Sunday, 4 December 2016

Force on Force WW2 modifications

Further rules for the Force on Force WW2 campaign.  This is a work in progress with many points for discussion amongst the group.  Also includes stats for the units involved (all up for discussion).

See the earlier post for details on the campaign:

All distances are doubled at 28mm, so 6” = 12”

Though vehicles will generally be rare in our games they will appear.  Specific rules for these vehicles adds interesting aspects to the game.

Vehicle Smoke Dischargers
A target vehicle equipped with Smoke dischargers may attempt to pop smoke.  Smoke is only effective for attacks originating in the front arc of the vehicles turret (exception: Panther VG, Tiger VIE and King Tiger, which have directional Smoke Mortars, so can drop smoke in any direction).  Before the Reaction Test is made the reacting player declares his vehicle will attempt to Pop Smoke.  Make a TQ, on a 4+ the vehicle has popped effective smoke.  If the reacting player wins the reaction test then the vehicle will benefit from the Smoke during Round of Fire.  If the player rolls a 1 on the TQ the tank has depleted its smoke.

A vehicle smoke screen blocks LOS until the end of the turn.  Place a 6” smoke screen 6” from the vehicle in its turrets front arc.

The following tanks have Smoke Dischargers
German: PzKpfw III, PzKpfw IV(1), PzKpfw V(1), PzKpfw VI(1), StuG IIIG(1), StuH42
British: Cromwell(2), Churchill(2), Tetrarch(3)
US: M4A1(4), M4(105)(2), M4A2(L)(5), M4A1(76)(5)

1: From July 1944 the Pzkpfw IV, V, VI and the StuG IIIG have a +1drm on the Smoke Discharger TQ.  StuG stopped having Smoke Dischargers quite early, so these may have a very small chance of being present.
2: M4(105), Churchill and Cromwell have a +1drm on Smoke Discharger TQ
3: Tetrarch has a -1drm on Smoke Discharger TQ
4: M4A1 has a -2drm on Smoke Discharger TQ
5: From July 1944 the M4A2 and M4A1(76) has a +1 on Smoke Discharger TQ

Smoke Ammunition
A tank may fire a Smoke round on a TQ.  The following tanks carry Smoke rounds:
               German: PzKpfw IV, StuG IIIG, StuHIV, Marder I, Marder II
               US: All Sherman, M8 Scott HMC, M7 Priest HMC, M10 TD*
                              *M10 TD have a -1 on Smoke TQ.
               British: Cromwell IV, Churchill IV, Bishop
A smoke round creates a 4” smoke screen that blocks LOS.  It lasts until the beginning of the placing players next turn.

White Phosphorus Ordnance shells
The Cromwell IV, M8 HMC, M7 HMC and all Sherman’s may use WP on a TQ.

White Phosphorus ordnance shells create a 4” (6” for 105mm) wide LOS blocking smoke screen.  The smoke dissipates at the start of the placing players next turn. 

WP vs. vehicles are counted as WP1, the target only receives one armour dice in defense.  All other modifiers are as normal.  If a WP ordnance successfully hits the vehicle the Smoke screen will “stick” to the target on a D6 4+.  The target vehicle has a +2 Defense and a -2 Attack modifier.  The vehicle must also pass a Morale Check or bail out. 

If the WP round is fired into a building containing infantry the infantry must pass a Morale Check or immediately move out of the building.  If a WP round is fired at a structure containing flammable material or at crops, hedge or trees roll a D6, on a 4+ the area catches fire.  A burning building must be exited at the next opportunity.  When infantry within 3” of a WP hit are attacked with a 3D attack.

WW2 Bailing Out
Crews were more prone to bail out of their tanks in WW2. Therefore any damage result on a tank, other than “Suppressed”, the crew must roll a Bail Out TQ.  If the crew fails the test it bails out.  This makes vehicles less dominating in our games.

The crew on its next activation may roll a Morale Check to remount vehicle.

An alternative rule which includes the option to pull back:

Vehicle suffers a hit and any result other than “Suppressed”, apply normal result and then roll a TQ
 PASS: No further effect
 FAIL: If the vehicle is mobile perform Pullback, if unable or would rather not, roll a second TQ: 
  PASS: No further effect
  FAIL: Bail Out

Which do you prefer?  And should we make vehicles also check for bail out on any damage result, including Suppressed?

