Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Last Playtest of No End In Sight


I got a game in the morning (Saturday), took about two hours.  I hit the 'gamer standard' meeting engagement between equal forces, just to get another playtest in.  There's no real backstory: let's call it US Army vs. Warsaw Pact equipped bad guys somewhere in Europe, and they don't like each other.

The bad guys: three five man 'squads' with a Platoon Commander (PC).  Two squads have a SAW and UGL, while the third has a SAW and an RPG.

The good guys:a PC and three five man squads, each with a UGL and a SAW.

For both good guys (GG) and bad guys (BG), each five-man squad has a squad leader, so I'll be rolling up activations for them and each side's PC.

The table, same as the last playtest, with GG on left and BG on right.  GG start with two squads and PC on table (top left), with the third eligible to enter the table at any time on the left-hand board edge.  The BGs have all three squads and the PC on the table, spread along the right side.

From GG perspective, the BG left and center.

Again from GG standpoint, the BG center and right.

The GGs, with two squads and their PC.  I will refer to all squads as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, as looking at them from the GG baseline.  As previously, I will be using a deck of cards to determine who activates, with Black for US and Red for WarPact, and I'll show the die roll also, so it will look like "B6" or "R2."  Okay, let's get it on!

First off we get B6, so GG 2nd Squad (in center) moves up and over the knoll and fires on BG 2nd Squad (in center at buildings), firing with 11 shock dice and 5 kill dice.  The white bead is one stress on 2nd Squad's leader.

The BGs suffer five pins, and one man down!  I roll for morale and they fail.  I could have had them fall back off the map, but since we just started (and they started on the table edge)...

I let them fall back to their left behind the wall, out of LOS to the US 2nd Squad.

Next up I get B5, so 1st Squad moves up and fires at the BG 1st Squad, getting one hit (save failed) and one pin.

For morale, once again I roll bad and they could have fallen back off the table, but I keep them on.

Next up is R4, so BG 3rd Squad (on the US far right) moves up...

And fires at US 2nd Squad, getting three pins (yellow beads) but no hits.

Next up is B2 for 2nd Squad (so really only one activation as you subtract the stress), so the Squad Leader (SL) unpins the SAW gunner.  Then I get B3, so the 2nd Squad SL unpins the grenadier.

Next is an R6 for BG 3rd Squad, which is five activations, enough to move up again and have everyone fire once again at US 2nd Squad.

And it's ugly.  The BGs manage 6 pins, which doubles up pins on a couple guys, automatically forcing them back (2nd Squad was on the right, falling back to the left).  The BGs then managed one hit, but it was saved, but that resulted in third guy getting a double pin and falling back...

BGs are seizing the initiative...  Next up is another R6, so their 1st Squad unpins one man and moves the rest up to take US 1st Squad under fire.

1st Squad receives one pin, but then one hit, and the save is failed, so they have a man down (next to SL in center with white bead).  Morale holds.

Guess what?  Third R6 in a row.  BG 1st Squad moves up to the wall and fires up US 1st Squad again, getting three pins but no hits.

B2 is next, and the US PC pulls two pins off of 2nd Squad troops.  I get another B2, which exhausts the US PC (friggin' Lieutenants).  Then I get B1, US 1st Squad exhausted (friggin' Army).  Next is R2, and their 2nd Squad unpins a couple guys in the center.

I get B5, so I bring on US 3rd Squad on the far right, opposite the enemy's 3rd Squad (top left).  Then we get R2, so BG 3rd Squad is exhausted.

Then I roll another @#$%ing R6, so the BG 1st Squad once again fires on the US 1st Squad, managing 2 more pins, which are not double pins and force troops from 1st Squad back (into troops from 2nd Squad who have also fallen back)...

I get B4, so 3rd Squad pushed up a bit and engages BG 3rd Squad, getting three pins and putting one down.

The BG 3rd Squad fails morale and falls back.  Which is actually lucky for them because they were about to get their butts close assaulted by the relatively fresh US 3rd Squad.  This will actually give the BGs time to recover...

As proof, I then get B6, so all of US 3rd Squad moves up (which would have put them in close assault if the BGs hadn't fallen back).  As it is, I've overextended myself, leaving some of 3rd Squad in the open, knowing they won't be able to activate again this phase...  They fire at the BG 3rd Squad.

The shooting is pretty good, getting four pins (a couple double/auto fall back), and putting another BG down, which puts a permanent stress (red bead) on the BG 3rd Squad.  But then they fail morale and fall back off the table!  Things are looking up, right?

