Monday, 21 January 2013

Rules Tweak: Return to 'Alternate'

After much agonizing I have decided to admit defeat and go back to an alternate turn sequence.

As a solo wargamer, using a simultaneous turn sequence created a lot of work trying to keep track of which elements had fired, or indeed, moved. This in addition to any other complications I decided to build into the rules!

Some rule sets restrict movement to half speed if firing; others apply a large penalty if moving at greater than half speed. (I guess the half-speed rule of thumb is an easy one to remember, not entirely unreasonable and simple to calculate). I tried to amalgamate all ideas into one by allowing most elements to do two actions each turn: fire twice, move twice (a 'doublemove' in other words) or 'fire and move', 'move and fire' or 'fire on the move'. That way, stationary elements get more rounds down towards the target whilst those opting not to fire at all can concentrate on going as fast as possible. So it is possible to 'fire and move off' or 'come to a halt and fire', all within the structure of the turn sequence. Communicating may also preclude firing and single-man turrets (eg French R35, H39 etc) would only get one shot per turn, irrespectively. Unfortunately, to do all this, one must remember (or record it somewhere) which elements might still have a shot left if it is all to happen in the correct order according to the turn sequence. For example, a hidden ambushing element which has watched its prey approach, should have first shooting priority whereas an ambushed tank may well fire last in an encounter after taking evasive action and traversing the gun onto target.

Using an "I fire then move, you fire then move" system, defenders will get reactive fire against any targets which have moved into view and attackers will be prevented from charging towards a target and opening fire at close range without first receiving fire.

In spite of the attractiveness of turn sequence innovations ('initiative through success', it has been described) used in games like Crossfire, I am returning to a more structured method (I was going to say 'simpler' but there isn't anything easier than...not having a turn sequence at all!). By doing only the absolutely necessary number-crunching (which has to be done by me for both sides), I will hopefully be more able to be impartial in my decisions and rulings and have a fuller enjoyment of the game itself.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Bosquet Sacré

Time for a larger tank based game, methought and my Matilda IIs not having an airing for a while I decided to have an Arras style attack against a fairly lightly held supply line, with the possibility of reinforcements for the defenders.

 There are 37mm AT guns on guard at the road junction in the forest and also at the forward edge of the churchyard. A Kfz 13 armoured car section is up front in the brickworks, other than that any other German unit is billeted in the village and may be diced for to activate at 50% probability each turn.

Sleeping village...
German armour arrayed in nearby fields; Kfz 70s parked in the square ready to take crews out to guns.
MkVI tanks advancing...
 Mk VI tanks of a Light Recce Squadron advanced rapidly across the open ground towards the brickworks; a 37mm AT gun to the rear sends up the alert flare.
Turn 4
 Matilda IIs are advancing across the central open ground, followed by Matilda Is who never really catch up & contribute to the battle. 18 pounders overlook infantry and carrier platoon approaching the churchyard but fail to cause any casualties with their shelling of the village. Panzer IIs race for the brickworks, not yet aware it has been taken and Panjagers and 35(t)s move to cover the church frontage.

Brickworks dramas
The Panzer IIs are clobbered at short range by the MkVis and AT Rifles. They fall back to the wood alongside the Adler scout cars where they are gradually picked off & inundated by infantry following through.

Matildas out in the open
 The Matildas simply pull up in the centre of the open ground and choose their targets, 37mm AP from the churchyard and 75mm shells bouncing off. The Panzer IVs at last are in position near the road.
Assault stumbles
While the carrier platoon struggles through the wood the infantry assault stops and retreats as the Panzer 35(t)s burst out of the village.

End of the road...
The Panzer IVs fall back beyond the road after some 'bad luck' and heavy losses; the Czech tanks are also no longer a coherent unit after their attempts to bring the range down. But reinforcements finally arrive in the form of the only effective countermeasure against the British infantry tanks and the 88ms inexorably blunt the armoured centre.
The assault by the carrier platoon also falters when a section of MG42s sets up in the nearby terrace and the game is halted when the Panzerjagers swing back through the village to link up with a Schutzen platoon, due any moment.

Battle Academy: France Blitzkrieg

I have recently acquired Battle Academy with the France Blitzkrieg add on and have been guilty of playing quite a lot over the Christmas shutdown to the detriment of my war gaming with miniatures. It has been fun and I would recommend it for anyone who wants a tactical computer war game, as opposed to a simulation of some kind.
I was actually looking for a strategic simulation at the time, possibly counter-based when I stumbled upon Battle Academy, on my shortlist was Advanced Tactics: WW2, Decisive Campaigns: Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris, Gary Grigsby's World at War, Norm Kroger's Operational Art of War, and Strategic War in Europe.