Offboard Support Units
Due to the very small size of the battle area in 28mm (or 15mm depending on the mission) games a player may choose for snipers, Forward Observers, Vehicles, Guns, Medium Support and Heavy Support to be setup offboard.  Offboard units cannot be targeted while moving.  Offboard units may not enter the playing area but may move along the edge.  Offboard units need LOS and need to successfully pass a Spotting TQ each time they attempt to target onboard units (and vice versa for onboard units vs. offboard units).  Offboard units can be setup in Overwatch.

Each time an offboard unit moves it may roll a D6 to find out how high many inches high the units location is relative to the board edge, leave the D6 in place as a reminder, when checking LOS measure from a location above the edge equivalent to the height.

A mission may modify the maximum height of an offboard unit.  The map location in the campaign also modifies offboard units.  Dense Bocage and major towns have a -1drm on Spotting TQ.

Preparatory Bombardment
Due to the close in nature of Force on Force artillery is of minimal use.  Single artillery pieces may support an attack from offboard (like a single offboard tank, AT gun, howitzer).  Due to the small area and short time there is no realistic way to call in artillery.  But, the Preparatory Bombardment is still a good option.  If the attacker has artillery available (from the campaign map) they can pepper the area before entering.  Rules to come.

Interdiction Artillery
The defender may call on artillery to interdict and incoming attack.  If the mission includes artillery support the defender may interdict a number of units as they are about to enter the playing area.  Rules to come.

Preparatory Smoke Screen
In the area where the campaign was fought smoke screens were used, but generally seem to be late or poorly implemented.  We can add this as an attackers option, with only a small chance of success.  Rules to come.

The attack may attempt to flank the enemy position and attack from one of the flanks.  We had rules for this in the Malikastan campaign, so may reinvigorate those.

German Counter-attack
One aspect of German forces in WW2 was its near clockwork reaction to enemy gains, the immediate counter-attack.  How do we play this?  Keep it to the campaign map, or give the German player a counter-attack reserve.  I think this will add to the game.  So, maybe a quick barrage followed by a last minute counter-attack adding two turns to the game (if time permits?)?

WW2 Small Arms
An important rule to remember in WW2 games is the OUTGUNNED rule on page 43 of the FOR rulebook.  This rule covers self-loading rifles, auto-rifles and bolt-action rifles.  Though, I think the British SMLE probably outguns the KAR 98K, what do you think?  Check the many Youtube videos on the SMLE Mad Minute …

The definitions on Force on Force page 37 and 38 imply:
Light Support: M1918BAR, BREN, Rifle Grenades, MG38 magazine
Medium Support: MG42, M1919A4, MG38 belt, British 51mm Mortar*
Heavy Support: MG42 tripod, M2 HMG, German and US/German light mortars

The British 51mm Mortar can use direct fire.
The British PIAT can fire from within buildings.

Hollow-charge weapons may be used against targets in buildings and vehicles:
Light Support: Anti-tank Rifle Grenade
Medium Support: Panzerfaust
Heavy Support: PIAT, Bazooka and Panzerschreck

General squads
The following is the general division of squads.  An interesting difference between the Allieds and the Germans is the positioning of the squad leader.  In the British Sections and US Squads the squad leader is in the maneuver or assault team.  The German’s have the squad leader in the Fire base team.  I wonder if we should try simulate this effect?  Maybe giving a +1 on the Reaction Checks for Squad Leaders?

The US Paratroopers squad is divided into two teams:
[Squad Leader + 6 Rifleman + 1 RifleGrenadier]
[Assistant Squad Leader + M1918BAR/M1919A4+ + 2 Assistants/Rifleman]

The Germans generally:
[Squad Leader + 1 MG42/MG38 + 2 Assistants/Rifleman]
[Assistant Squad Leader + 2-3 Rifleman + 1 Rifle Grenadier +1 Rifle/PanzerFaust]

[Squad Leader + 5 Rifleman]
[Assistant Squad Leader + 1 BREN + 2 Assistants/Rifleman]

Campaign Progression – Squad Improvement
After each battle select one squad and roll an improvement 2D6:
2: Squad Morale permanently shifted up one
3: Troop Quality permanently shifted up one
4: Initiative permanently shifted up one
5: Unit gains bonus, D6
               1: +1D on all attacks vs. vehicles
               2: +1 on all Spotting Tests
               3: +1D on all Defense Rolls
               4: +1D on Close Combat Attack Rolls
               5: +1 on all Reaction rolls
               6: Designate one soldier as a marksman.
6-12 Nothing

Each squad may have only one improved skill, if a new one is rolled replace the last one.


