Wednesday, July 8, 2015

SNAFU: Situation Normal All FUBAR'd Up!

So in my endless rules tinkering and restless dissatisfaction with many contemporary wargame rules, I found myself once again thinking I could do better.

Well - truth be told I have NOT done better but I still discovered that there are some great concepts in FUBAR that are easily overlooked by many gamers due to unbelievable pricetag.  ($0.00) and that with some slight modifications, units can be tweaked and the system adjusted from fighting individual figures and teams, up to squads.

As opposed to simply pretending that it's another scale, this version has its own identity and some oddities that the player of FUBAR would not immediately recognize and this was done to accommodate the "Squad/AFV as Unit" effect and put the player in place of a Company Commander.

The resulting mess is a tactically unforgiving game that is easy to play and gives the commander the ability to exercise tactical options.

Here are some of the concepts:
FUBAR forces you to roll a 1D6 to activate units and the better the unit or troop quality, the more likely you will activate them to carry out an order.  This remains the same as in regular FUBAR.

The orders have changed to ADVANCE, DOWN, RUN, FIRE, RALLY, AMBUSH just like a popular skirmish rules set out there (truth be told, I wanted to use my Bolt Action orders dice).

  • Advance allows you to move and fire
  • Down gives you better cover
  • Run allows you to move twice as far
  • Fire allows you to shoot with a +1 to your "expertise" roll
  • Rally allows you to remove a Suppression marker
  • Ambush allows you to go on "Overwatch" and attempt to shoot the enemy while he's moving

Brings me to my next departure from FUBAR - the concept of suppression has changed somewhat.  As with FUBAR, the better the squad, the more SUPPRESSION markers it can accumulate, however it is no longer optional since you're dealing with a formation of 10 men, not a single man or fireteam.

So a "Green" or inexperienced rifle squad can only accumulate 1 Suppression marker before it's wiped out.  "Seasoned" may receive 2.  "Veteran" 3 and "Elite" 4.  Also, you accumulate Suppression markers just like regular hits from shooting.
Suppression markers also subtract from the unit's activation roll.  (Seasoned squad has 1 suppression marker and is supposed to activate on a roll of 4+ but the -1 on the die roll means they have to roll a 5+)

One of your squads receives a hit - it rolls a saving throw.  If it fails the saving throw, it gets a suppression marker.  If it passes the saving throw,it does not receive a suppression marker.

Speaking of hits and shooting, a basic Rifle Squad receives 1D6 for shooting.  Assault Rifle Squad receives 2D6/1D6 for shooting.  SMG squad receives 3D6/1D6 for shooting.  LMG Squad (2 LMG teams) receives 3D6 for shooting.  MMG/HMG gets 4D6 for shooting.  As long as the squad has 1 suppression marker, it receives a +1 to the "To Hit" number.   Additional suppression markers don't detract from shooting.

A few other changes - so this will shock and anger regular FUBAR players but I had no pre determined boundaries (IE 1 page rules) to keep intact so the vehicle rules have been changed!

Vehicles with a tank gun have a Rate of Fire of "2" but can only shoot 2 if on FIRE orders (can't move).  If they advance, they may shoot with 1 die.

If a hit is achieved (again using the crew's expertise level) the firer rolls 2D6  + the "strike value" of the gun (thank you, Charles Grant!).  If they beat the armor, they roll target effects on a 1D6.  1,2 the crew bails out with 1 suppression marker and must be rallied but the tank is OK.  If the effect is 3 - 6 the tank is destroyed.

Mighty T-34 scans for Fritz.

 T-34 platoon and an infantry platoon defend a small pass during the Kursk operation.
Tough assignment for the Germans.  1 infantry platoon and a handful of tanks must break through a ridgeline defended by tanks and infantry.  The Soviets have an infantry platoon in cover on the hill in the bottom of the picture, while a T-34 platoon keeps things nailed down from the woods in the top right.

As soon as they reach the river, Gerry starts taking casualties.  1 halftrack is KO but the crew inside pass their save and dismount.  Another halftrack isn't so lucky and the T-34s make short work of it.
 Here is a plea for common sense armor rules - under the regular FUBAR rules, my halftracks due to freakish rolling survive hit after hit after hit (literally 3 hits) from the T-34s and pass their save each time.  This is when I adopted new armor rules...

an immobilized panther tank using the old FUBAR rules (I actually don't mind having a "main gun destroyed" or an "immobilized" result.

