Monthly Archives: January 2011

Disposable Heroes WW2 29/01/2011 (Solo)

A first try-out for the Platoon Forward solo scenario generator from Too Fat Lardies (photos to follow). I was the British attacker, with the jump-off point being on a ridge. From left-to-right the board set-up was a building complex, a large central hill (the main objective) and the flank of a larger hill. I used a full platoon (3 squads and a HQ squad) and rolled for support, getting a Churchill tank, a PIAT and an HMG. British deployment was 1st squad and HQ squad opposite the building, HMG and 2nd squad on ridge opposite the main objective hill, and 3rd squad , PIAT and tank on the right against the flank of the hill on the edge of the board. I decided to deploy all the German blinds on the board, which was probably a mistake.

Very rough Powerpoint of the layout...

The way the system works is that there are 3 tables where the enemy forces can come from, and the blinds have the letters A, B & C on them, the letter determining which table to roll a D10 on.

  • Table A contains infantry squads, HQ squads, LMG and AT squads, with a 1 in 10 chance of rolling on a different table and a 1-4 being a dummy.
  • Table B contains a heavier support mix (HMGs, AT guns etc), though a plain infantry squad can be rolled.
  • Table C contains Platoon HQ, halftrack, armoured car, SP gun and tank options.
  • All tables allow for the blind to be a dummy, but weigh against this if the previous blind was a dummy, and for this if the previous blind was a real unit. I decided that I would take a lower result if a unit of which I only had one model of (or that it would be unlikely for there to be 2 present in a platoon level game).
  • There is also a weighting away from a dummy if the unit is on the main objective, so it’s unlikely the objective would be totally undefended.

So, with my British forces picked, the Germans get 5 type A blinds (my 4 squads + 1), 3 type B blinds (my HMG & PIAT + 2) and 2 type C blinds (my Tank +1).  I put 3 A & 1 B in the building on the right, 1 A, 1 B & 1 C on and around the objective hill in the centre, and 1 A, 1 B & 1 C on the flanking hill.

Disposable Heroes works by each side activating a section (most squads have 2 sections) at a time. There is a roll for initiative as the beginning of each turn, but the British as attackers went first on the first turn. British squads are split into a manoeuvre element of 7 men and a fire element based around the bren of 3 men. I decided up-front that I would only test for 1 blind for each British activation. The first to move was the rifle section of the 1st squad on the left flank, hoping to spot what was in the building. They failed, but I tested one on the A blinds in the building, as the riflemen were plainly visible – predictably, it was a dummy. The 1st squad’s bren section moved, again hoping to spot something in the building, but failed. I chose to test for the other A blind, and rolled a 9 + 1 for previous having been a dummy. A result of 10 gives a platoon leader and squad, so down went the HQ squad, with a LMG and a couple of SMGs – the resulting fire took down 2 British, but they passed their “guts” check, helped by the fact that their platoon leader was within his command distance of 9″  (“guts check” is Disposable Heroes’ name for a morale test – roll under your section leadership(or platoon leadership if in range),  modified by the number of casualties you have taken and the cover you are in).

I then activated the HMG on the ridge, firing it against the German HQ squad hiding behind the garden wall of the building. It had no effect, the cover doing its job, but the Germans failed their guts check so were pinned. Disposable Heroes puts a red cube on a unit for failing its guts check, and they have to rally this off when they are next activated before they can perform any action, though if the rally is successful, they can act as normal.

I decide as the Germans that they have to do something about that HMG on the ridge, so I roll for the B dummy on the roof of the building. I roll another 9, but it is -1 for the previous A roll turning up a unit – 8 is a HMG, so not the worst roll, though a 9 would have been an AT gun, useful against the Churchill, but not so much against the HMG. Anyway, the German HMG has a rate of fire of 8 (that means it rolls 8 D10 – compare that with a bren which rolls 3) and with the HMG dug in on the ridge, needed 3 or less to hit. It scored 3 hits – after a hit is established, a roll for a kill is made, but the German HMG only needs to roll less that or equal to 8 to register a kill – needless to say, the British HMG crew of 3 was wiped out!

The British responded by sending the rifle section of the 2nd squad forward towards the objective hill – they failed to spot anything on the hill, but I decided to reveal a B blind. The roll was amended by +3 as this was the objective, and would have been a MMG, except I decided that the HMG already on the table was sufficient for a platoon (and I only have one MMG/HMG model) – next row down on the table was a mortar, so I depoyed that behind the hill. As the British squad approaching the hill were within the mortar’s minimum range, they fired at the 3rd British squad beside the Churchill, but missed.