Next is R4, and the BG 2nd Squad (in the center behind the wall, having fallen back there to get out of LOS of US 2nd Squad, but now with LOS to US 3rd Squad, a couple of whom are caught in the open) unpins a couple guys and takes a shot at US 3rd Squad.

BG 2nd Squad is at top right, US 3rd Squad (who just drove off BG 3rd Squad) at bottom left.  US 3rd Squad receives one pin and one hit, the SAW gunner is down!  But morale holds.  For a minute...

R1 comes up next, and the BG 2nd Squad is exhausted.  But don't forget, their PC is still fresh...  Then I get B2, so US 3rd Squad is exhausted.  Next is B4, so US 1st Squad unpins a three of its boys.

Next is R5, and the BG PC unpins himself then has 2nd Squad fire on US 3rd Squad (above).  1 pin and one hit, which is saved and converted to a pin.  But morale is no good and they fall back.  Then R4, so BG PC activates two men from BG 2nd Squad to fire again, getting two pins, which doubles up one man, causing him to flee off map.  Then the morale roll for US 3rd Squad goes bad, and the rest of the squad decides to follow their runner off the map...  I get a B1, which exhausts US 1st Squad, so no US are eligible for activation for the remainder of the phase (what everyone else in the world but Ivan terms 'turn' ;) ).

Then the BG PC gets R4, and leads two of BG 2nd Squad down the wall before becoming exhausted, ending the phase (turn).

First up is B3, which US PC (far right with white bead, with US 1st Squad below him, US 2nd Squad to above him and off camera to his right, and BG 1st Squad at far left) used to unpin 1st Squad members.  Next is B6, and the US PC leads 1st Squad back into the line at the wall (pictured above).  They then light up BG 1st Squad.

Getting three pins, forcing them (via failed morale roll) to fall back from the wall at bottom left, all the way back to the table edge (once again).

R4 is next, and the BG PC moves his 2nd Squad further up the wall, taking US 2nd Squad under fire, getting one pin and no hits.

 Then there's a B4, so US 2nd Squad unpins and moves up, firing at BG 2nd Squad.  But the fire nest ZERO pins and ZERO hits.  I will, at this point, note that the Bad Guys never once managed no hits or no pins, whilst the US managed that feat a few times...

Then R1, the BG PC is exhausted (black bead).  Followed by B3, which allows US 2nd Squad to fire at BG 2nd Squad.  The US activates a grenadier (I placed the blue bead as the grenadier's aiming point, then used a D12 for direction and a D3 for distance in deviation) and a SAW.

The grenade puts one BG down and puts two pins on the BG PC, forcing him back (behind left hand wall), while the SAW gets a pin, but the BGs pass morale somehow...

Then another @#$% R6, which allows the BG 1st Squad to unpin 3 men and the SL moves up to the knoll.

Then another @#$% R6, which brings the rest of BG 1st Squad up the knoll and they all fire on US 1st Squad, getting four pins but no hits.

Then another @#$% R6 (is anyone noticing a pattern here?), so BG 1st Squad fires AGAIN at US 1st Squad, getting four pins, which doubles up everyone, forcing all of them to auto fall back.  Somehow morale holds.

Then another @#$% R6 (that's 4 in a row, and they had three in a row previously!).  BG 2nd Squad unpins one whilst the other two move up and fire at US 2nd Squad, getting two pins.

Then I get B1, so US 2nd Squad is exhausted, followed by R1, so BG 2nd Squad is exhausted.  Then I get another B1, so US PC is exhausted.  Then I get another R1, so BG 1st Squad (all BG leaders) is exhausted.  What the hell is going on with my dice?  Then I get a B6, so 1st Squad unpins all four men.

Followed by B4, which allows 1st Squad to move back up to its firing positions (bottom right) and fire at BG 1st Squad (top left), getting 2 pins.

Then I get B5, which allows US 1st Squad to activate two men, who fire up BG 1st Squad again (pictured), getting three pins, doubling one and forcing him off the table.  But the squad passes morale and hangs in there, ending turn/phase two.

First up is B6, so US 2nd Squad (far left) unpins two and fires with the other three at BG 2nd Squad (far right, behind wall), getting 1 pin.

Then I get B5.  I'm worried about giving BG 1st Squad (bottom left) to much space to activate and unpin itself, so I activate 1st Squad (bottom right, with 2nd Squad and PC above them, and BG 2nd Squad at top), getting one hit on BG 1st Squad, doubling a man up and forcing him to run off the table.  But then I get B1 and US 1st Squad is exhausted...

