Sunday, 28 July 2013

Reserve demolition

Another battle from "Scenarios for Wargames". This time the Poles have to mount a rearguard action then blow a bridge and escape with as many men as they can. Again I used a hybrid of lots of WW2 rules.

The Poles defended with two squads, one HMG, one ATR, one AT gun and two armoured cars.

The Germans attacked with four squads, two HMGs, one SdKfz 222 and two Pz38. Arrival was diced for and the armour would arrive from the east on turn 1 while all of the infantry would arrive from the west on turn 3 with the HMGs arriving on turn 6.

The unsupported armour found it tough going as it encountered woods defended by the ATR and HMG. Unable to manoeuvre past these a firefight ensued. The tanks put in enough fire to keep the Poles pinned for most of the battle and the flank remained fairly static until a Polish breakout in the last two turns. Despite abandoning the HMG the infantry were unable to cross the bridge before it blew! One of the Panzers was immobilised when it got overconfident and drove into the LOS of the Polish AT gun.

On the eastern flank the German infantry arrived and debussed within sight of the Poles but only suffering a few pins. 

As the battle developed these squads leapfrogged each other making use of smoke and the supporting armoured car. The Polish resistance was effective, especially the two LMG teams in South Farm, but the need to blow the bridge meant they had to pull back. Running the gauntlet of German shooting they made it safely to west wood, then the river house and finally over the bridge to the northern bank. 

The Polish armoured cars formed a rearguard but one was lost to the 20mm gun of the SdKfz222. The German infantry ground forward, storming the orchard where the AT gun was emplaced and getting a clear and point-blank view of the bridge just as it blew... the dust settled it was revealed that the bridge had only partially blown. One German squad attempted to storm across but was cut down by Polish infantry in the River House. Before another plan could be implemented there was a sound of groaning masonry and the remains of the bridge collapsed into the river. 

The remaining Poles south of the river (eight riflemen and the ATR operator surrendered. Polish survivors were a rifle team, both LMG teams, one armoured car and all three of their commanders. Losses had been heavy and this could be no more than an honourable draw.

This is a good scenario and the rules felt about right. Polish attempts to fall back were constantly frustrated by the pinning effects of all that German firepower. German casualties were quite light but this was because the Poles had no time to stand and fight, but from turn 4 or so they needed to concentrate on getting away and over the bridge.

Holding action

To compare rule ideas I set up a little scenario and played it twice over the weekend. First I used PBI straight from the book, more or less. Second time I fiddled with lots of variations.

The scenario was based on Holding Action (1), scenario 3 in "Scenarios for Wargames" by C.S. Grant.

The defenders were early war Poles who had four squads of infantry, each with a light machine gun and one squad having an ATR. The infantry were supported by an HMG, light mortar, MG armed armoured car and a single 7-TP tank. 
The German attackers also had four squads of infantry. Their support included  a platoon of 3 HMGs, a light mortar, two PzI, three Pz38 and an SdKfz 222 armoured car.

The Germans clearly had the edge in armour but the poles had decent terrain with fairly open ground. This was deliberate as I wanted this to be tough for the attackers. Set up is shown below:

In the first playing, using PBI it was a bit of a walkover for the Germans although their infantry took a pasting late on. The Poles gained a little from the terrain but the German tanks seemed to pick off the AT guns with ease and the guns failed to hit the tanks before they were eliminated. Some of this was down to poor dice rolls but I don't want a game where chance rules to that extent.

Second time round I tried out the following:
1. Sequence based on "Force on Force" with an initiative side dictating the action but the opponent able to react with defensive shooting. The latter is also similar to ASL.
2. Infantry shooting based on my old ideas for moderns gaming. Firepower dice are similar to PBI assuming 2AP per base but hitting on 5+ if stationary or 6 if moving. Results are then determined by a morale check on the target, modified by hits scored/cover/leaders/etc. the degree of any failure dictates the outcome: pinned/retreat/base-loss.
3. Modified to-hit for tank and AT guns, similar to Bolt Action. Single die roll: 1 is a miss, 6 is a critical hit. Die roll modified by movement, cover, pinned, subsequent shots after the first and so on. A critical hit adds one die to the shooters firepower. I kept the PBI system for penetration/defence but then used the Bolt Action table to resolve the effect of any unsaved hits.
4. German infantry had smoke grenades and could pop smoke into an adjacent square by spending one AP and passing a task-check (morale test with no penalty).
5. the system of motivation/APs was kept from PBI which worked but I think needs tweaking for vehicles.
6. Pinned units needed to pass a task check to fire and then used half of their normal number of dice.
7. Pinned units were given two pin markers. One was removed at the end of each turn. Pins could also be removed by passing a task check at the cost of one AP for infantry or half of the diced-for APs for vehicles and guns; success removing any and all pins on the unit.
8. Woods count as cover with a +2 modifier to morale but -2 against mortars (air bursts)

All of this worked very well. The AT guns in the woods wee able to engage the tanks with success and proved tricky to winkle out; but weren't invulnerable. The small arms rules worked well and the Poles scored a notable success when they routed one German squad back into a copse where another squad was in reserve and then hit both with some accurate mortar fire, sending both squads tumbling back to the baseline, destroying a rifle group and an MG42 group in the process.
The PzI tanks proved to be useful support to the German infantry although one was immobised by AT fire. Even the Polish armoured car was useful as a mobile pill-box. 
Eventually all three Pz38s were knocked out on the right flank but not before taking out an AT gun and immobilising the TP-7.
This version of the game was at least as quick as the PBI playing and was less stilted as each side was involved right through each turn.
All in all I was pleased by the result of mixing up all of these bits poached from different rules!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Little game

I played a quick solo game based on the article by Rich Clarke in the latest MW.

The scenario is a platoon attack supported by a light mortar, against a couple of squads defending a house and some woods.

I transferred the action to 1939 using Poles as the attackers and Germans as the defenders. Below is the battlefield as the action commences with the Polish platoon advancing towards the ridge north of the German position.

Here is a close-up of the Germans. The trees are from Minibits, bases on some old GW slottabases. The house is a 10mm model from Hovels. The defenders in the woods have the benefit of some foxholes I put together when basing the trees. The Germans have two squads each of 2 rifle groups and 1 LMG group. They have one junior officer. The rules were PBI. Under these rules the German LMGs outclass those of their opponents.

Below are the attackers. 3 squads each of one LMG group and two rifle groups. There is also a light mortar group, a junior officer and a platoon sergeant. 

With action underway the Polish mortar began putting down a smokescreen to protect the flanking attack by two squads while the third occupied the ridge to protect the mortar and draw enemy fire.

Towards the end, both sides have taken losses. The flank attack was halted by some devestating German MG fire but the Poles have also done damage and brought their 3rd squad down from the ridge to push into the woods.

The Germans were soon down to their last rifle group and a replacement leader and retreated before they were cut off.

Fun game and the PBI rules works well.