The Great Big Modern Wargaming Rules Comparison Complete Edition

Before we start a disclaimer: I have done some writing for Skirmish Sangin (including the latest book) and I am listed in the Spectre Operations book as a play tester.

A frequent question on the various wargaming sites is simple – “which rules should I play?”. The aim of this article is designed to assist players with answering this question. To do that, we will take a look at several rulesets, briefly discussing how they work and what they are best at. This isn’t a review – I have no plans of saying “this is best rules”. All the rules I cover are ones I have played, enjoyed and wish to detail for more people to get stuck in. So, let’s get started!

Basic rules – all of these games are playable with 28mm figures at a 1:1 model ratio. They are all about playing games in the post 1945 world, although many of them would work for actions in WW2.

If anything is incorrect below, please drop me a message so I can fix it.



Which rules are we looking at?

Well, who best to ask about the details of each ruleset than the info pages for them on their store? Click on the images to go find them.

Black Ops from Osprey

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Black Ops is a skirmish wargame of tactical espionage combat that recreates the tension and excitement of modern action-thrillers such as the Bond and Bourne films. The fast-play rules keep all the players in the thick of the action, while the mission generator provides a wide range of options for scenarios – from stealthy extraction or surveillance missions to more overt raids and assaults. Stealth, combat, and technical expertise all have a role to play, and players may recruit a number of different operative types – spies, mercenaries, criminals, hackers, special forces, and many more – to recruit the best possible team for the job. Players may also choose to join a faction – powerful organisations, intelligence agencies, criminal syndicates, militaries, or rebel groups, each with a stake in international affairs. By doing so, their team may receive certain benefits, but may also find itself limited at a crucial time. With the variety offered by the characters, factions, and scenarios, no two games of Black Ops should ever be the same!

Danger Close from Empress

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Tired of over complicated rules that take a degree in maths, physics and psychology to understand?

Tired of trying to find that particular mechanism that you know is there somewhere but cannot find the page?

Tired of setting up an evening’s game and having to pack up three hours later half way through move 4?

The Empress team are! We just wanted to get our toys out and play with terrain that we’ve spent years working on. We wanted a game that felt right but was accessible and smooth.

While searching we found “Some Corner of a Foreign Field” written by Matt Moran. This one sheet (two sides of A4) rule set is aimed at 4 to 15 figures per side. It’s easy to pick up and does everything that we wanted without any problems. We liked the rules so much we obtained the rights to them and have now re-released them under the name “Danger Close”

Force on Force from Ambush Alley Games

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Force on Force brings the drama and action of modern warfare to the tabletop using miniature soldiers. The rules cover all aspects of modern warfare from the confidence and supply level of troops to air-strikes and off-board artillery and accommodates scenarios set anywhere from the end of World War II to the conflicts on today’s news without sacrificing either character or playability. Quick to learn and play, the game rewards players who use well-considered modern tactics to try and achieve victory. From infantry and armor to artillery and air support, Force on Force presents everything that players need to recreate post-World War II warfare involving both conventional, combined-arms forces and the irregular guerrilla units that have become the hallmark of 21st century warfare.

Oscar Sierra Charlie: Part 1 from Evil Bear Wargames

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Oscar Sierra Charlie puts you straight in the front line of gripping battles. This is combat at the cutting edge; individual and squad-level action, desperate missions to capture key objectives, with victory going to best tactical mind.

OSC’s mechanics are deliberately streamlined for fast-paced tactical play. Straightforward stat lines are augmented by a plethora of skills, options and tactics. At its heart a player-driven rules system, no two games of OSC will be the same. Your troops will stand and fight at your command – their fate and that of the mission is wholly in your hands!

Skirmish Sangin from Radio DishDash

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SKIRMISH SANGIN is a tabletop skirmish game where players control opposing forces, either modern western military forces (ISAF) or insurgent militias that do battle everyday in the modern war for Afghanistan. Inside this book you will find:

  • Simple, fast combat rules that enable furious tabletop skirmish battles
  • Information and rules for creation of professional and insurgent forces
  • A full array of modern weapons and armour for both sides
  • Rules for off table support ranging from snipers to heavy weapon platoons, fast air and helicopters
  • A game that plays as easily with two people as it does for multi-player games.
  • A set of rules that provides an intense and compelling tabletop game regardless of whether you field four figures per side or forty.

Spectre Operations from Spectre Miniatures

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Spectre: Operations is a tabletop skirmish wargame from Spectre Miniatures which takes you to the cutting edge of modern warfare. Spectre: Operations introduces a world of action and intrigue, where special forces, intelligence agents and military contractors are on the front line, carrying out covert operations against a multitude of adversaries; including enemy nations, unstable regimes, ruthless warlords, insurgents, mercenaries and paramilitary groups.

The game mechanics within this book are realistic, fast paced and quick to learn, optimised for 2+ players with 4 – 40+ miniatures each side. It takes into account all modern battlefifi eld factors such as ranged and close combat, infantry and vehicle combat, air support, covert operations and civilians on the battlefield. The game uses mechanics to realistically represent darkness, adverse weather conditions and how alert your troops are, as well as cutting edge equipment such as night vision, suppressed weapons and surveillance drones. Stealth, cunning, and the ruthless will to win is the only way to prevail; you must rely on tactics, cover and careful selection of your forces to plan your action and succeed in Spectre: Operations.

Fireteam Modern from Rory Crabb Games

Fireteam Modern is a set of small unit skirmish wargame rules for modern combined arms land combat using 15-28mm scale miniatures. The rules can be used to fight battles from any post WW2 conflict dating from the 1950s to the modern day or the near future.

These rules have been designed to work with opposing forces of approximately platoon size with additional reinforcements such as small numbers of armoured vehicles and light artillery support.

FUBAR by Craig Cartmell and The Forge of War Development Group.

FUBAR – One Page Modern/SF Small Unit Wargames Rules (There isn’t really much else to say about them)

Living on the Frontline: A Winter of ’79 Game by Mark Hannam, Matthew Sparkes & Mike Bradford

These rules represent an alternative history of the late seventies and early eighties. In this vision, the ‘Establishment’ take control of the legitimate government and the subsequent ‘crackdown’ is faced with spontaneous popular resistance led by trade union, liberal and left-wing elements, which boils over into civil war.

No End In Sight by Ivan Sorenson

“The M113 is burning behind you, the Reds are coming on strong. the platoon is in bad shape and mortar support is nowhere to be seen.

