Tuesday, January 26, 2021

RAPID FIRE RELOADED - Take the High Ground!

 World War II month grinds on with some more solo gaming in the gaming bunker last night with me finally putting a "proper" game of Rapid Fire Reloaded on the table!  I've been wanting to do this since the rules came out!

I used a quick "out of the box" scenario from the Neil Thomas "One Hour Wargames" book - an old staple of mine - Scenario #4 "Take the High Ground."  Rather than use large amounts of figures and a "proper" OOB, I diced in the NT forces generator and rolled up 3 German infantry units (8 figure companies now!), 2 mortar units (a battery!), and an armor unit, a Panzer IVG Troop!  The Soviets have an infantry-pure force with 4 infantry companies, an AT battery, and a mortar section.  Can the Germans take the high ground?  Germans have 33 total figures and the Soviets have 37 total figures.  BP is 50% of those figures.

Soviet rolling is abysmal the entire game with their AT gun constantly missing the panzer IV, and their infantry failing to hit the broadside of a barn.  Even the mortars consistently fail to zero in on their targets...

The Germans march up - the Battalion in line, manuevering under fire with the panzer platoon and mortars providing a steady stream of fire support!  The Germans reach the base of the hill easily in 3 turns and prepare to assault the Soviet positions!  Meanwhile the Soviet Battalion in reserve steadily makes its way up to reinforce.

Providing Fire Support to the advancing Landser

Over the top!  The Germans reach the hilltop and storm the trenchline!  

The AT gun battery is wiped out

Soviets rush to defend the trench!

Firefight at the opening of the trench system!  Grenades, shovels, and angry words are thrown.
The Germans win both engagements and the Soviet infantry company breaks off and retreats.  RFR has a slightly different system from RF2 it's big brother.  Instead of a D10, the defenders, roll a 1D6 and add2 to the result.  Not nearly as potentially dramatic as the D10.  The attackers 

Panzer swings around to engage infantry reinforcing the hill!  The Soviets are about to mount a 3 x company counter attack!

The Soviets charge up the hill and engage the Germans now in the trenchline

Cool action shots - another Soviet counterattack!

More fighting!
It's tense but the Germans prevail again (this was almost totally due to luck and the fact that the Soviets were slightly attrited on their way into the assault by the German mortar battery and some great shooting from the panzer troop.

The Soviets reach their breakpoint easily and fall back the prescribed distance.  It's over, comrade!
Kings of the Hill

Soviets back to their starting line

Like I said, the Soviets had abysmal dice rolling for the entire game with many volleys scoring zero hits and the Germans for whatever reason scoring extremely well.  That and the 2 x tube mortar battery really racking up the kills.  This game had no heavy weapons except for the Soviet AT gun and the German mortars and the tank platoon.  I think if there would have been some added HMGs in there, you'd definitely see the need for smoke.  I also did not play with ambush fire for this game but will likely do so in another "training scenario."


It's always refreshing to see when rules authors listen to their gamers.  I belong to the Rapid Fire facebook group and I have to say I'm seeing many of the changes recommended by gamers on that group over the last 5+ years and those changes seem to have made the game run even more smoothly and more quickly (that's saying something because it already was a fast game).  Granted, the very small rulebook leaves you to figure some things out for yourself (just how IS an AT gun taken out?  Kill all the crew and that's it?  I seem to remember RF2 had rules for that) but the authors seem to have put very much thought into weeding out extraneous text and focusing on the rules that are important.  

Small Arms fire is much better now with multiples of 2 firing 1D6 and a simple to-hit chart that accounts for range and terrain.

Also the cool rules for HE are still there and work even better now.  Artillery is easier to call in with your radio check failing on a "1" now.

In my book, these rules score extremely high in tactical flavor, effectiveness, and give a very fun game.  They are definitely "mega game" worthy and I want to put them through their paces even more with some historical scenarios. 

