“The game is best enjoyed while listening to heavy metal albums.” – FiveCore Second Edition
During January my attention was drawn to Five Parsecs From Home, which turns out to be a supplement for FiveCore 2nd Edition, so let’s take a look at that first, shall we?
In a Nutshell: Simple skirmish wargaming rules. 93 page PDF by Nordic Weasel Games, $9.99.
FiveCore 2 is a set of generic skirmish wargaming rules, derived from the earlier Five Men in Normandy and the core of a wide range of supplements for various settings and eras from the 20th century onwards. The rulebook is divided into 23 sections, so rather than list them and drill into detail, here are the highlights. Each section has a number of “playstyle options” which allow you to tweak the game to your liking, and individual rules subsystems are independent of each other, allowing you to mash them up with other games if you fancy it.
Like THW’s Chain Reaction, FiveCore sits in skirmish gaming land, midway between wargaming and roleplaying games, with a small table, a handful of figures on each side, and a campaign generator. It is closer to the wargaming trenches than the roleplaying tavern, however, and thus assumes that all figures are more or less the same. It also assumes that interesting things happen about one-third of the time – whenever a player wants to do something that involves an element of chance, he rolls one or more six-sided dice. Rolls of 1 or 6 have special effects, with the 6 generally being more dramatic. Such situations include movement, firing (but not brawling), throwing grenades, rolling to see if your armour saves you from an attack, the effects of leadership, artillery support, sneaking past guards, and so forth.
During a turn, the dice may drive a player to move all figures, shoot with all figures, or activate three of them who can both move and fire. Player turns alternate, but under some circumstances the inactive player may react to what the active one is doing.
Firing subsumes rolling to hit and rolling for damage into a single dice roll. Each weapon has specified numbers of Shock and Kill dice (the basic infantry rifle has one of each) which are rolled whenever it attacks; scores of 1 or 6 have special effects. Kill dice reflect physical damage, while Shock dice are essentially morale effects – if I say more than that I will basically give you the game, it’s that simple. Under some circumstances you can swap Kill for Shock, or may be forbidden to use one die type or another. This is a very clever mechanic, which I expect would be really fast in play.
Melee is fast, infrequent and deadly; you win or are incapacitated.
There are a lot of optional rules for special situations – weather, vehicles, alien races and superpowers for example – which I infer were not in the first edition of the rules. One which drew my attention was the solo gaming section; these essentially state that each enemy team should have a plan (“take and hold the building”) and give brief notes on battle drills for attack and defence, target priorities, and options for changes of orders, reactions to setbacks and so forth. These are quite different from what I’m used to, but look like they would work well enough.
There is a mission section intended for quick pickup games, and a random force generator to shake things up a bit. There is a character creation section for when “a soldier is a soldier” won’t do; characters have a class (e.g. Rifleman or Leader), a level, which is basically how many (random) advances they’ve gained, and (optionally) a backstory which has no mechanical impact on play. In campaign play, after each game one figure receives an advance.
Single-column black on white text, few and basic illustrations, colour covers. I’m a content guy more than a format guy so I’m fine with this. The layout is simple enough to work as an e-reader file.
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
I kept thinking I’d found something missing, and then finding it a few pages further on. So maybe an index.
This is a quirky product, the sort of thing that was commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s before wargaming became big business, when it seemed every local club had its own locally-printed rules with cardboard covers and dodgy illustrations. That’s not a criticism, but it did make me nostalgic.
The actual combat rules are very simple and straightforward, with a one-page quick reference that would suffice for most games. The campaign and character rules are more complex, but look viable.
The game is more focused on the fireteam as a whole than the individuals within it, assuming that figures are much alike in capabilities and importance.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5. This intrigues me enough to go into the hopper of games to try out.