Battle of Serenity Valley – Cold Wars

March 13, 2011

Despite missing the sign up for the game, I managed to get a seat at the table to play a 28mm Serenity Valley scenario under the Force on Force rules (from Osprey) hosted by Peter English and OCW.

The scenario itself had a Browncoat force divided into three entrenched positions: a forlorn hope bastion surrounded by the Alliance at the beginning of the game, a major fortified position on the top of a hillcrest blocking the straight route across the board, and a command post on the rear edge of the board. Brown coats had two small armored cars and an APC carrying reinforcements that appeared later in the game.

The Alliance forces were charged with taking the command post. They had three squads of APC mounted infantry and a command group on foot and in an ICV mounting a 90mm gun. They had air cover from a converted Star Wars snowspeeder in camo paint!

The terrain was nicely done for the scenario with insulation foam hills cut with a hot knife and flocked. The trenches were also hot knife cut into the insulation foam, painted and edged with home made sandbags. Areas of woods were marked with lichen and tree armatures.

The alliance APCs were converted from something that looked a lot like a Pindad APS and the IFV from a similar chassis with a heavy turret. Alliance figures were Mongoose Starship Troopers painted a Feldgrau. Great poses and actions including sniper and rocket launcher folks. The Browncoats had special Not-Firefly versions of Mal and Zoey and the rank and file looked like US WWII Americans in Battle of the Bulge winter coats. All in all, a very nice set of models.


I had not played the game before so it was all a learning adventure. I’ll spare the recap of the whole rule set and just mention two of the interesting mechanisms of the game that might set it apart from some others I’ve played.

Interesting Idea #1 — The roll you need to make is always the same (4+)
You need a 4 or above to succeed on a dice roll. Period. No adding or subtracting factors and no reference to a table to see what you need. Very nice and simple concept.

Fire power is measured by how many dice you get to roll (more is better) and how big the dice are. You heard that right. Instead of adding or subtracting factors, you improve from a D8 roll to a D10 roll or degrade down to a D6. Obviously getting a 4+ on a D10 is easier that on a D6.

Generally a weapon has an assigned number of dice. Conditions like moving and shooting, multiple overwatch shots, or other situations reduce the number of dice to roll.

So instead of using one set of dice and modifying your roll to hit, Force on Force changes the size of the dice and the number of the dice. If you are new or don’t recall the rules situation, you still have to look up the dice changes on a chart. I’m not sure that these changes really represent a departure from traditional sets in terms of actual effort to play, but they do feel good.

Interesting Idea #2 — Lots of people can interrupt your action
So here is a game situation. A & B are on the same side. C & D oppose them. A plans to move next turn and B choose to support A with covering fire (overwatch). C & D are not sure what to expect so they too stay in overwatch.

A moves into the line of sight and within range of C & D. C calls that he wishes to fire on A while moving, temporaily interrupting A’s move. B, in support of A, interrupts C’s interruption. Now who shoots?

Force on Force resolves this by having C roll to see if he can interrupt A. A rolls a relative initiative on a D8 then C rolls to see if he can beat A’s roll. Let’s say he does. Then B rolls to see if he can interrupt C. B rolls to see if he can beat C’s roll. Let’s say he can. Then D rolls to see if he can beat B. Let say he does. So the fire sequence is D-B-C-A.

Now D fires at B and suppresses B. C is not affected by B since they are now suppressed. C fires at A and suppresses A who can’t move.

Wow, that seems exciting but complex. When you have lots of folks interacting with each other this little scenario gets appreciably more complex. The net result is that, in A’s turn, having initiative, A is unable to do anything including return fire. B, C, and D all got to shoot and are not barred from shooting again. Hmm…I might need to think about that one more.

Now I am a fan of what I refer to as interleaved turns where action and reaction mix and where a player or a unit is not out  of the table action for long. That style of play keeps people engaged and makes time pass quickly. Few things are worse than waiting a long time for you to get to do nothing. I am not sure that Force on Force has this licked yet. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable game.

I give the biggest points of Peter English and OCW for running a good game. Convention games are only ever as good as their organizers and these guys did an excellent job with Serenity Valley. Thanks guys!


One Response to “Battle of Serenity Valley – Cold Wars”

  1. […] the events desk at 7 PM; just in time to jump in to the tail end of Pete English’s wonderful BATTLE OF SERENITY VALLEY game in the Distelfink.  I like Pete’s games and I was very pleased he saved a little […]

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