EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bowling for Trucks

I was barely back from an extended 4 day weekend away when it was time to head into Ron's for some more Aifix Battles. This time we had proper decks of cards, a copy of the rules and all, we still played on the hexes though. I had looked at the convoy game in the recent Miniature Wargames but we decided to play that old Grant chestnut "Wagon Train" instead. Ron did the hard work of translating the Grant units into Battles units ( as in 1 cavalry=1 tank) and the adjusting the exact forces by points to match the balance
of the original scenario. We then assigned forces by the carefully balanced "pick a hand" method. Ron got the US with the convoy.

The scenario involves random arrival for the interceptors for both time and location. These are designed around rules using at least an 18 hour game with short moves. We settled on me playing orders as normal but then needing to roll the turn number or less (eg on Turn 2 I needed to roll 1 or 2) for the unit to appear. Another roll determined the place of arrival.
Turn 1. The game begins with a bang.
I won the toss for initiative and made Ron go first. He led with a Sherman and Tank Destroyer and then started running trucks up the road. We are used to the convoy bring the slowest thing on the table so it was odd having them be the fastest instead. With a clear run it was only going to take 3 or 4 moves for a truck to cross the table which made me uneasy but they are horribly vulnerable to fire.

As luck would have it, my 2nd try landed a Stug almost right beside 2 trucks. I trundled forward and was about to open up when he played an interrupt and zoomed off. This was a move I could have stopped with the Counter Intelligence card if I had remembered that I had it. It all worked out though as my command Pzr IV threw the right 1 in 36 combination to pop on table right in front of the truck and riddle it with bullets. Based on the pillar of black smoke it must have been full of fuel drums. Immediately after this Ron brought on another truck and an interrupt allowed me to blow that up as well. Turn 1 and Ron was down 2 trucks. He needed to get 4 into the camp to win, 3 for a draw. We were sort of wondering if the game was almost over. It wasn't.
Several turns and many, many cards later.... yes, all the infantry is German except for one heroic Ranger Captain whose platoon has just been wiped out. No more trucks have been destroyed but only one has made it to safety. Incredibly the 3 AFV in the foreground have been trading shots and finding ways to miss.
There was still one truck on table and Ron managed to get it to safety by some clever use of cards and options, and blocking my moves. After that, he focused on clearing the road before bringing on more trucks while I focused on getting troops on table and in position, something made harder by him knocking out my command tank.  I couldn't do much, but after winning an infantry fight, I was able to end with 3 infantry units covering the roads. It was a bit of a surprise though when another truck zoomed on with a double move and then, when I moved to assault it,  zoomed away on another interrupt which I again forgot to block. Winning the initiative on the next turn allowed him to reach safety. 2 down, 2 safe, 2 to go. Ron reached for the deck to deal the next hand but....too late, there were only 3 cards left! Last turn, partial turn. No way now to win, not enough time or cards. German victory.
Games end. 2 trucks in, 2 trucks lost, 2 trucks being held off table till help comes and the cards have run out. German victory.


In summary, a gripping game! I'm looking forward to another run through as either side. Ron had enough troops to double the forces but this worked like a charm and kept us so focused on the game for 3 hours that we forgot to refill the coffee cups let alone take pictures.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really immersive game. Interestingly another game has just hit the scene called TANKS, which sounds similar from the fun perspective. In it a vehicle can accumulated hits and also 'heal' them away. It feels a little odd to me because I'm thinking more straight knockout should be there. Is the Airfix system similar in that regard?

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    1. The combination of alternating play within a turn with the occasional ability to interrupt the enemy means you are focused on the game the whole time.

      The tank system is 1 way attrition based on the old roll to hit then roll to penetrate. The dual catch is that each time the armour is defeated the defence vslue drops by 1 so there is no single lucky die knock out however since the attacker rolls all his penetration rolls at once then chooses the order in which he applies then, it is possible to do something like knock out a Sherman with a single shot from a Tiger, not overly likely but possible. You are more likely to damage it so badly that it is too vulnerable to leave in the front line unless the situation is too deperate to pull it out.

      In this case, despite the model my STUG stats indicated that it had a short 75 but good frontal armour. I was out ranged and out gunned but it was doing its job by occupying the enemy tanks whose shooting was.....well lets say less than what Ron hoped for.

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  2. Looks great, beautiful vehicles!

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    1. Ron does set a nice table. I believe the vehicles are Forces of Valor.

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  3. Red in tooth and claw - looks like a great game.

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  4. Ross Mac,

    It sounds as if you have discovered what a great game AIRFIX BATTLES is, and how much fun the battles can be.

    Unfortunately I missed the session run at COW by Alan Paull, one of the game's designers, and I understand that most of those who took part in the session have bought or intend to buy copies of the rules.

    I hope to use the rules with my Hexon II terrain although I understand that the more complex edition of the rules will not use area movement.

    All the best,

    Bob

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    1. It would have been good to participate and talk to one of the designers. I am hoping that things are going well enough that they will release the card decks snd advanced rules without a boxed set but if not we have enough to go on.

      I cannot see us abandoning the hexes but then we almost never play things straight out of the box anyway.

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  5. What a nice looking table! Bravo!

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    1. Ron's table and troops not mine but I will pass on the compliment.

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  6. Good battle report and pictures Ross. I think I need to get these rules to lure my kids further into wargaming

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    1. The intro game is aimed squarely at kids like your boys and myself. Very direct rather than abstract. The scenarios in the book look fast to play and the card play aspects should appeal to them since they already do some of that,.

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