Thursday, March 15, 2012

Force on Force: Too Much To Handle

Last week, I sold my like-new copies of Force on Force and its first scenario book, Road to Baghdad. For many months, I had tried to pick up the rulebook and wrap my head around it to no avail. Within minutes of reading, my eyes would begin glassing over while my brain would begin looking for ways to escape the page.

I know many people enjoy playing the game, and I do believe there is a game in there just wanting to get out and play. I just could not find it. It's one of only a few rulebooks that I have never been able figure out or remain focused on while reading it. (For me, the original Gulf Strike from Victory Games remains on the top of that list and will never be dethroned!)

I think some of my problem with Force on Force comes from it's dense text and occasionally confusing writing style. It's organization also can be confusing at times. The main problem, however, is that the game is just too much for me to handle. For example, when the rules explain ranged combat, I kept getting lost in modifiers before I could even get to what they were supposed to be modifying. Firepower has eight modifiers alone. Cover also has around eight modifiers. Then there are armor modifiers and troop quality modifiers and support weapon modifiers and diminishing fire and splitting fire and.... Well, you get the point. There is just too much there for me to keep track of without someone teaching me the rules.

On The Road to Baghdad
While I had many problems reading the core rulebook and keeping all the rules in my head, I didn't have that many problems reading the scenario book, Road to Baghdad. Granted, the writing style isn't that different from the core rulebook, but like most scenario books the organization of Road to Baghdad is much simpler than a rulebook.

I like Road to Baghdad's overview of the days leading up to the war and its discussion about the early war's operations in general. That was the best summary of the war I had read--neither too complicated nor too simplistic. It helps frame the scenarios.

I also like how the scenarios are presented. Giving the actual events surrounding the engagement and then how those events and OOB's had to be changed to make the scenario playable, so the Americans don't win all the time, is very nice. I also found the sections explaining how each engagement historically unfolded to be of great insight and interesting. Overall, I found that gamers really can use the book for any set of rules, not just Force on Force.

I parted with Road to Baghdad only because I doubted I would be doing any modern skirmish gaming because it's just too complicated  as subject for me to learn on my own. I don't understand the weapons, the tactics, nor all the jargon. I guess I've come to a point in my life where I don't have the time to learn them on my own. On the other hand, Force on Force has made me appreciate our brave men from WWII, who fought with much simpler weapons and very little training compared to today. It's amazing what those ordinary guys accomplished, as well as sacrificed in large numbers.

So until someone at a convention teaches me how to play Force on Force, I felt that I had to part with the game, using that money to fund other projects. But that is another post for another day.


  1. You're not alone - I thought it awful.

    I owned Chieftain Models during 2009 - after the WW2 ranges had been sold to JTFM. With a range of entirely modern AFVs, I thought it a good idea to advertise in, what was then new, original Force on Force. My advert appeared on page 189. Which should have told me everything I needed to know.

    Nonetheless, I got a free PDF copy of the rules, and like you found them incomprehensible. Worse even that DBx in terms of confusing writing, and illogical layout.

    I got the impression that there is/was a great engine underneath that was trying to get out, but to be frank, 190 pages of rules for small skirmish actions is ridiculous.

    To this day it remains the only rulebook I've ever deleted from the Rules folder.

  2. Same impression.
    I can't understand this kind of ruleset, unnecessarily complicated.
    And I can't understand its undeserved popularity.


  3. When we delete a PDF rulebook, then we know it's really really bad! ;-)

    I hear ya, Roby!


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