As platoon commander, you have to rely on your squad leaders to push your troops forward, lay down suppressing fire and win the fire fight.”

No End in Sight is a comprehensive guide to contemporary, cold war and near future combat. Lead an infantry platoon through random battles, several campaign styles or scenarios of your own design. Track the progress of your squad leaders as you play.

The rules feature an innovative activation and reaction fire mechanic that leaves you making important and tough choices constantly. Know when to push and when to hold off. Your men have to last for a long fire fight and you may run out of steam when you least expect it.

Combat is written to produce a fairly realistic level of casualties. Most fire will serve to pin and suppress the enemy with modest casualty rates until you close to assault.

Command battle hardened professionals and insurgent militia, dismantle IED’s, call in artillery fire, evac the wounded and take on enemy tanks. It’s all covered.

The rules are written to be both playable and enjoyable on a small gaming space, using approximately a platoon plus appropriate supports, APC’s and assorted vehicles on each side.

Wars of Insurgency: Skirmish Warfare in the Modern World by Mike Demana

“Rise up and free your country from its oppressors!”

  • Simple fast-play rules for man-to-man, modern skirmish warfare
  • Complete campaign system allowing rival factions to war for control of their fictional or historical country
  • Special rules & descriptions for 6 faction types drawn from 20th – 21st century History
  • Point system allowing balanced battles between Elite, Regular, or Militia troop types
  • Three sample scenarios and guidelines for adapting historical actions
  • Political scheming, Permanent Institutions (like radio stations), & more!

With Wars of Insurgency, players control 3-5 squads that can range in size from 3 figures or one vehicle to a dozen men. Each miniature represents one man. The rules can easily be used for 15mm, 20mm, and 28mm scales without modification of ranges. The rules are meant to give the flavor of modern infantry firefights without being overwhelmed by complexity. First Command Wargames rules are meant to provide a fast, easy-to-learn game for the new or veteran player.

Round of Fire is a skirmish game that simulates the dynamics of battle through a unique activation system.The game rules are tailored around the Wheel, a solution to break from the concept of turns and to consider the battle as a continuous flow of actions.

Players must make decisions at every point in the fight to effectively coordinate and manoeuvre their troops. Miniatures of many styles and scales can be used with the system, with players controlling anywhere between a handful to two dozen figures each. Figures and weapons are profiled through statistics that affect their use in the game and on the Wheel.

The 94 pages of the Core Rules allow games in virtually any setting, covering mechanics for firefights and close combat encounters.
The manual also offers profiles for near-future battles, covering five factions representing tropes that span countless settings from highly trained elite troops to desperate scavengers, fictional militias to insurgents, or even swarms of mindless robots, with fourteen customizable types of troops presented and over thirty weapon types. There are nine playable scenarios in the manual as well, both symmetric and asymmetric, to provide competitive setups and more story-driven encounters. Example profiles for medieval and renaissance units and weapons are also proposed.


How do I get the rulebook and how many expansions?

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Black Ops

Osprey publish the rules so it’s basically available everywhere that their books are sold – so their site, Amazon, etc. In addition, there is a digital version available in Kindle format, ePub and PDF. There are currently no expansions released.

Danger Close

It’s literally two pages, available from Empress as both a PDF and a laminated double-sided sheet of A4. Supplements covering more forces are available on the Empress website.

Force on Force

Finding a physical copy of the original rulebook is like searching for hen’s teeth. However, it is also available in PDF format from the Ambush Alley Games website. As for expansions, Force on Force is king. It has 8 separate books, covering actions such as Vietnam War, African Bush Wars, Somalia, Cold War Gone Hot,The Global War on Terror and one final book covering various Special Operation actions. Each book is pretty thick covering history, multiple scenarios and some details on the forces.

OSC: Part 1

The first book is out and available direct from Evil Bear Wargames in both physical and PDF versions. More books will be coming to expand the rules from skirmish level to multiple squads and from there into the far future.

Skirmish Sangin

The rulebook are available from the Radio DishDash site, who have distribution in New Zealand, the UK and the US (through . Studio Miniatures in the UK also sells the rulebook at shows. The physical version includes the PDF as part of the purchase, so you can start reading the rules before the book even appears. There are two dispatches books that expand the core game, a battle book covering the event of Blackhawk Down and a book covering a fictional Afrika setting (with lots of scenarios and forces). In addition, there are free scenarios and additional rules available on the Skirmish Sangin blog and website.

Spectre Operations

The rulebook is available from the Spectre Miniatures site, being shipped from the UK. There is currently no digital version but there have been many requests so watch this space. As a warning, there is an older beta set of rules that were in PDF and floating around. The rules are out of date and apart from a brief understanding of the core concepts should be ignored. This ruleset is very recent but expansions are already being planned to add commander upgrades and focus on jungle fighting.

This was the year of the PDFs

Fireteam Modern

Available from Wargames Vault in PDF form. Currently no expansions.

FUBAR

Available for free from the FUBAR website. The most recent version is 4th edition. As FUBAR is a generic system, there are plenty of other additional elements that can be grabbed from the website to theme it.

Living on the Frontline

Currently only available in physical form from Cavalier Books (either online or at one of the shows they attend. There are two other books in the series currently listed – “View of a Disunited Kingdom” (which is primarily a sourcebook on the world of Winter of 79) and a Wild Geese inspired book with mercenaries in Africa.

No End In Sight

Available on Wargames Vault. There is one supplement (Rules Pack Alpha) and several smaller options to expand the game which can be found on the Nordic Weasel site.

Wars of Insurgency

Print and PDF available from the main website. You can also purchase the PDF from Wargames Vault. There are currently no expansions.

Round of Fire

The rules are available off Wargames Vault, along with downloads for the tokens and element cards. There are currently no expansions available but there several planned.


What are the core systems I really need to know about?

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Black Ops

  • Card activation: Troops activates by pulling cards from a deck composed of two suits (or one for each player). Jacks let the standard troops play, Kings activate Heavy Weapon teams, Queens make specialists move, Aces allow for leaders to get to work and 2’s activate civilians. When a card is drawn, it activates all of that type for that player.
  • Dice rolling: In Black Ops, a low value is better than a high value. When rolling stat tests, you want to go low.
  • Stealth Missions: As you might expect with the name, Black Ops has a big section focused on sneaking missions. It has some very nice rules for tracking noise and a useful table for running patrolling guards.

