Tuesday 18 August 2015

WW2 FoF First Playtest

This weekend I was able to do a first run-through of my WW2 adaptation for Force on Force. We didn't play through to the end of the scenario, because the friend with whom I was playing had his own set of rules he wanted to playtest as well, but I did learn some things in the course of running the game. I'll put together another post with my updated rules ideas, but for now, here are some photos from the game.

The first revealed Canadian troops approach St. Lambert through the fields.

The Germans can see several groups of troops and one tank in the fields, but there is a lot of movement elsewhere that hasn't been identified yet.

View from the church steeple on the approaching Canadians.

Three Sherman tanks and a Universal Carrier race across the fields past a wiped-out mortar team, trying to find a weak spot in the German defense.

SS Panzergrenadiers fight through some minor wounds to repel the oncoming Canadians.

A Canadian section approaches the Town Hall, revealing one of the German tokens as a dummy.

One Sherman tries to sneak around the town hall, but a massive Tiger tank crashes through a garden wall and opens fire. Luckily for the Sherman crew, the shot ricochets and does no harm.

After much exchange of fire between the Germans in the town and the Canadians in the field, casualties begin to mount.

A Panzer Mark IV emerges from hiding and heads off the other Shermans at the crossroad, again failing to do any damage.

And that's where we left it. We played for somewhere around 2 hours, and I think that with another 2 hours we probably could have finished off the scenario. My only regret is that I wasn't able to blow up any tanks with the Tiger!

Friday 14 August 2015

Force On Force in World War 2


This post marks the start of my venture into converting Force on Force to use in WW2 battles. I'll post my thoughts and whatever work I do with converting the rules here, or in follow-on posts, mainly to collect my ideas in one place, but also so that anyone else who is working on the same idea may find it useful.

Why Force On Force? There are a few reasons I prefer these rules: first, and most importantly, it's very interactive. Everybody is making decisions all the time. You are never left sitting there, looking at the pretty pictures in a sourcebook for forty-five minutes while your opponent plays out his entire turn. Second, the rules are entirely scenario-based. There are no points lists, and winning the scenario depends entirely on achieving your (non-abstract) objectives. Third, it just feels right. Firefights are frantic, you have to constantly try to gauge your opponent's strategy and evolve your own, and everything you do matters. It's fine-grained enough that there's room for detailed planning if you want, but it never feels like it's bogging down into minutiae.

House Rules

There are a few particulars in which the WW2 scenarios I want to play were quite different from the sorts of modern fights that FoF typically represents:

Larger Actions: WW2 was (mainly) a war between organized, uniformed armies. I can easily imagine a lot of situations where the insurgency rules from FoF would be useable (partisan actions, Stalingrad, Berlin '45), but not in the battles I'll be fighting.

Command and Control: The impression I get from reading books on the subject is that soldiers were much less independent in WW2 than they are in modern armies. I'll use the command rules for Irregulars in my games for everyone, where a unit that does not have line of sight to a command figure must make a TQ check to activate. Teams will be exempt. Tokens (see below) will make the TQ test at +1 to the roll.

Weapons: The difference in weapons technology is actually the easiest change to deal with. In WW2, a man with a rifle is the basic 1FP unit, and other weapons and organizations will be extrapolated from there. I have come up with some stats for the support weapons in my first scenario (PIAT, panzerfaust, 2" mortar, etc.) which will appear in the unit's stat block when I publish it.

Vehicles and Armor:  I have taken the stats for the tanks I'll be using in this first scenario from a list compiled by a user on the Ambush Alley forums here. (Registration is required to access the .pdf)

Fog Of War: One thing I think is missing from FoF is a proper fog-of-war system. This gets away somewhat from the FoF philosophy that the scenario represents the action once the engagement proper has already begun, ie shooting has started, but I want to have some maneuver/recon component in my game as well.

There are a lot of ways of achieving this, but the one I like best is using unit tokens. I have some color-coded, flocked poker chips I used as blinds in I Ain't Been Shot Mum, and I'll be using them in FoF for the same purpose. With tokens you have to have some sort of spotting system in place, so here's mine:

Spotting may only be done as a reaction, not an action. Identifying a token requires a successful TQ check using the TQ of a standard soldier of the force. Tokens may spot tokens. The following modifiers apply to the spot check:

spotter elevated: +1
spotter under fire: -1

target in cover/obscured: -1
target in building / prepared camo: -2
target within optimum range: +1
low light: -1
target in optimum range and in the open*: automatic
target fires: automatic

*this can be at any point during the target's turn, even if they are only in the open briefly, such as when crossing a road.

Each force will have one token per section, team, or vehicle. Several 'dummy' tokens will be included in each force's setup also.

More To Come

So that's the current state of my rule adjustments for WW2 Force On Force. I'm sure I will have other thoughts, especially after I play my first test game tonight, with a scenario I have created. I will publish a report and the scenario itself here sometime soon.

Sunday 9 August 2015

A Tiger In Normandy

This coming weekend I plan to run a game of WW2 Force On Force at the Trumpeter club meeting. I have been developing a scenario based on historical actions of the Canadian 4th Armoured Division in St. Lambert Sur Dives, and a key part of the action was the Canadians trying to clear the village while a Tiger tank prowled around inside. Thus, I clearly needed a(nother) Tiger tank. Luckily, I had the Flames of War Michael Wittman set on my shelf, so I just had to assemble, prime, and paint it.

While I was at it, I had a couple of the fantastic TigerTerrain 15mm buildings that were still unpainted in my closet. I pulled them out and I have finished one.

I plan to have a much more thorough write-up regarding my WW2 Force On Force conversion efforts and the scenario I am putting together at a later date. Check this space for future updates.