Next up is another @#$% R6, so BG PC (top right) unpins himself and one BG 2nd Squad man, then activates the other 2 2nd Squad men to fire at US 2nd Squad (bottom left), getting two pins (I think those same two guys at bottom left spent the entire game getting pinned then unpinned, pinned then unpinned).

Then I got B6, so the US PC activated all of 1st Squad, who fired at BG 1st Squad and doubled up pins on two of the bad guys, forcing them off table.  With the BG 1st Squad gone, US 1st Squad moved up.  The PC then unpinned a couple 2nd Squad guys before becoming exhausted.

An R4 allowed the BG PC (top right) to move up and activate his 2nd Squad (bottom left), and get them to fire at US 2nd Squad, getting FIVE pins!  Then he got an R2 and was exhausted.  What you see here are the only bad guys left on the table.

I get a B5, which allows 2nd Squad to unpin four men, then a B3, which allows the 2nd Squad SL to have the grenadier fire again...

The target.

No hits, no pins...

BGs (far right, US far left) use an R3 to activate two men and fire at US 2nd Squad, getting two pins, followed by R2, exhausting BG 2nd Squad, ending Turn 3.

Then we had a pretty fruitless exchange of fire, with the numerically superior US troops unable to maneuver (friggin' Army).  R2 means BG PC (bottom) moves up and has a couple guys fire at US 2nd Squad (top), getting one pin.  B4 sees the US PC unpin 2nd Squad.  Then another @#$% R6 sees the BG PC activate 2nd Squad to shoot up US 2nd Squad, pinning a couple, but then B5 allows 2nd Squad to unpin them and return fire, managing 0 pins and 0 hits (friggin' Army)!  R3 gets BGs to put 2 pins on US 2nd Squad, while B1 exhausts US 2nd Squad, and R2 exhausts BG 2nd Squad...

R3 allows BG PC to activate one man, who manages to pin one US soldier and hit another, though the hit is saved and converted into a pin.

Finally the numbers begin to tell, and B5 allows US 1st Squad to move up behind the wall and engage the enemy (top, also behind wall).

The fire manages 3 pins and one hit, and the failed saving roll means he's down, adding another permanent stress, but it doesn't matter as the morale roll is failed and the BGs depart the battlefield, fight over.

Both sides had sixteen men, and the bad guys left six of their own on the field of battle, while the US suffered only two men down.  It would be easy for me to say it was a bit frustrating (from the aspect of wanting the US side to 'win'), but in reality it's quite interesting that the US won, given the amazing activation rolls the bad guys enjoyed.

From my standpoint, I need a bigger fighting area, as I really didn't have that many troops on the field (it's a platoon-level game, with actual 8 to 13-man squads, and my squads were only five men).  Given that, I'm also pondering movement.  Whilst the 3" movement rate is certainly realistic, in a game (and that's what I'm playing, a game) I want to see some maneuver, and that's tough when you're impatient and know you'll only get 3" at a time.  I'm wondering about extending movement rates, or allowing 'group' movement (one activation point to order multiple guys moving together, though still requiring one activation point per man firing).  Group is probably too convoluted, maybe just double the rates, make a sprint 6" +D6 movement.  I just noticed that I never used a move across open ground in this game.  Guess I'm getting more cautious in my old age ;)

Anyway, a great game with great rules.  I'm loving the combat and C2 mechanisms, really works great to give you the 'unknown,' which is absolutely necessary for me playing solo.  Stay tuned, more to come.



  1. Seems the commies were well motivated on that day. Maybe they had double rations :)

    People tend to agonize over individual moves, especially in the open. It's fun to watch :)

    I imagine you could squeeze up the rates without breaking anything too bad.
    I'd increase it slowly and then work from there.

    One option I had thought about is to let troops move at 6 when contact hasn't happened yet and then drop it to 3 when bullets start flying.

  2. "Seems the commies were well motivated..."
    Yes, your boys had had their Wheaties, but still fell in the end!

    Thanks for taking a look and giving your thoughts. To tell you the truth, I haven't played enough games to tinker with the rules officially, but I've never let that bother me before ;)

    The more I've thought about it, the more I think I agree with your last line, having troops out of contact move 6". The old "this is why you keep a reserve" concept. I must meditate on this...


  3. They had heard there was a functioning refrigerator behind the US lines, and they were rushing to grab it for the motherland :)

    And tinker away. Always eager to hear what people come up with.
    I feel like a "pre-contact" move option might be a really good idea. From my point of view writing it, the game starts AFTER contact has been made and the tempo has stalled already, but that's not really how people tend to set up.