Sunday, February 27, 2011

WW2 1943 Eastern Front Take Cover report

Background
After posting a review of the Britannia Miniatures Take Cover rules  I thought i would post a small battle report using the rules before heading back into some ancients.  We used to play on a 9'x5' table, but with children etc, and the expectation it will be set up for a week or so, I am using my next size down table - 5'x'3'.  A third the area!  I've played a few 20mm games on it and so long as the forces are small, it does not end up looking like a parking lot.  This particular game was played solo.  There is a bit of description of play and the occasional die roll included to show how the rules work.

All the photos were taken at night in a room with poor light so the picture quality is variable.

Scenario
I'm using a cut down version of the first game in Perry's Heroes Kursk campaign.  The board is roughly laid out the same, but the forces are about 2/3rds.  And the scale is different (as it is designed for IABSM, and Take Cover is another level up in scale).

Rule changes
I have done some minor rules changes for this replay:
1. Passenger vehicles (P) only carry 3 figures, not 10.  In the rules, a P class vehicle tended to carry 10 figs, with 1-3 casualties if the vehicle was destroyed.   While there may be a good reason for this, it did mean that Germans, who can armour assault right on top of the enemy, could guarantee to get there with 7 figures.  It does mean there will be more half-tracks on the board (4 per company rather than 2).
 
2. Currently there are 4 armour classes - Heavy, Medium, Light and Soft-skin, with medium having the base armour modifier of +0.  To offset the greater number of passenger (light armour) vehicles, I've added a class and reclassified. Light vehicles keep the -1 modifier but these are vehicles such as the PanzerIII or Stuart.  There is now a very light (VL) armour category for half-tracks etc with an armour modifier of -2.  Softskins now have an armour modifier of -3.
 
3. Gun Type 7 at battle range can only damage a AFV, there is no score for a Kaput.  So a 7+ on the d6 damage roll will cause a Kaput.  So now Gun 7 has a chance to destroy those half-tracks and light tanks. A score greater than 6 can only be achieved by flank shots or at vehicles with lighter armour than medium. 
 
As a side note, I've never been entirely satisfied with companies being simply a number of figures (with each figure = a squad/section). Don't mind it, just need some reasoning.  I am not that familiar with how a company commander utilises his forces - does he move sections around, or leave it to the platoon commander, or both?    Anyway, it does make a difference as 3 figures can only score one casualty, with 4 figures firing have a chance of scoring 2.  And it is a nice linear casualty chart for 1, 2 and 3 figures firing but 4, 5 and 6 figures is not linear  MMG, HMGs and cannons fire with the equivalent of 4 or more figures.  After much thinking, I've gone with that a 'platoon' is 3 figures, so that fits nicely with carrying capacity (see rule mod 1 above which was influenced by this thinking) and firing units have to be within 2 so normally, the 3 figs have to stay close to each other.  But I'll allows extra figs to join in from other platoons.  Otherwise, fire is by platoon.  It will also mirror the reduction in firepower linearly as casualties are lost. 
 
Forces
Forces are roughly in line with the scenario
 
Soviets (Regular)
1 Battalion HQ: 3 figures
2 reduced companies, each:
     6 figures
     1 MMG (with 3 crew)
2 45mm ATG (3 crew), gun 7
 
Reinforcements:
1 T34/76 (Cruiser, Gun 6)
 
Reinforcements arrive on a d6 roll of 4-6 after turn 4.
 
Germans (Elite)
1 Battalion HQ: 3 figures in Sdkfz 251/10
2 companies each
     9 figures
     1 MMG (3 crew)
     4 Sdkfz 251/1
3 PanzerIIIJ (late) with skirting (Light Tank, Gun 6)
 
I'm using PanzerIIIJs as I have just acquired them so wanted to use them.  Could argue they are Medium Tanks but wanted a difference in armour types on the table.

While the Scenario calls for the Red Army to be poor, I just couldn't do it to them (equivalent would be Militia in take cover), so made them Regular but morale tests will be at 20% rather than 30% (as per pre-Stalingrad Russians).

Deployment

The board.  Note the trees have a light clay unpainted base.  I just did them the day before with my two small children.  Do you think I could get away with putting the painted ones on the board?

All building are wooden, and treated as soft cover.  Wheatfields are not cover, and provide concealment for infantry only.  However, there are low bushes etc around the wheatfields that provide soft cover.

 Russian deployment
 
Each turn, an opposed roll is made to see who has the initiative. The side with the initiative can choose who goes first in each phase.  In this game, The Russian regulars have a modifier +0, while the German Elites have +3.  As there is only a 1/12 chance of the Russians gaining the initiative each turn, and the game is not likely to last 12 turns, I defaulted the initiative to always be the Germans.  While it could be argued that the rare Russian initiative in a turn could cause the German's heartache, when playing solo I was not too concerned.   

