May 19, 2019 we had our first training game. I said it wasn’t a real battle but rather a training exercise so there wouldn’t be too much embarrassment when things went terribly wrong or to be too worried about rules perfection.
We started out with a 1940 First Wave German platoon and 1939 British Platoon with numerous support items. (Click here for PDF of the forces’ tags.)
As a last-minute change in plans, our host with a 4×4′ table had an emergency and so we were had to move the battle to a 2×4′ table. So we threw out the fourth German section and 50mm mortar plus all the British support. Being a “training game” we figured that it need not be balanced.
The British (Matias) rolled 11 on Force Morale and my Germans rolled 8. Uh oh.
This is the Probe scenario, so the image above is of the British patrols’ first move (the round British flag markers at top.) At the bottom, the Germans patrols are champing at the bit with their markers still stacked by tags that I made for the first game that summarized teams and leaders’ unique qualities. I also made each side a little copy of the two key fire charts for To Hit and Results for each side.
So all patrols on one side (the British) have moved to within 12″ of an enemy patrol and so they are marked with a red wink. The German patrol at the bottom is not within 12″ but cannot move more because the other side is all locked.
The German section has set up an overwatch position because they expect the British to make into the house before them. Note the Jump-Off Point behind (large disk with supplies piled up).
In my mind, these “naturalistic” Overwatch markers, logs marked with (0) are more diorama-like than giant, abstract markers that look like a Las Vegas sign for Hotel Overwatch fell crashing down.
You will also note that my three squads are ID’d with differently-colored bricks: red, brown and gold, another naturalistic marker.
Yes, I went out in olive grove and found various sticks, broke them and put orange flock on one side to denote Overwatch and yellow “moldy” flock on the other side (plus lichen) to denote Tactical. It’s two markers in one!
Not all the twigs were nicely bent and I realized that they were unlikely to stay right side up without gluing another twig for a tripod effect.
If you go back to earlier photos, you will see that these markers were scattered around to generally complete the forest “look” and when needed snatched away to place to the front of a team.
And, so, the other side of each orange log assembly (1) is yellow mold & lichen to denote Tactical.
The bigger scene that (1) above this photo is from. (2) is are the tags that I made for each team to help with the training. (3) is a thin disk stuck under a figure to denote the Junior Leader du jour. Half the disk is a muddy brown and sticking out the disk denotes a Junior Leader but the other half is pure green and by rotating can denote a Senior Leader.
The disks are Flex Steel from Litko and I placed a magnet on the figure’s stand to attract it. But using neodymium magnets is a mistake because they want to cause adjacent troops to “embrace”. So I decided that the blue FunTac goop was a better attractor.
Here’s a close-up of the (2) tag and (3) Junior Leader’s marker. The PDF for these tags can be found by clicking here.
Here both sides are deploying and then moving in later phases. Note that Matias has placed some nice French posters on the blue house.
So the British really want to get in that house and throw an extra die and pick up shock.
One shock is denoted by this (1) tiny die which is been shoved into green-painted foam core square, punched with hole-punch and glued to a clear plastic square.
You will note due to a lack of British organizational efficiency, the gold-bricker Bren team has joined the redbricker rifle team.
Due to atypical German inefficiency, the British have made into both houses. The Germans are waiting for them—though I cannot remember why only one team has its Overwatch marker.
Many phases have passed without any of the commanders taking photographs. And so to update you:
- The Germans have whittled down both houses’ occupants and has a great idea: it’s only a training exercise, let’s try a close assault!
- Even though outnumbered, the British win the close assault though their sole survivor breaks and runs out the front door and into the field across the lane.
- The Germans pair of survivors runs out the back windows and realizing their excessive shock vamoose further into the woods.
- So the white house is empty.
- The German overall commander says “Okay, lets not do that in an actual battle.” And stations the third squad to fire on the other house.
- Then he has another brilliant idea and sends the rifle team around the open flank to take the British Jump-Off Point eliminate the sole survivor and take a pot shot at the British platoon commander who’s been hanging around the back of the other house shouting orders.
- On balance, it would have better to keep the rifle team to make sure that the LMG was operational.
The Germans get their Force Morale down to one and the British with much higher remaining Force Morale but their troops down to very few. Even so, I figure it’s at least the 83% that the Germans are going to run away eventually and my last bus is coming so I tell the troops, lets run away.
It was fun and the limitations do make the game (as my buddy, Bob Bledsaw used to say).
Having more room to maneuver and support items would have been more interesting. I think the 28mm scale buildings are too big for 20mm. The buildings dominate the table when just 2 feet wide. Probably better if we’d advanced from the long edges.
We also decided that on balance, we’d rather go with 15mm troops—if I can see to paint them! So I’m trying that shortly. And smaller, wooden or no buildings ideally.
I am a bit concerned that almost all teams seem to fight to the last man (seems ahistorical but that’s pretty much what used to happen in Tractics too). But I recognize that could be because we aren’t doing something right rules-wise.
Matias did a better job of managing his British and I was pretty awful with the Germans.
Even after playing, I’m still puzzled about dice driven activations and initiatives. I wonder if we were combining them “too much”. But I’m so unclear about the intended “flow chart” options, I can’t say. I have always felt that games often miss the opportunity to create summarizing Quick Reference Charts that can help clarify these sort of things. While the the QRS made by Mike is a good start, I’d really want to do a bit more of the basics as a flow chart than be so complete on lists of all the various weapon systems. But before I can do that, I will need to understand how it works.