Monday, August 19, 2013

FUBAR AAR: Middle Eastern Mixup

Played a short and very brutal game of FUBAR today.  FUBAR is a skirmish level game originally intended for moderns and sci fi but seems to have been adopted for many other periods as well.  FUBAR is absolutely free and available for download at the links provided.  There is also excellent rules support at "Forge of War" which is dedicated to FUBAR and its cousin rules support.

FUBAR hones an interesting activation system whereby players can attempt to activate a team and maneuver it or conduct fire following a successful activation roll.  This is a neat concept, but one that gets FUBAR into some trouble and I'll explain that later.

The scenario was simple - 2 American squads consisting of 4 fireteams must clear a few blocks infested with hardcore "insurgents" taking place "somewhere in the middle east."

The Americans were to advance straight into the town with fireteams bounding to their objective while their other fireteam provided fire support.
insurgent team

US Teams at the jumping off point.

insurgent teams lie in wait for the infidel invaders

US Team advances a block

and are ambushed by insurgents!

After a brief shootout, 2 remaining insurgents are suppressed

facing down the US troops

another US activation sees all of them wiped out - first rules issue I found?  Man alone.
 So what happens when you have 1 dude left on a team?  Does he fight on?  Common sense prevails but rules are rules and since FUBAR did not address them in the base rules, I though I would add a feature: rolling for morale.  The remaining trooper passes an "activation" test to stay on the battlefield.  If he fails it, he skedaddles.  The guy in the photo above passes the roll and sticks around.
US team occupies the rooftop for better firing positions and is met by a hail (and i mean hail) of bullets.  12 firing dice later.  Since their behind "masonry" I had the insurgent fire hit on a 6 and they still managed hits on just about everyone.  US bodyarmor wasn't enough to save the hits and results are 2 killed and 2 suppressed.  
 Another issue I didn't like about FUBAR?  Choosing between suppressing your troops and killing them.  Your skill level allows you to have a greater percentage of suppressed troops but I thought this didn't seem quite right.  Bullets don't discriminate in combat so why should I?  I changed the rules slightly and added a die roll - on a roll of 1 - 3 man is SUPPRESSED and on a roll of 4-6 man is KILLED.  I think it's cleaner.
This roll is not to be messed with as it occurs after you've saved.

Next issue I found - and I hate to bring up other rules but in disposable heroes (Iron Ivan Games) only half of your troops in fire teams can fire at any one time.  This is exceptionally realistic in my humble opinion and I'm thinking of incorporating it into my FUBAR games.  This gives a huge advantage to "mobs" like Somalis or hordes of Shi'a insurgents in Sadr City.  Truthfully, they don't shoot very straight.  I'd like to try this rule out and see how it goes.

US troops advance against an alleyway.  under the current rules, they got 8 fire dice in this instance.  The insurgents got a ton more but thanks to bad rolling, the "good guys" prevailed in this small firefight.

lone survivor SAW gunner scans a rooftop for insurgent movement.  The blue bead means he's "on guard" or in actuality it means that he failed an activation role and can do nothing but sit and scan, firing at a target as it appears.

i used red beads to track firing.

Insurgents lose.
Okay - the good, bad, and ugly.  Actually there was no ugly and I'm convinced FUBAR is a great set of rules with tremendous potential.  There were just a few things I'd personally tweak for my own games.  As I do in all games, here are some lessons learned for you to use or not use in your own FUBAR games:

OVERWATCH TEAMS: If you can afford to have a team sit on "On Guard" orders the entire game, do it.  Raining 9 firedice down on an opponent while he's attempting to flank your lead element is awesome.  My favorite tactic was to run (12" movement) my guys into position the first turn (or the first turn they passed an activation) and have them sit there the entire time firing into the bad guys.

Leadership Goes with the Moving Element: Your most vulnerable element is always your moving element.  One thing I like about FUBAR is your leadership adds their modifiers to the troops in their charge.  My US Squad leaders added a +1 bonus and the troops exposed to withering insurgent fire on the ground needed the extra help in activating.


The activating feature of the game - while critical - really bogs the game down in my opinion and takes away from the fluid nature of infantry combat.  My fix for this is to use dice commensurate with the training / quality level of the troops.  So untrained / conscripts get a D6 for all their actions, seasoned/trained get a D8 for all their actions, veteran get a D10, and elite get a D12 - this way you get to keep the fog of war aspect in all your actions, but better troops have an even better chance of carrying out their actions.  Same goes for firing - use dice commensurate with the troop quality during firepower rolls.  Here's an example:

"seasoned" US Troops activate on a 4+ with a D8, and hit their target on a 5+ on a D8

untrained insurgents activate on a 5+ with a D6, and hit their target on a 6 on a D8.  
Modern weaponry being what it is, still affords your troops 2 firepower dice when using a modern AR like a Kalashnikov.  A team of 6 insurgents all with AKs gets 12 firepower points.  That's a ton of firepower!  Even if it does hit on "6s"


  1. Interesting perspective. One knock I've heard against FUBAR is all the markers needed for unit status. You didn't seem phased by it. And the different dice mechanic sounds familiar but I'm not sure from where.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sean. I had to use beads - blue for "on guard" when the unit failed its activation roll. Also used red beads for showing when a unit fired, yellow for suppression. it wasn't too bad with the markers.

      The different dice mechanic is directly from Force on Force and is how they adjudicate their actions. Their universal rule is beat a 4 on your dice. In this instance I just use the FUBAR assigned levels but better dice for better quality. (D6 for green and D8 for seasoned).

      i figured out the morale piece it's clearly written in the rules so my only legitimate gripe was unit activations - sometimes I would go 3 turns without activating anybody. it was a little annoying.

  2. Great AAR Steven and a good break down on the system. I like the tweaks and the reasoning.

    Nice work.

    1. Thanks, Paul. FUBAR is definitely worth the price of admission (free). It's a neat little game with good rules support and it gets the job done.

      I'll be glad to play FUBAR over the other skirmish rules because I dont need a ton of expensive supplements to play it like Iron Ivan (that...and I can't find any of my supplements after our move!!!)