Review – Operation Squad Modern War

Rating: 3 stars

71283258aFollowing the publication of Operation Squad World War Two in 2011, Italian company Torriani Massimo Games subsequently released Operation Squad Modern War rules concentrating on combat in the modern era.

The rules are aimed at skirmish gaming, using a single squad per side (6 – 20 figures, typically 8), and would seem to be aimed at using 28mm figures (as, rather unusually, single figure base size of 25mm is stipulated in the rules). Games are designed to be played on a 120cm square area of play. Yes, being published in Europe, all measurements in this game are in centimetres.

A ‘standard’ game is played over 8 turns, with each turn sub-divided into a series of phases. During the course of a turn, every model on the table must perform an action or order. Models can either be activated singly, or as a unit. Units comprise of multiple models, and can consist of either like armed individuals, or a weapons team.
Actions are performed by individual models, whilst orders are given to units. Orders are more limited, as you are asking several troops to perform a similar action at the same time, rather than performing an individual action with a single model.

royal marine squadModels are defined by a small number of stats, plus a description of their weaponry. The main stat is Tactical Value (typically between two and five) and then each model can have a number of characteristics assigned to it. Each characteristic defines a special rule, and there are 46 described in the rules. These vary from equipment, such as types of body armour, though job roles such as sniper and medic, to special abilities such as stealthy or religious fanatic. These characteristics are used throughout the game to influence the outcome of various dice rolls.

The turn sequence is the main mechanic which makes these rules stand apart from any other. Firstly you roll for initiative, with each player rolling 2d6 and adding the highest Tactical Value of his active models on the table. The winner has the choice of going first or second.

The player who goes first is declared Player A, and he then chooses a unit and declares his intention of what he wishes to do with that unit in the turn. Player B may then choose a unit and declare what he wishes to do with that unit this turn. This sequence continues until either one player passes, or both players have declared their intentions for three units.
At this point, each player rolls 2D6 for each of the units he has declared an action for, adds their Tactical Value to the score, and then all declared actions are performed in order from the highest value to the lowest.
Any action declared which is not possible at it’s time of execution (such as firing on a model which has now moved out of line-of-sight) is lost.
Once all the declared actions have been performed, Player B may now declare his intention with up to three of his remaining units, or until a player passes.
The turn continues until all units have been assigned and executed an action.

Finally, there is a housekeeping phase where markers are removed from the board and then the turn sequence begins again.

The list of actions allowed include Assault, Fire, First Aid, Hide, Indicate a Target, Move & Fire, Move Carefully, Move Weapon, Re-load, Run and Stand-Up.

Standard movement distance is 15cm, but this can be reduced by a random amount when crossing certain terrain. Running allows you to move further and makes you harder hit, whilst moving carefully means you move less, but can remain hidden.

Combat is either ranged fire or melee, and is quite straight forward:

71283258cA model may fire at a target in its line of sight. The player rolls 3D6, adds the Tactical Value of the model to the result if it is not wounded, plus the value of additional D6 rolls depended upon the weapon and range. The opposing player also rolls a number of D6, determined by the amount of cover the target model is in plus a number of addition D6 dependent upon what actions are being performed by the models in question (actions such as running, move& fire etc give bonuses to the target model)
The total rolled by the target model is subtracted from the total rolled by the firing model and the result determines the outcome of the shot.
If the result is 10 or less, it has missed. If 11-13, the target model is pinned. If 14 or 15, the target model is wounded (wounded twice = killed) and a result of 16 or more kills the target.
Some weapons have a greater rate of fire than others, and so multiple shots can be taken.
Melee is even easier. Each player rolls 3D6 for the model involved, and adds certain modifiers. The player who rolls the highest total applies that total, without modification, to the damage table.

Morale is handled in a similar, straight forward fashion. Each squad has a break point defined. When the number of losses equals that break point, the player rolls 2D6 for each model and adds the models Tactical Value – if the result is 10 or less, the model is deemed to have routed and is removed from play.
Should the number of losses in a squad ever double their break point, the remaining members of the squad automatically rout.

There are a number of rules covering certain special situations, but that is essentially how the game works.

Games are played using scenarios, and are typically between squads of an equivalent points value. The rules contain several squad rosters, including American Delta Force and Marines, British SAS and Royal Marines, Italian Bersaglieri and Iraqi Republican Guard, Al-Awda and Insurgents. More are available online, including Italian ‘Folgore’ Paratroops and force lists for the Falklands War and the war in Chechnya.

These rules are well produced, generally well written, with very few issues of translation and are easy to understand and play. Two pages of cut-out markers (denoting models that have taken their turn, are wounded, hidden etc) are included, as well as a 4 page quick-reference guide.

The turn sequence, despite being somewhat out-of-the-norm, is easy to understand and always keeps both players interested.

There are a few things which count against the rules. The game seems to rely on the use of many counters, which can be an issue if you do not like your wargames table cluttered with such things.

usa hmmvThe game does not come with any rules for using vehicles in any capacity, except as cover. There is a download available for a HMMV, but in order to use these you will have to apply the rules from the Operation Squad World War II vehicle supplement

The third issue is to do with how the game is played. The game is stated to be a scenario based game, and yet only 3 are included in the rules. There are a couple of notes in the deployment section of the rules which talk about playing games based on historical events rather than a ‘points encounter’ and also about the future availability of scenarios on the web, but with none available as yet (even some time after release), this could potentially limit the game somewhat. In all honesty, many modern gamers may already own scenario books and campaign generators from other rules, but this is not an ideal situation.

os fflThere are several extra downloads available from the Operation Squad Modern website, including details of troops for the Falklands and Chechnya, the French Foreign Legion and Anti-Tank Weapon rules.

Operation Squad Modern War is an interesting set of rules, with a turn sequence that provides both a challenge, a certain amount of friction, and a fluid game flow which keeps both players almost constantly involved in the game. It enables gamers to play in a modern setting whilst putting very few models on the table (although it has to be said that the recommended density of scenery is rather high – as with many modern games, they are much more interesting when you break up the lines of sight).

In short a solid, very playable set of rules.

Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher

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