The panther is still in the fight!  Scratch one Ivan.

Gerry attempting to ford this raging creek in the upper left.  They would secure a small foothold before being forced back due to casualties.  Again - it was a tough assignment.

This squad on the far bank starting to feel very lonely and immediately draws fire from 3 russian squads and an HMG section on the hill.  Time to rethink this attack plan!

 The Germans lose another halftrack, both of the Panzer IIIMs and call it quits.

The Soviets rolled really well with only 1 squad suppressed at the end of the day.  Had the German HMG section and other squad passed, it may have been a different story.

Pulling back!  Pour on the cover fire so 1st squad can cross the creek!

Final thoughts?  This was a fun exercise and I'll play it again using a more defined and thought out scenario.  I think it needs rules for artillery and mortar support but this could be a contender for a rules set that I play more often as it doesn't require a day of preparation and study.  Any team or squad level OOB will work for this game, so all those old useless Flames of War intelligence handbooks can be used to create OOBs for pick up game battles.  Squad leader scenarios can also be used for a quick game - provided I have enough stands painted!

Next up?  I have resurrected "Panzerfaust: Armored Fist" from my stockpile of rules and have been re-reading them.  VERY daunting at first glance but the systems within the rules themselves, apart from being chart-intensive are crisp, clean and look like fun.  I would like to try P:AF tomorrow if I have the time.


  1. This looks fantastic Steve - just what I'm looking for.

    Where is this new version of FUBAR? (SNAFU?)

  2. Reading it again - I think you have to publish these ...are these your own amendments to the FUBAR system then? I love the tweaking. I MUST try these out.

    1. Darren,
      Yes these are my own amendments to FUBAR. I wanted a game where a unit = a squad and I have yet to find that set of rules (that I like) anywhere. Schwere Kompanie is much too involved with too many mechanisms and tables to track for my liking, and while I have nothing against IABSM, it seems like a poor game for "pickup games" which 80% of my gaming experiences are.

      Blitzkrieg Commander II I have not yet played but I have played the first version many times. Something about it. I like the rules, but they're not my "go to" set.

      Battlegroup (not squad rules) are a wonderful and extremely fun and satisfying set of rules - also not my go-to set. I find I have to be in the mood for them :)

      I wanted a game where a stand is a squad and I played the role of the company commander, managing reserves, worrying about advances or the defense, and checking up on my flanks. Kind of like squad leader, but not squad leader.

      So I tweaked FUBAR to represent squads and renamed it SNAFU, with the "F" of course standing for FUBAR'd lol.

      This is great because I have another reason to resurrect Charles Grant's BATTLE using the armor and strike value packages for main guns and WW2 AFVs. I think this game is true to FUBAR's nature as a simple but effective wargame without all the hassle and fluff.

    2. PS how did you like Battlegroup Panzergrenadier?? I briefly thought about purchasing GDB but declined considering I could never quite figure out how to play British Grenadier and that was after reading the rules a few times...

    3. There are some nice mechanisms in BgPg, though again I found some areas (artillery, some elements of firing) which slowed things down. It's not overly complex, just layered in terms of rules. I do seem to have concerns now with Quick Reference Sheets which are 4 pages long... I always am a little apprehensive at such things. Bottom line: I'm wondering how different the result actually is with more complex rule sets?...hence my real interest in what you've done with FUBAR here.

      Now have you seen these:

      This is an early version of a larger scale FUBAR - though your version seems superior.

    4. Glad to hear you liked it. That is a strong-suit of the Battlegroup game. There are some "layers" in it, but once you've played 2 or 3 games that familiarity replaces the constant page flipping.
      I really enjoyed reading the British Grenadier rules. And I tried, so very hard, to understand the mechanisms of the game. But I ended up with more questions after reading than before I sat down, and forget about playing them!

      I have seen the micro FUBAR but haven't tried it yet. I think it's worth a shot?

  3. WHat I'm really after, as you say, are the company commander rules - though where decision making is paramount, without having to flick through the rulebook. I want squad or fire-team based elements that allow me to do 'Russian Front, Normandy, WWIII, Falklands and Vietnam - all at company level.

    What I see in your order markers here is what is making me want to try the rules. In terms of those orders, we can encompass the decisions that any of these company commanders have to make. Book flipping is driving me crazy in recent weeks.

