One of the drawbacks of the Osprey range of wargames rules is that they are very affordable and therefore very tempting. A little while ago I bought copies of Black Ops and En Garde but haven't had a chance to try them out.
Last week I was arranging a game at the club and decided this was a good chance to try out Black Ops as I knew my opponent, Andrew, had previously enjoyed other modern era games such as Force on Force.
The rules themselves are split into 2 formats: the main straightforward game
and one that is more focused on stealth missions. The inspiration for the rules is clearly very cinematic...indeed the blurb on the cover cites Bond and Bourne films and games such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid are an obvious inspiration too. Suggested factions in the rules include regular troops and fanatics/militia but also include ideas for police, criminal gangs, intelligence agencies and even Ninjas. There are also suggested stats for near-future tech if you want to try out Jump Packs and Stealth Suits
Troops are divided into a number of categories: Aces (leaders), Heavies (not necessarily people with heavy weapons but weapons specialists...marksmen, RPGs etc), Specialists (with non-weapon skills...medics, scientists etc) and Soldiers. Points are paid for different quality troops and additional weapons, skills etc. Figures are activated on the turn of a playing card using face cards and Jokers: so, for example if a Red Jack is turned then all 'Soldiers' on the Red side are activated. Each figure then gets 1 action.
Figures can deploy on Blinds until spotted but I' decided we may as well go for it and use the Stealth rules as well. These mean that some of the defenders are deployed on blinds while the others are patrolling as guards. The attackers deploy normally and can either sneak past the guards avoiding raising the alarm or go in all guns blazing. At this stage on the attackers use the cards to activate. As the attackers move and fire they generate noise which alerts the guards...they don't necessarily raise the alarm but will investigate (or in my case, wander around aimlessly and ignore the heavily armed troops invading their compound!). Eventually they should be bright enough to twig something's up and raise the alarm at which point it reverts to the normal game format.
The rules suggest a range of scenarios and settings including Assassination, Extraction, Espionage, Sabotage, Raid and Surveillance. Suggested settings include Airfields, Compounds, a Defile, City, Factory and Village. Our game set small force of Special Forces troops against some generic Fanatics. in a village with the aim of killing the Leader. In the centre of the village was a large oil well and some storage tanks which could well make a reappearance in a later Sabotage scenario.
The Playing cards tucked under some buildings mark the possible locations of the leader and off-table guards who are all assumed to be asleep or otherwise occupied
|The Special Forces entered from the left and luckily the Leader was in |
the house on the far right...otherwise it could have been a short game!
Andrew was doing an excellent job of sneaking around and my guards were proving particularly rubbish at investigating noises but as I suspected, Andrew's impatience got the better of him and he quickly grew tired of sneaking and decided to go for the less subtle approach of killing everyone which would at least ensure the Leader was among the casualties
The fanatics only managed to kill one of the Special Forces (well...they are 'Special') and we found the rushing your opponent and hitting him seemed a very effective way of taking out the opposition, especially if you can outnumber him. This worked well for Andrew but backfired somewhat when his troops were tied up punching Fanatics, leaving my Leader to abandon his followers and make his way to the truck by the storage tanks and drive off.
A hail of gunfire from the Special Forces shot out the tires and it took me a couple of turns to realise that this had slowed me so much I would be quicker getting out and walking! The truck manage to limp to the edge of town before bursting into flames but the Leader was able to leap out and run off into the desert night. All the remaining Fanatics died...erm...Fanatically. So technically a win for the Fanatics but I think the Leader will have a bit of trouble recruiting new followers....
I made a couple of errors with the rules...it took me a while to work out that when firing each figure may fire multiple shots depending on their weapon. This generates more hits but also more noise in the Stealth game. I also forgot all about the morale rules: the Fanatics took a lot of casualties and should have run away but, hey, they were meant to be Fanatical! I also had to wing it slightly on a couple of situations eg my leader leaping into the truck and driving off. There are rules for vehicles but I decided that it should take 3 turns for him to get up to full speed. A slim volume like the Osprey rules can't be expected to cover every situation but as long as you all play in the spirit then it generally works out ok.
Another excellent set of rules...less confusing than Force on Force I suspect. It would be interesting to try these with a more straightforward stand up fight but I think they would work well. Coincidentally on the next table at the club there was a Vietnam game also using Black Ops...in this case it was a VC attack on a convoy and they seemed to be having fun too!