Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brits and Germans, Somewhere in Italy, Late '43 Game1


Of course I didn't get any gaming in on Thanksgiving, but I also didn't get any in on "Black Friday."  So I made up for it by getting three games in on Saturday!  I'd been playing my FFL with No End In Sight, but I'd gotten a wild hair to mess with Ivan's 'other' rules, Five Men In Normandy, and so I set out to playtest it.  Long story short, I like it a lot.  Really all I did was substitute teams in for individual men (rifle squads, machine gun and mortar teams), and mess with the vehicle rules a little bit.  A great time, with quick battles (1 hour, 45 minutes, and 1 hour 35 minutes, respectively).

About the forces I chose: I wanted to use troops I hadn't used before, but was limited as, of the guys I haven't used before, many times they haven't been used is because I haven't finished them.  I wanted to go with 'blitzkrieg' era Germans, but hadn't done anything but prime the vehicles, same with my early Barbarossa Soviets.  Then my mind drifted to my Indo-China forces, which are finished, but I wanted to use vehicles, so that didn't work.  Then I thought about my forces for North Africa, but there was still a problem: my Afrika Korps forces are finished, but I hadn't finished up my 8th Army vehicles and guns...  So I said hell with it, and used my Afrika Korps forces against 8th Army forces set in Italy, with some vehicles borrowed form my Late War NW Europe troops.  So, it may look a bit strange having troops with desert bases and the odd vehicle with green basing, on a green mat, but kiss my butt 'cause I had fun ;)  And someday I'll finish up my 8 million different projects...

It's Sunday now and I'm writing again.  I played two more games (50 and 55 minutes respectively), for a total of a five-fight 'operation' which, I'm proud to say, the Brits pulled off brilliantly.  Okay, maybe not brilliantly, but they won, and it was a lot of fun!  And, at least as importantly, the rules worked like a champ.  Aside from modifying the rules, I also drew up a set of scenarios (meeting engagement, combat patrol, hasty attack, prepared attack, hasty defense, prepared defense, counterattack, enemy counterattack, encirclement, and breakout) with accompanying force structures, and I was very happy with those as well.

As a preview, the five-game Operation started out with a Brit Hasty Attack, followed by a successful German Counterattack, which led to an Encirclement/Breakout in which the Brits escaped the noose, followed by a successful Brit Counterattack that culminated in a successful  Brit attack on prepared defenses (Prepared Attack) which broke the German line!  Every fight was close, and most of them came down to a single decision point/event.

So, let's get to it!  Again, somewhere in Italy in late 1943, the Brits are on the move north, with a British rifle company launching a hasty attack on German positions.

Overview, north is up, German baseline at top, Brit baseline at bottom.  The Brit goal is to take the hills in the NE and NW corners, the Germans must deny this.  I didn't put a time (turn) limit on any of the games, just expected to keep them going so long as both sides could reasonably accomplish their objectives.

The Brits on the attack: the Company Commander, a Vickers MG, a 'Honey' light tank, and seven rifle squads.

The German defenders: a Command stand, a PaK-38 anti-tank gun (ATG), and five rifle squads.

The starting positions, Brits at bottom and Germans on top on blinds.  I know the German force composition, but I don't want to dictate their set-up, so I place the blinds, one 'real' unit to one or two blinds, then flip them over, removing the dummies and placing the enemy troops.

The German line, showing their 5 rifle squads spread pretty evenly across the front, with their CO in the treeline at bottom right with two squads and the ATG in the bombed-out building at top right.

The ATG position.  The gun is immobile for the duration of the game.

And all is set; with a flare and a whistle, the mortar stonk lifts and Captain Penny leads his men forward.

(Rolled 'firefight,' but no units were in range, so I did 'scurry) Sergeants Abbott and Belmont take their squads up the left flank, while Sgts Carter, Dupont, and Enis move up in the left center.

