Christopher O
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So, you've been thinking about buying FoF but some reviews and perhaps word of mouth have made you hesitate.

First, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do you like modern 20th Century squad-level tactical combat games?

2. Do you like a strong sense of narrative to your game play?

3. Do you think you understand or would like to know more about the difficulties of maintaining command, control and communications over a group of over 100 men during modern 20th Century combat?

4. Do you appreciate a gritty sense of realism in your wargames?

5. Are you a fan of original and very immersive game design?

If the answer is yes to the majority of the questions above, then you will very likely like Fields of Fire.

HOWEVER, and this is a big "however", also ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you easily frustrated by randomness or events beyond your control?

2. Would you be put off by a solitaire game that took 3-4 hours to play on your first time through, keeping in mind that it will take less time (2-3 hours) on subsequent plays?

3. Would a rulebook that requires a fair amount of reference to errata and FAQs for clarity and correct play (at least in the first two or three plays) put you off a game?

4. Does the idea of not being able to have complete control over every unit in your command considerably lessen your enjoyment of a game?

If the answer to one or more of the questions above is "yes", then you should probably either pass on Fields of Fire, or at least see it demonstrated first.

In my opinion, Fields of Fire is one of the most "real" feeling squad-level tactical wargames I've played, and squad-level or lower tactical wargames are my favourite scale of wargame. If there was an easy way to translate some of Field of Fire's mechanics into a two player game, I would probably consider calling it the best modern squad-level tactical wargame out there. As it is, it's only solitaire, and since I prefer two- or multi-player games generally, it will never be my ne plus ultra. It comes pretty darn close, though, let me tell you.

So, you've gotten this far and you'd like to give Fields of Fire a look, but don't want to shell out the cash quite yet.

First, go to GMT Games' website and the page for Fields of Fire:

http://www.gmtgames.com/p-111-fields-of-fire.aspx

Then, download the rulebook:

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/FoF-Rules-final.pdf

...the errata...

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/Fields_of_Fire_Errata_4_17_2009....

...the quick reference charts (early draft version - not representative of final chart quality at all -, but they're all that's available online)...

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/QuickRef.gif

...and the two examples of play:

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/FoFExampleFinal.pdf

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/FoFXoPFinalPt1.pdf

If you know how to use Vassal, download the Vassal module...

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/FoF_Normandy_v2-2.zip

... and the Normandy briefing book:

http://www.gmtgames.com/fof/BriefingBook-1-17.pdf

(If you don't know how to use Vassal, I highly recommend it, even just as a learning tool. Go to http://www.vassalengine.org for more details.)

Open up and read the rulebook. Skip the sections on vehicles and anti-tank combat (sections 3.6, 7.0, 9.10) for now, as well as anything to do with helicopters or landing zones. You can learn that later if you become interested in the game. Yes, the rulebook is not intuitively written. Try to look beyond that and if it gets to be too much, skip ahead to the examples of play.

If you are confused about a rule, check the errata to see if it's clarified or corrected there. If you have Vassal, you can refer to most of the counters and cards there (but NOT all of the charts - you need to buy the game for that).

Don't read the rulebook more than once or twice. You'll probably end up going in circles if you do. Move on to the first illustrated example of play (not the advanced one). If you can follow that, read the second example of play.

If you have Vassal and are comfortable with it, set up and follow along with the first example of play.

The Vassal module is missing the following charts, which aren't included in the quick reference cards referenced above, so you can't quite play the game without buying a copy:

Enemy Activity Check Hierarchies
Urban Cover Probability Table

I can't stress enough - once you've bought the game, read the rulebook, but then put the rulebook down and actually try playing it! It's a cliché, but it really is easier to understand once you're playing.

You'll run into some hiccoughs the first two to three times through, but after that it gets much easier.

Oh, on managing expectations... I pick up game systems pretty quickly, but the first time through this game, it took me four hours to complete a mission. You do get quicker on subsequent plays, but I think it'll be a while (if ever) that I get to the point where I can play a game in two hours. This isn't a two hour game, in my opinion.

