15mm Sci-fi game using USE ME rules

The Avalonia Colonies have been having trouble for many years with break away groups on some of their remote planets, one of these planets is Handor IV.

Colonial troops have been sent to this planet to quell the rebels and reinstate order on the planet.

A small section of the Colonial force has been dispatched to remove the rebels from a small village and to take back control of a fuel depot.

The Colonial troops have been ordered to push the rebel troops out of the village and the fuel depot.

Avalonia Colonial troops

Handor Rebel troops

As this was to be a small quick game I only had about 300 points for each force.

Set-up was simple, the Rebels were positioned by the storage tanks and the two buildings close by and the Colonial troops are advancing from the other end of the village.

Turn one ( Colonial troops won the initiative )

The majority of the Colonial troops moved down the road while one of the units moved behind the houses and the well making the most of the cover.

The Rebels open up against the Colonial troops, one of the walkers manages to hit the tank at long range but does not penetrate the thick armour.

The Rebels support weapon fires at one squad beside the road and sees one of the Colonial troops go down.

The Colonial tank rumbles down the road closing the gap to the Rebel troops.

Turn two ( Colonial troops won the initiative )

The Colonial troops advanced again into a hail of fire from the Rebels, but somehow only one trooper took a light wound.

( I realised at this point it was going to be very hard to actually damage the Colonial tank during this battle… if at all )

The tank moves slowly forward and fires at the rebel walker by the small building but fails to hit it.

Turn three ( Rebel troops won the initiative )

The sight of the Colonial tank advancing on them must be affecting the Rebels shooting as they did not hit a thing!

Although I think the Colonial troops may be frightened by their own tank as they couldn’t hit anything either!!

The tank however wasn’t frightened by anything, it moved slowly forward and lined up its main gun on the Rebel walker again and this time destroyed it…

Turn four ( Colonial troops won the initiative )

The Colonial troops continued moving forward keeping to as much cover as was possible, this time their shooting was a little better, but the Rebels only took one light wound.

One of the Rebel walkers took out another Colonial trooper, but no other shots found their marks.

The tank fired at one of the other Rebel walkers but this time its shots bounced off the walkers armour.

Turn five ( Rebel troops won the initiative )

Well the Rebel troops finally worked out which end of their weapons they needed to point at the enemy!!! They managed to get three kills on the colonial troop squads.

The Colonial tank just couldn’t get its aiming right and saw all of its shots miss its intended target; the Rebel walker was feeling really lucky!

Turn six ( Colonial troops won the initiative )

The Colonial tank hit the Rebel support weapon killing one of the crew and wounding the other.

Both of the walkers concentrated all their shots on the tank and somehow managed to penetrate the tough armour, a big cheer went up across the Rebel comm’s as they saw smoke coming from the tank.

Apart from a couple of light wounds on the Colonial troops the rest of the shooting was pretty poor.

Turn seven ( Rebel troops won the initiative )

The Rebel walkers stood their ground and took careful aim at the tank trying to find a weak spot and were rewarded by another penetrating hit which took out the tank for good!!

Seeing this the Colonial Commander calls his remaining troops back and slowly they withdrew from the village, they would return another day but for now they would give the Rebels this victory.

At that point the Commander had lost the tank and half of his troops were either dead or wounded, he couldn’t continue and had to withdraw.

The Rebels had to concentrate on the tank, but I didn’t think they could actually hurt it, I wasn’t sure they would ever get through its armour, the numbers needed were a bit daunting.

The tank got +3 for its armour onto its defence roll and the walkers gun only got a +1 for its penetration roll so it looked really hard to actually destroy the tank, but the last roll was a 1 for the tank making 4 and a 6 for the walker making it a 7 which was three above so destroyed the tank… it was the perfect roll for the Rebels.

It was still a fun game and makes me still want to play 15mm USE ME again, I like the Elan system in the game which allows for different levels of troops, this is mainly used to determine when a character activates during a turn.

But I have to say that there are several things in the rules that don’t feel right to me, but nothing too serious.

One thing I have realised is that I have to do a QRS for these rules as turning those tiny pages of the rule book to find different tables is really really annoying! Especially for my big fat fingers.

The other thing that irritates me a little about the rules ( in my opinion ) is that there are several weapons that just don’t feel right.

By giving weapons a different number of dice would not have made the rules any more complicated they would have just added a little character to the weapons.

Giving a couple of the weapons small templates in the rules I guess tries to give the effect of more shots coming from a weapon, but for me it’s a bit… weak, and doesn’t feel right, I think that templates should be used for exploding shells only and not normal shooting.

Also some of the shooting I found not worth doing because it was impossible to hit, I never took a second shot in this game and rarely have done in any of my other games.

-1 for second shot of the activation and a -1 for cover means most times I would only be hitting on a 6 if the enemy was hunkered down or at over optimum range as well then they can’t be hit.

If it’s the first shot of the activation and the target is over optimum range and in cover again you would need a 6, what this means is that all those sci-fi and futuristic weapons can’t hit the side of a barn unless you are within a few inches of the target.

Some other games that use a D6 and similar modifiers when shooting make up for the small chance of hitting by rolling more dice for the weapons, this I think kind of evens out the chances a little.

