Roughneck Country is the sequel to Rolling Thunder, in which The Regiment – a GEV-mounted mercenary group apparently based on David Drake's Hammers Slammers – is contracted to put down a miners rebellion. There are 12 linked scenarios – six for Dirtside, six for Stargunt.
The same campaign system is provided as was seen in Rolling Thunder. Basically, each player starts with a certain amount of Logistics Points, and must spend them to play each scenario, repair or replace lost units, or buy extra forces (in some scenarios); points are earned through rout or destruction of the enemy, and by meeting victory conditions; if your points are gone, you lose the campaign. One problem is that if you analyze the system, the StarGrunt scenarios are generous in terms of points, but the Dirtside scenarios are quite costly (you can easily lose more forces than you can afford to replace). As in the previous product, the system still refers to Intelligence Points and Full Thrust scenarios (neither are used in this campaign), and claims some scenarios are 'unique' (can only be played once per campaign) while others are repeatable, which contradicts the author's comments (on the previous book) that all scenarios should be 'Unique.' And as in the previous book, while it makes sense for The Regiment to track its losses in terms of Logistics Points, having the opposition – in this book, the Thunderbolt Division, mercenaries employed by the miners – do so makes little sense, since they field a new force in almost every scenario.
Stats are provided for Thunderbolt Division vehicles (mostly slow, tracked vehicles): the Mamba MBT, Black Rhino tank destroyer, Dragon self-propelled artillery, Minerva command vehicle, and Destrier APC. The scenario book does not state this, but based on the author's previous comments, I believe he intends for the Division player to be restricted to these vehicle designs only. Unfortunately, the author provides no suggestions on where these vehicles can be purchased as models.
Stats are not provided for The Regiment's vehicles – and since the author has said the previous book should be played with the designs provided in Rolling Thunder, I would assume he intends the same with Roughneck Country. Therefore, you need the stats from Rolling Thunder to play Roughneck Country scenarios.
Another problem for the StarGrunt scenarios is that squad size is left undefined. (In StarGrunt, higher-tech forces such as The Regiment usually have smaller squads compared to lower-tech forces.)
A major change between this book and Rolling Thunder is in the campaign design. In the first book, the players played scenarios that were roughly similar, except that the point limits changed so that there was a progression from imbalance in favor of The Regiment to imbalance in favor of the opposing force by the end of the campaign. In this product, the difference in point levels is much less, though still going from giving a benefit to The Regiment at the start, to balanced scenarios at the end of the campaign. (However, the campaign system may limit a player from fielding all the points available in a scenario, if he's taken a beating in terms of Logistics Points – though the campaign rules aren't 100% clear on this, and the author provided me with conflicting answers about this.)
One problem is that victory conditions are often in terms of reaching an objective with some percent of your forces, but it doesn't specify how to measure this (number of stands? point totals? including offboard assets?).
All of the scenarios are vague, and will need considerable filling out by the consumer. No maps are provided, or even suggestions of table size (the author told me 4' x 6' would be the standard size).
Some scenarios lack tactical challenge, such as a StarGrunt scenario in which infantry simply deploy on a featureless blacktop and open fire on each other. In one of the Dirtside scenarios, the Regiment must fight his way up the tabletop, limited to a 1' wide corridor of passable terrain, while the enemy can deploy freely.
One type of scenario - an assault on a city - is reused multiple times, with only minor changes in forces or mission. Another scenario gives the Regiment only 10 turns to find hostages, in a building of unknown size (the standard 4' x 6' tabletop?) and design.
The author seems unaware that The Regiment, with its GEV-mounted force, should find water no obstacle - so the scenarios about river crossing or fighting their way up a coastal highway just make no sense. (If he intends the vehicles to operate as they do in the Hammers Slammers series, then he should offer rules for how to handle that in Dirtside.)
One scenario confusingly mixes a large river, a damaged bridge, engineer units and bridgelayers, with confusing victory conditions that make it unclear if The Regiment is supposed to lay a new bridge, repair the old one, or ignore both and just make for the far map edge. No stats for engineer units are provided. No rules are provided for crossing such a large river (Dirtside only envisions minor water obstacles) or repairing a bridge.
The Division player sometimes get the assistance of the miners/rebels, but no stats for them are provided. One scenario calls for 2,000 points of rebels - which, assuming they are militia-grade infantry, would be 133 stands of infantry!
Several of the scenarios are cityfights, but the author fails to define the terrain in Dirtside terms (isolated buildings or urban terrain).
The cover art – showing a MBT GEV in a desert – has no connection with the contents of the scenario book.
While this product has some good ideas, it reads more like someone's notes on a campaign he'd like to run someday, rather than a product that has been tested and developed.
I was unable to contact the author to get his answers for the specific problems I found in this product, as he is refusing to speak to me after my last review...