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TOPIC: FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group

FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 15 Dec 2008 10:33 #15353

No, support group isn't military jargon...I'm talking about a mutual commiseration about the rulebook.

Did anybody else get this? I got it because Gene did this awesome thing where if you got laid off and can prove it they'd send you two free games of your choice. And since I had just cancelled all my P500 stuff, I just asked for the next two that came up. So I got this and UNHAPPY KING CHARLES (looks great, btw).

FIELDS OF FIRE looks really, really cool. Some fresh concepts, and the whole thing is about communication and networking more than just shuffling troops around. I really like that it has Korean and Vietnam war scenarios and since it's solitaire I don't have to wait to play it with Billy Motion. However, it also means it's harder to hash out the rules by having two people work them out together.

And GOD DAMN is the rulebook cryptic. I've read through it 1.5 times and I'm still not sure what to do when I sit down to play it. I think that whoever wrote it took for granted that most readers will have never played the game before. Like there's this mission log sheet...in the rulebook it tells you that filling it out will be "self explanatory". It isn't. At all. No complete example of play, no "tutorial" mission...

So, anybody who has the game...care to shed some light on your experience?
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 15 Dec 2008 12:35 #15360

I pre-ordered this game ... but a little bit differently. I don't own a credit card, so to pre-order games I have to use a service GMT's partner in Germany, UGG, provides. I think GMT just sends one big crate to UGG and I guess this is done by ship. I just hope I'll receive the game before New Year.

I'm also not one of those crazy dudes who reads a rule book before having the game in my hands. I think that's a waste of time (maybe not if the time you're wasting is paid by your company). I need to set up the whole game to learn it.

Other than that I'm fairly sure I will understand the rule book. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I learned and played quite a few complex games, including Up Front. I'll gladly participate in this support group ONCE I got the game ...
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 15 Dec 2008 15:45 #15371

Michael Barnes wrote:
Did anybody else get this? I got it because Gene did this awesome thing where if you got laid off and can prove it they'd send you two free games of your choice.

Shit, wont be be going broke by next year with this policy?
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 16 Dec 2008 03:01 #15392

Just got the FoF box in today. In the first read-through I don't find the rulebook that cryptic per se, but it's clear to me that this is one of those games that the rulebook will be at-hand at all times. It shares a certain amount of complexity with Up Front without some of the really cryptic (or at least counter-intuitive) elements of that ruleset. There is a whole hell of a lot going on/to do, which means that this isn't going to be one where I can just internalize most of the rules and settle in. The first few plays are clearly going to be rule-slogs. Hopefully, after that, much of it will become 2nd nature.

Hope to get a review of this one written over christmas...

PS: for those still awaiting this one in the mail, be careful when you start pulling the bits out. There's a small clarifications/errata sheet in the box that is the same size as the standard "GMT strives for quality, signed: One of the Office Ladies" sheet that's in every box. I almost tossed the errata sheet away thinking it was that sheet [though I should probably save them just to see how many "GMT OL Autographs" I've collected to this point...]
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 16 Dec 2008 09:36 #15398

OK, I played through most of the first WWII scenario last night. Here's the deal. You have to read the whole rulebook cover to cover for ANYTHING to make any sense. It's not like most games where you can just refer to something later on and it unfortunately decides to throw the ENTIRE game at you at one time unlike UP FRONT, which has the program-based rules so you can learn it in steps. I think the rules are almost written for somebody who is at least familiar with the game. Like I had no idea what you actually use pyrotechnics for, how you use them, or why. Then I had this one dumb squad that ran up in front of a command post that couldn't do anything because they were out of command.

A lot of the concepts just aren't really explained. And since the game is very (VERY) different than pretty much anything I've ever played, some of it just made no sense at all. Like the volume of fire (VOF) concept that models small arms fire into a general area rather than at a specific target. It's more realistic I think, but it requires logical assumptions that are kind of contrary to wargaming doctrine and that are also not apparent at first. Kind of like BaM.

They really dropped the ball on providing resources to actually learn the game. It seriously needs a sample game or tutorial since it's something pretty new.

So the impression? It's pretty awesome. I'm about to post a blog about it, so go look over there for more. I do want to hear what you guys do with it, since it's solitaire the feedback process is a little different!
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 16 Dec 2008 15:24 #15418

Michael Barnes wrote:
They really dropped the ball on providing resources to actually learn the game. It seriously needs a sample game or tutorial since it's something pretty new.

Bitch and ye shall receive! ;)

www.gmtgames.com/fof/FoFExampleFinal.pdf


Full-blown example of play walkthrough. This should help reduce the learning curve as it sheds light on a lot of the more novel concepts that will undoubtedly hang folks up.
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 18 Dec 2008 12:11 #15506

Man, I definitely might get this. Please give this game a review/impressions guys, TOS cannot seem to get past the difficult rules, so is particularly ineffective at giving any impressions of the game besides "the rules are hard!" which I already know.

Also, to the thing with the pyro flares and stuff. This is a dubious statement to me, but re: not knowing the right strategies/how to use stuff the designer wants it that way. He's a combat veteran and wants the players to blunder around a lot, send some guys on accidental suicide charges, etc in order to appreciate modern tactics. I don't know that it's a good idea to that, but that is what he has said.

