Monday, February 27, 2012

Map-Making for Wargame Scenarios

Got this from One Sided Miniature Wargaming Discourse.  This is a terrific tool for planning scenarios as well as posting AARs for the blog.  I encourage everyone to hop on over to the site below and check this out.

Here is an example of his map posted for an AAR that he conducted for a a Blitzkrieg Commander Scenario.  I thought it was excellent work and I can tell you without doubt that I will be using this application from now on!  Forget about scanning and then using powerpoint!  This looks even easier.  Huzzah!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blitzkrieg Commander Ostfront Game: Positional Defense 2

For anyone who is familiar with Charles Grant's "Scenarios for Wargames" I played "Positional Defense 2" from the book (pg 12).  This pitted a Soviet Battalion with an Armor Company in support assaulting a German Company position with a Stug III Long Barrel platoon in support.  The German Kampfgruppe fielded 4 infantry platoons atop a ridgeline in rifle pits and a walled farm complex.  Additionally the Germans had Wespe Artillery and Nebelwerfer support as well.

What a nail biter with a few surprises mixed in just to keep the evening lively.

Had some unusual dice problems this evening, resulting in a Soviet command group staying at the line of departure for almost 4 straight turns!  Also could not, for the life of me, get the German command group to issue more than 1 or 2 orders the entire battle.  On the German left however, things were fairly intense with the Germans beating back 4 repeated assaults up the hill and finally charging down hill to flush out the Soviets from the woods at the bottom of the hill.  (a la Chamberlain from Gettysburg).

Eventually on the Soviet left flank the Battalion Command Group got the ball rolling and they stormed the farm complex along with tank support.  The German air never showed up and eventually the numbers won over.  The German Stug was knocked out early on by the T34 Company so it never got to join in the fun.

The Soviets over ran the farm complex and knocked out the last rifle platoon and weapons platoon in the same turn (turn 10 of 12) and the game ended when the Germans reached their breakpoint of 3.

The game was a classic late war, eastern front engagement where the Germans were tasked with holding on against incredible odds.  In this case, Soviet command problems precluded them from launching an all-out coordinated assault.  Instead they threw themselves piecemeal against the German defenders.  This pro-longed the game and although Mr Grant does not include reinforcements in his scenario, I imagine this rear-guard type action would have bought the German command alot of time to pull Soldiers out in other sectors of the front.  Also, the Soviets lost 7 rifle platoons, almost an understrength battalion of troops!

I will let the pictures speak for themselves, then I'll include my lessons learned.  There are alot of pics and eye-candy so bear with me.

Soviet troops advancing with T34 support

Moving up the hill!

Jerry watches Ivan move into position at the tree-line

T-34s in action!

On the German left.  This company would eventually beat back 4 separate assaults!

The first assault against the German left moving into position

Tanks forward!!!!

Soviets moving up the hill

Intense rifle fire forces the platoon back.  The Commissar is only too eager to provide "additional inspiration" to the troops to encourage them to assault again.

German troops meet the assault and return fire

Meanwhile at the farmhouse...

Turn 9, Soviet left finally reaches the farm

Suppressing the MG42 teams in the farmhouse

Soviet HMG supporting the advance

It's only a matter of time now.

Soviet machine presses on.
Artillery Support.  Seems like there is always an artillery lesson to be had here.  In this case, the Germans really made excellent use of their artillery breaking up Soviet assaults.  The Artillery softens up the enemy enough that when the rifles open fire (assuming you can pass the command roll) it is much easier to knock out enemy units.

Tank Support / Combined Arms.  Remember, once again just because you can move 30cms doesn't always mean that you should.  The infantry on the Soviet right were forced to handle the bulk of the fighting for almost 8 turns by themselves and could have used some of those terrific 85mm guns operating in support.  In this instance, the tanks were firing at an MG42 stand that could neither see any infantry (Sov left still below the crest of the hill) nor hit anything yet.  Imagine how they could have steam-rolled over Jerry if proper coordination took place.

Protect your assets.  The loss of the German Stug almost guaranteed a defeat early on.  The Stug could have been kept behind the farm house and brought out to make pop up attacks against the Russians.  Instead, the Stug was killed without even knocking out a single Russian tank.