Pre-game bombardments
Although the scenario does not call for it, I will give the Germans 1 round of 105mm pre-bombardment.  In TC, one casualty will occur in soft cover with one 105mm indirect HE impact on a 3+.  In TC, one casualty seems to occur with 50% of shooting (of course, this in just an average but it is a good thing - the game progresses).
I randomly chose a stonk target from a few valid ones.  The house next to the wheatfields was the target.  2 casualties!  Only one guy left, and the company is down to 7.  One more and it will start morale tests.

The Game
Panzers come in down the road on their right flank. Following them is the first company of Grenadiers, heading for the woods and fields.  Vehicles are more than 4" apart.  Have long played the house rule that anti-tank fire may fire at another target within 4" if it destroys its first target.  Stops the wall to wall tanks. 

Note: For HE fire, from 36", one Panzer will score a casualty firing at a timber house about 50% of the time.  But you cannot fire against an enemy unit you have not spotted (well, you can if the target has fired or moved and you failed to spot - but there are bad firing penalties).  To spot a non-firing stationary infantry unit in a building requires you to be within 4" AND roll 5+ of a d6.  Even if they fire, it is still a 5+ at the maximum of 36".  So rarely is there much long range combat in the opening parts of the games from attackers.

Panzers and first company arrive

 
 First company deploys in the small wood

Russians infantry in fields in front of woods fail to spot the tanks...
The 1st Company Grenadiers unload into the woods.  The other Grenadier company continues to head for the far side of the road.
Next turn, some of the unloaded German infantry run into the Russians who couldn't see anything - Germans get +2 to die roll for elite and charging.  They win - Russians lose 3 (all of them), Germans 1. Morale test for the Russians who have lost 2 more than threshold: Shaken - no movement forward (fine by them!).

Russian ATG (it survives a while) and its view down the road. 


Second Grenadier company cross the road - Russians AT gun lets first one cross; second one, flank shot - Disruptive fire! (in Take Cover, used to fire at moving targets when it is not your turn). Needs a 3+ which it gets and for damage gets a kaput.  2 passenger casualties, only one left to bail.  To spot the firing gun will  require a 5+ at 8"-36".

First company Germans are line up, poised to storm the town.
 
 
Germans lined up to storm town.  unseen MMG ready to open fire.


Russian MMG in wheatfield opens fire on the Germans - anything but a 1 will cause a casualty.  Rolled a 1.
Other MMG in woods opens up at successfully spotted German infantry in the small woods (needed a 6 to spot).  1 casualty.

No German manages to spots the AT gun.
No German spots the MMG in wheatfield (even at 6" - needed a 3+)
The MMG in the woods isn't spotted either (needs a 6).

AT gun fires at PanzerIII - miss.
Wheatfield MMG fires at German infantry across the road - 2 casualties.


 MMG fires at the German platoon and KO's 2 figures.


German 2nd company half tracks move across road - another disruptive fire.  Hits but ricochets. 45mm gun is not that great a gun over 18" - the first half-track destroyed was a lucky shot.
 
The Germans that made it across the road last turn charge the MMG in the flank.

MMG crew in close quarters.  They lose.


Germans win and lose 1 figure, Russian MMG crew gone. For this Russian company, there is only the company commander left (in the building next door) who rolls a 6 for morale - which is modified -4 for losses, -1 figs lost hand to hand, +1 battalion HQ within 12" - and carries on!  The next turn the Germans enter the building and he goes down and takes one German with him (as a result of a a tie on close quarters die rolls).


Germans in centre wheatfields charge the building.

German platoon storms the building with lots of support

...and then enter the building.  The Russians in the next building open fire on them scoring one casualty.  The next turn at lot of German fire goes into that building - an MMG, the 2 rifles and a vehicle MG.  All up, 2 casualties and they are suppressed.

AT gun fires again at the PanzerIII. Hits. But only a ricochet (need a 5-6 on a d6 to do damage at that range on a light tank).
 
 View down the road from the still surviving ATG

Still no one can spot the firing AT Gun.  At this stage I remember that unspotted units that are firing can be fired at speculatively with a -2 penalty.  So the PanzerIII MG fires and luckily scores one casualty.
 
Mid game overview


Ready for the big push into the rest of the buildings.

So far, it has taken 2 hours, plus note taking.  It is about 1 hour actual playing. Setup was about 20 minutes on top of that  Also, I've needed to look up a few of the rules.

Buildings to the right of the road are all cleared by the Germans.  The anti-tank gun misses, and the tanks fail to hit any of the crew (bad rolling - a 3+ by any fire would have scored a casualty).

The MMG in the woods has a great line of sight to one of the buildings occupied by the Germans and fires.  Anything but a 1 is a casualty.  Rolls a 1.  I am seeing a pattern with the Russian MG fire.

The previously silent MMG (and Another ATG to the right)


The German PanzerIII covering the town speculatively fires on the woods MMG with its MMG and scores a casualty.

At this stage I remember a T34/76 was supposed to come on for reinforcements. Oops.  I will do so now while I remember.  I'll even allow it to fire at a panzer as it is so late coming on. It misses.

