Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Barbarossa – Day One…


I’ve started up a little World War Two skirmish campaign set on the Eastern Front. I recently broke down and finally bought a copy of Weird War II, and started trying to finish up painting some of the 28mm WW2 stuff that’s been sitting around for a while… and somehow got all interested in the second world war again. Over the last number of years I’d gotten quite sick of WW2 having nearly gamed it to death playing WRG 1925-1950, then Crossfire, then Flames of War(hammer), then IABSM, then Disposable Heroes/Coffin for Seven Brothers , then finally Blitzkrieg Commander…. (AND than the occasional skirmish using Savage Worlds…).

I for this game thought I’d try out some different rules. One thing I tried out was the “gritty” damage system from Reality Blurs’ Realms of Cthulhu. I like it; I think I’m going to keep it. I also tried out their “harsh” setting rules – novice players get one benny and no wild die, seasoned players get two bennies and a d4 wild die, veteran (and beyond) players get the regular 3 bennies and d6 wild die. I’m not going to continue with that… I wasn’t sure what sort of wild die to use for “group rolls” and I’d have to keep track of whether npc wild cards were novice, seasoned or beyond (I guess that could correlate with the regular, experienced, and elite stats given in the Weird War II book… but…). Anyway, too much to keep track of in my head so I think I’ll be using the showdown rules for future games (d6 wild die and two bennies for all wildcards).

I also used slightly different character generation rules – usually I run more pulpy two-fisted campaigns and give players one stat and one skill at d10… didn’t do that… they had the normal d4 + 5 attribute points. For skills I reduced the skill points to 10. This is going to be a purely skirmish campaign and the 15 points is really too many – as all the players, knowing it was only going to be combat, would only be spending points on combat skills – whereas anyone playing the role-playing game would (could… SHOULD…!?) be spending at least a few points on stuff not directly related to combat… I also only allowed hindrances that would have a direct tabletop disadvantage… I probably shouldn’t have allowed bloodthirsty… ah, well…

Then there were a few house rules concerning morale and spotting I tried out… I won’t get into that… that’s for another post when I’ve sorted out what I really want to do…


22 June 1941, Somewhere west of Bialystok, Poland

SITUATION

The Germans have invaded! Dive bombers are wrecking havoc with lines of communication and the lack of radios has meant little meaningful communication with higher echelons. Chaos reigns supreme and no one is really sure what to do exactly.

Artillery and Aircraft have harassed the regiment’s positions since 4am and there are now rumours that German tanks have broken through and are rampaging to the rear, but nothing has been substantiated.

The regiment has taken up a defensive position in some low hills and awaiting the advancing Germans – or some news about what is going on and/or what to do!

SCENARIO

The Squad is to patrol a wooded area to the front of their defensive lines to determine if any Germans are present. There are five hidden markers – all must be successfully spotted to determine if there are any Germans there and the size of any force present.

FORCES

Soviet Forces (Elements of the 13th Rifle Regiment, 2nd Rifle Division,I Rifle Corps, Tenth Army, Western Special Military District)

Serzhant Zaitzoff - Wild Card - Gary
Ag d6, Sm d4, Sp d6, St d8, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice d4, Stealth d8, Intimidate dX, Throwing d4
Edges: Rank (NCO), Luck
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty
Gear: Ppsh SMG (Range: 12/24/48, ROF3, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1, Auto)

Rayadovoy Yuri Gelakhov - Wild Card - John
Ag d8, Sm d4, Sp d4, St d6, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 6 (7), Toughness 7
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d8, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Survival d4, Throwing d4
Edges: Brawny, Quick
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty
Gear: Mosin-Nagant Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d4, Reach 1, Parry+1)

Rayadovoy Androv Virgilovski - Wild Card - Rick
Ag d8, Sm d4, Sp d4, St d6, Vg d8,
Pace 6, Parry 6 (7), Toughness 7
Skills: Fighting d8, Shooting d8, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Driving d4, Throwing d4
Edges: Brawny
Hindrances:
Gear: Mosin-Nagant Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d4, Reach 1, Parry+1)

Polish Conscripts - 4
Ag d6, Sm d4, Sp d6, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 4 (5), Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d4, Shooting d6, Notice d4, Stealth d4, Throwing d4
Gear: Mosin-Nagant Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d4, Reach 1, Parry+1)


German Forces (elements of … Army Group Center)

Feldwebel Wulf Deitz – Wild Card
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d6, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Intimidate d6, Throwing d6
Edges: Rock-n-Roll, Command
Hindrances:
Gear:
MP-40 SMG (Range: 12/24/48, ROF3, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1, Auto)
Luger Pistol (Range: 12/24/48, ROF1, Damage: 2d6, AP: 1)

Panzer-Grenadier Fireteam #1
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d6, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Throwing d6
Edges:
Hindrances:
Gear: Kar 98K Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d4, Reach 1, Parry+1), MG34 (Range: 30/60/120, ROF3, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2, Auto, Snapfire)


Panzer-Grenadier Fireteam #2
Ag d6, Sm d6, Sp d6, St d6, Vg d6,
Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 5
Skills: Fighting d6, Shooting d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Throwing d6
Edges:
Hindrances:
Gear: Kar 98K Rifle (Range: 24/48/96, ROF1, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2), Bayonet (Str+d4, Reach 1, Parry+1), MG34 (Range: 30/60/120, ROF3, Damage: 2d8, AP: 2, Auto, Snapfire)


THE GAME


(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)


John getting into the spirit of things wearing my Pilotka.


