TACOPS 3.0: A Classic Continues
By Michael K. Robel
Veteran wargamers and newbies alike can rejoice, because TACOPS is once again available to the average consumer. After a fairly long period during which you had to own an old copy, be a US Marine, or a member of a foreign military force to play the game, and displacing publishers from Arsenal to Avalon Hill, it is now finally available from www.Battlefront.com.
This release works for both those diehards who own Macs (the original game platform) or PCs and it also includes a nice selection of Army Field Manuals that are very useful for silicon strategists everywhere.
The reissue of the game is hopefully the start, or maybe continuation, of a trend in which grognards will be able to get high quality wargames from Internet venders instead of relying upon the rather hit or miss retail stocking of the games.
Why TACOPS 3.0?
The goal of getting TACOPS out again was partly to satisfy long time requests for the game, update it to the standard that was sold to the Canadian Army, some legalistic stuff, and of course, fund continued development of the system. I think it is excellent that this game has been around for such a long time. There is simply not much other quality material that fills the niche of platoon size brigade combat.
Unit Database entry on the LAV-25, a contender for the primary infantry carrier for the US Army's new "Medium Brigades."
Something Old, Something New
If you are an old player looking for major new changes in TACOPS, you will be somewhat disappointed. While the game is remarkably stable with few bugs, there are only minor improvements including:
An Armored Cavalry Squadron working its way through the Opposing Force Security Zone
Alas, perhaps the most wanted features are still not supported such as:
There is a wealth of supporting information, scenarios, and maps available at www.battlefront.com.
Down in the Dirt
TACOPS is a modern game of brigade combat usually played at the platoon or section icon level. It is able to support games with as small as a company action against a platoon or up to a brigade size force dueling it out. The heavy-weights of the world are prominent in the game - the M1A2 and the T80U, but the game also supports the medium weight forces in the Canadian Army and USMC, as well as light fighters (known to heavy forces as speed bumps).
As a constructive simulation, it inhabits much the same ground as the Army's Battalion-Brigade Battle Simulation (BBS) or JANUS (which is not an acronym) and you are provided the typical helicopter-like view of the battlefield common to wargames.
TACOPS does not use - or need - 3-D graphics or views. In order to achieve a rapid game pace, it uses rather "primitive" graphical icons much like counters used in manual board games, allowing the player to use either NATO standard or stylized icons. Players can switch sizes of the icons from small to large or to portray different information such as whether a counter has been examined, if it has been given orders, and its facing. In a game that may have over 100 counters under your control, this can be a very useful feature.
A flashing icon and a direct fire line drawn between icons portray combat, or artillery or smoke bursts. When a unit is destroyed, it either vanishes or is replaced with a wreck icon. Flashing skulls indicate dead dismounted units.
Equipment from several Allied nations appears in the game: US Army and Marine Corps, Canadian Army, the Australian Army, and the New Zealand Army. Also included is the enemy of freedom everywhere: the dreaded and ubiquitous Opposing Force (OPFOR). There is a photo file of most of the games equipment, so you can see what you are killing.
Go to Part II.
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Last Updated January 5th, 1999