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Subject: Fire Team: the second best squad-level game money can buy rss

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Jim Wise
United States
Brewster
New York
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Here's my take, from a recent GeekList thread:

Fire Team is a great game, which combines a light, but still realistic-feeling combat system (with very clear ASL roots) with an innovative and very effective command/control system, and then drags the whole thing into the late twentieth century with equipment and vehicles -- and scenarios! -- built around the small actions on the cutting face of World War III in Germany.

The first half of this combination, a squad-leader-like combat system, is serviceable and fun, but would not carry the game by itself. The second part, the command system, is simply brilliant, subjecting your best-laid plans to the ebb and flow of initiative and command, and even leading American and Soviet forces to hew to their respective combat doctrines (due to the relative cost of activating squads vs. platoons for each side) without the weighty and unmanageable `stupid rules' which other games have used for this purpose.

The third part, the setting, is what it is. I happen to be a big fan of World War III games -- fighting `the greatest war that never was' has a charm all its own, and offers a symmetry of combat which makes for better scenarios than most modern settings can bring to the table, in my book -- but if the setting doesn't appeal to you, well, this is certainly a one-topic game system.

Which reminds me -- scenarios: Fire Team has a simply great set of scenarios. Having seen how a lack of good scenarios can break an otherwise brilliant game, while good, fun, and realistic-feeling scenarios can carry a game whose rules are sub-par, I am happy to report that Fire Team is that rare mix of good, well-thought-out rules with compelling scenarios.

The result is the only modern combat tactical system you'll ever need, and my favorite tactical-scale modern combat system (substantially better than GDW's `Assault!' series, and miles beyond GDW's later `First Battle' series, the other main competitors in this scale and period). It's still only my second favorite tactical-level game, though -- having had the misfortune to come out but two years before 1989, it never had a chance to get the layers of supplements which ASL -- or even Assault! -- bring to the table, and it never got the rules polishing which a second edition would have allowed, so at the end of the day, ASL and ASLSK see more time on my table.

So that's the caveat -- if you want to be able to keep buying supplements, or to be able to find opponents near you wherever that may be, go buy the ASLSK, and don't look back. But if you want to see what might have been -- and try out a command/control system which is hard to beat -- well, FireTeam is cheap on eBay, and still relatively easy to find.
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johnny5 Is Alive
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Sterling
Virginia
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Nice review, I'll have to pull this old game from my shelf and blow off the 15 year old dust. Jeepers! I don't think I'd ever punched the counters.

I do remember looking it over during the first Gulf War and thought about the possibilities of using the West of Alamein (ASL) boards to game some potential US vs Iraqi Rep Gd scenarios.

This idea was shelved since I did not have a clue where I would start regarding Iraqi doctrine nor how to properly model them in this system.
On the otherhand, this does give me an excuse to finally pull out my unread book "Into the Storm" by Tom Clancy. Perhaps there's something useful there?

I guess it would be mostly a fudge in any case; but then how could any of us be 100% sure?
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