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Mad Dogs With Guns - a review

For years I have wanted to play 1920s & 30's Gangster games, put have never managed to get into the project due to a number of factors - no figures, no scenery and no rules.

 Earlier this year fellow blogger cmnash sent me a copy of issue 57 of "Wargames Soldiers & Strategy" magazine that featured 1920's Gangsters. I read every article relating to the topic within the magazine several times, purchased my first Gangster figure, and then did nothing further about it.

 Until now that is.

 Very recently a set of rules was released called "Mad Dogs With Guns" that is in PDF format. The teasers online was enough to catch my attention and I wanted to know more.

 I asked a question about the game's campaign system on TMP and the author of the rules promptly replied, as well as letting me know a printed version of the rules was released.

 After umming and ahring about the pros and cons of getting either the PDF version or the book version I decided on the PDF set.

 Regardless on the format of the rules, I am glad I purchased them, as they appear to be a simple yet enjoyable set of rules.  Disclaimer - this is based on reading the rules and creating my gang for game play.

The basics of the game are very simple - game turns are based on drawing cards to see which side gets to activate a figure or figures. Once an action has been decided/acted on, another card is drawn.
 This allows for one player to potentially have more than one action in a row, making for some tense moments - such as when your Boss is out in the open trying to get in to cover and a group of enemy hoodlums are closing in on him.

 Two joker cards are in the turn deck, the use of which ends a game turn. This can mean a turn ends before some of your figures get to act for the turn.

 The basic game mechanics are very simple - roll a die vs the relevant stat of the gangster making the action.

 If the result indicates a success, roll a die to see the outcome.

Creating a Gang is a bit of fun too.  Each player has a budget with which to hire and equip gang members. You can either use pre-generated gangsters, build your own or roll dice to determine the make up of each gangster.

 A variety of Gang themes are provided from an Italian Crime Syndicate, to tough Irish Gangs and even Chinese Tongs. Players are free to choose the background of the gang they outfit.

A good number of scenarios are provided in the book, with players fighting to gain the most loot. Loot is important, as it allows you to hire new gang members, bribe officials and improve the gang members you already have.

 If your gang becomes "too successful" they can expect a visit from the Police or the G-Men, and this is covered in the rules as well.

 A simple yet very effective campaign system is included in the rules, and this was the key selling point for myself.

 I love a campaign.  I especially love to create characters for a game and follow their 'career' as they struggle to survive each scenario.

After spending money collecting figures, painting them and making the scenery to go around them I want to get my money's worth and maximise their usage. The best way to do this is play a campaign.

 The fact that "Mad Dogs with Guns" has a campaign system was very important in my decision to get the rules.

 The campaign system in "Mad Dogs with Guns" is designed to get the maximum mayhem and violence out of the rules possible while players attempt to expand their empire and take control of the city.

 Players can hire and bribe city officials, wage war on other gangs, expand their business interests, or fight to hold on to what empire they have.

I also feel that it would be easy to play this game solo. The scenarios certainly can be played solo due to the card activation system, and I am already thinking of ways to use the campaign system for a solo game to.

So, if you have ever wanted to play a 1920's Gangster wargame please consider "Mad Dogs With Guns" - PDF version can be purchased at Wargames Vault/RPG Drive through etc.

My next post on these rules will be to present the Gang I have created for game play.


Mathyoo said...


Following with interest here!

Brummie said...

Sounds good mate. You'd only need a handful of models the rest would be scenery. I have a few Copplesone Gangster that i've done nothing with yet. Might dig them out and give them a lick of paint

cmnash said...

sounds good Shelldrake. The cover says "20s and beyond" - so would they be easy enough to use for modern/near-future gangs?

Shelldrake said...

@cmnash - the setting and weapons cover the 1920's and 30's, but it would be very easy to adapt this to modern settings.

Simply change some of the crimes in the campaign to say 'ID theft', 'Drug smuggling' or 'Car jacking' for example and you have a great campaign for modern gangs.

Change rifle to automatic rifle and allow an extra die or two to roll when attacking and you have an M16 or AK 74.

cmnash said...

Cool! Thanks Shelldrake; I'll get a copy of the rules soon