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Modern War $16.99
Publisher: Zozer Games
by John W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2020 19:19:13

I really like this game. I think it hits the right balance for me right now between playability and subject matter. The game itself is based on the Cepheus Engine, which is based on Traveller. For those not familiar, task resolution is based on 2d6 add skill against a target number. An 8 or more is typically a success. I played in one Traveller game about 30 years ago. It was fun, but we were exploring systems and Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer stole our attention eventually. Fast forward and I have a wife, two kids, a full time job, and limited time to invest in gaming. Time has been at a premium. Games of Choice have been OSR, Barbarians of Lemuria, etc. to maximize plot and reduce crunch. Another game from my teenage years was Twilight 2000, whcih was fun even if few of the campaigns lasted more than 10 or so meetings. I've always had a soft spot for military themed games ever since, though, and nostagia has influenced buying decisions in the past mostly with disappointing results. They were either too simulationist, like wargames, or too simplistic. Regardless, when I saw this on DTRPG I decided to invest because I already had bought a couple games from Zozer and thought they were interesting.

The Good:

  1. Traveller is simple, flexible, proven system that is hard to break. Character creation is simple--with modern weapon damage, they better be.
  2. The game is writen with the assumption that the players are leaders and members of an infantry squad and assigned missions as part of platoon and company. The author goes to lengths to provide advice and mission ideas to maximize independence of the squad and hence the players on the battlefield. Advice is dispensed to head off interplay rivalries regarding rank. This was an issue that dogged my group whenever leadership and command were injected in the game.
  3. Roles within the squad are discussed in detail including Rifleman, Grenadier, Medic, Marksman, and Gunner, to name a few.
  4. A mission generator is included, complete with complications. Non-infantry careers are also detailed, along with how to generate civilian characters.
  5. Combat covers all of the concepts I would want to see in a more detailed game such as recoil, blind fire, concealment, cover, panic, autofire, artillery support, communication, vehicle combat, etc. Having read a lot of modern games, I found them reasonable and simple to apply without a calculator or flow chart.
  6. The role of the squad is unique in this game, in that the NPC squad members also generate fire that you resolve quickly as part of the combat system. I thought this was particularly interesting, and made the game unique from what I've seen.
  7. A comprehensive equipment list allowed differentialtion between individual weapons and vehicles complete with photos.

The Bad:

  1. I've found a few editing mistakes here and there. I'm pretty sure this is a one-man shop so I'm cutting some slack. A couple of places the rules weren't as clear as I would have liked, but I figured the meaning out.
  2. Another nitpicky one is the absence of a dedicated Stealth skill. Cepheus has it, this doesn't. In Modern War it's combined with Recon: getting in, seeing what you need to, and getting out without getting shot up is all one skill set. In virtually any game I've played, the skill you use to spot stuff is one of the most critical, and adding stealth to it makes even more powerful. I'm not sure I like that. That's an easy fix--the game is resilient so I can easilty fix it (which goes back to #1 in the good column). Tons of things have been written, allowing you to mix and match easily to other eras or circumstances, adding and subtracting equipment and rules.

I like this game a lot, and by the way I think this system would easily support a Twilight 2000 game. The inclusion of the Scrounging skill and Rads make me think that might have been one of the intentions of the author.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Modern War
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