  The forgotten cavalry turns up


Continued fire at the Anti-tank gun results in one more casualty (from 2 tanks, 1 MMG and another 3 figs) - the ATG crew are going down slowly.  A Panzer misses the T34, which then fires back and destroys the PanzerIII.
 
Dead panzer

A German platoon (3 figs) storm the Anti-tank Gun and destroy the last remaining crew member, for a loss of 1 of their own.

 Storming the lone crewman of the Anti-tank gun.

The German 2nd company (the one circling around the far side of the town and has just stormed the ATG) needs to take a morale check as it has lost 50% of its figures - but being elite, even a 1 will be fine.
The Russians ATG company (a total of 2 ATGs) also need to take a morale check but is OK.

A PanzerIII circles he lower end of the town to get a flank shot on the T34.  misses.  Other PanzerIII also misses. T34 returns fire and misses.  But the other ATG that has been waiting in the woods all this time has a clear shot at the circling Panzer.  Misses.
The Germans that stormed the ATG now charge the Russian Battalion HQ in hiding behind one of the buildings.  And lose the hand to hand combat,  so are lost.  Another morale check triggered for the Germans but are still fine.

The T34 destroys another panzer.  With only one left, this triggers a morale check for the remaining PanzerIII that must pull back for a turn and cannot advance until passing a rally check (easy for the elites - 2+ on a d6).
The Germans storm across the road into the barn/stables and succeed in hand to hand combat against the 3 defenders (all gone).

  Storming barn/stables

Morale check for the remaining Russian company is pullback for 2 turns.
A Higher morale check (for the whole force in this case) is required for the Russians as one company gone and another pulling back.  a 1 is rolled (low is bad), which is modified to a -1 and results in pull back for 2 turns.  As there is no hope of holding the town after those two turns, I will call the game for the Germans. A  narrow victory though - two-thirds of the tanks destroyed and nearly two-thirds of the infantry.  But they took the town!


 End game overview

Post game review
Having been years since playing Take Cover, or 20mm WW2, it was refreshing that is is still just as fun as I remember.  I will be playing more (maybe in 6mm on a smaller board as I can hide that from the children) during the year, and hopefully some non-solo games. The motivation test for infantry under fire never came into play - the Russians did not move, and the Germans automatically passed every time it could have happened.  Having read a little bit more of battalion actions since playing this game (about 2 weeks), the rules do seem to capture the feel of a brigade/battalion commander and the decisions and information that have.  The rules could do with some streamlining - there is a table and modifiers for everything, and a lot of the modifiers are the same across tables - and I may do some of that during the year. I may also try out some simple card activation (a card per company) rather than initiative as I do like the uncertainty that card activation, in moderation, gives).  But, as it stands, without any modifications, Take Cover is still a top favourite for my WW2 gaming.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Take Cover WW2 rules review


Introduction
Following is an  overview/review of the Take Cover! WW2 miniature rules. Take Cover was published in 1998 by Britannia Miniatures, along with a slew of army organisation booklets.  Authored by Dave Howitt (& others), it is a game best compared to Rapid Fire as it is designed for 20mm miniatures, and you play with one to several battalions.  Each figure represents 10 men in Take Cover!, which is similar to Rapid Fire’s 1:15 ratio.  They are long out of print, there is a dearth of Take Cover! information on the internet (I have found two passing references and the Take Cover yahoo group has been just spam for many years) and the Britannia Miniatures site makes no mention of anything Take Cover!

I played a lot of Take Cover! around 2001-2004.  I have played a few games of it since, due to lack of time rather than lack of enjoyment.  I was recently digging out my WW2 stuff to start to attempt to play again, and looking for rules.  I was looking for rules where 1 base = 1 squad and 1:1 vehicles.  None of the rules I looked at were really satisfying so I started on the track of writing my own and after a couple of months realized I was really just tweaking Take Cover.  So I dug out Take Cover! and remembered how good it was.  Although set with 1 figure = 10 men, it plays more like a set at the next level down, which is why I am looking at using them, only slightly tweaked, for the 1 base = 1 squad, 1:1 vehicles.  Note this criticism is similar to that aimed at Rapid Fire, and there are many similarities between both games.  I prefer Take Cover! They play sort-of like Rapid Fire and if you know and like that, Take Cover! will not make you switch.  But if you think Rapid Fire is just OK, and a looking for something similar but better, then that could be Take Cover!  It appears occasionally on eBay.

Just a week after brushing off Take Cover! to start to get into it again, I read with sadness about the passing of Dave Howitt.  So, in remembrance, I thought it would be useful to review the WW2 rules he wrote that I enjoyed and hope to continue to enjoy.   A lot of this post is taken from a document I wrote in 2002 as an introduction for some of my friends to the rules.  I hope to play a game and post a battle report soon-ish.

Summary of the rules
 This section is a quick overview of the game.  If you don’t want to read the detailed review that follows, this section should give enough of a feel of the rules.

