Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ops and Tactics: Modern Combat Manual

 Where To Get It: Creator's Blog

This book made me cry.


It's probably a good thing, all things considered. You get deep into gun nerdery and there's an event horizon, somewhere after the 10th page of tables, where you print consecutive stats for the IMI Galil ACE 23 and the IMI Galil ACE 53 and there's a part of my soul that just breaks. However, if I'm being perfectly honest, my particular soul is not much more than an obstacle when it comes to creating a detailed simulation of modern combat. In fact, I'm far less interested in modeling the difference between 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition than I am by the fact that this particular rifle apparently has a built-in bottle opener.

Why didn't you tell me about the bottle opener, Ops and Tactics: Modern Combat Manual? I had to learn it from Wikipedia, of all places.

Anyway, the difference between the two is that one does 5d4 damage with 5 points of recoil penalty  and the other does 5d6 damage with 6 points of recoil.

The main thing I hope you all take away from this rambling is that this game has a niche. I admire its attention to detail. It demonstrates an enviable industry. But much like the dung beetle, it's a form of industry I'd prefer to admire from a distance.

Ops and Tactics uses a hacked version of the d20 system that replaces the d20 with 3d6 and eschews classes for a more free-form leveling system. I can't say I entirely agree with all its choice (for example, I have my doubts that a Gaussian distribution of die rolls is going to have enough of an emotional payoff to justify giving every action in the game an extra dose of addition), but it seems solid enough, especially if your goal is to make combat an exercise in precise number crunching and the accumulation of small advantages through carefully chosen tactics. There's a feat here that gives you a bonus to cleaning your weapon in the middle of combat, and it's not obviously a trap. I don't want to say too much against it, because it's clearly something of immense value to the sort of people who value that sort of thing.

Overall, I'd say that Ops and Tactics: Modern Combat Manual is a workhorse of a book - unglamorous, but thorough and precise. It's the sort of game where you might want to abandon the grid, but for a ruler and protractor instead of theater of the mind. It's the sort of book where the gamemastering chapter takes a 3 page detour to explain the physical principles involved in the operation of a handgun, then does the same thing for rifles, shotguns, and grenade launchers.  Have you ever wanted to know the precise definition of "assault rifle" and why the AR-15 doesn't count? Read this book and you'll find out.

Ukss Contribution: In a way, I'm spoiled for choice. This book has positively pummeled my brain with firearms trivia, some of which I actually found pretty interesting (Beretta has been making guns since the 16th century). The difficulty comes in finding applicability for this information. The US Postal Inspection Service is issued shotguns . . . is that something I can use? Probably not.

Anyway, the game has stats for mustard gas, which I always thought was the most evocatively named of the terrifying chemical weapons, so that's what I'm going with.


  1. And the creator has come and placed their stamp of approval on your review! How nice!

    Importing mustard gas into Ukss, will it be the same thing: a toxic gas created chemically and used in war? Or will it be something similar or related with the same name, such as a magical spell reminiscent of cloudkill, or an aroma given off by a specific species of mustard that kills insects or, in great enough concentration, those pesky humans?


    1. Those are some great ideas. I was just thinking of mundane mustard gas, but some kind of mustard pun or joke might be kind of cool.