Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Zombies

Well as Halloween approaches and The Walking Dead renews its season, it must mean that it is time for some zombies. We had family and friends over this past Sunday to watch football and all - and it was decided that I'd throw down an impromptu zombie game.

A cool thing about All Things Zombie is that you can always, and quickly, just start playing. So we tossed out some terrain and rolled up a few humans and away we went. There were 5 of us playing. Chris and Stacey played a pair of survivors - one military and one police. Desmond and Rob played a couple of civilians. And I played a Biker. Chris and Stacey paired up and so did Desmond and Rob. Those pairs entered the table at different areas. Being the lone biker in the group, I entered alone in a different area.

The goal was to reach the tallest building in the town and get on the helicopter waiting on the roof. There was a police sniper on the rooftop too, he took a few shots to help us out at various times.

There was only 1 casualty, but several close calls during the game. Chris was fairly indecisive after encountering a small horde of zombies and it cost him his character's life. The police sniper tried to help but there were too many walkers.

The funniest part, to me, was when Desmond got up on the porch of a residence and was soon converged upon by a handful of zombies. Since he was standing by the front door, and was seeing few options outside, he decided to try the door - and found it unlocked. When he entered, there were 4 zombies in the house! However, he won the surprise test and quickly scampered out the back door. Naturally, when he opened the back door and went out, he discovered a handful of zombies in the back! So, he calmly closed the door - delaying the zombies following him from the inside of the house - and made his way over to handle the zombies in the back yard. He did make his way through them with a little combat and made his way up the fire escape and onto the helicopter...

Cool. I like zombies!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Field of Battle - WW2 Squad Action

Got to play a new variation of Field of Battle – WW2 last night. I’d call it squad-level…a “unit” is a squad or weapons team and the “command” is a platoon. But this is not a skirmish-level, individually-based model game. I love me some WW2 gaming (my three favorites, in order are: ACW, WW2 and Napoleonics) – and I love the squad-level action, so this really was a special treat for me.

We fought a German versus American action in Northwest Europe without really picking a time or place. Since there were no hedgerows, maybe we can think of the fall of 1944, after Falaise. The Germans were set up defending a small town and nearby wooded area while the Americans advanced to push them back and continue the overall advance. A small waterway cut in front of the German positions. The left flank of the German position, although resting on the waterway, was “in the air” with regard to cover – as there was none of any import. The only feature was a small wooded copse.

Greg, Chris, John and Greg (yep, two Gregs) played the Americans while myself, Terry and Eric played the Germans. Bob was there and hung out for a while, but did not play as he had an engagement to move off to.

I did not accurately record the number of commands involved in the fight, looking at the photos and recalling details, I think there were 7 American infantry platoons, 5 Sherman platoons and 1 M10 platoon – also there were a handful of mortar and machinegun teams spread about. For the Germans, there were 5 infantry platoons, 2 Mark IV platoons and 1 Panther platoon – we had about 3 or 4 machinegun teams too. Oh, we had a 27MM FLAK team and a PAK-40 too. I think Brent mentioned that the Army Morale scores were 30 (Americans) and 29 (Germans).

I commanded three infantry platoons and 1 machinegun platoon and deployed into the open area, with one platoon heading into that small wooded area. As it turned out, those must have been Osttruppen, because their ratings were not very good. Two were D6 on defense and the third was D4.

Eric (with all of the remaining foot elements and the FLAK and the PAK) deployed in the town and a rocky/wooded area (Class III) outside of town that defended the right flank. Terry commanded the panzers and placed them behind the town, safe from the American advance. Although defending, we had an attack plan. The panzers would roll out of their positions, swing around through my positions and together we’d attack the Americans in the area. Yeah, we’re nuts…

I really didn’t play too much attention to the American command divisions at the time, but the two Gregs played all infantry commands while John had but 1 infantry platoon and 2 Sherman and the M10 platoons. Chris had 3 Sherman platoons but I don’t think he commanded any infantry.

