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Subject: Review of AK-47 Republic rss

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(Note: This review is based on an edition of the rules purchased in 1999. Rules are summarized and reviewed as best as possible without violation of copyright.)

AK47 Republic is a tabletop wargame from Peter Pig. This company specializes in casting miniatures for tabletop wargaming and AK47 Republic is part of a series of rulebooks that they publish to support their miniature lines. The game is set in cold war-era Africa, where historically there was a great deal of political unrest (to put it mildly). However, the game seems to encourage a humorous approach to play. It does provide some historic timelines related to several wars and incidents in Africa during the covered time period (1955-1990). The game does not seem to be intended as a serious simulation of that historical period, however.

As mentioned, AK47 Republic is part of a series called "Rules For the Common Man" or RFCM for short. Peter Pig advertises this series of rulebooks as being easy to pick up and quick playing. Indeed, AK47 Republic seems to meet this description. Players will need 15mm miniatures that represent the type and relative quality of the units they will be fielding. Basing is standardized for each unit so players will have to mount their miniatures on specifically sized bases for gaming AK47.

The rulebook itself is not all that impressive, for the price tag of $14.99 at purchase time, one gets what is essentially a spiral bound stack of photocopied paper of various color shades. The actual rules of play take up a little under half the book. With a large initial section dedicated to army creation.

The quality of writing in the book is well enough for the price, but doesn't seem to be professionally edited. There are a handful of illustrations to explain different rule concepts and to provide flavor imagery. They aren't of the highest quality but serve their purpose well enough.

The game itself pits one player as an attacker and another as a defender in a typical tabletop wargaming fashion. A table is set aside and decorated by both players with simulated terrain. Players assign objectives to various terrain objects and fight to occupy these objectives in return for victory points towards a win for the scenario. Movement is alternating, with one player activating and moving a unit immediately after the other player. Additionally, movement has a random element that relies partially on luck as well as player skill. The movement phase is one of the more important parts of the game and one feature that makes the rules a bit more interesting than the typical IGOUGO system found in many tabletop wargame rules. Players are able to react to each other in real time and it's possible to take advantage of another player's mistakes.

Combat is d6 based (as with movement). It's very fast and brutal and relies on a handful of modifiers and a random events table for when players roll doubles. These effects are summarized on the back cover of the rulebook and are few enough in number to be memorized after a short time.

The real meat of the game is in the army creation and customization process. There are a series of tables and guides in the first section of the rulebook describing how to randomly create national flags, country names, army names and type of government. The only serious consideration for players is government type, as that sets in stone the limits of what kind of army a player can field and what kind of options they have during a game.

For example: A Religious movement restricts players to mostly low quality units and few vehicles, but it allows the player to purchase huge numbers of these low quality units at a reduced price.

Players are free to design their armies without use of the randomization guides, as this allows for a great deal more originality and humor.

AK47 Republic uses a point value system to balance player armies and ease player army creation. Experienced wargamers will be familiar with how it works. Quality and Quantity are well balanced in this game. Having a large number of weak units can be just as effective as having a small number of strong ones.

The army creation rules encourage individuality and conversions. I've used everything from official Peter Pig miniatures to toy trucks for gaming AK47. The game really encourages creativity in respect to player armies, and virtually every possible weapon and force is accounted for in the rules.

I'd put the game at about 2-3 hours to learn and 2 hours to finish off a large game. Though after playing it often enough I found the games to ease in at around 1.5 hours on average.

I encourage anyone who is looking for some light hearted wargaming to give this a try.
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