Purchase Support all the time!  Again, I cannot stress enough how awesome it was to have my choice of self propelled 105mm support or rocket fire blanketing the Russian infantry.  In this instance, artillery was the big killer and I can totally understand the old adage : if there isn't enough artillery...quit!  Probably could have used some minefields in support and maybe a Stuka as well.  That might have leveled the playing field.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Disposable Heroes: Long Road South Game

Played my first modern variant of Disposable Heroes with the "Long Road South" supplement.  Game pitted 1 American Squad, 1 M60 LMG Section, and 1 Platoon Headquarters Section against a Vietcong "Main Force" Platoon Command Section, a Rifle Squad with RPD, an RPD Section, and an RPG Section.

Additionally the VC had a dude armed with an SKS rifle in a pop up attack who would come up out of a spider hole later in the game!

The action started out right away (I have a small table...) with the VC engaging the American flank elements as they were trying to get into position.  (The VC won initiative almost every time with their guts value of 9 and the US troops value of 8.)
US Forces advance through rice paddies in Vietnam ca 1969

Main Force Viet Cong troopers take up position in a rubble heap.

VC RPD / HQ Section readies itself for the ambush!

The VC engaged the US M60 section with their RPD and on the first round knocked out the entire M60 team!  Luckily the Platoon HQs was right there to assault through!  They moved up and immediately engaged the VC who were in a makeshift "bunker" which was actually a log wall.
US M60 section knocked out, Platoon HQs and B Team return fire and assault through the Ambush!

Platoon Command Section returning fire.

Unfortunately Fireteam A was already advancing in a different direction, so Fireteam B and the Platoon HQs became a squad for the case of the game.  A firefight ensued and the VC brought in their RPG section.
Long story short?  The US Fireteam eventually moved into position to flank the VC and open fire on them while fireteam B moved up through the orchard for the kill.
Team A advancing.

Team B on the move, flanking the enemy.

A short but vicious close combat ensued on the rubble pile.  American forces took down the VC defender and exacted vengeance for a "snap fire" kill earned while advancing into close combat!
chaos.  Note all the knocked out VC.  The guy with 2 red beads just fell back from his position.

VC Officer returns fire!

Close Combat over.  Americans win this one but just barely!  I think I got the close combat rules down now.

The game was quick and bloody and I have to say, alot of fun.

Thoughts and Lessons Learned about the DH System.

Right off the bat - this game was alot of fun.  It was intense and the casualties were realistic.  I like how only 50% of troops can fire under certain circumstances and here is my example:  When the platoon HQs came under fire, the runner was hit and went down in the firefight.  When the HQs section returned fire, they were only able to do so with the PL's stand.  I find this incredibly realistic since the other guy in the HQs section would have been tending to the wounded rifleman.

Additionally, the RPG team naturally has another guy servicing the launcher and not firing his own AK.  This is a great feature and Iron Ivan got it right with this restriction.

Remember to use the principles of fire and movement.  Have a fireteam to suppress the enemy (preferably with a SAW or LMG) and advance on the enemy with another fireteam.

You need a larger game with more "stuff" to fully take advantage of the unique activation rules for the modern variant!  I only had about 3 to 4 units on a side and both units had activation chits left over when the turn ended.

Have a quick reference sheet or write down your stats prior to the game starting.  It helped me out to have my figure stats in front of me so I didn't have to track down other stuff while tracking down rule questions.

Sneaky VC conducts a pop-up attack against an American fireteam.
At least with the Long Road South Game, remember to read, and make sure you're using the special rules.  The VC player used his pop up attack to great advantage and scored a casualty against an American trooper.

Ensure that when you are close-assaulting you A. Bring enough guys with you [ 3:1 ratio is recommended for close combat] B ensure you have mutually supporting units if you're on the defensive.  The VC guys could have used some more muscle on the rubble pile and were outnumbered without any supporting guns.

Well my M79 bloop gun and RPG-7 didn't make much of a difference at all.  The AP 2 value for the RPG didn't do much to anyone and didn't come close to wounding anyone!  Same with the M79.  That was a let-down but I understand the logic behind not having too many crazy-dominant weapons on the field.

I don't like how fireteams operate seemingly independently when a platoon leader is on the field.  At least in US doctrine, fireteams "typically" operate within close proximity to each other.  In this game, Fireteam A was its own entity and Fireteam B was its own show as well.  Technically this was ok and the game felt just fine, but in the back of my mind it irked me a little...

