It's been just over a month since 15mm.Co.Uk released Danger on Outpost 32 (their introductory boxed game for the USE ME series), and they've already announced the follow up title. Sales of this boxed game completely exceeded their expectations. So what's the secret of their success? Well, here's a close look at Danger on Outpost 32's contents, scenarios, and the irresistible appeal of the USE ME system.
Gavin Syme was kind enough to send me a review copy upon the game's initial release. I've been playing 15mm sci fi for just a few years now, and have found the experience to be very different compared to commercially-popular 28mm games. I have an expectation when I receive a package in the mail from 15mm.Co.Uk... and that expectation certainly doesn't include something like this!
It may not be covered with store-friendly artwork, but you won't doubt for a second that you're dealing with a cohesive, ready-to-play wargame. One of the toughest "selling points" of 15mm Sci Fi is the lack of starter systems - boasting that newcomers can simply pick and choose individual miniatures and rules systems is a truly foreign concept to many 28mm players. So when I first held this box, I realized that those days are gone. If somebody expresses interest in 15mm sci fi, there won't be a better starting point than these USE ME boxed games.
Okay, enough waxing poetic. Let's get down to business!
The box contains:
- A copy of the USE ME UM001 rulebook (good thing too - my old one is getting pretty beat up!)
- A two-sheet insert with the introduction, game scenarios, and force roster. If you want to check this out before you buy the game (or if you already have most of the figures), it is available as a separate download on the catalog page.
- Two bags of Gray Aliens from the HOF range. At first, I wasn't sure about these as a starter force. After traveling to Roswell a few times for work, these types of aliens seem more like gift-shop novelty toys than credible gaming pieces. But you know what? They're really growing on me, and really don't have a greater "cheese" factor than most other aliens.
- A bag of Ion Age Muster troops. I've always meant to pick up a few packs of these, and now I have a chance to come up with a good paint scheme.
- A bag of assorted goodies from the SHM range. I think this is what really sets Danger on Outpost 32 apart from other "introductory" game systems. How many starter sets on the market include a variety of mercenary and civilian figures along with two organized military units?
- Plenty of 20mm plastic bases. Personally, I like the heft of steel washers. But again, this is something that makes it a complete package for 15mm newcomers, and many veterans use these as well.
- Two surprisingly small D6s. I must admit a small chuckle when I first held these little guys. But now I realize they don't bounce off the tabletop or chip the finish of terrain like my larger dice... and now I'm thinking about replacing most of my gaming dice with this type.
I'll review the figures a bit more thoroughly as they get painted, and I reviewed the main rulebook some time ago. But the scenario pages are worth an early mention.
The final verdict will have to wait until I play them all the way through. But it looks like Gavin knocked these out of the park. They each have the right amount of flavor text - it gives you a mental picture of the situation, but offers enough flexibility that you can adapt it to your own terrain and background. They're designed to be played by beginners, but offer plenty of room for advanced strategy. They also include the notes required to utilize the Solo Play mechanics.
The scenarios provide a good roadmap for creating your own later on - showing what can be done with just a few little tweak and special rules. And, most importantly, the force rosters allow the miniatures to be utilized anytime you like, not just when fighting these three battles.
Danger on Outpost 32 establishes a very high standard. By choosing the right variety of minis and preparing a great scenario and force guide, 15mm.Co.Uk packed a complete and expandable wargaming experience into a small and inexpensive package. I'm definitely looking forward to getting these figures painted and playing through the scenarios!