UMS: Modern Age. Scenarios and Activations.

Hello everyone and welcome back. Here we are at the second part of our review dedicated to UMS: Modern Age. For those who missed the first part, you can find it at this link.

Last week we left with the two army lists that we will use for our playthrough: the Russian Federation and the Iraqi army. The substantial difference between the two armies, apart from the typology of the vehicles, is the superior quality of the Russian infantryman who, translated into the game, means that he will hit better, be hit less and tend to have more actions available. His counterpart, instead, will have more manpower and less expensive vehicles available. Before going into the details of the game mechanics, we need to prepare the table for our game. As written in the previous article, we will use miniatures in 28mm scale, on a 120x180Cm table.

Modern Age gives us the possibility to choose between 12 generic scenarios, divided into two groups of 6 depending on whether one of the two forces in the field is Irregular. Russians and Iraqis are two regular armies, the clash will be symmetrical, and we choose to play “Front Line”. In this scenario, three objectives are randomly placed for each player on the diagonal line of the table, each with a score, 3.5 or 7VP, kept secret from the opponent. The aim is, at the end of seven game turns, to have more VPs than the opponent or, in the event of a tie, to have destroyed more enemy units in terms of points. The two players are dealt seven playing cards, both have a Strategic Level of 7, and the Russian will play with red. The scenario does not foresee units already in the field, it is not an actual attack and defense scenario, but the Russian Reconnaissance Infantry Squad has the Scout ability so it can infiltrate in advance.

Once all the “Scout” units have been placed, the actual game sequence can begin. The top card from the activation deck is turned over and is a Red 5. The Russian player decides to activate the BMP-3 in which he loaded a squad of regulars with the second in command attached from the HQ. The BMP has an ATT (Activation) value of 5, which means that each roll of 5+ on a D12 generates an action. Each unit can roll a maximum of 4 dices, and if it still has squad command active, one of these dice is an automatic success. We then roll 3 dices with a result of 9, 4 and 7: two successes which, added to the one obtained automatically, generate three actions. A movement action allows a tracked like the BMP to proceed for 20cm and, given the absence of imminent dangers, we opt for three movements. By doing so the passengers will NOT be able to disembark, we have moved too much, but at the moment nobody can shoot us so we can proceed at full speed! The unit has finished its activation, has no more actions, and a new card is turned over: a black 2, it’s up to the Iraqi.

As in the previous Russian activation, we proceed to generate the actions for regulars which, given the worst ATT value, are only two. Infantry movement is measured by an element chosen as “center”: all measurements, even attacks, will always be center-center with the rest of the elements keeping a cohesive distance. We then move twice for a total of 20cm and look for solid cover behind some concrete pots. Non-vehicular squads are “Hidden” until they are spotted by the enemy and being hiding has a huge advantage … it is not possible to be the target of an attack!

We continue and a black 7 is draw: the Iraqi activates another team of regulars. Unfortunately, only one action is generated. This unexpected event does not go down to the player who decides to discard a card from his strategic level hand and thus reroll all the activation dice … the roll goes better and three actions are generated: nice! With the first action the unit moves and seeks cover alongside the other team and with the remaining two actions it tries to start a spotting activity against the Russian reconnaissance team. The value of the spotting test is based on a number linked to the distance between the two units, measured from the two centers: in our case it is 9 because the distance is 86cm. To this must be added / subtracted some modifiers, including being in a building as are the scouts. The total rises to 10 and the D12 test is launched: 9. Not enough

The next card is a red King and the Russian decides to activate the scouts. Easily get 4 actions, the maximum! With two he starts a spotting towards a team of Iraqi regulars and, benefiting from the fact that the latter have moved, the roll succeeds. The Iraqi Squad is revealed and loses Hidden status. Furthermore, the advanced position of the scouts is excellent as it keeps under control a passage that could be exploited by the enemy to get closer to an objective and the last two actions are used to place oneself in “Overwatch”. Overwatch allows you to interrupt an enemy movement or attack within a 90 ° arc to make your own attack.

A simple token depicting a 90 ° arc is placed in front of the unit

We conclude our second article here with some considerations:

  • The movement of the infantry units is 10Cm per activation, of the tracked vehicles 20Cm. Theoretically, with 4 actions available, a team could move up to 40Cm and a vehicle up to 80Cm! Obviously, it is an extremization, but this gives the idea of how quickly we come into contact.
  • The concept of the “center” of the unit is interesting: movements, attacks, LOS are traced to and from the centers. If the center is in cover, everyone is in cover, if the center moves, the rest is repositioned in cohesion with the center … excellent in terms of optimization of timing on measurements.
  • Tactically, having “Hidden” teams, opens up many options for players. By maneuvering with the favor of the terrain, and avoiding being sighted too early, you can reach advantageous positions where you can prepare ambushes using the possibility of the “Overwatch” without getting shot at trying. Or, you can force the opponent to use actions to spot, rather than to move or attack.

See you next week where we will cover the phases of the ranged attacks of infantry squads or vehicles and the consequences thereof. Until next time!

Part three: Attacks and morale


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