Thursday, August 21, 2014

BATTLE: New Sequence of Play

As I discussed on a post a few days ago, it's time to bring BATTLE into the 21st Century.  I should add here that there was nothing particularly wrong about BATTLE, just that the sequence of events or play needed a little work.

Bear in mind that most things happen in this new sequence almost at the same time.

I also noticed that I was forgetting about other facets during the game so a slightly more organized sequence of play may help with that:

1. Admin Phase
-Check unit morale
-Roll for visibility *First turn only (See BATTLE visibility chart)
-Radio Contact(5 or 6, 1D6)*First turn only
-Maintain Radio Contact (2+ / 1D6)
-Recce units spot (See BATTLE Spotting Chart)

2. Artillery Phase
-Place Barrage & Roll for Artillery or Air Strikes, FO Must have LOS to target.  All Map fires must be coordinated prior to game starting.
-Attempt to move or repeat previous barrages
-Attack targets under template
-Test all units under template for suppression (Per BATTLE rules for suppression)

3. Movement Phase
-Move all friendly units
 -Friendly non-recce units may attempt spotting now
-Enemy Units placed on Ambush may Opportunity Fire

4. Shooting Phase
-Attack enemy targets with small arms and tank fires

In my previous post about BATTLE, I lamented the fact that tanks did not have an HE attack to fight infantry so here I give them one.  Roll your standard "To Hit" roll based on the range and conditions, and then there is a "To Kill" roll that must be rolled.

Tank HE Fire
-Usual Tank “To Hit” value per BATTLE based on Range, must select target
Open 4+
Soft Cover 5+
Hard Cover 6

I would also like to give mortars and indirect fire a template on the table.

Mortars & HE Fire
                -Use small Blast template for Small Mortars and Artillery Pieces (round GW Epic blast template)
                -Use medium blast template for Artillery Calibers up to 130mm (1 ¼ inch square template)
                -Use large blast template for Artillery Calibers above 130mm (2” square template)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CAUTION! Road Work Ahead! 15 / 20mm Roads Done!

In the interest of "stepping up my game" with terrain, I finally got around to working on a project idea I've had for a long time.

For Flames of War and a few other larger games, I was using cork railroad bedding (O Gauge) for larger roads and causeways.  This has a few advantages and disadvantages as far as I'm concerned.  It's raised for one thing, which is great because many roadways are raised for drainage purposes, or at the very least have culverts next to them to trap water.  It also offered a modicum of cover for infantry teams.  Problems are it's not easy to work with and much trouble to detail.  I ended up spray painting mine for larger modern games to represent an improved road surface.  So that's the end of them.  No horse and musket roads or WW2 rural roads for me.....until now.

Panzer 38 rolling through 

I was at the hobby store recently and found...well for lack of a better word, "hobby cork" used for small DIY projects which comes in 4 foot rolls!  For under 10 dollars US!

I layed out the cork, flattened it for a few days under some heavy books (Osprey's "Peninsula War Atlas" works great), covered the surface with PVA and sprinkled sand all over it.  spray painted it brown, then dry-brushed it with a latex tan.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the color tan used, feeling it a tad too bright, but you build the roads with the materials you have!  I didn't want to use the acrylic stuff I have feeling it wouldn't have been cost effective.

 Speaking of cost effective, this entire road-network took me about 4 days to do.  Considering what the Hotz roads, and the Battlefront Roads cost, this allows me to put money where it REALLY belongs - buying rules I'll never use!
 The roads have that dusty, talc look to them found on dried roads in many parts of Eurasia (and Central Texas).

 For the price, they turned out nicely.  Ten dollars!!  No shipping.  Materials on hand.  You be the judge.

endless columns of Soviet troops march towards the front.

Cork has its advantages as it doesn't stick to my table.

Panzer Marsch!

Or how about the Norman countryside?  A picturesque road junction about explode into a full scale fight as German forces fan out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More BATTLE! Eastern Front

I played another game of Charles Grant's BATTLE using Dan Fraser's excellent charts converted from the original book.

Game pitted a German Infantry Company with a Tank platoon in support, attacking a Russian Infantry Company occupying hasty positions on a farm complex.