    HOw do you handle battlegroup formation though - would it simply be done at company commander level, on basis of the army's structure, or can it be even more fluid?

    For more modern games of course, I guess it just uses the rigidity (or otherwise)of the army structure or doctrine. Part of me thinks now, that I'd rather be researching how the battlegroup was formed in real terms, than trying to find the entry in the rulebook.

    1. I couldn't agree more. I want tactical flexibility, a combat model where weapons all have their place and purpose, (and are actually used!) and I want to spend my time pondering my next move.
      I also have a debate raging in my head over the sovereignty of squads. There are 2 schools of thought- one that the unit is sovereign (the Flames of War method where everyone shoots together, rallies, falls back, and lives or dies together) or the Squad is sovereign. (Squad leader. 1 isolated squad, a leader, and an MMG can hold your entire right flank from a Company of russians until help arrives. It breaks its morale on its own. It can shoot, move, carry out close assaults, and pretty much do anything it wants on its own.

      I am a big proponent of sovereign squads, as opposed to sovereign units. It fits in with most combat narratives you read. I would never underestimate the combined fighting skill, tenacity and cleverness of 10 well-armed and desperate men fighting for survival! Flames of War thinks of these men as pieces of a whole and additional nodes to generate more dice rolling.

      Squad Leader thinks of these men as a self-contained fighting unit that when used as part of a bigger enterprise, can win the day for you. That's how I like to think of things....getting off my soap box now!

    2. No need - I love the idea of the sovereign squad. This IS what we read about, and this is what makes for a good game I think. It's the after-game 'story', where that squad held the flank that we remember, rather than the mechanics of a single uninspiring squad as part of a bigger unit. I love it.

    3. It's all about tactical flexibility. I think Flames of War and games like it have beautiful features of them. I just don't like being forces to move huge clunky formations that have essentially no identity to them except the firepower they provide to a desperate dice roll. The whole thing becomes a gambling exercise instead of a tactical decision game.

    4. "WHat I'm really after, as you say, are the company commander rules "


      I'm seeing a strong pattern developing here... :-)

  4. The accumulation of suppression markers based on troop quality is an inspired idea by the way...

    1. I wish I could take credit for it - I borrowed the "pin marker" concept from Bolt Action, which borrowed the "Blast Marker" concept from Epic: Armageddon. Those rules have more restrictions on them than mine do however.

      FUBAR allowed the commander to choose between suppressing his men or killing his men and that seemed counter-productive to me. So I took the amount of "suppressions" allowed per team, expanded them to squad, and turned them into "hits" or sort. So when the unit reaches its maximum number, it's driven off or eliminated or what have you.

  5. By the way, IMHO you should really try Battlegroup: Kursk. I do believe you will find them much suited to your taste, given the description above of what you're looking for in a game.

    1. Yes - I think you're right. Though I may be trying SNAFU first :)

    2. Great idea! I will post something like a rules page or 2 tomorrow on the blog. I'm very glad you enjoyed my concept.

    3. The pdf version of the rules is now available for just 5GBP

  6. I've actually just order a copy of Charles Grant's battle. Perhaps, like yourself, I need to get back to basics. I think the approach we took with M&M and what you've now done with FUBAR are the way forward to be honest. My key question in these games is 'are we getting a vastly different result than we would get with more complex rules - yet having more intense gameplay with less 'intrusion' from the rules'.

    It lends itself to 'Murphy's rules of combat'. No game survives first contact with the rules!!!

    1. It's a very good book. I love it and on the Old School Wargame Rules group on yahoo, you can get excellent squad and platoon level QRS.

      Also - if you do a search on my blog, I've played quite a few games of Battle where 1 stand equals 1 squad and it's alot of fun. I still think Charles Grant's armor rules are the best out there and frankly much better than any game I've played where 1 tank = 1 tank.

    2. That's a tough proposition. A few years ago I played a bunch of different scenarios using multiple rules sets in an effort to find my favorite. I called it Rules-a-palooza on my blog.
      I played a North Africa meeting engagement with GHQ WW2 rules, Fistful of TOWS3, Blitzkrieg Commander, and Spearhead. Unfortunately, I play almost none of those rules anymore, and they all delivered practically the same results. give or take a few casualties. So for all that work and all that blogging, I'm no further towards the goal of finding the grail than i was before I started!!!