I've been playing Flying Lead for about 6 months now, and couldn't believe it when I saw that no-one had written a review yet. Best put that to right.
Flying Lead has become my go-to rules set for WWII and generic-ranged-combat miniatures games. I stumbled upon at a time when I was feeling burnt out by all the usual d6 based, your-turn-my-turn rules variants. I was looking for something different, and this is it.
The real beauty lies in the elegant simplicity of the unique initiative system. Rather than moving your men one after the other during your turn, then repeat for your opponent, you must "activate" each miniature individually during your turn by getting at least one success against his Quality score (usually 3 or 4) on a roll of 1-3 d6. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Also, the number of successes you get determines the number of actions he can take. But here's the catch - if you get two failures, the initiative passes to the other player. When the heat is on, you're stuck with the inevitable hard choice of "do I roll 1d6 to be sure that I don't lose the initiative, or do I take the risk and roll 2 or 3 so that I can do more stuff and try to turn the tide?". This initiative system is the simplest, most exciting and most engaging one I've come across - try and be too conservative, and you'll achieve nothing; be more aggressive, and you never know at what stage your plan will slip through your fingers. It really keeps you on your toes during the whole game, not just your turn.
Another facet of the rules that keeps you switched on is the way in which combats are resolved. All attacks are opposed rolls (ie you roll your attack, I roll mine, we compare results to determine the winner). So for melee, you attack me and I attack back, for ranged you shoot at me and I try to dodge - it lends a great feel of competing against the other player, rather than sitting back as he goes to town on you while you wait for your turn to reciprocate.
The rules are simple enough that they fit on a single page Quick Ref sheet and are easily absorbed after one game. The core rules are on the minimalist side and remain unobtrusive, but there are so many small options with which you can develop and personalise your warband (think Feats in 3rd Ed D&D) that you can make the game as crunchy as you like.
There are in game modifiers for all of the usual suspects - cover, armour, range - but these are consistent and easy to remember. Also represented are grenades, vehicles, leadership, group actions, overwatching, ambushes, medics - there really isn't anything that I wanted that got left out.
The book features sample warbands for historic and modern theatres, sci-fi, gangster, SWAT and pulp style action, as well as a section on building your own troop lists, scenarios and campaign play.
One caveat worth being aware of is that the rules as written call for the use of measuring sticks. This didn't really appeal to us, and we played for some time with tape measures, thinking that the sticks were a bit too simplistic or clunky. When we finally did give the sticks a go, we came to appreciate how much they facilitated quick and easy troop movements. (With even weapon ranges measured by stick, I recommend having a couple of double length ones on hand for each length - ie short, medium, long, short x2, medium x2, long x2 - with the half-way point marked out: range bands run to four or five stick lengths, and measuring this out one stick at a time tends to amplify inaccuracies). Just something to be aware of.
What didn't we like? The rules state that you can only move in a straight line; if you want to go around a corner, you need to make a second move action. This is too restrictive for my taste - we want to spend our actions doing cool stuff, not basic maneuvering - so we house ruled it (we even made some measuring sticks out of bendable pipe cleaners that you can bend to the shape of your move, lay at the foot of your mini, then just move him/her to the other end around the corner - easy!)
I've gone through over a dozen rules sets in the last eighteen months or so, and this one is the best. It is simple yet flavoursome, and quite unlike any that I've played before. Check it out.