squads are most often made up of 4-man teams. The basic infantry squad is used to build specialized squads such as engineers or spec-ops.
The basic look of an infantry squad is:

4 man unit, number of alive members = X
Mov: 3
AV/DV/CQ/DT = X
Capture = X
Spot X
Abilities/Traits: Such as Infantry squad, anti infantry, anti tank etc
Reduce X by 1 whenever a member is killed

There are several infantry squad classes which you can field such as: Assault, Engineer, command, support, anti tank, medic, spec ops squads. The squad stats are very simple to keep in mind since the number of remaining members tell you about the squad efficiency level, and the special weapons included in a squad tell you about their specific profile. Each specialized infantry squad naturally has its own area of expertise and tradeoff due to specialization.
Squads and units have a coherency of 1”, moving units can be done either by measuring from the middle of the unit OR measuring from each individual model.

Combat uses the Attack value(AV)  + any trait bonus that your unit may have.  You roll the combined number of D6 dice, and your opponent uses his Defensive value (DV) + any terrain feature bonuses.  Attacking at long range reduces your efficiency as you would expect with accuracy drop-offs for small arms. Both players roll opposed rolls and then compare their AV and DV results. The defender has the chance to negate or reduce the amount of damage from the attacker.

Firing at infantry with the squad trait, either at a single infantry man (1DV + cover modifiers in defense) or at the entire enemy squad (full DV of unit).  A squad may be defined by a specific weapon such as a HMG , in such cases it should be removed last no matter what. The squad shares a combined profile.

Units that does not have the “Squad” trait has damage applied to the appropriate model.

Close combat (CQ) is similar to shooting, but both the attacker OR the defender may take casualties in the result of the opposed roll. The attacker may receive additional CQ points by having the enemy pinned down or by being aided by additional friendly units.

You will notice that the game lacks a proper “morale” feature.  The “gamey” nature of The Battlefield leans towards fast paced gaming, truly simulating PC/console game sources that served as inspiration. There is however one important feature that serves to reduce the efficiency of troops fighting other than plain killing them and that is the “suppressing fire” feature. Units may opt to fire suppressing fire pinning down enemy units and render them unable to activate and add a bonus for friendly units assaulting those pinned down enemies. Various terrain gives DV and CQ bonuses as you would expect.

These are the basics of the game. The rules also include a rich section covering  hiding from and spotting enemy units, mounting/dismounting from vehicles, multiple helicopters (with takeoff and landing abilities), weapon types such as SAM teams, parachuting, repelling from helicopters, silencers, smoke, red dots sights and everything you would come to expect from a modern warfare setting. You also get advanced suppressing fire rules, opportunity fire and at the ready rules.

The terrain rules cover pretty much everything from woods to buildings and how to attack buildings.

Finally there is the scenario section. This game is all about scenarios and “game modes”. These include classics such as capture the flag, deathmatch, free for all as well as several variants that are just aim to provide a fun and interactive multiplayer miniature wargaming experience. You get victory points for holding objectives, killing opponents in specific ways, capturing locations etc.

There are even additional rules for adding zombies, insurgents or mercenary squads to your games and they differ from the regular rules to make it a more spiced up experience. These oddball “factions” are controlled by one single player in your games and may add to the multiplayer chaos of such battles.

The author even includes a couple of pages of his notes on the game design explaining game mechanics and how players may add stuff like Fog of War and player communication restrictions to their games.

The Battlefield will not be everyone’s cup of tea, however I think that it really adds something new and very different to the miniature wargaming community. The interesting blend of PC games and miniature wargaming should in fact not be any weirder than the blending of boardgame/miniature wargames that are quite popular. The look and layout of the rulebook is also easy on the eyes with good font on the text and extremely nice real life pictures of modern warfare action and equipment.


Publisher: Bombshell games
Contents: 50 pages full color
Authors: Brent Spivey
Format: 2-8 player IGOUGO multiplayer
Dice used: D6
Price: 9.99$ watermarked PDF (Wargames Vault)

5 comments:

  1. Looks cool, second review I've seen and both are fairly consistent which is encouraging. If I had the minis I'd definitely give it a go, I'm a big fan of the battlefield series.

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  2. Sounds interesting, looking forward to some AARs...

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  3. Interesting, I've recently been playing Battlefield Evolution: Modern Combat from Mongoose which seems to have a similar scope and vibe.

    Paul.

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  4. Yup, I'm intrigued but I'd need to see a few APR's before deciding yay or nay.

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  5. Me and the guys who just jumped into modern warfare at the club are just waiting for bases to arrive. In between us we should have enough for a full blown 3-4 player multiplayer battle and give the rules a proper run.

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