Well I have finished (sort of) the rule book for Fields of Fire. "What is Fields of Fire?" you may ask. Well thanks to someone already getting to the name "Warzone" I have had to change it to Fields of Fire, but honestly, I think that may be a blessing. It seems to be a better name so far and I am certainly warming to it. So in this blog post I will give a detailed as I think I can get away with description of the rules for those interested in playing. If you want the full rule book, please contact me and I should be able to give you a copy.
Starting the Campaign
You start your game of Fields of Fire looking at a big map. This map is divided into hundreds of squares each representing an area 100km x 100km. Each of these squares potentially gains the controller resources. These resources are Population, Food, Fuel, Industry. Food gives you the food you need to feed your armies, Fuel is needed to run your vehicles and Industry provides you with a monetary income to fund your armies. Population is not a resource as such, but this stat dictates the population cap of your armies. On each square you own you can build it up to focus on a particular resource, thus suiting your empire to your needs.
Once you have chosen a square to start on you immediately gain a set amount of funds and resources to start your empire off. This is the equivalent to eight weeks income for that square and so is called the "8 free weeks". As you begin training soldiers and buying equipment for them you realise that you must expand to protect even the most basic territory. As soon as the game starts, after the 8 free weeks, you can start conquering your territory by moving soldiers onto a square and holding it for a week.
As you and the other players expand, increasingly you will be trying to gain the better areas for your empire. The game mechanics of Fields of Fire do not say that you have to go to war, but as the study of human history has shown, governments go to war all the time. As a battle begins the movement of your troops becomes more specific. You and your opponent set up their regiments on whatever side of a 1m x 1m board they cam in from. This can even be on the same side at times, if the were divided by a river or a mountain range. This board is equal in size to one of the squares on your campaign map, so you don't even have to think much about how to set up the terrain on your board, it is already there for you.
Fields of Fire, like every other wargame I have come across, has turns and each turn is divided up into phases or sections. Each turn is represented by a day, so you continue to gain resources elsewhere in your country. This allows you to bring fresh troops into the battle field and continue to fund the battle that in most other wargames is WYSIWYG. The first phase is the Moving Phase. One thing that FoF does differently to most other games is that both players move, shoot and fight at the same time, though one player 'has Initiative" and has a bit more say in how the game runs for that turn. Also, each unit moves in a certain order, depending on how fast it is. So for example, a Helicopter moves before a Light Tank, but a Light Tank moves before Infantry. As in real life, vehicles can outrun any infantry soldier, so you need to keep a pretty solid battle line to keep your opponent from overrunning your supply depots and outflank your positions. Because of the scale of Fields of Fire, you will not have a well balanced force, no matter how hard you try. Even without the aid of special rules or pre-selected traits, you will find that each countries military takes on a theme of its own. For example, in the current campaign I have started with one of my friends I have chosen to build fairly well rounded infantry regiments with good supply lines, while my opponent (I think), is going for an elite army, designed to smash aside foes and re-supply later. (If you are reading this, make a mental note about this part and I will get to something on this topic later).
After moving is the Shooting Phase. Just like when moving, the faster units go first, but you and your opponent basically go at the same time. The thing with FoF is the scale of it. Because at 1:100,000 scale, the range of, say, rifles, have no real measurement (it would be about 1mm). So the shooting phase is where you fire your long range artillery and conduct aerial raids. Even these are usually pretty small measurements though, as at 1:100,000 even a large artillery piece has a range of 20cm. As far as the actual battle is concerned, the shooting step is not a terrible big part of the game, but it is very important.
Thirdly is the Combat Phase. This is where most of the death, doom and destruction comes in. During the movement phase, many of your regiments would have come into contact with the opponent and a battle will commence. Depending on how you have equipped and organised your soldiers, depends on their "Ratings". Each weapon has an attack and defence rating at Long, Medium, Short and Close ranges. In a nutshell, Close range is grenades and bayonets, Short range is rifles and small arms, Medium range is best for Light mortars and heavy Machine Guns and Long Range is the area of heavy artillery and big guns. You and your opponent both roll dice and compare the attack or defence of your soldiers, the highest score wins that round and the loser suffers a "Casualty Point". You basically slog away at each other until someone gives up, which usually doesn't take long. Both sides then calculate casualties and the loser retreats. Then players go onto the next combat.
Team Sized Battles
If players so choose they can even scale the game down further. For every combat that you fight in the regiment sized battle, you can scale it down to several team sized battles at 1:1000 scale. This does not really effect the ultimate outcome of the game, it just adds a level of tactical flexibility. It does take a fair bit longer, but it does add a level to the game that a player can just get involved in for the day, rather than having to go through all the pre-battle building.
Team battles work in much the same way as regiment battles, just without all the worries of upkeep, food, resupply and other regiments. You still have the Moving Phase, Shooting Phase and Combat Phase, but now the shooting phase is much more important and the combat phase a lot less so, depending on the tactical circumstances.
The Human Element
Fields of Fire adds one very important thing into the mix that I think most wargames fail to get, that is what I call the Human Element, the direct effect of decisions that actual people make. There are many times in Fields of Fire, especially as your empire expands, that you have to make decisions that are just really hard and could spell doom for your entire empire. If you are playing team battles, for example, I would suggest that you have another person under your command, directing the outcome of the battle that he is in. Now say that this friend of yours is feeling a little under gunned and wants air support. Rather than rolling a dice to determine if he gets it, he has to actually ask someone, in this case, you, if he can have it. You may give him whatever he wants, or you may say no because it is too far, too costly, not worth the risk or you just don't have the air power in the area. The more levels of command you have, the more this matters too. Say you have been playing in your campaign for a few months and you have a sizable empire. Your armed forces are just too big to control by yourself, so you ask one friend to take care of the Navy and another to take care of the Air Force. The Naval Commander has three people under him controlling various sectors of your empire (say, north coast, west coast, south coast), and each of them has another two people under them controlling some of the regiments. When the regiments do battle, these people then get support from one of the ten Naval Captains under their command to control the team sized battle.
While the team battle is good for people who don't want to spend all that time building armies and just get out and have a game, it does add some of the truths of command to those above them. If the person commanding the team battle is not doing a good enough job, then you may wish to remove them from command. If they are doing well, you may want to promote them to command a division or even a corps. Just as in real life, it is up to the people involved as to how far they can go or want to go. This also means that players that want to advance still have to try to do a good job and not just flit away good soldiers, and so they really do care about what happens in the wider campaign, although they don't have to control any of it.
Now that bit above that I said you should remember, I am going to bring it up now. I mentioned that I wasn't sure what my opponents army was made up of. That is because you don't have to tell your opponent exactly what you have in your army. Because you can make you regiments and companies whatever size you want, while we may have the same number of soldiers, he might have fifteen companies to my twenty. Now if they are all equipped the same (which I highly doubt they are but bare with me) then that means that his companies are smaller and more manoeuvrable, while mine are better in a straight forward slogging match. There is the possibility though that his companies are the same size as mine and he has more of them, but I don't know that, so I have to make a tough choice on whether or not I think I can defeat him.
So that is about all I have for you today. Thank you very much for reading and I hope that I will see you across the Fields of Fire board at some stage.