Sergeants Miniatures Game – Preview
Sergeants Miniatures Game. Boardgame Preview. Publisher: Lost Battalion Games.
Armchair General recently received the opportunity to get an early look at a new miniatures game that will be released at Historicon by Lost Batallion Games. Sergeants Miniatures Game (SMG for short) may share a similar logo to the previously released Sergeants boardgame (which earned an 88% score from us) but it is an entirely new game. I’ve always believed the world could use more tactical miniatures games set during World War II and with Sergeants Miniatures Game it looks like we may have one.
The game is card-driven and the cards drive four main functions in a randomized order. Functions are Look, Hide, Shoot, and Move. The game models troops at an individual level and troops are broken down into Privates and Leaders. Each soldier has a personality, level of training, and weapon type. The game has been designed so that the combined attributes of each Leader, which represent NCOs, are all equal, but the distribution of those points across each attribute varies, forcing the player to adjust his play style to the Leaders he has available.
The game is driven by Phase Cards which direct the order of action the player will take. An example of the Phases can be found in the image below. In addition to the Seactions specified at the top of the card (Move then Hide) there is also some text in a color band at the lower part of the card. These are Random Events. To trigger a Random Event, the band on the right side of the card must match the color of the left side of the next card. So no Random Event may ever occur in the first Phase. However, as the second phase starts players compare the color of the first card (Blue “Weird” on Move and Hide) to the second card (Tan “Ordnance” on Shoot and then Hide). Because the colors do not match no Random Event is triggered. However, in the card example below, the colors between the second and third phase match (Purple “Landmark”) and so that Random Event is triggered.
In addition to Soldier Cards players also hold a hand of Action Cards, which they use to respond to the directions of the Phase card. Taking a look at an Action Card (Action 1 image) this is a card that accompanies Sgt. Fields. “Hide” at the top means the player can play this card during a Hide phase. The text balloon means what the player can use the card to do something with any soldier under your command. (more on this at Action 2, below). If your action is to shoot at someone, you will find out the results by drawing from your deck (NOT your hand) and look at the upper red portion for results. If you see "hit," then your opponent will draw from his deck (not hand) and look at the lower right "explosion" symbol to find the effect of your hit.
The star means that this is one of Fields’ cards, regardless of what rank he is in the scenario. Every soldier has four of these ‘always use” cards, though they vary from one to another.
For Action 2, the ‘stripes’ at the bottom of the card have meaning. If you owned Fields (or any other leader), you would have three of those cards with the star (or cross) on them. Any time you have Fields in the game, those four cards are part of your deck. If Fields were a private, he would have 3 other cards with a single chevron and you’d use those also. Leaders come with other cards too– Corporal and Sgt.
If Fields is in this scenario as a corporal, you use the four cards with a star and the three cards with two stripes. If Fields is in the scenario as a Sgt., you use the four cards with a star and the three with stripes.
At the top of the card you see the "move" bar, so you could play this one during a phase where Move was one of the two choices. The hit check works the same way (note the bottom explosion says "zip." The "hit" was simply not effective. Possible outcomes are kill, wound, pin, zip.) And there is a ‘balloon’ that gives options for any soldier in the group. The white box on this card wasn’t on the Action 1 card because not all action cards have one.
When you play this card, in addition to the "2 soldiers move" action, you could also give Fields a "spotting" action. That is "out of phase" (which I think makes it more interesting) and something extra. If this box is red, you must give that particular soldier the command included. There aren’t many of these cards either, but this helps to create the "personality" of each soldier. One guy might be overly aggressive. Someone else might be cautious.
This is a good, basic outline of how the gameplay goes, though it is not complete. We’ll have more coverage on the game as we spend more time with it.
It should be noted that the miniatures images included in this article are prototype images and are not representative of production quality, but rather give an indication as to the flavor of the playing pieces players can expect. Images of the cards are final art. Sergeants is also being packaged differently than many miniatures wargames in that all the rules and playing pieces will be included in a single box, rather than sold separately as minis, rules, cards, etc.
Lost Battalion Games will release Sergeants Miniatures Game at Historicon and will have the game for sale on line a few weeks later. Their web site is presently undergoing the final stages of a rebuild.
About the Author
Jim Zabek is the gaming editor for Armchair General. When he’s not out scouting for new games he can usually be found writing about them or playing them. An avid gamer, he plays everything from historical wargames to RPGs and just about everything in between.