Mixed 1st experience with IABSM

I played my first WW2-6mm game ever against Steve - thanks, man, for your patience. It was a mixed experience.

  • IABSM is a nice game, apparently like Bolt Action (draw cards to activate units, BA uses dice: use leaders to activate units - we think that the BA designers copied and streamlined some IABSM mechanics).
  • I had quickly read the rulebook, but spent most of the prep time painting units and not memorizing and close reading the rules. Thought it would be simple, but it isn't. Took a while before I started to grasp the rules. IABSM is lacking a quick ref sheet, for instance. Sam Mustafa (Blücher, Rommel) for example is a much better editor than the Lardies. What's the max distance of a mortar? I still don't know. I'm sure it's written somewhere. Is a leader a 'unit' and can he count as 'hidden' or are only the platoons/vehicles hidden?
  • the big difference with many other games is the use of blinds ('hidden/unknown units'), you don't know where which opponent unit is placed on the board until you spot it.
  • the fire system is clear, but players together must discuss if the targeting is easy, standard or difficult. If Germans are firing from a medium distance from a window in a cornfield where the enemies are hiding, is that a standard or difficult shot?
  • the inpredictability is nice, just like BA. IABSM has an end of turn card which means that some units can not move or shoot at all that turn. Thus it's even more inpredictable. Using the leaders is important.
  • I like 6mm because I can move in or out shooting range. Maneuvering becomes important. IABSM promotes combined arms tactics, long distance mortars with infantry closing in on a target or MG's with infantry waiting in ambush.
  • during the game, you must keep track of the casualties (=how many dice a unit has left, related to the quality of the unit, elite have more dice and are less affected than militia) and the shock value (how big is the negative modifier on the dice). Sam Mustafa provides you with premade unit cards for instant use. The Lardies give you three tables on three different pages.

So I think it's a good game, but more preparation is needed. I was too lazy, and the rulebook didn't come to the rescue .


As usual with TFL games, it benefits from having an umpire, especially with your first games. IABSM is not their easiest game either. 


I agree and disagree with you on some points. Let me explain:

-I have bought a rulesset at Crisis from Reisswitz Press, TFL's publishing co. And here as well are the rules all over the place. Some rules are repeated (when not necessary) and some are on an unexpected place. A little editing would make it read much better. Is it a TFL/RP issue?

-You like 6mm, I don't. But that's not the problem IMHO. Moving in and out of range is also dependent on table size and shooting ranges. I'd guess ranges are different for 6mm compared to 28mm (or 10mm or 15mm). Yet I agree that manoeuvring should be more important in most games. In BA you do not use it (much) and almost every weapon is in range from the start. Real battlefield tactics don't work here. (And is one of the reasons I dislike BA.)

Thanks for the review.

I'll stick to Flames of War (15mm) for my WWII fix anyway (for now).


It's a TFL thingy. TFL rules are a bit all over the place indeed, but an umpire will solve those issues for you. I have had a very good game of IABSM at Poldercon, so the potential is there certainly. I have a few IABSM campaign books to go with my 15mm Italians. 

For 6mm, Rommel might not be a bad choice. I know it is almost a boardgame, but it has very clean rules as expected from Sam Mustafa, and the scale is perfect for it. It does not have the ambiguity of TFL games. 

The more I play it, the more I like Combat Patrol as an ideal mixture of game and simulation for 28mm games. For smaller scale, Chain of Command is great, but relatively difficult, and I'd like to try Battlegroup as well. Must say, I really liked the Flames of War V4 game vs Espen too. It's a good game and got me thinking how to crack tanks with my infantry. 


An umpire will not solve editing issues. He might know the rules better, but that doesn't make the rules better to read/learn.

And and umpire is suited to a type of game, not a rulesset; ie if a rulesset requires an umpire, you need one; if not, then it's optional.


I agree with this. I haven's seen this game, but I remember  SP really suffered form bad editing. That can ruin a game, much like bad editing can ruin a book and/or bad production can ruin a song. SP is really an OK game, but when we did SP at Poldercon I had to make a cheatsheet first because you hardly coudl find the most important modifiers on the shooting and fighting dice. You could argue dat the 'core rules' are good, but it doesn't make sense that I need several hours to dig them up first.

I have an itch that if SP (of IABSM) would have been published by an unknown games group from one of the outskirts of gamers territory, it would have been highly criticized because of the abominable editing. Much like the fans of old-highly-popular-music-band-with-street-ccredibility-A will never acknowledge that the X-th album is simply very bad, but will come op with excuses, I think the fact that the TFL games are popular is more because TFL has a certain wargaming-redibility than because their games a re so much better than many other games. SP is a nice game, but it isnog so much better dan SODS of Muskets and tomahawks and it is edited significantly worse.

Does IABSM really need an umpire - or does it need an umpire because of bad editing?


As said, it's my first impression after a too short scan of the rules and a first playtest. I really liked the 'blinds' rule, Overall clarity of these rules is 3 stars, mainly because of a missing quickref sheet. In comparison: BP or BlUcher is a five star game. Tactical challenge of IABSM is high.

It's not really an umpire game, in case of disagreement we rolled a die.

I'll try more games and BKC2 as well.


link to 6mm IABSM here. Good quickref sheet here.