Each figure represents 10 men and infantry figures are classed as rifle or SMG.  A vehicle generally represents 4 vehicles.  Infantry support weapons represent 3 weapons and have 2-3 crew.  1”=25 yards.  The smallest units is a company (usually 10-14 figures for infantry or 2-4 for vehicles).  And Companies are formed into Battalions.  There were a lot of army organisations available for Take Cover, of which I only have a few.  The die/dice used throughout the rules are a single d6 with +/- modifiers. Figures are removed as casualties are scored.

Turn sequence is split into a number of phases:
  • Initiative
  • Movement
  • Spotting
  • Aircraft
  • Firing
  • Close Quarters
  • Morale
  • Orders
Within each phase, one side will go first, followed by the other side.  This side with the initiative determines this for each phase.  This causes for interesting decisions at times.

Each turn each side rolls a die for initiative, better commanded troops get a modifier.

Movement: Infantry move cross country 6” a turn while the average tank moves 8”.  Various and expected penalties for obstacle crossing, reverse, road, limbering etc. Company figures/vehicles must stay within a command radius of the unit commander (12” for infantry, 24” for AFVs).  Generally vehicles cannot move and fire.  Infantry may move and fire at -1 to the die roll.

Units (companies)  or individual AFVs try and spot enemy units to their front.  You can only fire at units you can see. The arc for spotting and for firing for all (including vehicles) is 22.5 degrees to either side.    Units in the open can be seen out to 80” but for units concealed most of the time they cannot be seen beyond 36” – even if firing - and often at 8” only.  There is a simple chart for spotting.  There are rules for the non-moving player to fire at moving troops that move into cover or out of a units arc.

Straightforward aircraft rules based on mission type.  Only played with them a few times but they mesh in well with the rest of the system.

Indirect HE fire occurs by
  • indicating the target
  • rolling for a radio link (generally a forward observer calling in the fire)
  • rolling to register the target
  • rolling for casualties
Radio link is normally 2+ on d6 .  A company commander calls in their own battalion assets using the same system.  To register a stationary target is 3+.  If not registered, target is automatically registered next turn.  Most HE attacks will cause at least a 1 figure casualty to targets in the open.  There are also rules for pre-registered, pre-planned and pre-game fire.

Anti Tank is roll to hit the target (base 4+ +/- a number of modifiers), and then, if hit, roll for possible damage.  There are a total of 10 gun types in the game (3 are for hand held anti-tank) and vehicles, for armour, are classified into light, medium and heavy.   The is a small chart with gun type on one side and range bands (close, battle, long, extreme) on the other.  The intersection gives the damage result, one of three possible:
Ricochet (3 ricochets and crew test for bailing out)
Damaged (tank is either immobilised or guns out of action; half-tracks, carriers are destroyed)
Kaput (2 damaged = Kaput)

Major modifiers are +1 light tank, -1 Heavy.
Example of the damage table: Gun type 5 (German 75/L48) at battle range (18”-36”)  is R:1-3 D: 4 K:5-6.

Simple but there are nuances in the damage table, especially for the different guns. Seems to reflect their relative effect well.

Small Arms fire is performed by 1 to 6 figures and resolved with a single d6 roll, plus modifiers.  The more figures, the better chance of scoring casualties.  There is a table that gets better with the number of figures.  Infantry support weapons are classed in terms of figure comparison.  A MMG is classed as 4 figures, with +1 to the die; an LMG is 3 figures with +2 to the die. 1 figure will score a casualty on a 5-6 in the open.  An MMG will always score 1 casualty in the open.  It is really only possible to score 2 casualties using 4 figures or above. Rifles fire out to 18”, while Medium machine guns fire out to 36”.  Each weapon has two ranges but for nearly every weapon the chance to hit is the same at any range.
Grenades are represented in the rules with a 3” range.

Infantry groups will be suppressed in a turn if they
  1. Are within 18” of enemy fire
  2. receive a casualty
  3. and receive fire from twice the number of enemy figures (or support weapons equivalents)
They are also suppressed from indirect fire if receive a casualty and it was 2 or more guns firing.
Suppression is lifted at the end of the similar phase in the following turn.

If troops are in base to base contact then close quarter fighting may occur. Each sides rolls a die, adds the number of figures and some other modifiers. If you lose, lose 3 figures and retreat.  Winner loses 1 figure and advances.

Units are militia, regular, veteran or elite.  This classification is mostly used for morale. A  regular company checks morale once it has lost more than 30% (Veterans are 40%). of the troops, and for every casualty received after that. Results vary from OK to staying in place to withdrawing to routing.  Once a certain level of figures in a battalion are lost or withdrawing/routing, a higher level morale test, with similar results, is also performed.

At the start, companies are given general orders on what to do during the game.  Orders change requests are made at the end of a turn, generally on a 4+ modified for nationality.  Order changes occur, if successful, at the end of the following turn.

