Clash on the Fringe is a game of "space adventure combat", with lots of rules for weapons, weird units, psychic abilities, etc. One figure represents one person/alien/tentacle beast. Dice are D10s, measurements in inches, average force in a game is 20-40 figures and maybe a few vehicles. The game is sort of a mash-up of 80s wargames and sci-fi. In each turn, players roll for initiative to activate their units. When activated, units can either move and fire, sneak around, assault, etc. Reaction fire can interrupt your movement (though it's nowhere near as dominant as Ivan's other game, No Stars in Sight).
Combat is simple: you try to roll your Training or lower to hit a target, and then try to kill or stun it with a survival roll. Automatic weapons affect areas 1"x3" or larger. When troops are forced to go "Heads Down," they are essentially pinned.
The game has some nifty ideas with command and control (saving your best troops to go last is a good idea, but you may end up getting the occasional "whammy" that prevents you from activating one of those units). Leaders can order subordinates around with extra actions. Heroic individuals are harder to kill.
Our scenario featured a group of scrappy colonial militia (plastic EM-4 miniatures) fighting against a squad of tough Unity marines (Starship Troopers MI). The militia were fairly poor troops (Training and Discipline 4). The Unity had better armor (Survival 6) and had grenade launchers. Some of the milita carried only pistols.
The game was a basic meeting engagement. The militia drew first blood, killing a Unity trooper as he crossed a ridgeline. Heavy contact followed—the Unity’s grenade launchers were their main killer, keeping the militia Heads Down and killing several. A heavy firefight developed in an area of overgrown ruins, with militia fighters running forward to throw grenades and spray with their automatic weapons. Each side suffered numerous casualties; 2 Unity casualties were due to disastrous friendly fire from their grenade launchers (like any classic 80s sci-fi game, Clash on the Fringe has deviation and drift for its explosive weapons).
The Unity’s superior training and armor finally won through, destroying two whole militia squads. Final casualty toll was 13 militia casualties (out of 19). Unity losses were 7 (out of 13), with 2 of those from those deviating grenades.
The game played quickly (about 2 hours, with our frequent pauses to check the rules since this was our first game). It reminded me of playing 2nd Edition Warhammer 40k. I plan to use these rules to play in the Grimdarknessgrimskulls 40k universe.
All figures are from Russ Canady’s collection. The playing surface is simple fabric. The alien trees, also by Russ, are plastic floral pieces from a craft store. The ruins and crashed spaceship are GW pieces. We played at Myth, a gaming and comic book store in McAllen, TX.