Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quick Review: FoF Ambush Valley

A day or so ago I received my copy of the Ambush Valley sourcebook for Force on Force by Ambush Alley Games / Osprey. This is the revision of the earlier AAG Ambush Valley offering, to fit into the new Osprey mould.  Despite what it says on the cover (1965-1975) it covers the Vietnam conflict from the advisory period (1963 onwards) and could probably be used through to the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. It is a lovely looking book, paperback with full colour pages, and quite thick (176 pages plus Fog of War Cards).

Unlike the "Enduring Freedom" book, which felt a bit "samey" compared with "Road to Baghdad", "Ambush Valley" is a different beast entirely.  The majority of the book in this case is detailed information on organisation and equipment of all of the various forces involved in Vietnam, Laos, Combodia and Thailand throughout this period.
After a quick introduction, the book launches into specific rules for Force-on-Force for this period.  As well as the usual complement of terrain, civilians etc. the book has a section on boats that enables a riverine game straight out of the box; a nice inclusion.

Then we begin the detailed TO&E info, which runs for most of the book.  There is a lot of meat here, however if you are an experienced Vietnam gamer, there may be very little for you here.  For me, the non-Vietnam stuff (Laos, Combodia, etc.) stuff was new and interesting, but the rest was not new.  As I say, it will depend on your pre-existing knowledge of the Vietnam conflict.

Once the TO&E section is done, there is space for a paltry six scenarios, a page or two on solo play, and then it's "roll credits" time.

To be honest I was disappointed by the number of scenarios, as that is one of the primary reasons I have for buying these books.  The TO&E stuff I can read and find, but the ability to have a ready-to-go scenario to play through is very valuable for me. 

This book has expanded the scope from the original Ambush Valley and substantially beefed up the organisational data included.  However this has come at the expense of removing the campaign system that was present in the earlier version, and there are still only 6 scenarios as there was in the first book.  This was a major shock, with this book following on from "Enduring Freedom" with its 20 scenarios.
I will still certainly use this book as it pulls together TO&E data that I have scattered over half-a-dozen sources into a single handy volume, and it brings the rules up-to-date with the new FoF.
I do regret the small number of scenarios, and the removal of the campaign system.  For those I'll be keeping by version one copy of Ambush Valley close to hand.

If you're new to wargaming Vietnam, this is a must-have. 
If you're looking to game Vietnam with Force-on-Force this is a must-have.
If you are looking for an excellent Platoon-level TO&E guide for the US involvement in Indochina, this is a must-have.

If you are already a Vietnam conflict wargamer, or own the original Ambush Valley, there may be much less for you here than you may expect.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Quick Review : FoF Enduring Freedom

A while back I received my copy of the Enduring Freedom sourcebook for Force on Force by Ambush Alley.  This is Force-on-Force's book on Afghanistan from the commencement of hostilities in 2001 to the current day.  It is a lovely looking book, paperback with full colour pages.  Some comment has abounded regarding the cover art.  Earlier placeholder art was in my view better, but Osprey / Ambush Alley have obviously decided to go with this one in the final release.  It wouldn't have been my choice.
From my perspective this book is "more of the same" when compared with the earlier Iraq book (Road to Baghdad).  There are 20 scenarios in this book, most of them seem to trend towards the larger size of game (Full platoons with support on both sides), rather than the earlier small forces we saw in the initial Ambush Alley product.

The format of the book roughly follows the same approach taken in "Road to Baghdad".  An overview of the conflict is followed by explanations of the specific rule elements for Force-on-Force that apply to the current conflict in Afghanistan.

After that we have the 20 scenarios, followed by details of organisation and vehicles for the various ISAF and Afghan forces.  A quite nice part of this book is a guide to uniforms, painting and model selection for the conflict.  It desn't suit my predeliction for 6mm all that well, but it's nice to see in what is essentially a hooby book.

If you've been a follower of Ambush Alley Games and modern wargaming for a while, there may not be a whole heap for you in this book, apart from the scenarios.  I had a vague feeling of "samey-ness" leafing through the book, but to be honest I have not found the time to invest in a cover-to-cover in-depth read.

If you're interested in Afghanistan, it's obviously a must have.  If not, then I'd leave it.
Maybe it's because it's Australian focused, but I think the older Operation Uruzghan book that AA Games issued before the Osprey partnership was a better book, with scenarios more suited to what I'd like to game in the Afghan conflict.