So, the battle went well, the Americans had some pre-battle artillery to resolve, which took out the FLAK team! My Osttruppen moved into the wooded area and surprisingly they fought well! The Americans were not really delayed, but I was able to force the loss of few morale chips. Of course, the men did not abandon the woods when the heat got turned on (movement cards did not favor us at the time), and the Americans overwhelmed them – resulting in morale chip losses for the Germans.

Next to be chewed up were my units in the open area. Yes, I did some damage to the Americans as they advanced, but there were too many of them. Our plan was going astray! We were not getting the movement cards, so our troops were not executing the plan. This is not the fault of the system – indeed this is how the Piquet family operates – these things are to be expected and managed in battle.

Eric’s boys held firm in the woods, American artillery was directed against them on occasion, causing some loss and such but there was not enough loss to drive him away. His PAK-40, deployed at the edge of town, did destroy a Sherman at long range and drone another back a little!

Terry’s tanks finally got moving – no doubt that OKW was holding them back on orders from Berlin – but my supporting infantry were decimated and John’s tanks and Greg’s infantry were coming up on them. Nevertheless, Terry’s panzers fought hard in close range combat with enemy infantry and tanks. He lost one of the Mark IV’s but killed a fair bit of infantry and stopped the American advance short of the town. Terry’s commander became nicknamed ‘Der Kork’ for corking the American advance!

Also important on this battle, was that the Germans did occasionally receive some off-board mortar support which helped (I guess the reason that we didn’t get to the movement cards sooner was that we were getting to the leadership cards!). When the Americans got off-board support, they directed it against Eric’s troops or as smoke rounds. So, this support did little to inflict losses. No aircraft support entered into this battle.

Around this time, the Germans ran out of AMPs – and the Americans were down to the last 1 or 2. As fighting continued, the Americans lost those, the Germans gained (I think we had about 5 or 6 earned back at the end) and with inevitable looming, we called the game.

In historical terms, the Americans pushed back the German perimeter to the town, inflicted losses on the enemy, confirmed numbers and locations and fell back. Tomorrow the bombers would take care of the remaining German resistance and the advance will continue.

For the Germans, it proved that their fighting forces, when not under constant air-attack, can handle the Americans and their numerical and materiel superiority. If only the Luftwaffe could regain its dominance, Germany can be saved.

I enjoyed myself, and hope to play more of these battles. As I have said, I love this period and this scale. Thanks guys! Just raw photos this time, I don't have time this morning to comment them (football in 40 minutes!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Another FoB2 ACW Battle

Last night was fight night at the club, so we threw down an ACW battle with FoB2. This time we played with 7 players – 4 Yankee and 3 Rebel. We also had more units available, as Doug brought some Yankee infantry and guns and some Rebel guns and Jeff brought a couple of newly painted Texas regiments. Each player commanded an infantry brigade with 3 to 5 regiments. The Yankees had 7 batteries and the rebels had 5…both sides allocated their batteries in an uneven manner – some brigades had no guns and some had 1 or even 2 gun batteries. There were 11 Confederate and 18 Union infantry regiments. The Federals had 20 AMPs and the Rebels had 15 AMPs.

Four of the seven players played in the FoB2 game two weeks ago, the other three were newbies or near newbies. Steve and Larry had played First Edition in the distant past. I did not play, just refereed the game. The battlefield was 5X8 in size. Once again, all of the players created the field on the fly then we divided up and I gave details.

The Yanks were once again on the attack, this time commanded by General John Wharrier. The Rebs, commanded by General Jeff Caruso, readied themselves for a defensive battle.

Once again, as an expediency, I gave the Yanks one advanced deployment zone. I also allowed the Yanks to decide that the first time they use their initiative points that they could pull a “virtual movement card” – this assured that they can jump off to the attack. I also added a fourth movement card to their deck. Other than that, I used the same decks from the previous battle, were the Yanks had an inferior command rating than the Rebs.

So, the battle began and the Yanks advanced along the entire front. Doug’s right flank, the largest brigade and containing some fine troops was to be the primary assault force, supported by Rick’s brigade. This force would fall onto Jeff’s Rebel brigade and drive it inwards. Nate and Dan’s Federal brigades were to push forward and engage Larry’s and Steve’s brigades respectively and prevent them from aiding Jeff’s defense.

