Writing a wargaming ruleset is in itself not very difficult. Writing a good one is. Writing a compact good ruleset is downright hard. So when I came upon the 2nd version of Empress Miniatures’ rules and found out they were all of 4 pages (vehicle stat charts excluded) my curiosity was peaked!
How does it look?
Danger Close can be bought as a 4-page booklet or a PDF. I bought the latter and also added the (free!) vehicle stat charts as well as a blank one to add your own.
The pages are densely packed with text and tables. To my amazement the rules essentially cover only 2 pages. The next two are used to display the vehicle rules which are a variation on the infantry rules of page 1 and 2. Given the very limited size of this ruleset it is no surprise that it lacks any pictures or explanatory diagrams.
System & mechanics
DC is a (kind of) alternate turn skirmish system meant for games with a few dozen figures and some vehicles per side. Turn sequence is determined by troop quality, the best activating first. Troop quality also determines how many figures you may Activate in your turn as well as maximizes the number of actions a figure has per activation, the best having more actions. So a figure might perform 2 to 5 actions per activation and can be activated once per turn. Finally, troop quality gives modifiers based on the difference in quality between opponents in spotting your opponents, shooting in a firefight or combat. So better troops move sooner, can do more and are more effective in combat and firefights. All based on one stat. Very elegant.
When your number of figures have exhausted their actions, it is your opponent’s turn. And so on, until all figures have been activated and a new turn starts.
Shooting requires Spotting first. Once having spotted your target, you can shoot at it, using a D20 +/-modifiers based on the situation and trying to beat the minimum score. A hit will result in an injury (roll a second D20) or a miss, which still causes stress.
Stress is the currency of Morale in this game. The game knows only two Morale classes: Regular and Insurgent. Figures acquire Stress from being fired upon. All Stressed figures must make a test before being actiovated and might end up being limited or even surrendering. There are rules added for radios, boobytraps and Casevac,
The vehicles function about the same as a figure, but with different results for spotting and getting damaged. The vehicle rules include aircraft, AT weapons and AA weapons.
The vehicle stat charts include modern vehicles for the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany, as well as a chart with modern helicopters and a Vietnam 65-75 vehicle chart.
How does it play?
To be determined. A game will be planned. Look here for an AAR.
What is good?
For compactness and price this game wins everything hands down. The ruleset is clear and brief and logically structured. Being essentially only 2 pages long, it does not need an index. Just turn the page.
What could be better?
Actually, nothing. However, there is a caveat. This set is so compact that it only gives rules and explains nothing. This can be left out assuming the player is familiar with the way a wargame works, how Moves are measured for example or what something like “obscured” is supposed to mean. There are no scenarios or rules to set up a table. Al these things are absolutely no problem for experienced players but this might make the set less suitable for a beginner.
Danger Close: Modern skirmish wargame rules, version 2
4 pages (+ 6 pages of vehicle stats)