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.