Over the last year of development the Gruntz 15mm project has grown into something special. What started out as a straight-forward 15mm Sci-fi rule-set has become something of a field manual for the new wargaming recruit. I would have no hesitation to put a copy of Gruntz in the hands of someone with little or no experience of the hobby and let them loose. Author Robin Fitton credits the enthusiastic collaboration of the Gruntz Yahoo group for this evolution.
Gruntz presents both basic and more advanced modes of play while keeping the content very accessible. Compared to most minis rules I've encountered this is perhaps the most 'noob friendly' set I've seen in a long, long time. At the outset of the project Robin set clear objectives for the final version of Gruntz to reach:
- A flexible design and points system to facilitate quick creation of unit cards based on new manufacturer models or player preference.
- Rules covering sci-fi play, including cyber or neural net warfare yet with scope for B-Movie style monsters.
- All mechanics based on D6.
- Profiles to match existing manufacturer models from GZG, Old Crow Models, Critical Mass, Rebel Miniatures and Khurasan.
A major factor working in favour of this project has been support and cooperation from the community of 15mm Sci-fi manufacturers. As a result, the game allows you to field the infantry (Gruntz) of your choice alongside any vehicle, support or equipment available or imaginable.
Tremendous effort has gone into creating the Gruntz Unit Builders which allow you to play with any figure, model or critter you wish and have a point cost for that unit to help you plan your games.
The mechanics of the game are very straight forward. The only dice required are d6. Six to eight differently coloured pairs of d6 would be ideal for play. Yet Grunts is a subtle enough game to satisfy experienced gamers.
Where Gruntz really shines is in the way unit information is organised. Each Gruntz squad or unit has a profile card presenting all the information needed for play. Each card can be slipped into a protective sleeve (like for trading cards) and during play any changes to the unit's status is recorded with an erasable marker.
Vehicles are robust; they might be hampered by successful critical hits, but remain effective until actually destroyed. This really looks to be a good design choice for a 15mm game where vehicles are important for fun and exciting play.
An excellent Optional Rules section allows the basic game to become much more complex. We have played with all the initiative / unit activation options. The standard game allows a new player a good sense of how their forces can work together dynamically. The optional Alternate Activation rules are what I'm used to from most of the games I currently play and so I was very comfortable with that. But the Playing Card Activation method was new to our group and it added tremendous tension to each turn. I think we will be playing with this mod a lot.
Playing in your own sandbox is fun & it's clear that Gruntz supports that type of play. The unit builders will let you do exactly that. However, the optional Faction and Background material offer useful structure and ideas for gamers at many levels.
Six scenarios designed for pick-up or tournament play provide a handy tool to bring this game into the competitive club scene.
On a personal note, I'm uncomfortable with 'Heroic Commanders' that have multiple wounds. But we are talking Sci-fi, and need to encompass unknowable aliens, hegemonising swarms and even powerful monsters. A flexible way to portray command structures and special units is an important feature. I think this is a good one.
For my New Israelis & UNSC, I'm happy to imagine that for the same points cost my commander 'hero' is in fact a command team, capable of taking some damage, firing some weapons & still running the show.
Gruntz offers us many options. We can play within the offered background or not. The game can be simple or complex. The setting can be hard sci-fi or more like a Culture novel or even a classic B-movie. Gruntz works to bring your 15mm Sci-fi skirmish game to life.
Gruntz 15mm is available right now via Wargames Vault.
Visit the Gruntz website to find out more.