My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Flames of War and (Re-)Learning the Basics

Okay, so I admit it. I have mostly been playing Memoir '44 and Flames of War of late, and that is one reason why I have not played any AWI of late. Just played a FOW game last night - US Armored Rifle (450 points) versus German Grenadier (340 points), both late war - and it was an interesting little game. I learned a lot.

My opponent was the US and he was attacking. We were playing a modified form of Hold the Line (no Ambush or Reserves) and we had a small board (4' deep by 3' wide). It was interesting because I assumed he would attack one way - what seemed logical to me - and he attacked another.

As I say, it was a real learning experience because he would not dismount his infantry (he wanted to retain his mobility in order to get to the objectives) and I ended up coming out of the foxholes to assault his half-tracks (largely because I had no other way of stopping him).

All in all an interesting little game. It reminds me of when I was young and trying to learn how to play Column, Line, and Square (CLS) Napoleonics well. My friend, who was a really good player (i.e. he beat me all the time), showed me the secret to playing games like this: you start with a simple force - a unit or two - and attack a single terrain feature with a single unit defending. Sounds like a boring game, and to be honest a steady diet of it would be, but his point was that if you could not figure out how to win this basic tactical set piece, you would only do worse when you had six or more units with all of the different types (infantry, artillery, and cavalry or armor) and a whole board of terrain features to deal with.

And my friend was right. A battle is really composed of these simple, interconnected tactical set pieces. Sure, sometimes the tactical situation is my unit attacks yours, but for one or two turns I get support from another unit from afar, but for the most part it is these simple tactical battles. If you don't know how to approach a platoon of infantry dug in with your infantry in half-tracks, or conversely how to defend with that dug in infantry, having armor, artillery, air, anti-air, anti-armor, transport, etc. elements will only add to your confusion. You will ultimately play worse.

So, what did I learn? For starters, I saw the odds that an infantry platoon without anti-tank weapons has against even half-tracks with just rifles and MGs. On the other hand, I saw that half-tracks cannot simply drive through the infantry with impunity: those grenades (assault) really hurt.

I hope to do more of those scenarios - and maybe some write-ups - in the future. One thing is for sure: you need completely different scenarios for "battles" that small. The standard FOW scenarios assume you are using 1500 points and have at least four platoons.

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").