Friday, February 28, 2014

It's Been Awhile!

Greetings All,
  Been a busy last few weeks but not too busy where I can't post an update!  Still working on Napoleonics and rebasing (actually if you've been following my blog, re-re-re-rebasing).  Going back to the original 1" square bases (pictures soon, promise!).

Also a quick update on the Combat Team! WW2 Rules...  Writing the rules is done!  I slapped together a quick Quick Reference Sheet and am going to start initial testing of a web platform for sharing and collaboration if anyone is interested in playtesting, sharing ideas, or helpful suggestions on the rules.  (truth be told, I may just link them to a Google-Document and upload the link to my blog, but I would rather have a dedicated site where people can post ideas.)

I still have to put the Army Lists and Weapon Value information in some kind of published format but so far, the rules are done.  I think the back-and-forth on the close assault rules will continue, but it's all healthy and good for hammering out a final product.

As always, playtesting (the fun part!) will continue.

Hope everyone is having a great day.  If you happen to be on the east coast of the US, pray for spring!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Combat Team! Russian Infantry Assault...

Still muddling through the close combat blues here at Sound Officers Call.  Have run into yet another issue with the close combat system and came up with some unrealistic results after a few close combats where I felt the victor shouldn't have won.

But I'll get to that later.  This game saw a Russian infantry Battalion with some light tank and light assault gun support attempting to take a German position held by infantry with artillery support.  A few observations off the bat?

The artillery delivered less than desirable results...
The close combat system still has bugs to be worked out.
Need overall force morale for when entire Combat Teams go bye-bye.  I would have loved for the Russians to fight on with their last remaining company but in most cases I think they would have run for it (spoiler alert - the Russians lose).

I made this a late war battle and gave the Russians a little better morale/ initiative and gave the Germans slightly worse morale and initiative than they usually enjoy.
Soviet troops at the start point.

 The game started out pretty well and without Armor the game slows down considerably as you're at the mercy of how fast the infantry can get into action.  Plus with only support weapons rolling to hit at range, you really have to get into close combat to unleash the infantry's combat power.

German Landsers in hasty fighting positions...

Soviets move out!

German infantry close assault and the only guys left are the command stand and the assault gun section!
 The Russians assaulted up and down the line at different turns and were unable to dislodge the Germans at any section of the line.  Even when they scored more hits than the 'krauts, they would fail the D6 roll after combat and move back to regroup.  In some cases this occurred 2 or 3 times before a decision was reached, or the losing side would still pass their post-combat morale check, leaving them OK to assault again.  While I like the fact that the infantry have some staying power (I designed it that way), I don't like that a decision isn't reached...
German assault!  the SU-76 is knocked out 
 The German counter-attack was pretty cool and dramatic.  The Russians lost all their infantry in one fell swoop and the Germans saved all their hits.  The 5+ saving throws for infantry completely changed the game in my opinion.

Friendly Fire!  THe FO screws up bigtime!  the mortars land on friendly troops.

upper right a German platoon bears down on the Russian flank.

German infantry platoon (+) moves out.

This Russian company is bugging out.  All that's left are the tank platoon and MG section...  The "2" on the dice means they are 2 above their breakpoint.  Not good!
Final dispositions.  THe Germans hold out!  
Rolling a 1D6 after the close combat really gets some wacky results.  I am thinking about changing the close combat system to give more practical results from the combats.

As I see it, there are a few courses of action I can pursue here.

COA #1:  The side who scores more "unsaved" hits is the absolute winner.  Ties you roll a D6, higher roll wins the combat.

COA #2: There is a close combat table where hits are compared and the result cross-referenced for impacts to both sides / determine winner.

COA #3: Remain the same.  Roll to hit, roll saves, compare ALL hits, add result to a 1D6 to determine winner.

What does everyone think?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Black Powder "Big" ACW Game

Finally got around to playing a larger game of Black Powder with my newly based 15mm ACW miniatures.  This game featured 2 Brigades of 1 Confederate Division, attacking a small Union Division also of 2 Brigades.  There were 2 objectives, closer to the Union side.  So this Union Division of only 4 Regiments, would have to defend along a wide frontage to cover both objectives, without enough units to comfortably cover the space.
Rebel brigade stepping off on the attack!

Union Regiments marching in column to the Objective (the coin to their front)

Lone Union Regiment of O'Leary's Brigade step off towards their objective at the knoll.

The rebs have already spotted the Yanks taking up position at that blasted fenceline!  This is going to a day of hard-fightin'!!

Rebs show up in full force! 

