Here's a detailed look at UM007 Post Apocalyptic - the latest volume in the USE ME series of rules from 15mm.co.uk.
|Available for £3.50
The book itself is has a great layout and is clearly written. There are many clever little touches that you don't expect - like a list of recommended genre novels in the introduction. The core rules are simple and effective. If you aren't familiar with the USE ME system, it works by abstracting all of your minis (figures and vehicles) into generic "characters" types. These types are defined by their size, armor level, weapons, and their Elan rating - an abstraction of their training, experience, and technology level. USE ME claims to work with any miniature you own. I have yet to prove them wrong!
What really sets this title apart from the rest of the series are the advanced rules. Author O.G. Joel included a number of advanced rules from other USE ME titles (Flamethrowers, Energy Shields, Snipers) along with a nice variety of unique concepts (Scavenged Vehicles, Gas Weapons). There is a complete section on psionic abilities for mutants - the powers add just another fun wrinkle to the game.
My favorite section discusses Toxic Pits. There are rules for four different types - Acid, Sucker, Exploder, and Mutating pits. Each of these has unique effects on the battlefield and on certain types of characters. These rules would also be ideal in more traditional science fiction settings - just imagine these rules are describing strange types of alien flora, or representing different "organs" inside of a living xenos spaceship.
The book continues into the force construction section. The base point system is identical to UM001 - you purchase characters (infantry, light vehicles, heavy vehicles, etc) by their Elan rating, and then add weapons and special rules to determine their total points value. UM007 enhances this section by including nine sample army lists, each based around one of the HOF sub-ranges, but easily adapted to figures from other manufacturers. The book finishes with the post-game sequences, a detailed section on linked games and campaigns, and the guidelines for solo play.
|Available for $5.00
15mm.Co.Uk has also made UM007 available as a downloadable file. The electronic edition is 21 pages on A4 paper and does feature a bit larger font size. There are two different versions in the electronic download. One is a printer-friendly black-and-white copy. It doesn't have any photos or colorful diagrams. The other version is full-color with a Biohazard symbol watermark on each page, full-color photos and diagrams. The color version is perfect for iPads and tablets, or even reading on a larger PC monitor. A third file includes full-color cover pages, just in case you plan to bind your own printed versions.
The contents of the e-book itself are, of course, identical to the printed book.
HOW DOES IT PLAY?
The USE ME mechanics are very easy to wrap your brain around. And the character generation system is intuitive and robust enough that you can play a game with a minimum of preparation time. The combat mechanics consist of a basic to-hit roll (with a small table of modifiers), and an opposed penetration-vs-defense roll to damage your targets. You need just a handful of markers to represent winged and struck characters. A variety of small blast-radius templates is also helpful, but not really necessary.
My games have been very enjoyable. They start out fairly light - just a few "winged" results here and there. The casualty rate seems to increase more and more each turn, and by the end it feels like your troops can't miss. The solo mechanics work pretty well, too. It takes a bit of common sense to figure out what some units should or shouldn't do, but there's enough unpredictability to keep things entertaining.
One last thing - and this is relevant to players of any USE ME title. Omer Golan has created a template to make USE ME character/unit cards using the free Paint.Net graphics program. Take a look at Omer's blog, The Space Cockroach's Hideout, for more information!