Over on the Brit right, Sgt Fenster's squad cuts across the field, while Sgt Geoffrey's Squad moves up on the right, getting close to the German position in the east (two rifle squads and their CO, top left).  Sgt Martin crawled the Honey forward with Captain Penny following, and Cpl Johnston got his machine gun team into the building and set up.

On the left side, the Germans react by having Sgts Auger (top left) and Sgt Blix (center, with Brit Sgt Abbott's squad at bottom left) move up to challenge the attackers.

Sgt Cologne's Squad (top left) crossed the road (off camera) and moved into the treeline, recently vacated by Captain Penzig leading Sgt Dietrich's squad up to the wall at center, and ordering Sgt Eberbach's squad to loop around the  British right (top right).  (German turn, they roll firefight!)

Sgt Auger's German 1st Squad (top right) moved up and fired, driving Sgt Belmont's Brit 2nd Squad to fall back and hunker.

And Sgt Fenster's squad (bottom center) is caught in the open and eliminated!

Back on the left, Sgt Carter's 3rd Squad (bottom right, with Sgt Dupont's 4th Squad on their right) opened fire on the German 2nd Squad (top left) out of the fight.`

Then the Honey fired on the German 3rd Squad (top left), eliminating it!  7th Squad is at top center.

Sgt Geoffrey's 7th Squad fires on the German far right squad (Sgt Eberbach's 5th Squad), getting a knockdown.

And Cpl Johnston got his MG (bottom right) going, forcing the German 4th Squad (Sgt Dietrich) to fall back (top left) and hunker down.

Sgt Geoffrey leads 7th Squad into close combat, eliminating Sgt Eberbach's squad.
On the Brit left, Sgt Belmont's squad rallied.

(Germans roll firefight, but no LOS so it's scurry again) On the Brit left, Germa Sgt Auger's squad (top center) falls back  behind the wall, but the Brits get some good 'sprint' rolls (I think you can sprint in reaction during a 'scurry;' why not?) and move to cut them off.

German 4th Squad (top left behind wall) rallies, and Captain Penzig leaves the treeline at center to join them, as Cpl Johnston's MG and Sgt Geoffrey's squad move in, with the Honey and Captain Penny following.

Brits rolled up a 'normal' move, but also got the random event "Keep Pushing," in which one unit gets a 'bonus' turn before the normal turn, so Cpl Johnston moved his MG team up and got situated across the road from the German 4th Squad and CO.

Johnston's MG (bottom left) hammered the German squad, forcing it to fall back (top center next to trees, with ATG at top right).  Sgt Geoffrey's squad moves up to the wall (far left) opposite the German CO (I don't allow targeting of command stands, but they can be eliminated if they are 'supporting a unit and it is eliminated).

The German CO, Captain Penzig, then leaves the wall and falls back next to Sgt Dietrich's squad (center right, ATG at bottom center), who successfully rallies.  Then the ATG lines up an HE shell at Cpl Johnston's MG (top left) and fires, out of the fight!

On the Brit left, German Sgt Auger's 1st Squad (far left) fires at Sgt Carter's 3rd Squad, eliminating it!  BS!!!

Sgt Auger then falls his squad (center left, left of trees) back towards their 4th Squad and the ATG (top, building).

Brits get another normal move with Random Event, "Move It" (one unit may move 6" any direction).  Sgt Dupont's 4th Squad (bottom center) uses this to move up in pursuit of the German 1st Squad (far left).  The German 4th Squad, CO, and ATG are at top center, Sgt Geoffrey's squad is at center (behind wall), and the Honey and Brit CO are at bottom right.

Sgt Dupont's squad moves up to the wall and fires at Sgt Auger's German 1st Squad, forcing them to fall back and hunker.

