Turn 03The Americans get three orders and the Germans get one.
The reconnaissance platoon gets the order to fire. The previous hit against the recon jeep team from the sniper needs to resolved ... and it comes up destroyed. The German sniper team has killed the crew!
|The recon jeep team is destroyed|
Mortar Jeep: Soft-SkinThe reconnaissance platoon fires at the same team in the grenadier platoon that it did last time and scores only one hit. There are now a total of six hits on that platoon. Again, the Germans pass on reacting.
M2 60mm Mortar: 24" range, ROF 2, AVA -, AT -, Can fire over friendly troops, HE
The Americans decide that they need some infantry, so they order the armored infantry platoon onto the board. They will still be mounted in their vehicles, so they move 2D6". They want to pass by the farm house south of the road (the objective for the Germans) up to the vineyards, where they will let the infantry dismount. They roll an '8', which means they fall well short of reaching the dismount point. The Germans do not react.
|The American armored infantry move on in their half-tracks|
There are no rules for embarking or disembarking from transports, so I am going to take a guess that, because the author intends each order to be very granular, it is going to take a full move order, rather than a traditional 1/2 move of the transports, like other rules. So that means that the infantry essentially roll a move and measure from the vehicle to see how far they can deploy1. Given the distance, I am going to make a transport move for another 7". (And I seem to have lost that picture! No matter.)
As expected, the Germans move their assault gun platoon onto the board with a spectacular 17" move (includes the road bonus)! The assault guns are now within long range of the half-tracks.
|The StuGs come clanking up the road|
Turn 04The Americans get three orders and act first while the Germans get two orders.
With the StuGs in sight the armored infantry platoon take a move order and disembark the infantry. (There do not appear to be any 'disembark from the flaming transport' rule yet, so I did not want to take a chance.) The infantry can move 6". The Germans do not react.
|The American armored infantry platoon dismounts into the vineyard|
|The Shermans move on (view from the north)|
|The StuGs ford the river and are in the outskirts of the village|
|The Shermans advance cautiously|
Turn 05Initiative switches to the Germans as they get four orders and the Americans get two.
With the armored infantry platoon in the vineyard it is time to resolve the fire on the grenadier platoon and let them open fire before it is too late. As it turns out four of the five teams are suppressed, including the platoon leader, and one of the teams is destroyed.
|More than 2/3rds of the grenadier platoon is suppressed or dead|
|Weak fire against the American infantry in the vineyard|
|The American infantry keeps pushing for the hedges|
First I have some housekeeping: I did not read the rule very well when I thought it said that the attacker was placing an objective on their side, rather than on the defender's side. Makes a lot more sense. So the farm house is no longer the objective, but rather this wrecked Marder.
|Second objective is in the northeast corner, along the north road|
Also, there is a chit system to determine when the game ends and who wins. At the beginning of every turn the attacker must pull a chit for each objective that have not captured and still hold. That means that means that I have to pull two chits for turns 2, 3, 4, and 5 and when the total reaches 18, the Americans have lost. After pulling 8 times the American score is 11. Yikes!The Germans spend another order to fire with the grenadier platoon, in an attempt to rally before the Americans roll over them. Three of the four teams pass, with only the platoon leader failing! The Germans get to roll a respectable 11 dice this time, scoring two hits.
One more thing. The author said that it is a rule (not yet in the game) that revealing an observer would not start Turn 1. Although he did not have rules for snipers, he would have included them in that rule of who would not trigger Turn 1. Given that, I will give the Americans back one more turn, which lowers their chit score to 9. (He really needs to come up with a name for that score. Break Point?)