I do get that people dislike the bathtubbing, but there is something fun about basing your toy soldier OOBs off figure counts and battalion/brigade strengths, replicating neat support vehicles like radio vans and Artillery OPs, and having command posts on the table.  I will definitely play these again and once we've played enough Flames of War, I may put some RFR games on for my group!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

World War II City Fight w/ Neil Thomas' WWII Rules

 Everyone who reads this blog knows how much I like the World War II rules from "Wargaming: An Introduction."  (W:AI) Their simplicity and effectiveness just can't be beat, in my humble opinion.


So this weekend, while re-doing my actual gaming table surface, I had a go at a quick and brutal street fight using the WWII rules from W:AI.  I'm also using my modifications to these rules, which you can read about here.

New design for flock - I also repainted, re dry-brushed, and resealed the new flock.  Looks a bit better now - not so scattered and random.

Germans coming from lower left, Soviets from upper right.  Germans must hold the center building.  Soviets must capture it.

Pretty simple scenario - meeting engagement between German and Soviet forces in a ruined city, somewhere on the Eastern Front.  The Soviets are fielding almost 2 whole platoons and an HMG section.  The Germans have 3 squads and a Panzer IIIM in support.  That's it!  Can I get an action-packed game in on a 3' x 2' surface area?  I'll let you decide.  The Germans are making a stand in the small building in the middle of teh board.  The Soviets, naturally, must capture this important objective.

Panzer III takes up a firing position - perfect spot to use his 10D6 HE fire against Ivan's infantry squads!

Germans in the rubble defending the objective
Lots of shooting.  The great thing about these rules, like all of the Neil Thomas rules, is that the mechanics come back to you very quickly and soon you dont even need a QRS or the book.  I've always loved the rules from his WAI book and I want to play them alot this year, even if solo.  As Darren would also say - they're "infinitely hackable."  That's true, too, and as I played I thought of plenty of nice little add-ons that you could put into these rules to make them even better.

Soviets sending a squad to outflank the German position - but there is a flank-guard in the building on the right!

All of the table is "cover" due to the rubble.  The tank bogs on a roll of 1 or 2.  For my games, a stand is worth 7 "hits" and all of them fire 3D6 (the LMG's stats - much less fiddly for single based squads)

Soviet assault engineers make it to the building only to be cut down in close combat!
In the center, the Soviets use the building across the street as a jumping off point to launch an assault against hte objective.  They trade fire with the Germans every turn until they decide to break from cover.  Speaking of which, they've sent even more squads around the flank in an attempt to keep pressure on the building.

Firefight with the Germans!  BRING UP THE MAXIM!!

In my games, the HMGs are simply add-ons to a squad's personnel and firepower.  They fire separately, but when their "escort" squad is gone, they're gone!

meanwhile teh Panzer III is earning his pay.  I love the way HE fire is adjudicated in these rules.

Worth mentioning here that both sides have on-call mortars.  For next time, I'm going to limit the fire missions available to both sides.  in this game, both sides blasted the other at will with no ramification or ammo to worry about. 

I also played the morale rules "as-is" and if a squad took a casualty in one turn, they must pass a morale check at the beginning of their next turn, and if failed, suffer the results of that failure throughout their current turn.  That is either no move/reduced fire, or no move/no fire.  If you see a red die marking casualties that means that squad failed its morale for the turn.  I recover all squads at the end of the turn they're ""suppressed" (my terminology, not Neil's).

Soviets preparing to move forward in the building.  The HMG will occupy a firing position at the edge of the building and make the Germans lives miserable!

Although it's blurry, here 2 x Soviet squads bound around teh left the assault the tank.  Basically you roll a 6 for each figure (in my case, Strength Point) in the combat.  A "6" destroys the AFV - don't let your armor get into movement range of enemy infantry!  Deadly!

Soviet firing positions, covering their comrades who are advancing

One squad advances - the Germans pin them in their turn so a supporting squad behind them leapfrogs up.  It's a neat little tactic I discovered to move forward under fire.  

A pivotal turn - one of the defending squads in the building is suppressed!  They cant move or shoot.  The Soviets go for broke
The Soviets are able to destroy a German squad in the building one after the other with mortars, HMG fire, and their infantry.  The Germans push up their final reserve squad into the building but the math is telling!

Almost immediately after occupying their new real estate, the Germans come under heavy fire from mortars, MGs, and rifle fire.  Another morale failure at the crucial moment allows the Soviets to assault the building!  