Sgt Dupont's squad at top left, with German 1st Squad (Auger) at center top left behind trees, German CO, 4th Squad, and ATG at top right, and Sgt Geoffrey's squad behind wall at center.  The Honey and the CO move up behind Geoffrey's squad.  The ATG decides not to snap fire so he can fire during his turn, knowing it will be more effective, and the Brit tank's fire won't be very effective as he just moved.  And so the Honey fires its 37mm gun at the ATG, managing a pin, which will have no real effect on Cpl Leib's PaK-38 during its activation (the gun can't move anyway, and it has to engage the nearest relevant target, which, for the ATG, is the Honey anyway).

It is at this point that I realize I've sort of been screwing up activations: on 'normal' turns I've been allowing two units to activate, when I had decided I would go with 1 activation per three units, which would have put the Brits at 3 and the Germans at 2 at the beginning.  Now, after both sides sustaining casualties, the Brits should be at 2 and the Germans at 1.  In any case, I played 2 activations for the remainder of this game, as well as games 2-4, only going 'big' in game 5.

So the Germans roll a normal turn, but get a random event, but it was "Cold Feet," and so they're 4th Squad (center right, just above the building) is 'flinches' and is pinned.  At this point I realized I was screwing up the rally and recover process; it's not automatic, you're supposed to roll a D6 again...  I fixed this and did it right for the rest of this game and all others.

So the German CO moved to the ATG and rallied off their pin (I let units rallied by the CO, as opposed to those that rallied themselves, act during the turn they rallied/recovered).  They then promptly sent a 50mm armor-piercing round through the Honey, brewing it up...

The German 1st Squad (top center with red bead) tries to rally, but only manages a flinch (meaning he's 'upgraded' from cowering to pinned, but is still at disadvantage and can't move).

Sgt Geoffrey's squad (foreground) fired at the German 1st Squad (center right), eliminating them.  The boys then hopped the wall and moved up, followed by Capt Penny.

Sgt Dupont's squad (far left, with CO and Sgt Geoffrey's squad to its right and Germans at top right) sprinted ahead.

Just for situational awareness, that leaves (from left to right) Sgts Abbott, Belmont, and Enis' squads chilling in the rear (bottom left/center), with the vanguard of Geoffrey and Dupont's squads at top center.  I really need a 'scurry' to catch them up...

German Capt Penzig (center) tries to rally Sgt Dietrich's squad, but only manages a flinch.  Dietrich's men fire at Dupont's squad in the open (top left) and get a knockdown, while the ATG fires at Sgt Geoffrey's men (just below Dupont's), but no effect!

Captain Penny moves up and recovers Sgt Dupont's men, and Sgt Geoffrey sprints his squad towards the German 5th Squad.  At this point Captain Penzig decides his men can do no more, and so they retreat, abandoning the gun but saving their skins.

So, first game is in the books.  This one was the easiest fight of all them, but still wasn't exactly a walkover.  It felt to me like the decision point of this game was here near the end, when the Brits only had two squads in the vanguard, but the German squad managed only a knockdown and the ATG totally missed.  This allowed the Brits to recover and close the distance.

I've got four more fights to write up, I'll post them as soon as I can.



  1. I've experimented with a squad-based FiveCore game but it's a drastic departure using the same concepts whereas this seems like you just adapted the mechanics more or less as is.

    Mind filling me in exactly what you did? You have my attention :-)

  2. " And someday I'll finish up my 8 million different projects..."

    No, no you won't - there'll always be another!

    Good stuff :)

  3. Toxic Pixie,

    Bite your tongue, Sir! I shall finish them! At least a few of them. Please...


    1. I think you are exaggerating - 8 million! Surely not. I would say if you are like everyone else, you would have no more than a million.

      A great report and I look forward to reading the next 4. I may even try out 5MiN over the holidays!

  4. Shaun,

    Negative!!! I never, ever, ever, ever, exaggerate. Okay, maybe only 4 million projects. I recommend trying 5MIN, either 'as written' (AKA, skirmish), or the 'team mod.' I certainly had a good time.