Spectre Operations (Second Edition) Rulebook Review
Bottom Line Up Front:
Spectre Operations is a tactical level ‘sandbox’ ruleset giving gamers all the mechanics necessary to create any type of modern to ultra-modern (Vietnam to today) combat operation they want to game. If you are looking for a narrative based, highly adaptive ruleset with compelling and concise game play, Spectre Operations is for you!
I will play this game
Spectre Operations is a narrative based modern to ultra-modern combat game written by Matt Adams. Thanks to the narrative nature of the rules, games of Spectre Operations can range from squad based actions 4-6 miniatures a side on a 2’ x 2’ table to platoon actions with 30+ combatants on a 6’ x 4’ or greater table. Spectre Operations can be played with both symmetrical and asymmetrical missions. Judging by the lay out and flow of the rules, the author is clearly a student of the 5th principle of patrolling, common sense. Most modern rulesets get bogged down with the endless options of equipment, soldier skill levels and a rigid points system. Spectre Operations breaks down the myriad of options into 5 tiers of combatants with associated norms for equipment load out. Additionally, this rule set provides an extremal developed scenario creation and campaign section which allows the gamer to create the game or action they want to play, in the setting they want to play it in, while providing game balance without a contentions points system. One feature of this rulebook that stands out were the very detailed and clear in game diagrams. Words can be misinterpreted but well laid out diagrams provide the reader a shared understanding of rules interactions. Starting on page 10 is a step by step example of game play that clearly describes how a turn is played. Very well done!
Spectre Operations is a turn-based tactical game where opposing forces will fight for several turns, which are broken down into four phases:
1) Initiative Phase: This determines the order that forces will act in each remaining phase. Initiative is determined by a d6 roll + the highest available command stat + suppression modifies. This gives an advantage to better trained troops, however still leaves the door open for less trained troops to get the jump or set conditions through turn to ‘steal’ the initiative next initiative phase. Additionally, as a narrative game, there are additional rules for starting initiative to represent what is occurring before the beginning of the game.
2) Command Phase: This phases enables the player to give specific orders to models and is broken down into 3 categories: any model, squad leader/force command and force commander. Any model maybe placed in overwatch allowing them to interrupt enemy movement to employ a direct weapon, and Scan, allowing the miniature to search for hidden troops/mines/traps or scenario objectives. Squad leaders and force commands after passing a command test (D6 roll equal to or less than the command value) may also break down their squad into two mutually supporting fire teams; giving the player more tactical flexibility; a rally order to reduce the effects of suppression; a fire control order to direct the squads fire making it more accurate and increasing the rate of suppression, and call for fire for off table assets like aviation, mortars or artillery. Force commanders can also call for reinforcements which require a command test and allows additional troops to insert into the battlefield in accordance with the scenario.
3) Movement and Tactical Action Phase: This phase enables each model to perform a signal tactical action from the following: Combat Sprint, Deploy non-lethal device, move into close combat, tactical movement, medic, and breach. This phase adds tactical depth because depending on the command actions given this could potentially allow a the player without initiative to interrupt movement with overwatch allowing them to get the first shot off that turn when normally they would not be able to.
4) Combat Phase: Direct fires, close combat, total suppression levels. Shooting involves a face to face roll with the opposing miniature comparing the shoot skill (SG) + modifiers + d6 with the defense (DC) + modifies + d6. I am a big fan of this mechanic because it creates a unique and intense interaction where it feels like you have more control of what is happening to your miniatures regardless if you are the ‘active’ player. Close combat is equally as straight forwards with opposing miniatures comparing the close combat value + modifiers + d6 to determine the winner. All combat is fast and brutal but there are mechanics for bleeding out and first aid which again add to the depth that you would want and expect from a modern ruleset.
These are the core mechanics of the rules but the book also includes advanced rules from walking through flames to alertness and detection, taking hostages, and silent take downs just to name a few. As I said before Spectre Operations is an elaborate and well thought out sandbox providing gamers the necessary mechanics to replicate any type of modern combat action.
If you liked what you have read, click the link and order the hard copy of the rulebook. I look forward to following up this rulebook review with a gameplay review!
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