Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Squad Hammer With Tanks!

I tried Squad Hammer again last night, and this time added some tanks into the mix in order to see how they affected play. I used the following forces, with the Mission setup from the rules:

Marine Squad - 6" Move, 1D6, +1 to hit. Only 1D3 vs Tanks and then only up to 12". All Damage rolls against the unit are reduced by one Hit.

Land Raider - 9" Move, 1D6, +1 to hit vehicles, -2 in Assault. Armour.

Up to two Squads may start off the table and have the Descent option.

Ork Squad - 6" Move, 1D6, +1 to hit (Assault only), +1 Damage (Assault only), Only 1D3 vs Tanks and then only up to 12". +2" move if moving towards the nearest visible enemy unit.

Ork Tank - 9" Move, 1D6, +1 to hit vehicles, -2 in Assault. Scores 2D6 damage in Assault.

Twice per game the Ork player can make an attack Charged.

The Marines had four Squads and two land Raiders, whilst the Orks had four Squads and two Tanks.

This was the terrain. I use a 2' x 2' board and halve all game distances. The rough areas didn't block line of sight, but gave cover to anything in or beyond them. The rubble/buildings partially blocked line of sight ad offered good cover.  The hills completely blocked line of sight, but a unit on the crest could claim minimal cover.

Orks at the top, Marines at the bottom. The Marines kept one squad off-table ready to be dropped into play later.

The Ork tanks advanced quickly against the Marines, hampered by terrible activation rolls, but put some damage on a Land Raider.

There was little action on the other flank. Some Ork Boyz advanced, but the Marines had a snug position on a hill and well well-sited to contest the approaches.

The tank-action got close and personal, which very much favours the Orks. Despite that, it was their tank which was taking hits from the better-armoured Land Raiders.

The Orks advanced cautiously on the other flank, but took a few hits. They now controlled the objective in the rubble, however (the brown counter).

The tank battle went very much against the Orks, and the fight ended after five turns (it runs for a random amount of time) with the Marines controlling enough objectives and having scored enough kills to pick up an easy victory. They picked up one with a last-turn orbital drop into some rubble.

I ran the setup again with the same forces, although I made a few adjustments to the terrain. More of the objectives were closer to the centre of the table. They are set by both players before they know who will move first or which edge they will get. Put them too close to the edges and you could give your opponent points from the start.

The Orks had a nice hilltop objective to defend. The unit defending it was also an objective; the Marines for score for each hit inflicted on it, whilst the Orks would score for each hit it had remaining at the end.

The Land Raiders used a long ridge to cover their approach, and scattered some Orks who strayed into the line of their advance.

In this game the Marines kept two units off-table. They landed one close to an objective (faintly visible top-right) and the other behind the Orks that would contest it.

An Ork tank pushed boldly down a street in the ruined city towards some Marines.

One squad was badly mauled and fell back, whilst the other dived into cover. The third squad was one of the ones which had dropped from orbit. They scattered rather too close to the tank, which then destroyed them.

The Marines held their ground and put some hits on the tank.

On the flank the Land Raiders and Orks traded shots with little effect. But the Orks were scoring points for proximity to an objective marker.

Bringing up a squad (out of shot) kept control of the marker, allowing the Ork tank to advance to assault range where it was more effective. This was risky, but the Land Raiders had taken some hits, and there was the possibility of a kill. Also: Orks!

The Marines were short of viable objectives to control, and had been very much pinned down by the Orks. Into the last turn there was little they could do except contest some ruins towards the middle of the board.

The Orks got a convincing win, since they matched, indeed slightly exceeded, the Marines in terms of controlled objectives, but had a unit worth points which had taken no hits, thus giving the whole score to the Orks.

I'm still no quite sure the balance is right between the Ork and Marine squads, but I shall tinker further. The tanks worked OK; the Land Raiders are quite tough, but the Ork Tanks are quite dangerous in close combat. What I may do is give both Ork tanks the Charged option. In addition for the Ork squads I'll drop the extra move towards the enemy, and instead allow them to recover one point of damage if they are activated and inflict at least one hit on an enemy unit.

I might also try with a smaller board and smaller terrain pieces; the time limit on the mission feels about right, but I feel the terrain loses the table down a little too much; I think I should be aiming for about the same amount, but covering less area. A smaller board would have everything in action far more quickly as well.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Squad Hammer

I was idly surfing the 'net last night, and I got seduced by another set of Nordic Weasel rules - Squad Hammer. These have been around for a while, but I haven't heard of them before (partially because there don't seem to be too many game reports around).

Anyway I downloaded them and skimmed them last night, and this evening I gave them a try.

They have no specific setting, but are really designed for 'shooting' settings and more specifically post 19th century ones. Including sci-fi. Indeed I think the rules were very much designed with sci-fi settings in mind. Units are essentially squads of 6-8 figures or individual vehicles or larger creatures, with each player having 4-6 units (maybe more if they are the attacker in an attack/defence game).

