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.


  1. Nice report and pictures, love your Panzer IVs....

    1. Thanks for commenting, Phil. I need to repaint some of them. They all have different basecoats or finishings on them.

  2. Great report... and I fully approve the use of the word "Snazzy" (which my family and I have defined as "the condition of being full of snaz.") Looking forward to more.

    1. Snazzy is a totally under-rated word in my humble opinion!

  3. very nice figures and even shoulder patches - yes snazzy.
    thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you Dannoc. I am glad to see "snazzy" is getting used more and more!

  4. Very, very, very cool stuff Steven...Even snazzy...Perhaps!

    What about a cent sized smoke marker made out of synthetic pillow stuffing with a colour to code the situation, such as blue or grape?

  5. Paul,
    That's a very good idea (snazzy!) and beats a red die with a marker on it!