The close combat is a bit odd but it works.  There is a bit of quick math involved but you can see how your current morale value (which becomes a multiplier in close combat) impacts your final tally and there is usually a clear winner and a loser.  In this case, the Germans are wiped out to a man as a fresh Soviet squad mops up.
New landlords, Comrade!

If you were wondering what happened to the Panzer III, it too was destroyed.  Knocked out in close combat by a 2 x point remaining Soviet squad rolling a 6.

This was a great opportunity to not only play one of my favorite WWII rules, but also to showcase that a great and exciting game can be played on a 3 x 2 surface.  I'm experimenting with creating a hexed 3 x 2 space for hex gaming and for nights when I could be bothered with setting up a large, more elaborate game.

So what have you all been up to?  I have to say, I've been sticking to "the plan" as far as gaming and painting are going.  I've been painting up my 10mm ACW figures, and also 15mm ACW figures in anticipation of "ACW Month" in February.  We have 10mm Altar of Freedom on tap to refight the battle of Shiloh, and I want to play both the Neil Thomas ACW rules from WAI, and also play some Black Powder, as well as TFON.  So many fun things to play - so little time!

For WWII, I've been finishing up my 15mm Soviet Sappers, and also making a concerted push to get all of my Soviet and German WWII Microarmor nicely painted and based and ready for a megagame???  I'll say no more on that front to keep you all guessing but suffice to say I think I have our MEGAGAME decided on for this year...and it'll be a big one for those of you who were disappointed with Germantown! 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

BIG(ger) Tigers at Minsk Game: The Guards CounterAttack!

Feeling a little under the weather today (it's NOT COVID!!!) so I cancelled our scheduled Flames of War battle (Suburbs - I was kicked out of the city last week) and instead sat down for some bone-crunching solo-action using Norm's outstanding "Tigers at Minsk" rules and my basic "Squad Leader" boards and counters.  World War II month continues!

The 37th Guards are back!  

The reader will instantly recognize Board #1, and continuing on with the Stalingrad theme of late, I decided to try out some of the theories and concepts put forth in the last attempt at a "big" or "bigger" game of Tigers at Minsk.  While it's a board-game action, this is all in preparation for bigger (smaller?) things to come on the tabletop!  

The German units outside the boxes are not in the game.  I took them out!

This battle featured an almost full-strength Soviet company of 11 Squads and 2 x HMG sections, divided into 3 platoons, 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon, and 3rd Platoon from right to left, fighting against a very depleted German "company" under our hero, Hauptmann Wetzelberger.  To denote the importance of this objective, General Chuikov personally instructed the Battalion Commander to put a seasoned officer in charge of the assault.  The Battalion Commander has place his Operations Officer, Major Kirov in charge of the assault.  It cannot fail!  

Total Soviet Morale is "7"  The "department store" in the middle of the board, is the lone Soviet objective, for which they are allotted 60 minutes to capture.  To represent the hardened veteran nature of the German forces, I tried out some rules today which made the game even more interesting.  German Forces featured extremely depleted "platoons" led by NCOs in some cases.  

The units on the German left, under SGT Hieken are "always in command" as long as the SGT Hieken marker remains alive in a hex or adjacent.  German Force Morale is "4 + 1D2".  The Soviets still suffer from "poor command" meaning they can only pick 1 adjacent hex in command, however command roll failures only occur on a "6" now (Norm's advice).   The Soviets have the first move.

Let's get to the action.

0600 Hours

Major Kirov travels with 1st Platoon initially.  The plan has them occupying the flats across the street from the Department Store.  1st Platoon is to be the maneuver element, with 2nd Platoon providing a base of fire, and 3rd Platoon a diversionary attack.  They move towards "Stalinskoye" Street - no Germans in sight.  The ? question mark marks out of command hexes.

German Opportunity fire marked by the Squad Leader Opportunity Fire marker, is ineffective against Second Platoon's advance into a building, however more opportunity fire pins the squad next to them.