The bren section from number 2 squad tried to spot the A blind on the hill, and finally someone succeeded. A roll on the A table amended by +3 for objective and -1 for last A blind turning up the German HQ in the garden of the building resulted in an 8 – an infantry squad plonked on to the objective hill. The bren engaged them, but though it caused them no casualties, they failed their guts check and were pinned, thus losing their activation (luckily for the British rifle section running straight up the hill towards them).

Squad 3’s rifle section move towards the right hand flank hill, and spot an A blind on the hill which proved to be a dummy, after -1 for the last A blind being a real unit. The rifle section, with nothing to fire on to their front, fired on the pinned German squad on the main hill. They get 3 shots as they have moved needing 3 or less to hit – not much chance, but they roll 2 hits and 2 wounds, so 2 dead Germans, although the guts check is passed.

As the Germans now are being attacked on the flank, I decide it’s time to activate the C blind just behing the ridge. I roll a 9 which on the C table is a tank – a Stug III pokes over the ridge and takes aim at the Churchill. In Disposable Heroes (DH from now on), tanks have to acquire their target before they can fire at it. The Stug needs less than or equal to 8 to acquire, as the Churchill is a large target, and succeeds by rolling a 2 (if the Churchill had have been within 12″, it would have been auto-acquired). It then fires and rolls a 6 – a miss, as less than or equal to 5 is required.

The Churchill quite naturally reacts by firing back, but cannot acquire the Stug even using its co-ax MG to better the odds, so holds its fire. The Germans respond by rolling for the B blind on the flank hill – a 5 – 1 for the last A being a dummy gives an infantry squad (with a panzerfaust!). They activate, miss the Churchill with the Panzerfaust but wipe out the 3rd squad’s unactivated bren section with their LMG. The British respond by advancing the PIAT towards the Stug, but their shot goes wide.

The British only have their HQ squad to activate, and they advance towards the pinned German HQ squad behind the wall. They fire at them, but due to cover only score 1 hit. If the German’s had have failed their guts check, then they would have had 2 red cubes against them, which in DH terms would have meant they had to fall back away from the cover of the wall into the building.   With the British throwing a lot of troops at the building, I decided to check for the last A blind – it turned out to be another squad, and as I only had enough models for a half-squad, I put a half-squad on the roof and fired with them, but with no effect.

Turn 2’s initiative roll went to the Germans, each side having -2 to their roll – the British for having 2 dead sections and the Germans for having 2 pinned squads. The German’s activate their HQ – one ability of a platoon leader is that once per turn he can remove a pinned marker without a roll – an auto-rally in effect. They fire LMG, SMGs and rifles at 1st squads bren section, but only succeed in killing 2, and the bren gunner left alive passes his guts check by rolling a 1 – always a pass. The bren returns fire to the German HQ squad, and kills 2, but they pass their guts check with the aid of their cover modifier.

The Stug activates  – doesn’t need to acquire the Churchill as nothing has broken last turn’s acquisition, but it still misses. The Churchill activates next, but still can’t acquire the Stug. The German squad beside the Stug on the flank hill activate, and fire on the rifle section of the 3rd squad. In an awesome rolling of the dice, they kill 5 out of 7, and pin the remaining 2, who as they are in the open and pinned must fall back towards the ridge into cover.

The PIAT shoots at the Stug again, but hits this time. The location was the upper hull with an armour value of 55 – the PIAT rolled a 9, which has an armour penetration value of 81, so they get a roll on the penetrating hit table. A roll of 8 gives a vehicle destroyed and 10D10 rolls against the crew with a 7 or under killing them – it was no surprise that they all died. As the remaining C blind was on the flank of the Churchill, I decided to reveal it, as it might have been an AT gun or another tank. A roll of 5 – 2 for the last C blind being a Stug III gave a 3, which meant it was a dummy.

The German HMG on the building roof activated, shot at the 1st squad’s rifle section and wiped them out. Although the British had a tank and the Germans only had 1 Panzerfaust left, the British infantry were a spent force.

Squad 1 was down to a single bren gunner, squad 3 was down to 2 men and the HQ squad had suffered 50% casualties – overall the force was approaching the 50% casualty mark. They had also lost their HMG, whereas the Germans had only lost 6 men and the Stug III and were still in position. This proved to be a tough one for the British – if I had have held back some blinds as reinforcements for the Germans, then there might have been a better chance of the British squads establishing themselves. I can’t find any method of bringing on reinforcements in the Platoon Forward pdf, but the good old 40K method of reserve rolls incrementing by +1 for each failed turn would work fine.

