13 March 2017

A Patriotic Charge!

This past week my father came over to play with some toy soldiers. We decided on Chain of Command (28mm WWII) by Too Fat Lardies as our game for the day and I set about setting up the table.

I set up an entire 12' x 6' table with a river down the middle. We only played one side of the river but this setup allows me to get a couple different games in on the same table. We chose the more built up side to push our figures through.

The table featured a number of buildings, including two churches, fields, walls, a stream, and plenty of foliage.

For the game we pulled out my 1944 SS Panzergrenadiers and my 1944 Soviets. I elected to play the Soviets seeing as they have not yet won a single game and I was determined to break their curse. We then set about performing the patrol phase (scout teams recceing each other) and establishing our jump-off points. With this un-photogenic process complete we chose our support options. Because of the sheer firepower of the SS Panzergrenadiers I was granted 10 support points automatically. The scenario granted me a further 6 and the Germans 3. In the end we each had the following:

Soviet Platoon
1xSenior Leader
3xRifle Sections (10 Men, 1 LMG)

     1xNaval Infantry Squad (10 Men, 1 LMG)
     Pre-Game Barrage

German Platoon
1xSenior Leader
3xGrenadier Sections (10 Men, 2 LMG)
1xPanzershreck Team

     1xPanzershreck Team

With the German's ears still ringing from the bombardment the Soviets brought on the naval infantry section first with the intention of capturing one of the jump-off points in the middle of the table.

In response the Germans deployed a section into the largest church. This was impressive as the pre-game barrage made it difficult to deploy.

The naval infantry advanced around the buildings on the right side of the street trying to stay in cover.

Hoping to block the Soviet advance, the Germans deployed a section off of the target jump point, into and around a small stone house.

The Soviet commander pondered his situation for a brief moment and then decided that more firepower was needed. The T-34 made its debut.

As the German eyes were on the T-34 making its entrance, the naval section managed to scurry one more bound forward. They were now very close to the opposing grenadier section.

With the naval section becoming more of a threat, the German lieutenant made the decision to move across the street to the other section. As he reached the church doors his hat fell from his head. Confused, the Ober sturm furher then heard the crack of a rifle. The Soviet sniper had revealed himself and missed the SS officer. With little hesitation the officer ducked into the church.

This single rifle crack set off a firefight between the naval infantry and the opposing grenadiers. Miraculously the Soviets won the first moments of the firefight and set one of the SS teams running.

The LMG team retreated back behind the stone house. In the next few moments the remaining team in the building would be shot to pieces and sent running as well.

With this victory the Soviet commander deemed the time was right to support success and commit another section, especially since the T-34 crew had apparently decided that it was lunch time.

To counter this move the German commander committed his last section in a paddock down the street. From their vantage point they could dominate much of the center of the town.

However, with the grenadier section on the left currently running away and yelling Mutter, there was the possibility they could be flanked.

Then, as if on que, the crew of the T-34 finally finished their lunch and decided to participate in the firefight. With the fresh grenadier section in their sights, the crew began lobbing HE shells into the enemy position.

With no defence against the incoming shells, the grenadier section was forced to back out of sight. But the German commander was not out of options. Deploying a Panzershreck team into the paddock he fired a rocket at the T-34 but did not destroy it. The incoming rocket had, however, stunned the Soviet gunner.

Sensing that it was time to grasp the nettle, the Soviet commander then charged his naval section across the street into a desperate melee with both the grenadier section and the panzershreck team. Submachine guns roared and bayonets clashed and when the smoke cleared 22 dead men lay on the ground, a lone naval infantry men running down the street in panic being the only remaining witness.

Amidst this carnage the German commander revealed a surprise, he had purchased a second Panzershreck team! In vicious desperation another rocket was fired toward the T-34. Whether due to the bloody sight around them or the tank's bullets striking ground near them, the team's aim was off and the rocket missed. In retaliation an HE shell was thrown at these two hapless Jerries. One of the two men fell over dead while the other remained standing only for a sniper's bullet to take him down moments later.

With these kills both the Soviets and Germans stood on the brink of defeat (both at only 2 morale points) and were finding it difficult to control their remaining forces.

However, the Soviet commander managed to maintain enough composure to attempt a flank with another section. This threatened to undermine what little battlefield control the Germans had remaining. Before the German commander could react to this move a redemption occurred.

Surveying the carnage of the previous few minutes the SS Ober sturm furher lingered in the open for just a moment too long, this time the sniper's round did not miss and with a thud the German officer was dead. This spelled the end for the Germans as their morale promptly hit zero.

I have to say this was one of the more entertaining games I have played in a while, and not just because I broke the curse with my Soviets. Most of the time when I play Chain of Command we view being at 5 or less morale points as pretty much the end of the game. Yet, my father and I played a solid hour with both of use lower than that threshold and it was hilarious. Even though I technically won I would like to think that really I just lost a little less than my father did.

The rules we used can be found here: http://toofatlardies.co.uk/

My father's blog can be found here: http://spqrdave.blogspot.ca/

04 March 2017

Cloak and Dagger

Adam contacted me earlier this week and proposed a game on Friday at our friendly neighborhood gaming store. Agreeing to the game, Adam then told me the details. The game would take place in 2343, two decades before the next generation, along the edge of Klingon space. Remember that this is before the battle of Narendra III so the Klingons have been stirring up quite a lot of trouble. Adam would command a group of Starfleet ships sent to investigate Klingon marauders along the border. I was told to bring an equivalent force of Klingons. To make this game interesting we decided to have the cloaked Klingon ships be represented by tokens such that Adam would have to guess as to my exact fleet makeup.

