If you visit this site regularly, you've probably noticed that my modern war gameplay has dropped off a bit. Even though I've got a full portfolio of Force on Force AARs posted - Iraq, Afghanistan, Special Operations, Libyan Civil War, and other posts - I've since branched out into Savage Worlds Showdown, Frostgrave, gotten back into Warhammer 40k, and started work on my own d10 Gunfight system, among other things.
But for the first time in a while, I'm excited about modern wargaming again. A new modern wargame, DEFCON ZERO, is coming out soon. I just listened to a podcast with one of its creators, J. Reid Denton, where he said a lot of things that have me excited about the game:
1) Activation. Though the details aren't clear, I'm heartened to see that it won't have a card activation system. As Mr. Denton puts it, card activation is too random. I agree, and from my point of view the ability to activate quicker than your opponent, and to sequence events (establish support by fire, maneuver into the assault), is as valuable a skill as shooting accurately or swinging a sword. And it sounds like DEFCON ZERO will make an attempt to allow for action and reaction without devolving into an infinite reaction chain (as is possible in Force on Force). Denton has a military background, so hopefully his views on activation translate into realistic and functional command and morale mechanisms as well.
2) Realistic Ranges. Let's be honest. A 24" range for rifles is stupid, if you care in the least about realism. A 24" close range, with modifiers beyond, makes sense. Apparently DEFCON ZERO will bring with it realistic weapon ranges. Good to hear.
3) Covert Intervention Games, the producer of DEFCON ZERO, is producing the excellent Elhiem range of miniatures, and adding to that line with zombies and armed civilians. Seriously. Go check it out - they've got a pre-packaged US Army infantry platoon set up. I've got some armed civilians I'm painting up now, pretty excited about it.
4) It's in the right scale. The minis are 20mm or 1/72, which is a good scale for any skirmish up to platoon-sized game with any firearms. Anything bigger doesn't make sense (though I put up with 40k because of the unparalleled fluff), and 15mm minis just don't look good in my opinion. And the scale works well for a 12" = 25 yards/meters. At that scale, small arms ranges make sense - a 4' x 6' table with some cover provides enough ranges for small/medium/long contrasts to become clear.
5) Modern Pulp/near future sci-fi is going to follow as a build-on to the modern combat system. It's a special operations/Men in Black/psyker magic setting. Looking forward to seeing how that shakes out.
All of this goes to say that I'm very excited about what comes next. I've signed up for their 'Inner Circle' program and hope to be part of the Beta test for DEFCON ZERO - go check out their website - and am looking forward to some rules as an excuse to break out my 20mm modern minis and throw down. Go check out the podcast and see if it fires you up, too.