Friday, January 4, 2019

Neil Thomas "Wargaming: An Introduction" WWII - Blue on Blue

This is a continuing appreciation of these rules. Because they are a bit on the short side, and missing a few key items, *ahem, Line of Sight, *ahem, one could easily dismiss them as being unrealistic or unsatisfying - however, they are neither. Lots of games can get you from...

this assault on a town:

to clearing it successfully:

But the real question for a satisfying game is "how did you get there", rather than just "getting there". So this is another in-depth investigation of these interesting and pretty simple set of WWII rules from "Wargaming: An Introduction" by Neil Thomas.

Last time I posted on these rules [CLICK] the fight was Blue on Red. This time, we're having some Blue on Blue action, which is intended to push me to paint my British, as well as provide a fun narrative.

The CCNN are engaged in maneuvers with the Pavia Division, and on this end of the training ground are occupying Objective Mangiare, which counts as a town. Pavia must execute a planned and coordinated attack, while the CCNN must hold the objective.

The board is considered to have enough micro terrain that Infantry have Cover. The Town counts as buildings, the road as Open.The brush and plowed fields to top left, the brush and woods to top right, the two areas of rough at bottom right, and the hill at bottom left all block same level LoS. So basically, all terrain except the road is Cover, making Infantry a 4+ to Hit instead of a 2+ for Open ground. The road is very dangerous!

Pavia is represented by Tenente Rinaldi's infantry platoon. It is attacking with: four squads, command team with attached LMG and FO, an HMG and two semovente [both have LMG, one has a Medium Gun the other has an HMG for main armament]. Effectively this is eight Units. It is easy to translate gear into this game - thankfully.

The CCNN under Tenente Ragu is defending with four rifle teams [no LMGs], a platoon HQ team with attached FO, an attached Mortar and light ATG elefante round things out to six effective platoons with a couple of extra teams like the political officer staff team. They also have a CCNN Hero who will replace any teams that get, well, heroical!

The CCNN elefante is very small and easy to hide. To prevent Pavia - and me - from knowing where it is, I picked four locations and will reveal the markers as needed - the actual gun is the black one. I mix them and place them on the four corners of the town. In previous plays  I found that putting the gun farther back rendered it useless as the tanks would keep the town between them and the gun.

Game Start. CCNN put two squads within the town, two in the brush to either side, and back from the edge - LoS is only 4cm to them. Tenente Ragu is to left and the political officer is in the town, doubtless hanging about at the only cafe when he isn't putting up motivational posters. The Mortar is way back left and the FO to the right, so there should be eyes on most parts of the table, even from the start.

Pavia deploys to the left. The defense is balanced to both sides, so no real advantage either way, and there may be a chance to knock out the Mortar along the way. From left, squad with FO above, HMG, Tenente's squad, squad, semovente da 75/18, squad, command semovente with HMG, squad. All squads have LMG, one SMG and the 6-7 rifles.

Turn 1 starts with general Advance by Pavia. Infantry are vulnerable during an advance, but the defense is laying low and out of LoS which means out of Direct Fire for now. WAI-WWII has a pretty strong penalty for moving fire, so it is usually better to let the enemy advance while pounding them with HMG fire and Artillery - they may get the first shot, but it probably won't be a great shot. 

I feel like the rules do a good job with this phase of a battle. So "CHECK" that block! 

The FO attempts to call in Mortar Fire but rolls a '1' so gets zero dice - no effect. [there's only one step to Artillery indirect fire - you roll a dice to see how many dice you get, the result varies from 0-10, then you roll them against a Target Unit - not a template. Simple, and gets the same results faster than most mechanics, altho it admittedly has less "feel" for the process, which some really like].

Forgot to mention that the Artillery FO types can see through the brush, but not hill town or woods - I assume they've put more effort into spotting and have better gear. This means that IDF is a bit more flexible than direct fire, if less reliable.

CCNN Turn 1. All Squads move up to Terrain edge to get LoS and open Fire. Most have effective Range. Hoping to deal some damage to the Pavia squads before they do it to me. Probably should've waited a bit longer, but we'll see...

Below Pavia squad is visible since not yet in the brush - CCNN takes a shot needing 4+ with their 7 dice [the NCO has an SMG which is out of Range] and gets three Hits. Target Saves on 5+ so gets none and takes 3 Hits, owing a morale check.

