I unexpectedly had part of a day free and invited a few guys over for a WWII skirmish game with the rules I’ve been developing. Several of the folks I invited were unable to attend, but Dave and Chris got passes from their respective CINC’s Domicile and came down. We probably should have spent the day taking photos for Bear Yourselves Valiantly; however, this was more fun.
The scenario involved a meeting of allied generals protected by some Home Guardsman and a Stuart light tank. The Germans have somehow learned of the meeting and dispatched a platoon of Fallschirmjaegers to kill them. The scenario began with the Home Guard deployed around the building. The Germans (led by Dave), decided to attack with all their forces from one side.
Chris quickly redeployed his Stuart and began pumping HE into two groups of Germans. Dave failed his morale check with the platoon HQ. The result was that a random figure decided to run away, being removed from the game. The random figure was the platoon leader, who fled on turn two! (Dave is known for poor morale rolls in all my games, and he did not disappoint us yesterday. At one point, three of Dave’s six teams (half squads) were pinned.
Because Dave had chosen to attack from just one side of the table, half of the Home Guard had no enemy to engage and were forced to redeploy. In this picture you can see that Chris moved one of his two machine-gun teams into the building (placed on the roof during transit for convenience — they were really on the porch) and redeployed a squad of infantry.
In the early part of the game, this was the main engagement area. Chris’ single squad of Home Guardsman was faced by two squads of Germans. HE from the Stuart slowed the Germans down a bit and ran off half of a squad, but Dave kept advancing.
One of the new rules I wanted to test was HE. In this picture you can see a “medium” HE template. In many skirmish games, when it’s time to resolve HE effects, everyone else can go have a snack and do their taxes. I wanted something simpler and faster.
On some of the cards there are some explosion markers (see above). There are more cards with the “larger” makers, fewer with “medium” markers, and even fewer with “small” markers. Once the location of the burst is determined, one card is drawn for each figure in the burst template. If the figure is in a small burst radius and the “small” burst marker is shown on the card, the figure is hit. The player then draws the next card for the effect of the hit. Neither side threw any grenades, but I got to test this out with the HE from the Stuart, and it worked well.
Half of a squad managed to move up to and through the hedge surrounding the house. Dave hadn’t had time to prep for an assault by suppressing the defenders, so this was a gamble.
One of Chris’ redeploying teams of Home Guardsmen, which hadn’t made it into the building, ran around the corner of the house and into desperate hand-to-hand combat. At the top left you can see another team of Germans coming to their assistance. The Germans had better attributes, but Chris bested them.
Despite valiant resistance, the Germans were closing in on the house. The poor machine-gun team that had redeployed to the second story of the house was shot up by the Germans. The allied generals moved to the windows to engage the Germans with their sidearms. In one burst of gunfire, Dave’s Germans killed both Patton and Bradley. The remaining three generals moved to the porch roof as the Stuart crashed through the checkpoint and prepared to pick them up.
As the tank was moving to rescue the generals, two more teams of Germans prepared to assault the house.
Despite getting temporarily bogged down trying to smash through the hedge and German gunfire that wounded Monty, the tank got away with three of the five generals. Since the Germans had killed two of five, the score was three points for Chris (the allies) and two points for Dave (the Germans). I called it a marginal allied victory.
The main thing I hoped to test during this game was morale. (I am running a game at HAWKs night on Friday in which I hope to test tank-on-tank rules.) As discussed in an earlier post, I haven’t been happy with the previous three morale mechanisms I had tried. They weren’t either dramatic or fun enough. Rather than print another set of cards, for yesterday’s game I put the 52 results into a spreadsheet and used the RANDOM function to select one. I figured if it worked, I could then make another set of cards for this week’s club game. I think the results worked quite well. Chris and Dave were concerned about morale checks, units and individuals were affected, and it went fast enough. I think it’s just about there.
Another change I’ll make has to do with the computation of scatter distance. I had envisioned the distance on the cards to indicate scatter distance by octagon “radius,” but we realized that that meant that larger direct-fire HE became less accurate than hand grenades. We used the distance on the card as inches instead of radii, and it worked fine.
The final rule I was testing was having each of the figures have different attributes. Since I haven’t reorganized my 28mm WWII figures and labelled them with identifying numbers, Chris and Dave had some trouble keeping track of which figure was which on the table. I’ve been designing this game to scale, depending on the players’ desires. You can play the game with the entire team having the same attributes, in which case you don’t need the record sheet at all and can merely mark wounds on the table. You can play the game with the entire team having the same attributes but track wound location and effects. Finally, you can play the game with each figure having different attributes. As you ratchet up the complexity, you ratchet down the number of squads a player can manage while keeping the game running smoothly. Except for trouble keeping track of which figure had which attributes, this worked fine as well.
I had set up a scenario for up to six players and only had two. As a result, both Chris and Dave had too many figures to control. Despite that, the game moved along pretty quickly. I think if each player had just one squad, and if there were more decks of cards around the table, the game would really zip along.
I am really encouraged by the way the rules are working out; although, I don’t intend to try to publish them. First, the game would be pretty expensive because you need a deck of 52 effects cards and a deck of 26 activation cards. Second, I don’t want to go through the painful, error-prone, open to criticism process of researching the armor values of all the tanks I’d have to include. Third, I’m tired of going through the arduous process of writing, laying out, and photographing a book only to be bashed by a reviewer and overlooked by folks because they are not one of the “cool sets.” This will be something I may begin to run at conventions, but mostly I’m doing this as a side project for myself. I need to start putting less time into this and get down to the task of writing the rules for Bear Yourselves Valiantly.