Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Year of Rules - Gruntz 15mm Sci/Fi

This is the Year of Rules, one new set checked out every month.  The Rules set for May is... Duh!  Duh!  Duh!  Gruntz!

The cover of the PDF rules v1.0.
One read through and a couple of solo practice games down and this is what I think...

I like these rules.  They are a labor of love by Robin Fitton, who has a day job which doesn't involve miniatures.  The rules are currently in version 1.0 with 1.1 on the near horizon (late summer-ish?).  They are sold as a PDF for $9.  That's about 6 quid for you Brits.  Again, as with so many things in the 15mm side of the hobby, you could pay more for a beer.

I found the rules to be easy to understand, though some of the lay out and formatting was a little bit odd.  The proof reading on these is not the best in the world.  Considering there was no professional editor involved though, they look darned good.  There are nice pictures of miniatures throughout as well as some original artwork, which sets things off nicely.

The rules lay down all of the normal stuff, moving, shooting, attacking.  There are many special rules and a comprehensive section on designing your own units.  There are basic rules, then more advanced versions you can bring in as you see fit.  There are also several different ways of doing things given, so you can choose what works for you.  While we can all do this, outside of a tournament, it seems to go down better when the author gives you permission.  Some people are just like that, many of them are gamers.  It's nice to have those folks catered to in the published rules.

These are the Gruntz that the game is named for.
The basic unit is a squad of infantry, consisting of six grunts.  Robin chose this number as it works with the way many manufacturers package their infantry.  You can add up to two special weapons, bringing your squad up to eight.  There are rules for commanders, specialists, vehicles of all types and mechs, as well as flyers.  There are suggestions for all different types of wacky sci/fi weapons as well as hard sci/fi.

The game uses a 2D6 mechanic.  Robin sticks with this instead of using a D12 so that you can have double 1 and double 6 results, as well as just plain doubles in some situations.  The normal role, let's say to hit, is a 2D6 plus skill and it needs to be greater than the enemy's guard.  Guard is a combination of armor and anything else that makes you hard to hit, like moving really fast.

To wound you need to roll 2D6 plus weapon damage vs the enemy's soak rating.  Anything higher causes a wound.  Grunts have one wound but vehicles have a series of damage blocks with critical boxes spread throughout.  One box gets marked off for every damage point above the soak.  If you hit a C box you roll to see what happens.  Vehicles are resilient but damage has real affects on their performance.

The assault rules, as written, are pretty basic but there are advanced assault rules out which improve that situation.  They will be included in 1.1 but are available now.  I like the way Robin does business.

The rules are easy and realistic enough.  They give a fun game with plenty of scope for your imagination to run amok.  Scenery is important but, since Gruntz doesn't have the reaction mechanism of games like Infinity or Tomorrow's War, cover isn't quite as important, meaning you can play with less stuff on the table.  Very nice for people like me who are just starting out in 15mm and don't have any terrain.

One factor that is a pain in the butt is the unit cards.  All of the information for a unit is placed on a card.  There are cards available for many of the miniature manufacturers out there, but if you want your own, you have to make them.  Right now that means fun with spread sheets or desk top publishing software.  There is good news though.  Robin is currently (5/12) running an Indigogo campaign to get enough money to get an army builder coded.  This will have all of the unit building formulas built in, allow click and drag image adding and will build the unit cards auto-magically.  This is the missing link.  I've contributed, my first go at venture capitalism.  Not only did my contribution cost more than I paid for the game, but I was happy to pay it.

By the way, the campaign has gained $700 since yesterday, so if you want in, hurry.

I've played two solo games to get the hang of the rules.  It was quick to learn and fun to play.  There is plenty of scope to complicate things if you want to.  I'm planning on picking up Tomorrow's War, but the plan is to use that for 28mm.  For 15mm, I've found my ruleset.


  1. Thanks for the review. It does sound like an interesting rule set.

    Look forward to seeing your first AAR.

  2. I'm looking forward to writing it, because that means I got to play a game.


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