Monday, July 21, 2014

First Impressions: FiveCore

Today I picked up the FiveCore rulebook and its Tactical Primer supplement, among other things during the Summer Campaign Sale at WargameVault.

FiveCore is the generic skirmish system that is also the basis for Five Men in Normandy. Both games are designed by Ivan Sorensen, creator of the free Fast and Dirty sci-fi rules. He also maintains a blog about his games, where he discusses their development and offers new optional rules.

The core book is 25 pages long, 16 of which containing the actual rules laid out in single column, large font text, so it is a quick read. Besides those, there are general guidelines for solo play (always welcome), optional rules for adding skills (i.e. special abilities) to soldiers and some general scenario ideas. The writing is clear and direct, although I guess a newcomer to miniature games would feel a bit lost due to the lack of examples and more thorough explanations.

The 11-page Tactical Primer supplement adds an army generator, campaign generator, and optional rules for stealth, explosives, snipers, and civilians.

I still need to play some battles with these rules but so far I like what I see. The "action roll" system reminds me of a similar rule in the Sacre Bleu! game, creating some unpredictable situations. There is a clever system for shooting that incorporates damage and suppression in a roll. The rules for reaction fire are quite simple. On the other hand, there is no distinction between soldiers except for weapons and possibly their skill: no training or experience attribute, for instance.

My impression is that FiveCore will shine in scenario-based games, where each side has a specific objective that they try to accomplish. The lack of in-game details of characters might be a way to push players towards narrative interpretation. Since some weapons allow shooting across the table, having plenty of cover might be necessary. Anyway, these are my expectations, and I will write more about this game after I have played a few battles.


Ivan Sorensen said...

Just noticed this. Glad you had a good impression. Let me know if you run into any questions or concerns


Ricardo said...

Thanks for the comment! I have played a couple of test battles and so far everything is clear. I still have to complete a full battle and write its report.

Hackbarth said...

That got my attention, even more now that SF rulebook five Parsecs From Home was released. How Fivecore compares to Ganesha's Flying Lead, Ricardo? I was thinking in using it (and GURPS) to my modern combat games.

Ricardo said...

Hey Hackbarth! To be honest, in my mind the Song of Blades system works best in games where melee is the main combat option. Rich Jones did a great work in Flying Lead but the added complexity (e.g. multiple range bands, overwatch markers, new states for figures) takes away some appeal of the game. Five Core goes the opposite way: melee is very simple and risky, and most of the time you worry about tactics involving ranged combat: positioning and cover, suppression etc. Other than that, both games have basic characters with details added with "special rules" or "skills." Neither requires looking up tables often.