Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Deliberate Attack on Chanzori

The Story So Far

Lupus Company of 3rd Battalion, 15th Armoured Infantry Regiment EDF was deployed rapidly forward to Topi Junction. Leaving 3rd Pl and Sp Pl to hold Topi, 1 and 2 Pl moved rapidly to take Chanzori but arrived to find the ILR just digging in about company strength. A hasty attack was a tactical success, knocking out the Satcom, but failed to dislodge the superior numbers (and quality) of the ILR Assault Company there. As the rest of Lupus Coy moved up (along with elements of Kilo Company) 2 and 3 Pl spent two nights in heavy patrolling conducting nighttime raids on the ILR, succeeding in the first to kill some critters but failing in the second to take out a LARC. Once the rest of the Company arrived it was time for a deliberate attach on flank of Chanzori, whilst two platoons of Kilo Company attacked the other flank.


Checking points EDF was meant to have 34 pts against an ILR force (smaller but more capable) of 20 pts. I scaled that down to 7 pts for EDF (2 sections, and extra fireteam plus a PML), and 4 pts for ILR (Assault section plus an Assault Pl HQ). The table had open ground in front of the town, and the IRL had rigged barricades on most of the main entrances. The EDF rolled for the train station as being their objective, to be held for D3 turns (determined once taken). ILR was controlled by the Solo/AI rules as in the latest issue of MW&BG.

EDF moving in form the L with ILR holding Chanzori R

How It Played

The EDF sprinted across the open ground as fast as they could, but still took several turns (low cards and body armour), and for much of the time were out of range of the puny ILR carbines. The forward ILR positions began to cause problems as the EDF neared but a few rounds from the PML took one of the main ones out. The extra fireteam tried to go right flanking but found no entry point, so back-tracked to where the PML had just struck and tried to sneak in their to enfilade the ILR team. An ILR LMG on a roof opened fire causing casualties so a brave EDF trooper lobbed a grenade up onto the roof, which bounced and came back down on top of him and killed him!

ILR LMG team with brave but dead EDF critter below

Better progress was being made on the other flank, with EDF coming off the best on the firefight. But down to 2 critters the ILR fireteam leader decide to charge the EDF and in a multi-turn melee managed to wound one EDF before being finally killed. 

ILR Fireteam commander makes a fanatical charge into melee

His colleague hunkered herself down by the station platforms and managed to hold the EDF off for several turns as the rest of the ILR abandoned the (their) left and centre zones and came to her aide. As she fell to a UGL grenade the EDF went firm and rolled for 2 turns to defend the station. 

ILR holding out at the station

As the ILR rolled in the EDF shot the lead critter at point blank as they emerged from an alley. Another EDF fire team pushed forward and flanked the ILR taking out two more critters, but losing one in the process. The second Shuffle card was drawn and the game was over.

ILR Commander rushing in, but all too late

A firefight round the alley, and it's all over


Another great ACP164 game. I think the solo/AI rules are a little bit cautious, the ILR HQ in particular hung back a lot and a lot of "do nothing but react" results. The ILR stepping up to "aggressive" as the game went against them was I suppose a reasonable reflection of their last ditch attempt to save the game, and was triggered by the fact that EDF was able to attempt more shots as they had more figures, but then kept missing due to their Green rating.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Dynamic Physical Digital Tabletop

Rather nice use of a 32" 'tablet' to provide the maps for a game of Traveller at TravCon 2020, reported in the latest issue of Freelance Traveller.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Medieval Rules Experimentation - Order Changes

With Kings of War failing to make the cut, and still not being 100% happy with my current in-house rules I decided to have a go at a new set with three main objectives:

  • Make stand based, as seems more "classic" and possibly better suited to the period
  • Enable units to mix bill and box as some recent research suggests that this was the case - given that an affinity would be raised locally, and probably train locally, and build its esprit-de-corps, so why split it when it gets to the battlefield
  • The big one, focus command and control on the CHANGE of orders, not assigning them. I get frustrated with a lot of rules which have limited activations as you end up with troops advancing off towards the enemy who then just stop in the middle of nowhere, or bow men who just don't fire. I also like the fact that some rules (including one of the WW2 sets) makes it harder to issues orders which are risky (eg charge) as against ones which are safer (eg withdraw).

