Force on Force
Ambush Alley Games & Osprey Publishing
Hardback, Full Colour, 224 Pages
Force on Force (FoF) are the new Wargames rules from Osprey Publishing. They are actually the second edition of the rules, the first edition being published in 2009.
This new edition of the rules is actually an amalgamation of the Force on Force first edition with Ambush Alley, the first rule set produced by Ambush Alley Games.
The rulebook is a hardback book, 224 pages in length and produced in full colour, with many colour photos from military archives, pictures of miniature wargames and illustrations from Osprey’s catalogue of artwork.
The first edition of the FoF rules also covered World War II, but this edition concentrates firmly on post-World War II conflicts. As well as amalgamating the Ambush Alley rules into this new edition, this book also contains completely revamped rules for mechanised combat.
The game is designed as a Platoon level skirmish wargame, with the smallest tactical unit being the fire team, rather than individual troops. It is aimed at using 15mm, 20mm or 28mm scale figures. Some manipulation of table size, movement rates and ranges are required when switching between scales, but this is very easily managed.
Rather unusually, the game is specifically designed to be played with scenarios, so that you usually start the game at the point of first contact with the enemy.
The rule mechanics use a reaction system, rather than a more traditional I-go-U-go turn sequence, which means that the game is very interactive, with little downtime. That interaction extends to the combat system, where players use opposed dice rolls in order to resolve firefights.
Many skirmish-level games concentrate on the weapons that are used by individuals, and have that as the defining factor for any model. FoF takes the approach that training and experience are a much bigger element in the use of firearms, rather than what sort of weapon you use – so an assault rifle is a much greater threat in the hands of an experience professional soldier, rather than a newly recruited member of the local militia.
FoF uses different types of dice to reflect troop experience and training, whilst keeping the target score the same. The ‘golden rule’ of FoF is that you have to roll ‘4’ or more on a die in order score a success. The difference is that whilst an inexperienced trooper would be rolling this on a D6, an experienced veteran would be using a D10 – it makes the game easy, as you only really have to remember a single number…roll ‘4’ or higher.
Weapons range isn’t really a factor in FoF. It takes the (rather unusual) approach that modern weapons, with the very odd exception, would be able to shoot across the entire board, as the area represented on the average wargaming table is actually quite small – even when using 15mm figures. Therefore, Line of Sight becomes more the governing factor during combat. However, it is easier to hit targets that are closer to you, so there is a bonus for close range.
I really like the way that modifiers work in FoF. Many games use modifiers to amend the target score that must roll on individual dice. In FoF, the target score remains the same, but the number of dice you roll is amended. Remember, you are not working with individual models, but with small units and fire teams. Therefore, extra dice can cause extra hits (or give a bonus to defence), but modifiers don’t unduly unbalance the chances of success.
The book contains rules for complete combined arms operations, including infantry combat, mechanized combat, air mobile operations, close air support and artillery. The rules are also divided into what are called ‘Kinetic Operations’, where two regular forces are pitted against each other, and ‘Asymmetric Operations’ where regular forces are pitted against irregular, non-professional troops.
The standard rules take up half the book. The other half is made up of advanced rules for Infantry combat, notes on small unit tactics, a campaign system, sample unit organisations and several scenarios (Falklands Conflict,Vietnam,Chechnyaand Yom Kippur)
As the game is designed to be played in a scenario format, the companion supplements being published for the game are a collection of scenarios based on particular conflicts. The first, published at the same time as the main rulebook, is the Road toBaghdad, Iraq2003. This book contains a total of 19 scenarios, which follows the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The book is soft back, 104 pages and produced in full colour with both illustrations and photos from the operation. As well as the 19 scenarios, the book also contains sample organisation lists for the US Army, USMC, British Army, Royal Marines, Iraqi regular Army, Iraqi Republican Guard and Iraqi Paramilitary Organisations.
This is the first of 4 books published this year, the others being Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan2001 – 2010),AmbushValley(Vietnam War) and Cold War Gone Hot (What-if 1980’s Russian invasion of Europe)
Ambush Alley / Force on Force were already one of my favourite sets of wargames rules. Their implementation in this new edition sets a very high standard for others to follow. A great set of rules just got a whole lot better.
Force on Force is reviewed in episode 73 of the Meeples & Miniatures podcast.