Let me explain....
Saturday saw out usual gathering at our usual watering hole for a game. We had a total of 6 members abnd guests present. Steve- in the chair Andrew Shaun, Lim aka Garth- and Liam's younger brother Jake
Steve was in the chair and opted for a WW2 Russian Front game in 20mm. He has a really cracking collection of models by various makers including Elheim a maker I'd not seen in any detail before-who do some really sweet 20mm models. If I were a 20mm man I'd be sending some shekels his way but I'm not so I'm saved!!
|Russians- dug in .
I opted for the Russians- expecting some T-34 and Katyuska .WRONG! It is 1941 so the Russians don't have any decent kit. Hi-tech is a T -26 or BT-7 or some big klunky wossname with guns sticking out in all directions but not enough crew to man them all.
Mind you the Germans were not much better off top of their tree was a 38t
So the stage was set for an interesting day- just not quite in the way I imagined.
|Panzer 38t.Halted by consistant Russian Mortar fire.
Steve chose the "Battlegroup" rules which the rest of us had never tried and yes they very definitely have a plus side but they also have some pretty strong minus points as well . Most notably no command structure worth a damn...(actually that is not strictly true but you will see what I mean) Very VERY dice heavy- this is another "game" where rolling D6 is seen as an intellectual activity and also some fiddling about in a small sack to draw chits- which are mostly pointless unless they are super deadly. Both sides spent at least as much time fighting the rules as they did each other. This "game" suffered from the modern curse of "mechanisms" seemingly put in for their own sake rather than as an aid to the players understanding of how battles worked.
|The Germans finally reach their intitial objective.
This game was at a relatively low command level of squads and platoons rather than say CD where the level is companies and Battalions. The major problem here was in the area of command. Now as you would expect the Russian Command Structure in 194 was a bit ropey to say the least. No problem there but the game called for you to roll "order dice" every move to see how many orders you could issue. Again no problem there, not a bad idea at all. However for reasons not explained to me troops immediately forgot any orders they had already been issued with at the beginning of each turn. Further a tank unit for example consisted of individual tanks which each had to be issued an individual order so 5 tanks 5 orders- though there seemed to be some kind of "command Radius" which meant tanks were almost track to track-each turn even if an order had already been issued to them. Add to this an IGOUGO turn system and the game slowed to a crawl with large periods of time doing nothing, waiting for the other side. Andrew commented that the whole thing felt rather "bitty". I know what he means.. The skill - with this "game" is to fight the rules not the opponent. I can see the point of some of this stuff after all it introduces Clauswitzian friction into the game rather nicely but this is obviously designed as a "game" for mechanism freaks rather than period freaks ... and in this particular case the drawing of chits from Steve's little felt sack changed the game so utterly that skill or period knowledge had nothing to do with it at all only luck- there were apparently 2 "air strike" chits in the bag- out of around 50 chits I think the Germans drew them both in succession and killed 60% of the Russian armour in 1 turn - or was it two. The Russian air and artillery was not negligable- halting their tank advance and wiping out an infantry squad and frankly had it not been for the luck of the draw the game may well have bogged down into a stalemate as each side fought the rulebook to try to get something to happen. I would have expected a German command superiority here but Shaun And Andrew seem to have lesser but similar problems- they never seemed to be abler to move all of their troops - even those not in contact without the re-issuing of the same repeated orders each turn.
|The start of the Russian counter attck. Most of these troops and more would be slaughtered by 2 Stuka attacks .
Frankly that to me is a clumsy mechanism which does not reflect the actuality. Troops will usually attempt to carry out there orders until the situation changes so having to repeat the same order to non-moving troops or troops not in contact with the enemy is just silly and over complex. Now changing orders can be hard so perhaps needing more order points to change an order would help here rather than repeating yourself. Overall there was more than a hint of the currently fashionable "game mechanism for the sake of mechanism" here than a set of low level WW2 rules.
|The Victorious Germans after our single air strike came in.
Yet these were not complete rubbish by any means. We will need to play several more games to be sure but there is a bit of potential here. Combat resolution is pretty simple- artillery does work well though perhaps some kind of observation rules might help. One game does not give you all the nuance- assuming these rules have any- but I'm certainly willing to give them another bash