Did you get stuck on some rule point in your first play through? Here's a tip... consider whether it actually breaks the game, and then just try to "play through". If you can't, come to BGG or CSW and do a forum search on the terms you need, for example, "paralyzed" or "litter team" (be specific, THEN generalize - there are a lot of posts at CSW).

A lot of the time in my first try, I realized that although it's important to get rules right, the system is generally robust enough that you can write the problem down and just keep playing. Afterwards, I came here or peeked in at CSW and usually found the answer is already given... often, you can find that the answer is actually IN the rulebook, just not always easily located. On occasions where it isn't in the rulebook, the clarification in the errata took care of the issue.

Once you have the game, play mission 1. The illustrated example of play (the first one, not the advanced one) has great pointers on how to set that one up if you're at a loss. If you don't know how to use that jeep, don't use it (it does come in handy once you do know how). You may find that you're referring to the rulebook a lot. Don't sweat it. Just go with the flow wherever possible.

You will probably not win. You will probably get at least two or three rules incorrect. The first mission is not difficult by Fields of Fire standards, and the difficulty will vary a lot depending on your card draws, but just wrapping your head around the system is a victory in itself. Keep in mind that this game uses an original command and control system (well, at least a very clearly modified AP point activation system), an original map building system, an original artificial game intelligence system and an original combat system. Almost nothing in this game bears resemblance to other game mechanics found in other games. You're bound to not get it right away.

Your platoons will break down. It will take what seems like a herculean effort to get them moving and effective again. Sometimes you will just not be able to get people to do what you want them to do. Sometimes you will be slaughtered when you've taken every possible precaution to avoid catastrophe. Sometimes you will waltz through open fields with nary a shot fired. Such is war.

This is a game worth your time. It takes a little more effort but, like most things, your hard work will pay off. Fields of Fire: not for everyone... but those who like it, like it a lot.
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Matt R
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Very nice writeup Christopher. You managed to nail exactly what I love about the game but it cannot be stressed enough that learning this game system (and some of the military jargon and rules intentions) is a chore. But I've never felt that I ever "wasted" time with the chore of learning the game system - for anyone interested in consims who may want to understand command and control of U.S. rifle companies in the mid-20th century this game is an excellent learning tool.

As far as your comments about not always having full control over all of your units or being exposed to too much randomness over events, I'd like to add that a good part of why this game is so much fun for me (and realistic-seeming, as far as I understand infantry combat from WWII to Vietnam) is actually due in a large part to a bit of the "randomness" in the game events - especially the U.S. and enemy HQ events. As someone who has worked for corporations all of his life, and from what I have read about military operations, there is still a good degree of negative "unfair" situations that can result from either side's own foolishness, inefficiency, or lack of preparation. And I feel that the game helps to represent some of this with somewhat silly seeming (at first) HQ events such as "Battalion is screaming for forward movement", (for your side) or enemy HQ events that make the enemy withdraw. Yes, things like that happens in real life and so it is represented in the game with having random "bullstuff" happen.

Anyway, great writeup Christopher.
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Antonio B-D
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Christopher,

Very nice review on an excellent game. Nevertheless I will like to point out just a pair of points were I think that the game is really difficult.

The mechanics of the game are pretty simple. You draw commands, order your troops with these commands and carry actions. The events (HQ events) are not difficult either.

The first problem comes from the fact that many unusual circumstances may appear throughout the game. As it is a solitaire game that has tons of possible outcomes, the designer could not right down all the possible things that may occur during the course of a mission. Solution? Easy. It is a solitaire GAME, therefore you are doing for fun and you are not competing against someone, so chose the most thematic solution (and afterward post here)

The second problem is (supposedly) the rulebook. Yes, I agree that the rulebook is not Combat Commander standard, but it is not much worse than any AH old classic. The problem is not that the rules are not well thought or completely sound, but the fact that they are not over clearly explained and...