Squads in town have moved up, need a 4+ but now a 6+ since they moved. They drop 7 dice and get 2 Hits, neither of which is saved. This Pavia squad is pretty beat up already!

Two more CCNN squads fire, getting 1 and 0 Hits respectively. I use the red "splat" marker to identify a Unit that owes a check - the dice marks Hits the Unit has. Just realized that the '4' on the left didn't count - still trying to remember these rules! Mortar didn't do anything. My ATG is revealed at the top right of the town - worst possible result! They'll have to drag it to the other side, now.

Pavia Turn 2. Morale Phase has Squad on left pass morale needing 4+. On right get partial failure with '3' meaning half effective for the turn [half move, half fire].

HMG fires 6 dice getting 4 hits - two saves so 2 Hits and a morale check.

Pavia squad totally dumps on same squad, crushing them with 7/9 Hits! Only one is saved so the squad is wiped out! OK, now I wished I'd laid low longer...

Imagine my shock when another Pavia squad does the same thing against the town! 8/9 Hits but at least these clowns known when to get down and save 3. Still, 5 Hits...

Tanks open up with all they got, hitting and crushing Tenente Ragu's squad and the town.

...all is quiet on the Western Front...

Well, that'll learn me - Obviously there's way too much firepower available for the defenders to show their nose that soon. I should've waited until attackers got closer.

CCNN respond by inflicting one Hit on the LMG team left in front of them which is saved. Don't know why it's marked '3' with the green dice should be a '1'...knocked it over? When a squad takes enough Casualties to remove a base, I remove it and carry over the Hits. They'd '5' Casualties, so I removed a base leaving 1.

The remaining Infantry on the objective pull into the town while the ATG moves to the edge [and certain doom probably]. FO calls in the Mortar and it rolls for 10 dice - very available! Needing a 5+ it gets 4 Hits but only one Casualty thanks to some great Saves there.

Turn 3, Pavia Morale Check Phase. Squad that took one Hit has total failure and is suppressed. As they are the close squad supporting the attack on the town, that's good news. The tanks will have to go forward alone or wait for more infantry. And in this game tanks are pretty vulnerable to Infantry who get close to them.

Both tanks move up, and the infantry on the left move up. Center infantry is pinned. 
 Moving shot from the Semovente 75 manages a casualty on the ATG.

CCNN Turn 3 starts with ATG passing morale on a 4+, but is followed by disappointing mortar performance - only two rounds land and both miss.

This is followed by disappointing ATG performance - it hits on a '5' but to no effect on a '1'.

The squad to right does better, getting 3 hits with good old fashioned RIFLES, needing '6s' as the Pavia squad is at long Range in cover. They save one, and now the green dice is correct - 3 casualties...and they are gone. Overall, a disappointing turn with a 33% chance to knock out a tank and the Mortars both coming to little result.

Turn 4 Pavia on the right. The command semovente destroys the CCNN squad, getting 7/9 Hits which they match by saves. Arrivaderci amici!

Turn 4 Pavia left. All infantry move forward - 5 squads seem unstoppable right now. Artillery arrives with 4 dice and gets three hits on ATG - but two are saved.

Turn 4, CCNN. The ATG passes morale and then barely manages to hit the semovente 75 - fortunately, it was just the right hit, and the '5' destroys it. The CCNN cheer wildly! The mortars are a no-show this turn. And there's not much else left!

Turn 5 Pavia. Infantry continue their advance gaining a toehold in the town, and the command semovente lines up to provide fire support, managing to inflict 3 Hits on the CCNN squad hiding among the buildings. Mortar achieves nothing.

CCNN Turn 5. The Infantry and political officer attack the tank [!]. The ATG crew decide to fire small arms at the advancing enemy, and manage several Hits, but half are saved.

Mortars arrive and roll a '4' resulting in six rounds, but - all miss...faulty fuses?

The squad rolled a '3' for its morale check, so was at half fire / move for the turn. Fortunately, the tank was very close! Unfortunately, they missed all 6 dice [needed a '6' to destroy the tank]. Fortunately, the Political officer's team isn't just full of braggadocio, their bite is as bad as their bark - the three of them knock out the tank twice over! Or perhaps the political officer is well connected with the referee / trainers? The Italian Hero appears!

