Monday, February 16, 2015

One - Hour Wargames WWII Batrep: #8 Melee, p.2

The rules are given an overview in my January 27th post here:
Question is - how much humble pie will I have to eat after this playtest, if any??

The Batrep part 1 with the scenario is in the preceding post.

Below picture. The situation from the approaching British point of view. Infantry in the woods [take half Hits].  ATGs on the hill [they get no benefit from the woods or the hill - too big and easy to see?].  Two objectives at the pass just for show.  The artillery to the back left will enter Turn 3 [it's sitting on board for show].  British lined up along the right edge.

Start positions, Italian angle below.  The artillery [Mortars] actually start just off the edge where they are positioned, forgot to take them off for the picture.  The Italians start with two Units. I chose Infantry and ATGs hoping they'd hold off the expected armor onslaught for a few Turns.  This may have been an error as Tanks are the best counter to Tanks in 1HW.

End of Turn 1.  Italians have the first move, but there wasn't any reason to re-position and nothing to shoot at.  This is probably a scenario error that should be corrected.  The Tank platoons cut left.  Rulers show the 6" by 3" "stands" that I don't have.  Instead, I deployed all the stands on about a 6" frontage. The howitzer tanks are acting as the British Mortar platoon, but I forgot they only move 6" a turn - they sure _look like_ tanks!  So they took up position behind the hill a turn early but then again I wouldn't have put them behind the hill if they were Mortars since they get no benefit from it, only Tanks on a hill get a half-Hit benefit. So it was a wash either way.  
As there's no moving and shooting in the rules, the Brits couldn't shoot turn 1 either.

End of Turn 2.  No movement and all fired.  The infantry managed to roll a '5' inflicting three Hits on Tank 2.  But the combined firepower of two Tank platoons and the Mortars [who get d6+2] was pretty brutal, and even being in the woods resulted in eight Hits, halfway to heaven!  One problem is that with the ranges of Infantry, ATGs and Armor being the same, one can't position ATGs [or any Unit] to give supporting fire.  And since there's no short-range shooting there's no reason to get close where supporting fire matters.  Plus there's no hidden Units so you can't accidentally wander into the range of defending Units.  One just picks the right angle and blasts away on an isolated Unit.  So far very much like Flames of War [FoW] in terms of the decision processes of a player.  However, tactically FoW has Gone to Ground, Pinning, and Smoke that affect the execution, among other things.

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End of Turn 3 above and below.  Italian Infantry 2 arrive on road in Trucks.  Note that the Trucks are just for show in this case.  The Italian artillery [Mortar Unit] is now on the corner of the board at top left.  Italian shooting by the Infantry was ineffective.  Their attack roll is a d6-2 v. Tanks, so the '2' was zero hits.  The Infantry and Mortars that entered as reinforcements cannot shoot on the move.  Meanwhile, the Brits concentrated three Units again on the Infantry and did 9 Hits by rolling very very well, but they'd have had to roll poorly to permit the Infantry to last another turn in the woods, anyway.
Italian Bersaglieri "advancing to the rear."  What the Infantry in the trucks think, I don't know since there's no morale rules!  We left some clean foxholes for you guys...

End of Turn 4 below.  Italian Infantry drove up behind the hill.  The ATGs did good work against Tank 2 but took a lot of Hits somehow.  Obviously I messed up since the Tank Units can't shoot after moving, so the ATGs should have two Hits from the Mortar Unit. Entering Tank Units 3 and 4,and an Infantry Unit in trucks up the road [again, the Trucks are just for looks].  The Brits call their Infantry "Motor Platoons", btw.  Again, rulers show spacing.

End of Turn 5.  Italian Infantry Unit seeks the woods and cover.  ATGs do some more damage to Tank 2.  Tank 3 and 4 begin to outflank the woods, threatening the Italian infantry in the open while the Motor Platoon dismounts and advances upon the unoccupied woods - surely a good plan for both Infantry?  Maybe not - Infantry in the open get crushed...

End of Turn 6.  Italian Infantry 2 stays put and shoots Tank 3, while the ATGs desperately seek to achieve something before they get wiped out this turn.  They roll poorly and get Tank 2 up to 13 Hits, but don't destroy them.  Still, they are one shot away from destroyed so Tank 2 pulls back hoping to be used for some small purpose in the future.  The ATGs get seen off while the Italian Infantry 2 get slammed by tanks and Mortars.  However the Italian Mortar Unit did good service, rolling a natural '6' +2 v. Infantry, and putting the hurt on the Motor Platoon advancing on the empty woods.  Italian Turn 6 reinforcements arriving at the top, two files of tanks advancing at a 6 x 2" front.
Above, British Tank 3 to left outflanking Italian position.  Tank 2 center rear trying to stay alive with 14 of15 Hits!  Tank 4 is shifting right to join Tank 1 in the Big Push to counter the Italian armor.  Note that when you can't move and shoot, the stationary Unit effectively gets to shoot first without any special rules.  So you need to think a turn ahead as to where you want to contest the ground and get there "firstest with the mostest". A very simple way to handle a reality that I messed up v. the ATGs, but live and learn...

End of Turn 7.  Italian Tank 1 and 2 continue to advance and threaten the British right flank. Infantry 2 occupy the woods while the Mortars Hit the advancing Motor Platoon.  British Mortars hit Infantry 2 for three more.  British Tank 1 and 4 swing right against the Italian Tanks, while Tank 3 advances to wipe out the Italian Mortars.  Tank 4 hides near the hill at bottom right, trying to stay alive for any useful purpose.  Stupid place to put them, really.