The third problem (and most important in my view) is that the games simulates really well the problems a commander in the "fields of fire" has to face. For me the main problem at first was to chose the actions attached to assets, I actually still use the Example of Play as a guide. I have difficulties keeping an "strategic reserve" and not committing all my units. I have problem with deciding what to do (should I advance with 1 squad or the whole platoon?).

I think the best example is with scouting. You want to go into action, you want to see the best enemy units and prepare a plan, but a real commander in the field will not send all the units straight forward. Why? Try this game and you will see what happens to your PLT if it moves forward without knowing what contact will there be on that card... (I have recently lost my 3rd PLT HQ and my XO who replaced the 3rd leader together with a ton of squads!!!)

What I would love it is not more example of plays (although they are welccome) or a new rulebook (although it will be welcomed) but a "boot camp" that would teach how to deal with snipers, how to attack a defended position, flanking, covering fire..... a real military boot camp!

If you want THE BEST simulation out there, and a fun GAME, don't look any further!
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Ian Wakeham
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I'm one of those who falls into the category of: "on the fence about playing Fields of Fire".

I own the game and desperately want to play it but have been putting it off for various reasons; an overarching procrastination, the rulebook, the time investment required, etc. The main problem I've been having every time I plan to start learning it is working out which unit counters are which. I know there are a LOT of people who have shelved it "for now" until the rewritten rulebook appears. Yes the rulebook is not intuitive but then neither is the game; I think the uniqueness of the system proves a difficult hurdle for some people.

But your advice, although for non-owners, makes it sound much less daunting than I'd first anticipated. I think it's time for me to get down off the fence one more time. Thanks for giving me a kick in the pants...
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the scrub
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Great post Chris! laugh
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Thanks for the writeup. My copy of Fields of Fire arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. I've punched the counters and looked briefly at the rulebook, but so many people have had issues with starting the game that I wasn't sure where to begin. This is exactly the article I needed.
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By far the best advice is putting it on the table and playing through the game. The game is quite robust to the mistakes you'll make which are admittedly due to a difficult rulebook and errata. Don't fuck around with the rulebook too much once you know basically what is going on. Get in there, make some bad decisions and get your platoons murdered. Otherwise you will never put it on the table as you try to search for every rule and think through every possible situation. The game really shines when you get the narrative going and if you don't play it, you'll never appreciate the awesome narrative it gives.
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Great review, though I still can't convince myself to pick this one up. I wish I could get some sort of trial period to test this one out because it seems like a game I'd like, but I'm not sure if I'd have the patience to deal with the errata/rules frustrations.
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Christopher O
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Allos wrote:
Great review, though I still can't convince myself to pick this one up. I wish I could get some sort of trial period to test this one out because it seems like a game I'd like, but I'm not sure if I'd have the patience to deal with the errata/rules frustrations.


With the Vassal module and the quick reference chart linked to above, you can actually play every rule except finding urban cover in villages and towns and have the enemy conduct actions on the turn after you encounter them.

As such you can actually get a good taste of the first two or three turns of a game by playing the Vassal module. If you're willing to act as your own AI to substitute for the Enemy Activity Hierarchy Charts (i.e. - control the enemy units logically), and only ever take standard cover (as opposed to building cover) on village/town/church cards you could potentially play as much as you like.

I actually took the game for a test drive with Vassal and the various online-available charts and references before committing to buying myself.
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Chris Farrell
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I went through this whole process - wading through the rulebook, errata, and ultimately just making stuff up because the rules were unclear or clearly nuts - and came through at the end being able to play the game. And I just found it to be incredibly boring.

I mean come on, this is a tactical battle game where once the MG is firing at the target, it makes almost no difference how much more firepower you bring to bear. The tactical details are so incredibly coarse - a team, squad, or whole platoon put out the same amount of firepower - that the player's decision tree is extremely narrow. You don't even choose whether or where to fire, your units mostly do even that on their own. About the only real decisions you make in the 4-5+ hour game are when to try to infiltrate into close-range combat, and how to mini-max the contact tables and game the enemy reactions. The game seems to focus on the company commander, and if it was trying to tell me that the company commander doesn't have a whole lot of information, doesn't make a ton of decisions, and doesn't exercise much control - which may well be the case - that came through fairly clearly. It just doesn't make a very interesting game.

