Review: Ulster Games – Squadron AIU


Squadron AIU
Squadron AIU is a military sci-fi setting and system written by name and published by Ulster Games.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Squadron here
Download Squadron AIU here

Squadron AIU is a new military sci-fi setting powered by a unique game system. Depicting a not-too-far future version of Earth, it pits humans in a battle of survival (essentially) against a couple of ancient races from across the cosmos. At its core, the Squadron AIU mechanics are designed to embrace the militay sci-fi theme in a couple different ways. The basics of the game include a roll-under d100 target number system, simple enough, but when you move to the system’s handling of weapons, it truly takes a different approach on how difficult it can be to handle different types of weapons and how deadly one can be over another.

CONTENT

Squadron AIU starts with a look at the different Solar Systems. There are 20 different solar systems listed here with a brief look at what they are and their population (where applicable).

Races briefly discusses the different races involved in the Squadron AIU setting. This is not a look at the different character races but rather a look at all the races involved in the setting’s fluff. This is a little odd as there are only mechanics to play as a human. Non-player character races should exist outside of the explanation of the player character race(s) in an adversaries chapter, combined with additional fluff.

Introduction discusses the Squadron AIU game system. This starts with an introduction to role-playing and then moves to character creation, skills, and the core mechanics. This concludes with the damage and ranged attack charts for combat.

Following this is an inclusion of Weapons, Equipment, Hand-to-Hand Weapons, and Armour.

Next is a collection of NPCs and into a short comic book.

Squadron AIU concludes with two pre-made missions, a historical time-line, and costs for items characters can buy.

OVERALL

Squadron AIU is an interesting setting with some good military sci-fi mechanics. While it is plagued with extremely poor editing, it does have some great ideas for handling sci-fi combat and probably scales well from a warfare stand-point. The setting could use some really good sourcebooks to boost its fluff and embrace its mechanics better (by providing more character options), but what’s there is a pretty good start.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 4 out of 10
The cover of Squadron AIU really grab your attention to the possibility of an awesome looking book with some really kick-ass art. While the publication has a collection of great art, much of it is used twice throughout the book and don’t really match up with other pieces of art that fall flat compared to what you see on the cover. The publication’s layout and format is very simple, and sometimes moves from decent to visually unappealing. Even the background doesn’t quite look right as the background frame is mirrored from left and right pages, but the background is not. This produces a very odd effect while looking at a two-page view.

Squadron AIU suffers from one major drawback: it has some of the worst editing I have ever seen. At times, the grammar is extremely poor and the number of misspelled/misused words is unbelievable. Much of content is difficult to read due to the high number of editing errors and I often found myself rereading the content just to figure out what it meant.

Mechanics: 8 out of 10
Content and editing aside, Squadron AIU has an extremely interesting approach to handling combat and weapons. It allows the designers to create a military sci-fi setting where there is an extremely high number of different weapon types with damage capabilities that vary from one to another. By assigning each weapon a type and power value that are cross-referenced on a static damage chart, you don’t have to create unique mechanics to handle each type of weapon. In addition, you don’t have to define how one weapon should be more difficult to handle than another, it’s all right there on the chart. You check your values and your target number is right there on the chart. In addition, they take a unique approach to how damage is assigned. Instead of stating one weapon does X wounds in a static fashion, each weapon’s power has different damaging effects to different parts of the body. While this isn’t something you would want in space opera or epic fantasy system, it makes a lot of sense in a military sci-fi setting where ranged combat is the norm.

The rest of the mechanics are written in a rules-light fashion allowing players and GMs the ability to focus more on the unique characteristics of military sci-fi settings rather than worrying about trivial things such as an abundance of skills to handle minute things.

Desire to Play: 7 out of 10
Military sci-fi is the sci-fi version of hack-n-slash. Squadron AIU embraces that by creating unique mechanics to handle the complicated differences between weapons and one’s ability to handle them. With that in mind, if you like sci-fi hack-n-slash, then a system such as this may be very intriguing as it has a lot of crunch to recreate those high-powered combat often seen in miniatures wargames or even futuristic military warfare. In other words, if you like lots of big guns and cool mechanics to govern them, then you should give Squadron AIU a look.

Overall: 6 out of 10
Squadron AIU is a system and setting with lots of potential. If you can get past the horrible editing and poor grammar, you’ll find a lot of cool mechanics to recreate sci-fi combat, almost like taking a wargame and turning it into a role-playing game. Plus the characters on the cover look really cool.

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