Saturday, 15 September 2012

Great War - SB Play test 1 (German v Russian)

I have been fortunate to help out with the play testing of the new version of square bashing. I NEVER played the old version which according to web lore people either loved or hated, but as with most RFCM sets there are good ideas and things which some won't like. The rules are set for the specific period, so I can't draw any comparisons with anything else, and the mechanisms are there to reflect the flavour of warfare in the early 20th Century so each to his own. I have played the new SB and found it enjoyable so as a GAME I am keeping with it. If I want something more technical there is GWSH.
I will not steal Martin's thunder about Army Book contents and rule mechanisms. I will only give you a taste of a game in progress (Eastern Front 1914 Germans vs Russians). The thing with RFCM rules is just that, they can be picked and played almost anywhere, this one is no different. The table size is 4' x 3' or 120cm x 90cm, so it will fit quite easily on the average dining table. The new version keeps with squares but as this is a reduced table size the square size is down from 12" to 6", which is the same as PBI. This gives a playing area of 48 squares. Effects and results affect the whole square which means terrain can be moved out of the way of figures etc in the same way as some other RFCM sets.
Open source info (ie if you look on the RFCM Yahoo group will give you an idea that both sides equal about 600 points and comprise (depending on quality and equipment) 8 - 12 Infantry Units, 1 - 4 Cavalry, Half a dozen MGs and another Half dozen or so Artillery pieces. This should provide a game last about 3 hours (including set up etc) but uses the RFCM stock random count down system which means a game can have as few as 4 turns or as many as 21.
 The two forces in this game (Monday 12 Mar 12) are as follows:

  • 1 Unit of Average quality Cavalry
  • 2 Units of Green quality infantry
  • 8 Units of Average quality infantry
  • 6 MG08 Companies
  • 6 Batteries of 77mm Guns
  • Higher Command
  • 1 Unit of Green Quality Cavalry
  • 1 Units of Average Quality Cavalry
  • 6 Units of Green quality Infantry
  • 5 Units of Average quality Infantry
  • 1 Unit of Veteran Quality Infantry
  • 6 Maxim Companies
  • 4 76mm Field Guns
  • Higher Command
Both sides provide 4 pieces of terrain (which will then be placed by the defender) but each player can only have 2 of each allowable type (amended by specifc items in the army lists) for this game we have Village, 4 Woods, Rough Hill, 2 Low hills; each of which is 12" x 6" in size and can be placed either horizontally or vertically. The other terrain items involved are objectives (4 off including the road junction formed by each side placing a road). I won't go into how the objectives are placed but again this needs a bit of thought by the defender. 
The new version has a pre-battle mechansim to determine the attacker/defender as well altering the deployment areas and in game attributes such as the amount of off table artillery support etc. If you have played Bloody Barons then you get the general idea. Again I wont spoil the rules by showing you how it works but just give you the outcome.......
Unfortunately, despite the best effort of the 1914 Germans, the Russians ended up being the attacker "Along the front" this would mean that the German force should lose about 1 base per unit, which should make the attack a bit easier...In the end the Germans lost a total of 3 bases rather than the 12 I was expecting.....
So onto terrain set up. 

First the defender and attack place roads, with an objective becoming the road junction.
The "barren, featureless desert" with the roads added.

The defender then places the rest of the game objectives (which I have called "The Chateau", "High Wood" and "Hill 60". The actual game has different names etc

Defender placed the rest of the terrain provided by both players (Village, 4 Woods, Rough Hill, 2 Low hills), The attacker was allowed to move 3 pieces of terrain and the battlefield was set

Attacking force deploys (at the top). The bulk of the Regular Infantry and going to try and push up the left flank.

Defenders deploy, one of the battle events allows 2 units to move forward.

Russian advance starts off well, as a point barrage hits the reservist unit in the objective and the assault formation is in the perfect place to attack. The other rounds were over hitting the empty hills and the village.

The attack didn't come off and the attackers were repulsed.

Over on the right flank the Russian Infantry is caught by defending artillery, which punishes the reservist units badly.

German reinforcements begin to arrive and their on table artillery begins to whittle down the attacking infantry.

While the German units on the far left flank have been pushed back in disarray the objectives are still not taken. The Russian attack flounders in the face of German firepower. The defenders have used their assets well to reinforce the position with hasty defences. In a final desparate bid the Russian artillery is called in to clear the last of the defenders from the objective and drops short hitting the assaulting troops, causing a rout and retirement of the Professional and Regular units. This is the end of the Russian assault.

SB and other RFCM rules have a countdown process and then game ended on turn five, for a massive german defensive victory although losses were roughly equal in terms of numbers of troops lost, the Russian regular and professional troops had taken a beating and the reservists were not in a position to clear out the reinforced regular germans with intact support.

Some random Eye Candy

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