Saturday, August 20, 2016

WW2 West Front 1944 20mm game with the children

Introduction
My 7 yo son has asked to get out my 20mm WW2 toy soldiers and play a game.  He has been asking for the last 5 months but weekend events seemed to conspire to never have enough time to setup and play.  Recently the rest of the family was away for a few nights and I got in some solo 20mm on half a table tennis table.  When they came back, I had packed it up but left it upstairs (not packed away downstairs with other stuff) on the assumption I would get a game in.  Well it all came together; and as a bonus, my oldest daughter (9) was also keen to play.  I got Zombicide earlier this year (long story as I have zero interest in zombies) and have played a few games with my son who I have never seen soooo excited as playing Zombicide.  Zombicide is a co-op game (players are all on the same side against the system).  So I had determined that if I played WW2 20mm it would be co-op.  My solo skirmish game is a d6  version of NUTS! so would be ideal.  I streamlined it is a lot, and very early in the game I streamlined it even more!

Rules
So I had some quite simple rules where you roll to hit, then determine if the hit target was suppressed or KO.  It got hard with the first dice hitting the table.  So changed it quickly to a hit caused the figure to be removed from the table.  And instead of rolling for a reaction individually, just rolled one die for the entire unit that either did nothing, fired back or was suppressed (really easy 1-2 fired back, 3-4 nothing, 5-6 suppressed and retreat).  The chance to hit was simple -  5+, +1 if firer did not move, -1 if target in cover - this was not that simple in reality!  So I just told them what the hit chance was.  4+ but 5+ if you moved, and 6+ if they were in cover.  Close combat was each figure rolls a d6 with 4+ a hit, +1 if in cover, +1 if charging.  Compare hits – winner loses 1 figure, loser loses the difference (up to 3) and retreats. I think that was just about it for the rules.  We were the British and they picked Churchills.  As they are slow, everything moved at 6", 12 inches if you ran (could not fire).  I think that was about it for the rules, Oh, hang on, there was a penetration test when a vehicle was hit.  And there were actually spotting rules – firing and moving units could be seen at any distance, infantry not moving/firing and in cover was 12”. 

Activation was card based - I had one red card for each of our forces and one black card for three unknown German forces.   Card matched their age so there was a 7 and a 9.  when I asked what my card should be, they both simultaneously said "A King!".  I have trained *cough* brainwashed *cough* them well :-)

If you want to know where I am with what rules to use next time, then go to the end as I do discuss future rules a bit more in the Verdict section.

Troops
We were the British. Scale of the game (not that I told the children) was 1 figure is 3 soldiers and distance scale of about 1:300  I gave each of them 10 soldiers, 1 Vickers MMG team, 1 PIAT team and 2 tanks.  My son really wanted some of the German tanks as they looked "awesome".  Or Russians – he picked out a KV-1 and said this must have been a difficult tank to kill.   He did not want Shermans either.  The Churchills were OK by his standard, so we went with them.  I was the Commander with 3 other in HQ and a mortar section.  I did not take much so I could help out running the game.

Son's 7 Platoon on the lest, Company HQ (me) at the top right 

Daughter's 9 Platoon

Table
We setup the table, which they found loads of fun.  I put a hill down, and then I said time to put down some roads and they went wild.  And then I mentioned to put a few houses down, but ended up using lots!  The woods were then put down and ready to go.  

The table - British to enter from the bottom
We picked out 6 objects (jerry cans, animals etc) to represent to unknown German forces.  I got them to place them where they thought would be the best place to be if you were defending the village.

unknown force location and indicative movement directions for the units.  S Platoon should be 7 Platoon, N Platoon is 9 Platoon.
For each of the unknown forces when it was to be discovered I used a roll of
   1-2: nothing
   3-4: 5 enemy soldiers
   5-6: 2-3 tanks, or 5 figures and a tank

My daughter insists on a photo.  We played in the morning and so we ended up not changing out of our pajamas until after the game had finished!  Behind her is the infamous map drawers from where inside I play all my 2'x2' games.

