Saturday, March 27, 2021

Field of Battle 3 - another solo Seven Years War bash

Set up and played, over last 2 days, a solo SYW game with FOB3 pitting Russians against Prussians, as I want to try to keep a handle on these excellent rules whilst in gaming limbo.

Used a randomly drawn Seasons of Battle map card to select terrain then just drew up two opposing forces that seemed 'balanced'.

Russians nominally defending a stream and village against attacking Prussians.

Both sides had 3 Infantry Brigades and 2 Cavalry Brigades with Russians having more Infantry and Prussians superior Cavalry (23 Russian and 18 Prussian units).

Russians had a lowly D8 CinC and an Average deck, the Prussians a D12 CinC and a Superior deck.

Russians deployed (on left) defending the line of stream.

Prussians arrayed to attack

View from Prussian lines

The game played out really quickly with Russian Artillery (2 medium and 1 heavy batteries) dealing a lot of punishment to approaching enemy, whilst Prussian guns (2 medium batteries) inflicted minimal damage in return.

But once the forces engaged each other the Prussians gained some revenge especially in melee combats.

The Prussian mounted on their right (Kuirassier and Hussars) attacked straight across the stream after a good run of move segments were gained, against the weak Russian horse (weaker Cuirassier and Hussars) and pretty much wiped them out in short order.

A more even dual between Infantry forces, with Prussian Grenadiers on their left suffering losses and just about holding on as Russian mounted attacked, albeit mostly poor Dragoon units.

In center however the Prussians decimated Russians brigade around the village and bridge and this led to a huge drain on Russian Army Morale (Russians had 32 Prussians 25) and they failed the very first Army Morale Check due to poor CinC.

Despite being forced to solo yet again this was a short sharp but fun outing with this never disappointing rule system, I still love the game narrative the system builds and the lack of formal (ie predictable) turn sequencing leads to some great and exciting moments even solo. 

However roll on face to face gaming !!

Russian Infantry faces off vaunted Prussian foot at steam bend

Emplaced Russian cannon bombard

Heavy (12pdr) battery joins in 

Inferior Russian horse cower behind stream with Prussian mounted seeming so far away

Overview of early stages of engagement

Russian right wing mounted try to turn Prussian flank, but Frei Korps and Grenadiers bloody their nose (Horse Grenadiers routing)

Prussian Infantry stalls in Disorder after a Brigadier is shot from saddle

Crunch time in center as Russian foot forced to flee by oncoming Prussians

Prussian mounted wing has forced the line of stream and crushed the enemy horse.

Then they ride to threaten Russian left (note the massed Russian losses in foreground, by contrast Prussians lost just 1 Grenadier unit although they did Rally several Routing units)

Russian Brigade of Grenadiers heemed in (they took no part in action)

12pdrs have been overrun and Russian center in real difficulties

As Prussian force the line of stream here too.

Russian right wing to slow to engage

Overview as Russian yielded the field..............................

Ulster Wargames Society - Zoom game of 'Kiss Me Hardy'

Monthly meeting of club today (online of course) and David Pentland (artist of renown) set up a Napoleonic Naval game over zoom using 'Kiss Me Hardy' rules.

All brand new to me as not a naval buff at all but quite easy to pick up (with Daves direction) the basics.

Scenario was I believe set after Trafalgar with 4 French Ships trying to escape a pursuing British Squadron (also 4 but 1 delayed).

I was given command of a 3rd Rate French Frigate (?) named the 'Monte Blanc' which saw plenty of action I went straight at the oncoming British managing to rake 3 ships with broadsides and bow cannon, despite taking a pounding.

My ship and that of Dave Brown (cant recall name) ended up grappling each other and I was was in process of trying to repel boarders.

British ships similar in guns and ratings but seemed to have elite crews of 'Jack Tars' whilst French were mostly average crew.

Plenty of tacking into wind and broadsides and suchlike from all the other ships, with Dave (there are a glut of Daves in club !) Buick managing to sail his French ship for harbour which was I believe a French objective

All good fun even though we did not completely finish game.

Not sure what scale the ships were or manufacturer but they certainly looked good in action.

Only managed a quick screenshot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

O Group - online game

Had an online session with Stephen today with the Cristot scenario (simply as I still had it set up on table).

