A strange Russian package arrived the other day, a solid block of polystyrene wrapped in tape. My wife wondered if it was a bomb. I had to explain that I had just ordered some Russian toys. She responded “Of course you have.”
Inside was a sort of starter set for Bronepehota (Armoured Infantry), a Russian Wargame that you often see the figures for around online, but that you don’t often hear about the rules for. I’ve had some of the figures before, a mate gave me some, but I was really after the double sided rule sheet. I’m a sucker for a rule set. Unfortunately for me however both sides were in Russian. So I set about translating them using a combination of a site that allowed you to type out words in Cyrillic and then Google Translate for turning those Russian words into English. It was a bit of a slog, but I’ve made it through and now have something playable.
So I set about playing a little game this afternoon with the contents of the box, containing a small Trade Protectorate force of 4 Velian Militia, 4 Robotic Cyber Infantry and 2 Guns:
Versus a similarly sized Polaris Empire force of 4 Heavy Clone Infantry, 4 Light Assault Force and a MZ-ST Heavy Combat Vehicle.
I played things out on the dining room table. The rules were fairly basic but worked well enough. There’s a decent amount of strategy and movement is key. Figures operate individually, there are no squads, and each figure gets 3 actions per turn. They can move up to three times but can only shoot once and make a single melee attack.
Combat is resolved quickly you roll a die and add the attacker’s stat, if the target is infantry and the result is higher than the target’s armour then the target is killed. Vehicles instead of being immediately destroyed take damage equal to the difference. A target’s armour is increased by 2 for cover, but the shooter can counteract that by ‘aiming’ if they only shoot and don’t do anything else they can increase their attack roll by 2.
Melee combat is basically the same, but the target can attack back even if killed.
One of the downsides I found to that the rules is that some units had weaponry capable of killing targets without even rolling dice. One of the Trade Clones had a Sniper Rifle that had an attack power of 7 whereas the armour of the Polaris troops was either 6 or 7, meaning that if the Sniper could get line of sight he would always kill them no matter what he rolled. It just doesn’t seem right that any attack should be a sure thing. I might have to make a house rule that a roll of 1 always fails.
Additionally no ranges are listed for weapons other than grenades, which although is realistic on a war games table limits manoeuvring and positioning, so if you were to play this game I’d highly recommend using lots of terrain. That Sniper Rifle was extra scary because it could also shoot across the entire table.
With the small amount of figures in this set it is hardly a starter set, more like a very light snack set. I could see larger games with more terrain being more rewarding, however because each figure essentially operates independently that could also quickly become bogged down.
There are more involved rules for Bronepehota out there, I was playing the lite version included in the set, however I’ve so far been unable to find them anywhere online.
Maybe it’s better to lean on one of the selling points for Bronepehota – the weapons that actually fire (it originates with the same company that made Robogear). A sci fi version of HG Wells’ Little Wars is probably more fun than painstakingly translating a more complicated version of the rules I just tried.
That all being said I’m still on the look out for more figures on eBay for a bigger game with more unit types. There’s something very appealing about playing with such a niche product.