Danger Close

  • Skills and drills: Each soldier has a Skills & Drills value to represent their level of expertise. Skills and Drills form the core of all tests – higher values cause you to activate first, give you more activations and give you bonuses in certain tests.
  • Actions: Actions such as spotting, shooting or close combat are based around a D20 roll, with modifiers affecting the end results.
  • Stress and Morale: When soldiers are attacked or subject to other unfortunate incidents, stress markers are added. When they next activate, a test is rolled. In addition, stress also affects other actions, reducing how well a character can fight.

Force on Force

  • Troop Quality and tests: Core concepts behind Force on Force are simple – every test is based on a dice roll of 4. Troop quality helps to change how likely this is to occur. Forces are assigned a dice type (from D6 to D12) to be used when testing, with more experienced troops having a higher chance to succeed. Forces also are assigned a morale rating which is independent from skill level.
  • Fog Of War: Every time a reaction test is failed with a roll of 1, a fog of war card is played. These cards can do all sorts of things to ruin a forces day, from units running out of ammo or being needed elsewhere to aircraft performing an emergency attack run.
  • Rules: There are a lot of rules in the main rulebook. They cover everything from tiny SOF engagements to huge massed battles with air assets and fire support being called in. Rules also allow for engagements between different types of forces (regulars or insurgents).

OSC: Part 1

  • One stat system: All tests are based around a single stat value, ranging from 1 (a civilian) up to 7 (elite SOF). When using actions, this stat is added to a 1D10 to generate a final value.
  • Deployment and Objectives: On the first turn, players place a deployment zone from which their armies start the battle. Keep it clear is important, to allow more forces to arrive on the scene. The commander can also move the deployment zone by using their actions. In addition, the game is heavily focused on objectives. One objective is the main one while other secondary objectives provide more opportunities to win. In many cases, these objectives must be collected and stashed on the deployment point.
  • Actions and Skill tests: There is a long list of actions that can be played using your 2 activation points. These actions (from hip shooting to challenging an enemy to surrender) are either Action tests (where how far over 10 your final result is important) or skill tests (as long as the final result is over 10, its successful). Once you know the actions, it’s a very quick system to play. Players activate based on who gains initiative on a 1D10 dice roll. Additionally actions can cause
  • Card play:As the game progress, players will gain cards (either through losing the initiative or via the commander spending activation points). These cards can be played at during time and help to swing battles, removing counters or adding additional actions. Or just forcing an opponent out of an annoying building.

Skirmish Sangin

  • Stat lines: As you can see below, soldiers in Skirmish Sangin are more like RPG characters than simple soldiers. The body rating is used as the basis for all skills, with experience levels determining how effective they are. In addition, character packages (such as sniper or NCO) can be bought to improve skills This adds a boat load of character to each fighter.
  • Combat phases and Activation: Rather than IGO-UGO, all characters of a certain body rating activate at the same time. Body armour affects this activation time. Each turn, every soldier will activate a total of four times, able to use 3AP an activation to perform their actions.
  • Actions and Modifiers: Spotting, Shooting and Close Combat all test using the D100 against their skill rating with modifiers added. When you first start playing, the list of modifiers seems overwhelming but after a few games it starts to sink in. Worse, coming under fire will add more modifiers and reduce a character’s effectiveness.

Spectre Operations

  • Suppression: A core system of the rules, suppression is gained from coming under fire and drops a characters stats and movement speed, potentially locking them in place. Suppression is a nightmare incarnate, reducing a player’s battle plan to tatters. More well-trained troops have limitations on how suppression they can take but it is still a major issue.
  • Command Actions: The second phase of each turn allows a commander to (after they pass a test) use command actions. These actions can do many things, from rallying off suppression, going into overwatch or scanning for hidden enemies.
  • Tactical Actions: The movement phase is not just for closing with the enemy. This phase also allows more “cool” actions such as Tactical Movement (reduce speed, increase defence and stealth), Combat Sprint (increase speed but prevent combat) or breaching through an obstacle. Players can also deploy tactical grenades such as smoke or stun to reduce enemy effectiveness before the combat phase. Tactical actions can take place before or after movement, letting players setup room clearing actions with ease.
  • Stealthy stuff: Spectre can be used for all out battles but it is particularly good for stealthy operations. Teams of SOF operators with silenced weapons and using the night can sneak around much larger forces, avoiding patrols. I really like how effortless the play can move from creeping around to all out warfare.

Fireteam Modern

  • Activation System: Alternating activation (winner of the initiative role goes first). Automatic unless suppressed, two action a turn.
  • Shooting: The RoF for all weapons in a squad are added together to give you your total number of dice to roll against your shoot stat (with only three modifiers). All successful shots can be saved but otherwise cause hits. If a single burst of fire causes 3 hits (or a HE weapon is used), they are suppressed. To help with this, units can choose to shoot suppressive fire (higher chance to hit but harder to cause damage)
  • Morale: Suppression makes it harder to activate but against depleted units (50%+ casultities) it can be devastating. Failure to activate followed by failing a morale test will kick off a retreat.

FUBAR

  • Three stats: Characters are super simple and consist of three stats: Activation (how easy is it for this character to do something), Expertise (how good they are at something and Suppression (how easy are they to suppress)
  • Initiative: Simple roll off to see who attempts to activate first and the player who wins can keep activating until they fail a roll. This causes all units to attempt to activate, with initiative passing back and forth until everyone has tried to activate.
  • Shooting: Different weapons have a different number of Fire Points. The total number in a unit is the number of dice to roll. Pass your expertise on a dice? It counts as a hit and then needs to be saved or else it will start suppressing your troops. If you take too much suppression, casualties start to stack up.
  • Suppression: Suppression stops you. Suppressed models can’t shoot AND they negatively affect the suppression role.