US Parachute Infantry Regiment & other parachute units of the 82nd Airborne

US Glider Infantry Regiment (325th GIR)
The glider troops are regular infantry.  Regular infantry have a initiative of 8.

746th Tank Battalion
Equipped with M4A1 Sherman’s (and M5A1? And M8 Greyhound?)

889th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Equipped with M10s, experienced (Tunisia and Italy).  Landed on D-Day, by D+1 some of the tank destroyers reached Chef-du-Pont passing through Forges.  They had liaison personnel in arrive on D-Day with the 82nd glider landing.  Any M10’s in the mission will originate from this unit.

The 91. Luftlande-Infanterie-Division
MORALE D8 or D10
The German 91st Airlanding Infantry Division was stationed in the centre of the Cotentin Peninsula.  The division was formed as an air transportable infantry division in January 1944.  The division had no combat experience but was fairly well trained.  The commander of the division was killed a few hours after the 82nd Airborne landed.  The decapitation of the division resulted in a few hours of indecision that greatly benefited the US Airborne in obtaining their objectives.  In the campaign we will keep the commander alive, giving the division a quicker reaction time, therefore you will likely see the counter-attack occurring a few hours earlier than it did occur. The D8 morale?  I am in two minds about this, they died in their droves attacking, maybe D10.

241 and 709 Infanterie Division
These to “stationary” divisions added armour to the 91 Luftlande Division attack on St Mere Eglise on June 7th.  These two divisions are second rate, too old, too young, the lame and POW convinced to fight for the Nazi (instead of dying of starvation).

The armour seconded to the 91st Luftlande were vehicles from the 241ID which had StuG IIIG (Panzerjaeger Abteilung 243) and the 709 ID which had Marder I and Marder IIIM (Panzerjaeger Abteilung 709)

OST TRUPPEN in Georgians (Ost Battalion 975 and 797) and Russians (Ost Battalion 653)
TROOP QUALITY D8 (drops to D6 at 50% strength remaining OR Platoon Leader SW/KIA)
MORALE D8 (drops to D6 at 50% strength remaining OR Platoon Leader SW/KIA)
Rule for consideration: Maximum of one activation per turn.
These Russian and Georgian ex-POW troops appear to have initially put up a fair fight and then suddenly capitulated.  The units had German leaders, but due to communication and the will of units the initiative is dropped to D6.

Therefore, I have given them TQ8 and MOR8, though this permanently suffers a die-shift when they get to half-strength or their platoon leader is seriously wounded or dies.  The Ost Truppen are holding ground around St Mere-Eglise and south and east of St Mere-Eglise.

Fallschirmj√§ger-Regiment 6 (6th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment)
A well trained parachute regiment with a core cadre of combat experienced NCOs.  The 6th FJ was attached to the 91st Luftlande Division.  We could drop the Initiative of D8.  Why?  Partly due to circumstance, the regiment performed poorly on the attack, though that seems to mainly be to the regimental commander himself, poor communications, lack of ammunition and poor reaction due to the disruption by the scattered US paratroops. Once linked to the 17th SS Division they did put up a hard fight.  One battalion was lost early, it is difficult to figure out why this battalion “vanished”.  Maybe they were in range of the ships.  We may change reality a bit with more of the FJ meeting up with the 82nd Airborne. So, instead of holding the Carentan Front with all three battalions one may move around to the N and W and attack across the Merderet River (why? Well, I have the minis J ).

Panzer-Ersatz-und-Ausbildungs-Abteilung 100 (and possibly 206)
The 100th Tank Replacement and Training Battalion consisted of an HQ and three companies.  The battalion was equipped with French Hotchkiss 38 (8), French Somua S35, x1 French B1-bis (flame), French Renault R35, French Renault FT17s (!) and Panzer Mk III.  On D-Day only 50% of the units tanks were “runners”.  I presume many of these were made to run as many were destroyed by the advancing US forces to the south.  A mission may add a special rule on reliability, like, roll a D12 each turn on a 4+ activate the vehicle suffers engine failure or something like that.

