Thursday 29 December 2011

I Ain't Been Shot Mum 3 (aka IABSM3)

And here was I thinking I was safe from further Christmas spending! Had a lie in on Christmas Eve morning, listening (finally) to the latest Meeples and Miniatures podcast, courtesy of Neil "The Man Who Reviews Things I End Up Buying" Shuck and Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies. Up till now, I'd been listening to M&M on my longish commute to London, but since that ended in October, I've been short of two hour slots in which to listen - I did try the 'go to bed early and listen' approach, but that just resulted in my falling asleep, which is, I hasten to add, no reflection on Neil's talents!

Topic for this episode was the new "I Ain't Been Shot, Mum" rules, version 3 thereof. I'd already had my curiosity a little piqued by the scenario in Battlegames issue 27, but was still a little sceptical of the card-based semi-random activation system. While I do like systems that allow for a little unpredictability, there can be the potential for a degree of frustration - see, for example, some of the lousy dice I've had with both Blitzkrieg Commander and Hail Caesar (in the absence of a battle report for this one, I should just note that I had the left flank cavalry in one of the example scenarios, and pretty much never moved).

The podcast, though, was an eye-opener, in terms of Rich explaining the thoughts behind the design and the system generally: if you don't have time for a good listen (which I do strongly recommend), check out his article on the Too Fat Lardies blog on the subject. Definitely has me convinced that the system is workable at the company level it's designed for, and doesn't cause you to wind up sat in a corner of the battlefield beating your head against the wall as you throw 10s and 11s repeatedly.

In a nutshell, for those who haven't time to read either: the core system relies on a deck of cards, one for each platoon/armour section on both sides, plus a 'Tea Break' card. Cards are drawn, and units get activated when their card is drawn, but the Tea Break card ends the turn. So far, so random. Except that there are extra cards for the leaders (what IABSM calls 'Big Men') allowing them to give actions to units within their command radius, and other extra cards that tune the balance of the game. It's very neat, and I'm certainly more than willing to give it a shot in action.

I was also struck by a review comment on, of all places, IABSM's Wikipedia page:
"Most games on the market, in general, pre-suppose that you will be playing with reasonable people with whom you are at least quasi-friendly. IABSM takes this supposition and advances it even further. These are NOT tournament type games rules because frankly they rely on players being more concerned about having fun than winning a trophy."
A-bloomin'-men. For all the assorted armies and periods I've been playing, the one I miss most from my school club was company-level WW2 with a set of homegrown rules. I keep casting envious glances at the gorgeous Flames of War miniatures that various folks spend a lot of time playing at club, but my one look at FoW put me off for life, as to me it felt more like abstract chess with tanks and minimaxing the rules as much as one could. That and massive batteries of on-table artillery firing over open sights, Puh-leeeze. 

IABSM seems to be everything FoW isn't, and seems also to be the perfect ruleset for the next level up from Operation: Squad, and below Blitzkrieg Commander (which I also like in 6mm for really big sweeping actions, despite the command activation rules - we have, in the past, tweaked these at club with extra command actions COs can hand out... gee, that sounds familiar!!).

And just to further entice me, there's a PDF of the rules available specifically formatted (with lots of links) for use on tablets: works a treat on iBook for the iPad. So, erm... thanks again for the dent in my credit card, Neil and Rich. :) And I'll be picking up the cards and tokens when I have an army to use them with, unless I can borrow someone's Flames of War company to try them out (usefully, it's quite OK to use FoW-based units with IABSM).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike, very good review. You will not regret joining the Lard gang. As a long frustrated BKC player, I can tell you that I have rediscovered the joy of wargsming and playing realistic tactics thanks to TFL


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