Fields of Fire

 
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Fields of Fire

Game Information

Publisher
Designer
MSRP $
75.00
Genre
GMT Games

Fields of Fire is a solitaire game of commanding a rifle company between World War II and Present Day. The game is different from many tactical games in that it is diceless and card based. There are two decks used to play. The Terrain Deck is based on a specific region and is used to build a map for the various missions your company must perform. The Action deck serves many purposes in controlling combat, command and control, various activity attempts. The units of the company are counters representing headquarters elements, squads, weapons teams, forward observers, individual vehicles or helicopters. A single playing is a mission and several missions from an historical campaign are strung together for the player to manage experience and replacements. A mission can be played in about 1 – 2 hours.

This game is based on three actual campaigns experienced by units of the 9th US Infantry in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. “Keep Up the Fire” is the motto of the 9th Infantry, known as the “Manchus” for their service in the Boxer Rebellion.

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Schweig!'s Avatar
Schweig! replied the topic: #15360 15 Dec 2008 12:35
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 ...
Mr Skeletor's Avatar
Mr Skeletor replied the topic: #15371 15 Dec 2008 15:45
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?
Dogmatix's Avatar
Dogmatix replied the topic: #15392 16 Dec 2008 03:01
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...]
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #15398 16 Dec 2008 09:36
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!
Dogmatix's Avatar
Dogmatix replied the topic: #15418 16 Dec 2008 15:24
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.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #15506 18 Dec 2008 12:11
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?
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #15511 18 Dec 2008 12:39
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.
Bullwinkle's Avatar
Bullwinkle replied the topic: #15530 18 Dec 2008 18:04
What's your assessment of this regarding replayability of the scenarios?
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #15534 18 Dec 2008 20:54
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)
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #15539 19 Dec 2008 00:32
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.
Bulwyf's Avatar
Bulwyf replied the topic: #15540 19 Dec 2008 00:32
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.


-Will
Bullwinkle's Avatar
Bullwinkle replied the topic: #15554 19 Dec 2008 10:09
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.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #15571 19 Dec 2008 12:06
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!
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #17458 18 Jan 2009 23:46
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... ;) )
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #17459 19 Jan 2009 00:08
Sure, update...I've played around with it some more over the past couple of weeks and I have to say that I think it's one of the most interesting wargame designs in years. The caveat is it does take a little work to get going...setting up a scenario and getting things rolling can take a little bit longer than I think is comfortable for a solo game, but once you dig in it's pretty close to amazing. There's definitely an UP FRONT kind of feeling, but there's new concepts that are really pretty groundbreaking for war game design. The "AI" system is brilliant, the command/communication mechanic makes for a lot of really interesting decision points...I'm about 99% sure you're going to like it Gary...I think it's a must buy, particularly for folks like me looking for something totally unique and innovative.

I really want to get into it some more...your people get better and develop over a campaign and I haven't really done that yet. It's still kind of trial and error for me, but it's the sort of thing where when you get it right it feels right- because it's a great design.

What do I need to do to get you to just buy COSMIC? It's one of the best games you could possibly buy and the FFG is nearly perfect.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #17461 19 Jan 2009 00:16
I just got this -- it is going to be my first wargame (I don't really count Twilight Struggle as a wargame) just because it plays solo and no one I know wants to play wargames. I read through the rulebook (nothing worse than the MtG rules when they invented "the stack") and it look reasonable, but I definitely will need to reference it as I play. I hope to play my first round after this week.

Gary -- as to Cosmic Encounter, get it! I had never played it before the FFG version, but I have to agree that it is quite excellent -- one of my favorite games of all time.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #17579 20 Jan 2009 01:03
Alright. I'll definitely get both soon. Almost bought Cosmic today at the FLGS but I just couldn't stomach going into my Simpson's comic book guy run local FLGS to pay 60 bucks for it. Maybe it makes me a cheap ass, but that's just how it is.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #18131 23 Jan 2009 13:44
www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/38617

I HAVE TO HAVE THIS GAME!

...aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I gave in.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #18784 29 Jan 2009 03:18
This game is very hard to play. But hilarious--what follows is my first turn of FoF.

I cautiously send one squad from 1st and 2nd platoons onto the map, one into an orchard and another into a farm. Neither of my units can find cover since their commanders are not with them, they were sent alone into the cards. The rest of my command waits impatiently off map to see what happens. Both squads get ripped apart. One squad takes massive artillery fire from a hidden German forward observer stationed in a village nearby, pinning it and turning a step into a litter team. The other squad finds a well placed hidden sniper and gets one step paralyzed, one step turns into a litter and one intact unit. All pinned and still not in cover.

Next turn my plt leaders of 1 and 2 damn the torpedos and bring their entire platoons onto the card containing the remnants of their comrades squad. They dash onto the card, exposed while their commanders shout at them to find the hidden sniper and forward observer. They somehow find both and open fire...
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #19268 01 Feb 2009 03:46
OMFG this game is ballbustingly hard. And I don't mean hard to play, though it does have a cliff size learning curve, but I mean *difficult.* It is brutal. There are American bodies everywhere in every mission I've tried and failed (All mission 1, the offensive)
Dogmatix's Avatar
Dogmatix replied the topic: #19269 01 Feb 2009 04:00
Gary Sax wrote:

OMFG this game is ballbustingly hard. And I don't mean hard to play, though it does have a cliff size learning curve, but I mean *difficult.* It is brutal. There are American bodies everywhere in every mission I've tried and failed (All mission 1, the offensive)


Yea, it's a bloodbath isn't it? I played my first game completely *wrong* [from start to finish I think] and *STILL* got basically everyone reduced to a fine red mist....
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #19270 01 Feb 2009 04:03
It is hilarious to send people onto the first contacts and watch them all be killed pinned and paralyzed, never to be effective again. UH OH!
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #24712 29 Mar 2009 17:44
Was playing this using the excellent VASSAL module today, doing mission 1 WWII again. I should move onto the Korea missions in my table game... but since the VASSAL only has WWII I went with that.

This game really still delivers. It is labor intensive as hell, fiddly, I guess you'd call it, but it really is a great game. There is no excuse not to try this game if you like solo games and tactical games at all now that the play example and VASSAL modules are out. It is playable... just read the XoP and don't sit around obsessing about the crap rulebook. This is the most innovative wargame I've played in the last 2 years or so.

Anyone want to swap some stories and strategies with me? Today I played the first 4-5 turns of mission 1 again and the 3 of the first 4 cards triggered mines. That means I had a narrow one card gap to funnel all my good troops and equipment through unless I wanted to chance the mines. God damn Krauts and their mines.
iguanaDitty's Avatar
iguanaDitty replied the topic: #24714 29 Mar 2009 19:33
Just traded for this yesterday...the comments here are inspiring me to read through the rules and tackle it rather than wait around for an updated ruleset. Sounds tremendous...
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #24716 29 Mar 2009 21:45
Just read the new example of play, Iguana. It will crystallize almost everything you need to know to play. It's very hard to play straight out of the rulebook. Seeing it in play makes all the difference. I think a lot of people who are hating on this game are not really putting it on the table and muddling through it a little, they just read the terrible rules and give up. I understand, but I think now with the examples there's no need to put this away anymore.

The other reason people don't like this, IMHO, is that boardgame and wargame players are control freaks. You will get in many missions where a lot of your guys die because of a couple bad draws. But you *have* to fight through that--that's what is fun about the game. People who have to have an iron grip over their games and try to make sure no one dies in a mission are not going to be happy with FoF. I think that's part of the game's viewpoint--in a real offensive, shit is going to happen, guys are going to die, and it's up to you as the commander to salvage something out of the shitstorm.

I cannot get this fucking german heavy machine gun out of the trenches in mission one. He's covering the single card gap that I mentioned and it's really busting my balls.