Deployment
The children setup near the entry edge however they liked.  Each had to make sure that one figure was the commander.  They did like having some troops riding on the tanks so there are a few pictures with infantry riding high on the tanks. The objective was to take the town and so we had a quick planning meeting – 9th Platoon to head up the road and clear the woods and right side of the village, 7th Platoon to take the village straight on via the left flank. I would travel with 7th Platoon.

The Game
I took no notes and only took some pictures but will do my best to recreate the narrative.

7th Platoon head out, leaving some behind as a reserve and the Churchills and some soldiers up to the hedge in front.  Measured to the enemy marker – 12”! so we rolled to see what it was – a 6.  I get my son to put out three Stug IIIs.  We rolled to see who go to fire first.  The Germans.  Three rolls and all misses (a 5+ required).  The Churchills fire back and destroy a Stug!  My son (7th Platoon) did manage to roll what seemed like a lot of 6s in the game.  Unlike my daughter with 9th Platoon that had a lot more 1s….

7 Platoon engages with some Stug IIIs.
9th Platoon heads up the road and into the woods.  The unknown force there turns out to be five Germans. Five soldiers of 9th Platoon charge them, but with unlucky rolls sees 3 of 9th Platoon dead and the rest retreat.  But one of the Churchills moves into the woods and kills a few of the Germans and the rest retreat.

Churchill enters the woods to take care of the Germans that killed some of her soldiers.
The 9th Platoon MMG that retreated is unsuppressed and fires at the Germans for no effect – 3 1s.

The 7th Platoon get within 12” of the large house.  It is 5 soldiers.  9th Platoon decides to fire at it with the tanks but only one soldier destroyed.  The Germans fire back and kill off some more of 9th Platoon.  But with combined fire form the Churchills and 9th Platoon, and a little help from a few soldiers of 7th Platoon, the house is captured!

9 Platoon advancing on the right building that turns out to be 5 Germans.
I assault the last Stug with 3 soldiers.  I make up the rule that they each roll 1d6 and on a 6 the tank is destroyed, else 1 soldier is killed and the retreat. I managed to roll a 6 and the last Stug is destroyed.

The Company HQ (without the Captain) assaulting a Stug.

With the last Stug gone, 7th Platoon is still mostly intact and advances forwards with the infantry and a Churchill in support.  7th Platoon managed to clear out the house eventually, losing more soldiers and also the MMG was suppressed and failed to rally.  Leaving the MMG, 9th Platoon (or what is left of it) advances to assist 7th Platoon to assault the read of the village. Note that the unknown enemy force in the burnt out ruin on the edge of the village turned out to be nothing, This leaves the two unknown forces at the rear of the village to clear.

Action shot of my son moving his 7 Platoon forwards (the ruler is from the NZ War Museum from when we did a trip to NZ  last year).

9 Platoon Lieutenant riding the Churchill and leading the remnants of his infantry platoon to help 7 Platoon. 

7th Platoon gets within 12" of one of the rearmost building.  It turned out to be 5 figures and a tank, so I put out the last of my late War Stugs.  just to add an element of danger, I also added in a Panzerschreck team - both the 7th and 9th Platoon still had both their tanks). Shocking rolls by the Germans saw them miss, and the 7th Platoon tanks roll well and brew it up.

The rearmost building - 5 figures, AT team and  a Stug, the latter already knocked out by a Churchill. The smoke on the building is simply smoke coming \out of the chimney that my children put there at the start of the game.  The cow at the rear is the other, and last,  unknown enemy force.
My son fired at the house with the Churchill for no damage, so he charged in with all the infantry he had.  The opposed die roll was about equal and the score was a tie!  One loss each and the melee will continue next run.

the 7 Platoon charges into close combat with teh house, a soldier lost on both sides, and melee conttinues.
Meanwhile, 9th Platoon that was advancing up the centre road also gets within 12" of the last unknown force.  a roll of a 6 sees it being 2 tanks.  I put out two mortars and just to make it a little harder, put out some infantry as well.  While I was getting the Marders out, my some saw an AT gun and said that should go out too!  So out it went right at the rear of the table - it doesn't appear in any of the shots.

The Marders open fire on the advancing 9th Platoon Churchill and knock it out with a lucky penetration roll.  Out first armour loss.