I followed a bucket-of-dice model for combat (2 D10 per stand, 1 if damaged), stands eliminated once 2 hits. Pretty basic DMs for to-hit and to-penetrate. Melee uses to-penetrate only, with different weapon types, and all with different armour types. Troops randomly dice for quality when first needed (my now standard 2DFate model).

The orders list is below (original, now modified after playtest), with the roll needed for order change, modified by damage and quality and local commander. If a unit fails the change it FALTERS to reflect order confusion.

No move, may fire at Short range, +1 melee
No move, may fire full effect
May move and fire reduced effect.
No move, no fire, +2 melee
Move full distance twds tgt
Move double distance, twds tgt,  -2 melee
Double distance til in contact
No move/fire. Recover 1+DF DP, less last
Run back to lines or cover
Run off table edge
Auto if stopped in asslt.. No move/fire. -1 in melee.

All units start on an order, and each side has one activation card per unit (not assigned) of which about 1/3rd allow order change (varied by commander quality). Cards are then shuffled and then drawn in turn, the relevant side either activating a unit on current order, or trying to change its order if allowed (I used picture cards for order change, 1-10 for normal activation). One thing I didn't expect but works well is that you can "sacrifice" an order change card in order to activate an important unit earlier on its current order.


I used a new iteration of my random table set-up rules which worked well. There are then "fate" cards which are diced for which made just minor changes to deployment and none to terrain, but which did bring on a rain storm which stayed the whole game, reducing bow, eliminating power and reducing movement.

Yorkists on L, Lancastrians on R. S to bottom.

How it Played

The Lancastrians were on the defensive and the Yorkists slowed slightly by the stream. Currours on both sides charged on the N flank and pretty much eliminated each other. They also made demonstrations against each others lines (reborn), but as small units facing a hail of arrows made little headway - seems reasonable. In the S Yorkists handgunners tried to get close, hoping the rain would stop, but took increasing damage and eventually routed. As the main body of Yorkist bill and DMAA came on they took damage but managed to make contact, the DMAA dispatching Lancastrian archers. Up to this point most orders were the starting ones, but now as risks and opportunities opened up order change became important, and both sides failed several roles, so the Yorkists failed to exploit, and the Lancastrian response was slowed - seems reasonable.

Advancing Handgunners (with too wet powder to use!)

The Lancastrian leader joined his DMAA (which was in reserve) and rushed to plug the gap in the line which the Yorkist DMAA had opened up - whilst Yorkist bill was in danger of breaking through a neighbouring unit. The two DMAA joined in melee and the Lancastrian leader was killed! 

The central melee

At the moment there is no instant surrender, but all troops take 1 damage so the Lancastrian force was, whilst substantially intact, notably weakened. The Yorkist DMAA was also spent though, and their Bill companions eliminated by two Lancastrian units. With the Yorkists only have one decent unit left, and the Lancastrian commander dead it was ENDEX and something of a draw.

Lancastrian DMAA flee, their commander having been killed


Well I think that worked pretty well. Some tweaks required as ever but the C&C choices of where to play the order changes, and the friction that failures introduced worked well but nobody hung around for no reason doing nothing. Think I'll refine further and maybe try out for ECW. The stand and BOD mechanic was OK but needs a bit more work, still find BOD models very variable.

Some additional shots from the game...

Currours below a tower (built by Alan Martin)

Archers exchanging shots

Lancastrian Bill

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest - Summary and Roundup

So that's the end of the Platoon MegaTest - 11 different rules played out against a set of 6 inter-linked scenarios. So what are my conclusions?

