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Subject: Cease Fire! Friendlies in your field of fire rss

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Stuart Brown
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Summary
I think this is an excellent little game. Every session I have played my imagination kicked into action and overlaid a narrative on the game events, to the extent that most sessions etch some memorable event into your mind.

Discussion
I have to admit to a degree of reluctance in purchasing this game, I’d read all concerns on the rulebook and was not sure if I wanted to invest the time required. However I’m largely a solitaire gamer, especially when it comes to wargames, so I decided I could not let the opportunity pass me by; and to be honest (warning inflammatory comment) I begun to wonder if the concerns of the rule book were being exaggerated, "Sure" I thought, "it’ll be complex, but perhaps people are just jumping on the bandwagon, whingeing, being lazy.."

I’m fairly phlegmatic when it comes to rules. I never expect to understand them completely at a first reading, nor do ever expect to play a game perfectly the first few times. I generally expect to read the rules, mess with the game with the rule book handy, read the rules again, play the game, then repeat until it all sinks in. Each iteration I pick up additional rules I’ve missed, or refine my understanding. This approach more or less worked for this game - the examples of play on GMT’s website greatly helped. (I would suggest that any new rulebook should definitely have an extended example of play).

So, while I do believe the rules are not the best, I don’t hold with the view that they are bad enough to make learning the game impossible. And to be honest, while going down hill may require less effort, the view is always from the top i.e. it’s well worth putting the effort in for this game.

I’ve found that the game play gives a good feel for what I imagine commanding a Company is like, or in fact leading any reasonably large group of people on any endeavour. You are caught somewhere between complete control and no control - you don’t have the fine grained control you’d like, so you can not always get your men to fire where and when you want, but at the same time you don’t want to get caught up in micro-managing the details. In some respects it’s like riding a horse... you’re only kinda in control, but it is fun never-the-less.

So I come up with a plan for the Company: primary advance along this axis, led by 1st Plt; 2nd Plt will support on the right; 3rd Plt secure hill on the left; HMG and mortar teams onto the hill once secure; 1st Sgt support primary advance, marshal casualties in this farm; XO manage HMG/mortar teams.. Of course this is all before the action starts, I have my theoretically "perfect" plan... then you engage the enemy:

"Mines on the Hill, 3rd Plt have taken casualties"
"Enemy HMG embedded in Farm, 1st Plt pinned down, attempting flanking manoeuvre"
"This is battalion you must advance immediately"
"Cease Fire! Cease Fire! Friendlies in your field of fire."

This is when the second stage of the fun begins, you have to adapt your plan to the fluid conditions of the battlefield. However you don’t have perfect control. And if the commanding officer is Green well he could end up paralyzed not sure what to do (One initiative action!!! What??)...

One element of warfare this game hits home is that if you are going to engage in combat you should expect casualties. None of the missions are a walk in the park, nor should they be. Obviously you want to minimize casualties, but when you land at that LZ in Vietnam you better be stoic about the fact that it’s going to get messy, and that while it may be noble to reinforce a failure it’s generally best not to. Hard decisions with cardboard, unimaginable in reality and gladly not the kinds of decision I have to make. The resulting self-reflection is a good measure of the quality of the game in my book, and is the kind of meta-game discussion I’m more interested in, and hope that most wargames induce.
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Christopher
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jester27 wrote:

So, while I do believe the rules are not the best, I don’t hold with the view that they are bad enough to make learning the game impossible. And to be honest, while going down hill may require less effort, the view is always from the top i.e. it’s well worth putting the effort in for this game.



a BIG thumbsup to this!
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Steve
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I agree. The rulebook isn't great but, for me, I really didn't think it was anywhere near "impossible!" to learn it.
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WAN CHIU
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garysax wrote:
I agree. The rulebook isn't great but, for me, I really didn't think it was anywhere near "impossible!" to learn it.


Reeee-write! Reeee-write! Reeee-write!
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Chris Dorrell
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Stuart,

Really interesting review - thanks. It sounds like we have been following a similar learning path (hill?) with FoF recently (and not too far apart geographically - comparatively anyway)

I agree that the rules can be conquered although it's a tough journey. As I have said elsewhere, the problem I have is understanding the military terminology and more importantly the military thinking required.

Having said that I have taken your approach and not worried too much about playing perfectly and just enjoying the experience. I came to FoF via RAF which I found had too few meaningful decisions for me. FoF can't be criticised on that basis and as you say it also provides a great narrative.

As at now I think I have about 70% of the rules sorted out. I haven't fully nailed the different weapons and vehicles and I'm still not sure about carrying ammo about and using it properly but I make a stab at all of it. As I see it, my enjoyment can only increase as my familiarity with the rules increases.