The Yanks started taking some heavy losses on the march in, they lost about 8 AMPs in short order and I got a little nervous that the game might end really fast and be a little unrewarding. I seriously contemplated adding 4 or 5 AMPs – but I did not – I said to myself “just see how this plays out”.

Finally, the Southerner’s fire slackened and the Yanks piled in, but faced a really dogged defense. Doug and Jeff had an incredible slugfest going on! Desperate melee, routing units, all sorts of hell going on. Later in this segment of the battle, Rick’s brigade general was taken out of the fight by a sniper! To make matters worse, he never got a Leadership card! So his command was a bit hamstrung and as a result only lightly engaged.

Nate’s command, advancing in lines, moved to threaten Larry’s brigade and several sharp exchanges and melees were fought. Larry, in this observer’s opinion, got the better of it and was making some progress in stopping Nate’s boys. To some degree I think this was due to the presence of a Rebel battery and that Nate’s battery was engaged in a different sector. Larry, with his blood up, even advanced a couple regiments and took some ground from Nate. It was a tough order for Nate’s men and he handled them very well.

Dan’s command also had a tough time. He advanced in attack columns across an open section of field. Awaiting him were Steve’s Confederates in a wood line – and they had a supporting battery of guns. One of Dan’s regiments beat a hasty retreat (recovered eventually, but played no role in the fight) as the others continued to advance in heavy fire. To make matters difficult for Dan, his three regiments were generally of lower quality, with D4 defense dice (I randomly distributed the regiments, so it was just unfortunate that this happened – but so it was in real history too!). Eventually, Dan got his boys into the Rebels and drove away one regiment and had for a dogfight in the woods. Steve’s boys held on and did well to do so and Dan got his “rabble” into the action even though it looked bleak early!

The tough fighting took its toll on both sides and soon the Rebs were out of AMPs and the Yanks were down to about 4 AMPs. The Rebs were in no danger yet – the 3 Army Morale cards flipped by early in the deck! They were playing with “house money”! But inevitably, a tie initiative roll caused a reshuffle. Never the less, the Yanks were able to gain a few AMPs during this stretch of the fighting. Oh yeah, they were letting the Rebel players have it too! “Oh! We get ANOTHER morale chip?!?!” and shaking the bag to hear the chips clink against each other, etc. Fun stuff, taunting in good jest!

Then, the Yanks rolled  a 10 and the Rebs rolled a 1 for initiative…and…the Yanks decided to let the Rebs go first – a fresh deck of cards and 9 points, no doubt that an Army Morale card would pop up! Well, this is where things fell apart – no Army Morale card popped up, but firepower cards did and the Rebs – backs to the wall – let them have it. Soon, both armies were out of AMPs! The Rebels even gained 2 in the process.

With the fickle Gods of war, wouldn’t you know it…as soon as the Rebs had those 2 chips, they drew an Army Morale card! Oh they laughed and ribbed the Yankees about that! Then – the Yankees had to draw 9 cards from a fresh deck…with 0 AMPs. The tension was palpable. Yep, you guessed it – the second card was Army Morale and the test was failed with a score of 5 to 11. Game over! The howls from both sides was simply incredible!

With this game, as with history, you just don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.

Essentially, the Union assault made some fine gains but experienced heavy casualties. When the Confederate forces unexpectedly held out the Federal attack faulted. Both armies, severely battered, happily settled into the night’s sleep. Of course, given the ferocity of the day’s battle, that sleep was not a sound one with the moans of the wounded filling the air.  

Everyone caught on to the rules right away – as a referee I was busy but not swamped - folks were working out their own movements and combats and such. People grocked the concepts and the game moved along. We played for three hours (8 to 11) – ending when the Yankees failed army morale. I felt that all the players handled their commands very well, Rick’s was hamstrung by the loss of his leader, but he still managed to get into some action!

Really fun evening fellas, thanks!