I met up with Gord today to play a test game of Victory Decision: Future Combat. As noted previously, I used some of my AT-43 UNA and Red Blok figures and built some army lists.
We grabbed the trench warfare table from the store and added some rubble scatter terrain. We rolled for scenario and got the Open Battle scenario and deployed on the long edges. Ideally we would have used one of the other tables available and added some actual LOS blocking terrain but sadly the local 40K players beat us to the terrain.
We picked our initial deployments and I chose the Dragonov Kommandos and my Command section. This latter decision turned out to be quite disastrous as Gord managed to chew them up with his two fire teams.
We inadvertently picked a good first scenario as it meant that we had a trickle of troops coming out on the table instead of having to deal with a lot of troops at once. This isn’t to say that I didn’t forget a lot of rather critical items in the first few turns that lead to my Command team being wiped out by additional Suppression after being Shaken when they shouldn’t have :-(
Gord and I traded damage over turns three and four as we both brought on fresh troops. My Kolossus and Navaklovny both did quite well but the size of them made it difficult to avoid fire and they both withered quite quickly. Gord still had his Command section and quickly figured out that activating it first and using it to Regroup and activate other units was the most effective use for them.
In the end Gord managed to bring me to the retreat level and the game ended with a win for him. It was a training game so the end result wasn’t important but it was clear that Gord figured out the game much quicker than I did. There were some good laughs in the game and I think we both enjoyed it so it was a success from that respect.
Some general observations:
Command is quite important. Not only using it, and using your Command Points, but ensuring that you have your Command section situated correctly so that it can be used effectively. This was the most critical lesson I learned in this game and it is going to inform my army choices and deployment in the future. The Command section has a higher Leadership, allows for re-rolls in initiative and allows for a more flexible form of activation. It makes that section quite precious.
The activation system makes it difficult to determine how the game is going to flow. Even a system that allows for alternating activation, or rolls to activate a unit, have more predictability. This wasn’t an issue for me but it really throws an incredible amount of chaos into the game. Happily it appears to work both ways as both Gord and I had turns where our opponent was able to pull off multiple concurrent activations.
It doesn’t appear to unbalance the game but it does mean that you need to take this into account and not make assumptions about how or when your units will activate
Most units have multiple abilities and unlike some games where you can learn this on the fly, its best to take some time and learn the unit abilities and learn which of your units have which abilities. Some of these, like Dedicated, are critical and so forgetting them can really be problematic.
Ranged fire and terrain
Due to the terrain we had access to the ranged combat was very effective and we didn’t actually even get an Assault in the game. ViDe: FC is a more modern sci-fi game and ranged combat is very effective. Especially since some units can toss out multiple firing actions with 10-15 dice and added Suppression. LOS blocking terrain is really critical and getting your troops “out of town” when they start to take Suppression markers or become Shaken.
Proper roles for weapons
The game gently pushes you to use some weapons in their proper context. HMGs are often dropped into units, in games such as AT-43, as a squad support weapon when they really are dedicated weapons that need to be set up and then used to support the advance of a squad. So the Set-up ability of weapons like HMGs make them far more useful in two or three model support teams than in squads that will be advancing.
It also means that higher tech formations that can use Powered Armour or other tech to make those weapons more mobile get an obvious benefit from their higher technology. So those Marines walking with Autocannons that a mid or low tech force can only use in place are clearly advantageous.
I never really needed them for AT-43 but this is certainly a game where infantry will benefit from an APC. Expect some of those to be added to the collection soon :-)
Despite missing a lot of rules and missing some abilities, I liked the game. It has a lot more depth to it than first appears and it also seems to also have a range of differences between tech levels that aren’t readily apparent until you play.
I will be reworking my two AT-43 based army lists, giving the Red Blok some HMG support teams for instance, and giving the rules a good reread and having another game to give it another test. This is the first PDF based book that I have purchased that I think will require my older eyes to print out. There is a lot in the rules to read and digest and unlike SoBH or similar games I have in PDF, I think ViDe: FC will need a printed version.
Expect more games to be posted about though as this really appears to be a winning game that will reward continued play.