The game also includes some ‘chrome’ such as rules for German and Russian political interference/military police and German armoured assault advantages.

Note: there are 4 pages of amendments which I don’t know when published, but I found them as images on the Britannia Miniatures site in 2003.  The changes to the game include:
  • Extending the range of direct HE fire
  • Rules for elements outside command range
  • Rules extensions for beach landings
  • Implemented an orders network with chains of command
  • A d10 (with modifiers) motivation test for infantry units under fire, taken prior to moving.  Another big change as ½ the time infantry will not move.
  • Vehicles can move and fire (with a -1 modifier to firing).  This is a big change
  • LMGs for rifle groups are now separate figures.  This is a big change but as we were never sure what it really meant, we did not implement it.  Some members of the TakeCover yahoo group concurred.
  • Minor changes and clarifications to sections of the rules
Click here for the amendments in PDF.

End of summary.  Read on if you want to know even more.

The Rulebook and addons

The rulebook is 55 pages on glossy paper with a colour cover.  The sections follow the rules sequence.  Included are vehicle, gun and aircraft classifications for all major  nationalities  Two large NW Europe scenarios. No organisation lists. No points but there is a flowchart on building a force.  No quick reference chart.
As well as the rules, a large number of army organisation booklets were produced.  I don’t know how many, and I’ve only got about 5 myself, I seem to remember lots. Each booklet had about 10-20 pages with each page have a subset of the division organisation.  They were broken down by broadly by side, division and year.  For example,  British Infantry Division 1943-1945 had pages for Artillery, Infantry Battalion, Divisional Support etc.  Specific notes pertaining to specific divisions was occasionally included e.g. No Comets in Italy.
Lastly, there was a booklet called Tactical Memoir Aide #1 that has about 20 pages of WW2 infantry an armour tactics, mostly diagrams with a small amount of explanatory test.  But a handy introduction.

Units
The rules are designed to use 20mm  miniatures.
Each infantry figure represents 10 men (a section).
Each tank/vehicle represents 4 vehicles, except passenger vehicles that represent 10: A company of Panzer Grenadiers - 10 figures - is carried by 1 half-track.
Each support element (e.g. Mortar, Anti-tank gun, MMG) represents 3 support elements.  Support units have a  crew of 2 or three figures.
The ground scale is 1” = 25 yards and all measurements are done in inches.

By having such a scale the combat, command and morale rules can be made simpler.  The game actually still plays like a tactical game.

The following shows a typical British NW Europe Infantry battalion from 1944. 

1 Battalion HQ:
   1 CO (Rifle)
   2 Rifle
   2 figs with PIAT
   1 Sniper
   1 Jeep
   1 15cwt truck
4 Company, each
   8 Rifles
   2 figs with PIAT
   2 figs with 2” Mortar
1 Support Company
   1 Anti-Tank Platoon
       1 6pdr AT Gun
       1 Carrier
   1 Mortar Platoon
       6 figs
       2 3” mortar
       2 Carriers
   1 Pioneer Platoon
       3 Mine Detector
       1 FlameThrower
       1 15cwt
  1 Carrier Platoon
      2 figs with PIAT
      2 Rifle
      1 Bren Carrier
  1 MMG Platoon
      3 figs with MMG
      1 Carrier

Note: the amendments split out inherent LMGs into distinct bases.  This was a significant change to the organisational charts and we were not sure what that meant , likely split out each one and using the 1:3 ratio for support weapons, increase companies with 9 figures with 3 LMG bases.  This was quite a change.  We did not care for it and so ignored it. No one on the take cover yahoo group owned up to using this change.

AFVs
Tanks have 2 values – type and gun class. Type is either Heavy, Medium, Light, Passenger (same as light but can carry figures), Soft-Skin.
Type is used for armour class and movement.  There is one other class – Cruiser – that is identical to Medium except it moves slightly faster.  Gun class is the gun for the tank – there are 7 general gun classes.

Example Tanks:
(tank, type, gun class)
Panzer IV, M, 5
Tiger II, H, 2
Sdkfz251/1, P, MMG
M4 Sherman, M, 6
Sherman Firefly, M, 4
Stuart, L, 7
Bren Carrier, P, LMG

Orders
Basic orders need to be given to each Battalion and Company.  This should be simple, for example:

Battalion to advance up to take the village with 1st company going via the road, 2nd company through the fields and 3rd company to act as backup behind the first to.  Support Company to advance to hill on right.
Will hold and defend against enemy attack.

For each battalion a left and right axis needs to be drawn down the table.  This is the area of operational control for the battalion – it cannot move outside this area of control (although it can fire out of it).

New orders may be given in reaction to visible enemy forces (or knowledge by radio via recce forces of such units) or when achieved objective.  Orders request happen at the end of a turn.  For new orders, roll 4+ on 1d6, with some nationality modifiers.  New orders take effect the end next turn.
In the amendments, additionally an orders network needed to be specified for each side, and orders needed to go up and down the order chain.