Adam's Starfleet force consisted of the following:

Excelsior Class Explorer Beta Model - USS Hestia
Constitution Class Heavy Cruiser Beta Model - USS Nero
Constellation Class Cruiser Beta Model - USS Cassiopeia
Soyuz Class Monitor Alpha Model - USS Gagarin
Miranda Class Destroyer Beta Model - USS Renown
Miranda Class Destroyer Beta Model - USS Redoubt
Miranda Class Destroyer Beta Model - USS Resolute
Miranda Class Destroyer Delta Model - USS Cardiff (Saratoga Variant, Counter-Cloak)
Prospero Class Destroyer Alpha Model - USS Coyote (Miranda Variant with 4 Nacelles)
Tempest Class Destroyer Alpha Model - USS Montreal (Miranda Variant with 2 Torpedo Pods)

My Klingon force consisted of the following:

2xB'Rel Class Cruisers D1 Model
6xK'Tinga Class Light Cruisers D9 Model
12xD'Gavama Class Scout D10 Model (Standard Bird of Prey)

As required by the rules we rolled off using the command quality die of our respective flagships to determine deployment. After a series of terrible rolls on Adam's part, he had deployed his entire fleet and I had only deployed 1/3 of mine. This left me with an opportunity. Adam's fleet had two ships that were especially dangerous to me. The Excelsior was a beta model, fitted with powerful sensors and tracking systems that could help to cut through my cloak. The delta model Miranda was also a counter-cloak variaNt, though less powerful than the Excelsior. Adam had deployed his Excelsior in the middle of his line and the Miranda delta on his left flank. This meant that his right flank was more vulnerable.

While it cannot be seen here due to the use of tokens, I had deployed all twelve birds of prey in the middle to distract the Excelsior and her escorts. Meanwhile, my heavier units would swing through Adam's right flank under cloak and close with the Excelsior. That was my plan at least.

As the game began the Klingons spared no engine power in their drive to close the distance with the Starfleet prey. Detecting the subspace signatures of the cloaked ships but unable to get a target lock, Starfleet began to indiscriminately fire photon torpedoes in the direction of the sensor blips. Torpedoes soared across the void again and again as the sensor blips became closer, none achieving any appreciable effect. Then, as frustration grew among the Starfleet tactical officers, a single torpedo struck a target on the right flank. For a few seconds the Starfleet crews waited to see if the ship would de-cloak, but alas, it continued on its way.

In the midst of their flurry of torpedo fire the Starfleet Admiral had seemed to miss two sensor blips on his far left flank that were moving apart from the rest of the fleet, and considerably slower too. Missing this detail was understandable as at that moment, almost as if in retaliation for the single torpedo hit, twelve Birds of Prey de-cloaked at close range and opened fire on the center Starfleet squadron. No critical damage was achieved by this move but shields flared and collapsed on a few ships granting possible opportunities as the seconds wore on.

In order to protect their now damaged forward shields, the Starfleet center squadron turned to starboard. As they did so the Birds of Prey began to swarm about them like locusts. Disruptor fire continued to be poured into the Starfleet ships but again no critical damage was incurred. In response, carefully targeted photon torpedoes (careful of that splash damage!) and phaser banks eviscerated four Birds of Prey.

Meanwhile the USS Cassiopeia, Gagarin, and Coyote had turned into the Klingon left flank, searching the skies with their phasers. After several misses, the tactical officer on board the Cassiopeia (Constellation Class Cruiser) reported he had hit something. Although they didn't know it, Starfleet had just accidentally knocked out the primary sensor array on a cloaked B'Rel Class Cruiser.

On the other flank the USS Nero, Cardiff, and Montreal were finally responding to the two lone blips. They reached out with photon torpedoes and phasers but did not have the luck of their brethren on the other flank.

At this point the Klingon heavy units on the left flank (2xB'Rel Class Cruisers, 4xK'Tinga Class Light Cruiser) de-cloaked and began to fire on the USS Hestia (Excelsior Class Explorer). First came torpedo volleys from the K'Tingas crashing against the forward shields, already weakened from the Birds of Prey. In short order the forward shields had collapsed, scorched hull panels across the saucer section indicating hull damage. Next came the torpedoes of the B'Rel Class Cruiser, the other B'Rel had her sensors knocked out earlier. Crashing into the hull of the saucer, duranium hull plating and tritanium bracers were tossed into space as matter met anti-matter. As the last torpedo landed, the saucer section was a twisted wreck of blackened metal and sparking circuits. Unwilling to show any mercy, the B'Rel then fired her disruptor cannons into the secondary hull of the Excelsior piercing holes through and through, sucking men and material into the black.

After this intensity a number of criticals were required to be rolled for on the Excelsior. Nearly every system went down across the remains of the ship. However, amazingly the ship was left with thrusters, its secondary sensor, and its forward torpedo tubes. Theoretically the ship, what was left of it, could be fought from engineering. Unfortunately the chief engineer, probably the highest ranking officer left on the ship, decided that this was not in his best interest and decided to save the ship. Trailing debris in its wake, the USS Hestia, minus a good portion of her saucer section, limped out of the battlespace at low warp.

Adam reacted to the departure of the Excelsior in the only way he knew how. I think he believes the little pieces of resin can understand sign language. With the flagship gone the rest of his fleet was required to make morale checks as well. In an amazing series of rolls Adam managed to fail seven of nine checks leaving only two ships to prosecute the battle further.

The cowards of the game were lined up after the battle so that they could feel shame together. Over the course of the game Adam hadn't lost a single ship. In fact I had lost four, and yet his fleet ran. That's what I call shock and awe!

The rules we used can be found here: http://metaverse.battlespacepublishing.ca/

Our facebook group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/battlespacepublishing.ca/