Sunday, September 4, 2016

WW2 Normandy skirmish game on 2'x2' with 5Core

Introduction
I have been wanting to play a 5Core games ever since the first game in the series, Five Men in Normandy came out.  Since then, 5Core itself then came out and is up to the third edition.  I have recently been looking for a game that is good for co-operative play since playing some 20mm WW2 with the children.  They wanted a smaller board and I was thinking of revising my own NUTS! like rules but then remembered 5Core.  I played two games to test them out, and this is the third game (using the same forces and board).  They are great.  I may need to simplify Scared and Panic (or at least explain them better than my cheat sheet does) for the children but other than that I think it will work great!
I also have been on the lookout for a company level game (1 stand = 1 squad/section) with a lot of dynamics (activations, reactions etc) for my 6mm games on 2'x2'.  I have been attempting to modify my own skirmish rules to adapt them to company level.  However, I think 5Core Company Command will work great (if the skirmish version is anything to go by) so there is a good chance you will see some 6mm 5Core Company Command battle reports in the future.

Scenario
A simple scenario - the Germans are defending a building and a British section needs to kick them out.  I randomised the terrain using a system that is a cross of NUTS! and Platoon Forward.

Shot from the British entry. Note there is a leftover British soldier (the Oops) from the previous game.  I did not notice him to about 1/2 way through the game!  so he appears in some other early shots.  He should not be there.

Top shot of the 2'x2' board.  British entry at bottom. Objective building in the centre.
Troops
I did not randomise the soldiers, just picked 7 figures for the British  as that sounded alright for a small game and 5 for opposition.The British are a reduced section of a the Corporal with an SMG (classed as a leader), Lance Corporal Bren gunner with assistant and four riflemen.

Corporal Smith with SMG, leader and leader die
Lance Corporal Brenner with Bren
Private Ashdown, Bren assistant, rifle
Private Goodwin, Rifle
Private Hull, Rifle
Private Ingram, Rifle
Private Jones, Rifle
The Brits - Brenner, Ashdown, Jones, Ingram, Corporal Smith, Hull and Goodwin. Long live plastic army kits!
The Germans are a 2 person MG34 crew, SMGer Gruppenführer and 2 riflemen.

Gruppenführer Schmitz , SMG
Grenadier Muller, MG34
Grenadier Mayer, MG34 assistant, rifle
Grenadier Jung, Rifle
Grenadier Konig, Rifle
Konig, Jung, Gruppenführer Schmitz (SMG in front), Muller and Mayer. Mor eplastic kit.
Deployment
German MG in the centre building, Gruppenführer Schmitz, Jung and Konig in the wheatfield behind the hedge (I picked three positions and then placed randomly placed the two groups).

German deployment.  Building top comes off and I did this for the rest of the game, especially as the map drawers do not close with the roof on.
The British also deploy in two groups, the Bren team on the left, the Corporal Smith and the 4 riflemen on the right.

Overview that also shows the British deployment.
Game
For the British, I am rolling three activation dice (white) event chance die (red), event number, if event die is a 1 (the blue d20) and the leader die (green). Leader die only relevant on a 1 or 6.
The Germans have two activation dice and I am not giving them a leader die.

The only shot of dice - just to show a British turn roll - event die (red for chance, blue d20 for the event if happens, green leader die, 3 white activation dice.
British first move is quite simple - advances each group to the back of the building.


Brenner and Ashdown, the Bren team, move to the left building.

Corporal Smith leads the others to the rear of the right flank building. 

For moving into a house, I am assuming it is one activation to move to the rear,and then one activation to move inside into position (declare hiding peeking at this point).  And while adjacent figures can assist a move, I loosely define adjacent - using about an inch - as my bases are quire small.