Chris

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Blake Phillips
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Well yea... but you CAN learn and enjoy the game without it. There is an investment but the payoff is HUGE... so if inclined invest and be rewarded. That is the key. Why wait. It is one of the most innovative and unique solo games to come out in a very long time and I am convinced will be considered a classic in the the vein of AMBUSH! and other excellent solo games that are coming out at this time... D-Day - Omaha Beach, RAF Reprint, and Where There Is Discord: War in the South Atlantic to name a few. But this game stands apart for it's... well... it's just a new kind of experience. I think that you may regret not getting it now because there is no certainty that you will be able to get it again... can you say UP FRONT? I assume and hope that there will be a reprint - more importantly expansion on the system.

chooche wrote:


Reeee-write! Reeee-write! Reeee-write!
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Hugh Grotius
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Stuart,

Thanks for a very thoughtful review. I share your point of view: the rules could be better, but the online examples of play do help a lot. The gameplay is certainly worth the effort. It is certainly unusual for a wargame to model friendly fire as effectively as FoF does. Likewise, FoF's treatment of command and control is more detailed, and more plausible, than that in most wargames.

I was especially struck by your point about the "meta game" of FoF -- thinking more broadly about the difficult decisions warfare can impose on leaders. I have had a few such moments myself. In the most recent case, I wasn't sure if the rules permitted me to consider the "bad" moral alternative. I was one or two units away from victory in my first scenario, and in one case, the only way I could jack up the odds would be to call down artillery fire on a card containing both friendly and enemy units. In the end I decided not to do it, even if the rules permitted deliberate targeting of friendlies (do they?) by arty.

Anyway, thanks for your post.
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Steve Herron
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Did anyone find the patrol missions boring? I did not see the need to explore any new cards (except for the last rear new objective card) once the first patrol went out and made their path. If one didn't hit a mine field on a card there ws little need to try new cards along the way. I had more trouble learning how to play FoF more than any other game in my 40+ years of gaming. I need to try the Vietnam ones.
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Steve
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Steve,

Turns out that you replace PC markers between patrol missions!!! This was a shocking revelation for me when Ben said it on consimworld.

If there was any type of mission that the rules failed the worst on, it was easily patrols. Patrols were borderline impossible/broken to play right without major errata/expansion on the ideas in the rulebook.
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Steve Herron
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Quote:
Turns out that you replace PC markers between patrol missions!!! This was a shocking revelation for me when Ben said it on consimworld.


Wow! I have been away from it for about a year. I didn't know that. It is hard to keep up with rule updates. I hope they get settled with it all and put out a redone rulebook. Thanks a bunch Steve.
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John Di Ponio
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I am begining to get the itch to give this another try......
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Stuart Brown
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Grotius wrote:

In the most recent case, I wasn't sure if the rules permitted me to consider the "bad" moral alternative. I was one or two units away from victory in my first scenario, and in one case, the only way I could jack up the odds would be to call down artillery fire on a card containing both friendly and enemy units. In the end I decided not to do it, even if the rules permitted deliberate targeting of friendlies (do they?) by arty.



I think I failed this moral test myself...
(I believe you can call down fire on a friendly occupied card - section 6.7.3 mentions what to do if you get a short and the observer occupies the target card).

You be the judge:
Sit-Rep : Primary Objective: Village with a Command Post (Squad + Ldr in bunker). I had a pinned Plt HQ, fire team, litter team and casualties under +3 cover in the same card. It was either Turn 8 or 9.
I did not want an extended engagement (2nd attempt), with the possibility of the enemy regrouping and counter attacking; my guys were coming under fire anyway, and would struggle to rally... so I had the Plt Hq call down Art. via the FO on it's own card - they had to exhort ("Sir are you sure about those co-ords?", "Yes, call for fire now damn it!").
Outcome: The Art. guys earned their marksmanship badges: Plt Hq was turned to its Fire Team side; Fire Team got pinned; Litter Team became paralysed. Enemy Leader was pinned and retreated next Activity phase, Enemy Squad got 1 casualty, and the pinned 2 step squad fell back as well.

One of the things that convinced me this game is a gem was the way I ended up thinking hard before calling down artillery. I considered if I had the time to move a bazooka team over; or to risk moving more squads onto the card to try for some grenade attacks... In the end I decided the Art. was the most... cost effective (?!?) approach.

I am probably the target audience for this game: love wargames; enjoy games with a solid narrative; more than willing to apply common sense over looking to the rule book for every little detail; and desperate for a solitaire wargame (You try explaining the rules to OCS to someone who is only marginally interested in wargames...)

