0.05 Operation: Honeypot

Drawing Flies

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t know any wargamers. I do know some guys and gals that play role-playing games and board games. So, if I’m going to get any wargaming done, I’ve got to create some opponents from this pool of more general gamers. There are at least a couple of implications packed into creating opponents:

  • I must build, model, and paint all forces, terrain, and buildings, and they must be impressive.
  • I must carefully select rules that will appeal to my peeps and be easily teachable.
  • I must keep the amount of work involved in the above manageable.

In order to create impressive models/terrain/toys and keep the time and effort manageable, I’ve limited myself to skirmish rules. Now, there’s probably some false economy there, because larger scale rules often use a few figures to represent a larger unit (3 guys representing a squad, or whatever the case may be), but there are other advantages to keeping things down in the mud and blood.

I think 1:1 figure/man/tank ratio is going to appeal to role-playing gamers more than a larger scale representative game. In fact, I suspect that 1:1 games would have immediate appeal to the general public, as that’s the level most media operates on, these days. Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Call of Duty, you name it, the media is zoomed in on the individual.

I don’t think most people much care about the thickness of the front plate of the hull of a Marder III. I don’t think technical detail, especially technical detail that has the hood up, so to speak, is all that interesting, in an of itself. The psychology of warfare and the problems that commanders, and each soldier, face is interesting stuff, and I think those things are readily grasped by your average person who possesses a modicum of intelligence and empathy.

Picking Rules

That’s a long way around to saying that after much research (well, maybe heavy browsing would be a better term), the two rules sets that caught my eye were “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” by Too Fat Lardies and “NUTS!” by Two Hour Wargames.

It's so...British!

I Ain’t Been Shot Mum

    I Ain’t Been Shot Mum (IABSM) is attractive because every after action report (AAR) I’ve read that’s used the system has been quite interesting. IABSM features hidden movement, deliberately imperfect command and control, an emphasis on leadership, and a rather open semi-Kriegspiel approach to rules adjudication. Yeah, I used the word Kriegspiel in a post, and I have yet to play one single minute of a historical miniatures wargame. Bold of me. All that said, I’ve actually ordered their skirmish game, Troops, Weapons, and Tactics (har…har…har…I won’t be giving that one its acronym.), which seems to have most of the features of IABSM, but is aimed at squad level instead of IABSM’s company level actions.

This is not so British

NUTS!*

    NUTS! ties into my honeypot goals quite well. It has significant role-playing elements: Your men have traits, stats, and they persist from game to game in the by-the-book campaign system. NUTS! initiative system is very fluid. I believe THWG calls it the Reaction system, or something of the sort. Basically there is an elegant, but detailed, system of opportunity attacks and movement. This reaction system is heavily awareness and morale based. NUTS! also has robust cooperative and solo playing options, though I hope I won’t have to use the latter! In any case, NUTS! is in my possession, and has been guiding my terrain and model building activities.

In Summary

In spite of all my Machiavellian scheming about honeypots and creating players, you’ve got to pick a rules set that you’re going to enjoy playing. If my RPG career is anything to go by, I’m going to be capable of enjoying a LOT of different rules. Thankfully, the wargaming community is profligate with rules creation, so there’s an embarrassment of riches to explore at and with my leisure.

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    * Look up the Battling Bastards of Bastogne, if you don’t get the reference in the title of this game.
    ** The wargaming industry is in dire need of the attention of a few volunteer graphic artists and book layout guys (whatever they’re called). I think the reasons are self-evident.

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Comments

  • evandro  On 04/03/2012 at 5:38 am

    Hello Arkiegamer, thank you for sharing this! I am very interested in the comparison between IABSM and Nuts (I am considering them for my solo sessions). Do you have any updates on the subject? Did you actually play test the two rule sets?

  • arkiegamer  On 04/03/2012 at 6:07 am

    I don’t think there’s a tremendous amount of similarity between NUTS! and IABSM. One is an up close and personal skirmish game with serious granularity, and the other (IABSM) is oriented towards company sized engagements.

    I haven’t playtested IABSM, but I did do a scenario using TW&T, which is the Lardie’s skirmish set for WW2. They worked quite well, but aren’t really oriented towards tracking single men in combat. I’d say you’d want to field at least a couple of squads per side to have an engaging game of TW&T.

    I did a couple of rounds of NUTS!, and it’s definitely fine-grained and oriented towards individual soldiers. The rules seemed to work fine and feel ‘realistic.’ I think they might develop too much bookkeeping overhead to work well for larger engagements, but I haven’t tested that out.

    I think that any of the three sets of rules would give you fine service-just depends on where your interests lie!

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • arkiegamer  On 04/03/2012 at 6:12 am

    Oh, I just caught the part about solo play. The TFL rules work best with two players, or even two players and a referee. They could work for solo games, but they’re not really aimed at that experience.

    NUTS! should work really well for solo play. The reaction system the game uses serves as a sort of artificial intelligence, and solo play is actually addressed and supported in the text.

  • evandro  On 04/03/2012 at 6:30 am

    Thank you for the immediate reply :) So, I will consider Nuts my best candidate. I have tried CR Swordplay by THW and I find the chain reaction system difficult to manage, but it does provide interesting results. I thought that a card based system might be easier to use and also good for solo playing, but I like the idea of something that is actually designed for solo also, and from what you write I guess this is the case for THW but not for TFL.

    I will probably see how it goes with the free Chain Reaction “modern” and see if I can overcome my problems with the system. From what I have read online, possibly the modern version plays better than the swordplay I have tested.

    Thank you again for your helpful reply!

    • arkiegamer  On 04/03/2012 at 6:38 am

      Hrmm…well, I hope that you have better luck with the WW2 set of THW rules. I haven’t used the other rules you mention, so I can’t compare.

      The cards in IABSM would work really well for solo play, but hidden movement features heavily into the TFL rules. You put out generic markers called blinds at the beginning of play, some of which might represent real troops while others might be decoys. If you could come up with a more solo-friendly way of representing hidden movement (or maybe just ignore that aspect), the TFL rules might work really well for you.

      I will say that I really enjoy the way the TFL rules are written. They have a sense of humor, a deep respect and knowledge of the history, and are a generally engaging read (for a set of rules).

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  • […] post numbers will cleverly move to the 1.* series). All that stands between me and commencement of Operation: Honeypot  is a few trees, a stone wall, and some practical understanding of the NUTS! […]

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