Close Assaulting a Tank

Ever since last weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about infantry close assaulting a vehicle.  I don’t suppose there are any statistically relevant sources on the probability of succeeding.  There would be so many variables that it would be difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions that could be applied to the game table.  According to wikipidea ( killing a tank with a hand-held weapon wasn’t very common.  The site claims 18,500 silver recipients of the badge (one kill) and 400 gold recipients (five kills), many of whom were awarded the badge a single time.  When one considers the numbers of tanks and infantryman on the Eastern Front, this would indicate that knocking out a tank with hand-held weapons is a pretty rare event.

Still, on the gaming table, we want there to be some chance.  It’s dramatic and fun.  Plus as a career infantryman, I really like the idea of blowing up enemy tanks.

I have three pages of notes in my gaming idea notebook on special procedures for the WWII card-based game, G.A.M.E.R.  It occurred to me last night that special procedures aren’t needed.  Instead, I can use the explosion markers on the cards for another purpose.  There are three sizes of explosions on the cards, small, medium, and large.  These correspond to general sizes of HE:  grenades, mortars, and artillery, respectively.  I also use the large explosion marker to determine if a tank brews up from a penetrating hit.  When a tank is penetrated, you flip the next card.  If the card has a large explosion, the tank explodes.

So here’s what I’m thinking.  A soldier runs up to a tank.  If he only used half of his movement to get there, he can initiate an attack on the tank.  I see three classes of attack:

  1. The attacking soldier has no anti-tank weapons and is hoping to shoot someone through a hatch or vision port.
  2. The attacking soldier has grenades, Molotov cocktails, and other improvised anti-tank weapons.
  3. The attacking soldier has a purpose-built, hand-held, anti-tank weapon.

For these attacks you wouldn’t use the cards to determine where you hit the tank.  The attacking soldier gets to decide between hull, turret, or wheels.  For a class 3 attack, the attacking soldier flips a card and looks for a large explosion.  A success results in a penetrating hit. Otherwise, no damage.  (Or maybe a non-penetrating hit.  I haven’t decided.)  For a class 2 attack, a success results in a non-penetrating hit.  For a class 1 attack, the vehicle must be unbuttoned.  The attacking soldier just fires his pistol, rifle, or SMG at soldiers in the open hatch.  If the soldier can climb up (half a move) and the hatch is open, he could, of course, try to drop a grenade in the hatch.

It needs some testing on the table, but those are my musings for today.

Some New Thinking on the WWII Skirmish Rules

We had a chance to play G.A.M.E.R. this weekend.  All the way home from Charlotte I was thinking about the tweaks I want to make.  Today I spent a little time on the computer making those changes.  I wanted to improve the way hand-to-hand combat worked.  I wanted to make a few small changes to the action deck.  I also wanted to put the effects of non-penetrating vehicle hits on the cards.  Finally I wanted to make a better unit roster.

Changes to action deck cards:

You can see three of the four changes to the action deck cards above.  The first is that I labelled the large, medium, and small bursts  to make it easier for players to distinguish them quickly, especially in their first game.  Second, added one more modifier, or column shift, for firing.  That shift is a shift to the right if the leader is not present.  This might be applied if the leader is stunned, is firing his weapon, is dead, or for whatever reason is not directing the fire of his squad.  The third change was to change the labels on the “table” of bubbles on the top of the card.  They had been labelled E, V, and T for expert, veteran, and trained, respectively.  Since units’ and soldiers’ Guts attributes were labelled Elite, Regular, and Green, this created confusion.  Now Guts, Accuracy, and Melee use the same semantic labels:  Elite, Green, and Regular.

