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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

Stargrunt II

Tabletop Miniatures Game

Ground Zero Games

72pp - [sterling]11.95

With the highly acclaimed Dirtside II and the multiple award-winning Full Thrust already in its inventory, Ground Zero Games had a lot to live up to with its new 25mm SF skirmish system. It has, however, risen to the challenge magnificently.

As the title implies, this is a complete revision and updating of the original Stargrunt rules; a revision so complete that little of the original remains, apart from the name. The end result is a system so streamlined that platoon to company sized actions can be fought out in a single afternoon; in terms of speed and playability, it's streets ahead of any other game of its kind I can think of.

The core concept is that troop units are treated as a single entity, which move and shoot as one; instead of each individual figure targeting another, the entire squad lays down fire against an enemy unit, which is, of course, what happens in real life. Factors such as the quality of the troops, their leadership, the weapons they're equipped with, and their range to the target are factored into simple opposing die rolls. If the attacker wins, and inflicts casualties, another couple of rolls determines which figures are hit, and whether they're killed, wounded, or able to continue fighting after the medic's patched them up.

A crucial difference between Stargrunt and most other games of this type is that the overall fighting effectiveness of a unit is far more dependant on psychological factors than the hardware they're carrying. Well trained, well motivated troops with good leadership can often prevail against a larger, better equipped force with lower morale, or a shaky chain of command; the system rewards good tactics, and is very unforgiving of poor decisions. Unit commanders have the ability to transfer extra actions to their subordinates, and thus need to be protected; losing even a junior officer can be very costly, leaving half your forces pinned down and unable to advance.

There's a lot more to Stargrunt than just a set of infantry combat rules, though. Vehicle combat is covered in some detail, allowing players to use APCs and other transport assets, either to enhance their mobility, or for close support. A complete set of design rules is included, cross-compatible with Dirtside II, allowing you to define abilities for whatever models you have to hand. Indeed, GZG consider the whole game to be generic, encouraging players to tailor it to whatever background they like, or figure collections they may already possess. Their own, optional, house universe takes up no more than six pages at the back; a welcome contrast to some other companies, whose game books consist of half a dozen pages of rules and fifty-odd of bad fiction, padding and waffle masquerading as 'campaign background.'

Advanced rules cover topics like calling for artillery support, air operations (including airmobile assaults with VTOLs or dropships, and the annoying possibility of losing some of your assets to the enemy's air defences before they even make it to the tabletop), casevac, taking and interrogating prisoners, and the ever-popular mine clearance. This is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive set of SF miniatures rules you're ever likely to buy.

You also get two sheets of full colour die-cut counters, and a handy quick reference card with all the main rules clearly and succinctly summarised.

If you play any kind of game with 25mm or 15mm SF miniatures, you need a copy of these rules, if only to see what you're missing. For my money they're the best set of SF skirmish rules on the market today, with everything else a long way behind.

Reviewed by: Alex Stewart

Product supplied by: Ground Zero Games

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