The unit was under command of the 91st Luftlande Infanterie Division.  As a training unit I have given then a TQ of D6 and any leader vehicle (PzkW III) is D8.  The Battalion included four infantry platoons with one light machine gun per squad.  The 206 seem to mainly have been used to make “tank” noises to cause uncertainty amongst the US.  The German commander thought this worked as it caused a pause in the US attack on Montebourg.

Maquis (French Resistance)

Though the French Resistance played little part in the Cotentin campaign (as far as I am aware). We may play some behind the lines interdiction missions.

Friday, 2 December 2016

They just wanted a hug

The URFKD office workers in the buildings across the way from the Colonial Prefab Fabrication Works stood in silence.  The terrified screams from the C.P.F.W. had pulled the office workers from their offices, most halted in the street, a few had run into the works to render assistance for what sounded like a terrible accident.  Their screams were now silent.

Colonial civilians and police watch the C.P.F.W. building as aliens explode from its innards.
The police and medics arrived, the first to arrive were the first to die.  The last to arrive took up a position across the road from the C.P.F.W.  After a strange robot was seen lurking in the the dark doorway of the C.P.F.W. they called the local Colonial Legionaries.  

When the Legionaries were in sight of the C.P.F.W. dozen of "robots" streamed from the doors.  The police sergeant quickly contacted the Legionary Captain, "We have dozens of loping robots."

The captain felt his blood run cold, he had been privy to Top Secret documents which described, these were not robots, these were Xenomorphs.  Creatures bio-engineered millennia ago for some forgotten war between two forgotten races.

He shouted into his komzband, "Get your people out of there, those are not robots those are the the Demons you have heard rumour of, get your people to the space port.  We will cover you."

We played the mission from the Tomorrow Wars book, the alien scenario.

Mark vs. Mark.  Mark took the aliens, and Mark took the humans.

The mission is straightforward: The human player must get the humans off the one side of the board before they are eaten.  The alien player has to eat.
Civilians (A and B) and police (A), and a dozer armed with Fab-Laser watch on as xenomorphs disgorge from the warehouse across the road.
The police officers and Legionaries moved quickly to evacuate as many of the colonists as they could.  On seeing the xenomorphs they knew they would not save everyone.  Some of the Legionaries ran to help the police direct the colonists to safety, others moved to take up positions to cover them (Overwatch was to be of prime importance, the aliens also reacted with movement and assault.  The aliens needed to run, but this was risky as it made them more vulnerable).
The aliens move out running towards the colonists (A) and also start to flank the humans (B).  Aliens who B-lined towards the colonists were shot down by the legionaries (C).  At D the police start to herd the survivors towards F.  The colonists at E were about to come face to face with the Demons
With the arrival  of the soldiers the xenomorphs poured over the C.P.F.W.'s fences.  Some colonists stood mesmerized, others took images for their Social Posts.  A reporter stood filming.

Two groups of aliens started to "mop up"  stray colonists while a group of police officers and colonists were set on by a small group of aliens.  The police very unheroically threw the civilians on the aliens claws as they opened fire, five civilians died, as did the aliens.  Not the greatest moment for the Colonial Law and Order.
Aliens swarm forward again, blocked by friendlies the overatch team (blue disk) us unable to bring fire to bear.  The overwatch teams all soon climbed up the buildings to gain better line of sight.
The legionaries hit the Queen four times, but she shrugged it off (Hard to Kill), but who luck ran out later going down.  Overwatch teams start to have an impact, mowing down aliens by the droves.
The race is on, humans rushing to the right, aliens trying to catch and outflank them.  The humans fire is telling, in this final image on three aliens are left alive, one in the Prefab, one in the fields to the top and one on the road.
Though lots of colonists died, 17 in all.  More colonists made it to safety.  A human victory.  The King alien ran off into the outback,  s/he hermaphoditised (new word?) into a queen and start laying the next wave.

The government preacher told the press at the orbital station, "I think they wanted to make contact, all they wanted to do was hug, then someone opened fire."  He stopped the interview with heartburn...