Pavia Turn 6 starts with a '3' half fail for the squad entering the town. During movement, the HMG and squad advance to the field edge on the left, while the other squads advance against the town. The CCNN respond by moving into contact with them with the Political hack and the Hero. The ATG crew then fires small arms against the HMG team, inflicting 3 Hits, and only one is Saved. Tenacious defense indeed!
In the ensuing Close Assault, the CCNN easily wipe out the partially suppressed squad - it only had 4 Soldiers and their factors were weakened by their morale. They had a total of 8 and then rolled a '1' for their multiplier giving them an 8 total. The CCNN had more people, better morale, and rolled average, for a total of about 100! Rolling well helps. The Pavia squad flees, but on the d6 roll for their casualties they only take '1' more!

Turn 7 Pavia. The gloves come off - it is time to finish these upstart fascists! The left squad unloads on the ATG rolling well and getting 6 Hits. However, I messed up the 2+ save on the ATG crew, and thought only two were saved.

The squads in the town get one unsaved Hit. Nearly the entire defense has a morale check to make and pass - could be a critical moment.
CCNN Turn 7. Morale goes OK with the squad passing easily but the ATG takes their one Casualty hard and becomes suppressed.

The Heroic Party Official's team inflict two Hits and only one is saved. The squad get three Hits and only one is saved - both teams now owe a morale check. This is critical because at this close range any squad that gets pinned can be assaulted and killed much more easily.

Turn 8 - Pavia Morale. Both pass easily, and the game remains up in the air, with the CCNN having 8 men and Pavia 10 men in the town. However, Pavia has good support still available.

They start by getting 4 Hits with their HMG, but three are saved - still the ATG is getting whittled down and owes a morale check. They inflict three on the squad in the town, leaving them with just two men and a moral check owed.

I then forget the turn sequence - doubtless was interrupted by crazed fans - and move up the Pavia squads, one getting into contact with the ATG. It is destroyed, and the back end of the town is now about to be invaded.

CCNN Turn 8. The vise is getting tighter. With just five men left - two suppressed - and Pavia squads pouring in from all points of the compass, there's just not much hope.

Still, the Political Hero inflicts two casualties on one squad, while the other inflicts one, quite erroneously, as you can's shoot when you're suppressed - oops. I was getting tired...

Turn 9, Pavia assaults the last defenders on objective Mangiare.
and wipe them out pretty easily.

Game Over!

Well, there were a few errors here and there with the rules. One thing that more rules and more math leads to is more mistakes. Still, the result was pretty much going to happen no matter what after I showed my defender's hand too soon. I should've waited for Pavia to get in closer. I also forgot or had bad dice with the mortars a couple times - can't remember. This probably spared a full squad of Pavia.

The rules require some attention and it helps to go thru the turn carefully with a QRS - which I need to make. It is easy to forget a factor here and there or get the turn sequence wrong. These rules have great platoon skirmish feel, and are perfect for most "movie-level" fights where there is more character to the figures or perhaps the figures are more like characters. Overall, I find them a nice balance of old-school and playability, and will keep playing them. They have what I like about Sword and the Flame but without the grinding complexity of those rules. In short, they are a great way to get from A to B and will be pretty easy to introduce other people to.

There are a few - just a few - things I'd like to do to simplify some of the quirky things in the rules [like the many different types of ranges and movement rates - clear hold overs from the Featherstonian era] and add line of sight, etc. I'm also uncertain that the turn sequence needs to be in the odd order it is in, with Morale followed by movement and shooting of small arms, then artillery, then direct fire guns. Finally, support weapons are sort of extreme - they are very hard to shoot to pieces with a 2+ save but die automatically when assaulted, but the move rates aren't that long to keep them safe. They pretty much need to be screened by squads. 

But the key will be to not change very much - these rules know what they are and are good at what they are supposed to be!


  1. Excellent looking game. A real in-depth report on these rules during a battle only exists in a few places so it's nice to see more.

  2. Thanks!
    It was a ton of work, and took me three days to actually knock it out. In the future, I think I'll do just a few highlights of mechanics and stick to a more general narrative.


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