However the HMG under SGT Hieken commanding German 3rd Platoon and the entire left flank sees the Soviets haphazardly moving through a bombed out building.  They open fire with devastating effect.  One of the Soviet squads was already pinned is knocked out and another is knocked out.  Major Kirov hears the familiar chattering of German machine gun firing and knows it cant be good!

Note the white X on the gun - SGT Hieken's HMG section runs out of ammo or breaks.  Damn!  You!  The Pomeranian!  Go run and find ammo.  NOW!  The runner dashes off, not even sure where there is more ammunition.  SGT Hieken wipes the sweat from his brow and curses the men.  Can't you see the attack is starting??!  The Germans remove opportunity fire markers on their turn.  SGT Hieken attempts to find ammo and comes up short.  I roll a "6" and the gun is out of action permanently (aside note - like basic Squad Leader, I allowed a single roll as an action to attempt a 1 or a 6.  6 Disables the gun permanently, and 1 returns it to action.

Meanwhile Hauptmann Wetzelberger attempts to take stock of his situation.  "Hieken can hold - he's a tough SOB.  These men here in the store, my HQs staff and the reserve I'm not so sure.  And where the hell is the reserve squad?"   Suddenly a runner shows up from Hieken's command looking for ammunition.  CPT Wetzelberger has none to give, and Hieken rolls a "6" to fix the gun.  It's permanently out of action!  The section grabs their MP40s and 98k rifles!  (I allowed the section to become a "half section" who can fire 1D6 using a "2-4-7" SL counter!)

Turn 1 both German reserve elements, a squad and an HMG, are out of command to the south.

Meanwhile on the left flank, the runner returns with no ammo.  Hieken rolls a 6!

Congratulations!  You men are riflemen now!

0607 Hours
MAJ Kirov is having command problems of his own.  Even with a "6" failure, Soviet 3rd Platoon on the left has 2 squads out of command!   To make matters worse, 1st Platoon has a squad and the HMG stuck on the road, out of command.  Soviet 2nd Platoon, in position per the plan, opens fire on the department store scoring 2 hits on CPT Wetzelberger's defenders in the store!  The Soviet HMG goes out of ammo now!

Sorry for the poor quality but cutting and pasting really degraded the pic resolution!

For the German turn, CPT W rallies a squad in the department store but the HMG in the northern quadrant fails to rally.

0613 Hours

Finally Major Kirov has all of his Soviet elements back in communications through runners.  3rd Platoon pushes up to the flats in front of SGT Hieken's position.  The reduced HMG section with no HMG immediately scores a PIN result through opportunity fire!  Nice shooting men!  

SGT Hieken's squads PIN a Soviet squad through opportunity fire!

Meanwhile MAJ Kirov focuses on the Germans in the department store.  He personally directs the fire of the men in second platoon and more German squads are re-pinned!  First platoon edges close to the eastern side of the Department Store where they are planning to assault!

The Germans remove their OPFIRE markers and Wetzelberger is running up and down the line ensuring the men are rallied - squads in the department store rally under constant fire from the north and the east.  The MG, however, fails to be fixed again!  It's still a liability from earlier shooting.

The reserve squads inch up to the north to be ready to fire down the boulevard or counterattack the department store.

0621 Hours
MAJ Kirov joins back up with 1st Platoon again to ensure they're getting into position to assault.  More 1st Platoon squads are out of command but the rest move under urging from MAJ Kirov with his drawn pistol.    Meanwhile the Soviet "diversionary" attack, 3rd Platoon, reaches their support-by-fire positions in the building across from SGT H's position on the German left.

Soviet 1st Platoon squads reach their planned assault positions across the boulevard from the Department Store while Soviet 2nd Platoon to the buildings north of the Department Store fire madly to suppress teh defenders.  It's a textbook assault!

All German squads this turn are in command.  CPT W orders the reserves to open fire but they don't have a clear line of fire to the buildings to the north.  The Reserve elements move a squad closer up to the Department Store.  They're now directly across the Street.  At the end of the 0621 turn, all of the Germans in the department store are unpinned.

0625 Hours

Soviets in 1st Platoon are ready to move across the street!  All of 2nd Platoon to the north goes Out of Command!

Meanwhile the Soviets are firing at SGT H's position with 3rd Platoon, pinning a squad!