Right next to the previous building (which would be off to the bottom of this picture) the last remaining unknown force it revealed to be Marders and more infantry.
9th Platoon brought up their remaining soldiers (some went the long way around via the wheatfield at the rear) and the remaining Churchill.  Under a combined effort of firing they managed to destroy the soldiers defending the house.
9th Platoon sent three soldiers to try and attack a Marder that was successful (still made it only a 5-6).   They then went on to attack and destroy the crew of the AT gun. The other Marder destroys one of 7th Platoon Churchills. Two armour down.  Luckily, the Churchill manage to destroy the last remaining Marder.

3 soldiers of the 9 platoon assault a Marder (successfully)
Another melee at the other house and another tie!  Three soldiers of the Company HQ have finally arrived and join in. Another another melee and a decisive melee win.  The last of the German defenders run away to fight again another day.

Success at the house.  
We won!

A shot at end game - the two destroyed Churchills can bbe seen, and almost all the British infantry left is in this picture.

But what about the Captain of the Company? The commander setup shop on the top floor of the left flank house.  From there he had a wide view of the table to call in the mortars.  I ruled it would be a 3+ to call them in  So for the next 5 turns of the game I continued to roll 1 and 2s!

..and the PIATS? The PIAT team of 7th Platoon did manage to squeeze a few shots off at some enemy tanks, but missed every time.  The 9th Platoon PIAT team was lost midway during the game as casualties to enemy fire.

Verdict
They had fun. They want to play again. So those two things indicate success.  And I had fun too.  Three successes!  I did not help them out at all, except to tell them whether it was a 4,5, or 6 to hit, and by the end of it they were getting better at knowing 6s were always good!  I think I need to go for more dice or less modifiers.  I have come to realise that my children do so much better with adding and removing dice than with dice modifiers.  e.g. 5, 6 on a d6 is a hit -  roll 2 dice to hit, 1 dice if in cover.  I have been adding and subtracting modifiers to d6s for 35 years and it comes automatically to me - I just know what 4+2-1 is without even working it out any more.  Not so my children. Although I still do want to play One Hour Wargames again with my daughter - it does have addition/subtraction but there are not so many dice rolls, and so she would have time to think it though.  WW2 with 30 figures is a different story.  We have played WarHammer Quest for many years now with modified combat rules where a 5,6 are hits and you roll x dice to hit.  The target rolls x dice for saves (a save ona 5 or 6).  So they are quite familiar with adding and subtracting dice to a dice pool.  I don't really like buckets of dice - anything up to 5 regularly would be fine and more at the odd time is OK.  I also played the Arkham Horror boardgame that also simply adds and subtracts dice from a pool.  I can see the attraction of this now, after 35 years of having a preference for single d6 with modifiers.

Anyway, the next rules I use will be something that adds and removes dice.  I have been looking to play Nordic Weasel's 5Core skirmish for ages and this will be perfect.  So the next game with them will be that.  The 3rd edition is out (wow - has it been that long since it first came out).  I think I will use that over 5 Men in Normandy or 5 Men at Kursk (although I think I will use the activation mechanism from Kursk).  5Core is a tight well defined game and I can then reuse it for sci-fi games.  Kursk has more rules (range etc) and Normandy is not as Streamlined.  They are all good rules and you need to buy all of them!

Lastly...

But here is the strangest thing.  They want to play on a smaller table, and when I say smaller, I mean *much* smaller.  As in 3’x2’. Over the last three years, we have got out my 3’x2’ board about 3 times to play with the toy soldiers.  Not really gaming, just setting them up and pushing them around.  They all agreed that the bigger 4.5’x5’ table was just too big.  I was not expecting that.  We had a discussion and they decided that about 5 figures and 1 tank each should be fine on a 3’x2’ table.  We can still play the same rules – I play with the same movement rates when I play on a 2’x2’ with a section/squad, so 3’x2’ will be fine.  5core will be perfect for this size table and with 5 men and a tank each.  Not sure when the next game will be – we have a busy few weekends ahead.  And my daughter has also started pestering me to play ancients with Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargaming with horses - I mean cavalry - again.