Rebel artillery set up on a hilltop overlooking the fields

 The Rebel attack got off to a slow start.  The right-most Brigade didn't step off until late, leaving the left, larger brigade to go it alone with no artillery support.  Some good rolling on the Union's side and the good thinking of having its Regiments in column enable them to get there quicker with passed command rolls.  The Union troops reach the safety of the fenceline and rock wall and set up their defense well in front of the Objective.  The Corps commander realizes this is a tough task to defend this frontage so he's charged his brigade commanders to defend as far forward as possible, buying time to bring up reinforcements.  The object of the game is to keep the Rebels from reaching the objectives.

The Yanks pour fire into the rebels as they cross the farm fields, reaping a deadly harvest!

One Rebel Regiment destroys itself against these stalwart troopers.

On the Union left, O'Leary's Brigade must defend the knoll with 1 Regiment of Infantry and a light Artillery Battery.  It's not going to be easy!

Tough, gritty combat.  The Rebs close with the Zouaves and are pushed back!  

The Rebels push through, the Zouaves are pushed back!
 The Rebels have a tough round of combat and push the Zouave Regiment back, however they also lose a Regiment in the attack.  The Yanks are holding on and wheel a Regiment 90 degrees to pour enfilading fire into the Rebel flank.

On the Union left, O'Leary's Brigade is hanging on by its fingernails.  And the Artillery is earning their pay today! 

meanwhile the larger Rebel Brigade is wiped out thanks to enfilading Artillery and Infantry fire.

The Rebels swarm O'Leary's Brigade for a third attempt!

O'Leary is pushed back but is not out!  All of the Rebel Regiments are shaken.

Meanwhile, the Rebel Brigade Commander from the left searches through his field glasses for traces of his brigade.

Colonel O'Leary, the hard-fighting, hard-drinking Philadelphia police captain
This game was a narrow Union Victory.  The Rebels do not manage to actually capture any objectives when their right brigade becomes completely shaken.  They will need to rally some of those casualty markers off if they were to continue, however casualties are too great to continue on.  The Union wins the day, but just barely.

I will need to paint up MORE casualty markers but this game was alot of fun.  I like how the units look with the 24 stand Regiments - much more realistic than my previous basing schemes.

So check another block off of my stay-cation goals!  I have gamed Combat Team and Black Powder!

I need to obviously paint up more ACW units, rebase my AWI guys for Black Powder, and keep cranking out more Napoleonic stands.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Combat Team! Hasty Attack LESSONS LEARNED

Played a game of Combat Team! last night and while it was short, it wasn't short of excitement.   Lots of reversals of fortune on both sides.  Units featured German SS versus American "regulars" and both sides were roughly even.  The Germans fielded a small armor company of 4 Panzer IVh sections, a heavy Tiger I platoon (2 sections) and an armored infantry company in halftracks.  A section of Combat engineers accompanied the infantry in their 251/7 halftrack.

The Americans fielded a full strength Sherman company (6 sherman sections), a mixed team with 2 infantry sections and an M4A3 section, and another mixed section of M10 Tank Destroyers and armored infantry.

What was better though was answering some lingering questions still about close combat.    There are alot of pictures so I'll get right to the action!

German Tactical Initiative Rating was +4, the US Tactical Initiative Rating was +3.

The battlefield.  Americans enter from the road in your upper left.  Germans enter from the corner behind to woods on the right.

US recon is placed on the board

And the German recon

 Right from the start, the US wins the initiative but attempting to activate the Armor company they roll a 1!  The Germans activate their Armor company and the Panzer IVhs choose a "march order" and speed down the field.
German armor clanking towards the objective

Gerry also activates the infantry and they start massing on the hill in this picture

Finally US troops arrive just in time.  M10s are rumbling down the road and the infantry link up with the recce troops and take up positions next to the objective (the small hill not in this picture).

Very appropriate - GS Patton watching approvingly as the US TDs move out!

Uh's over.  German Tigers enter the field.  With 15 cms of movement, they have to use march order or double move to get into action
 The first few turns are interesting in the the US Armor company continues to fail its activation roll and it almost looks like the infantry will have to go it alone!  Meanwhile German armor and mech infantry are massing and preparing to over run the objective

US FO team enters the board
Tank destroyers have the German panzers in their sights!  and then fail their activation roll...

To which the Germans reply.  2 TD sections knocked out!  And I got to use my snazzy "knocked out vehicle" smoke markers!  

US Artillery scrambles up the objective and German 105mm Arty starts to rain down.   Luckily for the US player, the Artillery missed

US Infantry take up position behind the hedgerow and await the German onslaught

Tigers inch closer towards the road, hoping to go on Overwatch and cut off the Americans from their reinforcements.  With their high strike value and long range, they could easily do it!

US attempts a reconnaissance role and scores a single "6" They get a +1 bonus to a single "To Hit" roll next turn.  The "1" on the blue die represents a single To Hit bonus that the nearest troops receive.

