2021 Holiday Tournament Semifinals: Tactical-Level Games

Semifinals- Tactical

Author’s Note: Tactical will post in the early afternoon and I hope to have Central Front Operational written up and posted by this evening. It might not be up until tomorrow, though. I’m starting the year by purchasing an automobile….Ugh. Today will be fun. 😊


#5 Fire Team vs #2 MBT

These two titles have strikingly similar roots and origins. Tactical level wargames centered on NATO-Warsaw Pact platoon and company-sized battles in West Germany in a hypothetical future war. Fire Team is a balanced tactical game and the same holds true for MBT despite the fact the title might make it seem otherwise.

Rules– It might come as a surprise to some folks that some tactical-level games have extremely detailed and complicated sets of rules. MBT and Fire Team do not fall into this trap. The rules for both games are concise and easy to grasp. There are no ‘stupid rules’ that weigh down gameplay, which is a major plus. Neither game gets the advantage here.

Game Mechanics– Both Fire Team and MBT have been lauded by critics and gamers alike for their game systems and mechanics. Fire Team’s system is very similar to Advance Squad Leader, not too heavy. Nor does it skimp on the realism and fun. MBT is no less fun, however the combat system and mechanics are somewhat heavier. Given the amount of detail MBT has to offer this doesn’t come as a surprise. Nor does it hamper gameplay. This category is another stalemate.

Playability– Games become classics because they are remain fun and playable over time. Both games rate high on the playability chart, but I give the edge to MBT because the initial game offered US, Soviet and West German forces. Fire Team only had US and Soviet units and equipment.  Advantage-MBT

Maps/Counters– For a classic game, MBT’s counters and maps are lacking. The counters are drab and the color selection is not great. Its maps are also too small for heavy-maneuver warfare in my opinion. Fire Team’s maps are only somewhat better, but I do prefer its counters to MBT. Samples below.

Advantage: Fire Team

Impact on Wargaming Culture- As stated above, both games are classics with dedicated groups of fans and followers. MBT succeeded in remaining relevant during the immediate post-Cold War years while Fire Team sort of fell by the wayside for a while before enjoying a more recent comeback. Unfortunately for it, MBT also enjoyed a resurgence that resulted in a second edition being printed in 2016. MBT takes the win for this category and it’s enough to put the game over the top.

Winner: MBT

4 Replies to “2021 Holiday Tournament Semifinals: Tactical-Level Games”

  1. The following is offered for the benefit of folks coming here who decide to read all the Holiday Tournament posts (otherwise, my apologies for commenting on an old post). Your point about MBT’s maps are well taken, and the more so in conjunction with your earlier comment about the turret counters, etc. In fact,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No apology needed. I’m always grateful for input and I’m sure folks will be checking out the Holiday Tournament posts in the future 🙂


    2. crud, fat fingered — I recommend that MBT owners actually _play_ the game using VASSAL. Much easier to manage.

      MBT and Fire Team are my two favorite Cold War tactical games. Fire Team is currently being reworked as Kontact Now: Fire Team, and a sequel is in the works (in playtest, I think) — Kontact Now: Boonie Rats, covering Vietnam. (*incessant playing of “Fortunate Son” intensifies*)

      Liked by 1 person

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