Another balancing mechanism would be to mechanise the British using half-tracks with HMG mounts to try and neutralise the German HMG terror. As an exercise I totalled up the points values generated for the Germans against what the British were worth in DH terms. The British came to a total of 703 points, while the German forces involved came to 832, and it would have been 994 if I had have had the figures to generate the full squad on the last A blind – that’s over 40% difference against the attacker, so no wonder the British suffered.

I didn’t give the British a preliminary barrage as recommended in the scenario generation, but I couldn’t figure out in a hurry how to allocate it against blinds without rolling for them at the start, which would have taken a lot of the fun out of the solo game. I suppose I could have just said the artillery barrage was against the primary objective, and when a real unit was rolled in that location, conducted an attack against it with the casualty and pinning results carrying over to turn 1. The author has a blog, so I may post this question there just to see what method he uses.

What did I think of Platoon Forward? Well, I really liked it as a solo scenario generator and well worth the £7 I paid for the pdf from Too Fat Lardies. The British were quite unlucky with the blind rolls, and the fact that I had put all the blinds on-board so as they could all activate on turn 1 didn’t help. I’m already thinking about how to customise the blind tables to fit my models – for example, will the Germans get a 50mm AT gun, a 75mm AT or a dreaded 88mm? Highly recommended, and I’ve only read and playtested 1 out of the 3 sections.

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Platoon Forward from Too Fat Lardies

Just downloaded this pdf from Too Fat Lardies, mainly for the solo scenario generator, though there are 2 other sections on character generation and a campaign system.

Cover of PDF

A quick read confirms that the scenario generator for solo games may be just what I’m looking for, and I plan to try it out soon, either for my Spanish Civil War troops or WW2 British and Germans.

Command & Colours Napoleonics 23/01/2011 (Nick)

First play of my Christmas present pre-ordered direct from GMT – it arrived on 13th January with a hefty VAT & handling charge. Co-incidently, the next day it was being sold in on-line shops for more than £15 less than I’d paid direct, so I think that will be my last pre-order…

Anyway, we played the first scenario of Rolica twice. I made a mistake in the set-up for the French and left a Line unit off the board, but I still won 5-0 on banners as the French. Our problems were that we both underestimated the effectiveness of ranged combat after playing C&C Ancients for so long, and the loss of dice to a unit for each block which was removed – no more rolling 5 dice for a 1 block unit. 

The second game was much better, when we discovered a few things we’d missed:-

  • yes, squares ARE invunerable to cavalry when formed on a hill, but supporting infantry and artillery could make mincemeat of them so long as the cavalry hung around
  • that there was a card which allowed you to strat move 3 units 5 hexs (but not the 3rd one if it is hidden on your baseline behind your rack of cards, having been sent there by a Supply card, and you’ve forgotten about it)
  • that counter-battery fire can work if you roll 2 cannons on 2 dice (a 1 in 36 chance to be fair) then have a Cavalry Charge card to follow it up with.

In fact, the British fire was proving so effective, that the French retreated to the reverse slope to try and preserve their forces. The British got their 5th banner just before the French and won, but only by surviving in square on one of the objective hills due to appalling dice rolls by the French.

During the first game we were a bit sceptical, but the second game, where we saw more of the cards and better understood the tactics, grew on us – so much so that we are going to fight the second scenario, the 2nd phase of Rolica, this Sunday coming.

Field of Battle ACW 16/01/2011 (Solo)

Another go at Piquet Field of Battle, this time based on the battle of Belmont. All units on both sides were either classed as raw (green) or rabble (militia) with D4 defence die, leading to some spectacular differences when rolling D12+2 against them and making the units just as unpredictable as in reality.  I won’t turn this in to a rules review, as there are some excellent reviews already out there for Field of Battle, for example at

Small World Productions:- http://smallworldproductions.blogspot.com/2009/04/field-of-battle-review.html

von Peter’s Wargaming Madness:- http://web.mac.com/nataliendpeter/Site/PM_SYW001-1.html 

and at the Rules Directory:- http://deepfriedhappymice.com/html/rd_field_of_battle.html.

Suffice to say that a UI is a Unit Integrity point and infantry units have 4, cavalry have 3 and artillery 2 – when this reaches 0, a unit routs and must be rallied by adding back UI. If it goes negative, the unit disperses.

