Sunday, September 11, 2016

Quick Hail of Fire Game: The Ponyri Station Water Tower

With everything still set up from last week's excellent CROSSFIRE refresh, I thought I would play a quick game of HAIL OF FIRE before the sun came up and things got moving around here.

For those of you who didn't tune in last week, Ken and I played a Crossfire game featuring some battle-hardened infantry forces trying to seize the Ponyri Station water tower during the Kursk northern battles.

This battle saw me testing the rules a little more and being more conservative with hero dice in order to use them at a later time.  That had some very nice added bonuses to it as you will see and Hail of Fire allows you to "go for broke" when you think the time is right.  I'll explain.

 This battle started out almost exactly as the previous Crossfire battle with the Germans going left and the Soviets maintaining a strong center with an AT gun and a MMG covering the objective.  A German assault across the road on the left was beaten back and Ivan decided that instead of allowing his beat-up platoon on the right to be mauled further, he launched a counter attack in the center, flanking those MG-42s in the treeline!

Soviet units crossing the road.
 While Ivan ran out of command points, he had a nice stash of hero dice to use to continue the assault, which was successful and the MG platoon was almost completely wiped out with the remainder falling back towards the first platoon position.  Extra orders were cut in the center and the infantry platoon had the Germans split in 2!

Assaulting the MGs

I learned a few new, neat tricks you can do in the rules to try and force some actions on your opponent today.  In continuous, successful assaults, you can force losing opponents to use a move order retreating or they risk losing their force entirely, which is pretty cool.

Ivan moving through the treeline as the last HMG section sets up

In this instance, both the German MG platoon and the Soviet infantry platoon on the Soviet right failed their morale checks but the Germans drew enough chits to lose this game!

A quick game and I'm sorry I didn't take enough pictures but you get the general idea!


  1. Great post.
    I really like the look of these rules and need to try them.

    I think they'll be perfect for my 20mm.

    Also...have you seen/heard the rumours regarding Sam Mustafa's next set of rules...'Rommel' - and they will be operational WWII. I guess that means that a stand will be a company, or perhaps even a battalion. Looking forward to those in early 2017.

    1. Darren,
      They're not a bad set of rules at all. I'm liking them more and more now that I've played them a couple times.

      Yes! I have heard those rumors and I'll be looking to purchase them as soon as they come out! (he alluded to it around when Blucher was released).

      Speaking of Sam Mustafa and rather surprisingly I'm liking Grande Armee now that I'm getting around to finally reading them even though Blucher accomplishes "the same for less."

  2. Cool fight Steve, and I'm digging the concept of command/hero points to allow you to exploit and dictate tempo on the enemy.


    1. Thanks Jack it was a fun, sharp little fight. It's neat you can use them to react to the enemy's moves and also to keep your own attack going. In this instance, the Sov's used it to slice right through those woods and push out that HMG section.

      Big thumbs up from me, especially if you want lots of maneuver and lots of shooting on the table.

  3. Damn, Steve, I don't need another set of WWII rules on the stack of "rules to try". Off the top of my head: Thomas' "Wargaming: an Introduction", Five Core, A Sergeant's War, Peter's (Grid-based Wargaming...) WWII rules, Ross' "Hats of Tin", Bob's "Portable Wargaming" 20thC, Shaun's "Take Cover" variants, Chain Reaction, "Tactical Command", "Breakout", Pz8's WWII rules (converted from 6-20mm) and a couple of other sets I downloaded so long ago I don't remember the titles, plus my own forever-under-rewrite WWII rules.
    I have the Hail of Fire set that I downloaded in May 2015 (ver. 0.35); I guess I should get a newer set.
    Thanks and regards,

    1. I hear you John. Add to that list battlegroup panzergrenadier deluxe, combat hqs, FFT3, and Rate of Fire! If i may add, the Pzr8 rules feel alot like spearhead.
      Definitely head over to wargame vault and download the latest version of hail of fire. Its gone through some big changes since then IMHO. Much smoother and easier to play.