Vehicle combat:

I have codified the process for shooting at vehicles:

  1. Flip a card to see if you hit the target vehicle, just like normal small arms fire.
  2. If you hit, flip the NEXT card to determine the location on the vehicle.
  3. Consult the vehicle record sheet to determine the protection value for that part of the target vehicle.
  4. Roll a d10 (or flip a card and look at the d10 toward the top left) and add the attacking weapon’s penetration value.
  5. If this sum is greater than the vehicle’s protection, the hit penetrates.
  6. Flip the NEXT card.  If you see a large explosion, the vehicle is destroyed, the crew is killed, and the other players rejoice.  If you do not see a large explosion, bad things happen (to be defined).  In addition, roll TWO crew casualty dice.  For each hit indicated on the crew casualty die, flip another card, ignoring cover, to determine which crewman was hit and how badly he was hit.
  7. If the hit does not penetrate, apply the results from the hit location card draw to the vehicle as non-penetrating hit damage.  In addition, roll ONE crew casualty die.  or each hit indicated on the crew casualty die, flip another card, ignoring cover, to determine which crewman was hit and how badly he was hit.  This may result in too many crew casualties for non-penetrating hits, so I need to test it out.  The math seems about right, but still want to see how it works on the table.

A crew casualty die looks like this:  0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2.

Hand to Hand Combat:

Note on the card above that there are the five little bubbles under the cartoony-looking tank.  This is used to determine which target person was hit.  I plan to also use this for hand to hand combat.  Here’s how I think it will work.  Each player flips a card.  The position of the bubble indicates your initial hand to hand value.  In the card above, that would be 5.  Modify this result as follows:

  • -1 if you are suppressed or stunned
  • -1 if you are wounded
  • +1 (for each additional figure, to a max of 3:1) for each extra figure you have fighting a single enemy figure
  • +1 if you are defending some sort of cover
  • + the hand to hand rating of the figure’s weapon.  A pistol or SMG have a positive modifier to hand to hand combat.  A crew served weapon has a negative modifier.

The winner draws a card to determine what type of wound he inflicted.  In addition, the loser is pushed back an inch and the victor has the option of advancing.  In this way, the victor can push his way over a wall, through a door, etc.  If the result is a tie, all figures are pushed back an inch.

I’ve also been considering some sort of roll to close, but instead, I think I’ll let the defenders make a reaction check.  If they pass, they may fire at the oncoming enemy, but they will be stunned in the upcoming melee.

Improvements (hopefully) to the Unit Record:

GAMER is meant to be played at three levels of complexity.  The first two are represented on two unit records shown below.

In the most complex case, each figure has its own attributes, so the card is quite a bit larger.

I actually have a version of this card with the top half upside down so you can print it, cut it out, and fold it in half.  All three cards are 3″x5″ when cut out.  A player would normally command a squad, perhaps more, so he would need two of these little cards.

Chart Card?

Along those same lines, I’ve been see how much information needs to be placed on a chart card.  So far, it’s not much, and it fits on a 3×5 card too.

Extra Dice:

JJ suggested something this weekend, that worked pretty well.  He felt like the attacker didn’t have any advantage.  He suggested that the attacker rolls two activation dice for each of his units.  When a card is drawn that matches either of the numbers, the player gets to decide to use that die and discard the other or discard that die and keep the other.  The decision must be made right then.  This helps ensure that the attacker doesn’t bog down just because of bad luck with the activation deck.  It seemed to work pretty well, and I’m anxious to try it again.  This might be something that applies for the entire game, the first x turns, or until some trigger event occurs during the game.  Still thinking on this one.

Reaction and Opportunity Fire:

I really dislike opportunity fire in games.  It is nearly always abused.  My plan with GAMER was that the player could attempt to interrupt the movement of another unit.  First, the moving unit must move at least half of its allowable move that turn.  Then the reacting player announces that he wishes to conduct reaction fire.  For each figure attempting to react, the player rolls 1d6.  If the result is less than the figure’s reaction number, the figure may fire, but them marks himself as stunned.  This is so that when the figure next activates, he would remove the stun instead of acting, since he essentially took is action early.  Of course figures that are already stunned cannot do this.  The players seemed to think that there needed to be some sort of “wait” or “overwatch” action that a unit could take that would let it fire automatically and essentially pay for the reaction fire in advance rather than in arrears.  This is exactly the kind of thing that gets gamey and annoying that I was trying to avoid, but I’ll ponder it before making a final decision.  I thought what we did worked just fine.

