This is a ruleset I picked up in the dim and distant period of history known as my childhood and recently rediscovered during an attic clearance, along with it’s sister ruleset “Hell By Starlight” – both written by Jim Webster, both published by Wessex Games in the mid-90s, and both entirely “miniature agnostic” as the current term goes. I have a vague memory of mail ordering this aged 14 or so from Miniature Wargaming magazine – yeah, I got all the birds, me.
Reading through it, there were a few nice concepts so I invited Jim over, laid out the terrain cloth and Jim brought his DIY granny grating Star Wars armies to try things out and see what we could do with it. The scenario was simple, with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker leading company sized forces of infantry with a couple of attached speeder scouts battling over control of the hill in the centre of the table.
The game plays basically IGO UGO, with adjustments via command points from the leaders. Each one generates D8 command points which can force each unit under their command to perform extra actions – all the D8s were at Jim’s so we used 2D6 to represent both Luke & Vader being Strong With The Force. These could do things like force extra movement actions, firing etc.
The first few rounds were mainly both sides advancing to contact using the terrain for cover, both Luke and Vader generating command points like crazy to frog march their troops along – meanwhile the scout speeders on each side zipped around the table trying to snipe at each other or any targets of opportunity.
So there we go, a fun little game with a suitable cinematic ending. Hellfire has some fun concepts – the idea of your troops deteriorating as the battle continues, becoming more susceptible to poor morale is a neat one, although I think the way it’s executed in practice is a bit fiddly. The idea of HQ generating command points – well, you don’t need me to approve that, as GW have worked it into the current and last versions of 40k!
My only criticism is that it feels incomplete – obviously, the production values don’t really stand up viewed from 2021 perspective but given this is a 30 years old from the pre-internet era, you wouldn’t expect it to- but a few more specific examples of how certain mechanics work would be nice, a lot of the rules are very open to interpretation and you’re never sure if you’re doing things the way they’re supposed to be done.. that said, it was fun and that’s the end of it, really. However – we’re going to try refighting this using our own ruleset which we’re developing for large scale battles in the Apocalypse: Earth, Future Force Warrior and Hyperian Wars universes, and Hellfire has definitely given us some ideas to try there. So if you find a copy of this floating around Ebay, or just a car boot sale. it’s definitely worth picking up.
Respect to the author Jim Webster, in the unlikely event of him reading this, and we’ll be trying out his other set “Hell By Starlight” in a future post.
As always, stay safe and thrifty out there… the Omicron Variant is waiting like a microscopic Grinch to steal Christmas….
EDIT – thanks to Pete S/P for pointing me towards Jim’s own site here: https://jimssfnovelsandwargamerules.wordpress.com/
And that’s me off for some wine & cheese at a business meeting….