It might be me and my rubbish dice rolls I am not sure.

But having said all of that, I have to add that the rules have a fairly good overall feel to them which I like and I will definitely be playing them again, I just think I need to roll better dice and I may have to look at adding more of a variety of troops to my next game, less armoured troops, maybe a mixture of light and heavy vehicles, something to make the game feel a little less vanilla…

Although I have written a couple of rule sets it doesn’t make me an expert, but I really do feel that it wouldn’t have taken much effort for the author to take this rule set from being a good set to a really great set.

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  1. Vic

    Hi Mac,

    As you know I really like the USE ME system & I have many of the sets. But I do understand your issues with the weapons & vanilla …

    For the weapons, there is an optional rule that adds a cone template to LMG/HMG type heavy and support weapons + Vehicle Automatic weapons. The template’s placed and all characters under the template are fired on! In effect, the RoF is increased, sometimes quite dramatically – I’ve seen 8 out of 10 characters in a squad hit and killed/wounded by 1 firing action.

    This cone option isn’t given in the sci-fi set you (and I both) use – no sure why, maybe lack of space/time, although as sci-fi is #01 in the sequence I suspect it was the first set written, so maybe that idea was suggested later and included in later sets.

    The vanilla issue stems in part from the need to keep things as simple as possible – it’s an A5 booklet for less than a fiver in an age of £40 books!
    Adding optional ‘special actions’that
    slightly alter how individual characters work in the files is easily done, however, and this I why I like the rules so much – I altered some bits to better reflect what I wanted from the rules.

    Nice batrep! I like the tank miniature (track-fiend that i am!) 😉


    • Mac

      Hi Vic,
      Yeah it is mainly the LMG/MMG type weapons and the vehicle Automatic weapons that feel wrong, I will try the template idea for these weapons next time and see how they work.
      I found the rules for this in the WW2 book so will just use those rules in the sci-fi version. ( I hadn’t read all of the advanced rules so I hadn’t noticed the section about machineguns! )
      I really do like the rules and want them to work so hopefully this extra rule will sort out the problems I am having.

      The other thing I dislike about the rules ( and not sure how I can deal with this one ) is all the tokens needed during the game! I might have to try doing cards for the units and adding the tokens to the cards to keep the table clear of rubbish while playing.

      The Old Crow tanks and vehicles are lovely models, although they are all a little basic and need some stowage etc. to give them a little more detail, this is something that I still need to do.


      • Vic

        Hi Mac,

        The tokens issue doesn’t bother me overly, but as you’ve suggested you can put the wound status markers on a unit card placed to one side of the tabletop … obviously, those killed don’t really need the markers anymore … 🙁

        I use multiple printed ‘rosters’ for my all my USE ME forces, but they’re more in the style of an army list rather than an in-play use roster – I use them for reference only & put the markers on the tabletop next to the characters.

        However, if I’m playing using the squad rules only the squad leader gets things like the ‘Hunker’ marker & I assume if he’s hunkered then his whole squad is too.

        I don’t use the ‘Leader’ markers at all – I have enough ‘Sarge’ & ‘Officer’ miniatures to remove that need, and it’s dead easy to identify who’s the leader.


        • Mac

          Hi Vic,
          Yeah I don’t use ‘Leader’ markers either easy to see who is the leader in my units also.

          I will try using unit cards the next time I play and see how it goes, it just means that the unit gets the ‘Winged’ markers so every two would be one ‘Struck’ figure rather than having ‘Winged’ markers on several figures in the unit, damn that means I would have to show each figure in the unit on the unit card so that each individual figure can be tracked to make it work in line with the rules… that might be a pain.

          I think the cards would work for two or three small units with a vehicle or two, but may get very confusing with bigger games.

          I may have to put up with all the markers and tokens for now.


  2. Vic

    Hi Mac,

    A thought (I do get them sometimes 🙂 ) has just occured to me – rather than using lots of ‘W’ or ‘S’ tokens to mark individual characters in a unit, a single token with ‘W3’ (for 3 ‘Winged’results) could be placed by the unit. You’d have to make your own (hooray for computer graphics programs, pritstick & card!) but it would serve to reduce the clutter a lot – rather than 6 tokens by a unit – say 3 ‘W’, 2 ‘S’ and an ‘H’ token – you have just 3, 1 marked ‘W3’, 2 marked ‘S2’ and an ‘H’.

    Using the squad rules this wouldn’t matter much because multiple hits tend to get combined anyway, and all its mean is remembering to take into account any reduced movement (for the ‘S’) and the number of -1 two-hit penalties (for both ‘W’ and ‘S’) when shooting. I tend to split any characters wounded to ‘S’ levels from their units (whatever they are) anyway because they slow the units movement to a crawl, they struggle to hit the barn (from inside it) and they tend to drop dead after just 1 more hit …

    I tend to use the squad rules for WW2 and any sci-fi game where theres more than 5 or 6 characters per side.


    • Mac

      Hi Vic,

      I was thinking that remembering to adjust for reduced movement and shooting etc. could get confusing, but I will put some simple unit cards together and see how they work.

      I might also try the single token idea as well as that sounds possible, I have plenty of the wooden adjustable wound counters that I use in Bolt Action for pin markers they might work.


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