Review: Quadrant 13

Rating: 4 stars

What’s this? Too Fat Lardies producing a non-historical set of wargames rules? Perhaps the Mayans were right and the world has ended after all – we just haven’t noticed yet…

…joking aside, Quadrant 13(Q13) is the first venture for TFL outside of their previous historical wargames, but it is based solidly on the real world. The rules are penned by Robert Avery, who is quite well known to in TFL circles, as he has previously written several scenario supplements for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum, including the recent ‘Blennville or Bust’ campaign book.

Whilst Q13 is sci-fi, it’s grounded firmly at the ‘hard’ end of sci-fi spectrum – you won’t find any Orks or Space Pixies here. What you will find is a set of rules which will be familiar to anyone who has played I Ain’t Been Shot Mum or Charlie Don’t Surf, but given a definite Sci-Fi twist. It’s aimed at gaming larger, company sized engagements, which is perhaps a larger game than many sci-fi players are used to, and so Richard advises that the rules are best played with miniatures of between 6mm – 15mm scale.

The rules are designed to be as generic as possible, and have no ‘fluff’ – therefore the first section of the rules (25 pages) deals with how your troops are defined: their technology, weaponry, armour, vehicles, and how all this fits together into an army list, and how you can then apply ‘chrome’ to give your force its own unique feel. Rather surprisingly for a sci-fi game, this is all done without resorting to the use of points, but rather a plea from the author to act sensibly, create a balanced force and avoid cheese!

At this point the rules also allow you to design forces for different technology levels, right from early 20th century (Tech Level 0) right through to something out of Star Trek (Tech Level 4). These Tech Levels give bonuses to weapons fire and also personal armour.

Q13The second section of the book deals with the rules themselves, and here anyone who has ever played a Too Fat Lardies game will find themselves on very familiar territory. The game uses a Card Activation system to determine which units move when. As with other TFL games, there is a random ‘end of turn’ card in play, so it is possible that not every unit would be activated during a turn. Big Men once again play a major part, as activating these officers can enable players to perform multiple actions with other units rather than simply waiting in hope for their card to be drawn. Each Big Man, or unit, once activated, has (usually) 3 actions, and these can be spent moving, attempting to spot the enemy, firing or going into overwatch. In addition, Big Men may issue orders to units in his command radius, reduce Pinning or Shock or direct fire.

Movement is random (Move 1D6” per action for infantry), and firing uses a Combat Results Table. However, anyone who is used to the CRTs from IABSM and CDS are in for a shock, as Q13 is a much more lethal game – especially due to the presence of different types of weapon technology.

As this is a sci-fi game, there are various factors that play more of a role on the battlefield than currently – the battlefield is much more 3 dimensional, and there is more scope for the use of aircraft, assault ships, dropships, drones and drop troops.

Certain specialists also come into their own – Electronic Warfare Officers can be used for more reliable spotting, for jamming communication and even disrupting technology, or for counter-electronic warfare.

Other technologies are also detailed, from the use of Ablative Armour and Shield and Cloaking Technology right through to the use of Time Travel!

The rulebook is rounded off with a fairly comprehensive mission generator, which includes a terrain generator for 4 different types of area (Light terrain through to an urban environment) and 8 different missions. Finally there is a two page QRS.

There is much in Q13 to like, although it does rely on the gamer doing a fair amount of preparatory work in defining their troops before the first game can be played – this is the price you pay for having a generic ruleset. It’s very flexible, but that flexibility comes at a price.

However, once you have finished you design work, Q13 provides a comprehensive and fun set of rules to play. As with other games from the Lardy stable, this is not the sort of game to play if you like being in total control of your destiny, as ‘friction’ plays a substantial role. This friction can be mitigated by command and control, and so the game presents the players with a constant stream of tactical choices to be made. Given the card activation system, both players are pretty much constantly involved in gameplay, and the end result is a fun, fluid and (if you aren’t careful) somewhat bloody game.

Finally, a brief note about the rules layout itself. . Colour pictures only appear within the text once every 6 or 7 pages, which is quite a low amount when compared to several other recent rulebooks. This gives the impression that the rules are quite text & table dense. Whilst this may well be the case, they are well laid out, clear, and with the tablet edition are a joy to use and navigate through as the table of contents is comprehensive, with touch navigation to each section. This means that even when playing the rules for the first time, it is easy to find the specific rule you are looking for – I’m a convert!

In short, a great addition to your Sci-Fi rules stable.

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