Battlefield layout in this photo:-

Battlefield layout & deployments

 The Union force enter from the top left on the road, which is lined with swamp & woods – they have to capture the rebel camp in the centre of the opposite board edge. Woods are light Class 2 terrain –  stop at edge on entry, then move full speed within – firing ranges 4″ through & in, but down 1 dice for cover. Swamps are Class 3 terrain – stop at edge on entry, stop at edge on exit, move at half speed within (skirmishers don’t stop on entry, but do stop on exit). Union got initiative by default, but rolled 5 card draws anyway.

Reb left flank

The Rebel army had to stop the Union burning their camp, but as all units were classed as raw or rabble, they were on defence dice D4, and I had given each side the same number of units, so it was going to be a challenge for the Union.

Reb defence - camp is in background

The first card was a Move, rolled 3 segments even. Union cavalry galloped across the t-junction and were fired on by Reb artillery, causing 6 hits for 2 UI, but rolled odd  so no fallback. They crossed the road, dismounted (formation change – even roll) and entered the swamp. The Zouaves and 28th Massachusetts infantry in march column on the road moved 8″, then changed formation into line and moved to the edge of the swamp. During the Reb turn, an Artillery Fire card removed smoke, but the only target was cavalry skirmishers in swamp wood, so they didn’t fire.

The Rebs won the next initiative, turned a Move card and moved infantry from the camp up to the left hand side of the cornfield – nothing else useful in the way of cards. The Union turned 2 Artillery Fire (guns still limbered!) and a Tactical Avantage.

The Union won next initiative, drawing 4 cards. First up was a Move card, rolling 3 segments. This allowed the cavalry to emerge from the swamp on one side of the road, and the Zouaves to emerge on the other. Both units took opportunity volleys from the Texas regiments – cavalry only took 2 hits, but even roll, so they had to fall back into swamp out of command.

Cavalry take a volley

Zouaves took 1 UI but didn’t have to fall back. The 2nd Wisconsin turned up the road towards the artillery while still in march column – hoping for a Maneuvre card which never came. The Reb artillery opened up, causing 2 UI but no fallback (D12+2 using Tactical Advantage card). The Union army morale was now down 5, and if I had done a random roll, it would have been between 5 & 9 , with 6 & 8 being likely – I need to look at this to balance the scenario.

First fire causes 2 UI

The Union won initiative and drew a Move card, rolling 1 segment. The 2nd Wisconsin and move toward the artillery up the road, as they can’t deploy as odd roll. The Zouaves advance up to 5th Texas hiding behind a fence and let fly as the Texans are unloaded, but score only 1 UI even with a Tactical Advantage card played – meanwhile the 28th Massachusetts infantry finally exit the swamp on the left of the Zouaves. Next card is an Infantry Firepower, so the Zouaves are able to shoot again at the 5th Texas, but score only 2 hits odd, so no effect.

The Rebels get their draw – first up is Maneuvre, so they wheel the 2nd South Carolina to face the oncoming 2nd Wisconsin, then draw a Leadership card, and attempt to rally UI off of 5th Texas, but with no effect. Next is a Lull, where Union seize the initiative and draw Melee. They attack the 5th Texas with the Zouaves over the fence, and score 7 to 1 = 2 UI lost. Greater than 1 UI and doubled means rout, but as roll is odd, the Zouaves can’t follow up over the fence. Next Reb card is Leadership, and their Brigadier fails to rally 5th Texas – I could also have tried with Army General at this point I suppose. 

5th Texas rout

The Union win the initiative and get to draw 7 cards – first 2 are no use, but draw Maneuvre on 3rd, changing the Iron Brigade from March to Attack columns. 3 more cards (only Tactical Advantage was of use), then a Lull where Rebs seized the initiative and got a Move card. They wanted to limber up their artillery as the 2nd Wisconsin were bearing down on them, but though they rolled 3 move segments, they rolled odd, so the only move was to rout 5th Texas a further 9″. The Union then continued and drew Move card – perfect, except that they rolled a 1 against a 2, so there was no movement.

The Rebs drew Infantry Firepower, remove fire markers but hold their fire just in case. They drew another Infantry Firepower, so they might as well fire as they can remove the fire marker with the card. The 1st Texas fires at the cavalry in the wooded swamp, and manage to cause a IU, leaving them with no UI, so they rout 3″ on even roll. Next up is Tactical Advantage, followed by a Move, where they get 3 moves and an even roll. The artillery limbers up and falls back

Reb artillery limbers in the face of the attack column

and the 2nd South Carolina fills the gap in the line – nice work boys!

