Friday, August 08, 2008

Moving along: Lock N Load Day of Heroes

OK, East Front fans – Bombarossa is off the Big Table. Sorry for the abrupt ending, but in summer the game industry often tries to mimic the movie industry by releasing lots of interesting stuff. So Bombarossa is out in favor of a new game, which will in turn soon be out in favor of another new game.

My final assessment of Bombarossa is “not bad”. There’s nothing really extraordinary about the game, especially if you’re familiar with other Bomba games like Proud Monster. Bombarossa has a neat one-map footprint, good physical quality and rules that work just fine (even if they are a tad fiddly). The game plays fairly fast and features numerous cycles through the dead pile for lots of units. It wouldn’t be one of my ‘desert island’ games, but it’s OK for a short-ish playing panzer-pusher.

Great. Now what about the new game?

It’s been a while since I’ve played anything at the squad level, so it’s time to return to one of my favorite game scales. The new game on the Big Table is “Day of Heroes”, which uses the Lock N Load game system to address the October, 1993 fighting in Mogadishu.

Physical production values are fine, although I don’t think the graphic design decisions in Day of Heroes are on a par with those in other system modules. The map is quite nice, but the counters suffer from a color palette that has the unfortunate effect of causing them to blend in to the map, rather than stand out from it. And the white-on-gray print scheme for the Somali units makes much of the numbering on them quite difficult to read at times.

The module rules adapt the core system to the peculiarities of urban fighting, and they don’t do a half-bad job. The most notable change is the switch to a square grid on the map (as opposed to the usual hexagonal grid). There are also a number of special rules to account for the civilian-filled, urban environment – items like flaming roadblocks and angry mobs are key components.

The US order of battle is long on firepower, but it’s man-carried firepower for the most part because of the setting. Ranger squads and Delta teams both have relatively high inherent firepower, and the Rangers tote quite a bit of additional punch in the form of support weapons like the M249, M60, LAW rocket launcher and 40mm grenade launchers.

Somali militia appear as squads and half-squads with low firepower, but there are a lot of them. And they can dodge in and out of the civilian mobs – and fire through them without giving up victory points. The US, on the other hand, gives a VP to the Somali player each time a US unit fires into a mob. I will note that Somali militia units never suffer a ‘shaken’ result; any adverse combat result against them causes a casualty reduction (squad to half-squad, half-squad eliminated).

Today’s snappies feature the setup for the recommended intro scenario, “Chalk 2’s Run”. The US player has a couple of Ranger half-squads, two heroes, a medic, and a leader (the guys of Chalk 2). On the other side of a wall of hostile Somalis is the crash site of Super 61, with the chopper’s immobile crew and a Delta sniper team. The scenario is six turns, and the US has to hold the crash site with minimum casualties at the end of the game.

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