A few observations and pictures from the engagement:

Some work is needed with the sequence of play before BATTLE is completely ready for the 21st Century, none-the-less it still remains a potent, violent little game.
Soviet soldiers in a trench-line await the German onslaught.
 The first few turns started out uneventful as the adversaries are too far away to effect any real damage.  Visibility is a modest 25" with the Germans adding 2 recce units into their mix.  A Kubelwagen and a Panzer38.

The Soviets have an 82mm mortar stand for fire support and on-call 122mm artillery, called from their platoon command stand.
 The Germans advance (of course, this is after all a 1942 scenario) and the infantry must make the trip to the objective purely on foot, so this will take awhile.  Infantry are moving 5" which is an upgrade from Grant's original time-movement scale.

LMG squad advances past a bombed out building.

Assault group with the HMG, LMG and an infantry rifle squad advance.

The Panzers race across open ground!

Reaching the clearing and the collective farm
 It doesn't take long for Gerry's tanks to reach the clearing (and the enemy!).  The tanks get too close and a lucky ATR shot knocks out a Panzer III!  The battle is joined.  The German player moves Panzer IIIs to move up and fire into the Russian positions, which are entrenched either in the house or alongside of it.  They make decent progress, destroying 2 Russian rifle squads in the process.

German panzer III burns thanks to an extremely lucky shot from a Russian Anti-Tank Rifle (ATR).

 The German player doesn't want to move his tanks any closer to those infantry (I made a 1:3 ratio of ATRs to infantry, so any infantry-LMG team also has an ATR shot with it).  The Germans play like they don't know that.  Gerry decides to send 2 tanks around the small forest to envelop the objective and cut off any reinforcements to the farm.

Infantry clear the village and move onto the farm.  It's slow going.  They can hear the sounds of battle to their front.  Tank gun firing and lots of rifle fire from the Soviet rifles.
 Now the Soviets are losing rifle squads in the forward positions, they decide to move their infantry up to reinforce and a reserve platoon in the garden is standing by!  They maneuver behind the house to try and work their way forward to the trench-line.

Soviet command stand is gone and along with them, the radio and forward observer.  From now on, all mortar fire is through line of sight.
German shooting KO's the Soviet command stand and any hope the Russians had of calling in artillery fire.  This will be an infantry affair...

Soviets re-occupy their old positions among their dead and wounded comrades in the farm house.

meanwhile Gerry reaches the woodline!  
 The Germans reach the woodline and begin fanning out to assault the trenchline soon, as German FOs start calling in smoke to blind Ivan.  Gerry's tanks reach the other end of the farm and start firing at the Russian mortar section, who displace into the wheatfields, never to be seen (or heard from) for the rest of the battle.

German smoke falls but it's not enough!  THe landsers must advance under Russian rifle fire!

A Panzer III breaks from cover to help with the assault as German Rifle squads and LMG teams advance
 The Russians have emerged from the barrages and are firing at the Germans in the woodline now.  If a German unit fires, it is automatically spotted so the Russians don't have to roll to spot them.  Lots of 6's flying now as the Germans start to take infantry casualties from the firefight.  All tanks and artillery guns shift to the trenchline now!

 Ivan throws in the towel when the Panzer III and IV flank the objective and appear behind the trench line.  This battle has ended.

The infantry's rough work.  Suppressing the trenchline with rifle, LMG and artillery fire.

Post Battle Observations:
This game went fast.  Very fast.  despite the slow pace of the infantry advance, the tanks got into action fairly quickly, and I re-arranged the sequence of play to achieve a better balance of play.  My sequence is fairly straightforward:  Administrative Phase (spotting/recce, radio), Movement Phase, Fire Phase.

Some of my recommendations for future "BATTLE" are as follows:

Spotting Markers to work out who's been spotted and who needs to be re-spotted. (the Mortar section retreating into the wheat left the German line of sight, for instance).

Develop rules for tank gun HE fire at infantry positions.  My improvised, ad-hoc rules were on the fly and were too lethal, especially against dug-in Russian infantry squads, who were known for their stubbornness in fixed positions.

Develop rules for suppressing armored vehicles.  The Russians could have suppressed the German tanks in the woods-clearing as they were certainly close enough for LMG, Rifle and SMG fire.  The rules for suppressing are fairly straightforward and it shouldn't be too difficult to modify them to allow for suppression of tanks (very temporary, limited suppression).