Also, does the example of play help you guys at all?
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 18 Dec 2008 12:39 #15511

OK, I've played it a couple of times now. The rules are just not written with the beginning player in mind and there's a lot of concepts that are just completely glossed over that you'll realize while you're playing that you just don't get, or a situation may not be explictly covered that should be. I don't think there's anything "hard", it's just fairly opaque and since it's not your standard LOS/ZOC/DRM/CRT thing it really kind of introduces a lot of very new concepts that aren't apparent at first. The example of play does help some, but the only way to learn how to play it is to just sit down and hash it out.

Once you do, and things start coming together, I think the game is pretty great. At least as far as I've played it. In fact, I think it may be one of GMT's best games and it may wind up on the same keel as BONAPARTE AT MARENGO in terms of doing the wargame thing in a very new way. It just takes some work to get going.

The game is definitely more about high-level command than ordering some guy to shoot another guy. In fact, combat mostly happens automatically and you don't even have to tell anybody to start shooting when they see bad guys. I think the communications system works extremely well and the chain of command concepts are handled well, even if at first it doesn't make sense why you're getting four different kinds of activations. The pyrotechnics thing winds up being pretty damn important- you can send a squad out to reconnoiter a potential contact area but he goes "off the network" so to speak. If they wind up getting shot at, you can pop a flare or smoke to signal them to get the hell out of there. Or seek cover. Or infiltrate the card from where they're taking fire. The pyro adds some interesting choices and a lot of versatility.

The automation element does require a lot of administration, but it's one of the best "AI" systems I've ever seen for a solitaire game. Force generation, movement, special events...all very simply handled with cards and some tables.

There's definitely a lot of UP FRONT in the game, anybody who's played that will see it immediately. I think it's actually pretty streamlined compared to UP FRONT and again the focus is on command, not on man-to-man tactics.

It's interesting how step losses work in the game too...they don't really reduce firepower in general, but what happens is that sometimes step loss gets converted into limited action teams (LAT). So a couple of guys in a squad might be paralyzed, wind up as casualties, or forming a litter team to cart off the wounded. Rallying a lot of times means getting these strays reconstituted into a good order unit.

So far there's not much I don't like about the game. It does seem to take a long time to play through a mission, but a lot of that is (for now, at least) looking through the rulebook and sorting out how to do something.

I definitely recommend it...I'm not completely committed to an opinion on yet but I think it's got something special going on.
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 18 Dec 2008 18:04 #15530

What's your assessment of this regarding replayability of the scenarios?
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 18 Dec 2008 20:54 #15534

Alright, I'm very close to getting it then, thanks Barnes. Would love to hear others impressions who have gotten past the rules. I'm used to totally intractable rules (TOC) so I'm more interested in how the game plays. The Example of Play looks really cool, especially with the knowledge that the game gets more and more levers as the era becomes more modern (better comms, air support, etc)
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 19 Dec 2008 00:32 #15539

What's your assessment of this regarding replayability of the scenarios?

Very high. You have options on your assets and the enemy activity will almost always be completely different. Plus the terrain is different every time you set up a scenario. I still can't beat the first one.
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 19 Dec 2008 00:32 #15540

I'm in the same boat as Gary. When I heard the squaks of how difficult the rules were to digest I immediately became interested. I got the impression that folks were having a hard time learning the game because it was so different. Somteimes those really different games turn out to be brilliant. You just have to put some work into learning them. (Up Front, Magic Realm, BaM) With that in mind I read the rules for myself and I didn't think they were that bad. FoF is different and I can see how the designer didn't want to spell out everything for the player. The extended example of play was very helpful for putting the rules in context and I definitely have a better idea of how the game plays.

The end result of all of this is I went ahead and pulled the trigger on ordering the game. I'm a huge Up Front fan and I think FoF pays homage to it by taking some of UF's concepts and taking them in new directions. (I was also reminded of the campaigns and missions from X-Com: UFO Defense.) Ben Hull is rapidly becoming my favorite wargame designer.


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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 19 Dec 2008 10:09 #15554

Michael Barnes wrote:
What's your assessment of this regarding replayability of the scenarios?

Very high. You have options on your assets and the enemy activity will almost always be completely different. Plus the terrain is different every time you set up a scenario. I still can't beat the first one.
Sold.
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 19 Dec 2008 12:06 #15571

Michael Barnes wrote:
What's your assessment of this regarding replayability of the scenarios?

Very high. You have options on your assets and the enemy activity will almost always be completely different. Plus the terrain is different every time you set up a scenario. I still can't beat the first one.

OMG OMG OMG BALANCE IS OFF! I CAN'T PLAY THIS GAME THAT I CAN'T BEAT IN ONE TRY! I AM THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!
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Re:FIELDS OF FIRE - Support Group 18 Jan 2009 23:46 #17458

Any updates on any of your feelings on this one? I am a hair's breadth away from pulling the trigger on this and Cosmic Encounter, though I may wait for the phenomenon Dogmatix talks about where CSW dump their couple month old unpunched games on the marketplace (and feel free to PM me if you see a good marketplace deal on a copy Dogmatix... ;) )
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