Okay, so now the Americans really need to get on their horses. I don't think that the rest of the defenders are going to make it on before the Americans break and run!
|Grenadiers rally and put more fire on the American armored infantry platoon|
The Germans use an order for their StuGs to fire at the Shermans on the central road. They score one hit on the Sherman platoon. Now here is something not mentioned in the rules – but don't worry folks, the author is reading this blog post – the hits are not resolved until the unit takes an order, just like infantry, but when you resolve it later you really need to remember the AT of the hit and whether it was taken at long range (because it gets +1 to its armor) and whether it was a flank shot. So I am going to use hit markers with numbers on them, with the number indicating the AT of the hit. An "L" will designate it was a long range shot and an "F" will indicate whether it was a flank shot.
|Sherman takes a AT 3 hit on the front armor (it should also have an "L" for long range)|
The Shermans on the north road continue to move down the road towards the objective. Mind you, only one of three on-board, hidden units has been revealed so far (the sniper being free), so the Shermans are definitely expecting the anti-tank guns to pop out. You can definitely feel their caution as they roll a '4' (on 2D6) and get a move of 10" down the road.
Now the Germans have two options. With a 10" move they can only spot a gun team 0" away (4" after they stop moving), so I could put them in the woods to the southeast of them. The other option, and one I originally considered, was across the river and behind the hedge line. The latter position covers down the road in case any more reinforcements come (there are none, other than the company command, which I have failed to bring on yet), while also covering the objective without having to move. The woods, however, immediately gives a short-ranged flank shot.
|One possible ambush position|
I decide to take the hedge position as pivoting the guns in the confining space of the woods would be a nightmare. The Germans reveal and orders opportunity fire. They have four shots at short range, scoring one lousy hit!
|The PaK40s open up and hit the Shermans (the marker should be a "4L", not a "3")|
The Americans suddenly remember Sgt. Rock is in that Sherman platoon (I remembered I had four Hero points I could spend)and decide to drive on to the objective. But first we need to resolve that fire. The RFP has an AT of 3 and the Sherman has an armor of 1, so one Ping die is rolled and two Penetration dice are rolled. One Penetration die has no effect, as does the Ping die. The other Penetration die, however inflicts a hit (presumably of the same AT?) requiring the tank to check again next activation. Some sort of delayed effect, I suppose? (I am sure the author will chime in and tell me.) There is nothing stating that it is affected in any other way, so I allow it to move with the rest of the platoon. They get a 11" move (17" if they stay on the road)! They bag the objective!
Turn 06One of the previous two chits I drew are now applied as they have still failed to take one objective, so the Americans are at an 10 Break Point (BP). The Germans now need to pull two chits – one for not having one of the objectives and one for having enemy turns on its half of the table – and gets a total of 3.
The Germans have four orders and the Americans two.
The Germans order their anti-tank guns to fire at the Shermans on the objective. At short range they score two hits.
|The PaK40s hit the Shermans again|
The second Sherman is destroyed.
|One Sherman goes up in flames!|
|The StuGs are moving so fast the cameraman can't get a clear shot! The Shermans are flanked.|
|The Shermans are really racking up the hits|
The Germans reveal the Company 2iC with attached Panzerschreck team.
|Captain Schmidt appears in the rear with the Panzerschreck team|
In Flames of War a panzerschreck team as a tank assault value of '5', while a panzerfaust has a tank assault value of '6'. In terms of AVA in Hail of Fire, it should be pretty high. (A 'Bazooka/'Shreck' is listed as an AVA '4'. A bazooka team in Flames of War is a two-man team with a tank assault value of '4'. A panzerschreck 'team' is four men with two tubes. I think I will use a '5' for the panzerschreck team and a '6' for the panzerfaust as the other AVA values seem to match the Flames of War tank assault values.)
The Germans order the 2iC's command into an assault. Will he make it (he is more than 4" away)? Yes! (You didn't expect otherwise, did you?)
Step 1: Assaulting unit must pass a quality check. Success.
Step 2: Teams not assaulting may fire. None.
Step 3: Any unsuppressed enemy teams within 8" of the assaulting teams may fire. That would be the Shermans. But here is a catch! The rules say that the teams "may be issued a Fire order , without requiring Order Points be spent." So they WILL have to resolve those hits prior to taking their defensive fire. (I assume they could also opt not to fire, but I don't think they would do that in this dire circumstance. Who knows. I haven't studied the odds yet.)
