Monday, January 2, 2017

Big HAIL OF FIRE Game: Town Assault

The first game of the 2017 turned out to be a Hail of Fire game featuring a US Infantry Company and Tank platoon trying to break into a town held by sneaky, elite Germans.  Lots of forested terrain so I imagine this to be a German border or eastern France scenario here.

Anyways to the action.  2 "Regular" US Infantry Platoons, 1 Sherman Platoon, along with a MMG Squad and FO section in support with 105mm guns standing ready.  The Germans were defending with 1 x elite infantry platoon, 1 Heavy Weapons platoon consisting of a PAK 40 AT Gun, a couple MMG stands, and 3 stands of medium mortars.  An FO supported the mortars in his Kubelwagen, and there was a platoon of 2 x Panthers and 1 x elite infantry platoon in reserve.  The US had the first turn!

Town from the German side no forces on the table yet.

Starting German forces.  


Americans.  Lots of combat power!
 This was, I think, the biggest Hail of Fire game I've played so far.  While the author will probably kill me for this, I did experiment with 1 "departure" from the rules as written when dicing for orders.  I'll explain...
The German objective.
The Americans started off the attack moving the Shermans forward across the open field.  The Germans placed the PAK 40 to their front in the woodline where the US force placed its objective!
The PAK 40 did some terrible damage inflicting 2 KIAs to the Shermans before it got knocked out.
US forces advancing

PAK 40 placed!  Opens up on the US forces using a hero point to react.  Forces an RFC and a KIA result.

"game models" PAK 40

American return fire from the Sherman platoon silences the gun and its crew.
 In trying to get the Sherman platoon back and moving again, the RFC is resolved and it's a KIA result for the other hit Sherman.  Meanwhile, while the battle rages, the US infantry floods into the orchard.  "We have the objective in sight!"
German orders see them move their solitary platoon (for now) off the objective and up a hill to block the Ami's advance.

Meanwhile more US infantry move up into the orchard while the tank battle rages.

Speaking of tanks, Holy Cow, Sergeant!  That's a Panther!
 The Germans move their panther up to try and block the US advance but the infantry gets through.  It's important to mention here that my single diversion from the rules was an experiment in seeing how the game would work with each side having the chance of more orders each turn, so for the action points I rolled 2D6 per side.  This saw some very interesting turns of fortune but really allowed 1 side to develop their battle plan each turn.
US MMGs deploy to cover the approach of the infantry on the right flank.

Those defending Germans suffer RFPs at the woodline.

Meanwhile on the US left, the infantry burst through and occupy the objective!

objective secured sir!
 At this point, all that seems left to do to nail the door shut is capture that small wooded hill on the US right from the Germans.  At that point, they'll have Jerry in a real jam.

German MMGs set up in the townhouse but it's too little, too late.  If they'd have moved there earlier, the US assault on the US left would have been dead in the water.

German panther backs up now, hesitant to remain around all that swarming infantry.  Kills more Shermans.

German MMGs from the townhouse start to take their toll on the US player, who decides to move the infantry "around the back"
US infantry on the right massing to assault the infantry in the wooded hilltop. 
 The US assault on the hill is wildly successful and they push the defending Germans back and kill all of the leading teams.  The subsequent morale check sees the German platoon "beat feet" back to the rear and this game seems to be the US' to lose.  And by that I mean the US is winning!

US troops swarm up the hill and the town, and the German objective, are in sight!

The Germans spend some points on rolling for reserves and get a six!  Their infantry platoon arrive, and just in the nick of time.

The Panther has been using its MGs to good effect to keep the US infantry at bay while the infantry platoon from reserve deploys.

 A firefight breaks out with the US infantry in the woods and, unbelievable, the German shooting over a few turns forces a morale check which they fail.  A US platoon, as well as the tank platoon, retreat.
Seeing this as his last ditch effort to win, the US player attempts to assault the Objective but fails the MC.  No more orders left!  The Germans move some of their reserve infantry up and more shooting sees the loss of more US teams.