MAJ Kirov notes the fire slackening from the German positions.  Now is the time!  Go Go Go!  First platoon's squads pop smoke on the boulevard, wait for it to develop (the Soviets are out, now) and make a mad dash across the street.  They charge in 2 groups, with the southern group taking opportunity fire from the HMG in the German reserve position at the south end of the boulevard.

Soviet squads move onto the boulevard to assault the department store!  This is it!

German HMGs to the south open up, pinning a single squad in the southern assault group.  Another German squad opens fire but fails to hit!  They're going to make it to the building!  Faster men, faster!

German OPFIRE is largely ineffective and the Soviets are poised to assault next turn.

Closer look at the action on the boulevard.  During the German 0625 hours CPT W moves a reserve squad over to the eastern side of the building to face the coming onslaught of Russians.  they'll go straight into action!  The men prime grenades, cock machine pistols, chamber rounds and adjust gear.  A cry goes up the line: "IIIIIVAN KOMMMTTTT!!!!"

CPT W moves the broken HMG out of the line of fire as the men prepare to be assaulted.

The Soviet smoke remains in the street.

To the North, MAJ Kirov leads the men in but the Germans throw grenades down onto them on the base floor.  While they charge the stairs, it's too much for the Germans who are cut down as they run.  MAJ Kirov's squad is pinned down but the Germans are eliminated.  The German morale reaches "4" but they roll their 1D2, adding "1" to the morale level.  

0634 Hours

After what seemed like an eternity, the Soviet assault commences.  All Soviet units are also in command this turn.  Soviet shooting on the German left, the diversionary assault, KO's a Squad under SGT Hieken.  He realizes the time has come to abandon this position and move to the department store.

Soviet 2nd Platoon fails to fix the HMG again, but they are able to pin the squad on the north side of the Department store in preparation for the assault.  The men can see MAJ Kirov clearly visible urging the men forward in the street.  The Soviets storm the department store's eastern side with Grenades, PPSH's, rifles, and DPs firing.  The assault is swift, violent, and clearly rehearsed.  The Soviets win the southern combat and gain a toe-hold in the department store!  CPT Wetzelberger, himself a veteran of the 1940 campaign, 1941 Barbarossa, and the push south, is killed in the combat!  No hits are scored on the the Soviets.

I grab the Corporal Uhl counter out.  The uninspiring German junior Non Commissioned Officer, a baker's son from Hesse, is in command of what remains of the 1st Company.  He commands a small HMG section with a broken HMG, but knows there is a large pocket of Germans to the south.  The reserves!  He hears the Soviets yelling to each other and is determined to hold out to the end in the Department Store.  "The men will come for us."  
Soviet Assault against the Department Store

Hieken's men are sprinting towards the Department Store, and the Reserve Elements are packing up/

The German counterattack into the building is successful.
Hieken' men reach the store before he does and a toe hold is created in teh building.

The German reserve element makes another desperate bid for the department store and moves up to counterattack the building.  Uhl's men finally roll a "6" to fix the HMG and magically become a 2-4-7 rifle half section.  They hear German voices to the south!  They move slowly, tactically, through the shattered store complex to reach their Kamaraden.  Soviet OPFIRE against the counterattacking Germans pins a single squad in the street.

0644 Hours
The fight is desperate now as the Soviets must clear out all these Germans by 0700 hours.  The Russians catch up to Uhl and swiftly cut him and his half-section down, wiping them out in close combat.  The Soviets move every available in-command unit up to reinforce the Department Store.  The German HMG in the reserve section fires its last belt of ammo, going out of ammo after cutting down a Soviet squad in the street on OPFIRE.  The German HMG in the reserve position south of the boulevard is now broken, and out of command!

The Soviets now have the SGT H's former building under control.  The Soviets move their HMG into the department store complex.  After constant combat, the Soviets need reinforcements quickly!  Their squads in the store are bleeding out!

Insult to injury?  The German reserve HMG in lower right starts its turn out of ammo, OPFIRE'd, and OUT OF COMMAND?  
The Germans counter attack into the department store with the reserve element squad and capture a toe hold in the southern end!  The tension is unbearable!  MAJ Kirov is busy coordinating reinforcements to get into the building, while the battered men in the building are holding their positions.