The first Sherman, who was smelling smoke, has to survive eight penetration dice and five ping dice. (I finally took into account that PaK40 hit correctly.) Boom! The Sherman platoon leader has to face four penetration dice and two ping dice. Boom!
|The Sherman platoon is wiped out. The Germans regain the objective.|
Step 4: Close combat. None.
Step 5: Check who won. Germans.
Step 6: Losers retreat. None.
Hmmmm. There is no Step 7 that says the winner takes the loser's position. I allow it as it is pretty traditional. The Germans take back the objective.
The Americans take their last order and move their armored infantry platoon forward. Two more rifle teams are suppressed and infantry moves 3".
|The armored infantry hit the hedge line. The LMGs are in position|
Turn 7The Americans draw two more chits for a whopping 5, bringing the game to a close as they hit their Break Point of 18.
Final ThoughtsSo, the defender only revealed and used a small fraction of their force. When I started playing I was sure that the reinforcement system was "broken", because it was so hard to get forces on the board. I still think that a unit that makes the roll to come on board should not have to wait until the next turn to move them. If you have the orders, you should be able to roll on. But, it is not that critical. What does seem a waste is that a '5' on the reinforcement roll brings on individual stands. Total waste to me. Never used those teams at all. Either allow the whole unit on with a '5' or else it means no reinforcements.
With everything else I think my only complaint is a trivial one and easily explained away: there are a lot of undefined rules, weapons and vehicle data, and so on. Taking on WW II is a huge undertaking. Now if you are a rules writer, it could also be a gold mine if people like your rules because you can sell army and campaign books, just like Battlefront did very successfully with Flames of War. But I think people are going to shy away from that commercial concept. So how long will it take for the author to actually finish this?
If, as the author states, he was looking to create a system that allows someone who used to play Flames of War (like me) and wants to use their troops without rebasing, then you can probably assume that said person also has a lot of old Flames of War books. If you really want to draw those ex-Flamers, maybe coming up with a guide for converting Flames of War data to Hail of Fire stats would be just the ticket. As I noted in the assault description, the AVA values seem very similar to the tank assault values. There is a start.
As for the rules themselves, I again have to state again that the rules for handling and deploying hidden troops are simple, but well done and using them makes for a fascinating game. The author indicated that some people that have tried his game shake their heads and then simply deploy everything on the board and play it straight. They are missing out. I think that if they play a game against someone who uses the hidden deployment rules well, they would get crushed and start coming around to that way of playing.
I hope I played the Resolved Fire Check correctly in relation to assaults. If it does not play that way – i.e. if the unit defending in the assault does not have to resolve the hits before conducting defensive fire – then that portion of the rules are broken. (I suspect that I played it correctly though.) An infantry assault is just the ticket to force an armor unit sitting on an objective to finally resolve the hits so you can see if it dies or not.
I am not sure I like getting a hit as a result for resolving a hit on armor. I would like to hear the rationale for it before deciding.
One thing that felt "wrong" was resolving hits on armor. Because the resolution is delayed, it produces a "correct" result, in my opinion. The problem is that the resolution is complicated by factors from the hit itself. I solved it by putting numeric and letter designations on the hit markers, but it still is clunky when it comes time to resolve them. Maybe rather than rolling a number of dice equal to your AT for each hit, you figure out how to make placing one hit for each point of AT work. Subtract one for long range, add one for flank? I don't know. This is the one component of the game that felt out of place because of its comparative complexity.
The last item that struck me was how easy it was to suppress a gun team. Rather than treating a gun shield as hard cover or some such rule, perhaps it can reduce the chance of suppression. It just seemed like with the number of dice being thrown by tanks with their hull and co-axial MGs it was too easy to suppress a major portion of the anti-tank gun platoon's firepower. (In my case, all of it.)
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little peek into Hail of Fire (Beta). I certainly enjoyed playing it.