Top of Turn 8.  Italian Tank 1 and 2 don't move and shoot instead - they put the hurt on Brit Tank 4, doing 12 Hits total!  Infantry 2 routs the Motor Platoon which dashes back to their trucks for a quick exit back to base for a brew [the Desert Rat sludge called 'tea' elsewhere].

Bottom of Turn 8.  British reciprocate putting serious hurt on Italian Tank 1, and 5 Hits on the Mortars, and rout Infantry 2 despite the cover of woods. Brit Tank 2 creeps out back to the road, hoping to shift left while the Italians have their attention otherwise occupied.  This actually isn't the case, as a game without pinning and morale always rewards total elimination of a Unit when possible.  But the Italians are well out of range...

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End of Turn 9, above and below.  Italians lose Tank 1 and the Mortars are looking a little shaky.  Brits lose Tank 1 and succeed in hiding marginal Tank 2 behind the woods.  Italian situation not looking good.  The Brits have two intact Tank Units and the Mortars, and one weak Tank Unit.  The Italians have one fresh Tank platoon and some battered Mortars.

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End of Turn 10, above and below.  The Brits aggressively re-position Tank 3 between the Italian Tank 2 and Mortars, threatening both.  Altho they cannot shoot this turn due to moving, they are fresh so can withstand attack from the Italian armor, forcing it to either move or face destruction next turn.
End of 10, above, battered British armoured platoons hide.  The Italian mortars have a LoS from Italian Tank 2 at British Tank 1 to the right altho the Tank 2 at the hill is quite safe. The Italian Mortars are d6-2 attacking them but why not? At 13 Hits a roll of 4+ will result in the last two Hits, wiping them out, 50% chance, go for it!.  A big roll and...
A natural '6' but ON THE FLOOR!!  House rules mean this is a re-roll, and of course that roll is a '2' and there is no effect.  Note to self, do NOT miss the table on important rolls lest you waste a '6'!  ARRRGH!
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End of Turn 11 above.  The Italians re-positioned themselves but took withering fire while doing so, and are up to 9 Hits.  The Mortars rolled a natural '6' which helped but Tank 1 rolled a 3+2=5 which was even better.  Tank v. Tank combat in this game is pretty deadly, by design.  Meanwhile, the British Tank 3 has positioned itself both on the objective and with a terrain advantage [half Hits].  This is a significant threat and a winning maneuver.

Turn 12, the end.  The Italian Tank 2's attempted dash resulted in the destruction of British Tank 3.  But despite a total miss by the Mortars, the Brit Tank 4 rolled a natural '6' for 8 Hits on the heroic Sons of Italy, putting them well over 15 Hits for destruction and a win.  Note that a '1' would've resulted in 3 Hits, putting them at 12 total.  But there still wasn't anywhere for the Italian armor to go, and the British Tank 4 and Mortars would've eventually knocked them out.  Probably British Tank 2 with 14 Hits would've been lost in the process.  So little chance for a win at that point, but worth a try.  Better to go down swinging, eh?

Overall impression
So I will say that my initial impression is that it is fun to play this game.  Most of the decisions I had to make made sense, a few needed thoughtful justification, but it was pretty realistic overall, as long as one accepts that one is a company commander, and not also the platoon lieutenant and gunner Snuffy.  I did feel like I was making decisions at the right level such as "go there, engage the infantry in the woods" etc.  It was quite a relief to not have to micromanage the battle.

Amazed at how the decisions presented to the player generally were very similar to those in a big, complicated game like FoW, altho the options for tactical play were much more limited.  The subtle modifiers for things like Gone to Ground, close range, Veterans, etc, just don't exist. Interestingly, they are the things that add the most realism for the least complexity in FoW.  All the blather of details and options don't actually change the game much, and one still usually loses on basic tactical concepts that are forgotten in the heaps of modifiers, special rules, etc.  But the core of IGOUGO and the d6 are all there, so the decisions the player faces are very similar to a FoW game.

It is worth remembering that the Infantry Units contain LAW and MAW such as light ATGs, plus HMGs etc, attached and integral to them in this game.  The ATG Units are therefore heavier ATGs that don't integrate well.  I think they therefore need a longer range of 24", and the Tanks need a longer range of 24", but it should be substantially penalized not because the guns aren't accurate but because it's hard to see and identify small targets in the heat of battle at a long distance, telescopic sights notwithstanding.

I also miss there being an assault mechanic.  While this mainly represents point-blank fire and hand grenades rather than the bayonet, it is both realistic and useful.  As there is a Hand-to-Hand mechanic in other rulesets of the book, it will be easy to steal it.

One important thing to note is that the force composition I used was based upon what I had and how good it looked.  Of course I do have more infantry stands but they're continental German, and I at least wanted desert stands for the desert.  The typical force composition is below.  Note that the requirement is at least half infantry, and in the 1HW force matrix you roll randomly for the force you have, and you can also roll for the scenario. A good challenge to not be able to pick every detail of a force, and it will certainly help you to be a better infantry tactician!  

Force composition
3-4 Infantry
0-2 Mortars
0-2 ATGs
0-2 Tanks

OK, so these were better than I thought!  While there are definitely a few things that I think are needed, it's not as much as I thought.  This will definitely require some consideration and kicking around.  I'll definitely play this exact scenario again, and I have to admit it motivates me to paint up some British infantry and guns that were languishing in boxes! And getting us motivated to play is an important part of any set of rules, is it not?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the WW2 RAW playing report. It sort of tallied with what I thought of the WW2 rules - it gives a good game, but would need just a few bits for more WW2 flavour.

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