This game really aggravated me because after jumping through all the hoops to figure it out, plowing through the rules and plugging all the gaps and grokking the system and flipping all those cards, there just isn't very much game here. I think if the game design hadn't been fixated on the command system, and had given us a tactical wargame with at least some interest to it in addition to the fairly straightforward command point system, this could have been fun. But to me, it's just a time sink.
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Christopher O
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cfarrell wrote:
I went through this whole process - wading through the rulebook, errata, and ultimately just making stuff up because the rules were unclear or clearly nuts - and came through at the end being able to play the game. And I just found it to be incredibly boring.


Chacun à son goût, as they say. Certainly some rules are unclear, but please, can you specifically cite a rule that was "clearly nuts"?

Quote:
I mean come on, this is a tactical battle game where once the MG is firing at the target, it makes almost no difference how much more firepower you bring to bear.


Not true. Automatic fire gets you -1 VoF. If multiple units concentrate fire on a unit, each additional unit concentrating fire lowers the VoF modifier by one. In addition, grenade attacks, which simulate close range combat in most cases, can stack additional -3 or -4 VOF results on a unit. So, what you're saying is not true, or if you believe it to be true at least, you missed some key concepts about VOF.

Quote:
The tactical details are so incredibly coarse - a team, squad, or whole platoon put out the same amount of firepower


True, to an extent, but different units have different firepowers and different sizes of units have varying degrees of fragility.

Quote:
- that the player's decision tree is extremely narrow. You don't even choose whether or where to fire, your units mostly do even that on their own.


Sounds like real combat. You do choose when to make grenade attacks, which, like concentrated fire, "stack" to increase firepower. You can also exercise command and control to shift fire, which does let you decide where to fire.

Quote:
About the only real decisions you make in the 4-5+ hour game are when to try to infiltrate into close-range combat, and how to mini-max the contact tables and game the enemy reactions.


There are a plethora of decisions, from how to approach the target, how to arm your teams, which objectives to assign to which units, at what rate to advance, what kind of firepower to bring to bear on each target, how best to keep your company cohesive and moving forward, how to react to enemy strongpoints and a myriad of others. If you don't see that there are a number of important decisions in this game, in my opinion you've missed a number of key decision points (and your success/failure probably suffered as a result). I think your criticism that it is possible to min-max contact tables (and to a lesser extent, enemy reactions) is valid, but generally in order to accomplish your mission goals, you can't futz around by doing unrealistic things.

Quote:
The game seems to focus on the company commander, and if it was trying to tell me that the company commander doesn't have a whole lot of information, doesn't make a ton of decisions, and doesn't exercise much control - which may well be the case - that came through fairly clearly. It just doesn't make a very interesting game.


From my studies of actual combat reports throughout the 20th Century, both field diaries, anecdotes and careful post-war analyses, this game simulates quite accurately many of the realities of modern warfare.

In addition, as it comes from a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, who has seen actual combat, I daresay it probably has a lot more authenticity than the vast majority of wargames written by/for we armchair generals of the paper and cardboard variety.

If you don't find it interesting, that certainly a fair opinion, and one I respect. I do find it unfortunate that the points you've cited to back your opinion thus far are either only partially true, or at times, simply false.

Quote:
This game really aggravated me because after jumping through all the hoops to figure it out, plowing through the rules and plugging all the gaps and grokking the system and flipping all those cards, there just isn't very much game here. I think if the game design hadn't been fixated on the command system, and had given us a tactical wargame with at least some interest to it in addition to the fairly straightforward command point system, this could have been fun. But to me, it's just a time sink.