I just hope we get more missions or terrain decks for Iraq/Afgan/Mogadishu ... and other units. (British Falklands? I'd being willing to research that - instead of airborne assault how about seaborne assault with the Royal Marines?)
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Mike Windsor
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Quote:
Outcome: The Art. guys earned their marksmanship badges: Plt Hq was turned to its Fire Team side; Fire Team got pinned; Litter Team became paralysed. Enemy Leader was pinned and retreated next Activity phase, Enemy Squad got 1 casualty, and the pinned 2 step squad fell back as well.


Of course, two nights later, a "jumpy" G.I. on guard duty "accidently" shoots the platoon leader.
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Mark L
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jester27 wrote:
I just hope we get more missions or terrain decks for Iraq/Afgan/Mogadishu ... and other units. (British Falklands? I'd being willing to research that - instead of airborne assault how about seaborne assault with the Royal Marines?)

An intriguing aspect of this design is it's extendibility. Granted, for different terrain you might need a new terrain deck. But enemy action tables and force packages could readily be expanded for more variability, or different types of engagements. I'm starting Normandy mission 7 and am going to try adding a German armor package to the contact tables. If I draw one, I'm not sure how I'll handle enemy actions - probably just make it up as I go.

"Band of Brothers" has perfect material for a campaign. I wouldn't be surprised if there's already something like that in the planning stages. The terribly scattered air drop would make for a nail-biting mission. And for the next few missions you'd have to make do with a depleted company. And then there's the German counterattack at Carenten. Most of this could be done with the existing components. Plus there are the later missions in Holland and Bastogne.

I think the 1st Marines on Guadalcanal would also make for a good campaign. Perhaps a company from the Raider battalion, starting on Tulagi.
 
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Michael J
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Could FoF model urban combat?
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Ben Hull
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mjacobsca wrote:
Could FoF model urban combat?


Sure
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Ben Hull
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zhredder wrote:
jester27 wrote:
I just hope we get more missions or terrain decks for Iraq/Afgan/Mogadishu ... and other units. (British Falklands? I'd being willing to research that - instead of airborne assault how about seaborne assault with the Royal Marines?)

An intriguing aspect of this design is it's extendibility. Granted, for different terrain you might need a new terrain deck. But enemy action tables and force packages could readily be expanded for more variability, or different types of engagements. I'm starting Normandy mission 7 and am going to try adding a German armor package to the contact tables. If I draw one, I'm not sure how I'll handle enemy actions - probably just make it up as I go.

"Band of Brothers" has perfect material for a campaign. I wouldn't be surprised if there's already something like that in the planning stages. The terribly scattered air drop would make for a nail-biting mission. And for the next few missions you'd have to make do with a depleted company. And then there's the German counterattack at Carenten. Most of this could be done with the existing components. Plus there are the later missions in Holland and Bastogne.

I think the 1st Marines on Guadalcanal would also make for a good campaign. Perhaps a company from the Raider battalion, starting on Tulagi.



I am working on a 5th Marines expansion. It will have a Peleliu campaign, a Chosin reservoir campaign, and a Hue City campaign.

An updated rulebook will be available prior to release of the 5th Marines kit. After that I am planning on doing a Canadian Regiment, Princess Patricia's Own Canadian Light Infantry that would have WWII in Italy, Korea and Afghanistan campaigns
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Michael J
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benhull wrote:
mjacobsca wrote:
Could FoF model urban combat?


Sure


Awesome Ben. I'm looking for a gritty urban mission to sink my teeth into. I ordered this game today (based in large part on this thread, although I've been on the fence for months), and can't wait to get started.
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ken flett
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That's really great about the Canadian Regiment
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Ben Hull
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Own neighbors from the great white North need some attention.
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Ian Borrows
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hi Ben,

what's the ETA for the Marines expansion (or will it be a stand alone game?) and the new rulebook?
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Dylan Kirk
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I got buddies in the PPCLI, I'd love to hear about this expansion.

Please tell me you are doing Ortona and Kapyong, those are classics.
 
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Matt R
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I find it very, well, *neat* that the expansions will cover individual combat units in multiple campaigns and in different time periods.

Guess I need to dig this out again soon. I've been thinking about it anyway more and more lately...
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jason roberts
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I'm a solo gamer, heard all the good + bad. Frustrated by the rules? Sure was but like our real American heros I pushed on. Once I got a handle on this game + with A LOT of help from all of you I found a truly fantastic game. The depth of this game as you learn is amazing, Every mission is a story.Try + continue a campaign with a less than full allotment of asests! ( poor planning + encountering those nasty surprises) Yes I want to see expansion's on this game even though I have a long way to go on this one.BRAVO!

Buffalo Joe
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Javin Lum
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Please let us know when the new rule book is coming out...

Personally i am hesistating due to the "negative" reviews on the rule book. But once its "fixed"
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