0647 Hours
The Soviets spend their turn moving elements forward, hoping the time won't run out.  Their units in the store are out of command!

The Germans Assault another pinned Soviet squad in the department store, going for broke.  They knock it out!  

MAJ Kirov is back in the store again and reinforcements from 2nd Platoon have arrived!  The entire northern sector of the store is in Soviet hands and the now-battered Germans hold the Southern half!

Germans assault the building and knock out another Soviet squad!  They expand their foothold in the store.

Will the clock run out now?

0655 Hours
Soviets consolidate their position and fortify the northern section, and assault the German squad in the SE quadrant and eliminate it!  Remarkably, the Germans pass all of their morale checks and hold in place.  

0701 Hours Endgame!  The battle was a draw.

So How Did This Play?
Wow if you stuck around this long then I applaud your tenacity!  This was a great fight and one where I'm not sure the Germans could have actually won, but rather, achieving a draw is probably the best they could have hoped for.  I was amazed at the lack of "random events" as well as the fact taht all of the HMGs went out of ammo this game.  The number of units on the table was a bit bigger, but the fact that they were spread out more in their organic platoons certainly helped.

More Units - More Killing?
I was concerned, initially, that the larger number of units would see the Germans gobbled up but it wasn't too bad in this game.  The Soviets have much ground to cover and with the buildings canalizing the fighting, it made for a really exciting and tense game, with small "personal" fights developing around the battlefield.  Perfect for the narrative of a desperate Soviet assault, coming in against hardened but threadbare German defenders.  I love this kind of stuff.

Command Rules - Too Generous?
The more generous command rules didn't take away from the game, either.  Rather, they probably sped play along, as both sides rolled many "5s" but I stuck to the "6" out of command rule this time.  So units only went OOC on a "6" roll.  This allowed me to develop attacks but in hindsight playing with another human might make the game even more tense if keeping the 4 or less?  Time will tell.  

Rifle "Half" Sections?
Keeping the HMGs around and turning them into crew stands was an idea to help keep the Germans in the fight a bit longer.  This had some fun results as SGT H's machine gun crew, without their machine gun, were able pin and eventually kill a Soviet squad, and I waited what seemed like an eternity to roll either a "1" repairing or resupplying the HMG in the Department Store, or a "6" finally coming to the realization there's no remaining ammo belts, or the thing is just dead, and creating a rifle stand.  

The rifle half-sections fired as if they were pinned, with only a single 1D6, and were knocked out after 1 hit.  

I didn't play the leaders exactly as if they were always on the table - i moved them around per the rules.  However if they happened to be in a hex that was overrun, I rolled for them.  They were killed on a roll of "6" and both CPL Uhl, and CPT W were killed in their combats.  Again, it added to the narrative.

I have to admit I enjoyed having the leaders remain in their hexes like Squad Leader, and CPT W and CPL Uhl being killed added to the excitement.  

There also was no indirect fire, armored vehicles, or assault engineers throwing satchel charges, but I thought about adding them in for next game.  

I hope you enjoyed this write up.  Think of it as more Tigers at Minsk practice!  As an interesting aside, I have been working on a small 3 x 2 foot board but cannot seem to get it right.  More on this in another post.  

On the painting front, I'm continuing on with the 10mm ACW guys (mostly GHQ and Cracker Line figures) for our Battle of Shiloh game coming up next month.  I found I was 4 Brigade short so I've ordered those and am awaiting their arrival via the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad!

Some other projects on the desk at the moment are finishing up the WWII Soviet Sapper Company, SYW Prussian Fusilier unit, and 2 x 10mm Units of Wurttemburg troops.  No rest for the weary!  Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

PS - Our PC is almost 10 years old now.  With many updates and upgrades, our version of MS Office is kaput so I tried to use the Google Slides to add lines, and dialogue to the photos.  Unfortunately cutting and pasting between them seriously degraded the pic quality.  I found a couple workarounds but it was WAY too much work!  I'll play around with this for future battle reports!  The world's best blog readers deserve world-class blog posts!