Once again, a fair opinion. I don't feel that you've put forward many salient points to back it up, however. It does appear that you've already made up your mind and I don't think any amount of argument on my part will change it. Hopefully you have a tactical wargame you enjoy which fulfils the criteria you personally seek in a game.

[edited to tone down some replies which may have sounded harsher than they were intended]
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cfarrell wrote:
I went through this whole process - wading through the rulebook, errata, and ultimately just making stuff up because the rules were unclear or clearly nuts - and came through at the end being able to play the game. And I just found it to be incredibly boring.

I mean come on, this is a tactical battle game where once the MG is firing at the target, it makes almost no difference how much more firepower you bring to bear. The tactical details are so incredibly coarse - a team, squad, or whole platoon put out the same amount of firepower - that the player's decision tree is extremely narrow. You don't even choose whether or where to fire, your units mostly do even that on their own. About the only real decisions you make in the 4-5+ hour game are when to try to infiltrate into close-range combat, and how to mini-max the contact tables and game the enemy reactions. The game seems to focus on the company commander, and if it was trying to tell me that the company commander doesn't have a whole lot of information, doesn't make a ton of decisions, and doesn't exercise much control - which may well be the case - that came through fairly clearly. It just doesn't make a very interesting game.

This game really aggravated me because after jumping through all the hoops to figure it out, plowing through the rules and plugging all the gaps and grokking the system and flipping all those cards, there just isn't very much game here. I think if the game design hadn't been fixated on the command system, and had given us a tactical wargame with at least some interest to it in addition to the fairly straightforward command point system, this could have been fun. But to me, it's just a time sink.
You are definitely entiled to your opinion, but I couldn't DISAGREE more. FoF may be the best tactical wargame there is on the market today....maybe ever!

No wargame I've played has had as strong of a narrative as FoF has. It's engrossing to say the least. I'm thinking about my last mission and next mission right now!

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cfarrell wrote:
I went through this whole process - wading through the rulebook, errata, and ultimately just making stuff up because the rules were unclear or clearly nuts - and came through at the end being able to play the game. And I just found it to be incredibly boring.

I mean come on, this is a tactical battle game where once the MG is firing at the target, it makes almost no difference how much more firepower you bring to bear. The tactical details are so incredibly coarse - a team, squad, or whole platoon put out the same amount of firepower - that the player's decision tree is extremely narrow. You don't even choose whether or where to fire, your units mostly do even that on their own. About the only real decisions you make in the 4-5+ hour game are when to try to infiltrate into close-range combat, and how to mini-max the contact tables and game the enemy reactions. The game seems to focus on the company commander, and if it was trying to tell me that the company commander doesn't have a whole lot of information, doesn't make a ton of decisions, and doesn't exercise much control - which may well be the case - that came through fairly clearly. It just doesn't make a very interesting game.

This game really aggravated me because after jumping through all the hoops to figure it out, plowing through the rules and plugging all the gaps and grokking the system and flipping all those cards, there just isn't very much game here. I think if the game design hadn't been fixated on the command system, and had given us a tactical wargame with at least some interest to it in addition to the fairly straightforward command point system, this could have been fun. But to me, it's just a time sink.


Chris,

Evidently you are entitled to your opinion, but there is something that you say that I don't understand. You say that the game has not any meaningful decission. I don't get it.

Actually my "problem" with this game is that I (an armchair general) have no idea as to what is an optimal decision. How, when, how many, units should I commit to a particular attack.

I don't know if you have played many solitaire war games (I have played B-29, Ambush, London's Burning, Mosby Raiders and maybe I am missing others) but FoF is for me the one with the most meaningful decissions, but, evidently, it has also an AI engine.

This is the game I have most enjoyed in the past years and it is only comparable to a full game of Republic of Rome as my best game experiences. But, then again, it is only my opinion.
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Kozure wrote:
cfarrell wrote:
I went through this whole process - wading through the rulebook, errata, and ultimately just making stuff up because the rules were unclear or clearly nuts - and came through at the end being able to play the game. And I just found it to be incredibly boring.


