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1999-2003. All rights reserved.
Design Notes


The first stage in designing the game was to work out the scales. I had already settled on 20mm figures mainly because there are more vehicles and helicopters available in 1:72 or 1:76 than any other scale. There is also a wider choice of Vietnam infantry at 20mm than at 15mm or 25mm. The core goal when designing these rules was to capture the tactics and atmosphere of the period as accurately as possible. Real tactics should work in the game without being forced - the player should deploy troops in realistic ways not because the rules directly force them to, but because this is the most tactically sensible way to do it. Here are three areas of the rules which I hope will help to achieve this:


Casualty evacuation and recovery had significant impact on the course of engagements, so are an important part of the game, something which is difficult to satisfactorily simulate this when the smallest element on the table is a group. Consequently I decided to use a figure scale of 1 model to represent one man on individual bases (I think 20mm is a bit big to base in groups, personally I draw the line at 15mm). When a casualty are taken, their initial status is generally unknown, the logic being that their comrades are unlikely to know - so this information should not be available to the players either. Another model must then be moved to them to stabilise the casualty and their status will be resolved. The casualty can become Walking Wounded, Incapacitated or Dead. Once stabilised they can then be evacuated. If the casualty is left unattended then after a while they will die, with disastrous consequences for the players' victory points.


Modern weapons are capable of a staggering rate of fire - the M60 fires over 600 rounds per minute (rpm) which equates to an alarming 5kg of bullets. Even assault rifles with 20 or 30 round magazines can go through over a hundred rounds a minute including reload time. Given that each game turn is around 1 minute, it is therefore possible for troops to shoot off all their ammunition in a few turns. Rate of fire becomes an important tactical decision. The greater the volume of fire, the more likely it is to cause enemy casualties and the less opportunity they will have to return fire, but if the players respond to the odd sniper shot by lighting up the woods with belt after belt of machine gun ammo, they will soon have nothing left when it really matters. They must therefore learn restraint, and tailor their response to the situation. Ammunition is not tracked precisely, but as models fire, 'Low Ammo' counters will gradually stack up, reducing their maximum rate of fire. This is administered at a squad level to prevent it being too cumbersome.


This aspect of the game was principally triggered by something I noticed when playing paintball - your exposure to danger is something which you have substantial control over. If you hide behind cover all the time then you aren't going to hit anyone, but they aren't going to hit you either (until you've been outflanked). To reflect this a squad's offensive/defensive status can be altered and this impacts both on how much they can fire but also how likely they are to take casualties from incoming fire. A unit receiving heavy enemy fire can also be forced into a more defensive state, regardless of its commander's wishes, which is a handy way of reflecting the value of suppression and covering fire in the game.


The distinction between these two is fairly blurred, but I would define a role playing game as one in which players involvement in the game is through individual characters. The knowledge available to them is through the eyes of that character, and they can make decisions only about that characters actions. Role playing games are generally less competitive and the player may even make choices which jeopardise the safety of their character in order to remain true to their role. 'Mad Minutes' falls somewhere between the two. The players move other models as well as their own characters, but their scope of decision making is confined as far as possible to the perspective of their individual leader. Players are also given personality based objectives, so it is likely that they will be pulling in different directions during the course of the game.

2002. All rights reserved.