Friday, July 15, 2016

Black Ops Gangsters

Bruce was keen to try Osprey's new Black Ops rules again so I popped out for more gangsters action. We played two scenarios; the assassination scenario and the sabotage scenario and the key mechanic in both of them was the observation (or maybe infiltration?) rules.


Basically the rules account for various non-visible effects (e.g., darkness, fog, crowded streets). The defender is largely passive except for a few guards (whose movement is determined by die roll on a table). As things start to happen, the guards become more alert, which wakes up the defender's leader. Eventually, the defenders become fully awake and in the player's control.


This gives the attacker a lot of decisions to make (basically when to make noise). To offset the attacker's greater control during the early game, most of the defender's troops are hidden in blinds (with dummy blinds) so the attacker's knowledge of what is what is imperfect.


This mechanic is quite neat, but the rules around it are very poorly written. For example, when the attacker wants to try and reveal the content of the blind, the defender rolls. If the defender is successful, the blind stays hidden. But the rules sometimes reverse who the actor is when discussing game play (e.g., talking about the attacker being successful when they mean the defender failed the roll). The actual text is way less clear; I had to interpret some to even make clear what the problem is.

The activation mechanic is card based (each type of figure activates on a different card). What this means is that a group of figures comprising different types of troops won't activate together.  This is interesting in the decisions it creates but you have to wonder how much sense it makes if you use the rules for modern combat missions.


The observation mechanic is also abstract. You can attempt to reveal a blind anywhere on the board, even if the figure doing so can't see the blind (there are penalties for this). So this means, in a skirmish game, a figure two city blocks away with no line of sight and presumably coping with streets full of people, vehicles and noise can somehow know what is in a blind (assuming the die roll is successful--or, rather, the defender's die is unsuccessful). I'm happy to go along with the abstraction but it jars a bit with the skirmish scale.

Overall, an interesting set of rules and reasonably fun to play. It is more fun to be the attacker, but that may reflect that we haven't figured out how best to play the defender. Shame the rules are not better written.

13 comments:

  1. For gangsters try Mad Dogs with Guns or even better The Chicago Way by Great Escape Games.

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  3. I would second GGouveia about rules to use. I have both the ones he mentioned, but have not been able to try The Chicago Way yet. Mad Dogs With Guns is a hoot; it practically demands bad accents while playing.

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  4. Yep, tired The Chicago Way two weeks ago (bit messy with the cards all over the table but pretty good). I'll pass on Mad Dogs with Guns to Bruce.

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  5. Interesting to see someone else using Black Ops for gangster games - I had an idea of using them for that.

    "The Chicago Way" plays well - I tried a solo game a while ago but haven't had a chance for another game since. I've also got "Mad Dogs With Guns" which looks fun, but haven't had the opportunity to give it a run so far.

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  6. The campaign setting for MDWG is setup really well background and racket wise. However in reality you would make money hand over fist so you could outfit your mob to the hilt. Also they say you can use NPGANGS but does not clarify how.

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  7. That does look like it might be a problem when I read the rules. A quick solution,IMO, would require you to pay the people in your gang every month. It does make running your gang more complicated though.

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    1. Brian what are your thoughts on the suggested solo version where you use 3 other NPC gangs? I wish they had a system to determine what the NPC gangs specifically do. I'll have to revisit it. The campaign seems excellent. I out alot of work making templates for rackets and areas.

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    3. I don't know on the solo version; I've always thought that you would just run all 4 gangs as would best suit each of them. I think I remember reading somewhere that some of the things about running gangs were cut due to space considerations. There are hints in the book about that: things like Irish mobs being on better terms with the oops, and Italian mobs recruiting some types easier than others.

      My mobsters have gotten sidetracked for the moment, because there's no one in my area willing to commit to a campaign. Contact me directly, and we can bat some ideas around (brianw0405ATgoogleDOTcom).

      MDWG does have rules for sneaking up on people, and making observation rolls. I don't remember the page numbers, and don't have my rules to hand, but I do remember reading them.

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  8. Bruce opines: Chicago Way and Mad Dogs are both fine skirmish rules. However, they lack the Observation and Guards rules that allow for an interesting "stealth game". So many gangster situations (the Hit, the Heist, the Kidnapping, destroy the moonshine still) require the attacker to sneak up on the unsuspecting defenders, that Black Ops would seem especially well suited. All the suitable weapons are there. All the character traits are there. Now, if only the text were a little more clear

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