Chacun à son goût, as they say. Certainly some rules are unclear, but please, can you specifically cite a rule that was "clearly nuts"?


The most obviously problematic areas are the victory conditions for individuals scenarios. They often require you to clear, video-game-style, every potential contact on the map. Simply seizing objectives isn't enough. Why are the objectives even here if the real goal is to clear every card?

This is also where the silly gamy tactics come in. The way to clear those cards is to send in a lone team while your company is already engaged. They're much less likely to be actual contacts while you are already under fire, so as soon as someone starts shooting at you, you need to race teams to any potential contacts you can reach in order to minimize the risk of them becoming dangerous.

Quote:
Quote:
I mean come on, this is a tactical battle game where once the MG is firing at the target, it makes almost no difference how much more firepower you bring to bear.


Not true. Automatic fire gets you -1 VoF. If multiple units concentrate fire on a unit, each additional unit concentrating fire lowers the VoF modifier by one. In addition, grenade attacks, which simulate close range combat in most cases, can stack additional -3 or -4 VOF results on a unit. So, what you're saying is not true, or if you believe it to be true at least, you missed some key concepts about VOF.


Yeah, I mention this later, that one of the interesting decisions you make is when to send guys forward to try to infiltrate. I understand VoF perfectly well. But a key element of a lot of these games is whether the fundamental math makes any sense. And in Fields of Fire, is just doesn't. You can fire a green team of two guys, or a veteran platoon, or an elite company at a target and it just doesn't matter - it's all the same. You're just not going to convince me that two or three guys have the same firepower impact as an entire company.

I understand the design abstraction the designer was after. More fire just gets spread out over a larger area. OK, maybe that makes sense, although I'm not completely convinced obviously. But from a game perspective, it really kills the interest - bringing more firepower to bear generally doesn't matter unless you're moving up the VoF ladder to a heavier weapon, so your choices are just concentrate fire or infiltrate. Since one guy with the VoF level required is as good as 30, you never manage weight of fire, an element which would give the game some nuance and interest.

Quote:
Quote:
The game seems to focus on the company commander, and if it was trying to tell me that the company commander doesn't have a whole lot of information, doesn't make a ton of decisions, and doesn't exercise much control - which may well be the case - that came through fairly clearly. It just doesn't make a very interesting game.


From my studies of actual combat reports throughout the 20th Century, both field diaries, anecdotes and careful post-war analyses, this game simulates quite accurately many of the realities of modern warfare.


Honestly, I don't find it credible that any game could reasonably simulate the role of the company commander in combat. The company commander's job seems like it would be mostly that of a people manager: getting the right people into the right jobs, knowing and finding ways to work with all the people in the company, knowing how to understand, talk to, and convince people to do what you want them to do when they're under fire, etc., something which no game can ever do.

Since games of this sort can't simulate reality, they need to make some concessions to being games. Interesting games give players interesting decisions that are evocative of the role the player is asked to play, whether or not they simulate anything. Fields of Fire fell flat for me because the decisions are few, not that interesting, unevocative, and buried in busy work of flipping cards, doing paperwork, and flipping through an opaque set of rules with no index.
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Antonio B-D
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Chris,

To yor points I can only say that I am sorry that you don't enjoy it. I am enjoying it a LOT!!!

This is, by far and for me, THE BEST SOLITAIRE game I have played, and ONE of THE BEST WARGAME I have played and A TOP TEN OVERALL game.

Find a good purchaser or better still, someone that will trade it for something you will enjoy.

If your purchaser needs any help I'll be the blind guiding the blind!
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I must say I'm definitely not seeing how there aren't enough decisions in this game. I will absolutely give you they aren't the decisions you're looking for (Who do I fire this unit at? Which particular building do I move to for optimal cover and good angles?) but there are a ton of decisions that the commander is making to make outcomes differ from the pure area fire that the VOFs represent. Concentrate fire, grenade attacks, calls for artillery, etc.
 