Victory
Victory goes to the side that has troops left on the table that have not broken or withdrawn, or has control of most objectives.

Game Turns

Pre-game stuff
·         Layout the table with all sorts of terrain - roads, buildings, fields, hills, hedges etc
·         Determine if objectives are going to be used and define them
·         work out the initial orders for the units (easy to do with a map)
·         Determine pre-bombardment impact areas.
·         Start the first turn

A Turn

Initiative
·         Roll 1d6 each for initiative. Better commanded sides get modifiers to the roll. Higher roll gets to choose who moves first and fires first in each phase of the turn.

Movement  (initiative player gets to choose who moves first)

Spotting
·         Attempt to spot troops and perform speculative fire at moving/firing but unspotted enemy

Aircraft
·         Test or arrival of planes, conduct attacks and AA fire.

Fire Phase  (initiative player chooses who fires first)
·         HE, Anti-Tank and small arms
·         Last turn suppression lifted

Close Quarters phase
·         Grenades, flamethrowers etc
·         Hand to hand fighting

Morale phase
·         Unit morale tests
·         Higher unit tests (generally only required if lots of lower units broken/lost)

Orders
·         request change of orders
·         implement fresh orders

Note:  All moving and firing is alternate, so troops are removed immediately upon loss.

Arcs for firing and moving

Each vehicle or infantry unit has a arc 22.5 degrees to either side.  This is the arc used to determine what a unit can spot or fire at.  AFV turrets cannot pivot until engine damage.

Movement

Command and control
Each infantry figure of a company must remain within 12” of their officer.
Each AFV of a regiment must remain with in 24” of the command vehicle.
ALL company officers must remain within 48” of the battalion officer.
Snipers and engineers may operate up to 48” away.
If officer is killed, a new figure takes his place, but this may cause a penalty in a morale test.
The rules do not allow subunits to be split away, meaning an company MMG had to stay within 12”.  The amendments contained rules on operating subunits outside normal command radius.

Speed
Generally infantry move around 8” on road, 6” in the field and 4” on hills.
Mediums AFVs move 10” on roads, 8” in the field and 5” on hills.
Heavy AFVs move a bit slower and light AFVs faster.
Half-tracks move fast on roads (12”) but only 6” in fields.
Infantry get a charge bonus  if moving into contact.
There are penalties for linear obstacles, reverse, turning etc.

Unmounting Troops
Unmounting does not penalise any movement for the vehicle but  unmounting units have a limited move.  Generally troops cannot unmount  within 9”-15” of an enemy.  However,  German half-tracks/tank riders have no restriction on distance, and may dismount into contact. And count as charging!

Movement & Firing
No anti tank weapon or AFV mounted AT gun  may move and fire in the same turn, except hand held AT weapons such as a bazooka. Note the amendments changed this to allow move and fire.
All infantry weapons may move and fire.
Vehicle machine guns may fire after the vehicle has moved at close range.
The amendments included a new motivation test (4+ to pass on a d10 +/- modifiers) for infantry that were under fire.  The motivation test needed to be passed before an infantry unit could move.  Not passing had not other effect than the unit could not move.  The amendments came out at the tail end of us playing Take cover.  The modifiers were similar to the morale test, so we simply have infantry units under fire needed to pass a morale test, rather than use a d10 and another table.

Disruptive fire
If a unit moves through arc of fire or from open to cover an unmoved enemy may use disruptive fire against it.  The firing unit cannot fire in upcoming fire phase.

Spotting
Spotting is done per infantry company or individual vehicle or individual crew served gun.
May test against any enemy in arc. While it might seem restrictive, there are notes in a Tactical Memoir by Dave arguing the validity of this approach.
It isn’t easy to spot troops.  Generally if they are not in the open and haven’t fired or moved you only have a chance within 8”.  If they are concealed and fired/moved you still only have a chance up to 36”. Spotting is based on range, infantry/tank, open/concealed/total cover and moved/fired.

Speculative fire
If an enemy unit was visible but  fired or moved within your arc but failed to spot (e.g. moved into cover) then you may be able to speculatively fire on the target.  The amendments loosened the restriction on speculative fire.

Suppression
A unit that is suppressed only moves at half-speed and cannot do any other actions (such as firing) for a turn.
To suppress and infantry unit/element requires at least double the firepower (or equivalent) from Small arms, and must have scored at least one casualty.  Vehicles may only be suppressed by Indirect HE fire. Indirect HE will suppress if a casualty is scored; Direct HE will also but requires two guns firing.
Suppression is important (as in my opinion it should be).

Aircraft
There are rules for potential random air support.  Aircraft fly a certain type of mission e.g. spotting, bombing, ground attack.  This dictates how they move, spot and attack.  Attacks are carried out the same as HE, small Arms or anti-tank depending on the weapon type.  Anti-aircraft fire has its own to hit and damage chart, similar to the vehicle one

Indirect HE fire
Indirect HE fire is firing from mortars, howitzers or off-table batteries of guns.  Range examples:
Light mortars 4” to 18”
75mm to 85mm  4”-72”
90mm-105mm 8”-144”

Indirect elements do not have to be on the table (unless their range is shorter than the table!)