Again use of iPad not ideal but it worked ok overall.

We managed to get through 5 full turns utilising all rules with notable exception of Close Combat rules (just never happened)

Nice to try rules with a second brain instead of solo.

We both really liked the Command Orders system with the interesting level of decisions it garners. 

Both agreed the shooting and movement systems are pretty broad brush but do work for the Battalion level game.

We were fairly shifting through the phases after a couple of turns and using the QRS mainly (couple of queries easily sorted with rule book)

We likely deployed tanks and ambushes rather quicker than would usually be prudent as we wanted to try out various interactions of unit types. 

We did not finish game (iPad runs out of battery after about 3 hours of video linkage).

Only 'raised eyebrows' were in discussion after playing with some stats queried such as the Panzer IVG-J versions seeming to have rather generous armour (8 to Sherman/Cromwell/T34 on 7) and the poor old Russians who are rather hard done by with the (nominal) points system and some 'national characteristics' included.

But overall we enjoyed the game and hope to get it to table when proper gaming returns in due course (hopefully) as another decent choice for a WW2 game.

The iPad in action

German Platoon defends a farm (note Order marker turned face down after Offensive phase to assist in recalling which units received orders in turn (important for Regroup Phase)

British Platoon with attached Vickers MMG

Sherman Troop skulking in orchard

View from British center

British left where A Coy attacked later supported by C Coy from reserve.

A Sherman falls victim to Panther

Strong British push on their left

British Platoons held up in center (Green = 1 hit Yellow = 2 Red = 3 to assist whilst online) 

Panther on central heights having just Rallied off 2 hits caused by Heavy Artillery stonk (the FOO nearby escaped unscathed)

German 2 Coy defends in strength on their left

A supporting MG42 (MMG) engages from ambush

German 3rd Coy outnumbered on right (1st Coy defended Cristot)

Monday, March 08, 2021

O Group - Cristot scenario several solo turns played (a bit wordy)

Managed to play through 5 solo turns with O Group today getting a decent delve into the rules.

Turns are split into a Command Phase wherein you roll your Battalion dice to generate available Orders and Initiative, this then leads to the Combat Phases termed firstly Offensive and then Defensive. Then finally a Regroup Phase which allows limited free actions (2 for attacker and 1 for defender) with units that were not ordered during turn.

The Command Phase starts with rolling your dice (generally 9 but can reduce) to obtain total orders for the turn. 1's are duds unless you roll 3 which causes one of your Companies to go Hesitant (reduced capabilities), 6's generate HQ orders (to a max of 6) and 2-5 generate Company Orders. There a few twists to this once 'Fubars' appear (1 for every 4 sections lost) and HQ Orders can be used to boost totals at possible cost of Initiative loss.

Initiative is then decided by a 2D6 dice-off with current HQ Order total added, with the winner  determining who takes each phase and gaining 1 extra Company Order (something I kept forgetting).

Then its into the real meat of the system with the Combat Phases.

Company (and if you wish HQ) Orders are used at varying rates to conduct actions with Company Command Orders allowing possible second actions in a given phase (but can be costly in number of Orders used).

There are several Orders (I wont list them all) as one would expect with the most used being the Fire/Move order. This allows units to Fire and Move, Move and Fire or simply Move or Fire. There are Orders to Rally, Deploy, commit Reserves and call in Mortars or Artillery.

The enemy (orders totals permitting) can react to Firing or Movement with a React Order to either fire back or attempt to Opportunity Fire at a moving target.

There are a lot of decisions to make as to how best to utilise your limited Company Orders (think 9 was most either side had in my game) combined with possible use of the HQ Orders and the Company Command Order option.

There just never seem to be enough orders to do everything you want in a turn and indeed whether to retain any for reaction purposes. Company Orders are discarded if unused unlike HQ Orders which are retained.

I managed to go through just about every order and conducted lots of Movement, Shooting, Bombarding with only exception being not having conducted any Close Combats.

Units use Tactical Bounds which simply means you declare your intended finishing position prior to moving with such movement based on rolling 2-3 dice and according to circumstances moving that amount toward destination.

The Spotting rules are rather clever with units in Cover (and some other situations) requiring the firer to roll a Spotting Dice which either generates a Spotted or Obscured result which in turn effects the possible outcomes of fire (obscured targets are harder to inflict hits upon).

