I've had a good read through the rules a few times now and having played BlitzKrieg Commander I have a decent grasp of how the mechanics (at least those not specific to sci-fi) play out. Here's my thoughts on the rule-set as it stands.
Core Game Mechanics
As you'll probably know this game is based on the Warmaster mechanic
, essentially this means that 'command' units, which have a 'Command Value' (CV) between 6-10, roll 2d6 and have to score equal or under the CV to give their battle-group an order. Units can receive as many orders per turn (moving, shooting deploying etc) as the commander can past command tests, albeit with modifiers which decrease the chances of success for each action, distance, obstructions etc. Without regurgitating the rulebook this means that the fog of war is well modelled, if you roll well you units can bound across the table and level city blocks, however, the flip-side is that if you suck with dice (e.g. Anatoli) you will be serially disappointed as your elite infantry sit around scratching their blue arses. I think so long as you can take setbacks philosophically and don't want a 'tournament game' this won't be a major issue.
I've talked about the shooting mechanics for BKC on my previous post and these are the same so I won't go into it again. Something I find irritating about the rules is that whilst there is a distinction between soft and hard targets the units stats don't let you show this difference for each weapons system, your weapon either attacks both types of target equally or one not at all. So, for example, shooting your ion cannon at tanks and infantry might give you 4/80 (4d6, 60cm range) against both targets when you want the weapon significantly more powerful against tanks and less so against infantry. The same kind of problem emerges in close assault, units have an Assault value for attacking all units, soft and hard. I find it hard to believe that infantry with fists, assault rifles and grenades would be as effective at tank hunting as fighting infantry. This is even more problematic in a sci fi setting because you cannot assume that all races/creatures even have anti-tank weaponry at all, or the intelligence to target a tank's weak areas. I know you could just wave some hands and say the bugs have acid blood or the troops all have disposable bazookas but it just takes the granularity out of the system, a key component in my mind of any generic sci-fi game system. I think I may have to tweak this.
Technology and Army Lists
The website boasts that the book covers a large plethora of science fiction technology and this is true, there are some cool gagets like shields, shield domes, plasma weapons, teleporters and smart missiles. However, I felt that seeing as its a sci-fi book this section needed to be longer and include things like ion weapons and micromissiles, although admittedly its no real effort to make up rules for these and add them in.
I was quite impressed with the army doctrines section which gives ideas on how to model armies with different structures and psychologies, this is a key element to a generic sci-fi game and I'm really glad they put it in. However, I'm not entirely sure how to get the best out of it, the technology level of the forces (which imo could have done with either an 'ultra' or 'mid' level in addition to primitive, contemporary and hi-tech) gives a reduction in total number of points you can take, the army doctrines seem to impose no reductions or points modifications despite the fact that the cyborg doctrine appears to make armies considerably more powerful. I may have to enquire further about this on the forum.
The book certainly looks good, I'd have liked more pictures (who doesn't?) but as a whole the book is well written and presented with some really nice, well painted armies (sadly mostly 6mm and 28mm as this book predated the recent 15mm sci-fi rush). Its mostly in black and white with colour sections but this is only to be expected, after all, they are a small publishing house.
Overall I'm excited about this book, there's some great mechanics and potential in there I just think it needs some tweaking to make it the game that I want to play. I intend to use FWC as a chasis on to which I can bolt additional rules and bits and bobs to create something which fits with what I want my 15mm sci-fi armies to be like.