Indirect can be pre-planned, pre-game bombardment, observed, barrage.  Generally observed,
so will also have a Forward Observer (FOO) who will be calling in fire.  For some smaller mortars, the unit itself is the forward observer. Battalion assets can be called in by company officers.

Multiple guns in a single unit/battery fire at the same place but roll a die for each gun to determine casualties.

Method
·         Place impact template where you wish fire to land
·         Forward observer rolls 1d6 for radio link (2+ with some modifiers)
·         Roll 1d6 to see if registered target (3+ with some modifiers)
·         If registered, roll 1d6 per gun, +/- some modifiers and check casualty chart.
·         If applicable, check for building structural damage
·         If applicable, roll 1d6 for possibility of building fire.

If register fails, target is automatically registered nest turn.
Once fire is registered, firing will continue until FOO requires cease fire, or change or target.

For an example of  Structural damage: 50-105mm guns score 1 structural damage point and a single storey house has 10 points.  Other guns score larger damage. When this limit is reached, the building collapses and may cause casualties.

The impact template is a 3” circle for up to 100m weapons, 5” for up to 155mm.

Smoke
Fired smoke may not hit target – use d10: 1-8 not on target  (the impact template has 8 off centre  points for placement), 9 on target, 0 is misfire.
Each gun produces a strip of 2” smoke that drifts for 3 turns and then dissipates.

Example
Two medium mortars (81mm – gun group 6) firing at a target 36” away.  Mortar is its own FOO.
Place impact template – covers two infantry figures in the open.
Roll for link – need a 2+.  Assume successful
Roll to register – need a 3+.  Assume successful
Roll for casualties – rolled a 2 and a 5.  No modifiers.  The 2 scores 1 casualty and the 5 scores 2 casualties.  All figures are dead.

If the infantry figures were in a building then roll for casualties becomes:  rolled a 2 and a 5.  Hard cover modifier of  –2 changes rolls to 0 and 3.  The 0 causes no casualties and the 3 scores 1 casualty.  The building receives one structure point of damage and a roll of 5 shows it did not catch fire.

Direct HE fire
Direct HE fire is when a tank or howitzer gun fire HE directly at a target.  Each gun fires individually.  The amendments increased significantly the range for Direct HE.

Method
·         Roll 1d6 per gun to hit +/- some modifiers
·         Roll 1d6 on the casualty chart +/- some modifiers
·         If applicable, check for building structural damage and possbility of fire

Anti-tank fire
Anti-tank guns/weapons are rated from 1 (best) to 10 (worst). For example, a Tiger II has a 2 gun, a Panther has a 4 gun; a Panzer IV has a 5 gun.  The American M4 Sherman has a 6 gun. A bazooka is a 8 gun.

Method
·         Measure Range
·         To hit, roll 1d6, need a 4+ and +/- some modifiers
·         If HIT, roll 1d6 and +/- some modifiers to determine potential damage using a damage table. Major modifiers are +1 light tank,  -1 Heavy.

Under 18” give a bonus to attempt to hit, over 60” is harder to hit.

Targets over 36” cannot be damaged by guns of size 5 or more (most medium tank guns).
The is a small chart with the 10 gun types on one side and range bands (close, battle, long, extreme) on the other.  The intersection gives the damage result, one of three possible – Ricochet, Disabled or Kaput.
Ricochet does nothing except once have 3 ricochets, roll for crew bailing out (generally 5-6 on 1d6).
Disabled will knock out a S or P vehicle and test for passenger casualties, plus may destroy a towed gun.
Disabled for L/M/C/H will cause crew bailing out test and either disable movement OR main gun. Two Disabled = Kaput.
Kaput is a vehicle blows up, crew killed, test for  passenger casualties.

Example
A typical example to give idea of hitting a target.

Panzer IV (medium with gun 5) is firing on a Sherman tank (medium with gun 6) at 20”.  Neither moved.

TO HIT: roll 1d6 and get a 3.  Modifiers are target stationary (+1) this move so it is now a 4.  4+ is required so a hit!
TO DAMAGE: roll 1d6 and get a 4.   no modifiers. Cross reference gun type 5 at battle range (18”-36”)  is R:1-3 D: 4 K:5-6.

So a 4 is a Disabled result.
 
Sherman rolls a 3 for crew bail out (they stay) and a 1 for damage type (guns or tracks) so tank is immobilised but can still fire its guns.

Infantry AT notes
Infantry hand held antitank uses the same system as other antitank fire but range is limited e.g. a Bazooka range is 6”.

Small Arms fire
Each infantry figure is armed with a Rifle or SMG.  Crew served weapons (MMGs, mortars, anti-tank guns) have a crew of three figures.  Machine guns are classed as a number of infantry figure equivalents e.g. an MMG fires as if it were 4 figures.