South Carolina fills the gap

Meanwhile, the 37th North Carolina leave the camp to cover the gap in the line left by the 5th Texas. Next card is a Lull, where Union seize initiative and draw a leadership card, but can’t rally the cavalry – the rebs then draw a Leadership card, but the 5th Texas refuse to rally.

The Rebs win the next turn’s initiative, and get 8 card draws with only 4 cards left, and useless they were too, including 2 artillery firepower with guns limbered – turn ends as Rebs run out of cards.

The Reb’s win initiative again, rolling another 10 against 3 – 7 card draws. Artillery Fire card is again useless, but then Infantry Fire comes up. Both 2nd South Carolina and 1st Texas fire on the approaching 2nd Wisconsin attack column. Nett result is that 2nd Wisconsin reduced to 0 UI, and rout 6″ through 7th Wisconsin – the Union is now only 1 UI away from Army Morale of zero.

The Rebs got 3 useless cards, followed by a Lull where the Union seized the initiative and drew a leadership card. Rally was failed for 2nd Wisconsin and cavalry, even when the army commander tried. The Rebs drew another Lull card, which proved to be a blessing in diguise, as the Union seized the initiative and drew a move card, rolled odd (so couldn’t change formation) which meant they couldn’t do much. They did however have to roll for the 2nd Wisconsin and Cavalry rout moves – both rolls were high, so both units left the table. The 1st Texas chose this moment to fire on the next column (the 7th Wisconsin) coming up the road – at D12+1 against a D4, it was looking bad for the Union unit, but the difference came up as 2 odd, so no effect. The column fired back, reasoning it was a new initiative roll next, so they might as well.

Volley from 7th Wisconsin routs 2nd South Carolina

They scored a difference of 8 on an even roll, causing 2 UI and a rout of 8″on the 2nd South Carolina. The Union then drew a Maneuvre card, formed line with the 7th Wisconsin and turned the 19th Indiana into attack column behind them. Next up was an Infantry Fire card, so the 2nd Wisconsin shot at the 1st Texas to their left – another good volley caused 1 UI and a fall back of 5″ – just 1 short of another rout! The Zouaves made up for it by firing on the flank of the 8th Georgia with no effect, even with a 2 dice shift.

The Union won the next initiative and got to draw 7 cards, but 2 Melee, 2 Lull, 1 Artillery Fire and 1 Tactical Advantage are not what they are looking for – only the 1 infantry fire is of use, removing the fire marker from the 7th Wisconsin and allowing the Zouaves to cause a UI on the 8th Georgia. The Rebs draw a Move card, 3 on an even roll, allowing the 8th Georgia to fall back from the fence and the flanking fire of the Union Zouaves.  

7th Wis follow up and volley 2nd SC again in the back

A Lull allows the Union to seize the initiative, draw a move card and advance the 7th Wisconsin to within short range of the rear of the 2nd South Carolina – the resulting volley had a difference of 11, obliterating the 2 remaining UI of the unit, removing them from the field and sending the Reb Army Morale negative. At this point I forgot to add the negative value to the Union Army Morale, but in my defence, I only spotted this in the rules after the game. The Rebs got their revenge by next drawing Leadership and rallying a UI off of the 8th Georgia, then Infantry Firepower allowed the 1st Texas and 37th North Carolina to volley the 7th Wisconsin – 2 UI & even roll, and they rout. Next up for the Rebs was an Army Morale card, but though no officer dies, 2 units went out of command and fell back towards the camp. With the Rebs retreating, I called it a day.

Final positions

The 7th Wisconsin have routed through the 19th Indiana (interestingly in Field of Battle, this does not affect the unit routed through). This leave 3 Union units intact – they have driven the Rebs from the fenceline, but would still have to take the fortified camp, which the Rebs would probably fall back in to before the Union artillery can depoy against them. I ended the game at this point.

Things to note:-

  • I forgot that units could shuffle sideways a 1/4 speed.
  • I think I may have been rolling just once against the general’s LD for move segments – should have been rolling for each brigade commander, but as there were only 2 brigades, not really an issue.
  • Union artillery never got into action because of terrain.
  • I think I will make a battery = 1 gun for the next game, due to the width of 2 guns together against 2 infantry bases.

A good run out for the rules, though I still made a few mistakes. I need to make better unit dice strength markers as the ones I have can’t fit under a unit base. Next time I hope to attempt the “Turning the Flank” Tabletop Teaser from the excellent Battlegames special issue.