Saturday, March 25, 2017

Friday Night IRON CROSS: Meeting Engagement!

Dave came over Friday night and we played a "proper" game of IRON CROSS from Great Escape Games.  Some readers might remember I played a smaller, infantry-only game of Iron Cross last week.

Last night's game featured a Soviet infantry company and a platoon of KV-1 tanks in a meeting engagement (we used the "meeting engagement" scenario from the rules) fighting against a reinforced German platoon with a section of Tiger tanks in support!  The stage was set for a great Friday night eastern front battle.  

Dave commanded the Soviets and I ran the Germans. 
 We each placed 2 objectives for a total of 4, which we would have to seize.

The German force.  4 x Infantry Squads, a mortar section, HMG section, sniper team, and command
 We counted our units, built piles of activation tokens (using the Iron Ivan litko discs) and rolled for initiative.  Dave won the initiative and stepped off onto the attack, KV-1s rumbling forward!)

Dave's infantry and armor moving towards the front!
The activation, reaction system took a little bit of getting used to and since we were both far away with plenty of terrain in between our forces, we ended up using most of our command tokens getting into position.  This was quickly becoming a "movement to contact" mission.
Dave found some good positions for his KV-1s and moved them into position to watch over the objectives.  My Tigers rumble into position to contest as well.
Tiger moving into position trading shots with a KV-1!
 The Tiger manages to get a kill on the KV-1!  The one thing I like about the game is that there is a limited number of modifiers, and hits occur on a simple roll of 5+ on 1D10, subject to some modifiers.  David attempts to pre-empt my fire and while his reaction roll is successful, his shot misses.  Onto my shot!

scratch one KV-1 
 At this point David has also been successful at stealing the initiative away (roll of 6 on a reaction roll) and we're figuring out that we need to keep a reserve of command tokens in order to react (more on this later).

 Units can activate multiple times if you want them to, but you have to pay additional command tokens and pass an activation roll.

Note more tanks to the front!  

German infantry getting into position.  Dave's infantry would occupy the woods in the upper right and trade shots  with my infantry.  There is no maximum range in Iron Cross but there is "short range" fire (fire with 2D10)

Forward for the Rodina!!!

Soviet "platoon" sized element.  There are no strict formations in IC and that bothered Dave and I a little bit but we got over it.  

So once you get over the concept of preempting the enemy's fire and the reaction concept, the game starts to move fast.  Very fast!
Note the morale marker on the KV-1.  Since it was a proper "casualty" marker, we left it there next to the burning KV-1.
 One of Dave's turns he decides to shoot at one of my Tigers, feeling optimistic!  :)  The KV-1 already had morale markers and activation markers on it.  First, Dave needed a "6" just to activate it.  He scores a "6."  I laugh nerviously.  Then, Dave needed a "9" or "10" to hit the Tiger.  He rolls a "10."  Then, taking the KV-1's weapon value into account, he needs to roll another "9" or higher to force a KO/Damage roll.  HE GETS IT!  Now all he needs to roll is a 4+ to kill the Tiger.  HE GETS A 6!

  So to recap, David rolled a "6" "10" "9" and "6" sequentially and KO's the Tiger I!  We decide to retire KV-1 #112 and give it some kind of distinctive paint job :)

Burning Tiger

 My forces are starting to spread out and Dave's infantry are hammering away at them causing lots of Morale Markers.  Dave decides to spend a bunch of tokens with the mortar and it pays off as well and Dave eventually kills my force's HMG section with mortars.

KV-1 #112 KO's the tiger with 3 activation markers AND a morale marker!
 We are quickly learning the value of taking company morale checks in order to lose morale markers.

Now into turn 6, both of us realize we have to start making something happen and we're tied at 2 objectives each with a similar amount of KIA squads and vehicles!  Dave burns most of his tokens and passes the initiative.  He BOLOs his reactions and I use the rest of mine taking an infantry squad and literally CHARGING a KV-1 to get into contact.  Since Dave has no more command tokens, he can't react.  I spend a whopping 5 tokens (passing all my subsequent activation rolls) and assault the KV-1 in close combat, literally needing a "10" to penetrate.  My troops attach their mine and I roll a "10" on the D10!  The KV-1 brews up in its damage roll.

NO shortage of excitement in this game, which reminds me of Crossfire but is a little more nuanced.

A HUGE gamble pays off!
 We roll less than 4 on the D6 so the game ends.  If anyone could explain to me how to use Breakpoints I would greatly appreciate it!  The Soviets lost 24 points worth of units (in terms of Breakpoint) and the Germans lost 20.  Now what?