Next turn, both British groups move into building and peek out from front.
Note that I used tactical moves from Five Men at Kursk (4 figures within 6" move only on the one activation).
No reactions to the Bren team that scurries, but the others are fired on by the MG34. Jones is knocked down, Ingram panics, retreats 6", no cover covers so retreats  and 6" off the board. I was tempted to use the panicking 3" for, the edge rules from Five Men in Normandy but like they will retreat off the board.
Note that I got carried away with reaction fire here - it is only shock dice and I rolled kill dice for the LMG as well. A carryover form playing NUTS! where reactions are full fire.  Not to spoil it, but Jones comes back later. And I also like the rules from Five Mean at Kursk that a panicked unit does not retreat form cover, but also like the Company Command rule that they will regardless if known enemy with 12".  In the end, i decide Ingram retreats, even though the enemy is 14" away.  I think in future I will use the no retreat if scared and known enemy is greater than 16" away (16" for the small board, or I would pick 24").
And I also fired at the furthermost away figures and should have been the closest.  I was just going right the left, no idea why!


Lastly, the British AREin the buildings but I put them behind as the roofs do not come off.

MG34 opens up on the advancing Brits.

Ingram retreating (and continues off the board), Jones is knocked down.
It is the German turn and the Brits are peeking, the Germans can fire.
I am lazy and do not want to track who fired and who did not.  So if you reaction fire, you can fire in your own activation, and if you fire in activation, you can reaction fire. It also makes for a faster game!  Company Command works this way, so I am not straying too far from the rules :-)

German targets in their turn.
Gruppenführer Schmitz (SMG) and Jung (Support shock die) at the Bren team for 1K2S results in one Knock down.  Ashdown fires back (reaction) - nothing.

Brenner is knocked down, Ashdown fire back for no result.
The MG34 at the three peeking on the right flank results in 2 knockdowns!  I never took a picture of this :-( but two recover in the British turn, peek, reaction fire form LMG is no effect (!) and the two rifles fire at the German LMG team (Corporal Smith's SMG is out of range). LMG receives one Knock down and one panic.

MG34 Knockdown, assistant panics and retreats.

Brenner (with the Bren) recovers and they fire at the Germans in the wheatfields an scores a Scared on Gruppenführer Schmitz.

Gruppenführer Schmitz is scared (I use the green bush to mark this).


The Germans now roll to recover Muller, the MG34 gunner but roll a 6 and Muller is Out of Action.

Muller, the MG34 gunner, does not recover and is out of action.
Jung in the wheatfields fires as Ashdown (Bren assistant) who panics and retreats off the board.
Note the Schmitz (SMG) is longer scared as it the end of the German turn.

The Brits are now down to 2 activation dice.  The Bren fires (with no assistant, the amount of dice used is reduced)...
Lone Brenner fires...

...and panics Schmitz with the SMG.

...and panics Schmitz
Jung reacts, fires and Brenner is knocked down (again, should have just been shock die for reaction fire).

Return fire sees Brenner knocked down.
On the right flank, the  rifles open up and a Konig is Scared.

Brits fire first, Germans return fire.
In the German turn Jung fires and scares Goodwin.

Jones reaction fires back for a knock down on Jung.
Gruppenführer Schmitz recovers from panicking behind the building

Another reaction fire that should be shock dice only.  I am beginning to like having a Kill die in reaction! It certainly speeds up the game.  And while reaction is more about opportunity fire/covering fire, i seem to be using it more like a decent return fire, almost like having your go.  I might keep reaction fire just being like normal fire.  Maybe.

Jung is knocked down.  The brown blob next to Konig is to represent he is hiding (after being scared, he has not popped his head up yet.
The British roll two scurries and so decide to advance, an  especially good option as there is no LOS to any Germans, even if they could react (which they cannot in a scurry).  Corporal Smith SMG is not in range of anything where they are either.  And after all, the centre building is the objective.  Private Hull is left Knocked Down in the right building though :-(  There has never been enough action dice to help him recover.

British advance on the right.
Gruppenführer Schmitz scurries into building and is not peeking (Schmitz should have as no reaction in a scurry.  My mistake that cost Schmitz dearly).  Knocked down Jung in the wheatfields is now OK and peeking (got a scurry as well)

Ok, on the British turn I want to see how Brawling works.  The three Brits behind the hedge Brits run to house.  Jung reacts and fires, Corporal Smith leader panics but Goodwin and Jones continue to the building.

Goodwin and Jones make it to the building, Corporal smith panics under fire from the wheatfield.
In the subsequent Brawl the British win by one but as Schmitz is hiding he panics (if he was peeking like he should have been, he would have just been Scared).