Add Morale Rules.  I wonder with the losses Ivan was taking, how long he would have stayed around for?

Develop counters or markers for suppressed units

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scenario Ideas Both Big & Small

As stated in last week's progress report, I'd like to do more gaming instead of just reading about gaming!  I had a few ideas for new scenario ideas and rules set pairings that I would like to play again in the near future. 

For me this represents a return to some classic rules sets such as GHQ/Panzerblitz and Volley & Bayonet, three rulesets which I had immeasurable fun playing either solo or with friends (Dave F and I cut our teeth on GHQ's WW2 rules as well as Volley & Bayonet ACW).  The more I read about Panzerblitz, the more I am convinced that GHQ is the ultimate manifestation of the Panzerblitz family of rules, so I hatched a scheme to incorporate the combat and unit values from Panzerblitz with GHQ's rules set (and quite possible including GHQ's combat results table, which is based on the differences in combat values [attacker - defender = + or - column roll] whereas Panzerblitz uses a simple ratio of attacker to defender). 

So I'll be playing a GHQ/Panzerblitz game soon with the experimental combat values.  We'll see how that goes.  After the combat values crisis, the next decision point will be figuring out what sequence of play works best - GHQs or Panzerblitz?  GHQ has my vote for now, but that's a preliminary assessment...

Also, a return to basics with Volley & Bayonet.  I was looking at the GHQ website recently and found they have all of the initial-production run scenarios from MicroForce listed on their site you can download for free.  The Battle of Piedmont in West Virginia makes an excellent ACW scenario (I've played it on this blog in 6mm) for Volley & Bayonet and I would like to play it in 15mm and at the Regimental level where a stand = a Regiment and you play for Brigade exhaustion not Division exhaustion.  Makes for a longer, slightly more tactical feeling game.

Speaking of Micro-Force scenarios, they also have Rhodes' assault on Oak Ridge at Gettysburg, which I happen to have enough regiments of Yankee and Rebel ACW units to play a small slice of the battle using Black Powder!

And don't forget about Squad Leader in Miniature!  Still lots of action coming up on that front, especially now that I have tons and tons of infantry stands based for action.

Lots of things going on here at Sound Officers Call!  Stay Tuned!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Terrain Projects Ongoing Part I: Hedgerows

Well in a recent post I challenged myself to start upping my game with terrain.  Here is a small project that will hopefully yield big results: hedges and hedgerows.

I got a terrific idea from many fantastic blogs out there to glue lichen to painted popsicle sticks (UK - Lollie sticks?  Is that right?).  The resulting line of foliage looked great but also had that rural "unkempt" look to them.  So I did what any country gentlemen farmer would do - hire a gardner!

PSC 15mm Germans malingering around for scale.

 The huge pieces of Lichen I used poured over the sides of the stick and really towered over my 15mm models and vehicles.  After applying a pear of gardening shears (scissors) to them, I trimmed the edges and the tops to make them a "tad" more groomed.  Then I soaked them in glue overnight and the resulting hedges look a little more neat and tidy.  I will put some flock on the sticks and call it a day on these.

straight hedges.  Much cleaner looking than they were before!

These are appropriate for 15 or 20mm scale now.

Here's an idea of the scale.  These are 15mm SYW Austrians marching through and singing of course

looking down a hedge-lined road.  Nice and subtle!

Speaking of roads - that brings me to the next part.  Proper roads.  Does this road look familiar?
 Roads are another challenge I've been thinking on.  I really like the look of the raised cork railroad beds for my roads.  Upping my game entails coating them with sand, painting and dry-brushing them for a more dusty rural look. what you see here is the first part of my road project.  This is covered with sand and waiting for a coat of paint. Have to find some curved pieces though...

FOr road-ways, I'm also trying out felt as well.  I have a few different pieces of felt soaked with glue and others sprayed with a matte sealer to harden them prior to painting.  May yield the same results??

paper house downloaded for free from "junior general" website (linked to the right on this blog).  
 Another idea I've been thinking about is basing my buildings.  This has a few benefits I'm thinking.  First, it protects my building models and second I can assemble urban areas by butting them up against each other.
SS Trooper in the flower garden.