Men Under Fire

This is a set of WW2 miniatures rules by Frank Chadwick and Glenn Kidd, published under the Test of Battle Games banner. They are on the same scale as Battle (individual soldiers and vehicles) and make an interesting comparison set.

From the physical production standards side, Men Under Fire (MUF) wins easily. It’s a brand new, large format softback, with color covers, big pages set out with modern DTP techniques, tons of white space, and a mix of historical and miniatures pictures.

The rules text here is exactly what you would expect – rules text – but the authors have made substantial efforts to lighten the load by sprinkling around design notes and suitable quotations. Battle is more readable, but MUF is not a tough read.

The rules are not that far apart in complexity. MUF is the more complex, but much of that is minor detail which is easily understood as part of the MUF approach.  The mechanisms in both games are simple (not simplistic). However, MUF gives quite extensive lists of weapons and units (for USA, GB, Germany, Japan and USSR) so saving the gamer from the work he would have to do to use Battle.

Battle uses simultaneous movement. (Which is challenging.) MUF is “I go, you go.” Both have defensive (opportunity) fire, and close assault (hand-to-hand). The hand-to-hand stuff in Battle is the weakest part of the package. It probably was not worth the effort, but it would have been nice to see that ramped up. Both sets of rules use ordinary six sided dice, though Battle has some measuring grids for weapon impacts that you would need to construct. (‘Old School’ is the term, I believe.)

The star of MUF is the Just Another Mission scenario generator. The core ideas – taken from their other platoon level WW2 rules – have been well tested, and so although I have not used them, I expect nothing but a great outcome.

Battle has a reasonable number of small scenarios; plenty of replayability there, but a serious gamer will probably want to do his own thing before too long.

MUF is a set of today’s rules, packaged with a bonus scenario generator. If you game WW2 at this level, MUF is worth checking out. If you don’t game WW2 at this level (or don’t game WW2) check the scenario generator out first. If it works for you, buy the rules.

Battle is a set of yesterday’s rules, packaged with bonus recharges of nostalgia.

Different, but equal pleasures for the gamer that I am.

(I was going to give you a link to the Test of Battle site, but it is awful; old, out of date, and missing the MUF stuff. Instead, go to Caliver Books.)