Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tomorrow's War - First Impressions

     Last month Joe at Osprey posted that he was looking for bloggers to review Tomorrow's War. I emailed that I was interested, pointed him to my blog and told him a little bit about what I did here. He kindly sent me a copy of the rules and I've been reading through them as I have time throughout the day. This first review is by no means comprehensive. I'll be digesting for a while, but I wanted to post my initial impressions. I'll follow up over the next several weeks with a review the actual game mechanics and a few battle reports, but for now, I'll just hit the physical production and layout.

     The first thing that I noticed was that the shipping envelope was heavier than I expected. I opened the package to find an inch thick, hard bound, full color book. It's 260 full color pages packed with rules, interesting illustrations and great photos of figures in action. The spine shifts a bit, which concerned me until I started reading it and realized that this is one of the few hard back rulebooks I've read that allows the pages to lay flat even when it's open to the middle of the book. The pages seem to be securely stitched in instead of glued and the pages themselves are substantially thick and should wear well. The only issue I'm having is the  printing of the background picture behind the text. It's about 10-20% opaque in the text boxes and I find it distracting and hard on my eyes if I read for more than 20 minutes.

     I had purchased the PDF pre-release version and was a bit concerned that I had to also purchase Force on Force if I wanted to play. I was also hesitant regarding the fluff that was promised. I like my rulebooks to contain rules. If I want a story, I'll read a novel. Well, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. This book starts with about 20 pages of fluff and systematically lays out the basic rules, more advanced rules, rules for special units, a campaign system, troop stats for several nations and some scenarios.

     The fluff provides a brief background of the state of things in the Tomorrow's War universe. It's presented in a factual manner rather than anecdotal and provides a structure for a believable, near future setting. There are lots of interesting little tidbits interspersed that could be used for scenario or campaign seeds. I was a little disappointed that Israel was mentioned as a relevant factor in the text of another group, but it's current state is not defined.

     The rules themselves are laid out in a logical, progressive manner. They begin with the Basics of Play and move systematically through Units and Leaders, Infantry Combat, Mechanized Combat, Close Air Support, Off-board Artillery, Special Unit Types and Asymmetric Engagements.

     The campaign system seems well, thought out. It's limited in scope to unit sizes of about a platoon, but I think a bit of thought and tweaking would allow it to be adjusted for whatever size campaign you'd want to play. I was really intrigued by Operational Momentum Points. "These points represent the operational momentum that each force has accumulated prior to the actual operation." They can be used to buy assets for a scenario or saved and counted as victory points at the end of the game. The campaign is also flexible enough to accommodate a closed campaign with a predefined number and order of scenarios or an open ended campaign which could be as long and contain as many scenarios as the players wish.

     While not comprehensive, the tables of organization and the sample units lists provide a good deal of variety for interesting games. Again, the scope of the rules seems to be more suited to about a platoon with a few vehicles rather than great sweeping battles. For me that's about perfect.

     Tomorrow's War is published by Osprey Publishing and Ambush Alley Games and sells for $34.95 US dollars. Overall I'm very impressed with the quality of the production. It's a physically beautiful piece of work and it's sensibly formatted to provide easy assimilation of the rules. Good job, Osprey and Ambush Alley guys. I look forward to playing a few games and blogging the results.

Tomorrow's War is available for pre-order at a discounted price on Amazon.

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