A little bit of introspection today.
As a gaming group we still primarily play Warhammer 40k (house ruled). Slowly over the months we have spread out and started playing other games, to the point that 40k is not a given on any game night, but it is still the primary fallback option. We have a decent collection of miniatures and experience in other systems,including the following great games, Dropzone Commander, Dystopian Wars, Chain of Command, In Her Majesty’s Name and a more recent addition of Sword & Spear. Recently we have just finished a great Chain of Command campaign, and are looking for the right start point for the Dystopian Wars campaign, Hurricane Season. All up some excellent gaming options.
Looking back, I think this increased exposure has improved me as a gamer, in fact I think it has improved everyone in the group. With different rules comes different tactics, methodologies and systems. We are forced to play differently and often outside our comfort zones. I would like to say we have also learned a lot, about games and how they are written and developed, different tactics and game styles, to different aspects of the hobby we either rarely engaged in previously or new aspects to old things. For me personally it has also really reignited my passion and interest in painting and hobby work, outside of just straight playing the game.
I have both my our gaming group, and the Chain of Command rules to thank for starting all that off again. The Chain of Command rules were a breath of fresh air in the stale and disappointing environment that was the 40k 7th Edition release. It provided the spark of inspiration I needed to change my thinking. The gaming group though were the real key. Inspired, they very much put up with my whims as I play tested as many systems as I could (they were very tolerant). With the group working together, and things gathering momentum, we revitalised the 40k system, and established our House Rules. We haven’t looked back since. Thankfully the inspiration run has continued, and now a lot of other hobby projects that may never have seen the light of day are in full swing.
I was reminded as I read an old post I wrote for MN-Gaming, that the smallest thing can make a big change, and how thankful I am of our gaming group and the people in it.
Below is the original piece I wrote a few months a go, as a high level overview of Too Fat Lardies. With luck I’ll be able to review some of their rules in the future, along with the games mentioned above.Original Post found here: http://www.mn-games.com/blog/too-fat-lardies
Used with permission
We always enjoy exploring other wargames around the place, apart from our usual forays into Warhammer 40k, Dropzone Commander and a little bit of Fantasy Battles. Myself and a few other members of MN-Games are keen on gaming in the World War 2 period and had collected a Flames of War army many years ago. Looking around again, this time we went for something a little different. Flames of War is a fun game, but it is reminiscent of Warhammer 40k, and there is a realism disconnect with long range artillery batteries being on the table at that range. So good game, but not what we are currently looking for. In our travels I stumbled on a game called Chain of Command, a platoon level game for the World War 2 period. This led to further research, and unbeknown to me at the time, a hole which I would tumble into.
Chain of Command is a game by TooFatLardies (TFL). Some people may cringe at the name but I think this, at its roots, is what makes this company so special. While spending so much time and so many resources in providing historically accurate games, they don’t mind stopping and poking fun at themselves. This combination of good nature and historical accuracy, and a high attention to detail usually means their rules are free flowing and quick (once you get a handle on them) and reflect the period appropriately. This is backed up by their motto, “Play the period, not the rules”. The rules are there and exist, and do a good job of resolving any conflict that may occur in the game (often with unique resolution systems), but they are in the background; they don’t get in the road of the game. This leads to games where you can really get stuck in to playing, without the immersion being broken by the mechanics.
TFL games are fairly well known for being card driven system. This seems to be a common ground amongst their games, and often leads to a cross knowledge of play style between systems. The cards are used to dictate the order of play (which unit activates), leading to gaming ‘friction’ and helping keep both players involved in the game and on their toes. This friction, and level of removal of the player, also means that while you may issue commands at your troops, you never know if they will, or can, follow them 100%.
Another TFL staple is the use of leadership and force morale to get things done and see how well your force is travelling. The use of Big Men, or leaders, are what gets your force moving and doing what needs to be done. Those charismatic people who know how to motivate people the right way at the right time. The correct use of these individuals is essential to get the most out of your force.
Games are not designed to be 100% balanced, they are designed to replay historic scenarios and benefit most when used in this capacity or as part of a campaign. That is not to say balanced games cannot be played: they can, but you often get the best out of the system in the aforementioned way. In keeping with this theme, games are not designed to be won by the “kill them all” method. Usually as your force takes damage or losses, bad things happen and you need to test your Force Morale. Making your opponent break or voluntarily withdraw is the usual way for a game to be won.
Chain of Command breaks the card based activation for the use of Command Dice. The result of the command dice dictate what sort of unit can be activated, but the end choice is yours. In this case a unit is a team, squad/ section, junior leader or senior leader.
The other plus for TFL games are they are mainly into the rules production, not miniature production. While they have worked with a few companies to obtain miniature packs, they are rules agnostic and can be played in many miniature sizes and scales, and using many different arrangements (most games recommend 6mm to 28mm, but really any can be used with little modification).
At the moment, a section of the group is heavily into Chain of Command, in the middle of a campaign. I have purchased a number of other rules and have thoroughly enjoyed reading through them and very much look forward to playing them in the future. TFL host rules for a number of periods, check them out on their web site, as for the rulesets I own and plan to try:
A bonus is all their rules are available in print, PDF, Hyperlinked PDF (tablet versions) or bundle deals. This is excellent as you can make a purchase of a digital version and download it straight away for the impatient among us (me).
TFL support is also excellent. If something is wrong, a quick email and it is fixed very quickly (usually first chance or the next day). The authors are eager to help and interact with the players and their customers. They welcome feedback and spend a great deal of time replying to mail and forum topics. All this means you really feel like a valued customer with real input.
Now, these games won’t suit all players. They are not for people who like 100% control over their models and what they do. They are not for people who want a points based system or 100% balanced game (not really suitable for tournament play, however I am sure things can be adjusted). There are the odd typos or mistakes in the books but they are usually quickly rectified. The biggest issue that many will have is that their rules mainly focus on historical periods. If you are into platoon/ squad based sci-fi or any fantasy, then you may not get any joy here. I am sure some games can be modified to suit, but you will get nothing out of the box. Quadrant 13 sets a decent base set of rules for company sized Sci-Fi games but you’ll most likely need to create your own force lists (although there is a very comprehensive method to do this, with lots of examples).
So if you are looking for something very different from your usual IGOUGO (or variation) games, check out a TFL game. They are well priced, easily obtained and come highly recommended for playing accurate representations of historical games or periods.