The final analysis?  Go out and purchase Disposable Heroes: Coffin for 7 Brothers!  The game is crisp and realistic.  Additionally, the game is very easily "tweaked" if you want to slightly change a value.  I for one did not find a need to although I might in the future.  I liked it so much I bought the modern supplement and the Vietnam supplement, and i have plans to purchase Angriff, Urrah, and Go Forward Together.  My biggest issue is that I don't have enough guys painted to field a full platoon for WWII or Modern yet.  But that will come in time! What a great game. Huzzah!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Disposable Heroes First Game!

I played a quick game of Disposable Heroes / Coffin for Seven Brothers this evening on Game Night.  It was the first time I got to take my 1:72  WWII guys out for a spin and I have to admit I had fun.
While I am still a little choppy with the DH rules, I will say one thing – playing a skirmish game is altogether different than playing a platoon-based game.

Right off the bat, I’ll warn the faint of heart – Disposable Heroes is not a game for those with weak constitutions.  Bad tactics are paid for in blood and plastic.  Good tactics are rewarded with a modicum of battlefield success.  What a bloody mess this was!

Scenario pitted a German platoon with an attached Stug III tasked with seizing a road junction occupied by a very understrength American platoon.  The Americans occupied the houses around the junction and hoped for the best.  There were no crew-served weapons save for the on-board MG on the Stug and an American BAR team with a gorgeous field of fire in a stone house.
Waiting for Jerry...

BAR Gunner scans his field of fire

Platoon Command Group waits in the woods

Outrageously, the American platoon leader SHOT THE GERMAN PLATOON LEADER on the second turn….  This didn’t bode well for the Germans.  It was poetic justice for the entire command group almost being waxed in their command post next to the junction.  I need a bigger table…
The BAR team also scored impressive hits on the Germans right as they crossed their own line of departure and began the attack.
Germans advancing

Attempting to flank the American left...crossing a linear danger area.  the yellow bead indicates their movement is complete.

Americans making short work of the moving Germans...

fighting back!

Once the STUG finally acquired the team in the house though, they were toast.  Those MGs really hurt.
The Germans attempted to flank the American left and were thrown back with 4 casualties.  Back to the drawing board for Fritz.
Germans taking cover.

platoon leader is killed - one of the first casualties of the battle...

STUG advancing!

Americans firing shortly before close-assaulting the STUG

Germans throw an all-out gamble to flank the American position

But the STUG is blown up after a successful close assault.  Game over Jerry!

Meanwhile the  American platoon leader dashed across the road and took up position in the house to direct the battle from there, comfortably ensconced  behind the -4 ACC cover!  (meaning it takes rolling a 1 on a D10 to hit him!)  The American squad guarding the left occupied the woods to their front to try and take out that Stug as it passed by.  Fat chance – the Stug took 3 turns to acquire the Americans in the house, it wasn’t moving!  Long story short, the Americans assaulted the Stug and not only immobilized it, but the “sticky bomb” placed on the hull resulted in a catastrophic kill for the Stug and it brewed up.
Game over for the Germans.  The Americans held the junction with the loss of their BAR team and most of the platoon HQs (platoon sergeant, radio man, and a rifleman runner).

I have some thoughts on Disposable Heroes so far.  I like it.  I found out towards the end of the match that good tactics are rewarded.

 FLANK THEM!  Flanking the enemy should be accomplished wherever and whenever possible.

SUPPORT SYSTEMS:  I completely understand why we have SAWs in our modern forces (squad automatic weapons) and I completely understand why we have light machine guns in our platoons.  If only I would have had them painted up for tonight!  The advances would have been a lot easier going against suppressed troops.

COVERING FIRE! Moving forward with out the cover of smoke or a belt-fed or crew served weapon to suppress the enemy is a bad idea.  Advancing up to the enemy’s kill zone ends badly in this game.

ANTI TANK: You should spend the extra points for AT weapons if you know you’ll be facing tanks.

Okay time for some critiques – there are lots of “little” rules in DH that I learned as I was playing.  Too many to remember for the first time (like using a semi auto weapon system – it allows you to move 6” and not pay a penalty when firing)  the rules made the game choppy but I imagine that corrects itself with time.
I’m not sure I’m getting the acquisition rules for guns on vehicles completely.  I understand it’s hard to hit infantry in cover and concealment but is it really that hard to hit a house with a tank gun?  Am I missing the point? 
All in all I had a fun time.  I am looking forward to doing a few more games and then moving up to the Vietnam and Modern Supplements I purchased.