Rifle/SMG figures can be combined into fire groups with a maximum of 6 figures and no more than 2” between one figure and the next.  Targets can be anything up to a company or a P or S vehicle.   Machines guns fire individually but do have a target template that limits the number of enemy figures that can be targetted.

SMGs have a maximum range of 6”.  Rifles and LMGs can fire out to 18”.  MMG/HMGs out to 36”.
Vehicle mounted MGs may only fire up to 15”.

Method
·         Roll 1d6 +/- modifiers
·         Check roll against a table indexed by number of figures firing to determine casualties.

Example 1
4 Rifle infantry figures that are moving fire at 6 infantry figures moving behind a hedge.  Range is 10”.
Roll of d6 is a 4. –1 for target in soft cover,  -1 for target moving, -1 for firer moving,  +1 for rifles at this range.   This is a final die of  2 with 4 figures firing, which is 1 casualty.

Example 2
Stationary German MMG opens up on 4 figures that can be covered by the template crossing the road.  Range is 30”.
Roll of d6 is a 5.  –1 target is moving, +1 for MMG at this range.
Final die roll of 5 with 4 figures (MMG equivalent) is 2 casualties.

Close Quarters Phase
Must be in base to base contact with enemy.  Split into melee groups by company that are in base to base contact.
Roll 1d6 per side for each melee and add modifiers.

Highest score wins and loses 1 figure.  Loser loses 3 figures.  On a tie both lose a figure.
Loser must withdraw immediately move one move distance back or one room (if in building).
Winner may move up to 3” inches immediately.

Morale

Basic Morale (Company level)
Basic morale tests are taken at the company or tank regiment level and is based on casualty loss.
Units are militia/partisan, regular, veteran or elite.  Regular troops will test when they lose 30% of the unit. Veterans at 40%.  Tests occur based on this percentage loss, and for every loss thereafter.  Morale types are also used to modify the initiative roll.

Method
·         Roll 1d6 and add an subtract modifiers

Infantry carry on if score 1 or more.  Negative scores will result in pinning a unit (cannot move) or worse, withdrawing, or even worse, routing.  To advance with a unit that has withdrawn requires a 1d6 roll of 3+.

Vehicles/Artillery carry on  if score of 3 or more.  Lesser scores have effects similar to infantry.

Higher Morale (Battalion/Brigade)

There comes a time when even higher commands will decide it is time to withdraw.  When casualties/withdrawing/routing reach 40% of command size, test and test every time a figure is lost after that.

Roll a 1d6 and add/subtract modifiers.  2 or more is fine.  Lower scores will result in pulling back for a number of turns.

Nationality distinctions
There are various national distinctions throughout the rules.  Examples include:
·         German troops are more likely to get initiative (e.g. German regulars get +1 to initiative roll, British regulars get +0).
·         Germans can close assault with half-tracks.
·         Rules for defying the Fuhrer’s orders of no retreat.
·         The Russian and German Police force.
·         Russian Commissars.
·         Russians before Stalingrad are more likely to break.
·         Germans are less likely to bail from tanks than allies.

Verdict
I liked them when I was playing them. I still like them. At the time I started playing them, in 2001, I had a 20 year background in Tractics, and a little of Combined Arms and Squad Leader for miniatures.  Take Cover! was like a breath of fresh air.  Although it plays with battalions - with 1 figure = 1 squad/section/squadron - it plays tactically more like a  game next level down, so it wasn’t that hard to make the jump.  It is simpler to play than Tractics etc  but not simplistic.  It is a good representation of combat at that level – I don’t know but it is fun to play.  So I can’t really pin down what I did like – kinda ‘old school’, tactically rich, not lots of exceptions in the rules.

Issues
So, what didn’t I like?  Most of them are minor.

Individual figures – moving individually based figures rather than multiple figure bases just takes longer.  Sure, it is easy to remove casualties, but when a battalion often has (excluding crew served weapons that have the crew based with the weapon) over 50 individual figures to move, the game just takes longer.  And Take Cover will often have two battalions on the table.  The solution is to play with just about a battalion a side, which is what I was doing at the tail end of my playing.  I am also thinking of moving the whole system to one level down where a base = 1 section and 1:1 for vehicles.  Will change almost none of the rules except simplify the small arms combat table and possibly increase arcs of fire slightly. 

AFV damage just seemed a little two detailed – damaged could result in crew bailout, immobilised or guns out.  While you can always abstract away and justify anything, this one seemed a little harder. One resolution suggested on the TakeCover yahoo group was just assume damaged vehicles moved at 1/3 rate and were -1 to fire.

Plays mostly like skirmish when it is a battalion game.  Common criticism and also applies to Rapid Fire.  While ignoring it at the time, it does bug me.  After reading through a lot more rules in the last 6 years, I think the game would operate just as well at a  level of detail down with no change to the rules, except maybe increasing spotting and arc of fire arcs.