Living on the Frontline

  • Activation: Card based activation – each player is assigned a colour and a number of cards relating to the main experience level of your troops. Adding these cards to a deck along with the joke gives you your activation deck. The joker has a chance of ending the turn early. Each card is equal to a pair of infantry or a single support (such as a vehicle or support gun).
  • Actions: Activated units can either do Combat (aggressive ones including movement and shooting) or Non-Combat (reloading or staying low) actions. These qualifiers are important, as groups can only do the same action and non-combat actions let player choose to Duck down to make them harder to hit.
  • Dice Rolls: Skills are expressed as dice types, with modifiers shifting this type up or down (to a max of d12 and a minimum of d4). This system works wells and prevents the need for buckets of dice.
  • Shooting: After modifiers, the attackers shoot dice is compared to the defenders defence dice. If the result is higher, the target is hit and must roll against the wounds table which has a range of effects from simply knocking them down up to being KIA.
  • Morale: Suppressed figures need to be rallied before they can activate. However on a role of 1 on their morale test, the figure testing simply flees the field and is removed. If a force has reached its breaking point it begins to lose cards from the activation deck. This can be paused by passing a morale test (at the risk of more troopers leaving the battle) as once you reach 0 cards in the deck, your force has routed.

No End In Sight

  • Activation: Chances to activate alternate between players. Leaders are used to activate and can spend their activation points on figures below them in the chain of command (and within range depending on their skill level).
  • Stress: As leaders activate they gain stress which can prevent them from activating. Keeping this stress under control will let you activate more easily.
  • Reaction Fire: There is no dedicated overwatch action – instead, any movement in the open is vulnerable to reaction fire (unless you rush and manage to roll high enough to clear a gap)
  • Shock/Kill Dice: Shooting dice are based on the shooter’s firepower but generate different dice. Every point of firepower is a Shock dice, every pair of points is a Kill dice. When these dice are rolled, if the target values are hit (5 or 6s for Shock, 6s for Kills) then the effect is applied. Shocks pin, Kills cause casualties.
  • Morale: Having pinned figures in a squad take up valuable activation points to clear and get back in the fight. Combine that with casualties and troops are likely to start breaking and falling back.
  • Simulation: There are a lot of rules to look at but thanks to them it becomes a game that feels very realistic and very different to anything else around.

Wars of Insurgency

  • Orders: Initiative is a simple dice off but to actually order your troops, each player puts a numbered marker down to each squad face down. The numbering shows which order they move in. This means each player doesn’t know who which squads are going to move forcing some careful planning. However, careful use of your leader means you can quickly change the order of the squad they are with.
  • Attack/Defence Dice: Modifiers don’t affect the final value, instead it adjusts the number of attack or defence dice you roll. Attacking dice succeed on 4+, defence dice on 5+. This makes massed fire easy to work out
  • Morale: Squads below half strength need to start taking morale checks which has the potential to lock them in place by knocking them prone. Before they can attempt an action another morale test
  • Campaign Play: A big focus in Wars of Insurgency is the campaign game, seeing your force increase in size and gain additional abilities.

Round of Fire

  • The Wheel: This is the core system of the game. Different actions will affect when your next activation is. For example, making smaller movements is better if you need to be able to quickly react. Shock and Suppression also tie into this system, with successful fire slowing down those affected by it.
  • Units and Elements: Each squad (or unit) you buy is made up of at least one element. Elements can be a fireteam of soldiers, a single specialists or a vehicle. When a unit is activated, each element can do a different action, with the longest step setting when the unit next activates. Single element squads allow for more responsive units but can be more expensive.
  • Dice Rolls: Dice rolls are simple with modifiers adding or removing the number of dice you roll. A success is normally 5+. Then your opponent will attempt to counter your successes by rolling the number of your successes + modifiers. Overall the system is quick and easy to learn.

What does a unit profile look like?

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For this test, we will be using the profile for a British Army squadie (so a professional soldier) with body armour, Assault Rifle, a Frag grenade and a Smoke grenade.

Black Ops

NameACCCQCDEDSaveCardEquipmentSpecial
Professional Soldier4444JackAssault Rifle, Body Armour, Smoke grenades, Frag grenades-

Grenades in Black Ops are purchased as a squad upgrade to outfit an entire force. The system works that lower stats are better.

Danger Close

NameS&DAMP. WpnS. WpnGrenade
Squadie 14HRL85A2None1 Frag, 1 Smoke

Soldiers are either regulars or insurgents which affects their morale.

Force on Force

Initiative Level: D8
Confidence Level: Confident
Supply Level: Normal
Body Armour: 1D
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D10

1x Rifleman w/L85A2

Stats are usually applied for an entire force.

OSC: Part 1

TypeLevelArmourWeapon
Soldier5BAssault Rifle | Frag Grenade | Smoke Grenade

Skirmish Sangin

BodyArmourMoraleAPWeaponCBT Phases
13 (15)1D10+455%3L85A22, 4, 6, 8

Pistol (BODY x3) 45% | Rifle (BODY x3 +10%) 55% | Heavy Weapon (BODY x2) 30% | Spot (100%) | First Aid (40%) | Throw (BODY x3) 45%| Forward Observer (BODY x2) 30%

Spectre Operations

LevelDescriptionCDAGSTDCMEPVGear
7Professional Soldier3352310Assault Rifle, Body Armour, Frag Grenade, Smoke Grenade

Fireteam Modern

 ShootAssaultSaveMorale
Regular Soldier4+5+4+4+

Grenades are not modelled, weapons are listed individually.

FUBAR

Using the Afghanistan supplement, British Infantry are listed as:

Activation: 3+
Exp: 4+

Gear:

  • Ceramic armour 5+
  • Grenades
  • Personal Role & Radio
  • ISAF Assault Rifle

Living on the Frontline

We’re going to use the Trained profile for the standard squaddie

Troop QualityShootDefendMoraleInitiative
Trainedd8d6d87 Cards

Assault rifles and grenades are covered in the rules. There are no mentions of body armour in the rules.

No End In Sight

Troops are listed by a few ratings:

Troop Type: Professional
Battle Experience: Regular (or Veteran depending on situation)
Motivation: Moderate
Leadership: Either normal or Charismatic

Rifle, Hand grenades and Body armour all have effects

Wars of Insurgency

ProfessionalPointsAttack DiceDefence DiceMorale scored needed
Infantry, small arms12333-6

Also armed with Grenade. There are no mentions of body armour in the rules.

Round of FIre

A British squaddie would be part of the following team

Regulars

  • HP: 4 Figures
  • Armour: 1
  • Tough: 0
  • Discipline: 1
  • Melee: 2
  • Actions:
    • Step: 2
    • Walk: 3
    • Run: 5
    • Shoot: 5
    • Suppress: 4
    • Assault: 6
  • Special Abilities:
  • Weapons: Assault Rifle

What is the squad system like?

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Black Ops

There is no squad system but there is a morale (DED) benefit to remaining in a group when under fire. Grouped figures provide protection to leaders, heavy weapon teams and specialists, forcing hits off them and onto the poor Jacks protecting them.