My German reinforcements moving up to the front.  I was going to send these guys off to the right to counter the Russians in the woods.

end game!  Note the Russians moving up to the farm house and the lone Tiger on the objective countering them.

Heroes of the battle!  (along with the KV-1 #112 crew)
 So another couple questions I'd pose - how do you handle Line of Sight in woods?  I cannot remember the rules covering visibility regarding close terrain.  What can be seen and/or shot at?  The rules we played were that, just like in Crossfire, you can be seen/shot at in any area terrain, but terrain block line of sight for units on the OTHER side of the feature.

Next question?  What if a unit has 4 activations and and 2 morale markers?  Do I need to roll a "6" and then a "4" or higher to activate it?  Or do I have to stop if it's impossible to activate it?

The only benefit terrain gives is during the morale marker roll.  It's much harder to acquire morale markers in cover than in the open.

This was a GREAT game and lots of fun.  The system is very novel, and unlike any WW2 game I've since played.  I love the scale how an infantry unit on the table is roughly a squad.  You have flexibility in Iron Cross but you need a plan as you have to spend resources to execute your plan and to react to the enemy.  There is alot of "back and forth" and you aren't just sitting there waiting for the other guy's turn to be over.

The way Armor is handled is great and very easy, which I really liked.  The game was played in a little over 3 hours and that was with plenty of discussion and looking stuff up in the rules, and one of the big benefits?  Not a ton of modifiers.

The game's scale is the same as Crossfire but with less leadership on the table (you only have a single command stand).  Reactions aren't free like in Crossfire but you still have ample opportunities to react if you deploy smartly.

David's infantry preparing to counter attack!  The game ended before they could move in for the kill!

My CROSSFIRE infantry!

Moving through the cornfield

Final dispositions.  Note the burning Tiger and a couple burning KV-1s in the upper left!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hail of Fire Game: Against the Odds!

This past Sunday after I was still motivated from all that gaming action at Cold Wars, so I decided to play a game of HAIL OF FIRE, eastern front of course!

This game featured a Soviet Infantry company (-) and a heavy tank platoon of KV-1s trying to overrun a reinforced German platoon with an HMG section and 2 x PAK-40s in support!  I was almost certain the Germans wouldn't be able to hold out...

My Crossfire Soviet Company, minus 1 platoon moving out
 The Soviets had the first move and after moving the infantry up, decided on moving the tanks out!  KV-1s rumbling up to the front!  Also, the astute among you will notice that the KV-1 isn't on the HOF stats.  I gave this beast frontal armor of "3" but side armor of "1" to give it some vulnerability.

Lighting was perfect for taking pictures!

 The Germans wait until the Soviet turn is over and decide to place the Pak-40 sections on the table, directly in front of the KV-1s!  They shred them with a devastating initial volley, inflicting an RFP on the 2 lead KV-1s and an extra one on the point vehicle.

 The Soviets try to use a hero point to shoot back and when they resolve the RFP things don't go that well resulting in the lead KV-1 suppressed and the middle KV-1 KO'd!  The KV-1 platoon bugs out after failing their morale test!

Interesting question posed here - if you have RFPs on a team can you attempt to react?  I did here, took the Received Fire Checks and the lead KV-1 was suppressed.  Would I have been allowed to attempt to rally him there?  Remember, this was a reaction!

 The burden of the attack will fall on the Soviet infantry and pure numbers to win the day!

 The Paks have a field day with the infantry as well, and the infantry lose their concealment bonus due to the HE fire.  Rough!  Interestingly here, the Germans haven't even revealed their infantry force yet. Finally the Soviets get a break and bring up the HMG.  After some lucky command point rolls, the Soviets get some sustained firing in against the PAK sections and knock out a PAK 40!  They BOLO their morale roll and the remaining section bugs out!  The Germans reveal their infantry platoon and HMG in the orchard next to the PAK 40s
Ouch!  2 x RFPs because the rest of the teams around him were wiped out!
 Even though the Soviets started out with a pretty large force, they're teetering close to their morale test break point, and given their terrible morale rating, I'm not certain they'll pass!

The HMG gunners get a medal for taking out the PAK 40!

 The final nail in the Soviet's coffin is the German HMG in the orchard that opens up on their lead teams, sending 2 more to commissar heaven.  The Soviets fail their subsequent morale roll and this game is over!

gratuitous shot of my German teams, who finished the game without firing a shot!

burning KV-1s.  Gerry held Ivan off this time, but he'll be back!


