Ambush Alley Games over Thanksgiving

Posted: November 30, 2009 in Miniature Games
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My eldest son and I picked up Ambush Alley awhile ago and never had occasion to play it. This past holiday weekend we painted up some Old Glory moderns and some Rebel Miniatures insurgents and had at it. We played a total of four games, two resulting in Marine victories and two resulting in Insurgent victories. It has been quite a long time since I have found a game I like so much that I play it that many times in a short period.

Ambush Alley is not for the ultra detail-oriented. While the mechanics cover an enormous amount of ground, the game abstracts scale, time and weapons minutia in favor of quick, easy mechanics. Troop quality and morale are more important than how many rounds were fired or the relative performances of AK-47s and M-16s. As the game designers note, a well-trained fireteam will make the most of a poor weapon’s strengths than a poorly trained fireteam will make of a good weapon’s strengths. Another difference is that range is not much of a factor. The board sizes for most of the scenarios are such that troops often start in contact. With 15mm miniatures a typical board size is 2′ x 2′, so most weapons will have range across the board. We played 3 of our 4 games on smaller boards, and one on a 4’x 4′ board. Line of sight was far more important than range in all cases.

The game rewards realistic tactics. Overwatch/bounding fire is essential for the regular forces player. Firepower for regular units can be overwhelming, so insurgents need to rely on surprise, stealth and bringing numbers at close range to minimize the concentrated fire of the regulars. Vehicles are somewhat abstracted, but that is fine for the size of the forces typically involved. A Marine squad is a good force for one player (one leader and three fireteams of four men).

Another innovation of the game is the Fog of War (FOG) cards. In addition to the starting ORBATs for the regular and irregular players, Fog of War cards means neither side is sure exactly what they have or what is going on. FOG cards cover things like media teams showing up unexpectedly, IED’s, low ammunition or unexpected assets.

All in all, I heartily recommend Ambush Alley to anyone looking for a fun game set in the modern period. My son and I are already expanding our forces and terrain to cover other modern conflicts.


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