Modern Wargaming With “Force-on-Force” Part Four – Vehicles & Supplements

February 29, 2016 by crew

Welcome to the last instalment in our Force-on-Force article series by Beasts of War community members @unclejimmy and @oriskany. So far we’ve overviewed the game system in Part One, examined Morale and Irregular Forces in Part Two, and Casualties and Scenarios in Part Three.

Image A

In our final article, we wanted to wrap things up with a look at the great range of support and supplement materials available, allowing the player to really take his Force-on-Force experience around the world. We also take a quick look at how vehicles work in Force-on-Force. After all, is it REALLY a wargame without tanks?

Supplements

“Modern War” is a big topic, and no wargame rulebook could realistically hope to cover its full spectrum between just two covers. Accordingly, Force-on-Force is supported by a broad range of books, each of which expands on the particular nuances and conditions of a given conflict.

Ambush Alley: Vietnam 1965-1975 – This sourcebook allows players to recreate engagements of the Vietnam War. While the “classic factions” are naturally represented (Viet Cong, NVA, US Army, and US Marine Corps), so are ANZACS, ROK troops of South Korea, and South Vietnamese forces. Special rules include Vietnamese tunnels, river battles, night fighting, and booby traps.

Image B

Bush Wars: Africa 1967-2010 – The Middle East is often regarded as the world’s most war-torn region, but a closer look reveals that Africa may in fact claim this sad title. This book contains information on the national armies, insurgencies, and foreign “peacekeepers” of Africa’s many wars, enough to keep a wargamer busy for years.

Classified: Special Operations Missions 1940 -2010 – Let’s be honest, the reason to do skirmish-level modern combat is to play special forces. With missions dating back to the early stages of World War II, this book explores the increasingly important role of covert ops carried out by “armies” that the world never sees.

Cold War Gone Hot: World War III 1986 – The ultimate “modern war,” the one that’s never happened … yet. With this book you can create Force-on-Force games that depict hypothetical battles in West Germany, a Soviet Invasion of Alaska, or a host of other “Red Storm Rising” scenarios. Wolverines, forever!

Image C

Day of the Rangers: Mogadishu 1993 – On a much more serious note, we have this supplement which provides information for the firefights and engagements that have raged through Somalia for at least the last twenty years. Although this book focuses more on the infamous Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993, even today this country remains an undeniable hotspot.

Enduring Freedom and Operation Uruzgan – These supplements have to do with the “War on Terror” that dominated the first decade of this century. First, Enduring Freedom covers America’s invasion of Afghanistan to fight Taliban insurgents and al-Qaeda terrorists. Next, Operation Uruzgan covers Australia’s involvement in the Afghanistan War.

Image D

Road to Baghdad: Iraq 2003 and Fallujah: Iraq 2004 – Finally we come to the supplements that cover the Iraq War, starting with the Coalition’s initial invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. We then have a sourcebook that allows players to recreate US Army and US Marine Corps operations in the bloody Battle of Fallujah in November, 2004.

Vehicles

Modern warfare is, at least most of the time, supposed to be a mechanized and motorized business. It’s actually quite shocking how often this ISN’T the case, but the fact remains that vehicles are a major part of modern warfare. Accordingly, Force-on-Force ensures that vehicles can play a vibrant, detailed part in your tabletop game.

Vehicles, in Force-on-Force, are handled in two basic types: wheeled and tracked. They activate like any infantry unit, and also have two basic speeds (tactical, 10” and rapid, 20”). Just remember that most Force-on-Force games represent a skirmish area 150-200 feet across. This isn’t the place for 3000-metre tank gunnery duels.

Image E

Many Force-on-Force tables are also loaded with very close terrain, like the streets of Fallujah, the ruins of Grozny, or the mountain passes of Afghanistan. This accounts for the relatively slow speed of vehicles – not even double that of an infantry squad) – despite the fact that many of these vehicles can easily exceed 50 mph (80 kph).

Still, these vehicles can also be incredibly resilient. While an insurgent “technical” (truck with some “A-Team” plating and machine guns welded on it) only has a basic 1d6 or 2d6 defence, MBTs like the M1A1 Abrams or Challenger II can crank this up to 4d12, before reactive armour, smoke grenades, or other defensive bonuses.

Also, when it comes to firepower, few options bring more to the table than a main battle tank, an APC, or even a HMMWV loaded with .50 calibre machine guns. In Force-on-Force, how effectively this firepower can be brought to bear has a lot to do with whether the commander is “buttoned” up, or locked up safe with all hatches closed.

Image F

Unbuttoned commanders (standing up in their turrets, gunnery hatches) can see and engage targets very rapidly. However, they’re also very vulnerable. Buttoned up commanders are quite safe, but their vehicles suffer a -1 penalty to all reaction tests.

This explains why, in many movies and documentaries, we see infantrymen spraying oncoming tanks with their small arms. While admittedly desperate, this is far from pointless. If an enemy commander can be hit, or even forced to button up (or remain buttoned up), the tactical effectiveness of the tank is drastically reduced.

One of the best parts of vehicles in Force-on-Force is the damage system. Depending on class of vehicle being hit (light, medium, or heavy), and the class of gun being used (again, light medium heavy), you get nine possible lists of results, which are then rolled against with a d12.

Image G

All kinds of results can be rolled, far more than the usual “killed” or “saved.” Optics can be damaged, tracks can be broken, guns can be knocked out, or crew can be hurt. Massive ammo and fuel fires (the dreaded “brew up”) are also possible, as are “catastrophic kills” (simply put: ka-boom).

Image H

Even if a vehicle is wrecked, under most circumstances the crew gets a passable chance at survival. In our Ukraine battles, we had a 3-man crew successfully bail out of a wrecked BMP. The slight-wounded gunner helped get the badly-wounded driver to safety, while the unscratched commander picked up an AKSU carbine and joined the firefight outside!

Debriefing

In closing, we just wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who’s supported us in this effort. Foremost, this includes the Beasts of War team for letting us publish on their site, particularly @brennon and @lancorz for their help, patience, and hard work in making these articles look so great on “the Beast’s” front page.

We’d be remiss, however, if we didn’t also thank everyone who’s taken the time out of their busy gaming day to read and support our articles. It isn’t easy, we know, to plough through our aimless ramblings and bestow gentle and encouraging commentary on our humble efforts. As always, thank you.

For now, we’ve come to the end of our journey into the fiery world of Force-on-Force. Hopefully this is just the beginning of your journey, however. Or, if you’re a Force-on-Force veteran (or any system that specializes in modern-era wargaming), please share some of your own experiences in the comments below.

James JohnsonDarren Oliver

If you would like to write an article for Beasts of War please contact us at ben@beastsofwar.com to find out more!

"Force-on-Force is supported by a broad range of books, each of which expands on the particular nuances and conditions of a given conflict..."

"Accordingly, Force-on-Force ensures that vehicles can play a vibrant, detailed part in your tabletop game..."