Saturday, January 24, 2015

Battle of the Denmark Strait

This past Friday night I was able to get a couple of games of Victory at Sea in with Roy Scaife.  We played the Battle of the Denmark Strait historical scenario from the main rulebook.  In our first game I played the Germans and Roy played the British - then we switched it around for the second game.  In both games the British won.

Given the balance of the ships involved, after having played it two times in a row, I think the following modifications to the victory conditions makes the game challenging not just for the Germans, but also the British.  With the realization that it is essentially inevitable that the Bismarck will be sunk ... we suggest the following adjustments:

British Victory:  Bismarck sunk - both British ships are not crippled.
German Victory:  Either British ship gets sunk before the Bismarck gets sunk.
Draws:  If the Bismarck is sunk and the Germans have crippled at least one of the British ships.

We'll have to play test the changes a bit ... but it takes the assured British victory and makes it a big challenge for both sides.

If you are unfamiliar with the Battle of the Denmark Strait, this is the famous engagement between the British and Germans that saw the HMS Hood explode not long after the ships engaged - stunning everyone involved.  A lucky hit that ignited the Hood's magazine is the generally accepted reason for this twist of fate.

The Royal Navy has two ships:

  • HMS Hood (Admiral-class Battlecruiser)
  • HMS Prince of Wales (King George V-class Battleship) 

The Kriegsmarine has two ships:

  • Bismarck (Bismarck-class Battleship)
  • Prinz Eugen (Admiral Hipper-class Heavy Cruiser) 
The ship cards I use (printed off and laminated) are below.

We played the game on my standard 6'x8' table using my canvas mat that is great for naval battles.  Some pictures of the battle below.  It was great to get a couple of games of VaS in since it has been some time since we've played.  I see lots of great updates to the rules (player inspired) that I'll be adopting to make the game even funner ... I had forgotten how poorly written the v1.0 rules are (undefined terms and so on - you have to read into some of the rules to figure it out).  But that being said, VaS is a great game for someone like myself who wants to play WW2 naval engagements occasionally without having to be an expert in naval warfare and ship operations.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bolt Action - Airborne Landing Around Arnhem

I was invited over to Adam Clark's place for a large Bolt Action game this weekend.  It was great to see old friends from the Sacramento area that I had not seen for some time.  The game was based on British airborne infantry landing outside of Arnhem.  Adam put together some interesting special rules for the scenario to add lots of uniqueness to this battle.

3 Players will each have a Platoon comprised of:

  • First Lieutenant (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • Second Lieutenant (SMG), Sargent (SMG)
  • 3 Para Sections: 10 men each, NCO (SMG), 1 Bren, 8 Riflemen, 1 SMG, AT Grenades
  • Sniper, Flame Thrower, Piat

A 4th Player will have the Company HQ and Weapons Platoon comprised of:

  • Major (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • 2 MMG Teams
  • 4 Medium Mortar Teams
  • 3 Six PDR AT Guns

All British Troops are Veterans.

The Germans can muster a company of infantry in the general area of the drop.  Each of the 4 Players will have a Platoon comprised of:

  • Uberleutnant (Pistol), Sargent (SMG)
  • 3 Panzergrenadier Sections: 10 men each, NCO (SMG) 1 LMG, 8 Riflemen
  • MMG, Medium Mortar
  • 2 Vehicles (First Responders)

All German Troops are Regulars.

Jump Off Points represent drop zones or staging areas and are used to deploy your forces. A force losing all its Jump Off Points cannot deploy new units.
German forces will deploy within 6 inches of one of their Jump Off Points. Deploying forces can be issued any order, so could appear in Ambush, or Fire for example.  Vehicles must enter from a table edge on either a Run or an Advance order.
British will drop 2D6+3 inches in a random direction from a designated Jump Off Point.  If a Double is rolled, or the total distance exceeds 12, the deploying unit will immediately go Down. On all other rolls, issue orders as normal to the deploying unit.
A Jump Off Point is considered Captured if there are Enemy and no Friends within 3 inches at the end of the turn.

Not all troops arrive at once.  Each player begins the game with their activation dice "out of the bag". At the start of each turn, each player rolls a D3 and adds that many of their activation dice to the bag. At the start of Turn 4, add any remaining dice to the bag.  A Player can use an activation dice drawn from the bag to deploy a unit to the table, order a unit already deployed or order an off table unit down.

Each player has one Command Wild Card.  This can be used to do one of the following special actions:
Move a Jump Off Point up to 18 inches ending within 6 inches of a Friendly Officer
Use an Activation Dice (either in or out of the bag) as if it was the next drawn - cannot be first Dice of turn, need to say "after you use that dice I am going to use my wild card to take the next dice"
Avoid one roll for Bad Stuff
From turn 3, Activate an Officer with a FIRE order to call an Allied Air Strike or German Artillery Bombardment (limited to one per turn per side)

The Germans will respond with whatever forces are in the area.  In addition to an Infantry Platoon, each German Player has two vehicle reinforcements.  When deploying a vehicle, determine what type by rolling 2D6 and consulting the table below.
2 - 251/1 (with Section)
3 - 251/10 (with Major and assistant)
4 - 251/9 (with Captain and assistant)
5 - 250/1 (with Scout Section)
6 - Horch AA truck
7 - 222, 231 or 232 (Armored car with AA gun)
8 - 233 or 234 (Armored car with medium AT gun or Light Howitzer)
9 - Panzer III L, M or N
10 - Panzer IV H or StuG III G
11 - Panther D
12 - Tiger I or II

Even in the open, an infantry unit can move cautiously taking advantage of low cover to gain some protection.  An infantry unit that is given an Advance Order that does not shoot and ends its movement in the Open can be counted as Moving Tactically. This confers a +1 cover bonus.  After the movement, change the order dice to Down to track this effect.

A Platoon can only sustain so many casualties before it becomes combat ineffective.  Each side begins the game with a Force Morale of 10.  As long as force Morale remains above 4 there is no effect.  For each point under 5, permanently remove one of that player’s activation dice. When Force Morale reaches 0, the Platoon has broken and is removed from play.  When a Company has had 3 Platoons Break, that side loses the game.

Bad Stuff No Effect -1 -2 -3
Officer Killed -1,2,3 4,5 6
NCO Killed 1 2,3,4 5,6
Section Destroyed 1 2,3,4 5,6
Weapon Team Destroyed 1,2 3,4,5 6
Vehicle Destroyed 1,2 3,4,5 6
Jump Off Point Overrun 1,2 3,4,5 6

On a 7.5 by 10 table with Jump Off Points (2 per player) as per the image below.

The game was a blood bath.  The Germans managed to drop artillery on themselves twice --- and the third time they called in artillery it hit their target, but only destroyed a nearby assaulting German infantry section ... so very bad luck on the part of the Germans ---- and it was that bad luck that swung the battle into a fighting chance for the British.  I played British and we got chewed up bad prior to the bad luck artillery evening things up.  I'd call it a very minor British victory ... the Germans really more lost this than the British winning it.

We all had a lot of fun playing and it was a great day of Bolt Action.  Pictures below.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

SAGA Game Day

Not a long post today, we decided to dust off our SAGA warbands and get a few games in - two at a time using 4x4 tables side-by-side.  Roy S., Wade S., Dan K. and John L. joined in for the fun.  I had my Vikings, Dan brought his Pagan Rus, Roy used his Bretons, John his Normans and Wade used Roy's Anglo-Danes.

Fun was had by all ... four games in total got played through and it was nice to get refamiliarized with the rules again (doesn't take that long to remember - a great thing about SAGA).  No specific battle report here ... just some pictures I took through the gaming.