Friday, July 22, 2011

Boots on the Ground-- a sort of review

from Worthington's BotG page
Several months ago I received Boots on the Ground which I had pre-ordered from Worthington Games. It is a very rules-light game simulating small scale actions by elite US special forces in the Modern Middle East. Everything is very generic, even in the scenarios it is never stated whether  you are controlling SEALs or Delta or any of those things or even what country you're in... but the map is apparently based on a satellite of Baghdad if that gives you any clue.

Any how, game play is very simple and ideally suited to solitaire play. Each round you activate one or more "team members" and either use one of their special abilities or make a group move and fire. All fire is resolved as an Opposed Roll, so anyone who exposes themselves to make a shot will risk taking one. The roll itself is simply 1d6 for each side modified by several factors (mostly effecting the US forces). The firing is heavily skewed in favor of the US, but time will tell and I have yet finished a game without losing several of my team and usually almost all are wounded by games end.

from Boardgame Geek
The game really ha that Blackhawk Down feel to it, Insurgents pop-up all over the place usually right where you don't want... and all you are trying to do is hold out or make it to the green zone. The insurgent actions are completely governed by card pulls. The game length is set by the number of cards you select for a deck and then each Insurgent activation you pull a card. Sometimes these cards are good for you (you could pick up a couple of GIs to help you out or the Insurgents could all take cover as a drone flies by overhead). Insurgents move only when the cards say so, appear when the cards say so, etc. The only exception to this is that any in range insurgent will automatically fire at US team members.

There are several scenarios included with the game. They all represent generic actions such as escaping from a "Hot LZ" to hostage rescures to building clearing. The scenarios have really high replay value because the Cards will vary a lot from game to game. One game you could be hit by wave upon wave of pop-up insurgents in another you could catch many breaks. There is a really high narrative feel to the games because of this.

Boots on the Ground is not for the rivet-counter or hardcore ASL player. It has been described as a video-game style wargame (which I suspect is as much due to it's looks as it's play). I really enjoy it though and right now it's my go to wargame even though I know next to nothing about post-WWII modern tactical warfare. The components are adequate though not "deeluxe" by any means and there could be a good deal more in the way of examples and rules clarifications in the rule book itself. Personally, I would have liked a bit more traditional look myself, but that's a matter of taste. The graphics make total sense if you think of yourself as someone who is monitoring and controlling the action from a remote location.

Buy it, you'll like it.


James said...

That sounds like an ideal solo game. Just don't get carried away with it and get tempted into collecting minis for modern warfare...

Scott Pasha said...

There's some awful nice 20mm figs being made by Elheim... ;)