Saturday, January 10, 2009

Imperial Infantry Squad

As it turns out, not every game in my collection is a good one. Today's stinker is Imperial Infantry Squad, an old board game by Judges Guild that purpots to let you fight some kind of war 1000 years in the future between humans and lizard-like aliens. Before I discuss how bad this game is, let me give you a bit of history.

Back when I was in college, I found another board game by Judges Guild, City State Warfare. That game was great; it was pretty simple, but it played quickly and it had decent tactics behind it. That game was essentially a fantasy wargame, though it also had historical scenarios that you could play. It even included rules for using it in a fantasy RPG, if you were so inclined. It was just a lot of fun. So, a year or so ago, I was tooling around Boardgamegeek and learned that Judges Guild had also made a sci-fi wargame. I figured it would be fun, like City State Warfare was fun, but ooooohh, how wrong I was.

Imperial Infantry Squad comes with four sets of counters. The first are dark blue counters, which generally represent your average schmuck with a rifle. Second are the light blue counters, which generally represent professional soldiers in power armor. The third are red counters, which represent the aliens. Fourth are white status counters, artillery counters, and everything else that isn't an infantry unit or a heavy weapon. This counter art is OK, even though the average infantry schmucks look like they are dressed for the American Revolutionary War. The problem is that each of the four corners of the counters have numbers on them that represent their abilities in the game, and some of the counters are printed such that their numbers are cut off when you pop the counters out. It's not a critical failure, but it is annoying.

The game comes with two maps with varying terrain on it. Facing does not matter at all, and there is no zone of control. Each unit is simply in a hex, and can attack anyone in any direction as long as they are within range. Combat itself is pretty simple. First, you add up the attack factors of all the units attacking a hex. Then you compare that to a chart, look up any terrain effects, and roll two dice. You cross-reference the die roll (modified by terrain effects) to the chart, and that tells you if you missed, disrupted the unit, or killed it.

There are three levels of disruption. A disrupted unit can not shoot and moves at half speed, but there are no other effects. There also appears to be no difference between having one, two, or three points of disruption, other than that it will take you longer to become undisrupted the more disruption you have (as a leader can remove one point of disruption a turn).

And here is where the game falls completely apart; who is a leader? The rulebook mentions leaders, but nowhere on any of the counters does it mention anything being a leader. I'm left to assume that the units with lousy combat stats compared to the rest are leaders, but I'm not sure about that. That is not the only problem with the rulebook, either. In the appendices in the back, where it gives rules for using this game with a sci-fi RPG, it has tables for determining how many men in a destroyed unit are actually dead, vs. just injured or fled from combat. There, it mentions having too much disruption as a way of getting a unit destroyed. The main rules don't say anything about that, though. So which is right? Can a unit take too much disruption and be destroyed? I sure hope so, because even with a ridiculously high combat factor it is about impossible to directly kill anything. Seriously, I had three space marines putting hot lead into this pathetic infantry dude, and they couldn't kill him, just disrupt him; over and over again.

There are more problems with the rulebook than what I have mentioned, but I think you can tell where I'm going with this. This game is a stinker and will likely never be played again by me.

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