I have been playing World War Two skirmish wargames with the Nuts! rules by Two Hour Wargames since the first edition of the rules. I have enjoyed all of the previous editions of the rules. When the 3rd edition (the “Final Edition”) came out, I wondered why should I buy yet another edition of the rules? Most wargame rules do have more than one editions, but not all new editions are an improvement over previous editions. Often the second edition of rules are the best as they fix issues with the first edition, but don’t dramatically change the good parts of the game. Often the last edition is the worst edition. For example I liked the first edition of Command Decision, but it had some issues. The second edition fixed those issues. The third edition of Command Decision was also good in that it streamlined the rules a bit. However, the fourth edition of Command Decision (Test of Battle) changed the rules so much that it killed my interest in the rules. That took a lot as I used to write for the Command Post Quarterly and had many webpage posts about the rules. So with that in mind I was a bit leery of the 3rd edition of Nuts!, but I bought a copy anyway.
As my thesis, I want to start off by saying that the 3rd edition of Nuts! (the “Final Edition”) is the best version of Nuts! to date. It keeps the basic rule system, but provides a lot of improvements over the first two editions. Here are some of the good improvements:
1. The way starts can use “Star Power” has been vastly improved. Now stars get a number of dice equal to their rep that can be used to potentially (but not guaranteed) reduce damage they take in the game. This really does a good job at recreating a cinematic impact for being the “star” of the story.
2. The In Sight check has been improved to be by groups. It still gives each group a chance to fire first, but reduces the number of dice rolled as the check is now by groups not individual figures. While checking In Sight firing order by individuals is still good for low figure density games like All Things Zombie or Six Gun Sound, the group method works better for Nuts!. Remember your groups can still be one figure if you want to activate that way.
3. A lot of the reactions have been reduced to a few charts. The new Crisis Test replaces a lot of the older checks like Received Fire and Man Down. This means less lines to have to look through on the reaction charts to find the one you need.
4. The Melee system has been revised to be more like the Final Edition of Chain Reaction. Having used this system recently in our All Things Zombies games, I can say that it works very well and is quick and not cumbersome.
5. The vehicle lists look expanded and now include a number of towed guns.
6. The vehicle rules also look expanded. We have used vehicles in a few games of Nuts! with the earlier editions and they worked well. The new rules answer a few questions we had with the previous editions. Also the campaign rules now allow you to play a tank platoon rather than an infantry platoon. I’ve not run five vehicles at a time yet, so I can’t comment on how well running that many vehicles would work. I do have a platoon of American Shermans to paint, so I plan on trying out playing a platoon of tanks in the future.
7. The campaign rules are a big improvement. You can now play mini-campaigns, like Anzio, and how well you do in each battle moves the campaign forward or even backward. There are more detailed rules about what PEFs do and how to create a sort of AI for enemy forces. That is a good addition as it helps determine what enemy forces do in solo games or games where both players are on the same side. The campaign games will be larger as while a player starts with just a squad in the Patrol mission, players start with full platoons in the Attack and Defend missions. Once the mission starts, more forces can come as reinforcements, which could result in battles with more than a platoon, which is not a big deal as the rules seem more oriented towards larger battles now. The one thing I think I’ll revise is the reinforcement charts to better reflect what forces most units would get, less tanks and more things like anti-tank guns and other company and battalion assets.
8. There is a new section entitled, “Chocolate & Cigarettes”. These are squad or smaller sized missions that you can do in between the larger campaign missions. These look like a lot of fun and remind me of the many missions members of the squad undertook in the old Combat TV series.
Overall, I give these rules a good review. I am glad that I bought them despite already having the two previous editions of Nuts!. The rules have a very dynamic activation system, which makes them both interesting and fun to play. In Nuts!, you still are focused on individuals rather than ten figures who are a squad. You can move all of your squad together or break them down into groups of any size, including one man. I like that a lot more than rules where you have to move your squad around in predetermined sizes like squads or half squads. While the “Star” rules are a bit cinematic, the game can be played without those rules for a more historical game. Having said that, when I play a campaign, I would use the Star rules as I want to recreate more of a TV series or movie. The real war experience was pretty brutal and sad; having a more cinematic game will simply be more fun and give a campaign more player attachment and more of a story line to follow.
So if you have liked the previous editions of Nuts!, I would highly recommend you buy the new edition of the Nuts! rules. If you are just looking for a new set of rules for World War Two skirmish, I can also recommend Nuts! as both fun and historical. Overall, I’m really happy I bought these rules and will look for more of the updated editions (the Final Edition) of Two Hour Wargames rules to play. Hey Ed, how about an update of the Old West rules!