Five Men At Kursk | Fortified Niche Playtest!

The podcast finally gets to play a game by the absolute indie wargame legend Ivan “Nordic Weasel” Sorensen (though it’s not the first time for this blog). It’s Five Guys at Kursk and they’re feeling fine (as long as nobody rolls a 1 or a 6).

As a strange kind of nominative determinism would have it, Five Men at Kursk is about controlling around five guys. Well, you’re likely to have more, but not much more. You’re also very unlikely to activate all of them in one turn.
Most tests in the game are resolved by rolling D6s and looking for 1s and 6s. 1 is usually the OK result, and 6 is the good one. For example, a rifle rolls 1 Kill dice and 1 Shock dice. A 1 on the Kill die knocks the target down and a friend has to come pick him up. A 6 removes him from the table.
Five Men at Kursk also comes with plenty of tables to roll upon outside of combat. Need to generate characters to lead your squad? Need to see what equipment they have? Don’t know how to populate the map with terrain? There’s a table for that!
This tabletop is brought to you by combining the dice results from the previous screenshot with a table that tells you what to put down. A fairly nice looking battlefield, I’d say!
The impression we had was that the action is fast and fluid. The order system means that you’re not activating everyone on the same turn, the dice results are easy, and the tables are small. With practice, it would probably be the fastest World War 2 game to run.
The downsides come mainly from ambiguities in the text as well. Sure, it’s extremely helpful to have authorial intent clearly spelled out, but putting the foot down more often would help. That and more scenarios. The book itself could be easier to navigate as well.
Taking it all together, Five Men at Kursk is easiest, cheapest way to get into WW2 miniature gaming. You only need that many minis and this much space. You scale it up from there if you want. Or you can run the campaign. Or you can play as-is and explore the pleasures of random support unit tables. Whatever you choose, the author explicitly supports it.
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