Monday, March 28, 2016

Storm Over Normandy another outing

Had another go at this excellent little game with my Dad tonight.
We realised we had played a couple of things wrong on initial outing last week.
We had neglected to play the normal impulse phase on Turn 1 instead just doing the initial invasion stuff.
A bigger error was that we failed to realise that units could enter an enemy occupied area without having to conduct an Assault.
So in tonight's game things went much differently.
Allies still suffer early in game from jack of victory points and must push hard mid game to get to at least one German reinforcement Zone whilst minimising casualties.
This time the British firmed a better beachead and consented Caen early but they still suffered losses to 12th SS and Panzer Lehr onslaughts.
However these suffered losses themselves.
On US front Utah fell quickly and half of Omaha and the Airbourne had a better landing.
After turn 4 the US had upper hand and eventually managed to get St Lo reinforcement zone and them
pumped as many units into it on last couple of turns to gain the required 30+ VPs.
So a bit closer to history with British soaking up the pressure of better German units around Caen whilst US consolidate then push forward.
A really slick and fast play game this with plenty for both players to do. 
Burden of attack firmly on the Allies but Germans can make some key counter attacks (British Paras obliterated in our game and Sword beach contested) and can slow Allies but occupying key areas.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I Ain't Been Shot Mum game played

Played scenario three 'Action At Galmanche' from IABSM3 today at Stephens in order to give the rules a try after our positive view of Chain Of Command.
Of course different scale with these being based around an Infantry Company rather than a single Platoon as in COC.
We stumbled greatly over the card deck at start being unsure as to which cards are in from beginning.
After playing a few turns then restarting we realised that its simply the Tea Break Card and two opposing Blinds cards.
Once we saw how Blinds interact with the Spotting rules and Tea Break Card it all came clear.
We then found the various Movement, Shooting, AFV and Shock rules easy to pick up (as essentially same/similar to COC) and the game fairly cracked along.
The rules have several ambiguous concepts (which the writers sort of expect player to 'common sense' a solution.
For example not very clear when/if the Forward Observer card appears in deck or if he has to Deploy from a Blind to take actions.
Also whilst it states tanks can fire Smoke the rules do not seem to cover it specifically (only indirect barrage style smoke is outlined) and we remain unsure if a single tank can fire smoke or how large its effect area is ?
Infantry units are fairly brittle as they can take combos of kills and shock often in large amounts.
One thing we really liked was the multiple actions units can perform each activation (degrades through casualties and shock) and how they can activate on their own card or relevant Big Man card, this made the single German PAK40 very effective in the game despite facing 4 Shermans.
The 'Ronson' rule make Sherman crews brittle with high chance they will abandon their tank.
As in most WW2 games the attacker has a tough old time against concealed and dug-in troops especially when lacking Artillery support (I got only a preliminary stonk).

On balance I liked the rules in many aspects but would probably plumb for Panzer Grenadier Deluxe or the Battlegroup series as 'go to' sets.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Storm Over Normandy played

Managed to get a game of newly acquired Storm Over Normandy from MMP Games (a high quality 'insert' in the Special Ops house magazine.
A nice fast playing area style game covering the landings on 6th June 1944 through to 13th June only.
Lacks meat/chrome of Breakout Normandy or Normandy '44 but compensates for this with a nice decision process regarding the useage of the varied tactical cards included.
Usual alternating impulse sequence of these style games makes for exciting and interactive play.
Allies really need to attack relentlessly as the have a fairly tough Victory Point schedule to maintain especially as any VP locations held by Germsns count in the negative.
Essentially the Allies must achieve a sort of early breakout as the capture of a German reinforcement zone yields VP for every Allied unit therein (of course only if a line of communication to a beach zone is maintained)
A key rule is that in order to move an assault an enemy area you must discard a card from your hand thereby losing its tactical event.
Allies start with low hand count and can never exceed 7 (based on 2 plus number of beachheads held) whereas Germans generally have 5 (after initial invasion turn plus extra for holding Caen and Bourgebous areas which are also VP locations)
As the impetus to attack and gain ground is on the Allies this often produces a quandary as to how best to use cards and another caveat is any list Allied units deuce 1 or 2 VP on turn of loss. 
Cards have several types such as Artillery (a 6-8 firepower attack on an area) 88s, Armour Support, Naval Power, Jabos and several other able to be used singly or in combinations to affect attacks or defence.
Couple of single use cards such as Hitler Commits Panzers (all German reserves arrive 1 turn early) or its counter Where Is Patton ? add an abstracted strategic layer.
German beach defenders are represented by variable strength Strongpoints which much be eliminated before Allies can capture and then exit the beach zone. 
The Allies do get Support Points (Naval Gunfire) to supplement attack strengths.
All in all we really enjoyed this being able to set up, learn and play within 5 hours or so.

