Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Played a wargame!

This past Sunday, while I was working my part time job, I actually took a wargame to work, read the rules, and played it.

The game was Red Winter, from GMT Games, covering the Battle of Tolvajarvi during the Winter War.  Finnish troops versus Soviet troops is always something I'm interested in, and I was (and still am) really looking forward to getting into this game.

I didn't take any pictures (not allowed to bring anything like that to work), but I did take a few notes, so although I won't bore you with a full battle report, I'll jot down a few things.

I played the tutorial scenario, First Folly, which is just an introduction to the mechanics of moving and attacking, with 9 Soviet units attacking the Finnish town of Hirvasvaara, defended by a total of 6 units, 5 of which are reduced.

In playing the scenario, I decided to basically throw the Soviets at the Finnish position, trusting their strength of numbers to carry the day.  They couldn't quite get there on the first turn, but would start the attacking on the second turn.  With Finns, I tried to spread out from the town, hoping to at least slow the Soviets down a turn (the scenario ends after 3 turns, or when one side loses two units).

Upon arriving, the Russians launched a strong attack against the first reduced infantry unit, which was hampered a little by the Finnish Off-board artillery (which gets a bonus firing into any hex where multiple units are stacked), but then the Finnish couldn't really accomplish anything on their own turn, and were easily swept aside (a 6:1 attack on the town sealed the fate).

Really, this is just an intro game, so I'm not too concerned about optimizing my play for either side for this particular case, but I did learn a lot of things that should help me in future games.

First, I tried early on to have the Finnish units roll for Recovery.  On a '6', they regain a step.  At times, I'm sure I'll make good use of this, but it seems like I may be better served Digging In when I need to defend somewhere, and using the favorable column shift to either keep me in place, or have me retreat less (losses may generally be taken as either step losses, or hexes retreated, for those who don't know).

Second, as the Finns, I really need to use their additional mobility to assault.  I may be finding myself outgunned quite a bit in game, and the favorable column shift on assaults (due to Finnish SMGs) might be vital.

Third, I forgot a lot of rules, but the big one is the double Combat Strength for certain units on defense.  Throwing that Finnish MG in the town would have really helped, since its Combat Strength goes to 8, creating a fairly decent defensive position.

Fourth, and finally, I really have to think how I'm going to use my off-board artillery and ranged attacks (for both sides).  The only real clear lines of sight are over the giant frozen lake(s), so the direct ranged attack learning can wait until then, but the artillery is very important (as the Russians), and occasional worth using (as the Finnish).  You only have limited ammo for each side, so you can't really just waste the shots (although in this scenario, the Russian can just fire every chance), and as the Finnish, their guns are so weak, they may only be useful for trying to blunt an attack (by dropping a Suppression marker on the target).  I'll need quite a few games to get the hang of this.

I'm quite eager to put this back on the table, and maybe try my hand at the first 'real' scenario, where the Night rules are used- an important part of the battle, from what I gather.

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