The victorious British advance.
Panicked Schmitz quickly recovers from his contact with the Brits.
The Germans get a useful random event - one figure can shrug off a panic.
He fires his SMG at the Brits in the building (3S as he wants them out!) and scares one
Schmitz is next to the Panicked Mayer, the MG34 assistant.  Mayer is now just scared.

Jung in the wheatfields fires for no effect - that seems to be a first for this game!

Brits:
Corporal Smith recovers from his panic and scurries  back to the hedge
Goodwin (in the building) fires at Schmitz who is knocked down.  The shock roll was a 6 that is applied to Mayer who panics and retreats of the board.

Fire from the building at Schmitz knocks him down, and the MG34 gunner retreats off the table.
Gruppenführer Schmitz attempts to recover, but his wounds are too much and he is out of action.
But Jung, who seems to have been on fire this game, fires at Goodwin in the building who panics.

Goodwin panics, but i moved Jones by mistake!
Brenner finally recovers from cowering in the building, peeks and fires at Jung who is knocked out.
Jung could not react - he was facing the wrong way.


Konig, the last German and I think fired once the entire game, does a runner.

The British are victorious!

Verdict
Firstly, the dice were swinging in this game compared to the other two i played (with the same setup).  I got two random events in the entire game (one was not relevant so did not record it).  In the other games, I seemed to be looking up random event every second turn! And when you roll 1K1S on 2d6 with 1 and 6 having an effect, there is about half a chance that nothing will happen (ok, 4/9ths for those preferring exactness).  I seemed to roll an outcome nearly every time I fired! The leader die also seemed to come into effect a lot in the previous games but not once did I roll a 1 or a 6 with it.

Secondly, these rules are great and despite some mistakes, and my inevitable rule tweking, they really suit what I am looking for in a solo game. They provide a fun, fast, tense chaotic game where you have to make tough decisions all the time.  And more importantly the rules fade into the background. I cannot wait to try them out with the children and play some 5Core company Command with my 6mm forces.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

WW2 West Front 1944 20mm game with the children

Introduction
My 7 yo son has asked to get out my 20mm WW2 toy soldiers and play a game.  He has been asking for the last 5 months but weekend events seemed to conspire to never have enough time to setup and play.  Recently the rest of the family was away for a few nights and I got in some solo 20mm on half a table tennis table.  When they came back, I had packed it up but left it upstairs (not packed away downstairs with other stuff) on the assumption I would get a game in.  Well it all came together; and as a bonus, my oldest daughter (9) was also keen to play.  I got Zombicide earlier this year (long story as I have zero interest in zombies) and have played a few games with my son who I have never seen soooo excited as playing Zombicide.  Zombicide is a co-op game (players are all on the same side against the system).  So I had determined that if I played WW2 20mm it would be co-op.  My solo skirmish game is a d6  version of NUTS! so would be ideal.  I streamlined it is a lot, and very early in the game I streamlined it even more!

Rules
So I had some quite simple rules where you roll to hit, then determine if the hit target was suppressed or KO.  It got hard with the first dice hitting the table.  So changed it quickly to a hit caused the figure to be removed from the table.  And instead of rolling for a reaction individually, just rolled one die for the entire unit that either did nothing, fired back or was suppressed (really easy 1-2 fired back, 3-4 nothing, 5-6 suppressed and retreat).  The chance to hit was simple -  5+, +1 if firer did not move, -1 if target in cover - this was not that simple in reality!  So I just told them what the hit chance was.  4+ but 5+ if you moved, and 6+ if they were in cover.  Close combat was each figure rolls a d6 with 4+ a hit, +1 if in cover, +1 if charging.  Compare hits – winner loses 1 figure, loser loses the difference (up to 3) and retreats. I think that was just about it for the rules.  We were the British and they picked Churchills.  As they are slow, everything moved at 6", 12 inches if you ran (could not fire).  I think that was about it for the rules, Oh, hang on, there was a penetration test when a vehicle was hit.  And there were actually spotting rules – firing and moving units could be seen at any distance, infantry not moving/firing and in cover was 12”. 

