Sunday, 28 July 2013

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!

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