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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Surprise! Testing Hail of Fire, Part Three

Why is There a Part Three?

When I ended Part Two the Germans had declared victory after wiping out one of the American tank platoons, but after discussing with the author how I totally blew the anti-tank fire and how to determine when the game ends, I decided to continue the game. Note that the point one Sherman had a hit and now that has been resolved, resulting in a suppression.

Sherman is suppressed
There has also been discussion by the author about modifying the RFC table – specifically the odds that a team in hard cover will shrug off the hit – but as changes have not been published and I am in the middle of a game I am not changing the numbers.

Turn 7

The Americans draw two more chits for a whopping 5, bringing the total to 18. (The new Break Point for both armies is 30, so the game is not over and the Germans have not won.)

I finally rolled a turn in which the initiative rolls were the same, so that causes a reset of the Hero dice. The Germans get a '6' and the Americans get a '4'.

There is still a glitch in the rules that says if you tie in orders the high roller goes first. There is no "high roller" on a tie and the result would be 0 orders for both. This seems like an artifact from a different version of the rule, but I rule that the process is to re-roll Hero die, reset 'count up' die, and neither side allowed to issue orders unless they use Hero points (neither side does). This is bad as the Americans keep drawing chits while the objectives are lost.

Turn 8

With two objectives in the hands of the Germans, the Americans again have to pull two chits (0 and 1), raising their total to 19.

The Germans get two orders and the Americans one.

The Germans still have a suppressed grenadier platoon leader, one undeployed on-board unit and company commander, and two infantry platoons off-board. The Germans use two orders (using Hero points) to get one of the two off-board platoons available for coming on Turn 9 as reinforcements.

Another German platoon is ready to march on using the east road
Next, the grenadier platoon gets a fire order, allowing them to attempt to rally the platoon leader. Fortunately they succeed. However, I just noticed that platoon leaders do not have the ability to fire, so it will not really alter my firepower. So with five stands I get 13 dice @ 5+ firing at the armored infantry. I score five hits. Ouch! I put as many hits on the bazooka teams that I can, but one had to go on one of the LMG stands (the main target).

Americans hit hard by the grenadiers
The Americans decide to react with the armored infantry, so first they resolve the hits. I got some amazingly weird results: two shrugged it off (including the LMG), two died (a rifle team and a bazooka team), and only one team was suppressed. The returns fire consists of two bazooka teams (2 dice @ 6), two LMG teams (6 dice @ 5+), one rifle team (2 dice @ 5+), one light mortar team (1 die @ 4+) and five half-track MGs (10 dice @ 5+) for a total of six hits in return! The entire grenadier platoon has taken a hit each!

Germans will likely have the entire platoon suppressed by that fire
The Americans use a single Hero point to bring on the artillery forward observer with the company commander. The FO moves on the board 8" and the CC 6" by the farmhouse north of the central road.

Moving so fast the photographer had a hard time taking the shot
As the FO moved earlier in the turn, it cannot call in a barrage this turn. However, the company command Shermans can fire at the StuGs at long range, if they choose (the StuG was 31 1/2" away!), but they would have to use another Hero point. I would have 4 dice @ 6, which is not very good odds, but I decide to go for it anyway. All misses.

Turn 9

With two objectives in the hands of the Germans, the Americans again have to pull two chits 3 and 0), raising their total to 22.

The Americans and Germans each get one order, with the Americans having initiative (they rolled higher).

The armored infantry continue to pour on the fire into the grenadier platoon. Three of the American rifle teams rally first. Repeating the same fire as last time, they score five hits, putting a second hit on each team save the platoon leader.

The Germans are getting crushed under the weight of fire
The Germans order the grenadiers to "Go To Ground", which allows them to resolve hits and "ignore all killed results". Now it does not say "convert to Suppressed" but "ignore", so I am counting it as no result. (In this case it actually mattered, as I had one team roll a '6' and a '1'!) All teams are suppressed save one heroic team that shrugged it all off.

All but one team suppressed

Turn 10

With two objectives in the hands of the Germans, the Americans again have to pull two chits (2 and 2), raising their total to 26.