Danger Close

No specific squad system but a benefit to remaining close to other soldiers when suffering stress (it increases the dice roll).

Force on Force

Squads is how this game is normally played, although the elements can be of any size from 1 up to 10ish. Size of the squad is normally set by the scenario writer. Squads can split and merge easily

OSC: Part 1

At the moment, there is no team system (it’s coming in part 2). However, a force’s commander can spend their activation on other soldiers nearby.

Skirmish Sangin

There are no rules for teams or squads in the main rulebook except for heavy weapons (which just means that the various soldiers that form the team activate together). However, soldiers close by can provide assistance during morale tests and enemy troop positions can be shared amongst characters. In addition, Dispatches 1 adds the concept of acting as a fireteam. It requires action to form, everyone must stay close to each other and it causes the team to activate using the phases of the lowest body rating in the team. But, it does let you activate all of the team at the same time which can be vital.

Spectre Operations

Squads form a key part of the final release for Spectre. Squads let soldiers use their commander’s command rating but requires them to stay within cohesion distance. Militia units gain even more command There is also rules for breaking and reforming squads when you need to separate a larger team. Finally, squad leaders can perform actions such as Fire control orders which lets you bring a lot of fire down on a particular target.

Fireteam Modern

Small tactical unit is the rules is an element which is a fireteam. Each model in the element must remain within element cohesion and each element in a squad must be within squad cohesion for best effect. Additional, vehicles must remain within 12″ of another vehicle or element or else they will be risking negative morale modifiers.

FUBAR

Units are the smallest element and are activated together. They require the models to remain within cohesion and morale is based around the number of suppressed figures.

Living on the Frontline

Activations can only move a group under certain conditions which include staying out of sight of unsuppressed enemy models. For this reason, squads are best until the fire fight begins. Leader models can also choose to activate 1 additional model.

No End In Sight

Squads are the smallest unit which can be activated by their squad leader or anyone above. Squads have cohesion limits which vary depending on experience levels.

Wars of Insurgency

Each unit is a small squad. Cohesion depends on skill level. An important note is that each unit must be of the same skill level – you can’t mix Militia and Regulars in the same squad.

Round of Fire

Each activating unit is composed of multiple elements. Elements can either be individual models or small teams (2-4) soldiers. Elements in the same unit must remain within a cohesion distance. The other fact is that large units get suppressed (and pushed back in the activation wheel) more easily – suppression and shock on one element moves the entire unit’s activation back. Small teams are more reactive but can be more expensive


Do the rules include vehicles?

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Black Ops

Yes. Vehicle rules are simple but good enough for a vehicle to join the fight.

Danger Close

No – It’s literally 2 sides of A4 already filled with information for the infantry battle

Force on Force

Force on Force is a ruleset designed to have vehicles operating on a battlefield. It works very well and can model anything from civilian vehicles up to helicopters and fast air.

OSC: Part 1

No. The vehicle rules will be coming in Part 2.

Skirmish Sangin

There is a complete section detailing various additions to cover AFVs. Vehicles are based around a few key types (such as IFVs or MBTs) but with varying weapons, armour and IED protection. They are incredibly powerful and the rules writers felt it fit to caution against using them (especially the MBTs) in such a small-scale game. Day of the Rangers and Dispatches 2 also adds helicopters as onboard vehicles.

Spectre Operations

The is also another full section of the rulebook. The rules support vehicles in their full range of actions (include ramming enemy troops or colliding with terrain) and also feature a vast arsenal of additional upgrades for them, to make modelling different types more easily. The vehicles feel very different, with armoured vehicles causing issues to opponents especially.


Fireteam Modern

Yes. Everything from technicals up to MBTs. This also includes helicopters that act as vehicles once on the board.

FUBAR

Amazingly, yes. No mention of air vehicles though.

Living on the Frontline

Yes! It cover all types of vehicles from civilian cars to MBTs. There are also rules for helicopters in the Advanced Rules section

No End In Sight

Yes. The game is focused on infantry combat so the vehicles are more focused on supporting roles. Vehicles do not have specified profiles but is instead using an estimate based system, letting players work out the correct class, traits and armament.

Wars of Insurgency

Yes. No airpower due to the setting.

Round of Fire

Kind of – there are mentions of vehicle keywords and AT weapons but no example elements using the vehicle stat in the book.


Do the rules include off map support?

Black Ops

Yes. Various supports can be purchased as Faction Specialities.

Danger Close

Mortars, helicopter support and off-map weapon teams can all be called in via squad leaders.

Force on Force

Artillery batteries, helicopters and air units are modelled. All of these are well modeled, with air units even showing different styles such as strafing runs, pylon turns or dive bombing.

OSC: Part 1

None at the moment.

Skirmish Sangin

Both regulars and insurgents can take off-map support as part of the Advanced rules section. Due to the small-scale of the battlefield, supports also include snipers, HMG teams, mortars, anti-tank missile teams, attack helicopters and fast air (although only in a show of force role).

Spectre Operations

The off-map assets start with heliborne snipers and go up to artillery barrages, fast air units and even ISTAR drones. The list is massive and can be used by all the types of forces.

Fireteam Modern

Lots of it! There are rules for off map artillery (including three levels of support), counter-battery fire and fixed wing air support.

FUBAR

The Afghanistan supplement includes rules for UAVs but no rules for CAS or artillery backup

Living on the Frontline

There is no specific mention of rules of off map support but there are rules for mortars and profiles for artillery pieces that could be combined as an ad-hoc off map support option.

No End In Sight

Full chapter on supporting fire including smoke rounds and the ability to model the effects of pre-game strikes on the opposition (also known as The Stonk).

Wars of Insurgency

Friendly Air Power is available as a political scheme to provide a bonus to your force. Apart from that though, it’s all up to what’s on the table.

Round of Fire

At the moment there is no mention of off map support – all the battle is focused on the board.


What is the optimum size of force for a single player?

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Squad size is between 6 and 13 figures, platoon size is 30ish figures (normally split into sections)

Black Ops

Squad although grouping units could allow for platoon games

Danger Close

Squad – There is a huge amount of detail in each soldier’s action.

Force on Force

Squad up to platoon level with depending on the size of each element (single figures for a squad game, teams for platoon level).

