1. Take Warmachine rulebook
2. Replace "Warjacks" with "Vehicles." Remove "Warcasters" and related feats.
3. Replace steampunk terminology with sci fi terminology and rename stat lines.
15mm armies are easy to store and very affordable. This GZG UNSC force cost about $70...
Gruntz 15mm sticks so close to its source, it is more the sort of thing I'd expect to see as a set of house rules in a Warmachine yahoo group then a published set of rules in its own right. I know you can't patent game mechanics (try tell GW that, though), but... it feels kinda dirty, like respraying a car and claiming it's a different make and model. The author could at least have thanked Privateer Press in the acknowledgements....
Now given my somewhat scathing opening, and the fact I have a well-known aversion to the CCG-with-minis-so-unbalanced-it-appears-balanced Warmachine, you can tell where this is review is heading, right?
Actually, no. Gruntz 15mm is a good game.
I have the pdf, and it stands alongside the "Battlefield: Modern Miniature Warfare" as one of the nicest pdf rulesets I own. It has absolutely truckloads of quality pictures of miniatures in action from
Old Crow, Khurasan and GZG. There are plentiful gameplay diagrams and examples, and flowcharts which make game sequences clear. There is even a FAQ of common questions. This is a set of rules obviously built for gamers, by a gamer. I like it so well I'm considering grabbing a print copy. Ironically, I wish more companies would copy this guy! A+
The rules are well presented and obviously made by a gamer, for gamers. Plentiful examples, diagrams, and pictures of minis...
Basically, it's Warmachine with the casters and feats stripped out. The stats pretty much directly correspond:
Gruntz vs Warmachine
Move = SPD
Shoot = RAT
Assault = MAT
Guard = DEF
Soak = ARM
Mental = CMD
Gruntz also has "Skill" for making vehicle piloting rolls. Units even have similar "stat cards."
Gameplay is IGOUGO and like Warmachine most rolls are 2 x d6 added together to beat a target score. You roll 2d6 plus your RAT oops I mean "Shoot" score and try to beat their
Squads (usually of 6, coincidentally) stay within 3" of each other. Units can make 2 actions including shooting, running, assaulting, overwatch (I always like this in a rule-set), going prone, removing suppression etc. I liked "Interdiction fire" where a unit marks an area of effect in which it gives supporting fire - used by weapons like squad machine guns, although this too is replicated from WM.
The rules are clear, easy to read and well laid out.
Commanders have "special abilities" which are more sensible then some of the game-changing "Feats" in WM; they including removing suppression and extra movement for friendlies in range, extra wounds, and being able to fire an extra shot.
If casualties are taken, a unit must take a morale check or be suppressed. They need to use an action to remove their suppression which will reduce their options next turn. If a squad takes over half casualties they must check for "Condition Brown" (yes, direct quote from rules!) and if they fail the test they run away from the enemy.
Vehicle rules are quite comprehensive and well explained. Vehicles have a Full-Thrust style damage track with quite a lot of hitboxes (ironic "yaaaay" from me). Criticals (which work similarly to FT) can damage Armour (-4 soak), Engine (restricts speed) or Tek (-3 to ranged attacks.) There are rules for embarking and disembarking, assaulting vehicles with foot troops, airborne assaults and artillery.
There are digital warfare rules where vehicles and units can be suppressed or disabled by being "hacked" which adds an interesting dimension to combat.
All up, about 40 pages of gameplay rules is pretty par for the course, and presentation and ease of use is well above average.
TL:DR Gruntz strips the more annoying cheese from Warmachine, adds a few sci fi flourishes and gameplay tweaks, and emerges as a rather solid ruleset, with gameplay quite different to its parent
Terrain for 15mm is also cheap, and easy to store. A simple 4x3 sand table is surprisingly easy to make and maintain.Optional Rules
There are rules for card activation or alternate activation which break out of the IGOUGO mould. The card system in particular looks interesting and has a few interesting quirks but I'd probably avoid it for really large games as it could slow things down.
Build Your Own
One of the features of Gruntz is its unit construction rules. You are encouraged to make armies from different 15mm manufacturers and are given a solid set of tools for "making your own." The unit creation is pretty straightforward and being able to build a custom army from your favourite models from different manufacturers is very appealing. Infantry squads are based around groups of 6 with up to 2 special "attachments." There are rules for making monsters and vehicles (air. hover, tracked, etc)
There is a template with about 40 generic infantry and support weapons which cover pretty much any TV show or movie, and a similar range of vehicle weaponry. There are also "Perkz" which allow you to customise units with skills ranging from "Bullet time" to "Telepathy" and "Infected" (turn your opponents into friendly zombies).
The building rules are clear, well laid out and take up a large chunk of the rules (about 40 pages).
EDIT: I'd like to add the proviso that although fun for mates and good for "pick up" games the points system is far from power-gamer proof. Weapons are worth the same no matter who is wielding them, and improving key stats is comparatively cheap. Min-maxing units would be quite easy - this is not a super-tight "competition" rule set.
In addition, in the pipeline is a Barracks army-builder program ($14?) which will take all the work out of unit creation - simply choose your unit stats and weapons from a drop down box, then print out the cards. The author seems to be an active hobbyist and supports the game really well. The Gruntz site is worth a visit.
A attractively packaged and very well presented ruleset, it's sci-fi Warmachine rules without the cheese. Removing the caster-warjack synergy and feats gives a very different (and far better) flavour of game, and as a bonus WM players will find it very easy to pick up.
The unit builder section is a gem and Gruntz 15mm seems to be (directly or indirectly) supported by most of the biggest 15mm manufacturers. You can truly make your army out of any miniatures you want, quickly and easily. Constructing your custom army can be a fun activity in itself!
The range of about 50 "Perks" allows a lot of easy customisation of your troops. Together with the unit builder, this is the most convincing argument to put Gruntz ahead of the other major 15mm commercial ruleset, Tomorrow's War.
Recommended? Yes. Easy to learn, accessible, very customisable. A very solid set of rules that seems surprisingly polished for a private venture. Provides a great entry point into 15mm sci fi gaming.
Some other options:
My current favourite sci fi rules is the less conventional ruleset "Tomorrow's War" which has superior tactics and strategy. The mechanics are simpler (and owe a bit to the free Stargrunt by GZG) although the reaction system makes gameplay more complex. That said, it is more generic and grainy, and it is better for human near-future sci fi rather than exotic aliens. There are only 4 "levels" of troops with little differentiation between races. Of the few weapon classes (energy, kinetic, railgun, etc) special weapons simply add firepower dice rather than having special attributes. The "build system" is very primitive compared to Gruntz (more guesswork than anything). That disclaimer aside, Tomorrow's War is unparalleled for forcing commanders to make realistic decisions, and remains my #1 choice. I'd recommend TW for scenarios, and Gruntz is better for pick-up games at the club. Both are worthwhile games.
FUBAR is a good simple free ruleset, and the "not-40K" spin-off In the Emperor's Name allows you to get use out of those 40k models that have been sitting in the cupboard...