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Lawrence Davis
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cfarrell wrote:

The most obviously problematic areas are the victory conditions for individuals scenarios. They often require you to clear, video-game-style, every potential contact on the map. Simply seizing objectives isn't enough. Why are the objectives even here if the real goal is to clear every card
As with almost every military mission, there are almost always secondary objectives that come along with the mission objective. What good does it do to take the house (primary objective) but continue to let the enemy fire into the house from the woods 12 feet away. Makes all the sense in the world to me that the woods or immediate area would also need to be cleared.
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This is also where the silly gamy tactics come in. The way to clear those cards is to send in a lone team while your company is already engaged. They're much less likely to be actual contacts while you are already under fire, so as soon as someone starts shooting at you, you need to race teams to any potential contacts you can reach in order to minimize the risk of them becoming dangerous.
This is one way to look at it and even play, but from what I've seen, every potential contact could be contact! The risk goes down, but it doesn't go away and sending more troops to find more contacts could easily be far more destructive to your company than just holding back until things die down. Again makes total sense to me.

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Yeah, I mention this later, that one of the interesting decisions you make is when to send guys forward to try to infiltrate. I understand VoF perfectly well. But a key element of a lot of these games is whether the fundamental math makes any sense. And in Fields of Fire, is just doesn't. You can fire a green team of two guys, or a veteran platoon, or an elite company at a target and it just doesn't matter - it's all the same. You're just not going to convince me that two or three guys have the same firepower impact as an entire company.
That means the company will be on multiple terrain cards which will increase the firepower into the target card.

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I understand the design abstraction the designer was after. More fire just gets spread out over a larger area. OK, maybe that makes sense, although I'm not completely convinced obviously. But from a game perspective, it really kills the interest - bringing more firepower to bear generally doesn't matter unless you're moving up the VoF ladder to a heavier weapon, so your choices are just concentrate fire or infiltrate. Since one guy with the VoF level required is as good as 30, you never manage weight of fire, an element which would give the game some nuance and interest..
Again, this is one way to look at it, but again, I would argue that the game can stand where it is on this. I mean, more massed firepower doesn't neccessarily equate into more hits on target. The US proved this in my mind by getting rid of auto fire on the M16. It was a waste of ammo. I don't know....I'll stand by the designer of the game on this one.

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Chris Farrell
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garysax wrote:
I must say I'm definitely not seeing how there aren't enough decisions in this game. I will absolutely give you they aren't the decisions you're looking for (Who do I fire this unit at? Which particular building do I move to for optimal cover and good angles?) but there are a ton of decisions that the commander is making to make outcomes differ from the pure area fire that the VOFs represent. Concentrate fire, grenade attacks, calls for artillery, etc.


Maybe I should clarify ... meaningful decisions. You push a single team onto a new card, you run into something, what are you going to do? You're going to bring in whatever firepower you have available, maybe some mortars, maybe an MG, maybe some OBA, whatever - they aren't all that different. You'll push a guy onto the "flank" (usually just caddy-corner) if you can. You're going to shoot at them for a while. When you judge the risk to be low enough, you're going to infiltrate them and finish them off. You are then going to lather, rinse, repeat a lot.

Are you going to rally your guys? No, because for all intents and purposes, while under fire you basically can't. Cover is for the most part a non-decision. The terrain is so constrained that there are few or no maneuver options. You don't really have fire-and-maneuver assault option. MGs and heavy weapons have weird lines of site where if a target is a knight's move away, you can't see it or shoot at it, so there are limited covering fire opportunities. You can't really bring in more fire on a particularly troublesome strongpoint because, as I say, it doesn't really matter. Command is so restrictive that you can't split up platoons on fire and maneuver because you don't have the time and the CPs. The contact system and the fact that you as the attacker have more control over where supporting defenders pop up means you rarely have to deal with defenders that actually support each other.

