I've had the table set up for a couple weeks now, the forces set, the rules decided on, and was chomping at the bit to get a fight in. I was quite fortunate to get some time to myself on a 'school night,' and with it I quickly darted upstairs to my toy room. The sad news is that it didn't work. Part of it was dissatisfaction with my homegrown rules set, and part of it was a sinking feeling that I hadn't set up a good scenario, or that the scenario didn't suit the rules. So, what did I do?
Rules: I took Ivan's C2 system from No End In Sight and bolted on World at War's movement and combat. NEIS' C2 allows a bit of friction: a deck of cards is used to decide which side will activate; on a red card the defender would activate a company, on a black card, the attacker would activate a company. The activations would be by platoon; so the company commander rolls a D6 to figure out how many activation points he has (actions are simple: move, shoot, or rally), and each platoon can carry out up to two actions per activation. Each activation roll adds one 'stress' to the company commander; he can activate more than once per turn, but he must roll over the amount of stress he has accumulated, and the activation points available are what he rolled minus the stress.
Example: a black card comes out, so the attacker decides to activate his 1st Tank Company (three platoons of three tanks each, activating by platoon, each platoon can carry out two actions if there are enough points). A D6 is rolled, and it's a '5,' giving five activation points (AP). The 1st Platoon uses 1 AP to move and 1 AP to shoot at enemy tanks in a nearby woodline; 2nd Plt uses two AP to move twice, up past 1st Plt's right flank. Only 1 AP is left, and so 3rd Plt uses it to move up behind 1st Plt. One 'stress' is placed on the company commander. Another black card comes out; the player can activate a different company if he chooses, but decides to activate 1st Tank Company again. A D6 is rolled: this time it needs to be a 2+ (more than the one stress) or the company commander is 'exhausted' and may not activate again for the remainder of this turn. The D6 roll is another '5,' so the company gets 4 AP (had to subtract the 1 stress). 1st Plt uses 1 AP to fire on the enemy, 2nd Plt uses one to continue its loop around the right flank, and 3rd Plt uses 1 AP to move up next to 1st Plt, and the last (4th) AP to fire at the enemy. A second 'stress' is placed on the company commander. Every time a black card comes out, this player can keep trying to activate the same company until it rolls less than or equal to the amount of stress the commander has.
The remainder of the rules are ultra simple: each unit has its own movement rate, anti-armor capability (i.e., a T-72 rolls 4 dice, hitting on 5+, out to 12"), anti-personnel capability (same formula), armor value ('saves' expressed as T-72 rolling four dice, saving on 6), close assault (same formula). There are also aircraft and anti-aircraft assets, arty, and arty-delivered smoke. Nice and simple.
Scenario: I took what I believed to be a 'standard' Cold War-type scenario: a 'deep' battlefield to allow defense in depth, the attacker's objective (a crossing over the river, either via an existing bridge or one built by supporting engineer vehicles) at the far end of the table, and the attacker with about a 3-1 material advantage.
No issues, right? Of course, if you see some, please let me know, as I just have this feeling of dread like I'm not doing it right... Hold on, don't try to straighten me out yet, let me lay out why I think it didn't work, below.
In the game all platoons of each company were kept together, which eased activation. That is, each 9 of those tanks represents a company, and they were geographically next to each other on the table. Activation made perfect sense.
So that part didn't work out very well. I either need to change how I activate, or keep companies together, which is hard to do when you don't have many units for the defender.
Ready for the game to start!
With regards to the rules, this was problematic. In real life, I'd say the enemy platoon leaving after only one round of fire was probably a bit premature, though, with an entire company across from them, you could argue that maybe it was prudent. But this was the situation I was referring to: the enemy activated as a company, but only one of its platoons was in a position to do something, so it received both of the company's actions (a terrible roll of '2'). However, due to company activation, there was now a stress on the whole company, meaning the other two platoons would be less likely to activate, and if they did activate, would have less activation points (-1 for the stress). If I'd kept the company together they would have been able to activate together and probably give a better account of themselves, i.e., two platoons would have activated, both firing on the the attacker's leading tank platoon.
However, if the defender's sole tank company was placed together in this location, I'm sure that I, as the attacker, would have activated a different friendly unit, outmaneuvering the defender's tank company. Usually, as a solo gamer, I attack the outmaneuvering phenomenon through the use of 'blinds,' but that doesn't seem to lend itself very well to card activation, especially given the fact on-table units can activate multiple times in one turn. This is due to the fact the defender on blinds will have less cards in the deck and will simply be overwhelmed piecemeal. The only alternative to this is to give up the traditional '3 to 1' odds in favor of the attacker, and make it a more 'even' game in terms of the number of on-table units. I believe this is the route I'll have to take, though I dislike the fact this seems to lead to constant 'meeting engagements.' I must meditate on this.
At this point I started mailing it in, not sure why I didn't just stop, but not really playing the game either...
I've decided to change three things:
1) I've got a deep battlefield, but I need a wider battlefield.
2) I need a force mix less askance, i.e., no more 3 to 1, more like 1.5 to 1. This is because I don't want to mess around with blinds with these games, I want all the units on the table, in all their glory!
3) I think the way to go is one activation roll per company, not multiple attempts at activation. It works for me with smaller games, but degenerates into a bit of a muddle with all these units on the table, particularly with the 3-1 ratio. Perhaps it won't be as big an issue with a 'closer' force ratio, but I still think one activation roll per turn is better in the interest of keeping the turns moving.
Regarding scenarios, I've got books of them from Lock 'N Load's World At War Eiesenbach Gap, Death of First Panzer, and Blood and Bridges.
So, I welcome any insights into modern gaming, comments on my rules, comments on my force mix ideas, etc... The only thing I'm not interested in is "you should try XXX rules!" I already know that, if I can't make these rules work, I'm heading to Cold War Commander.