OSC: Part 1

Squad

Skirmish Sangin

Squad size – much like Danger Close, I really would not fancy playing larger than a squad (especially the 13 man squad for the USMC) due to the level of detail each man has in their actions.

Spectre Operations

Squad and Platoon both work equally well.

Fireteam Modern

Reinforced Platoon

FUBAR

Squad or Platoon – each unit you control is a fireteam

Living on the Frontline

A few squads up to a standard platoon.

No End In Sight

Platoon scale is the main focus but can be played with less or more.

Wars of Insurgency

Platoon

Round of Fire

Multiple squads and attached specialists – slightly smaller than a full platoon


How easy is it to make your own force for scenarios?

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Black Ops

IT USES HALF POINTS, RUN FOR THE HILLS! Seriously, the main book includes a wide selection of forces from criminals to intelligence agents (and ninjas). There is also a big list of weapons, squad abilities, faction abilities and specialities from which to build your force. It’s a great and characterful selection from which to make a force suitable for any situation.

Danger Close

No points to guide (although the FAQ provides some guidelines), so its best to take standard squad arrangements. However, it does not take very long to get all the details together due to the simple statlines. It’s more a case of selecting their guts level and then weapons.

Force on Force

There is no points to guide but the forces are not hugely detailed making it easier to work out. All it really requires is a few force stats and then determining which squads have support weapons. The tricky bit is balancing if you are wanting that to be correct.

OSC: Part 1

The system works well – Pick a level, pick body armour level and then pick a gun or two. Values are simple and easy to calculate. The weapon list is massive from the simple bow up to multiple barrel rocket launchers. In addition. the ruleset includes a selection of close combat weapons.

Skirmish Sangin

All figures are either Novices, Averages, Veterans or Elite. Each figure can also take a Speciality package, to theme them into a particular role. Players can also select weapon teams, vehicles, off-map supports and additional bonuses (such as IEDs or ratlines to move around the board). The main time-consuming section of making a force is rolling out the stats from them, generating a body value and then working out the stats from there.

Spectre Operations

This game makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. There is a huge selection, lots of options for both guns and gear, 13 soldier levels from Civilian up to Elite commander. Overall, its easy to make a varied and enjoyable force to use.

Fireteam Modern

Forces are built with points values and are split into Compulsory choices (normally the infantry platoon) and optional choices (such as vehicles or specialist team). There are lists for British Army, US Army, Generic Middle East Army and an Insurgent force.

FUBAR

No points to guide but lots of mentions of using real world squads as a starting point. Much like Danger Close last year, pick your statlines and guns.

Living on the Frontline

No points values but there are some suggestions in force creation as part of the scenario guide.

No End In Sight

No points values. However there are some rough lists detailing platoons for various nations and

Wars of Insurgency

There is a big section of rules at the start, covering points costs for different weapons and skillsets. In addition, there are themes for your force (such as Tribal Militia or Superpower Backed Client Forces) which determine the exact makeup of a force.

Round of Fire

Very. There are multiple factions and plenty of elements to pick from. The token system helps to differentiate the forces, with different elements and upgrades costing different prices for each group. There is a massive number of forces you could create.


What style of game is the ruleset best at?

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This is my own personal feeling about when the rulesets play best.

Black Ops

Small scale, sneaky stealth missions inspired by cinema.

Danger Close

Section on Section violence

Force on Force

probably platoon vs platoon fights using sections/squads as the element

OSC: Part 1

Fast paced section vs section fight

Skirmish Sangin

Section vs section fights with an immense level of detail. Multiple players could do a platoon on platoon battle with ease.

Spectre Operations

Section to platoon level fights, often starting with one force utilising stealth.

Fireteam Modern

Reinforced platoon engagement. Game supports both asymmetric and conventional battles.

FUBAR

Quick and simple games with a few units per side.

Living on the Frontline

Small platoon sized fights between mixtures of regular and irregulars.

No End In Sight

Reinforced platoon

Wars of Insurgency

Platoon engagements in a post-colonial insurgency. The biggest vehicle to expect would be an armoured car or a technical and squads will be a mixture of skill levels.

Round of Fire

Engagements between a mix of fireteams and specialists.


What do I need to know/need to have for my first game?

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Assume for all games that a tape measure, playing surface with terrain and models are required. All the rules work on a 6’x4′ table although some are better on a small one.

Modern battlefields are a lot more cluttered than those of ancient war. I personally recommend lots of scatter terrain to provide plenty of cover and concealment for the forces involved.

Black Ops

  • D6s
  • Pack of playing cards for activation. You’ll need at least two suits (1 red and 1 black).
  • Counters for suppression and noise.
  • Keep control of noise counters in night games! Causing a ruckus is a bad idea.

Danger Close

  • D20s
  • Markers for stress
  • Not much else to be honest – 2 pages makes checking rules very easy. It would work well as a participation game.

Force on Force

  • Dice of every number of sides under the sun for different sizes
  • Hit markers
  • There are lots of rules in the book so I recommend starting out small and working up. The scenarios in the rulebook are very good at illustrating the different rules as they are introduced.

OSC: Part 1

  • D10s and D6s
  • Templates and Counters – both are available from the website for free
  • Event, Action and Resource cards. Physical cards are available from the Evil Bear site. Alternatively, play using the table in the back of the book. The downside is that you can’t look over the top of your cards at your opponent.
  • Objective Markers for the table. You’ll need 5 markers – 1 main and 4 standard markers.

Skirmish Sangin

  • D100s, D10s and D6s
  • Markers – they are handy to keep track of a soldier’s state at any time. Multiple sheets of markers are in the back of the rulebook.
  • Quick Reference sheets – especially the modifiers
  • Character sheets – Vital
  • It’s good to have someway to know which figure is which at a glance. There are lots of ways from markers to making your character sheets cards with a giant picture of the model.
  • Play the two scenarios in the rulebook. Street Fight is a nice small game while Compound 17 is perfect for getting four players round the table. If you’re demoing, Route Clearance from Dispatches 2 is great fun with only a few figures.
  • The key concept I have worked out for Sangin is easy to spot, hard to hit, easy to kill. If you position poorly, not even body armour will save you.

Spectre Operations

  • D6’s and lots of them
  • Markers
  • Spectre is fast paced and bloody – you’ll want to stick to cover and practise all the small unit tactics you know.
  • Beware the Compact, Laser, Red Dot combo. BEWARE!

