Black Ops

blackopsBlack Ops is an interesting addition to the Osprey Wargames series. It aims at wargaming, as the name implies, “Black Operations”. At its base is a simple D6-driven system. Character abilities (essentially attack, close combat, morale, defense) are target numbers for D6 rolls, with a few simple modifiers to the target number for things like range and armour. Weapons are categorized by type, without unnecessary detail. Activation is card-based, making use of four different classes of characters: normal soldiers (Jacks), specialists (Queens), heavy weapons (Kings), and leaders/heroes (Aces). A quick-reference sheet can be downloaded from the Osprey Gaming Resources site. Since the rules use a small amount of figures, 20mm and 28mm are probably the best scales.

Several mechanics set Black Ops apart from other rules:

  • Suppressive fire results in suppression counters that cause damage once the targeted unit tries to do something. In my opinion a very good representation of suppressive fire (most fire combat in real conflicts is suppressive fire), and here it actually makes sense to use it, unlike it some other rules were one might just fire for effect all the time.
  • Besides “Hidden” units, which are on table but cannot be engaged unless spotted, there are also blinds – off-board units are represented on the table by upside-down cards, and the opponent does not know which unit they represent until he makes contact.
  • The Stealth game. Here, only the the attacking player is in full control of his characters, the defender stands guard. Attacking characters may collect noise point by running, shooting etc., which will eventually cause the defenders to take notice and come into action. This is really the heart of Black Ops, and probably well suited to solo play, too.

Vehicle rules and a scenario generator are included as well.

The rather straightforward nature of the rules, without excessive details, means that they are suitable for a wide array of settings. The following seem interesting to me:

  • Remember the video game Commandos? As player, you controlled up to six British Commandos on missions behind German lines, often with the goal of destroying a specific target. With the popularity of WWII wargaming, it shouldn’t be too difficult to assemble the required miniatures and terrain. Maybe a good opportunity to use a couple of Bolt Action miniatures for a game of Black Ops?
  • The Call of Duty: Black Ops series of video games should also be able to provide plenty of inspiration, just like the Metal Gear Solid series.
  • My all-time favourite video game, even after 15 years, is Jagged Alliance 2. The player controls a small group of mercenaries, hired to free the country of Arulco from the dictator Deidranna. Always outnumbered, the player needs to use stealth to take out the enemies. It’s really a perfect match for Black Ops. I had previously thought about gaming this on the table-top, and this may become a new long-running project in 28mm.
  • Bond, James Bond. Copplestone Castings, Artizan Designs (both in the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang range), and Crooked Dice have suitable 28mm miniatures. Bond doesn’t always fight alone, just think of the attack on the monastery at the end of For Your Eyes Only. And since the movie series has been running for so long, it’s entirely up to you whether you play Connery in the ’60s, Moore in the ’70s, Dalton in the ’80s, Brosnan in the ’90s, or the cyber-crime-fighting modern Craig-Bond.
  • There are plenty of modern conflicts that are suitable. Somalia 1993, Afghanistan and Iraq, playing Delta Force, Navy Seals or something else.
  • The rules also have a page about future conflicts. Infinity miniatures come to mind as one possibility.
  • I want to try them with my 25mm West End Games Star Wars miniatures. Rebels trying to blow up a shield generator on a forest moon, for example?

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