Ambush!: oh yeah, I’m actually playing it

, | Game diaries

So far I’ve spent a ton of time singing the praises of this game. But what’s actually been going on in my playthrough? Honestly, not a ton.

After the jump, a die roll too far.

I split my squad into two teams of four, each one headed for one of the two buildings I need to occupy in order to win. On the way, I’ve met a few German soldiers, one or two at a time, and dispatched them pretty easily. I had a couple lucky rolls but plenty of unlucky ones, and still only sustained one injury to my squad. I even bumped into a German officer in the woods, and he immediately surrendered because I outnumbered him so greatly.

They say this mission is easy — it should be, since it’s the first one — and so far, that’s proven to be the case.

I’m surprised by how well it holds up. Sure, it’s somewhat fiddly. I can’t imagine getting fluent enough in the rules to not have to consult the rulebook each turn, open in front of me the whole time. (What are the 11 bullet points that apply when a soldier gets wounded, again?) But I have to say there’s something incredibly satisfying about executing the routines of this game, and they’re really not that complicated as tabletop wargames go — not even, as I understand, by modern standards. It’s a fiddly genre.

I really don’t think you should have to roll dice four times for each gunshot, though. You roll to see whether the gun jams. Then you roll to see if the shot hits. Then you roll for damage. Then you roll to see if the gun used up a clip. The game shipped with two d10s. Surely the 100 numbers available on percentile dice could determine the full outcome, from jam to clip, on a single roll.

But beyond the die rolls, this game absolutely nails a feeling of exploration, and fear of the unknown. Absolutely anything could be lying in wait on these hexes, and it’s likely that one or more of my dudes, whom I’ve named and hope to develop over the course of the full campaign, will be killed with a single shot. Bullets are fatal in this game. If soldiers are lucky, they can each survive a single shot (with greatly reduced — or completely destroyed — function). Two shots tops, and they’re dead. Here’s hoping my luck holds out.

Up next: investigation closed
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Tony Carnevale’s writing and videos have been featured by BuzzFeed, McSweeney’s, National Lampoon, MTV, VH1, and many other fine media outlets.