Assume for all games that a tape measure, playing surface with terrain and models are required. All the rules work on a 6’x4′ table although some are better on a small one.

Modern battlefields are a lot more cluttered than those of ancient war. I personally recommend lots of scatter terrain to provide plenty of cover and concealment for the forces involved.

Fireteam Modern

  • D6s
  • Markers for activation and suppression.
  • Cotton wool for making destroyed vehicles

FUBAR

  • D6s
  • Markers for activation and suppression
  • It’s a one page set of rule so Quick Reference Sheets are not needed

Living on the Frontline

  • Multiple dice types – D4, D6, D8, D10, D12s
  • Playing cards for activation
  • Markers and Roster sheets from the book
  • Start off with a squad vs squad fight before jumping in to a full size battle

No End In Sight

  • D6s for gameplay
  • Two colours of D6 for shock and kill scores – either use the different colours or smaller dice
  • Stress Markers – smaller dice or counters
  • Counters for wounds
  • A way to differentiate your leaders in your force
  • Start off with a squad vs squad fight before jumping in to a full size battle – there are a lot of things to get used to.

Wars of Insurgency

  • D6s
  • Numbered order markers for each squad – the rules recommend poker chips or faction flags
  • A counter for how many grenades your force has remaining.
  • A marker to identify your Leader
  • A reminder of what your Political Scheme/Permanent Institutions is so you don’t miss out on your edge in battle.

Round of Fire

  • D6s
  • Printed off version of The Wheel
  • Counters for each unit on each side
  • Cards for the different elements and weapons to save having to look back and forth in the book
  • Think carefully about activations – actions that cost large numbers of steps can be let your opponents run rings around you

Do the rules include a campaign system?

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Black Ops

Black Ops has multiple pages how to run a campaign. It uses an Intel system. Intel is gained after winning a scenario and based on how much a player has gained, they can attempt to launch a final mission. It’s a core idea rather than a deep and complex system but it does a really good job of making it feel like a black ops tv series leading to a finale.

Danger Close

Its two sides of A4. No campaign system is included

Force on Force

There is an entire Appendix of the rulebook covering the campaign, including rules for both regular and insurgent forces. The rules cover a “campaign turn” from selecting a mission through playing the game to rolling for casualties and rearranging your force.

OSC: Part 1

OSC currently does not have a campaign system.

Skirmish Sangin

Dispatches 1 adds a detailed system for campaigns, letting you gain experience for each soldier in a battle before spending it on stat upgrades, experience packages or promote them. The rules also cover replenishing forces after casualties. The system is designed best to create a platoon sized force and then take portions of it out into each game.

Spectre Operations

Spectre currently does not have any campaign system but I would not be surprised if it turns up in a future supplement.

Fireteam Modern

There is currently no campaign system included in the book.

FUBAR

It’s two pages of A4 – no campaign system.

Living on the Frontline

There is currently no campaign system in the main book.

No End In Sight

I think we have a winner in the campaign department. As well as three pages covering the basic rules for linked games and experience games, there are multiple subsystems covered which lets you theme your campaign around different styles of engagement. From insurgencies which requires keeping a close eye on the hearts and minds of the population through the Domino Theory style missions to affect a region up to the escalation of a full on super power war, these options present you with a massive range of possible combat situations. Add to this, there are also guides to setting up the personalities of your characters and a scenario generator to help decide the upcoming scenario.

Wars of Insurgency

Campaign play is a big focus for Wars of Insurgency and is designed to let you fight through a civil war.. After picking a faction style from the list included and gaining victory points through games, you get to see your faction grow (from Obscure Movement up to eventually taking control of the country). As you grow, your force organisation changes to give you more access to better trained troops and vehicles. In addition, you also gain access to Political Schemes and Permanent Institutions. Political Schemes are effects chosen before each mission and effect your force for that mission (examples include employing Tactical Advisors or performing Magic Rituals). Permanent Institutions are chosen every time your group increases in size, giving your force access to Spy Network or by having your faction Leader appear on the cover of Time Magazine. These two abilities really help to theme your force and make your game feel like it’s taking part in a late 20th century insurgency.

Round of Fire

No campaign system in the rulebook – the scenarios are intended to be one offs. However, there is a small paragraph with a few small recommendations.


Do the rules include any scenarios?

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Black Ops

Black Ops has a set of systems for creating generic missions rather than pre-made scenarios. There are 6 styles (from raids to surveillance) each of which has 6 prompts (so VIP missions might be anything from an enemy general to a captured scientist) and can take place in one of 6 generic areas which includes a map.

Danger Close

Its two sides of A4. No scenarios are included

Force on Force

Seeing as there is no points system, the main way of playing is using the pre-made scenarios. There are 8 scenarios in the main rulebook and each of the 7 supplements is packed full of them.

OSC: Part 1

OSC has a mission generator in the front of the book using D6’s that determine the point of the objectives you placed during setup.

Skirmish Sangin

Skirmish Sangin has a huge number of scenarios. The main rulebook has two and the four other books include a large number as well. Each one contains all the stats needed for each character and most also include numerous special rules and a map. In addition, there are various free scenarios on the Skirmish Sangin blog.

Spectre Operations

There are 5 scenarios in the main rulebook. There are also two pages of advice on making your own missions

Fireteam Modern

There are seven missions included in the book (four for Asymmetric warfare and three for conventional). These are generic missions which don’t specify exact forces for each player.

FUBAR

No scenarios are included. It’s literally 1 page (2 if you include the Afghanistan supplement)

Living on the Frontline

Two scenarios (one focused on a section sized action, the other for a platoon) and a scenario generator with 5 archetypes to use.

No End In Sight

This set includes one of the best scenario generators I’ve seen. It’s packed with multiple tables for rolling up things like terrain, objectives, forces, arrival method (!), support options and possible complications.

Wars of Insurgency

Three scenarios with maps, objectives and special rules but no specified forces.

Round of Fire

9 scenarios with a wide selection of situations. There are also some guidelines and making your own scenarios.


I like ruleset X. Where can I go to learn more and talk to other wargamers about it?

Basic rule – head to Modern Miniatures Wargaming group on Facebook or the Lead Adventure forum for general modern-day warfighting.

Black Ops

Take a look at the Black Ops facebook page

Danger Close

Danger Close is on the Empress website and has an unofficial facebook group

Force on Force

Ambush Alley has a website and forum.