      Chain Reaction and NUTS Bug Battles also on my ww2 list...

      When will we ever find the time???

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Hey John, yes please grab the new version. The turn sequence and combat resolution are totally different. It's a different game. Check it out and let me know what your thoughts!

  4. Glad you got to get in another game! Yes, the hero points allow for 2 main things; 1. To control momentum and push when it counts, and 2. To create Fog of War, where you're not sure how much fire you may be facing when crossing the open ground (although this would be less apparent when playing solo). As you're becoming more familiar with the game, please let me know your thoughts of things you may think should change or would like added.

    1. Brandon,
      Thanks for commenting - was a great game and really scratches that itch for bigger, sweeping battles without too much fuss. It's just the right amount of detail for this tank and infantry junkie, without too much fuss. Some games go in one direction and some go in another. In my humble opinion yours hits the sweet spot.

      I'm not sure if this helps but I had a "lightbulb" moment after playing my 3rd game in regards to Hero Dice. Really I was not managing my orders dice or my hero dice appropriately. There almost has to be some conservation of both in order to get the most out of the rules.

      It's really a neat feature when you've got to decide whether or not to "pull the trigger" on using hero dice or not. But that's why they pay you the big bucks, Company or Battalion commander :)

      Really one of my biggest suggestions now would be to expand things (more equipment, scenarios or supplements, as some examples). The engine you've created allows you to play some truly big battles I think. Perhaps doing what "the lardies" do and creating something like the "pint sized campaigns" for Chain of Command/IABSM etc might be in order?

      You could throw a map together, inspired by an action you like, include some equipment lists with it and maybe even some special "chrome" unit characteristics? Just my thoughts.

  5. Thanks, Steve (Steve or Steven?). I'd love to be able to do Pint Size Campaigns ala TFL, though I don't think I'm the man to do a good job with that. You need guys like Rich Clark, who do a ton of research, are incredibly passionate about the history, who literally walk the ground the battle took place, and all that really comes out in those products. I don't have the knowledge or patience to do something nearly as well.

    Obviously, the first priority is to make the engine as solid and fun as possible, and remove the beta tag. Once I get the core concepts in those 6 pages concrete, then I'd like to flesh out a "deluxe" version we'll call it, with more examples, pictures, chrome and force orgs/equipment. That may be a ways off as I don't put nearly as much time into my gaming as I'd like. The 6 pager will continue to be free indefinitely though. Hearing about people enjoying something I made is worth much more than a few bucks (although I do appreciate the tips players have thrown my way!) ;)

    Perhaps I'll meet a player who enjoys the game enough to work with me on a pint size product like you describe, in exchange for 100% of any money generated from it. That could be a possible solution.

    In the mean time, I'm thrilled you've been able to get it on the table and seem to have enjoyed it (and shared it with your audience!). If you think of anything in the core engine that could improve, please don't hesitate to share. It's been a multi year project for me now and I've killed my share of babies thus far, and may need to murder a few more before it's as great as I'd like it to be.

    1. It doesn't matter. Lots of people call me Steve. I sign my name Steven. Feel free to call me either!
      Yes I agree those TFL supplements are very well thought out and prepared however I don't know if you need to get into the "gnat's a**" level of detail like they do, but I certainly understand the desire to do it well.
      I think you're definitely on the right track to getting the beta tag off. This is a much leaner and smoother game than the one I played a year ago and there isn't quite as much "stuff" going on and that's a good thing.

      When you get the game to where you want it to be, I'd be happy to work with you on creating scenarios. I love the research aspect of the hobby anyways. I wouldn't even want any money for it. Like you, I get more satisfaction out of creating something useful and forwarding this wonderful hobby of ours.

      Yes I have definitely enjoyed this game, and plan on playing it again. When I get to the point where I'm sufficiently comfortable with the rules, I'd like to host a game here with some of the folks I regularly game with.

      Murder those babies! Get the rules to the finish line! I'm here to help or playtest in any way that I can.

      PS if you change the artillery arrival rules, I wouldn't hold it against you!!!