Activation was card based - I had one red card for each of our forces and one black card for three unknown German forces.   Card matched their age so there was a 7 and a 9.  when I asked what my card should be, they both simultaneously said "A King!".  I have trained *cough* brainwashed *cough* them well :-)

If you want to know where I am with what rules to use next time, then go to the end as I do discuss future rules a bit more in the Verdict section.

Troops
We were the British. Scale of the game (not that I told the children) was 1 figure is 3 soldiers and distance scale of about 1:300  I gave each of them 10 soldiers, 1 Vickers MMG team, 1 PIAT team and 2 tanks.  My son really wanted some of the German tanks as they looked "awesome".  Or Russians – he picked out a KV-1 and said this must have been a difficult tank to kill.   He did not want Shermans either.  The Churchills were OK by his standard, so we went with them.  I was the Commander with 3 other in HQ and a mortar section.  I did not take much so I could help out running the game.

Son's 7 Platoon on the lest, Company HQ (me) at the top right 

Daughter's 9 Platoon

Table
We setup the table, which they found loads of fun.  I put a hill down, and then I said time to put down some roads and they went wild.  And then I mentioned to put a few houses down, but ended up using lots!  The woods were then put down and ready to go.  

The table - British to enter from the bottom
We picked out 6 objects (jerry cans, animals etc) to represent to unknown German forces.  I got them to place them where they thought would be the best place to be if you were defending the village.

unknown force location and indicative movement directions for the units.  S Platoon should be 7 Platoon, N Platoon is 9 Platoon.
For each of the unknown forces when it was to be discovered I used a roll of
   1-2: nothing
   3-4: 5 enemy soldiers
   5-6: 2-3 tanks, or 5 figures and a tank

My daughter insists on a photo.  We played in the morning and so we ended up not changing out of our pajamas until after the game had finished!  Behind her is the infamous map drawers from where inside I play all my 2'x2' games.

Deployment
The children setup near the entry edge however they liked.  Each had to make sure that one figure was the commander.  They did like having some troops riding on the tanks so there are a few pictures with infantry riding high on the tanks. The objective was to take the town and so we had a quick planning meeting – 9th Platoon to head up the road and clear the woods and right side of the village, 7th Platoon to take the village straight on via the left flank. I would travel with 7th Platoon.

The Game
I took no notes and only took some pictures but will do my best to recreate the narrative.

7th Platoon head out, leaving some behind as a reserve and the Churchills and some soldiers up to the hedge in front.  Measured to the enemy marker – 12”! so we rolled to see what it was – a 6.  I get my son to put out three Stug IIIs.  We rolled to see who go to fire first.  The Germans.  Three rolls and all misses (a 5+ required).  The Churchills fire back and destroy a Stug!  My son (7th Platoon) did manage to roll what seemed like a lot of 6s in the game.  Unlike my daughter with 9th Platoon that had a lot more 1s….

7 Platoon engages with some Stug IIIs.
9th Platoon heads up the road and into the woods.  The unknown force there turns out to be five Germans. Five soldiers of 9th Platoon charge them, but with unlucky rolls sees 3 of 9th Platoon dead and the rest retreat.  But one of the Churchills moves into the woods and kills a few of the Germans and the rest retreat.

Churchill enters the woods to take care of the Germans that killed some of her soldiers.
The 9th Platoon MMG that retreated is unsuppressed and fires at the Germans for no effect – 3 1s.

The 7th Platoon get within 12” of the large house.  It is 5 soldiers.  9th Platoon decides to fire at it with the tanks but only one soldier destroyed.  The Germans fire back and kill off some more of 9th Platoon.  But with combined fire form the Churchills and 9th Platoon, and a little help from a few soldiers of 7th Platoon, the house is captured!

9 Platoon advancing on the right building that turns out to be 5 Germans.
I assault the last Stug with 3 soldiers.  I make up the rule that they each roll 1d6 and on a 6 the tank is destroyed, else 1 soldier is killed and the retreat. I managed to roll a 6 and the last Stug is destroyed.

The Company HQ (without the Captain) assaulting a Stug.

