Thursday, 2 February 2012

15mm WW2 Burma; Part 5: The Rules

As I have mentioned in other posts, I had originally intended to use Two Hour Wargames' Nuts! rules, with the War Against Japan add-on. but I was unable to summon up the motivation to re-read the - to my mind - complicated rules that surround the reaction system that is at the core of all THW's rules.

Don't misunderstand though; I have read WAJ and it contains some fantastic ideas and I do want to play them. but I think I should play some solo games first to get the mechanisms down pat.

Anyway, I had heard good things about the simplicity and fun of Too Fat Lardies' "I Ain't Been Shot Mum!" WW2 rules, but to be honest, I had previously been put off by the title. Those of you unlucky enough to live in a place other than Britain, may not realise that this is a play on words on the title of a BBC situation comedy from the 70s called It Ain't Half Hot Mum set in WW2 India.This had led me to believe, erroneously as it transpires, that the rules were comedic in some way.

Then I read an interview with the authors in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy issue 58 about version 3 of IABSM which convinced me to give the rules a try - so I duly bought them as a pdf.

And - I feel constrained to relate - that I'm very glad that I did. They are not comedic in nature at all, but are a fun, perplexing and more involved than they seem at first glance set of rules.

At the first read-through, the turn-of-a-card activation sequence and the roll dice for movement system, both put me off, but I resolved to at least try them, and they work much better than I had feared.  I've been against rolling dice for movement for a long time, believing that it slows down the speed of play un-necessarily, but the uncertainty of knowing whether your units will get to where you want them to be is really quite fun! And the unpredictability of the cards - especially when the pack includes a 'tea-break' end of turn card - is another plus point I had not expected.

These, combined with the 'fog-of-war' simulator that is the 'blinds' (a piece of card to represent as yet unspotted troops), produced a more fun and enjoyable WW2 wargame than it has been my experience with other sets of rules, and that is without mentioning one of the main parts of the rules - the 'Big Men'.

I have played Command Decision 3 quite a few times, and some other WW2 rules and would categorically state that IABSM beats them all for an enjoyable wargame  (I make no statement regarding the rules' position on the simulation/playability axis and add the caveat that we only had 2 platoons a side for what is a 'company-level' game).

I think the best place to leave this mini-review of IABSM is to state that both Tim and I are looking forward to playing them again and adding in bits that we left out of our initial 'test' game - i.e. indirect fire, vehicles (both land and air), etc.


  1. Sounds interesting. I found that once I started playing THW's All Things Zombie that rules weren't really very complex. They just seemed rather daunting at first. I'm glad you like IABSM. I have Sharpe Practice but haven't played it, yet. I' looking forward to hearing more about IABSM.

  2. I'm thinking about using their modern rules......

  3. @Luckyjoe: I had the same experience with ATZ when playing solo, but with another player I found it hard to explain! hence my reluctance here I suspect ...

    @TAL: I have just bought their Vietnam rules - Charlie Don't Surf, and from a readthrough they look as much fun as IABSM, so I hope to try them soon.

  4. They don't like it up 'em! ;)

  5. I am with you on the THW rules - lots of good things in them, but seems like a lot of work for a solo game.

    Welcome to the fun world of card activation. I have played a lot of games (both multi player and solo) using card activation and they have been the games that came out the best.

  6. Sounds good I need to get some games in tbh i'm very rusty in the playing department