Sunday, February 27, 2011

A shortened PrezCon

Well, sadly, my PrezCon trip was cut short by an emergency, and having to drive Rob back from Charlottesville to make a Saturday morning flight.  That meant I was there from Wednesday night until about 1700 Friday.

In that time, I did manage to get a decent amount of gaming in, however:
  • Combat Commander: Stalingrad
  • Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour
  • Dust Tactics
  • Earth Reborn
  • Imperium
  • Incursion
  • Triumph of Chaos
No ASL Starter Kits or Napoleon's Triumph, I'm afraid.  Not too shabby otherwise :).

I had a decent amount of time on Saturday after doing some cleaning and recovering from my screwed up sleep schedule, so I managed to get in a few solo games of the new ATO release which was waiting for me- 'The Lash of the Turk', plus the bonus game, 'When the West Came East'.

This upcoming week I'll make sure to post a bunch of playthroughs and pictures.  Looking forward to getting them up!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Battle Report: Nations at War: WSR Basic Scenario 3: Vierville, France

Another report that still is about a month old, but at least now I'll be caught up, so that once I come back from PrezCon I can start posting about my time there immediately!

Rob and I played Nations at War's 3rd basic scenario back in January.  This scenario depicts a battle after Omaha Beach to take the town of Vierville-sur-Mer.  In game, the 507th PIR is defending Ville Sur Le Fleuve against a few German infantry formations- the Schtz.Btl.107 and the Kampfgruppe Beck.  This scenario is all infantry, and is pretty light even on the support pieces (a couple of HMGs).  It's just about the Germans grinding control of the town against outnumbered American defenders.

I played the Americans, and seeing that the Germans would have to cross at least some open ground to get to me, set up fairly far forward.  I kept a unit back so that I had a safe path to move through if I had to abandon one of the positions.  The Germans enter from the South board edge on the first turn, so don't start on the board, but automatically get an activation to start the game.

Turn 1:
The Schtz.Btl.107 formation gets its free activation, and Rob moved his units on and up.

The river doesn't exist for this scenario, by the way.  Having done that, the Schtz.Btl.107 formation chit is put back into the cup, meaning there's a chance that the German formation could move twice in the first turn.

Next chit draw was the 507th PIR.  I had nothing in sight, so I just repositioned a little bit, but tried to keep as much un-moved as possible in case I had a chance to Opportunity Fire.

The first End Turn chit was drawn next.  As the scenario defender, that's always great news- if the German formations can ever go a turn without being activated, it'll really help my chances!  However, it didn't matter in this case, as the Schtz.Btl.107 chit was drawn before the second End Turn chit.

The Germans continued advancing as quickly as possible, and I opened fire on a German unit entering the woods, disrupting it.

Turn 2:
We drew the first End Turn chit immediately, much to Rob's unhappiness.  Unfortunately, a German-less turn wasn't meant to be yet, and we drew the Schtz.Btl.107 chit immediately after. 

The disrupted German unit rallied, and the formation began its work.  The HQ and Inf unit opened fire on the nearest of my Para Inf units, getting a single hit which I couldn't save, disrupting it.  Rob moved his other German unit into the woods, and prepared to begin the assault.  His first unit moved into the open, and I destroyed it by fire from my HQ/Para Inf stack.  The second unit moved in to assault my disrupted unit, and succeeds in killing it.  The Para Inf who was right behind the just destroyed unit attempted to Op Fire, but to no effect.

Next chit draw was the second End Turn, ending the turn.

Turn 3:
On this turn, Rob received some reinforcements- the Kampfgruppe Beck formation is added to the chit cup, and enters on the board from the south to help with the German push.

The first chit draw is the recently added KG Beck formation, which advances onto the board, well out of my line of sight.

My 507th is activated next.  I move my non-stacked Para Inf units back, to buy me some time.  My HQ and Para Inf stack fires at the Infantry unit in the woods, disrupting it.

It's not a big help, as the Schtz.Btl.107 chit is drawn next, and Rob immediately rallies the disrupted unit.  He decides to go after my HQ, and begins by firing his Infantry with an HMG at my HQ/Para Inf stack, dealing 1 hit that I fail to negate- I'm not disrupted and still Ops Complete).  Not good.  He moves in to assault with 2 of his Infantry units, healing 3 hits to my one, and killing my HQ.  Now, since I have no front-line defenders, he moves his other unit into the city uncontested.