With the last Stug gone, 7th Platoon is still mostly intact and advances forwards with the infantry and a Churchill in support.  7th Platoon managed to clear out the house eventually, losing more soldiers and also the MMG was suppressed and failed to rally.  Leaving the MMG, 9th Platoon (or what is left of it) advances to assist 7th Platoon to assault the read of the village. Note that the unknown enemy force in the burnt out ruin on the edge of the village turned out to be nothing, This leaves the two unknown forces at the rear of the village to clear.

Action shot of my son moving his 7 Platoon forwards (the ruler is from the NZ War Museum from when we did a trip to NZ  last year).

9 Platoon Lieutenant riding the Churchill and leading the remnants of his infantry platoon to help 7 Platoon. 

7th Platoon gets within 12" of one of the rearmost building.  It turned out to be 5 figures and a tank, so I put out the last of my late War Stugs.  just to add an element of danger, I also added in a Panzerschreck team - both the 7th and 9th Platoon still had both their tanks). Shocking rolls by the Germans saw them miss, and the 7th Platoon tanks roll well and brew it up.

The rearmost building - 5 figures, AT team and  a Stug, the latter already knocked out by a Churchill. The smoke on the building is simply smoke coming \out of the chimney that my children put there at the start of the game.  The cow at the rear is the other, and last,  unknown enemy force.
My son fired at the house with the Churchill for no damage, so he charged in with all the infantry he had.  The opposed die roll was about equal and the score was a tie!  One loss each and the melee will continue next run.

the 7 Platoon charges into close combat with teh house, a soldier lost on both sides, and melee conttinues.
Meanwhile, 9th Platoon that was advancing up the centre road also gets within 12" of the last unknown force.  a roll of a 6 sees it being 2 tanks.  I put out two mortars and just to make it a little harder, put out some infantry as well.  While I was getting the Marders out, my some saw an AT gun and said that should go out too!  So out it went right at the rear of the table - it doesn't appear in any of the shots.

The Marders open fire on the advancing 9th Platoon Churchill and knock it out with a lucky penetration roll.  Out first armour loss.

Right next to the previous building (which would be off to the bottom of this picture) the last remaining unknown force it revealed to be Marders and more infantry.
9th Platoon brought up their remaining soldiers (some went the long way around via the wheatfield at the rear) and the remaining Churchill.  Under a combined effort of firing they managed to destroy the soldiers defending the house.
9th Platoon sent three soldiers to try and attack a Marder that was successful (still made it only a 5-6).   They then went on to attack and destroy the crew of the AT gun. The other Marder destroys one of 7th Platoon Churchills. Two armour down.  Luckily, the Churchill manage to destroy the last remaining Marder.

3 soldiers of the 9 platoon assault a Marder (successfully)
Another melee at the other house and another tie!  Three soldiers of the Company HQ have finally arrived and join in. Another another melee and a decisive melee win.  The last of the German defenders run away to fight again another day.

Success at the house.  
We won!

A shot at end game - the two destroyed Churchills can bbe seen, and almost all the British infantry left is in this picture.

But what about the Captain of the Company? The commander setup shop on the top floor of the left flank house.  From there he had a wide view of the table to call in the mortars.  I ruled it would be a 3+ to call them in  So for the next 5 turns of the game I continued to roll 1 and 2s!

..and the PIATS? The PIAT team of 7th Platoon did manage to squeeze a few shots off at some enemy tanks, but missed every time.  The 9th Platoon PIAT team was lost midway during the game as casualties to enemy fire.

Verdict
They had fun. They want to play again. So those two things indicate success.  And I had fun too.  Three successes!  I did not help them out at all, except to tell them whether it was a 4,5, or 6 to hit, and by the end of it they were getting better at knowing 6s were always good!  I think I need to go for more dice or less modifiers.  I have come to realise that my children do so much better with adding and removing dice than with dice modifiers.  e.g. 5, 6 is a hit roll 3 2 dice to hit, 1 dice if in cover.  I have been adding and subtracting modifiers to d6s for 35 years and it comes automatically to me - I just know what 4+2-1 is without even working it out anymore.  Not so my children. Although I still do want to play One Hour Wargames again with my daughter - it does have addition/subtraction but there are not so many dice rolls, and so she would have time to think it though.  WW2 with 30 figures is a different story.  We have played WarHammer Quest for many years now with modified combat rules where a 5,6 are hits and you roll x dice to hit.  The target rolls x dice for saves (a save ona 5 or 6).  so they are quite familiar with adding and subtracting dice to a dice pool.  I don't really like buckets of dice - anything up to 5 regularly would be fine and more at the odd time is OK.  I also played the Arkham Horror boardgame that also simply adds and subtracts dice from a pool.  I can see the attraction of this now, after 35 years of having a preference for single d6 with modifiers.

