Thursday, November 4, 2010

Use Me- Science Fiction Skirmish Gaming

There are times when a player wants to set up ten to twenty miniature soldiers on a table and have them blaze away at each other in a quick game. Using small numbers of figures is called skirmish gaming, as opposed to using hundreds of miniatures over a six hour span. Owing to the explosion of great 15mm minis available I thought it might be fun to find a simple skirmish rule system and have some games.

As it's going to be "cheap gaming month" for a while here at Game Night I looked for something affordable and easy to learn. I was happy to discover Use Me for sale at and a week later received a package from another continent with my game rules in it. For three and a half pounds (anywhere from fifty cents to forty dollars depending on the mysterious world of currency) I had already had my money's worth in terms of excitement- a package from across the ocean!

The British do have a lively sense of humor and "Use Me" is an acronym for Ultra Simple something something etc etc so it's quite a family appropriate game. The book itself is the size of your hand and is simple engaging and readable. The summary for miniature gaming beginners is that this booklet gives you simple but realistic rules for playing out small battles on the tabletop between science fiction forces. Those Star Wars plastic miniatures sitting in the sandbox? Playmobil figures? Plastic astronauts and martians? All fair game. There are rules for vehicles and artillery as well. You need ten or more figures, some plastic trees or houses, and maybe some tanks or saucers and you're ready to go.

For the folks interested in the specifics Use Me borrows some nice elements from AT-43 and Iron Ivan's Disposable Heroes line. Troops are rated by training and better trained units will act first. Firing between squads is slightly abstracted to speed up play and there is a simple d6 roll to hit and to penetrate armor, both with a few modifiers. Use Me has no defensive fire or morale rules. I miss those aspects but then again, this is intended as simple and fast. The booklet includes points values for various troop and vehicle types allowing you to brew up your own forces and balance them.

I'm very happy with Use Me. It's simple but not overly so, it's very inviting in that after you read the game you're enthused to play, something that I didn't experience with, say, Warhammer 40K. There are a wealth of 15mm science fiction figures available now and this is a great way to put them to use. Of course, the system is appropriate for bigger minis as well. In summary this is a very affordable set of rules that delivers a lot of fun for the buck. Plus, it's a great way to get younger beginners involved in a fun hobby.

Coming up- my Blue Moon 15mm miniatures arrive, I swallow my pride and paint up some 1/72 scale plastic figures, and then we mix them together with some Hot Wheels I picked up in the bargain bin!

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