Game explained page 1
How Does Rules of Engagement Play?
Having played a vast number of WWII wargames we had found that many lacked in one or more areas leading to us re-writing, adding house rules and even dispensing with them altogether. Some rule sets fail because they attempt to add too much detail or try to cover every eventuality. Some take too much control out of the hands of the platoon commander by requiring units to ‘activate’ in order to perform actions. Some allow too much control to the player leading model soldiers to fight to the death in an unrealistic manner. A number of games are ‘patches’ for popular sci-fi and other wargames and are totally unrepresentative of combat in the modern era. Some are poorly presented and written or seemingly produced with a small number of people in mind. And finally some of them are just a bit dull to play. For all of these reasons we decided that we had the gaming knowledge, experience and will to provide the wargaming community with a high quality, well presented and fun to play rule set that is representative of the period and informative. Rules of Engagement is the product of this dream.
The 240 page hardback rulebook is divided into five sections: Introduction, Game Rules, Scenarios, Operation Overlord to the Fall of the Reich and Hobby Section. Key to the game is that it offers plenty of detail whilst being very easy to learn. In this article I will deal with the Game Rules focusing on how the game actually plays.
The Game Rules are presented in a clear format with each part dealing with a key aspect of the rules. These are
• Sequence of Play
• Discipline Phase
• Orders Phase
• Movement Phase
• Shooting Phase
• Close Quarters Phase
• Additional Rules
Sequence of play
In Rules of Engagement the gameplay is divided into 5 steps: Discipline Phase, Orders Phase, Movement Phase, Shooting Phase and Close Quarters Phase. One player executes all of the phases then the opposing player does likewise. This process continues until an agreed number of turns elapse or one side is forced to withdraw
Terrain plays a pivotal role in RoE. Infantry battles from WWII to the present day were mostly fought in areas that offered plenty of concealment and protection for the combatants. The ability of modern infantry weapons to kill exposed men with consummate ease dictates these tactics. The famous MG42 has a rate of fire of up to 1200 rounds a minute.
Soldiers in RoE may be in different states of discipline during the game. The states of discipline are:
At the start of the player’s turn he must check on the morale of his troops. Soldiers are affected by the amount of casualties they have suffered and the amount of enemy fire they are receiving. In game terms this means that a squad is described as beingSuppressed if it takes as many hits as it has models in the squad following the removal of dead guys, if any. It is vital to understand that hits do not always cause casualties. For example, a squad of 10 men may take 10 hits that cause no casualties. In his instance they would be Suppressed. A target that takes double or more the number of hits than models in the squad is Shaken. Shaken troops that fail a Discipline Test become Demoralised. Discipline Tests are represented by a characteristic test against the unit’s Discipline score using a D6 and applying modifiers.
Any squad that is affected as described above must either Fall Back or Test Discipline in this phase. Falling back means that the squad is forced to concede ground, but effectively automatically passes a Discipline Test. A squad that opts to test and passes becomes much more able to fight effectively. Failure means that their morale is severely dented and their combat worth is seriously reduced. In short, failing a Discipline Test is bad news.
To summarise, troops in RoE are described as Confident until the bullets start flying. A unit that takes the required number of hits (remember that’s hits not casualties) will be Suppressed or Shaken and will have to Fall Back or Test Discipline in the player’s following Discipline Phase.
In the midst of battle it is the quality of the squad or section leader that determines if his men live or die. In the Orders Phase the player issues one of the following orders to each unit:
- Hold – unit doesn’t move and fires at full effect
- Sneak – unit moves cautiously, making best use of cover and fires at reduced effect
- Advance – unit moves at a normal rate and fires at reduced rate
- Run – the unit forgoes any firing in order to move at haste
At this point the player also declares which, if any, enemy units each of his squads will fire at. The player also declares if any of his units will assault nominated enemy squads later in the Close Quarters Phase.
The Orders Phase also allows the player to do the following with his troops:
- Set Opportunity Fire – The unit forgoes firing to set up a field of fire to cover a given area. This unit may fire at visible enemy in the opponent’s turn.
- Hide – The unit hunkers down and makes the best use of the ground to avoid being seen by the enemy.
To summarise, a player must issue orders to all of his units in this phase. He or she also declares targets for shooting and close quarters fighting. The type of order determines how the unit acts in the Movement, Shooting and Close Quarters phases.