Sunday, April 24, 2011

New World Disorder

I've been collecting some miniature skirmish rules lately and I intend to playtest them and post on this blog. One of the recent acquisitions is "New World Disorder" (or NWD for short) by Precis Intermedia Games (actually, I still remember them from the Politically Incorrect Games days.) NWD is a modern/near-future skirmish rules system. It comes with its own setting, which is that of a dystopic future where corporations openly rule the world and millions of people are left to fight for their own on the remains of old cities.

The basic book comes with a set of paper miniatures from their "Disposable Heroes" series. I was a little annoyed by the fact that they are meant to be assembled into "A-frames" that are about 18x15mm on the base, so I fired up the Gimp, scaled the minis to be 20mm wide and added an integral 20x20mm square base. Some cutting later, the result was this (shown along some of the excellent Ikubes and ISO container from TopoSolitario):

From reading the book I split the minis into four groups: riot cops, civilians, military and gang members. It is a really nice mix of characters in classic comic-book style, and having them bundled with the book was a great idea.
So far I have only run a few quick tests, not a full game, but here are the first impressions: the game uses an alternate activation mechanic, with each character being able to perform a variable amount of actions depending on their attributes and what they want to do. The game does not include a morale system but on activation characters have to check if they can keep their cool and perform well.

Players build their squads ("crews" in NWD) using a point-buy system. Each crew can include rank-and-file types ("punks" in NWD) and command units ("top dogs".) Using the standard rules I can imagine crews of 4-12 characters being built, from well-equipped elite characters to a mob of civilians with guns. Rank-and-file characters drop like flies and overall, it isn't that hard to have even your toughest boss taken out by a couple of lucky shots.
Rules for combat include a variety of options for both ranged and melee attacks, and also take into account different weapon profiles, ammunition, explosives, indirect fire, cover and personal body armor. Differently from other skirmish rules I've tried, this system includes facing for units (which also made the square bases more attractive.) Most of the die rolls during the game use a single six-sided die, which helps keeping the game fast.

Regarding bookkeeping, you will probably need a sheet of paper record the attributes and gear of  your crew and keep track of their wounds. Counters to mark the four different states a character can be, and to track which characters have been activated on a round, are also necessary. Although there is no provision on the book, you may also want some area templates for suppression fire.

One thing I like in NWD is the combination of the (limited) opportunity fire mechanics and high lethality, which make "turtling" safely behind cover a risky proposition. That said, I feel that scenarios with objectives different than "wipe the other team out" are a must in firearms-heavy games, to avoid having both sides hiding in cover waiting for the other team to move out. The four scenarios provided in the book have different objectives, thus matching this requirement.

Final remarks
New World Disorder is an interesting option for modern/near future miniature skirmishes. It does not have a specific miniature line and the rules allow statting up existing models. The distinction between "top dogs" and "punks" gives the game an action movie feel. The rules have more detail than I'm used to (coming from FUBAR, USE ME and Song of Blades and Heroes) but on my first read and tests nothing felt wrong or unnecessarily complicated. Note, however, that this is strictly a man-to-man combat system, as there are no rules for different scales of units or vehicles. I'm not sure if the game supplements add some of this.

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