So those are my thoughts for now.  Come by my table at Cold Wars on Sunday morning to see how it plays.

2013 HAWKs New Years Eve Gaming Party

Early stages of "Montmirail"
Early stages of "Montmirail"

For five years now we’ve been hosting a New Years Eve gaming event.  As we’ve moved several times, this is the third venue.  This year’s event featured two full, four-hour convention games.  People began arriving about 1430, we had a break for dinner, we toasted the new year, and finished the second game by about 0100.

The battle commences
The battle commences
"Montmirail" continues
"Montmirail" continues

We started about 1530 with distortion of the Battle of Montmirail.  Montmirail is a Napoleonic battle from the upcoming 1814 campaign book, written primarily by Dave Wood.  In this case, as I am about to wade into the writing of the book for Bear Yourselves Valiantly:  Look, Sarge, No Charts:  Fantasy, Ancient, and Mediaeval, I substituted fantasy figures for the Napoleonic figures.  It wasn’t a faithful substitution.  I have each player roughly 1000 points of figures, which was more figures than would be on the table for the historical scenario.  In addition, the 1000-point armies tend to be a mix of troop types rather than being the infantry or cavalry divisions of the historical fight.  It is supposed to be a 10 turn game.  We only completed 7 turns, but I think that in a convention, with a smaller number of troops, we could fit all 10 turns into a four-hour convention slot.  We have one of the HAWKs who seems to like the rules but who doesn’t like fantasy, so I asked Tank Nickle (one of the BYV co-authors) to bring his Romans and Carthaginians, who acted as opposing commands of humans on that wing of the table.

"Montmirail" was a bloody affair
"Montmirail" was a bloody affair

Victory conditions involved ownership of four towns.  The “French” (consisting of dwarves, elves, and Carthaginians) held one of the four towns but needed to capture one of the other three to win the game.  The “Allies” (humans and goblins) held the other three.  This required the French to be on the offensive.  In the end, the dwarves, elves, and Carthaginians had not captured a second town.  With another few turns two of the three might have been contested, but about 1930 we called the game an Allied victory, tore it down, and set up the next fight.

Orc's Drift
Orc's Drift

Eric Schlegel then set up and ran a fantasy game using his modifications to GASLIGHT, which he calls Mage Light.  The scenario was the British colonial battle of Rorke’s Drift, but the forces were fantasy figures instead.  (This New Years Eve was certainly the night for fantasy transmogrifications of historical battles!)  We, the “bad guys,” with a host of goblins, koblods, gnolls, ghouls, skeletons, orcs, and other assorted units were defending our homeland against the evil rampage of the “good guys.”

Orc's drift as the battle unfolds
Orc's Drift as the battle unfolds

This too was a bloody affair.  A high point for me were when the hill giants defending the wall against the imperialist Ent, turned it into kindling.  The good guys had a cleric who kept resurrecting dead “good guys” and a wizard who kept putting up walls of fire, thorns, and other stuff to slow down our movement of troops within the walls of Orc’s Drift.

Ent and hill giants battle
An ent and some hill giants battle

The battle was going hot and heavy at midnight, so we stopped for 45 seconds to acknowledge the drop of the big ball and toast the new year before continuing the game.  By about 0100 Eric called the game a “bad guy” victory; although, both sides were reduced to fewer than a dozen or so figures.

Bill Sleeping
... It was a long day and night of gaming.

Fighting two, full-length battles worked well.  In past years we’ve run two somewhat shorter events and then had to start a third game around 2230 or 2300.  The HAWKs are no spring chickens, so STARTING a game that late has been somewhat difficult.  We’ve done things like Munchkin or Red Dragon Inn, but even then, it’s hard to start that third game.  I liked what we did this year better; although, it’s good to have those other games in reserve in case a game plays poorly, and we end it early.

We were missing a couple of “usual suspects.”  The Dean’s were unavailable; the Palmers were indisposed; and the Woods were unable to attend.  On top of that, the Priebe’s were busy getting married.  Still we had 12 players for the first game.  Even missing these folks, we had an excellent time.  It was a nice way to ring in the new year.