I tried another game of 'Hell Hath No Fury' last night. I've been rereading the rules, asking questions of the author and playing some test games during the week and I think I understand how most of the game is supposed to work now.
I felt ambitious enough to try five Shermans. I stuck to one Rep value for the whole crew though. I made my platoon commander Rep 5, of course, and rolled a Rep 4 and three Rep 3s Not brilliant, but that's pretty much what the crew skill table offers you. All Shermans were the 'basic' model - no E8s
As before, my objective was to reconoiter the far edge of the board. I sent the commander and two tanks along the right, to take the hill.
Two tanks, both Rep 3 crews, worked their way through the woods to the other hill. I reasoned that the hills would be good jumping-off points for the patrol, offering a chance to scout out potential enemy activity from a position of security.
The Potential Enemy Forces were placed. Two were directly behind the big hill.
The third was working its way towards the other hill.
The single PEF resolved as three Stug III assault guns. These are 3D prints from Marco Bergman's file collection.
The main Sherman force spotted them, and they fired, but the low silhouette of the assault guns threw off their aim. The lead Stug fired back, destroying a Sherman.
The Second PEF moved, and a company of Panzer IVs moved into sight on the crest of the hill. Bugger!
(Actually I rolled Panthers, but I only have three of those printed off and they're not painted yet, so I substituted Panzer IVs. Seriously. Six Panthers.)
We exchanged fire, and I lost another Sherman, whilst the Germans just shrugged off a couple of wild shots.
And the third PEF? Another Panzer IV. I had obviously run into a major offensive.
In the centre I moved the two Shermans onto the hill to try and put the Stugs under pressure.
My novice crews didn't do too well. The Stugs reacted first, with the lead one, unable to fire, running for cover, but the second disabling one of the Shermans in an exchange of fire. The markers show that the Sherman had stopped, so it could fire, and was in the process of loading its gun.
With its companion knocked out, the other Sherman retreated to cover.
I had two tanks left, and ten German vehicles advancing across the table towards me. I took cover behind some cultivation.
The Stugs worked their way around the hill in the centre. My Sherman fired, and they retreated to cover.
The swarm of Panzer IVs advanced towards my platoon commander.
One tried to use a destroyed Sherman as cover, but I was able to disable it.
However the cultivation, whilst blocking line of sight up to a point, didn't offer much physical cover. The Stug's platoon commander moved onto my flank ...
... and it was all over.
I had one Sherman left, with a rookie crew and outnumbered nine-to-one by superior German tanks and crews. I was stuffed.
That said, they disabled the lead Panzer IV, and retreated to the cover of some woods.
Winning the next activation, I was then able to withdraw the surviving Sherman.
The Americans lost three tanks destroyed, and one disabled. The Germans suffered two Panzer IVs disabled.
As I said at the start of the post I was happier with how I played the game, having a clearer idea of what I was doing. The actual scenario is a very hard one, though, and I can't see the other nine in the book being much better. There are pretty good odds on each of the PEFs resolving to an enemy force, which will be on average as big as mine, and fairly good odds for at least two of the PEFs to resolve to something. This means that pretty much all games will leave me facing two-to-one odds, with the enemy having superior vehicles and higher crew quality. I'd have to be very lucky to generate a game where I stand a chance of achieving the mission, let alone actually achieving it.
Obviously I could generate charts and scenarios to my own taste, but the point of this game is really that it's the tank combat from overall WWII game Nuts! split out from the rules and garnished with the ten tank-specific scenarios. In other words, the only reason to get this game, rather than Nuts! is the scenarios.
It's obvious, from reading and playing the game, that it's really designed for man to man combat. The Duck Back and Hunker Down reactions see tanks running and dodging in reaction to things, in a way that doesn't seem quite right for multi-ton vehicles. The fact that their ability to fire is linked to their movement also makes for various odd rules situations about what a vehicle can d on its next turn, which wouldn't occur where the reacting entity is a single person. Even the terrain rules are really based on the assumption you are running a group of individual men, not a vehicle. Cover is an important concept, but virtually everything defined in the rules as 'cover' is really 'out of sight' - behind a building, for example. Things which would provide obvious cover to a man - being in a building, or inside woods - aren't really options for tanks. Hull down is a form of cover, but has special rules of its own. Most of these things can be resolved with a bit of common sense, but they are situations which are central enough to the workings of the game that they should have been addressed with either detail or examples in the rules.