Friday, October 28, 2011

Sad Story and A.2

  In my recent playing of Shenam Pass, we see here my Type 2  Ho-I Gun Tank innocently cruising up the gully, keeping out of trouble when suddenly a British artillery piece appears on the horizon.

  Fortunately, it's facing in the wrong direction. Turning and firing in the jungle will be an almost impossible shot, so my tank crew wasn't too worried just yet.
  Sure enough, the gun turns, fires, and misses. Now, in a fit of pique, the tank crew attempts to drive right past the gun, daring it to use intensive fire.

  As we can see from this fuzzy aerial photography, the gun crew did use intensive fire, and did not miss. I felt like there was something wrong here, but couldn't quite call it at the time, so we played on. It was only the following day that I realized this shot was illegal per C2.6:

A Gun may fire-at/affect a different level target only if the range is >= the elevation difference between them

  With the Gun at level 1, the tank at level -1, and the range equal to 1, this shot is not allowed.

  In any case, I had misplaced this tank and had it well away from the main part of the battle. This was really just a sideshow that probably had zero impact on the outcome.  At least that's what I told the families of the crew in the letters of condolence I wrote to them.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crucible of Steel

 Got Crucible of Steel, the new BFP release in my hands this week. The Historical module is focused entirely on Kursk. It's not cheap, but it is jam packed.

It contains:
  • 3 regular boards
  • 3 double wide boards
  • 32(!) scenarios
  • A booklet with detailed rules explanations/examples
  • A ton of counters (some of which are reprints)
  • New historical rules and "chapter H" pages. 

       That's a lot of stuff.

       The boards are mostly open farmland and light village types, and include slopes.

       There are new counters as well as reprinted counters from previous releases Blood and Jungle, and Operation Cobra. There was some legitimate criticism about the original counters because they were printed on white core. Seems like not a very big deal, except that the white core really stands out in a stack. When you see the white among the standard counters, you know where the machine guns are, and you know they aren't dummies. The reprinted standard core counters are a real selling point to me.

       The new counters include lots of lend-lease Churchills, Valentines, and Lees printed in Russian brown. Also a few dozen standard T-34s. Why those? Well, you'll need them if you want to play Flying Turrets which includes FORTY OF THEM in the Russian OB. Forty. FOUR-ZERO.

       The historical rules include special Russian AT crews, which have enhanced Molotov capability, and Russian "Anti-Mobility" MMC. These crews are special in that they can lay minefields during play. Not sure about how that will play. I am curious to find out.

      There are some rules for new types of aircraft, and two (sort of) new terrain types - the European Hillock and Sparse Orchards.

      The scenarios are plentiful. Obviously with such a narrow historical focus, only so much variety is possible. However, there certainly are plenty to choose from, with a range of sizes. From an east front BFP pack you might expect a lot of fixed position assaults, big firepower hitting heavy fortifications (and there is certainly some of that.) However, there are also more than a few "tourney size" type offerings that look pretty interesting. An interesting looking all infantry scenario like Ivanovski seems like it could be easily played in a few hours, as does the combined arms scenario Early Morning Action.

    I like a scenario with a bit more to chew on when time allows, and so BFP-96, Hotly Contested Town is at the top of my play list. 20+ mostly elite German squads backed up by 10 AFVs (Panthers, Tigers, etc), trying to take control of a town from well equipped and dug-in Russians? I'm in.

  There are few true monsters as well. 

   Bounding Fire's CoS product page.

EDIT:  Ian at Wall Advantage is posting a more detailed description. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

AAR BFP-54 Shenam Pass

Jim and I gave this one a go a few weeks back. This one has a significant Japanese force with armor (including a captured American Stuart) and backed up by about a company of infantry from the INA. The IJA is attacking a well dug in force of mostly 2nd line Indian troops. The defenders get five badass Gurkha squads as turn four reinforcements. The Japanese have to take four level two hexes in the southwest corner of the map, and all seven level four hexes on the main board 50 hill mass.

My main force would come up the Indian left using the jungle on the Northern slope for cover.  Despite the level four hill, the jungle blocks A LOT of sight lines from the hill making for interesting choices for the defender.  I did not know what to expect. Meanwhile, the INA troops would attack in the south, supported by two AFVs and two Japanese MMG crews.

A few turns in, and not a lot has happened.  The radioless HA-GOs and the bulk of the infantry are approaching the hill. Jim still hasn't shown me much. I moved my radio man onto the level two hill of EE2, one of the few places from you can see a hilltop hex or two.

In the south, still moving into position. Because the Brits get to set up two squads hip, plus five guns, it's difficult to say how heavily defended this section is.

    The Japanese got held up at the base of the hill. To break the jam we made a successful but costly small Banzai up the front of the hill. The HA-GOs, Type 97s and the rest of the infantry started moving through the northern slope jungle and around the rear. In the south, we were discovering only light defenses. Jim obviously wanting to decide things on the big hill.

   I also discovered his surprising but very effective trench strategy.  The trenches ran in an east-west line from the road at the western edge, draping across only one victory hex. This gave his reinforcements an easy path up the hill, and also gave him good positions for covering the mostly bare rear slope.

   Meanwhile, my radio man was killed by sniper (2nd game in row that happened.) This time, there was no one to carry the radio forward, and the Japanese would receive no artillery support on this day.

       Pushing through the jungle and up the slope, we discovered an AT gun in the light jungle counter hex in L6 quite by accident when a Berzerk squad charged the infantry holding up there. Two 'zerkers played a big part in getting to the endgame here.

    Finally in came down to trying to dig the infantry out of the trench line. Unable to break the squads with fire, I moved some AFV's up into the area under British artillery fire. The Stuart and a HA-GO formed an ad-hoc platoon and dove into the trench line. In the top of the 7th, I was finally able to break the HMG manning infantry in the last victory hex with the Stuart's machine guns! Away they routed, and now I had to hold on.

   Naturally, bottom seven, a British leader and 2nd line pass their paatc and advance safely through the trench line surviving their own artillery fire, which was raining down directly on the position. They killed the Stuart, recovered the HMG, and were ready to take on all comers for the final turn.

   They AGAIN survived their own arty. My fire was all ineffective. I threw DC heroes at them. I threw a single man Banzai leader with a demo charge at them. Nothing gets through the artillery, machine gun, and  and small arms fire they are throwing out.

At the start of the advance phase, I had two and a half squads to advance in to CC. The artillery mauled those troops down to just a single striped squad. When I rolled a 9 for my CC attack, the game was over.

     What a game! This was a draining 10+ hour roller coaster ride that came down to a really exciting finish. Can't get any closer.  Highly recommended.