Note the 15mm ivans in the distance breaking off!
After watching all that good HOF action at Cold Wars I really wanted to get another game in, especially now that I am a little bit better schooled on how hidden units reveal themselves.  This was a tense and fun game and I was shocked at how those PAK-40s kept the Soviets at bay for so long. They were able to keep up a sustained fire and the Soviets needed to use more of a combined arms approach in getting to the hill (their initial objective).

Players in Hail of Fire really have an opportunity to make tactical decisions in the placement of their forces and also the forces they will choose to reinforce during crucial moments.  I love that about these rules. The Germans, who had a mortar platoon and the FO in reserve, failed in all their attempts to bring on reinforcements but made up for the shortfall by conserving the appearance of their main defensive belt (the infantry platoon) and used their most casualty producing weapon (the PAKs) with great effect.  A rules set that makes you think that way is well worth having on your shelf in my opinion.  Mission accomplished!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


The "Sound Officers Call Crew" (namely, me along with the usual suspects Dave and Ken) were out in force at Cold Wars in Lancaster, PA wheeling and dealing in the flea market, and of course making a few famously bad die rolls when it counted most!

Blurry Pic Battle of Maida, 1806 Shako II Game!
 I got involved with some fellows who live and game in the local, Philadelphia area and was able to sit in and throw some dice as a French Division commander in the Battle of Maida.  That was great and I was disappointed when he came back early from his sojourn into the dealer's hall!  A great group of guys who I would like to meet up with sometime soon.

Maida Game
 The troops in this game were 15mm and were painted brilliantly.

Note the long line for people registering.  That line snaked through a hallway and into a reception room.  I will ALWAYS register online.  My combined wait was about 3 minutes...
 Next up on my agenda was to meet Brandon F, the author of "Hail of Fire" one of my favorite WWII rules sets.  Brandon is a great guy with seemingly endless patience who was able to coach a bunch of newbies through a half day's worth of gaming.

This game, at least to me, looked like a MASSIVE Hail of Fire game compared to my basement games.  Brandon was able to coach the players through and I was very impressed that they all stayed for the entire time which is good thing!  I think it speaks volumes about his rules.

I also had a selfish motive here as I wanted to watch the players go through revealing hidden units and I got alot out of it.

Brandon F (blue shirt) coaching some newbs through a Hail of Fire turn
 I had to also stop by and shake Mr David Ensteness' hand, the author of Et Sans Resultat, a truly "Grand Tactical" Napoleonic wargame where you are placed firmly in the boots of the Corps or Army commander.  He had a demo ESR game going for much of the day.

Note the clean lines of troops, almost taken out of a painting of the era.  I really love the narrative that these rules produce.  They are wholly unlike any other rules set out there.  David has really produced something that is genuinely unique.

 In the vendor hall, I found someone who had an entire wall of flowers for decorating scenery and terrain.  I had to take a picture for my wife, who actually chided me for not buying some...  how many flowers does a wargaming base need??

 And finally, my third reason for hitting up COLD WARS this year, apart from meeting Brandon and David E was to check out the Battlegroup Ponyri Station game!  These are the same guys who put on the epic "Road to Ponyri" game that Dave F and I played at historicon 2016.  This year they had a FULL HOUSE playing in the Ponyri game, which featured a SCALE model of the Ponyri Train Station as well as side tracks and plenty of buildings to recreate the "little stalingrad" fighting that was Ponyri during the Kursk offensive.  In the pic below, Kevin (standing w hand on hip) talking to Dave F who is facing his former opponent from Historicon!  (it's true, look at the pics!).  So it appears that some of these games bring out familiar faces.

Dave F talking to his former opponent on the Kursk battlefield!
Wow what a great convention.  I didn't spend as much as at Historicon, but I got some GREAT deals especially on 15mm lead.  (like whole bags of 15mm Old Glory French for 5 bucks!) and also got my Roman Cavalry for DBA painted beautifully I might add, for 15 bucks.

I bought some painted 15mm Bavarians and Brunswickers to round out my collection of painted figs for the upcoming CCN games and the ESR 1809 battles.

Picked up the Version 4 of FoW for free, and of course got a CHinese Food container loaded  stuffed with MDF bases.

So all in all, it was a great day where I saw plenty of familiar faces, which I'm finding out is a huge part of going to these conventions in the first place - to meet great, like minded people and play with toy soldiers for the day!

I will NOT be going to Historicon, but I do see a Fall In on the Horizon, and I'll probably be headed to the flea market again to sell my wares!