For the rules du jour, I thought I'd break out the Arab Israeli Wars micro armor that I prepped for Alex's MEGA GAME (which I sadly missed) to play a game of Alex's latest creation "Oil Cheaper than Water."
These are a modern take on his UP THE BLUE World War II rules (with those outstanding rules inspired by legendary hermit game designer and author Mr Neil Thomas) and while there is the same engine under the hood to UP THE BLUE, there are a bunch of new features that make "Oil Cheaper than Water" a very different and much more textured game than their predecessor.
|2 Israeli Magach-3 tank platoons start on the table, awaiting the Egyptian onslaught|
The Israelis start with only 2 platoons, with their reinforcements arriving piece-meal on turn 5 and 10, respectively. The Egyptians will start with all of their forces, 7 units in all including 3 platoons of T-55s, 2 infantry platoons in APCs, a PT-76 light tank platoon, and a platoon of antiquated T-34s.
The Israelis have 3 total platoons of Magach-3s, 2 mechanized infantry mounted in M113 APCs, and an off-board unit of self propelled 120mm mortars. The Israelis are veterans. The Egyptians are regulars because of their high morale following the Suez crossing and to reflect the high level of training they received prior to the assault.
|Small nameless town in the Sinai|
|Israeli Magach-3's awaiting the enemy - the stands were slathered with Vallejo Sand Paste in preparation for Alex's MEGA GAME, Sand Paste is my new best friend for desert basing!|
|Egyptian hordes moving out! T-55s up front.|
|Now you see them...Now you dont.|
|Facing down the Egyptians with only a single platoon|
|One of my all-time favorite vehicles, the PT-76 was a heavily used reconnaissance tank that is amphibious.|
|BTR-152 APCs and BTR-50 APCs carrying the infantry forward.|
|The T-55s doing the best they can, but they have to stay within 15 inches of the Israelis to get a shot off, which means they must constantly advance.|
Turn 4 initiative something interesting happens - the initiative roll is tied. I check Alex's rules because in OCtW something interesting happens. This is a "lull" which is really a cool concept. Both sides can rally or dig-in if they are able to. The other thing I like is the time clock fast forwards to Turn 5 - IDF tanks and APCs show up from the south. The new initiative roll sees the IDF take the initiative as new Magach-3s open fire at range against the Egyptians. And just in time, too.
|IDF reinforcements show up and shoot right from the march while the APCs move into the village and dismount the infantry.|
|Shooting and displacing goes wrong as the Magach's only roll 1 to displace. They're easy prey for the T-55s next turn and are promptly wiped out.|
|Still a dearth of painted infantry so I use AIW's counters!|
|The PT-76s take punishment from the Israeli reinforcements.|
|Target rich environment.|
|T-34s move up to shield the rallying PT-76s|
|And the Israeli infantry digs in.|
|with the MBTs at 6 hits, the Egyptian armor goes for broke and races for the town before the IDF can get their last bout of reinforcements. It's a losing race.|
|Dismounting the infantry soon!|
I love the fixed fire missions, especially with the bigger calibers. It makes you think about where you're using the rounds. In this instance, the Israelis used them exclusively against the advancing Egyptian infantry.
|2 x platoons in the village now. Going to be really difficult for the Egyptians to pull this one off. Especially considering they dont have artillery (representing the lightning fast advance into the Sinai).|
|Dismount and proceed on foot!|
And now for some gratuitous pictures of my microarmor with its single coat of tan paint! Still looks good enough for gaming. Post-battle analysis follows below.
*Cant See Sh*t
THOUGHTS on Oil Cheaper than Water:
So while this was very similar in mechanics to Alex's UP THE BLUE rules, there are so many new features that the units have been significantly revved up in terms of lethality and mobility.
I love the "lull" in fighting, and also the "close firing" ability as part of the turn sequence. I also love the fixed number of fire missions available for artillery use. This makes you think a little harder about where and when you use it.
I did find myself missing alot of things in the rules, and having to go back and re-read things.
Alex has taken a number of very complex issues surrounding modern warfare, and boiled them down in basic terms and mechanics allowing his rules to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of the forces in this period, but also not making the "stuff" the main part of the game.
This isn't a game about T-55s and Magach-3s, it's a game of Post-WWII battles, the men who fight them, and the decisions that the commander must make. You will have to use doctrinal tactics to win.
If you're a Soviet styled force, you have to press your troops to move in and stay close to the enemy. If you're a western styled force, (IE the Israelis) you have to shoot and move, not presenting a static target wherever possible.
In short, use the tactics your forces are built to execute. If that's not the gold standard in wargaming I dont know what is. Can't wait to play again.