Not a good turn for the Americans!

Turn 4:
Followed by an amazing turn for the Americans.  The first two chits drawn are both End Turn chits!

Turn 5:
The Schtz.Btl.107 chit is drawn to start the turn, and they press the advantage, moving their units through the city.  When Rob moves his HQ and two infantry units up, I take a shot with one of my Para Inf units, and deal 2 hits, disrupting both of his units.  The Para Inf who shot didn't get off easy though, and was assaulted by another two units, dealing 4 hits while receiving 2 in response (disrupting both attackers).

The 507th chit is drawn, and fortunately, I get a few reinforcements this turn as well (2 more Para Inf units).  They advance on from my left, and I move them towards the rear of the city, thinking that I might try sending one the long way around to draw off some attackers.  My now reduced HQ and a Para Inf unit shoot at an adjacent German stack, and deal 2 hits, with Rob failing to save either of them.  More disruption!

Since the turn can't end without KG Beck getting a shot to activate, they do so, and advance up further.

Turn 6:
KG Beck gets another shot to activate, and move up.  I Opportunity Fire with my Para Inf and the reduced HQ, rolling 3 hits.  Rob negates one of them, but I'll still take the disruptions.

Both End of Turn chits are drawn next.  Turns like these are really going to help my chances!

Turn 7:
The Schtz.Btl.107 formation chit is drawn, and naturally, Rob rallies all of his disrupted units.  His nearest Infantry unit shoots at my Para Inf/HQ stack, and disrupts me, but the HQ again dies.  He then assaults that unit, dealing 4 hits and receiving none in return.  The rest of his formation moves into position and corners me.

Our first End Turn chit is drawn and then the 507th chit is drawn.  I decide that I'm not going to be able to loop my guys around, sadly, and just moves everything in to prepare for the final rush.

The second End Turn chit is drawn, ending the turn.  Things are looking really bad for me now, but it's not over!  Although it'd be better if it was...

Turn 8:
This turn is started by KG Beck activating, and moving up to lend the support Rob needed to push through.  Their advance is slowed, however, when I Op Fire at their advancing units, and deal 2 hits, disrupting the leading parts of his advance.  Rob isn't very concerned, however.  Not with that many units floating around.

The 507th activate next.  I take a shot at an adjacent stack, and disrupt them.  Really powerful stuff here.

The first End Turn chit is drawn.  I'm hopeful...

But then crushed when Rob draws the Schtz.Btl.107 formation chit.  However, I catch a break when his nearest squads don't rally!  He moves the disrupted squads away, and begins sending in the assaulters.  The first group jumps in and deals 4 hits, but thankfully takes 4 hits.  Critically, since I've tied him, the assaulting units are repulsed, and I'm not pushed out of the hex.  I am badly reduced and disrupted, however.  Plus, my HQ managed to die again.  Rob still has another unit ready though, and he sends him in.  He deals a single hit, and I return with a single hit.  I'm now down to a single reduced (and disrupted) squad, and I'm staring at a LOT of attacking Germans.  Thankfully though, the turn ends.

Turn 9:
Last turn!

The first chit drawn is the End Turn chit.  That's VERY exciting- the game ending here would give me a win!  If any German formation is drawn, however, my chances are very slim.

The second chit drawn... is the other End Turn chit!  YES!  Victory for the Americans!  I managed to win with a single reduced/disrupted Para Inf unit in the town.

With a chit-draw system, a lot of a player's success is dependent on how often his formations get to activate.  With the one German formation getting a free activation on the first turn (with a chance for a second) and the second German formation not arriving until turn 3, we can do some quick checking to see what the 'average' number of activations each formation can dream about.  For the Germans, the Schtz.Btl.107 would average about 7.7 activations per game (it activated 7 times this game) and the KG Beck would activate 5.2 (4 in the game).  That's not a huge difference for the former, but that's a huge loss for that latter formation.  Had he gotten that 5th activation, I'm sure Rob would've swept me from the table.  The Americans, by the way average 6.7 activations (I activated 5 times).  Those two turns without activations (and Turn 6, with just the one KG Beck activation) were critical for me winning. 

