Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5150 Star Army: First Impressions

(I asked Mik from the Barter Bucket and his own Mik's Minis to do some game reviewing of the interesting games that he plays with his friends and family and that might be interesting to our readers; anything from board games to card games to RPG's but with some link to our gaming and hobby universe. A few weeks ago he did an excellent review of the video game Space Marine, now he wants to share a new game with you all. Here's the official start of: A Healthy Dose of Games by Dr. Mik-Mike)

Thanks for the introduction Mike, remember folks I'm not really a doctor, I just play one on this blog. The Space Marine videogame was a good kick off for what will hopefully shine some new light on a few items out there that can expand all of our gaming horizons.

I just got my copy of the 5150 Star Army rules by Two Hour Wargames the other day. It might take about a week or so to fully digest it and hopefully get in a test game or two while I'm at it (I'm thinking Cadian Imperial Guard versus "Bugs"). I wanted to give my first impressions while it was fresh out of the (above seen) envelope.

I've played the first edition 5150 rules quite a bit in the past and this new edition doesn't just sport a few rules tweaks, this is a completely new game. The background remains the same for the most part, and the lion's share of mechanics are certainly recognizable, but so much has been rebuilt under the hood that this is a completely different beast entirely. It is a solid reboot, so I'll skip comparing these rules to their five year old predecessor.

Star Army makes it very clear up front that these rules are for military sci-fi battles, the focus is on squad-based combat between troopers and their enemies (other troopers, aliens, bugs, and the like). The rules themselves are clearly written and have plenty of examples and details, including multiple diagrams along the way. They also escalate as you read them, each section you take in expands the scope of the game that much more. At the end of each section there's a helpful tips blurb as well as a "try a game with what you've read so far", allowing you to learn the game along the way. What starts small, one or two figures per side, promises to become as much as an entire company of troopers per side.

The main draw with these rules is a very non-traditional tabletop approach they take. There isn't a set turn sequence (the ole "I go, then you go" routine). As troopers come in sight, reaction tests are made, maybe they duck back, or maybe you've got a real shootout on your hands that doesn't end until one side retreats, runs out of ammo, or gets taken down. Every army type is going to play differently, your more disciplined troopers stick to their guns, rebel riff-raff on the other hand might tuck tail at the first sign of trouble. This Reaction System is a staple of all of the Two Hour Wargames lineup.

The other big draw to me is that these rules can be played three ways. In solo mode, imagine your five assault marines versus a wave after wave of Tyranids. Set it up, run a few turns, leave it if need be and come back to it, the reaction system ensures you'll be in for a fun game. It can also be played cooperatively. Got someone interested in learning a minis game? Don't want to pull your punches too much (or utterly annihilate them)? Play a co-op game, you and them versus a mechanics-controlled enemy. Finally of course the game can be played head-to-head, but here's another non-traditional points system. Sometimes there really are just too many darn Orks.

As you can see from my examples, there's no reason you can't use your existing figures from whatever collections you may have to game with. It's always a lot of fun taking awesome models from one game and throwing them in a completely different context in another. You're not even bound by scale.

For $25 bucks (there's a PDF option for $20) you get a 97-page, comb-bound softcover rulebook; full color cardstock covers and BW interior pages on a nice, semi-gloss paper. I worked in the printing industry for ten years and I can without a doubt say you're not going to get as nice a copy as this from just the PDF version and five bucks.

The more and more I read the rules, the more I can tell that they offer you about as much as you want out of a game, from a no-prep pickup game to a long term, 'Band of Brothers' style campaign. I hope to have a proper review up soon detailing more of the mechanics as I use them in-game as well as anything that comes up while test driving.



  1. Thanks for sharing. I always love to hear about what games are available. If only I had time to play them all.

  2. Looks like a great game! And Michael, Same here..! But I´m planning to collect all the games I´m interrested about, and play them when I´m retired and kids have moved out of the house :D

  3. Thanks for sharing! Looks like fun!

  4. Thanks guys, I'm trying to get as many options out there as I can.

    @Alexander Man: That is *the best* plan I have heard to date and now I have a new excuse to the missus when game shopping!

  5. Hey Mik, thanks for the review! Before when I was interested in this game I remember you said that I would probably want to adjustment some of the rules to make it play smoother. Is that no longer the case with this new edition of 5150? Twenty five bucks to breath new life into my minis definitely seems worth it to me.