There is a ton of stuff you could do, but like that Brothers in Arms video game, you're just running into some guys, shooting them until they're suppressed, then infiltrating. Then doing it again. And again. That one decision you'll make - that judgement about when the risk of infiltrating has to be taken, either due to time pressures or whatever - is interesting. It's just surrounded by several hours of mechanical fluff.
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Christopher O
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Ontario
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cfarrell wrote:
Are you going to rally your guys? No, because for all intents and purposes, while under fire you basically can't.


Uh, you can... it's just harder... as you'd expect. As for meaningful decisions as to how: Retreat the reduced or pinned unit and use a follow on leader or CO staff to rally OR try to rally in place OR retreat a leader along with the reduced unit to rally one card back, leaving the other units to fend for themselves OR don't bother with rallying reduced units and press the attack OR move the reduced unit back individually, then platoon move the rest of the unit out of the line of fire to try a different approach.

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Cover is for the most part a non-decision.


Taking cover or not taking cover is an important decision. Units in cover receive defensive bonuses, but cannot be ordered without pyrotechnics or a leader moving into that cover and telling them what to do (you can't visual/verbal communicate with units in different cover). Hunkering down vs. keeping up the advance can have a significant effect on rate of advance.

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The terrain is so constrained that there are few or no maneuver options.


True, to an extent, but there are almost always a minimum of three cards you can move into, and often as much as seven. If there are firendly units not under fire on adjacent cards, you can even move there, increasing your options to five. If you're not pinned, you've got as many as eight options.

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You don't really have fire-and-maneuver assault option.


Uh, yes you do. Covering units fire to pin on one turn. Assaulting unit infiltrates into the card. Covering units ordered to cease fire. Assaulting unit conducts grenade attack against pinned enemy unit, then seeks cover on same card. If you're talking about moving then firing, all units except the ones with the arrow and a dash can open fire after they move. If you're talking about firing, then moving... that's simulated by the continuous nature of VOF from one turn to the next.

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MGs and heavy weapons have weird lines of site where if a target is a knight's move away, you can't see it or shoot at it, so there are limited covering fire opportunities.


Granted. The knight's move LOS is odd. The designer wanted to simplify LOS to encourage more linear warfare within the abstracted terrain model. Convoluted attack corridors can happen in modern warfare, especially against irregular troops or guerrilla fighters, but they are the exception, rather than the rule.

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You can't really bring in more fire on a particularly troublesome strongpoint because, as I say, it doesn't really matter.


As I've pointed out above, it really does matter.

One squad can, at most, achieve a -1 NCM (concentrated fire). Two squads can generate +0 NCM (if they both stay on the same card) or, if properly used, can achieve -3 NCM (adjacent cards firing on same target, -1 crossfire, -1 per unit for concentrate fire). Two squads and a LMG can generate -1 NCM up to -5 NCM depending on how you use them. All on the same card, firing at the same target, -1 NCM. All on different cards, firing at the same target, -1 NCM for automatic fire, -1 for crossfire, -1 per unit for concentrate fire.

There is a world of difference between a 0 NCM and a -5 NCM.

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Command is so restrictive that you can't split up platoons on fire and maneuver because you don't have the time and the CPs.


Do you not use general initiative? You have a 38% chance of pulling two actions on general initiative, which is usually sufficient to get a squad where you want it to go, and even take cover once it's there. You also have a chance at 3 and 4 actions (22% and 8% respectively).

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The contact system and the fact that you as the attacker have more control over where supporting defenders pop up means you rarely have to deal with defenders that actually support each other.


That is a fair criticism, but there are limitations to what non-computerized solitaire games can do. Counterattacks can be very threatening.

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There is a ton of stuff you could do, but like that Brothers in Arms video game, you're just running into some guys, shooting them until they're suppressed, then infiltrating. Then doing it again. And again. That one decision you'll make - that judgement about when the risk of infiltrating has to be taken, either due to time pressures or whatever - is interesting. It's just surrounded by several hours of mechanical fluff.


You're convinced of your position. Not much point in trying to change your mind, but I will continue to try to point out when things that you bring up seem to be either a misunderstanding of the rules or a failure to see other options.
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