Obviously, the number of activations doesn't tell the whole story- when formation activate in relation to one another is a big deal as well (being able to activate twice in between an enemy's activation could be key), but it's helpful to keep in mind how things could go, especially for the attacker to consider his pace.  Rob played fairly aggressively.  Had he known beforehand how many activations he would get, would he have tried something different?  I'd guess not, but you never know.

This scenario seems pretty tough on the Americans, but since it's an infantry-only scenario and there really isn't a lot going on, I don't think it's going to get much play regardless.  I'm sure I screwed up a little with my play, which probably hurt my poor American's chances as well- I'm guessing I need to be more selective about my shots.  It didn't feel like I had many options, however.

This is a game that's going to get played a decent amount of times at PrezCon, including playing some of the advanced scenarios.  That should be very exciting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Battle Report: Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 (1/8/11)

Yeah, this took me over a month to finally post.  That's pretty terrible.  I'm going to try to get more on the ball with these.

Rob and I played two games of Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943 on one of my few free Saturdays, the 8th.  We decided to start playing some of the Situations (scenarios) that are available to give us some variety in the game.

First up was Situation I: Take Out Those 88's! In this situation, the Germans (played by Rob) had 3 crewed 8.8cm FlaK 36 cards on the rear line, with 2 front lines that must be beaten through before the Americans can finally take them out.  The goal of the game, of course, is the destruction of those 88s, and the Americans have to accomplish this without aircraft.  The Germans aren't allowed to start drawing reinforcements until Turn 3, but they do get 10 free victory points a turn (needing 75 to win).

After choosing our decks (Americans start with 120 points vs the Germans 80), we set up to play.  For my starting hand I chose a M4A1 Sherman, Tank Crew, Rifle Squad, and .30Cal LMG Team.  My hope was to use the Sherman to spearhead my attack (harder for the infantry Rob starts with to kill, and use the infantry to finish the job (the infantry is harder for the 88s to hit, needing a 13 vs an 11 vs the tank).  I didn't write down what my deck consisted of, next time I'll try to include that.  My drawn Command Cards were Withdraw (useful if my tank gets damaged), Reconnaissance (not really helpful for this situation, since Rob doesn't start with units in his hands), and Frontline Priority (great for getting a unit I need into my hand when I need it).  Not a bad start truthfully.

Rob immediately begins the game by playing a Sabotage card, removing one of the Shermans from my deck.  Ugh.

Turn 1:
I commit all 4 units in my hand, hoping to eat through at least one of his frontlines, and putting the pressure on early.

Right after first commitment phase.

Rob begins the Combat phase by playing Fire For Effect, making his artillery a lot deadlier to my poor Sherman (8 intensity vs the Sherman's 5 armor isn't nearly so scary as 12 intensity vs that same 5 armor).  He then proceeds to win initiative.

By the way, it's worth noting here that although the choices of targets for each card is very important in game, it's not a very interesting read, so it's not likely to be mentioned in any report I write.  Usually just the results.

Rob's first shot was an 88 at my Sherman, which missed.  I followed up by having the Sherman (targeted by all three artillery pieces) fire at the German Rifle Squad, discarding the Reconnaissance card for a +1 attack on my 75mm gun.  I missed with all of my attacks, however.

The German Rifle then shot at my Rifle Squad, killing it.  My LMG fires and misses.  With nothing of mine left, Rob goes through his guys- my Sherman dies to an 88, and the German MG-42 Team kills my LMG.

During the draw phase, I draw two units (Tank Crew and a Rifle Squad), and use Frontline Priority to get another Rifle Squad.  My Command Card draw is a Fighter Ace (useless in this situation).

Rob at this point has 34 Victory Points (he needs 75 to win).

Turn 2:
I choose to commit nothing, knowing that I'll just get slaughtered, and needing a few more units so that I can sweep through him.  I'm able to gain a bit of an advantage solely because the Germans aren't allowed to draw Reserves until turn 3.  With no combat, this is a quick turn, and I draw an Artillery Crew, a 57mm Anti-Tank Gun M1, and Commit Reserves (allowing me to play a card from my Reserves deck).

