The third edition of I Ain’t Been Shot Mum has arrived from Too Fat Lardies with a bang, declaring itself ‘The Other World War II Miniatures Game’ and thus immediately addressing the elephant in the room of company level WWII rules that is Flames of War.
And indeed, IABSM is probably as far away from FoW as it is possible to get.
If you are unfamiliar with previous editions of IABSM, or indeed with the philosophy of many of the Too Fat Lardies rules, let me explain.
The heart of these rules lies in dealing heavily with two areas, Command and Control, and Friction. This is summed up by saying that in order for forces to operate effectively, they must be lead well, but not everything happens on the battlefield when you’d expect it to.
IABSM uses a card activation system to control when units activate during a turn. Also, there is no guarantee that a unit will get chance to do anything before the turn ends. However, the randomness of a card draw is somewhat mitigated by the fact that units can be activated either by their card being drawn, or by the card of their unit commander. The player then has a decision to make as to what he does and when he does it.
Units have a number of actions available to them, depending upon the number of troops still alive (usually 3) and they can use these actions to either move, spot or shoot.
Movement is random, players roll as many D6 as actions they are using for movement, and move that number of inches. Shooting is done in the same way: the player rolls the number of D6 equivalent to the number of actions they are using to fire.
Infantry firing uses a single combat results table. You compare the total of the dice you rolled against a table, which lists range and quality of shot (good, ok or poor). The result gives a number of hits, along with a note as to whether a target unit is pinned or suppressed. For each hit scored, the opponent rolls a d6, and the shot either misses, causes a casualty or inflicts a point of shock. Shock is used to control morale. And so you automatically incorporate morale results into shooting.
It is worth noting at this point that it is not a good idea to group units too closely – units within 2” of each other can be targeted simultaneously by the same shot.
Much of these rules for infantry are similar to what have been previously published, although the command and morale rules have been changed and simplified.
The armour rules have been completely revamped for this edition of the rules. Troop commanders can now issue orders to the rest of their troop, which means that troops of tanks can operate together, but individual tanks can still perform different actions if required.
Vehicle combat is again simple. Vehicles have a weapon factor and an armour factor. When firing, you roll a number of D6 equal to the weapon factor, looking to score a target number depending upon if you are firing at the front, side or read of the vehicle. The target rolls a number of d6 equal to the armour factor, and need to roll 5 or 6. You simply compare the number of ‘hits’ to the number of ‘saves’ and act accordingly. There are damage tables included, but as a simple guide, if you score 3 more hits that saves, the AFV is destroyed.
As well as infantry and vehicle combat, the rulebook also covers artillery support, air support and special and optional rules.
One thing to highlight in this game is the use of blinds. Using blinds to represent ‘fog of battle’ is nothing new. However, in IABSM, every copse, hedgerow or building also counts as a blind, so you can never be sure exactly where the enemy is until you either spot them with the Mk.1 eyeball, or find yourself under fire from a previously harmless looking farmhouse. It certainly removes the god-like knowledge of the average gamer in a game where all forces are placed on the board.
Later sections of the rules give details of sample unit organisations (using the Normandy Invasion as basis for British, American and German forces), and thoughts and ideas about designing scenarios based on historical documents (such as battlefield guides). There is also a small scenario generator included, as well as 4 sample scenarios.
Just as a note, IABSM is designed to be played with scenarios…there is not a point value in sight.
As well as these 3rd Edition rules, Too Fat Lardies have also produced a 104 card deck for use with game, as well as a counter set to identify vehicle damage etc. Current plans are that the 4 main theatre handbooks that were produced for the previous edition will all receive a major facelift and much new added material, and these will all be completed by Easter 2012.
With IABSM 3rd Edition, TFL have produced a set of rules that is attractive to look at, easy to read and understand, intuitive to play and yet allows the myriad complexities found on the battlefields of WW2 to handled with relative ease. They have achieved that pot of gold of being simple without being simplistic, easy whilst providing great challenge.
They are, quite possibly, the only set of WW2 rules you will ever need.
Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher