Monday, January 27, 2014

My Lock 'n Load Tactics

Lock 'n Load is easily one of my favorite game systems and I find it just gets better the more I try out and learn different tactics. Lately, I've been going back and replaying scenarios that I haven't touched for a long time and I've noticed that things were much more fun this time around.  I think part of this was due to knowing the rules a bit better but I think another reason is that my tactics have changed and improved a little bit over time.

Generally speaking, the decisions have become a lot more interesting and the outcomes are a lot less one sided than they used to be.  This is an article about how my tactics in LnL have changed over time and where I'm at now with my game.  Of course, tactics are going to vary widely based on the type of scenario objectives, terrain, and enemy considerations but I think every player has a few general principals that they try to follow in order to get the win.

1.  Infantry Tactics on the Offense

When I first started playing Lock 'n Load, I relied heavily on using ranged firepower to shake up and hopefully inflict casualties on nearby enemies. The problem with this is that it just doesn't work very well and it takes a lot of time.  I would spend several consecutive turns with the bulk of my guys sitting around waiting for a leader to make a successful spotting roll and then fire away at the enemy from a distance.  Like most LnL players, I discovered fairly quickly that this kind of tactic is really not the most effective way to fight and win.

So now I focus mainly on thinking about ways to get my guys into favorable melee situations against the enemy.  This kind of "melee focus" is much more effective in terms of eliminating enemy units in a hurry.  The trick, of course, is to have enough units to soak up enemy defensive fire before proceeding with the melee assault.

Generally speaking, I usually divide up my units into three elements.  I have a base of fire with a leader and a squad with a long range weapon, one squad for reconnaissance, and an assault group consisting of squads with high firepower (usually two squads with a support weapon of some kind).  The recon squad will be sent out to approach the enemy and draw its fire, after which I'll use the base of fire to shoot at the enemy and hope for a shaken result before sending in the main assault squads to move in and melee the enemy. These concepts can basically  be thought of as the old military addage "Find, Fix, Finish".

In melee, I will try to assault unshaken enemies at 3-1 odds, which seems to be the safest way to ensure a win without losing my own guys in the process.

2. Leaders as Rallying Points

I notice that I use leaders slightly differently now.  Instead of viewing them merely as a way to increase firepower, I see their most powerful ability is to rally units.  If kept in terrain with a defensive bonus, a leader will be able to rally at least one or two units in its hex per turn (on average).  Lots of players seem to forget that leaders can reconstitute two half-strength MMCs into a full-strength squad.  That's too bad because that's an extremely powerful ability.

I always try to have a leader to sit slightly back from the action in order to give my shaken squads somewhere to crawl back to after a failed assault.  This helps to keep recycling my guys towards the front. I think the trick here is try to place my leaders close enough to the action but far enough away that they're not in any immediate danger from a sudden shaken result and a follow-up enemy melee assault.  I have noticed after observing my own games that the side that usually wins is the one that knows where to effectively place their leaders on the map and when to move them.  I rarely, if ever, throw a leader into melee now.  I find the benefits are too few for the risks that are ventured.

3.  Using Vehicles as Mobile Cover

I used to primarily think of vehicles as good for one thing - blowing up lots of stuff.  Lately, one of the best things I've noticed about vehicles is that they can be used as a sort of mobile cover for my troops.  If I need to cross an open area that's in the enemy's line of fire, I will usually get my tanks in front of my guys and then slowly advance my men in coordination with the vehicle.  The vehicle will serve as degrading terrain if the enemy tries to fire past it at my advancing squads.  It also offers +2 defensive terrain bonus to units that are in the same hex and there's no additional cost to enter a vehicle terrain hex.

4. Focusing Firepower and Ignoring Distractions

I used to try and have my guys shoot at everything that moved on the board but now I've noticed that there are times when I have to ignore the enemy in one area for a short time while I deal with a threat in another place.  That may mean letting the enemy move through an open area and missing out on a perfect chance to seriously mess up his squad with opportunity fire in exchange for holding fire for a chance later on to shoot at another squad sitting in tough defensive terrain.  Of course, priorities will be determined primarily by victory conditions rather than just killing the enemy so it's always best to keep this in mind and focus in on achieving these goals.  I notice that when I do this, I control the battlefield situation instead of my opponent.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Star Wars Miniatures - Darth Vader & Obi-wan Redux

I am currently the proud owner of two miniatures games, which are Star Wars Miniatures and Axis & Allies Miniatures and I love them.  They give me a nice light alternative to my hex and counter games, most of which are relatively complex affairs that are not always easy to dig out and mull over, especially after a long day at work. The rules for these two games are a breeze to learn, filled with pages of nice color illustrations and lots of examples.  Most of the time, the outcome of my playthroughs are decided more by the luck of the die rather than any real tactical considerations, which is great when you're tired and more concerned with the beer and pretzels than the right die roll modifier for being behind low cover.

Anyway, here's a brief playthrough of a battle between the galactic forces of light and darkness.  Although the situation doesn't exactly follow the movies, that's fine with me.  In fact, that's the beauty of this game.  If you want to make a "what if" scenario that doesn't make any real sense, then so be it. Get out the beer and pretzels and roll some dice and that's all that matters.

Here, I pitted a small group of Rebels (56 points total) against the evil Imperials (56 points) using the Star Wars Miniatures game rules and minis.  The scenario takes place in an alternate Star Wars timeline where Darth Vader and a pair of stormtroopers face off against the Obi Wan Kenobi and a pair of rebels.  Maybe Obi Wan somehow survived his first fight with Vader on the Death Star, which gives us a chance for a rematch after the Death Star blew up in the first movie.  Obi Wan finds an abandoned Imperial base somewhere and walks into a trap with Vader and two stormtroopers waiting inside.  Both men decide to even up old scores and to settle the matter once and for all.

Vader and 2 stormtroopers await the Rebels' arrival at an old abandoned Imperial base.

I had the Imperials setup first here on the left side of the map.  They start off behind cover in an old cargo area, hoping to ambush the Rebels when they enter.

Obi-Wan and two rebels (heavy weapons and an elite) enter the abandoned complex.

The Rebels march right into the place and don't have many options.  There's a large blast door right in front of them, with a security room to the left and a conference room to the right.  Obi-wan immediately senses the danger ahead of them and warns the rebels to be cautious.

Overhead view of map with Imperials on one side and Rebels on the other.

The Imperials get initiative on the following turn and Vader sends the two stormtroopers forward into cover.  He waits patiently for the right opportunity to strike.

The stormtroopers find cover in the cargo bay.
The Rebels decide to find out what's behind the blast door and the elite soldier moves ahead of the group.  The blast doors open to reveal Vader and the stormtroopers straight ahead.  The rebel heavy trooper fires a shot at the nearest stormtrooper but misses.

A Rebel heavy trooper takes aim.

Vader, obviously angered at the nerve of the heavy trooper to fire a weapon in his vicinity, decides to take matters into hand.  He spends 2 force points to force choke the elite trooper, who is immediately killed.  The blast door shuts and Kenobi advances with the heavy trooper behind him to provide cover.  Unfortunately, both stormtroopers fire at him and he takes 20 damage.  It's not enough to really phase him, since he has 100 hit points.

Kenobi makes it to the blast door.

On the next turn, the Rebels finally get initiative and Kenobi spends a force point to get adjacent to the nearest stormtrooper and start swinging his lightsaber.  Unfortunately, the force is not with Obi Wan and he completely misses (rolling a "1" for an automatic miss).

Kenobi swings for the fences and...misses horribly.

Having been given orders by the Sith Lord to leave Kenobi for Vader alone, the stormtroopers back off and decide to take out the remaining Rebel heavy trooper.  They head for the blast door near the entrance to the complex.

Both stormtroopers decide to focus on the remaining rebel soldier.

And it's on.  Vader moves up to Kenobi by using a force point for extra movement allowance and he inflicts 20 damage on Kenobi.  Rage flowing through his veins, Vader calls Obi Wan a "weak old man" and Kenobi warns him that striking him down will only make him more powerful than Vader can possibly imagine.

Vader and Kenobi go toe to toe.
The Rebel heavy trooper fires at one of the stormtroopers near the blast door and hits him hard.  The heavy laser blast penetrates the stormtrooper's armor and he slams to the ground, dead.

Only one stormtrooper remains after the Rebel heavy has fired.

Meanwhile, Kenobi valiantly attempts to defend himself from Vader but it's a battle he cannot win.  Vader spends his final force points on "Force Rage", which adds +10 damage to his attacks.  Vader slashes twice at Kenobi with his lightsaber and soon, Kenobi is down to his final hit points.  Finally, Kenobi calmly lifts his lightsaber up and closes his eyes.  Vader swings but the lightsaber cuts only through the old man's robes, which collapse silently onto the floor of the cargo bay.

Vader fighting Kenobi in his last moments.

The remaining stormtrooper hefts his blaster and shoots at the heavy trooper. The blast hits the heavy trooper's chest and the rebel scum falls dead to the ground.  It seems the Imperials have won a major victory.

Vader and his remaining bro have the situation under control.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Heroes of the Gap - Back to Basics AAR

"Back to Basics" is one of my favorite scenarios from Lock 'n Load Publishing's squad-based tactical combat game "Heroes of the Gap".  Set in the beginning days of World War III in a fictional 1985, this scenario consists solely of infantry fighting it out in confined spaces, up close and personal.  This, in my opinion, is what the Lock 'n Load system does best and that's what makes Back to Basics so compelling.

In this scenario, the Soviets are trying to gain control of as many buildings as possible to the west of the Eisenbach River.  The Americans are basically trying to keep their grip and hold the encroaching Soviets at bay.  There are two complications.  First, the Soviets (like always) significantly outnumber the Americans.  Second, the US player is facing not only the regular Soviet army but almost two platoons of Spetsnaz infantry who are armed to the teeth.  

Regular Soviet infantry with a hero and leader

The Soviet regulars only have one leader (Capt. Sarukin) but he's got a Coordinated Fire card that allows him to combine firepower from adjacent units, which is potentially devastating against any spotted American units.  They also have one hero (Yuri), who can be used to try and turn the tide in the Russians' favor.

The Soviet Spetsnaz group is quite impressive here.  They get two very capable leaders and 5 squads, each of which has a morale of 6 and a firepower of 3.  To add to all that, they get RPKs, which are highly lethal in melee combat.  Make no mistake, these guys are absolutely deadly and can tear through enemy squads like a hot chainsaw through butter.

There is, however, some good news for the Americans in this scenario.

The US player has an impressive amount of firepower and range.  The M-60s with their firepower of 2 and range of 10, are no slouches when it comes to shaking up enemy units.  The addition of 40mm grenade launchers (firepower of 2 at 3 range, firepower 1 at ranges 4-6) could be helpful in beating back the oncoming Soviet onslaught and keep Eisenbach in NATO hands for just a little longer.


The US player sets up first, with a hero and a squad in the large block of flats near the outskirts of the city.  Col. Meade and a couple of squads stand guard on the west of the city in a small 2 hex building (defensive terrain value 3), hoping to at least delay any flanking move from Soviet forces coming from the west.  Capt Boone and 2 squads (one of them with an M-249 SAW) form an assault team and hang back in the single hex building to the east.

Meanwhile, Lt. Moore is tasked with what seems to be the impossible.  He must hold a huge 4 hex multistory building near the center of the map with only three squads.  They plant themselves in the upper levels of the building, knowing that their position is tenuous at best.  Both 40mm grenade launchers are assigned to the squads in this building.

American setup
With the benefit of knowing the US setup, the Soviets carefully pick their starting positions and get set for their assault.

The Soviet regulars set up to the north of the Americans in J12, K12, and L13.  The plan is to basically abandon the position as quickly as possible, take over the large building just across the street that looks kind of like an apartment complex (H15, I14, J14, etc.) and then push south to the building held by Lt. Moore and his squads.  The idea here is to refrain from rushing guys over open terrain to get to their objectives since the US squads have so much available firepower.

The Soviet Spetsnaz sets up.

Sgt Trinov and Lt. Ilyanich set up near Col. Meade's forces.  Trinov is positioned in the heavy forest in E15 with 2 squads while Lt. Ilyanich has a formidable assault force of 3 squads, two of whom possess RPKs. 

The plan here is to have one group distract and keep Meade and his squads busy while the other group slips by and takes the buildings on the south edge of the map.

We only have a handful of turns to get to our objectives, so there will be no room to stop and get into needless fights.  The idea here for the Soviets is to move, move, move.  Hopefully the Soviet regulars to the north will have enough success to pull the US assault team (Capt. Boone et al.) away and make the Spetsnaz' job easier.

Turn 1

The Soviet regulars, commanded by Captain Sarukin, begin pushing to the south and into the nearby building.  By the end of turn 1, they have near total control of it although the US still has a hero and a squad in one of the hexes.  No matter - they will crush the meager opposition soon.

While trying to sneak a squad around the large building, one of the Soviet regular squads comes under heavy fire from J17 and a Soviet hero emerges.  The Russians now have two heroes on the board, which is excellent news. 

Yuri and Drago, the heroes of the Soviet Union, are ready to fight against the reactionary forces of capitalism!

I've broken slightly with the plan and decided to try my luck with sending some guys straight for the American position held by Lt. Moore.  One of the Soviet squads has gotten into the first floor of the building where Lt. Moore is positioned and this draws the American assault squad commanded by Capt. Boone north to deal with the threat.  The Americans easily win their melee against the lone Russian group.

Over to the west, the Spetsnaz has had mixed success in their attempts at a hit and run on Col. Meade and his two squads.  Lt. Ilyanich sent a squad to try and melee the Americans in the building but it came under heavy fire and was shaken.  This allowed Sgt. Trinov and his men to rush the building and take out one of the US squads in melee. So far, things are looking up for the Russkies.

Turn 2:

Things start to fall apart a bit for the Soviets in turn 2.  Sgt. Trinov and his Spetsnaz squads are shaken by Col. Meade early in the turn and are forced to retreat from the building and over a wall to some cover.   Meanwhile, Lt. Ilyanich and his assault team carefully make their way past the American flank and on towards the small buildings to the east.  Unfortunately, Capt. Boone and his assault team are waiting for them in K19.  An American sniper far to the east is ready to add to the pain if the Russians advance too far. 

The Soviet regulars, commanded by Capt. Sarukin, have completely taken over the apartment complex and are now trying to assist the Spetsnaz in taking out Col. Meade.  One 2-3-4 squad sneaks past Lt. Moore's position and is adjacent to Col. Meade.  A lucky roll might shake the nearby Americans up next turn and rip the US flank to shreds.  Several attempts to send squads from the apartment complex into Lt. Moore's building are unsuccessful.

Several Soviet squads of regulars are shaken up as they try to infiltrate Moore's position.

Turn 3:

Turn 3 holds some disappointments in store for the Soviets.  It starts with Sgt. Trinov, who is unable to rally his team.   To worsen matters, a Soviet squad adjacent to Col. Meade lets loose with AK-47s but the only result was to produce a US hero.  

Both Soviet heroes are KIA.  Drago moves into the building with Col. Meade and eliminates everyone but the US hero before getting killed.  Yuri makes an ill-advised attempt to breach the building across the street from the apartment complex and is peppered by US fire. 

Capt. Sarukin is now finally in position with a machine-gun team to the north of Lt. Moore but there is hardly anyone left to command at this point. Shaken Soviet squads retreat back to his position to be rallied for another push south.  

With Sgt. Trinov's team shaken, Lt. Ilyanich cannot move for fear of Boone's forces moving in and melee'ing his comrades.  They sit uselessly in I20 as the Americans refuse to take the bait and wait in K19.  

Turns 4 and 5:

It's late in the game and things are not looking very good for the Soviets so they go for broke.  Lt. Ilyanich and his assault team attack Capt. Boone and his assault team.  They both completely eliminate one another in one fell swoop.  Trinov rallies his men and advances east to start taking the town's buildings.  Rushing through sniper fire, they claim three buildings in the south, two of which are unfortunately taken back by the nearby US squad. 

Captain Sarukin rallies a handful of men, who can do nothing except catch the attention of Lt. Moore's men and die by the dozen.  This helps keep Trinov's men from the bulk of the American fire but the result is negligible.  There are too many Americans in Trinov's immediate vicinity, which prevents securing objectives.  By the end of the game, the Russians are defeated handily.


I'm not really sure what went wrong but I'm skeptical of blaming luck for the Soviet loss.  If Ilyavich and Trinov had worked together in eliminating Meade and his squads on the flank in the first couple of turns and then focused their attention on Capt. Boone and his assault squad, I think things would have turned out more favorably for them.  

I strongly believe, however, that the key to winning this scenario is taking and controlling the H15 apartment complex with your regulars and then dominating the Americans with one massive push.  Early on in the game, I sent two Soviet regular squads south to get to Lt. Moore and his men but the gains were only temporary and the end result was a piecemeal effort by the Soviets that the US player easily crushed.  

The Americans more or less played as they should have.  Protecting the northern and western approaches to the city while holding an assault team in reserve to deal with any potential incursions was immensely helpful in preventing Soviet breakthroughs.  

Decision Games' D-Day at Omaha Beach - Unboxing

Another recent purchase of mine is John Butterfield's "D-Day at Omaha Beach", a solitaire offering published by Decision Games.  I had heard a lot of good buzz about this game since the first edition was released in 2009.  The game was so popular that it was kind of hard to get hold of until the new edition was printed last year.

So this thing arrived and it was impressive right off the bat.  The box art is wonderful and features a single powerful image that the words "Omaha Beach" conjure forth in most people's minds.  I thought this image was much more evocative than the one used for the first edition and the sides of the box have the look of wood grain, which matches the art nicely.  So immediately, I had the sense that good things awaited inside of this box and I wasn't wrong.

Inside the box, we have some plastic baggies that were kindly provided by the publisher.  I always love to see this even though I almost never use the bags.  We have a large deck of cards, nicely wrapped and several booklets with a map underneath everything.  The box is a bit deeper than it needs to be, but that's not a real issue.

The cards look nice and the back bears the iconic image of American troops wading ashore in the early hours of June 6, 1944.  It's a very nice choice of pictures that helps bring out the feel of theme during gameplay.  This is important because these are the cards that will be pondered over, cursed at, and worried about throughout the course of the game.  The fate of the 1st and 29th Division on that fateful day hinges on these things so it's important they look and feel right, which they do.

The rulebook is well-organized and looks nice.  It has a standard font and it is in black and white.  Nothing special here but so far, there's nothing bad.

Below the rulebook, we have a great little booklet that gives a great rundown of the battle for Omaha Beach.  Although the cover is black and white, most of the images inside are in color.  It's well-written and helps bring the game's events alive.  It also gives a very good sense of just how close Omaha came to a terrible defeat for the Allies and the almost superhuman efforts involved in taking out the heavy German fortifications.

Underneath the history book, we have another booklet full of examples of play.  It's entirely in color and it was extremely helpful in my first few plays.

Charts and landing tables are next.  They are uncluttered and presented in a nice clear way.  I worry about their overall durability but the paper is thick enough stock that I think it should be fine.  This is good because you'll be referring to these a lot throughout the game.

Finally, we have the map, which is full color and on paper.  The map covers both the 1st and 29th Division section of the beach.  People seem to either really like the map or hate it.  I think it works well and the fact that fields of fire are already printed on there helps to really reduces the constant need to check charts, etc.

A closer look at the map.

The last thing in the box are two counter sheets.  The counters are nice and thick.  I didn't see any problems with printing on them and information is clearly presented.  They aren't terribly exciting in terms of artwork but they serve their purpose well.  

Here's a closer look at the counters.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fire Team by West End Games

Since I've been on a World War III gaming kick for the past several years, I decided to purchase West End Games' Fire Team, a game of squad tactics published in 1987 by the now defunct company.  It was designed by Jon Southard, who created a bunch of great games in the 80's like Carrier and Tokyo Express, to name a couple.  This is another one of those 'Cold War Turned Hot" games that fell victim to the sudden end of the Cold War rather than suffering from any real design flaw or lack of imagination (for another example of this, check out AH's Tac Air).  In fact, the effort that went into creating Fire Team, a game that tried to simulate modern command and control on the platoon and squad level, was pretty much unrivaled at the time of its release.


Fire Team has about a dozen scenarios that feature the big bad Soviets running wild over the plains of West Germany in 1987 as NATO tries its best to halt them.  The scenarios vary widely in both the number of forces involved and the kinds of objectives that each side needs to accomplish in order to win.  The first scenario, "The Balloon Goes Up" is kind of a beginner's scenario with limited forces designed to get players used to the rules system although all of my plays so far have devolved into "sit and shoot at each other" affairs that didn't really move me much.  The more advanced scenarios, however, feature tank platoons, infantry companies, and artillery and helicopters working together and I found these much more engaging. One great aspect of the scenarios is that they all involve the forces doing things that they likely would have been doing in a real war (reconnaissance, trying to control major roads, delaying actions, etc.), which adds a lot to the game.

"Wait...Did I leave the oven on?"

The Mechanics

Fire Team's mechanics are powered by the twin engines of chit pulls and command points.  Players take turns pulling a chit from a cup to see which side will get to go next and how many command points that side gets to spend on activating platoons, squads, vehicles, etc., or they can be used to rally guys who aren't performing well.  This brings me to another interesting game mechanic, which is "Fear".  When your guys come under fire in the game, they can incur "Fear points", which basically reduces their effectiveness in fighting and moving and it also makes them harder to command.  Once enough Fear points are incurred, even a totally intact platoon or squad becomes useless in a fight.  It's often easier to let these guys cower and spend your precious command points on squads that are performing well.  This is a nice mechanic that tries hard to model how people react under fire and how hard it is to get guys to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get moving on to their objectives.

Another cool aspect of Fire Team is that the Soviets and Americans fight differently according to their own doctrines.  This is reflected in the differing command point costs for each side.  The Americans can get a squad or fire team moving with the expenditure of only 1.5 command point while the Soviets need to spend 2 points for the same.  On the other hand, it's less costly for the Soviets to activate an entire platoon than the Americans, with the one caveat that everyone in the Soviet platoon has to do the same thing in one turn (i.e. everyone moves or everyone shoots - no mixing it up here).  This is a really nice attempt to model doctrine and it forces you to think hard about what to do with your available forces.  The American player needs to know how to use each little piece of firepower to interact effectively while the Soviet player needs to know when to push hard and accept that a good chunk of his guys are never coming home.

A lot of people have said that Fire Team was Jon Southard's attempt at designing a modern and more playable version of Advanced Squad Leader.  Not having played ASL, I'm not sure I can speak to that.  However, I do get the impression from what I've read that he sort of succeeded in some places thanks to the command point system and a modest set of rules that was adequate for modeling squad battles but not pushing the mechanics beyond their breaking point.  There are basic, advanced, and optional rules in the book and I found myself playing at the advanced rules level with some options at around the third or fourth play so I think that's a very good sign.

One thing that should be noted is that the "Fire Team" rule book alludes to upcoming "follow on" modules that were to use the game's core rules for playing out battles that featured various other NATO countries fighting against the Warsaw Pact.  It's really a shame they never delivered on this intention as it certainly seems like they had a decent system more or less nailed down.  Everything in the rules seems quite reasonable and intuitive after sitting down and playing through a couple of scenarios.


Finally, we get to the components.  *Deep breath*  Okay...even though the game was produced in 1987 and the map and counters cannot be fairly held up to today's standards, I believe that more could have been done back then to make Fire Team a much better game in terms of components.

The game's counters suffer from a lack of care in production.  The counters are made of thin cardboard with red counter backgrounds for the Soviets and green ones for the Americans.  Not exactly creative genius here, but that's okay.  Squads of men are drawn in as sort of blobby figures while leader counters all have the exact same face drawn on them, giving off the impression that NATO and Soviet forces consist of a secret clone army of which only Yoda could be proud.

"Begun the Soviet invasion has..."

I'm not sure about the printing of other people's games, but it was way off on my counters with numbers completely cut off either at the top or the bottom.  This would have been unacceptable even back in 1987.  The back of the counters is missing key information because of the cut so I had to constantly refer to a game forum to find the right values.  This was extremely frustrating and I wanted to punch someone in the throat by the time I finished the first scenario. never okay.

The maps are paper and they are not beautiful by any means but they are functional and seem to work okay for what they are meant to do.  You get a standard set of terrain that includes forests, towns, bridges, and roads, etc.  Some maps have hills with varying heights and crests which are great for plunking down a machine gun team or a tank upon and letting rip at the hapless enemy squads below.  Since the maps are geomorphic, you'll be reusing them in various configurations for the scenarios but they work quite well in giving players interesting terrain to fight over.

The maps might not look pretty but they work.


Overall, Fire Team is worth revisiting because a.) it is a fun game with interesting scenarios and b.) it has some pretty interesting mechanics that provide players with lots of cool decisions.  The game didn't get half the recognition it deserved when it was released but the components certainly couldn't have helped make its case to the wider gaming community.  If only WEG had invested a little more love (and cash) here, I wonder what could have been.  If you're at all interested in the "Cold War Turns Hot" setting and you can't get enough of games like LnLP's  "World at War" series and "Heroes of the Gap", you can't go wrong in checking out Fire Team.  It's still widely available from online used game sites and I got my copy for a fair price.