The rules are very much a toolkit, with no clearly defined troop stats, but lots of information on how to prepare such things. This may not be to everyone's tastes; even the combat factors are pretty much Do What Seems Appropriate, but it seems to work. It's not designed as a tournament-tight game, but as a means of getting a handful of figures onto the table quickly and in an entertaining manner.

On their turn a player activates a number of units in their force, and an activated unit can move (and attack), redeploy (which is a faster move away from the enemy), withdraw (which is a move that allows the rallying off of a hit) or redeploy (which simply allows the removal of up to three hits). Combat is a roll to hit on 2D6, followed by a damage roll, which will either be 1D3, 1D6 or best of 2D6. Units are lost if they take more than six hits.

I got out my Epic 40K elements and ran each one as a squad. I put together a force of Orks and one of Space Marines, diving gleefully into unit design as I did so. I then ran through the mission generation system, and got this terrain and setup:

The brown counters are objective points. Two units on each side were also counted as objectives.

The dice show hits. The Orks took lots of hits.

Get close and your shooting becomes an assault, which is more effective. The Orks also had assault bonuses.

These Orks were cut down in a firefight with two squads of Marines

These Marines were destroyed by a fearsome Ork charge.

Mostly, though, Orks died to gunfire.

More close assault.

Basically the well-armoured Marines used shooting to take out the Orks before the Orks could close and use their close-combat bonuses, which weren't that great anyway. Or, put another way, my unit designs were overly complicated and basically a bit bollocks.

So I was a bit disappointed with my first game. Not the fault of the game, but the way I went about using it.

Later on, though, I had another go. This time I just simply played the game as basic as possible. I used the mission setup, but used no special rules on the squads; I just ran Orks and Marines as the same, just to get a feel for the flow of the game. So I gave each side four normal squads, and a leader with bodyguard. The latter got a combat bonus and, when activated, could rally a hit of a nearby unit.

With simpler forces the game rattled along at a cracking pace, and was a lot of fun, thus reminding me that, sometimes, less is more. I can start adding extras as I go along, but maybe use them more like seasoning rather than chucking a whole load of things in one go.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Sawmill Village

And my playing around with an ACW Portable Wargames continues ...

Yesterday I decided to follow up my Prairie Grove game with something using a simpler terrain. I was flicking though Charles Stewart Grant's 'Scenarios For Wargames' when I came across Scenario 41 (Chance Encounter). This is, of course, the classic 'Sawmill Village' scenario which I've often read about, but never played. And, according to the intro, it was first played in 1958, so is celebrating it's 60th anniversary.

It would have been rude not to play it. 

I adapted the terrain for a square grid. 

And gave both sides eight units instead of six.

And added in the road after I started playing.

I had each side march along their entry edge until they reached the road, then turn onto it and march along it until they spotted each other. How did I do this? Well, here's how:

Both sides were set up in their order of march. When a side's card came up, they moved two spaces along their route, with units entering the board in the preset order. After the move I checked line of sight. The sides could see each other if their closest units were at or less than the number shown on the card which activated that side. The village counted as two squares for the purposes of this check. From the next card onward the units would activate as normal.

Here's the two columns approaching each other, blissfully unaware of each other's presence.

The Confederates reach the edge of the village and spot the Union column. The fight is on!

Both sides form up, but the Confederates hold the village.

The Union send forward their cavalry (dismounted, of course, but I adopts the OHW approach of not bothering to represent this).

A fierce fight ensues for the village.

The Union fall back and reform, but have already lost their cavalry.

A run of activations gave them a chance to form up properly and press home some decent attacks on the Confederates.

The Confederate left collapsed.

And the Union took the village.

Unfortunately the cards now gave the Confederates a counter-attack ...

... and they retook the village.

This pretty much broke the Union force, so I called the game at that point.

And I set it up again, partially because I had a better idea for terrain and cover, and wanted to work it through. To be honest I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet, though.

This time the Union got a run of moves, and made it to Sawmill Village before the Confederates had really got too far onto the field.

They spot each other.

The Union form up and the shooting starts.

Both sides got their troops organised in a neat and tidy manner.

The first Confederate attack on the village was halted by Union cavalry supporting from a nearby hill.

Meanwhile the Union artillery was doing fearful execution on the Confederates.

Soon the rebels were cleared from around the village, but they were mounting a second attack from the woods on the Union left.

It was a bold try, but their losses were already high, and after a few assaults their army withdrew from the field, beaten.

Really this scenario seems to be won by whoever holds the village first, since it forces the other side into attacking an equal force in a defensive position. Even if that side captures the village, the attack weakens them to the point where a decent counterattack will generally retake it. It was great fun to play such a classic scenario, though, even if I haven't currently resolved my terrain issues.
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