The Americans get four orders and the Germans one. This is just what the Americans need if they want to stay in the game.

The FO is issued an order to Observe. (I am not sure if that is really a Fire order or this is just another order type that needs to be listed in the Orders section of the rules.) If the FO does not move or fire for the remainder of the turn, next turn it can call down the barrage. (I need to try that in this game, if only for testing purposes.)

The armored infantry are ordered to advance in preparation for assaulting the grenadiers. The last of the teams shrug off their suppression. They roll 4" for their move.

The American assault begins!
The Germans finally deploy their last on-board unit, the HMG platoon. (Did you remember that there was still one more?) They fire a whopping 8 dice at the armored infantry in the open, killing the mortar team and suppressing a rifle team.

Ambush by the HMG nests
The armored infantry pushes on, hoping to get into assault.
Now here is an interesting situation. As the Americans have a new order, they can rally if they have no hits. Because you resolve hits immediately when caught in the open, essentially you can immediately attempt to rally.
The rifle does not rally. The armored infantry rolls 3" for their move and the half-tracks 8".
The author indicated that you can opportunity fire not just to units moving into view, but to all units moving in view.
The Germans spend a Hero point to again fire the HMGs. Three hits with one bazooka team being killed and one bazooka team and one rifle team being suppressed. Unfortunately, at the end of the turn the armored infantry are going to have to check morale, as they have now lost their fourth team.

The Americans desperately try to get out of the Kill Zone
The armored infantry use the last American order to attempt an assault on the grenadiers. Both rifle teams shrug off suppression while the bazooka team does not. The infantry roll 4" for the move (6" for the half-tracks).

  1. The Americans pass their quality check, so they head into assault.
  2. All that can make contact do so.
  3. No assault units fire.
  4. Defensive fire from HMGs and single rifle team in grenadier platoon results in three hits. That suppresses three rifle teams, one of which was in contact.
  5. The Americans have six unsuppressed teams for close combat, the Germans one. The Americans scot four hits, the German one.
  6. Casualties are removed.
  7. The Americans have five unsuppressed teams remaining, the Germans one. The Americans win the assault.
  8. The Germans retreat to the house across the street and to safety. 

The Americans win the assault, but at what cost?
The Americans end their turn and the Germans decide not to use a Hero point to bring on their reinforcing platoon.

Because each side has to take a platoon morale check, each has to pull a chit. The Americans pull 2 raising their total to 28, while the Germans pull a 0 chit. The Americans roll morale and ... fail! So do the Germans! The Americans again draw a chit (for failing the morale check), drawing a 2, finally meeting their Break Point of 30. (To rub it in the Germans pulled another 0.)
Interesting question: given that failing a morale check results in the unit being destroyed, does the side draw another two chits? I think not, as I believe that situation is for a unit that is wiped out by means other than morale. It should probably say that though.


Honestly, my conclusion does not change from Part Two. I like these rules; they were definitely worth the $5 I spent on them. I will use them again, especially with opponents that want to try the hidden deployment aspect. (Be prepared for that Marv!)

One final note: I very often push the bounds of what might be considered 'bad tactics' when playing test games. I do that intentionally. If I want to see how the assault rules work I don't wait for four games until the conditions are right and then finally try it; I push to do it in the first game, if at all possible, even if it does not look like the 'right' move. Same with infantry assaulting armor and calling in artillery. (Unfortunately, I lost track of that last one and never got to test it.)

I think these rules produce reasonable results, both with anti-personnel fire and anti-tank fire (now that I understand how it works). The low-level morale – suppression and rallying – works well although I still believe it is too easy to suppress entrenched gun teams. With no result in between 'shrug it off' and 'suppressed so you cannot move or fire', I would either create a new result in between or alter the odds so that 'shrug it off' occurs more than it does currently. Again, I am specifically referring to gun teams with gun shields.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for the additional insight! Glad to see the assault rules didn't seem to cause confusion (though its really just when vehicles are added to mix that some people have had to ask me for clarifications). The balancing of the RFC table is definitely worthy of more discussion and play-testing so I hope we will continue our conversations about that. I'm glad you enjoyed playing it and I sure enjoyed reading it!


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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").