OSC: Part 1

Evil Bear has a website with forum, a facebook page and a facebook group

Skirmish Sangin

Radio DishDash maintains a website with store, forum and blog.

Spectre Operations

Spectre are literally everywhere. Official website, official page and instagram. Well worth following all of them to keep an eye on the frequent new releases. The community has also set up a facebook group.

Fireteam Modern

Rory Crabb has a site for all his games (I’ve linked the page for Fireteam Modern)

FUBAR

The main website for FUBAR.

Living on the Frontline

I haven’t found a specific website for the game but two sites of interest are the Winter of ’79 group and the original blog that inspired it – This blog is probably one of the main reason I got back into wargaming.

No End In Sight

The main nordic weasel site and the blog for future updates

Wars of Insurgency

There is a group for First Command Wargames on Facebook

Round of Fire

Round of Fire has a facebook group where the author posts very frequently.


What are my personal thoughts?

Black Ops

Blacks Ops is the definition of a good ruleset in my opinion. It’s fun to play, has some clever ideas which it does really well (the stealth rules and noise system is fantastic) but it’s isn’t truly excellent in any one particular way. It’s a game I taught to a room full of people at a friend’s housewarming, they had a lot of fun and many of them remembered the rules the following day. It is the quickest game to get up and running and is spot on for what it is designed for – black ops. Overall, its a great set to own, have on the shelf and roll out when you fancy a change and want to play something simple and exciting very quickly.

Pros: Quick and easy to learn, an excellent stealth system, lots of toys to play with, very fast setup time

Cons: Can be a little too simplistic, finding a rule can be a bit of a pain

Danger Close

The ruleset makes sense BUT I find its simultaneously very detailed and too slight. If I want this style of game, Skirmish Sangin is preferred and has a lot more to it to make it more exciting. I do give it a little bit of slack because of how short the rules are but even so, there are other things to play that do everything better.

Pros: Short and easy to learn.

Cons: Other rules do the same job but better.

Force on Force

Honestly, these rules are great.The sheer breadth and depth of rules is amazing, allowing for literally any military situation on land in the last 80 or so years. It does a good job of showing modern combat with all it’s confusion and various skills. My problems really start with it being so broad it can be overwhelming. The lack of an sort of army builder is a pain when wanting to try something different which can lead to players creating massively inappropriate armies. Finally, the books are lovely being filled with artwork, photos and scenarios but can be a pain to find rule definitions in there.

Pros: Massive amount of rules, lovely presentation, interesting core system

Cons: No army list so very dependant on checking, a lot of rules to learn, not easy to find a rule you want in a hurry

OSC: Part 1

OSC is fantastic in that it does something different. It does away with long statlines, instead focusing on a single value and a pile of actions you can do. It’s well set out, easy to thumb back and forth through. The actions make you feel like you are in an action film; in fact I’d say it’s the game on this list that reminds me most of airsofting thanks to it’s focus on claiming objectives (be they positions, items or people).

The main downside I have is that it feels like the first part of something. It’s the early chapters of a rulebook showing you the core but tempting you with what is coming soon. I think Part 2 will really add to the game and make it something I’d be more interested in playing more of. This isn’t really a knock against the rules, it’s just the next game down really occupies my mind when it comes to controlling single figures in a skirmish game. I’m also not a huge fan of the setting it creates but it’s easy to ignore and just use the rules for everything else.

Pros:  Lovely laying out of the rulebook, lots of actions to do, simple core mechanics, It does something different…

Cons: …But not different enough, can feel uncomplete

Skirmish Sangin

If someone says “Set up a game for next week”, this is the first game I would choose to play. I love how a character feels like an actual person, with a variation on the stat-line depending on a dice roll and a host of specialities to pick from. I love how combat revolves around the idea of “easy to spot – > hard to hit -> easy to kill”; firefights without cover are brutal things. Explosions take up a more realistic size on the board and the difference between being caught in the kill zone and sitting just in the damage zone really drives home how dangerous a modern battlefield is. I like the action point system, I love how choosing between changing stance and running just a little bit more can be the difference between life and death. I love how body armour of any kind is a genuine trade off; true it will have you from that shrapnel, but it might just give your opponent the edge in activation order. There are so many parts to the game that tie together to create a gripping game that is a fantastic story at the end of it. I find myself finishing a game and rather than talking about dice rolls, I talk about the game as if it was a tv episode.

Now there are downsides to this game. The main rulebook and list of modifiers is pretty intimidating for a player reading it for the first time. The game definitely has an upper limit on the number of troops a single player can control (15 is the upper limit of comfortable in my opinion). There can be a lot of counters between morale, current pose, wounds, etc. I don’t get the “Kid in the Candy Store” feeling a crave when writing an army list. Creating a scenario can be almost RPG esque, rolling up and writing down profiles for each and every character. But at the end of the day, I keep finding myself rolling D100’s and trying to remind myself of the modifiers table. The reason I write scenarios for it is that I want to play more of it!

Pros: Deep character system, quick to play (once you know the basics), logical rules, ongoing support, one of the rulesets that make you feel like you are on the ground IRL, lots of scenarios to play among the 5 books/online downloads

Cons: Can be intimidating on first look, lots of counters, lots of setup if writing own scenario, hard to play above section level with only one player per side

Spectre Operations

The newest on the list, these rules are beautiful to behold. The rulebook is great to read and the rules simple to learn from it. It’s easy to run battles from a few SF operators up to full platoons. The gear selections makes every weapon feel different and so crafting your force is almost as fun as playing. Once ingame, it’s fast and fluid. Characters outside of cover do not last long – you need to play tactically, using all your tactical and command skills to get through the day. It has a wonderful sense of character to it – every mission feels like a military operation. The game also supports vehicles making it perfect for a “get all the toys on the table” sort of game.

Pros: Most modern set of rules, ongoing support, simple to learn and quick to play, lots of goodies to play with, supports platoon level engagements with ease, very flavourful, very busy community

Cons: Can feel a little “in-progress” with some elements (vehicle rules and large engagement specifically), points balanced forces can be massively outnumbering each other, one or two head scratching rules

I’ve decided to hold off on my personal thoughts on the games in part 2 for now. The reason is that I haven’t played these games anywhere nears as much as I had when I wrote part 1. I want to get a few more battles in before I come forth with judgement.


Well that’s the comparison done. I hope the page is useful to you and helps you answer that tricky questions – “which rules should I play?”

If anything is missing or incorrect, please drop me a message and I’ll update it.