 The US forces finally comes to grips with those Germans and loses the assault!  They are pushed back from the woods with only 3 turns left.  The US concede and gives the field to the Germans!

The remaining panther arrives, adding insult to injury for the US player.

Moving those MMG teams up is too little, too late!

Final dispositions.
This was a fun game filled with considerable tension, and no shortage of decisions to make.  Turns out my placement of the German FO was bad as he was killed by the advancing Shermans in the beginning of the game.  The Germans could have made better use of the town but didn't, and the US player might not have needed to leave the safety of the woods around the objective to control the German player.  Even with more order points to be used, the US player botched the use of his artillery and the tubes lay silent the whole game.

I found that using more D6 for the orders made the game move a little faster (it's already a fast game) and allowed some more aggressive moves on the part of the attacking player, which seemed to be dictated by the points each turn.  That was interesting as at any random time, the Germans would surge with activity, and then the Americans would.  There was no determining when this surge would take place but I did enjoy using 2D6 for orders.

The hidden placement and revealing is neat as there are many more important decisions for you to make as the defender, including "where to put stuff."  By the way, those PAK 40s are nasty!  You've been warned!

All in all, a great game to start the New Year off right.  I think I'll play this same game, with the same forces using Neil Thomas' Intro to Wargaming WW2 rules.  Possible even Battlegroup Overlord as well?  Any other suggestions?

I'm also jonesing for a good game of Crossfire as it's been awhile.


  1. excellent report. I really must try HoF, it looks great. Will be interesting to see the battle with other rulesets.
    Have you considered trying it with 'Iron Cross' too?

    1. Thanks Darren - I have not had a disappointing game of HoF yet. I like all of the decisions I get to make and it also produces a fair amount of tension too.
      I would love to play using Iron Cross but I haven't purchased them yet. I still have to purchase them but I do plan on it. They've come up quite a bit in conversation lately.

      I will play this "Town Assault" game with Neil Thomas' WWII Rules next. Can't wait!

  2. Very cool! And no, no killing for the d6 orders lol. That's actually a really interesting idea. The only potential issue that immediately occurred to me is that the "turns" would generally be much longer than normal, meaning that chits are pulled less often, which then affects the balance and the pacing of the game. The question is though, does it make it better?!? :D Which it very well may! Curious to know anything else you can tell me about how that effected your session. BTW, when you called this BIG I was expecting 10 units per side or something! This is about the average size I intended. (Did you notice a difference in feel between your smaller games and this one? Better/worse?

    Thanks again for your reply to my email! Really good insights. I've been working overtime since new years, but I'll send my reply this evening.

    1. Sorry Brandon i should have specified, this game was "big" in terms of my standards.
      I have played games which were technically bigger but the reserve rolls were never met!
      Okay so playing with 2D6 garnered me more flexibility, depending on which side got lucky that turn. Typically one side would get 4, 5, 6 orders and another side might get 2 or 3. Think about the flexibility you have with 6 orders! The cool thing was, it varied so much turn to turn. So one turn The germans have uber flexibility, then the americans. That was kind of cool. I found i could relax the decision making a little so instead of concentrating or dithering on which unit should get the order, i was able to shoot up the enemy a little, move my infantry forward, assault those bd guys in the woods on the other flank.

      I liked the game with more units on the table. There were more options available to me and i immediately wanted even more stuff.

      As far as more dice goes, the game should probably stay as it is now. You have a good balance achieved with the chit pulls and the turns. But it was fun getting to do a little more each turn, IMHO.

  3. Hi Steven,
    Nice battle report; looks very cool too.
    I have been watching the HoF rules evolving (downloading updates from Wargame Vault) and they seem to be steadily improving. Have yet to try them though - presently back in boardgame mode (PanzerGruppe Guderian).
    Have you tried any rules where a stand is a Company?
    Thanks for sharing.