Rob is up to 44 Victory Points.

Turn 3:
Since Rob is going to start getting units this turn, I decide I can't keep waiting.  I commit everything, and use commit reserves for another Sherman (I apparently had 3 in my deck).  With an artillery piece, 2 infantry squads, and a tank, things are looking up for me.

Rob then wins the initiative.  He fires an 88 at my Sherman, damaging it.  The Sherman takes a shot at the Rifle Squad, and manages to deal 6 damage to it.  The German Rifle Squad fires at one of the American Rifle Squads, damaging it.  I draw a 'Shaken' card, retreating my Rifle Squad to the rear line, really hindering my attack. 

My other American Rifle Squad beats on a German Rifle Squad, causing 13 damage (don't remember the damage card), but it turns out not to matter as my ATG finishes it off.  Not a bad turn for me, really, although not great.

Anyway, during the draw phase I again choose two units, and draw an Artillery Crew and a Tank Crew.  I also draw another Fighter Ace.  That's just terrible. 

Up to 54 VPs.

Turn 4:
Well, with a draw like that, you can imagine I had nothing to commit.  Rob did, though.  He put a Scharfschutze (Sniper) in his first front line, and plays a Lay Smoke card on his front line Rifle Squad.  That limits my front line units to attacking his sniper, and means I can't break through his front line this turn.  Ugh!

I once again lost the Initiative.

Rob's first shot is an 88 at my Sherman, but thankfully he misses.  In response, my Sherman kills his Sniper.  Once again, with free reign to shoot, Rob manages to kill my 57mm ATG and retreats another of my Rifle Squads to my rear line.  He's now up to 70VP.  Not looking good.

I again choose to draw 2 units, and draw a Rifle Squad and another 57mm ATG.  I also draw Sabotage, which I use immediately to get rid of the Pz. VI Ausf. E Tiger I from his deck.  Have to take those small victories :).

Turn 5:
With Rob on the cusp of winning, I need to win THIS turn.  Well, I can't.  But that doesn't stop me!  What does stop me, however, is Rob playing a Capture That Unit! card, rolling a 10, and ending the game with 82 victory points.  Oops.

That's a picture of a sad me writing down the results of the current game.  In the immediate foreground is the impenetrable wall of FlaK 88s.

I pretty much did as poorly as possible that game, and I think next time I play, I'll have to be a little smarter about what I do.  Tanks are a bit more vulnerable to his artillery (the 88s were used as anti-tank guns, after all).  Maybe more infantry and a few artillery pieces of my own (so I could return fire with my own long range stuff) would have made this a closer game.

We weren't done here though- we decided to take a shot at Situation II: Beachhead Air Defense.

There are two parts to this situation.  First is an air battle, with 4 planes apiece, fighting to the death.  After this is done, the remaining aircraft are put onto the bottom of the victor's reserve deck, and a land battle begins.

There's one more component to this game, however- a US Landing Ship is making landfall at the beach, and is a vulnerable target for the German aircraft.  In fact, for every point of damage done to the LST prior to the aerial fight being done, the German player gets an extra victory point.  Given that the American aircraft is a bit better than the German ones, that's a key way to make up the difference.

Rob and I screwed this up, badly.  See, we missed the line that the LST was removed once the aerial combat was over.  So we left it out there.  That means his tanks were taking pot shots at it, and doing a ton of damage.  That's pretty game changing.  So although I wrote a bunch of notes, and even took some pictures, I'm not going to be writing a report for it.  It's sufficient to say that Rob one this one, but the game would have been a lot closer had I actually READ THE SCENARIO.  Ah well.  Live and learn.  Sounds like the second situation will be pretty enjoyable now that we'll do it right.

Here are some pictures of our second game anyway.

Ready to begin the game.

The air battle begins to go well for me.

As always, I'm struggling when it comes to the land-based part of the game.

We'll be playing this game from time to time at PrezCon, so I'll have more game reports going up next month, as well as a review, finally, since I'll finally have enough experience to do so (plus, I need practice writing reviews).