A fun game, Mark Junior had amazing dice rolls, shrugging off fusillade after fusillade.  His Queen surviving a wall of bullets was just the start.  Mark Junior picked up the game very quickly (though I think he may have his pocket money docked for uncanny dice rolling!).  Overwatch was at its best through the game, though many units fell off overwatch in the end victory went to the humans due to lots of their units getting into good overwatch positions.

I hope everyone had fun.

Next time - A few heavily armoured marines take on a horde of light infantry on a nameless hill in a forsaken forest.  Force on Force in 28mm.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Chef Pierre Piper went Poppy Picking

A composite force of French and South African UN soldiers advanced on an opium producing village which had failed to pay the local warlord his dues.  The warlord told the local army commander who reported to the UN that the village was "financing the local guerrillas with their misbegotten opium money".  The UN reacted by sending in soldiers armed with Jerry cans of petrol.
[1] A French VAB enters and engages a VBIED, the VBIED reacts with an assault but is short on movement [2].  A Rooikat enters and destroys the VBIED [3].  In the distance a P4 Peugeot, a VBL and infantry on foot advance and engage a hidden group of guerillas armed with two RPGs
We played a second Force on Force game, introducing Breaching, Hotspots, Vehicles and Irregulars.  I realised how hard it is to play irregulars for a new player, they only react once, sometimes don't have leadership, die like flies and the only medics seem to be flies.

The local army commander's "lie" held some truth.  A group of guerrillas had moved into the area and were building up their force for an attack on the local city.  The attack by the UN was a surprise and the guerrillas were caught with only one "roadblocking" unit in place.  A suicide-bomber in a VBIED saw his chance at immortality and drove a B-line straight at the first UN force he saw, a French VAB.

The French VAB, commanded by Chef Pierre Piper opened fire with its Remote Weapon Station, peppering the car but not stopping it, the car got within 4m of the VAB but the occupants were suppressed.  A UN Rooikat then appeared on the road and with a single round hit the Golden Holden VBIED which exploded, luckily for the VAB the explosion did no damage.

On the French left flank a P4 Peugeot, a VBL and a unit of infantry spot and engage an ambush.  In the ensuing firefight (over two turns) the guerrillas are all killed, a VBL is destroyed and two crew are seriously injured.
Firefight between the French and the ambushing unit.  A VBL is hit and destroyed by an RPG.  At this moment the guerillas have 7 Points and the French 2.
The French continue their advance without any visible opposition, a fire team moves to the smaller of the poppy fields and using an petrol and phosphorous grenades set it on fire.
The French set fire to the Poppy plantation.  The last surviving guerrilla in the compound is hit.  In the distance a group of French snipers moves into the compound to setup an overwatch position.
On the left flank the P4 Peugeot advanced to protect that flank and was engaged by two units of guerrillas.  The guerillas suffered from indecision (hotspot spawned units without leaders, a harsh reality of an insurgency).
The Rooikat, a second VBL and a P4 move up to cover the compound entries [1], and fire team moved up to the nearest compound [2] and breaches the wall advancing into the compound.  A fire team of French advance to the main poppy field and set it on fire.  The local guerrilla leader assaults the breachers, but the French are victorious [4].  Meanwhile a massive mob of guerrillas with no leader attempt to flank the French.  Without anti-tank weapons the best they can hope for it so assault the infantry or cars.
The French then continued their main drive to the large poppy field.  Using three vehicles to cover the advance infantry breached the first compound and advanced on the fields setting fire to the last crop.  Four guerillas led by the local leader assaulted the team which had breached their compound.  French were surprised and a vicious melee ensured ending with the death of all four guerrillas.

With their objectives secured (i.e. on fire) the French began their orderly withdrawal.  Though a group of 20 enthusiastic leaderless guerrillas ran to get into the fight.

The Rooikat intercepted and the twenty guerrillas after taking a few hits ran for cover allowing the French infantry to fall back unharmed.  Except, as they crossed the road an IED was set-off hitting two teams of French soldiers, the first team was hit three times, the second escaped without harm.  Miraculously for the French all three hit men escaped with minor scratches.

And thus ended the poppy picking patrol.

Once again lessons were learnt.  The main one I was reminded of was how hard it is too play irregulars in Force on Force.  Hard from a morale point of view.  Who really have to think of your men as lunch money, without spending it you get no lunch...but you have money....

Next week we will just have a fun little game to reinforce the lessons, this time involving prey, hunters and hunter's of hunters.