Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sands of Afrika - WWII Land

Today Bob, Todd and I got together for a short game and play-test of Command Decision: Test of Battle.  I have played and enjoyed the previous three versions of the game and had played ToB in a pair of convention games.  So I finally felt comfortable shelling out the money for the high value bound rule set.  About half of the 216 pages are optional rules, scenarios and data charts for the primary nationalities.  There is a lot of online support at Test of Battle Games ranging from full data charts for all combatants to scenarios to a short "battalion commanders summary."  The author's intent is for a player to run a reinforced battalion at most, though after many years of playing my old group could easily handle a regimental combat team.

Even though the system is an initiative based "I go-you go" game at the platoon level, you still assign orders at the company level for groups.  So what I've found is the limitation for a player is not how many stands he is moving, but how many orders need to be utilized each turn.  Anyway, to the game!
Deutsches Afrika Korps on the move

Each side started with most of a motorized infantry battalion and a company of tanks.  Scale is 1" = 50 yards so most light/medium tank weapons shoot out to 36".  Our playing area was 6x6' with little terrain features.  Since it was Todd and Bob's first game we had no aircraft, off-board artillery or prepared positions.  Figures are 15mm, using for the time being Flames of War bases.  ToB calls for a smaller base though if both are consistently mounted it's not a huge deal.

The British quickly drew first blood when at extreme range, but with a flank shot, they knocked out the German command tank.  Combat and morale are all d10 based and you can sometimes end up rolling quite a few.  The German towed 50L60 anti-tank gun unlimbered on good ground and held up the British for a very long time, eventually taking out a lorrie full of infantry and a Crusader.
Infantry which bailed out stream to the rear past other vehicles

As the British infantry dismounted and started to advance, the Germans scrambled to find a place to get set up.  All the while the ATG continued to plink away, mostly ineffectively, at the British.  The threat here was greater than the execution and British took a methodical approach when they might have swamped the Germans.

The battle swept forward and backward as each side endured temporary morale failures that held up assaults or counter-attacks.  The Germans had a particularly long string of bad dice for all things, though bravely kept their spirits up.

Finally the British elected to force the issue by close-assaulting stationary motorized infantry.  Given the rate of fire for the British (1) and that of the Germans (2+1 for stationary) it should have been a slaughter.  However fate intervened in the form of my mistaken interpretation of the rules and they survived.  What can I say?  It's been two years since I last played.
Close assault while Germans and British tanks burn

The heroic German ATG finally succumbed to a mass of small arms fire and another tank was knocked out by the British 6 pdr. just as the tide seemed to have firmly switched to the Germans.  With each side starting to settle in after losing their aggressive tendencies we called the game.

Reactions were over-all positive, even with my referee flubs so more games will be tried.  Next time we will introduce indirect fire from off-board and hopefully have another player or two. 

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