Units fire by Platoon or Tank/Independent section. Again I wont spell out every action but as an example a standard Infantry Platoon of 3 sections firing small arms would roll 2 dice per section for of course 6 total (possibly adjusted up or down for moving etc) needing standard 4+ to hit. If in target in the open no spotting roll required but if in cover a separate dice is rolled with 1-3 meaning an Obscured shot and 4-6 a Spotted shot. The target Platoon/Section then rolls against its morale to save hits again based on being Spotted or Obscured. Each 'unsaved' hit generates 1 Shock marker. When a unit accumulates 2 Shock it is Hesitant, 3 it is Suppressed and any further Shock causes possible or actual KIAs. 

Indirect HE is similar but hits all Platoons within a burst circle of 4-6" radius with multiple dice eg Bttn Mortars roll 5D6 per target.

Anti-Tank firing is based on a 2D6 roll (with some adjustments) requiring 7+ to achieve a hit. A strike value is compared to an armour value with +/- difference applied to another 2D6 roll with possible outcomes of destroyed, damaged or unperturbed.

In my game I had a 75mm Pak40 which is a superior gun fire from ambush and fail miserably twice to hit Sherman target whilst a 50mm L60 standard gun hit and brewed a Firefly on second attempt.

I also 'massed' the 2 available German MG42s (MMGs) into a single Platoon instead of attaching them out. Whilst this generated a whopping 12 firing dice it made them rather vulnerable to enemy particularly Mortars.

The British attackers did accumulate 1 Fubar marker having lost 3 Infantry sections and the Firefly and this reduces your HQ Orders by 1 unless you decide to ignore the Fubar when rolling for orders but with added risk of a Company becoming Hesitant.

Several units (those MG42s in particular) took varying amounts of Shock, seeing them go Hesitant or Suppressed (if not KIA) but most were able to Rally the shock, but of course this costs an Order that cannot then be used for other tasks. The Regroup Phase can be important in this regard as Rallying is an allowed action but only if unit performed no other order in either Combat Phase.

The above is a very cursory look of the rules but suffice to say I found the rules to be very good for the level of game they are aimed at. There is a nice balance of playability vis complexity and flavour (much like authors Panzer Grenadier Deluxe set which I also like) and always plenty of interesting decisions to make every turn and phase. I like the fact that the attacker really does need a plan in order to effectively deploy his reserves and use Orders to concentrate on taking key objectives, trying to wing it will lead to wasted opportunities and frustration.

I am of course far from offay with all the possibilities and consequences inherent in the Command and Orders system. Solo play is also less than ideal to delve into the game fully as quite a lot to learn and remember and am sure I made several errors.

Probably my only negative thought is that the game by design really only works for a single Battalion versus a single Battalion (even multiplayer options simply pair off Battalions) so might be limited for historical scenarios ? There are army 'lists' with points included with these being based around a core Infantry Battalion with lots of support and reserves options which appear workable.

Very keen to try these rules in a proper face to face game (hopefully in next few months ???).

There is an excellent video of the rules in use at Storm of Steel: 

NB - this video does contain a few errors in rule play most of which are noted by author but still gives a very good overview of system

And of course the Too Fat Lardies UTube channel has lots of great stuff by the author for those looking more information.

MG42s hit by 3" Mortar stonk have 2 Shock (dice) and are Hesitant (yellow puff)

British platoon has taken a farm house (a Phase Line objective) but fellow Platoon is Suppressed (red puff) and whittled down to a single section (they passed a Rout roll to stay on table)

Another platoon invests an orchard before Cristot

German left is strong with 2 deployed platoons, one still in Ambush (green puff)

A British Combat Patrol has pushed forward

Another hesitant British platoon after being caught in open by enemy Mortars

Sherman Troop appears on British right in support of B Company

British Infantry pushing towards another farm to clear enemy Combat Patrol

British platoon pushes forwards to engage MG42 unit

Second Tank Troop moves to support A Company

MG42s now suppressed as further Mortar barrage hits (green dice denotes ongoing point of aim)

German platoon appears in Cristot and has taken fire

A firm German line of defence

British Battalion HQ now sporting a Fubar marker and reduced HQ Orders

A Firefly brewed by a Pak38