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Subject: Gruntz 15mm...can it really be this good? rss

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Tim Snoddy
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Gruntz 15mm...can it really be this good?

Over the years I have played many games and of often get excited about a new game but I can't remember being as excited about a new game in a long time as I currently am about Gruntz 15mm sci-fi rules.

The game allows you to use any 15mm figures to play skirmish games with a sci-fi feel. They allow non technologically advanced units to be fielded alongside futuristic units. A basic Gruntz squad is six figures and it may have up to two support weapons called squad attachments in the rules. Vehicles and mechas are single models although they may be fielded in platoons of three. You also must field a commander who can provide extra actions to nearby units. There is a huge section in the rules on army building which allows you to select stats for, and get a points value for, any type of unit you can think of. There are some stat cards available free online and a lot more coming. The army builder excel programme is easy to use although making your own unit cards (rather than using a spreadsheet printout) may test your desk top publishing abilities.

Using alternate squad activation each squad has two actions. These can be move and fire, or move twice, assault, go prone for a bonus to hit, or remove suppression and move or fire.
The game play is D6 based. Each model has a shoot statistic (say 5 for regular soldier) and a guard statistic representing difficulty to hit (say 12 for regular soldiers). Each model rolls 2D6 so six pairs of differently coloured dice are essential. The to hit roll is modified by a handful of factors, is the firer stationary or prone, is the target in cover or at long range etc. For each hit there is a roll to wound. This is again a roll of 2D6+ the damage of the weapon versus the soak factor (armour value) of the target. With 2D6 the most likely score is around a 7 with the least likely being a 2 or 12 so extreme results are possible but statistically much less likely than average ones. There is a negative modifier for weapons without armour piercing ammunition firing at armoured targets. However even the weakest Gruntz squad can combine attacks to have at least a small chance of hitting and damaging any target. On 2D6 a 2 is always a fail with a 12 always a success sometimes with other bonuses. Gruntz only take a single point of damage to destroy. Vehicles and larger pieces of equipment can take many more. A single hit on a Gruntz squad causes suppression which effectively means a unit loses an action. If half the models in a unit are waxed (killed) the unit must make a morale test or run. Vehicles and mechas must test every few points of damage to see if they have had a critical system like propulsion, targeting or armour damaged.

To summarise combat and movement just seems right. Different types of units move at different rates over different types of terrain. For example Mechas move at normal speed over rough ground which halves movement rate for anyone else. So there is a reason to field and use different types of vehicles in different types of terrain. There is considerable skill in deciding which unit to activate next. Being suppressed severely limits a units options. Hitting anything at long range is tough but worth trying for a lucky pot shot. Close range combat out of cover is deadly. Trying to run across open ground in front of enemy units in effective range is nigh on suicidal. Area of effect weapons are dangerous enough to make you worry about bunching up and you need to bring some armour piercing weapons to have a realistic chance to damage enemy armour.

A small game can be completed in a couple of hours and I can't over state just how much fun the games I have had so far have been.

Plus points
• Simply brilliant combat mechanics.
• Not tied to any figure manufacturer so you can use any models, excellent unit builder rules. The unit builder includes rules for special abilities to give your units extra flavour.
• Fast and fun to play. A few dozen figures, some terrain and a 4 foot sqare minimum play area and you are good to go.
• Not complicated, the quick reference sheet is one page of A4.
• The author is constantly interacting with fans online to develop and improve the system.
• If you want to expand or tweak the basic rules it is easy to do so.

Negative Points
• Like any points system the one in Gruntz is not perfect. The value of basic troops to vehicles seems about right but the difference between weak infantry and good infantry is not high enough. This will hopefully be corrected with the release of the 1.1 edition which is coming soon.
• It is not a game for rules lawyers. The rules lack pieces of information here and there, especially as to how terrain relates to large models. Nothing that can't be overcome by some discussion between players though.
• There is some limited faction fluff but I would like to see full army lists and a greater range of pre made stat cards.
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Aaron Gelb
United States
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Any relation to Stargrunt II or Dirtside II?

Have you played either of those, and if so, could you compare to Gruntz?

Thanks for the review!
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Mathieu Moyen
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Very concise take on the system, and I agree on most of your points! The cost of experience is a really weird oversight - it doesn't match up to the nonlinear way it affects combat, but I'm surely not smart enough to know what the remedy is.

My only really big quibble with the system is stylistic. All the Z's got really tiresome really fast. It stopped being clever on page two, honestly. Just call it "Grunts" and call them "Perks." Please. God.

All told though it's a good system, if a bit die-rolley. Very good for small unit actions of a kind that aren't always well represented in miniatures games, while also avoiding the "everything is a number, everything is the same" kind of over-genericizing that 15mm games are often prone to.
 
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