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Monday 26 February 2018

Hmmmm AK47 or AK Complicated

We are told that the famous AK47  is popular amongst some of the less savoury political militias in the even less savoury partsof the world  becasue it is simple to operate and maintain .
 Would that were true of its gaming namesake by Peter Pig AK47 Republic.
Shaun#s splendidly painted Giraffe wait for something to happen. They had a long wait. 

  For our February game Shaun was in the chair and elected to run a game using these rules for the first time along with his rather spiffing collection of 15mm African forces. So enthusiasm was quite high in the pub when the 4 of us arrived Andrew the Tekkie ,Mechanical Shaun ad Theatrical Steve  and myself- your Gentle Author- being unusually last to arrive despite having most- but by no means all - of the scenery.
 Now first off AK47 is not a set of wargames rules for battles in post colonial Africa. A better description would be "A game based  very vaguely on Politico- Military shennanigans in Post Colonial anywhere that might look a bit like Africa".
 Now this was the game's first outing for us  but the amount of faff and farting about even before you get to lay some lead was to say the least significant. Rather than present some scenarios  the rules writer chose to give us a somewhat tortuous dice rolling contest to decide what type of battle we might- or might not- be fighting. The idea was actually quite clever but the execution  long winded.
 Then once it had been decided that I would have to fight a defensive battle against a full blown attack by Andrew and Steve  there was more faffing about with the terrain generation system. The after THAT  there was more faffing about to decide which units of each of our 5 unit "armies" actually turned up on time or even at all.. By now it has to be said I'm afraid my bore-o-meter was reading 11 so it was good that lunch in the usual form of Landlady Jean's fine hot beef butties had turned up  so the four of us set to on those aided by pints of Consett Brewery's fine "White Hot" for those of us not driving motor vehicles. 
After shooting up the square  village to their front the enemy armour moves down the straight African road. 

 After lunch we finally got down to a bit of action but again more faffing as to how we laid out the few troops we had to begin the game with. Now obviously more familiarity with the system would have speeded things up quite a bit but, so far, not a single military or tactical decision had been in the hands of any of the players- though a few landscaping ones had using there gridded and rather stereotyped terrain choice system. The troops any player had in hand were entirely dice controlled and bore no resemblance to the mission in hand for either side. There were some good bits- units which had lost parts in the deployment phase could have some troops back again in a neat little sort of observation rule as - for example the enemies 2 approaching technicals  became 4 as the dust subsided.  Combat mechanisms were theoretically simple but since attacking troops fired first on hidden defenders I never got a chance to find out how it all worked. Except to realise that the one unit at a time IGOUGO system was glacially slow even with tiny numbers of troops on the table.  Tactically this was nonsense as in reality my out numbered and out gunned troops would simply have piled into their technicals and bugged out.
One enemy tank has gone of for a crafty spliff.

 The rule book included a bibliography- of which I own about half or more but missed other major sources out= so while I own Mockler, Cocks and Forsyth  amongst others cited in the rules there was no mention of Hoare, Puren or Reid- Daly let alone Cole or Moorcroft and McLaughlin or many more modern writers I don't yet own. I'm not convinced however that the writer had actually read any of these- or possibly a book ever.
 Yet having savaged the system I still think there is potential here given a little imagination. Although a bit- well a lot- long winded the "Approach to War" preamble has its points if you want to set up a scenario without benefit of a scenario . My main problem with the system is simple. It is once again the lack of "positive freedom" and the idea that dice rolling should take the place of actual thought or knowledge of the period in hand.


  1. I don't do 'modern' but I did I'd avoid this ruleset. They sound dire. Mind you iirc I've played a couple of other Peter Pig sets (AWI and WW2?) and they were a tad slow to get going as well.

    1. This was my first encounter with MR Pig's rules. Though I've had people tell me how wonderful some of the other sets were. On this evidence Bloody Barons can go whistle

    2. As I said on Saturday, this has reinforced my opinion that historically valid scenarios are my preference as opposed to how AK47 handles things. They do have some points of interest but I would certainly avoid the full game set up part from the get go... I mean, beginning.

  2. When you paint up an army and spend an hour faffing about to leave half of them on the shelf, I try to work out which part is pointless: painting or playing. I'm not sure if it's another case of stuff a glossy book with 'content' to make it worth the cover price, but I had three attempts at this: none played to conclusion (unless you count getting bored and packing up a result), and that was with a veteran AK47 player. Yet another set of rules where the popularity baffles me...

    1. and as we know there are plenty of "popular" rues for which the reasons of said popularity entirely elude me

  3. I'm torn by this. The old "Original" AK47 Republic rules were by far the most fun and chaotic set of rules I ever played. They did have a lot of problems, and yes you needed to run through the starting Political bit first, but the results could be glorious. The "Reloaded" version left me cold. Some more thoughts on this here

    1. See your point but "chaotic" does not always recommend itself to me. After all that is the Umpires job- and then he can control the chaos. Other problems for me as always are the set organisations and limited number of units. This takes the rules out of "period" and into "mere game" territory. though from you piece it seems that the first set had more in the political sphere than the reboot- which means I may also prefer the first set.

  4. "Original" AK47 was an excellent, quirky game full of suspense and surprises that could be played to a conclusion in two hours. It was popular amongst our group, thanks to an introduction by Trebian, and he went on to host a well attended annual tournament event in Brixworth, called BRIXCON.

    The killer for us was that the "improved " version of the rules took three hours to play, with no discernible increase in enjoyment. That rather killed it for the tournament and our group. I can only surmise that Martin Goddard listened to the opinions of "proper Wargamers" in his home group and genuinely thought that he was adding value to an already popular ruleset.

    It's entirely possible that I'm just a crinkly Oldie that cannot hold a set of tables in his head any more, But if you want evidence of how much fun AK47 was, whilst straying away from its African home, then go here:

    If you follow on to the BRIXCON posts, you will see Renko featuring in one of them.

    Regards, Chris.