In our game a horrible invasion turn by my Allies (fully capturing only 1 beach and with US Airbourne units all being Spent) put me on back foot ie -10 VPs.
Thereafter a vicious struggle ensued in Caen area as Yanks failed to get off their invasion beaches with 
Utah not being cleared until turn 6 !!
12th SS are a powerful force in the game as they arrive enmass with best attack and defence strengths in game and need to be contained or they can threaten Briish beaches.
I did manage to open a corridor past Caen to a German reinforcement zone but with Panzers about I could not commit to many units into it (they do yield 1 VP per turn but they cannot return to map)
To win Allies must at least 5 of the 6 beach areas and accumulate 30 VPs however at games end had all 6 beaches but a mere 4 VPs. 
The loss of several Allied units in the bloodbath at Caen was costly as it offsets an VP gains made.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chain Of Command first try........................and other stuff

Been rather sparse with spare time last few weeks but did manage to get a game in today against Stephen.
We decided to try out Chain Of Command from Too Fat Lardies which I have had since publication but never tried in 'anger'.
I set up a quick table top and rolled for scenario type which yielded an attack versus defence background.
Stephen chose to use American Armoured Infantry in defence s and I chose German Panzer Grenadiers as attackers.
After rolling for support I gained 10 points and Stephens lot 3.
I picked a Stug IIIG (mainly to try vehicles) and a Flamethrower section.
Stephen selected a Sniper as his support.

We found the Patrol and Jump Off points pre-game stuff quite interesting with some thought required when placing and moving the Patrol markers.
Certainly a nice simple method to set up an encounter and to deploy units on table.

The game itself turned out to be an enjoyable and interesting time.
I was worried that with our 15mm multi-based stands on the standard 6' x 4' table there would be too much space or conversely that the units would be to constricted on deployment.
However this turned out not to not make any difference as far as we could tell as most weapons range over the whole table (as per Crossfire) anyhow with terrain being the main restriction on firing.
The systems for moving, shooting and morale are sort of standard Lardie with some twists bit the replacing the usual card system for Command by dice was a very intriguing change.
We both started with 5 Command dice but found that the Yanks having two Senior Commanders by default was a great asset with their 3 Command Initiatives combined with 9" Command radius made them very useful chaps indeed.
In hindsight I would have been much better taking a second Senior Officer as Support than the flamethrower team.
We both thought the Stug had the potential to dominate the game but as it can only activate on a roll of 3 this proved unfounded (in fact it done very little).
Initially we forget that you can combine certain dice to make higher amounts but even so the vehicle was much less useful than another Squad or Team.
I like Chain of Command dice which is a nice way to generate a sort of 'joker' event of course requiring 5s to gain these dice (1 per 6 x 5s thrown) I gained a fat zero whilst Stephen managed to generate two !
Game really hinged on us both racing to a large building on my left but as Stephen managed to roll 2 x 6s he got a continuing initiative allowing him to beat me into the building and then to shoot my Grenadiers to shreds .
Again this is a nice simple system which allows a side to hold initiative and therefore allows units to potentially activate more than once before enemy can react (use of Overwatch pr Covering Fire can offset this a tad), this reminded me in some ways of the effects of initiative flow in Piquet.

I like the system of Shock which again is a simple but effective way to measure unit morale/degradation during a game and the use of Officers to Rally it off.

Overall Force Morale is also handled fairly simply with a roll per Broken or Destroyed unit garnering 1-3 drops in morale levels (Germans started at 8 and US at 9).

Of course being a new set of rules we had one or two small queries but nothing show stopping.

The table set up (Yanks set up their Patrol markers 18" from lower edge)

US MG Team goes on Overwatch in wooded area as Stug depolys

The race to buildings begins.................................

1 point of Shock on MG Team

The erstwhile Stug......................................

Of course despite lack of gaming time I did manage to acquire more rule sets (some via PDF)

Also a couple of board wargames one being a 2nd edition and the other the content of a Special OPs magazine.