Thursday, April 12, 2012

Force on Force: A Review

A few people have requested me to do a review of Ambush Alley Games Force on Force rule book since I have been putting on quite a few demo games.  This is pretty much my first review of any type of a game so bear with me (Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated).

First of all, here is a link to my Gaming Biography to give you an idea of the range of games I have played.  One problem I have with a lot of reviews is that it seems that the people who are talking have never played the game, nor have they played any other game.  I feel like they have no real perspective as to what a miniature game is.  I should preface this, I am a Force on Force junkie.  I tried to remain as unbiased as possible, but in the end I think I put my heart and soul into what I said.  I feel that adds a lot of meaning to the words I say, instead of sounding like someone who is paid to write a review and doesn't believe what he says.

First and foremost, Ambush Alley Game's Force on Force is published by Osprey Publishing.  What does that have to do with anything?  It means that they have the backing of a hardcore publishing company who prints out hundreds, thousands, if not millions of books a year that you can find all over the world.  It means that when you buy a book, you can be guaranteed of  high print quality, very good editing, and nice thick pages with an excellent binding.  Not too mention that because it is published by a proper printing company, the cost of such a book is substantially lower than most other rule books out there.  The Force on Force main rule book is $35 (US Dollars) for a 220 page hardback full color book.

About the Game:
Force on Force concentrates on Modern Warfare, ranging from Vietnam to anything that you read in the news going on in the present.  There are also some modifications you can use to make it work for WW2.  One of the most unique aspects of Force on Force is the ability to play anything from symmetrical warfare involving two well trained armies facing off against each other in the middle of a war torn battlefield, or asymmetrical warfare involving untrained guerrillas, freedom fighters, insurgents, militia or terrorists against a trained army.  The game is a scenario based, victory condition driven game.  There is no tournament format meaning there are no point values for troops.  This does make you use your imagination, or use one of the many published scenarios or fan created ones out there.  The best way to explain a Force on Force scenario is to think of a really cool war movie with a crazy fight scene such as Black Hawk Down.  Force on Force allows you to recreate your favorite scene!  You basically figure out what forces were involved... or what forces you want to be involved, then come up with appropriate victory conditions (there are generic victory point examples in the main rule book).  For those of you who must have a point value system, there is one that is in open beta on the Ambush Alley Games forums.

Game Mechanics:
The game is primarily based on opposed dice rolls in which you are normally looking for a 4 or better on the dice rolled.  The size of the dice rolled is usually dependent on the troop quality of the unit, a D6 would be for untrained troops, whereas a D12 would be for your elite tier 1 special forces. The game also uses an Action/Reaction type system, where players are never truly sitting idle as they might be able to react to their opponents action.  This is where one of the most flavorful additions to the rules occur: Fog of War.  Ambush Alley Games have created Fog of War card decks (you can buy them, or scan them from the back of the book, or download them online) which are used whenever a natural 1 is rolled on an opposed reaction test.  The result can be anything from a friendly fire incident, an IED exploding, or random civilians wandering the battlefield.  In my opinion the Fog of War cards give each different theater of war a distinctive flavor (The Enduring Freedom cards are different than the Cold War Gone Hot cards).  The basic unit in Force on Force is the fire team, which makes it almost a small scale skirmish game.  For those that love to use real life tactics, Force on Force is extremely pleasing, as the game really caters to proper military tactics.  The game is very fluid and fast paced, and every time I have taught new comers they pick up the basic mechanics after 1 or 2 turns easy.

Miniatures and Terrain
Since Ambush Alley Games is a rules publishing company, you are not forced to buy any 1 manufacturer for your miniatures.  Currently Elhiem Figures is the licensed producer of Force on Force figures, however you can use any manufacturer you want.  The game works well in any scale ranging all the way down to 6mm up to 54mm if you so please.  My favorite scale however would have to be 20mm as Matt at Elhiem is an outstanding sculptor and very professional.  There are also tons of 1/72 scale model kits and die casts to supplement your force.  An average game of Force on Force will require anywhere from a squad to an over sized platoon and is very flexible.  For terrain, you can use just about anything you want, but if there is not enough terrain the game will bog down fast with reaction tests.  Table sizes can be as small as a 2x2 to just about any size you want.  Like all games, the less figures and the smaller the table, the faster the game.

Source books
Currently Ambush Alley Games has 2 main rule books which one covers Modern Warfare and one the Science Fiction spectrum.  These books are Force on Force and Tomorrow's War.  There are also numerous source books that cover various eras and wars.  For Vietnam fans, there is Ambush Valley, which is more of a rule book per se.  It doesn't have many scenarios, but has tons of special rules to help you play battles in that era.  The rest of the source books include: Road to Baghdad, Enduring Freedom, Day of the Rangers, and Cold War Gone Hot.  Each of these books is full of special rules pertaining to the era or conflict, roughly 20 scenarios, military organizations for the various forces involved, and tons of pictures and historical notes to help spur your imagination.

Well that is it for now, this took quite some time and I would really appreciate your thoughts and constructive criticism.  Thanks!


  1. Nick, good review. I would have liked to have an example of play though, something to really explain to me what I'm going to be getting into when I play the game. You never really get that in a BATREP, and most people don't do it in reviews either, so it's hard to get a good grasp of the mechanics without buying the rules or getting a demo game.

    Thanks for putting this together. I'm really tempted to pick up the book.

    1. Thanks Aaron. You just gave me a great idea for a new post. I will try to put together some examples of play in the near future.

  2. A great review, I'll tell my pal about this, he's got the rules and is struggling understanding them.

  3. Nick, thanks for a very succinct and well written overview of FoF!

    Matt "Strike_Leader" August

  4. Great review ... I am so looking at these rules.

  5. Nice review. I have just played my first game of FoF and was left a little confused. Lovely miniatures on the blog too, love your camo jobs.