In this post, we will be taking a look at building your Forces and the inclusion of a ‘Points’ system in Spectre Operations.
A Point on Points
Early on, when writing earlier versions of Spectre Operations, we were adamant that we were not going to have points in the game. We kept telling players to ‘just use whatever they wanted’ and that it was narrative based and didn’t need points. When we wrote the new book, we thought ‘Why can’t we do both?’.
After a decade of a lot of people asking us to include a points system in the rules, we decided we really should listen.
We certainly are not intending Spectre as any kind of competitive or tournament game, but giving players the tools to be able to build an army is very important. Players that are familiar with the structure of real world militaries are still free to build their forces reflecting this, but to the vast majority of players, especially new players, this is a daunting prospect and a big hurdle to playing.
We decided to include Force Builders in Spectre Operations, giving everything a value measured in Resources ( R ). Resources can represent money, or something more abstract such as the will to fight, influence or power a Warlord has over a certain region.
Balanced or Asymmetric?
After a lot of research and discussion, we kept coming up with the same conclusion. Although a lot of conflicts between a formal military (especially when looking at Operations conducted by Special Forces) and a non-state actor may at face value look Asymmetric, the reality is quite different. Typically an Operation will not be conducted by a unit that is knowingly out gunned by it’s target. Although purely looking at the numbers of Operators involved vs their opponents it may look like they are outnumbered - the firepower and tools at their disposal make it quite the opposite.
An interesting example of this is Operation Neptune Spear, where around 70 Operators were involved in the direct action, with another 50 odd stationed as a quick reaction force close by - all in order to assault a single (although extremely high profile) compound holding an HVT).
At the end of the day, this is a game that is designed to be enjoyable to play as well as realistic. To represent a kind of ‘balance’ to the Forces we assigned a Resources value to each model and each bit of equipment and ever gun… which was no small task. This ensures that you shouldn’t ever feel like you are completely outgunned or overwhelmed (although some scenarios will have mismatched Resource limits for each Force to represent this).
The Force Builders
Spectre Operations has two complete Force Builders included: Insurgents and Task Force. Soon to follow are more Specialised builders, such as Law Enforcement, Criminal Elements, Cartels and even specialised lists for building Russian and Chinese Forces (with many more to follow!).
The Insurgent Force Builder allows you to build a Militia, Untrained themed army with the flexibility and options for including some crazy stuff (who doesn’t love Technicals with Rocket Pods or a Vulcan Cannon?). This list has a nice mix of low-cost Elements to bulk out the Force and some unique Elements, such as the Kill Team, that can be heavily customised.
The Insurgent list is a lot of fun to play. In a campaign, lost Elements can be very easily replaced at low cost.
We also wanted to include some assets that are not represented on the table, such as informants that can aid you in non ‘kinetic’ ways.
The Task Force list was intended to allow a player to build a very flexible Trained Force.
It is broken down into 3 broad categories, Enlisted, Tier 2, and Tier 1.
The Enlisted Elements are used to represent the bulk of the fighting forces around the world and as such they have access to most of the heavy support, in the form of IFV, APCs and Tanks.
The Tier 2 Elements are probably going to be the most common Elements on the Battlefield. They have a good amount of flexibility and can be used to represent the bulk of ‘Special Forces’ (including Royal Marines, UK Ranger Regiment and Special Forces Support Group, 75th Ranger Regiment, SEALS, Green Berets, etc.).
This profile is still formidable in-game and the Elements have access to a wide range of equipment, allowing them to fill most roles.
The Tier 1 Elements are very specialised. We really wanted to focus the player on using them more in line with their real world counterparts (SAS, SBS, SRR, DEVGRU, Delta etc). With this in mind we have limited the range of equipment available to the Elements to encourage the use of them in filling a very particular role in the game, whether that is conducting a hostage rescue or eliminating a HVT.
The more we spoke to people, the more it was pressed that these soldiers will most likely just be equipped with high end rifles and possibly a belt fed MG.
They do, however, have access to some very high tech gear. Exoskeletons, Heads up Displays and AI integration may sound sci-fi, but are actually being used today.
Tier 1 Elements are extremely capable, but their Resource cost reflects this.
We have found a good flexible Force mostly consists of Enlisted or Tier 2 Elements, with one or two Tier 1 Elements if the Scenario would benefit from it.
We hope this gives a little insight into the Force Builder lists, keep tuned for more insights!