Op Martlet Campaign

The Op Martlet Campaign from Too Fat Lardies was great fun and gave a great structure. Playing it By the book it would have been a real challenge as the British platoon suffered badly pretty much every time, whether it won or lost, and would have found it hard to keep going until relieved. I've got 29 Let's Go but also tempted by the The Scottish Corridor. I'd also like to do one based on the Canadians on Op Totalize.

Reviews Summary

Chain of Command 7/10

  • Pros: Good ranges and weapon balance. Shock. Covers most situations.
  • Cons: Activation model doesn't seem "real". End up gaming the CoC dice.

Bolt Action  9/10
  • Pros: Order dice and activation vs pins. Covers most situations. 
  • Cons: Short ranges. Underpowered LMGs. Too many "special" rules. Melee combat. Odd indirect fire (opponent places misses!).

KR16  6/10
  • Pros: Pretty simple. Nice activation model where hard tasks are harder to activate (eg assault)
  • Cons: Even simple tasks too hard to activate though. Damage removes pins, so better getting 1 hit not two often.

Fireteam: Modern  8/10
  • Pros: Pretty good. Nice random events on joker. Well laid out.
  • Cons: One step too many some times. 5 dice just to activate each unit!

UltraCombat: Modern  6/10
  • Pros: Very few I'm afraid.
  • Cons: 3in1 concept makes very bulky. Doesnt cover all events (most HE, smoke, etc). Confusing layout. Hestitate/Pinned/Suppressed confusion. Zero friction, but units often hesitate from hits and get stuck. 

Force on Force  5/10
  • Pros: Rules very complete, infinite fire exchanges but decreasing effect
  • Cons: Don't like variable dice type mechanics. Masses of dice. No one every pinned.Little friction.

No End In Sight  8/10
  • Pros: Best example of section leader commanding. Nice command exhaustion activation mechanic. Good under-fire morale test.
  • Cons: Too easy to recover from pin? Dice heavy on combat.

Iron Cross  4/10
  • Pros: Few
  • Cons: No penalty for over-reaching activation. To easy to recover damage. Kill in one turn mentality. Fire-React too pervasive. No smoke. Start min/maxing combats to eliminate a unit in single go.

Monty Gunner Who 
  • Pros: Nice and fast card mechanic, with gambling option! Good HE.
  • Cons: Melee and anti-tank a bit card heavy.

Contact: Wait Out 6.5/10
  • Pros: Scales to Bn/Bde at different resolutions. Covers all situations.
  • Cons: Needs better HE rules. Firepower model didn't handle small units well.

Bolt Action Reality Check  9.5/10
  • Pros: Played really well - as it should
  • Cons: A few tweaks but otherwise fine

So Bolt Action with house rule changes a clear winner, and even struggling at this scale to see why I need to waste time improving CWO. May be a different story at Company upwards though.

Crew Dragon - Demo-2

Spent a fair chunk of the weekend watching the live coverage of the SpaceX/NASA Demo-2 mission with Crew Dragon heading up to the ISS. Just as Musk intended the whole thing looks worthy of a "modern" spaceship, and it as fascinating to watch the crew pretty much do the whole thing with their arms crossed, and then give a tour of a half-empty capsule.

Great to see the actual control screens, still haven't played the docking simulator, and the over-the-shoulder view above could be from any SF movie. I assume someone somewhere on the Internet has documented all the screens shown and tried to enhance the text on them!

Despite all the talk about this being "the beginning of a new era", that new era is really of the principle of commercial spaceflight, not of Crew Dragon - it's Starship that will user in the real "new era". Just a pity that SN4 blew up - and about 30 secs after I stopped watching the static-fire live feed! But SN5 pretty much good to go, SN6 almost built and SN7 started. As Musk has said, it took at least 4 goes to get Falcon to orbit, and the hard thing is building a rocket factory, not just building the rocket.