Anyway, the next rules I use will be something that adds and removes dice.  I have been looking to play Nordic Weasel's 5Core skirmish for ages and this will be perfect.  So the next game with them will be that.  The 3rd edition is out (wow - has it been that long since tit first came out).  I think I will use that over 5 Men in Normandy or 5 Men at Kursk (although I think I will use the activation mechanism from Kursk).  5Core is a tight well defined game and I can then reuse it for sci-fi games.  Kursk has more rules (range etc) and Normandy is not as Streamlined.  They are all good rules and you need to buy all of them!

Lastly...

But here is the strangest thing.  They want to play on a smaller table, and when I say smaller, I mean *much* smaller.  As in 3’x2’. Over the last three years, we have got out my 3’x2’ board about 3 times to play with the toy soldiers.  Not really gaming, just setting them up and pushing them around.  They all agreed that the bigger 4.5’x5’ table was just too big.  I was not expecting that.  We had a discussion and they decided that about 5 figures and 1 tank each should be fine on a 3’x2’ table.  We can still play the same rules – I play with the same movement rates when I play on a 2’x2’ with a section/squad, so 3’x2’ will be fine.  5core will be perfect for this size table and with 5 men and a tank each.  Not sure when the next game will be – we have a busy few weekends ahead.  And my daughter has also started pestering me to play ancients with Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargaming with horses - I mean cavalry - again.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

WW2 20mm Skirmish game Normandy 28 June 01

Introduction
This is a game to test out my revised rules for 20mm WW2 skirmish.

I am using my streamlined and very modified version of my rules based loosely on NUTS!.  I am using 20mm figures on a 2'x2' table and with a ground scale of 1:300. The terrain generation is from Platoon Forward and  random events are based on Patrol:WW2. Comic is dome with Comic Life 3 software

Background
I am loosely basing the these skirmishes on the journey of the British 7th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment of the 43rd (Wessex) Division in 1944.
This is a section action that is part of a larger company action to clear a section of farmland.
Note that previous reports (three at the time of writing) were based on one section during 28-30 June 1944 saw many patrols and a few German stragglers captured.  This is not that section.

The British Section
The following is the attacking British nine-strong section:


Rank
Name
Level
Ability
Corporal
Archer
Veteran
L corp
Baker
Reg
-1 to be spotted
Soldier
Cobbler
Reg
Soldier
Dingsley
Reg
Soldier
Earl
Reg
can run and shoot
Soldier
Fallsy
Green
Soldier
Green
Reg
Soldier
Houghton
Reg
-1 to shoot
Soldier
Isles
Veteran
Count as regular for activation


Table and deployment
I randomised the terrain for the table.  British enter on one side.

Note, the trees will keep moving, not because they are really Ents but I am playing the the map drawer and the trees are higher than the drawer.  I close it between game sessions and so the trees get set up each time.
The pig, chickens and cow are the 3 unknown forces deployed on the table at the start (aka PEFs in NUTS!)

Objective
The British need to clear the enemy from the table.

Game
















Verdict
Previous skirmish games were written up using Comic Life but I had no an intention to continue this  - due to lack of time - when I decided to play the game,  I then started the writeup and could not help it! I really like the Comic style for these skirmish games.

The rules gave a fast and surprising game, which is what you want in the solo game.  I was shocked that the British lost so many soldiers - in the last few games I had only lost a few, and this one game I lose more than the previous three games put together!  I think I must have just been lucky those last few games.  It also did not help losing the Bren so early on.  A tiny bit of tweaking to the rules was all that was required during the game. At the moment they are just a two pages - a one page QRS and one page of reminders on how some things work! I may just have to play again.