Sunday, 15 January 2012

Disposable Heroes Boot Camp... part 2

     The second week of the "Boot Camp" went well at the Hamilton Road Games Club. Two good games were played and some new ideas came up that are quite worth while.
     Two tables were used again. Each player fielded 650 points. Andy, Wayne,and Damien (Germans; Damien assisted Andy) played Martin (Sikhs) and Robby (British paras) on an extra large table. I faced DJ (Canadians) and Tyler (Americans) with a strongly reinforced 650 point of Waffen SS. Since I was outnumbered, I defended and added a piece of armour - the family's favourite Hetzer! DJ and Tyler added M3 halftracks and I had a German 251/1 halftrack. Robby added a jeep with a .50 calibre MG. Martin, Andy, and Wayne added more troops, especially anti-tank weapons.

The East table from my position -
DJ's Canadians advanced on my left and Tyler's Americans on my right.
I tried to hide in the grain field in the foreground.

The West table -
Damien, Andy, and Wayne on the left of the photo;
Robby and Martin on the right

     I lost... badly. Not that's unusual for me, but DJ and Tyler ripped me up with their halftrack MG's and their heavy machine guns. My Hetzer scared Tyler but achieved some fleeting fame by being the FIRST VEHICLE EVER TO BE DESTROYED IN ONE OF OUR GAMES BY A BAZOOKA! (A dubious honour to say the least.) Tyler caught the Jagdpanzer on the side and kicked it in with his bazooka attached to the HQ section. I was caught in the wheat field and could have squirreled myself back into the grain and make the guys dig me out, but the library closes at 5 and I had things to do and places to go.
    Robby reported to me that the other table was larger and still cluttered. The fight centered around the large ruined house on his side of the board where Damien poured almost all his troops into that ruin, so Robby felt he had to follow suit, or suffer from dug-in fire. Martin and Wayne played hide-and-seek in and among the fields and woods. The game ended in a draw, although the Germans might prevailed if the curfew hadn't been reached.

Tyler's GIs advance in a grain field.

DJ's Canadians with their BattleBus

My Hetzer - such a nice model.

The 251/1 with the HQ section and Panzerschreck

DJ had to call a PIAT team a Bren gun team, hence the yellow bingo chip.

US BAR section at the edge of the field - they can see and shoot, but also can be seen and shot AT!

DJ's Canadians in the field. I've got to get him to name a regiment!

A Bazooka's eye-view of my Hetzer. I mourn and gnash teeth!

Sikhs high and Red Devils low.

Manning the Vickers - Taffy and Binky (My son will skin me for those names.)
Martin's Sikhs take cover - coolly and professionally.
A Zug of Infantie - keeping everyone honest.

Pinned but defiant - Andy and Damien's Wehrmacht

     Lessons learned and acted upon:
  • 650 points for each player is too, too much on the table. Things just get too tight. We decided that next week's game will be 1000 points on a side, with a lot of variation in the lists, but no aircraft or off-board artillery, and minimal armour. We thought that this might make for a quicker game with less possibility of "steping on each other's toes." So 1000 point lists will be prepared for Americans, Canadians, Sikhs, Germans and Russians. I may put together a Finnish list just for laughs.
  • The grain fields represented by cut-up door mats had some contradictions last week. This week we set a common set-up. When troops are in the field, they recieve cover as per light woods (-2 to the accuracy of those shooting at them) and you have to be within 2" of the edge of the field to be seen/shot at or see/shoot. Two enemy units in the field can only see each other when within 5" (as opposed to 10" in woods.) However, units can see over the field and shoot over it taking the penalty for a linear obstacle. We figured that soldiers could crouch and get through such a field without being seen and could hide from others in the field since it's a lot thicker than a woods. That moving grain - is it a squad or wildlife? Vehicles could move through a field at slow or medium speed only. This seemed good to us.
  • When it comes to buildings on the table, either use lots and lots or use them very sparingly. Lone buildings, especially big ones, become attracters of every unit on the board and the first ones into it control that part of the board. They also attract the attention of every larger weapon on the board. Like standards in some games or the Ark of the Covenant in a Israelite army which attracts every arrow on the table, such buildings can do the same... unless there are more buildings present or a misson that keeps you from hunkering down in the building.
  • Missions really work better than "meeting engagement." Objectives help to focus the player whereas a meeting engagement implies that positions, dispositons, and force compositions are known to the opposition. That can get really tiring. Often you just pour firepower on somebody without regard as to what your mission/objective/direction is. It isn't too bad for 18th-19th Century battles where battle lines and volley fire are required. With most 20th Century games, it's all light infantry tactics responding to firepower and you might not even know what's opposing you. In earlier times, you generally have to see and be seen to shoot your enemy. (I hold that the firearm/musket is not the weapon in linear warfare, but the unit firing the muskets, since they are so inaccurate.)
  • There is a "tipping point" to every set of rules, a point at which the rules begin to creak, fray, and shatter. (I knew a fellow who wanted to play a squad-level game of the ENTIRE battle of Stalingrad. That might be the work of a few lifetimes! Either that or an invitation to a padded room and a jacket with very long sleeves.) As much as I like Iron Ivan games... I'm a true fan and I'd recommend them to anyone... there comes a point where you have to shift to a larger level of play. More players and more subunits can make the game unplayable. If you want to do battalion level or brigade level, you will hve to change your rule set. Let me get back to you once we play the 1000 point-a-side table next week. 
  • We need more terrain! I suppose veteran gamers concentrate on terrain pieces once their armies are set enough. (But... "Money is God's way of saying you don't have enough miniatures!")


Intelligent GIs

In any event, I wish you good gaming! Make it fun... 'cause if you play for another reason, it isn't play. (My personal motto is "Anybody can grow up; it takes a real man to be a boy all his life.")


  1. A great looking game! I hope Tyler was hailed as a God for his bazooka antics. I love your motto, I may have to steal it for myself!!! When we were trying to decide on a name for out motley crew of boywonders, I suggested The PPC, but I got out voted, :0(. PPC stands for The Peter Pan Club, I thought it suited us right down to the ground!!!

    1. Thanks, Ray. Since I painted the bazooka crew, I was thinking of painting a medal on the gunner's uniform, but that might be too fiddly. We did announce it to all the players present, 'cause bazookas do little more than annoy for the most part.
      As to the motto, go ahead. No copyright I know of!