The Cavalry arrives!  Now here's the bad news.  The entire company stayed in this spot for the rest of the game.  Really sad stuff to see all that combat power go to waste!

German tigers lay waste to the recon troops....

The steel ring closes in on the US defenders!

German combat engineers with the "assault troops" bonus - they hit in close combat on a 3+
So this game loaded with dramatic reversals of fortune.  The US armor company could not seem to get into the fight, and the German armored infantry are beaten back from their first assault.  German armor finally gets into the game as well and the Panzer IV company flanks the objective and starts pouring fire into the stalled American tank company, knocking out the 3 lead sections...
German infantry attempting an over run of the US positions

Germans are Beaten back!  The red bead on the US command stand represents "break point" - the US player losing those TD's early on brought the casualties of that Combat Team almost to breaking.  Losing more stands during the initial assault brought on the red bead.  They receive a -1 to further activation attempts, with cumulative negative modifiers as more casualties are taken.  Not good!

US "Support Weapon" fire hits more German stands and they reach their BP as well.

German recce gets 2 sixes.  Guess who will use those To Hit bonuses?

If you guessed the Tiger platoon you were correct!  The Tigers put some pressure on the flank of the US position.  They can't shift any more troops over and still hold the line against the half tracks.  By now the commander is screaming "where the hell is my armor??!?!"

US FO team displaces as German panzer IVs approach.  I treat FO stands like command stands so they can move about freely.  2 guys in a jeep on a modern mechanized battlefield?  Hey check out their snazzy 1st Armored Division patches on the left shoulder!

The Germans KO 3 tank sections from the Armor company.

Breakpoint +1, hence the red die with a 1 on it.  This is a further negative modifier to activating.  Luckily the Germans just won this close combat and the American Combat Team defending the hedgerow line evaporates!  They lose their morale check and the game is over.

final dispositions

Awesome picture.  Gerry TC checking out a burning M20.  "Ich habe nicht einen gesehen" proclaims the SS tank commander about the small US recce vehicle.
Wow what a game!  If you read this far, I applaud your tenacity.  This game was fun and brought to light more issues with the close combat system in Combat Team!  I cheerfully came up with some resolutions last night to some burning questions and after re-fighting the armored infantry over running the American positions about 3 times, I think the questions have been settled....

For the rules - here are my tweaks after last night.  Also - this is my first shot at serious mechanized combat where both sides were involved in close combat with halftracks so bear with me!

Halftracks & Close Combat:
Halftracks hit on "6" in close combat using their firefight value.  With the exception of the Germans, they may not be used in over-run or close assaults except in a supporting role.

Additionally, halftracks may only fire as infantry support weapons fire - that is with every other halftrack firing.  This dice roll represents the combined weight of fire.  (a unit with 5 halftracks would get 3 dice, all hitting on a "6", in close combat)

Halftracks cannot kill AFVs however they can suppress if a 6 is rolled.

Specialty halftracks that have close support weapons or specialized AT weapons, may fire their weapons as a regular unit or AFV fires.

I am sustaining the "defender assigns casualties" in close combat.  The only modification is that infantry and armor must be assigned hits before halftracks are assigned hits.  This also keeps the game "clean"

Infantry hits assigned to halftracks or other armored vehicles are adjudicated using the infantry's organic "AT" ability.  (usually a bazooka or panzerfaust with a strike value of 5,6, etc) The strike value is rolled against the armor just like a vehicle gun attack.

In large games of Combat Team! you need leadership stands to mark hits on combat teams.  In this game, the inter-mingling of combat teams got ugly, especially since you can bring up reinforcements, I had 2 combat teams mixed up.  Trying to record casualties is a pain so the company command stand serves only to record once his team has reached breakpoint and beyond (hence the red bead and subsequent red die for additional casualties past breakpoint).  I dont really like tabletop accounting but at least it's paperless!  The leadership stands serve no other purpose than to mark casualties, unit status, and breakpoint.  THey are easily moved out of the way when needed.  Armored units can just designate a tank section as having the command tank with it.  Again this is purely for marking status.

Need a cool counter or marker for when a unit reaches its breakpoint.  Red beads are nice but they roll around too much.

So that's it.  I need to hammer out the artillery values but overall I'm continuing to be pleased with the results.  My Germans were of a higher quality than my US troopers but the US offered a tough fight for the objective.  The tide may have been turned if the US armor was involved but you never know in war.

In the coming weeks I plan on finishing up the first draft of the rules and perhaps making up some quick reference sheets for ease of play.

I will be setting up a google group or a weebly site for any prospective playtesters to download and play.  I only ask that you post results, questions, and issues to any forum I set up so we can move the rules forward.  Obviously the link will be posted to this blog initially.