Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Leader of Men

So I just received and read a set of mini rules from Task Force Publishing, http://www.tfpgames.com/ , called "A Leader of Men."

Looks very good on first read.  Has several features I like such as a strong command and morale mechanisms and otherwise simple firing and movement mechanisms.  The other thing I like about the rules is there is no need for special rules for Germans behaving differently than Russians or other silly fluff.   A German Rifle-mg stand shoots and moves like a Russian rifle-mg stand.  Differences between forces are covered by the various morale and quality ratings and the turn-activation sequence.

The rules do use card activation, which I don't usually care for when it is just a rules gimmick, but the designer of "A Leader of Men" thought a lot and designed the game around the card activation system.  The game will tend to draw focus and action on where the fighting is most intense (i.e. stands are closest) and if  this focus is not getting a player closer to his objective, then in effect the player has lost control of events and will need to strive mightily to shift the focus back to where it needs to be.

The game runs by pulling a card, a player activates a unit that then takes morale checks, rally checks, moves and fires and can modify these actions with the unit commander's command points.  Sort of like the Ambush Alley or Two-Hour Wargames sequence, but the whole things reads a lot easier and should play easier.  At least for someone just starting a set of rules.

The rules do suffer from multiple terms for the same checks in both the rules and quick reference sheet which serve to confuse the reader.  But a careful reading of the examples included in the rules will clear up that confusion.  Also, the movement rate for infantry does not seem be defined anywhere in the rules but I'm sure an email to the author or the game forums would reveal that answer.  Over all, the rules will receive no award for the best written, but the designer's intent still comes through clear.

It looks to be a wild and woolly game system with units (platoon of 4-8 stands) being easily affected by morale and command problems but, if not quite as easily, also brought back on the firing line.  A players troops, under the stress of combat, may decide to fall back or go to ground despite what the owning player wants them to do.  Makes a player want to keep a small reserve to exploit those times when the enemy falters and you need a fresh force to throw into the breach.  Or plug a whole in your own defenses when a well placed artillery rounds takes out your key MG nest.

Basing is general so forces bases for FoW, Crossfire, or Poor Bloody Infantry will work well.  Typically, these rules use 3-5 figures mounted on a stand.  Individually based 28mm can work to by just keeping 3-5 figures in base to base contact to represent a "stand."

I look forward to running a game with these rules one day soon.
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