Gary and Rick


Each of the five hidden parkers were dealt in every turn and could move and attempt to spot like an individual – once spotted any troops that were actually there would be deployed within 5” or within the terrain feature it occupied.


On the second or third turn, the Poles, with their d4 notice, spotted one of the German units sneaking about in the woods (the Germans, due to distance and cover had +8 to their stealth roll…).


The Soviets advancing. They briefly thought they might try to sneak around the Germans who hadn’t at first, spotted them. On the Germans next move they spotted the Soviet squad and set up their MG bipod. I can’t even remember if they got any shots off before he Poles shot them up pretty good. Two riflemen were knocked out and the MG team broke and fell back into the trees.

I think it may have been the Squad Leader, Feldwebel Deitz, that tagged both Rayadovoy Gelakhov and Rayadovoy Virgilovski


Once again it was the sharp-shooting, eagle-eyed Poles that spotted the second German fire team…


…and shot them all to hell…!


Serzhant Zaitzoff moved up and rattled off a couple shots with his SMG knocking out another and setting the surviving MG gunner to flight!


Feldwebel Deitz moved up and tried shooting up the squad at close range and injured one of the Poles. The whole squad returned fire and soakedup all his bennies on one action card and took him out on a second.


The “bloodthirsty” Gelakhov charged up and delivered a killing blow.


The MG gunner from the second team recovered his wits and returned to defend his fallen comrades. He shot Serzhant Zaitzoff – only shaking him – and then got blown apart by the Polish conscript firing squad!?

Gelakhov ran across and bayoneted the fallen Germans from the first team, while Serzhant Zaitzoff put bursts into the wounded Germans. Not sure how those two thugs didn’t end up in the NKVD…?!

A fun game! Over the next week I’ll be working on revising some of the skirmish house rules and painting up some more stuff (which you can see over at The Other Blog).

Next week we’ll be playing on Wednesday (World War Wednesdays!)

5 comments:

Chris said...

A fine report of what looks to have been a really fun game! I haven't played SW but I've looked over the "Test Drive" rulebook. From your report it seems to work well not just for RPG-style play but for straightforward skirmishing as well. Did you find the game "lost" anything by having fewer attribute and skill points?

tim said...

Somewhere on the Pinnaccle website there is a free download of Savage Worlds: Showdown - it's a slightly streamlined version of the game specifically designed for head to head skirmishing.

I have found however that it isn't quite as "tight" as other skirmish games out there and leaves some stuff open to interpretation so whenever I've run stuff with one group of players vs. another group of players disagreements always arise. When I run the games as players vs. umpire/gamemaster (i.e. ME!) it always works out much better.

I actually use a bit of a blend of the two (RPG and Showdown) for tabletop games like this.

In showdown you don't normally make characters using the regular character generation system - there's a point system. Theoretically it is designed to make a "balanced" game and like all other point system... it never works. Anyone with any experience with the system can quickly figure out how to built an invulnerable super-unit that will eat everything else on the table...

I don't think anything was lost not giving the players as many skill points because, as I mentioned, if they were making characters for an actual role-playing game they would be spending skill points on skills like... I don't know... gambling? persuasion? Investigation and streetwise, etc? stuff that never comes up in a straight tabletop skirmish game. They would also take hindrances that only hinder them in a role-playing context (like ugly or quirks - that effect charisma, etc)... I just wanted them to make quick characters that they could use in a straight skirmish campaign that... well... sort of suck!

The characters are certainly going to be a bit less survivable - honestly I'm surprised they all made it through this first game! But The east front was a harsh place where millions of Russians died... As I'm not asking them to put as much into their "characters" backgrounds I don't imagine anyone's going to get too cranky when their characters ultimately do die.

Glassboy said...

I'm gearing up to the same thing and I have managed to get a few other people interested. But I'm gearing it more towards the full Weird Wars \ Hellboy kind of deal than straight WWII. the question I have been asked a couple of times is whether it is worth implimenting some kind of points system. But based on what you've said, I may just insist on people fielding realistic units.

tim said...

Yeah, without some "list restrictions" or rank and file minimums, just using whatever will never work - even if you use a point system that should, in theory, make things "fair".

A fellow around here tried to get a sci-fi skirmish thing off the ground using the Showdown point system and it died before it even got going. The guy organizing it took a unit of light infantry with some heavy weapons and light vehicles and said "here's what I got guys!' thinking everyone would follow suit and make something interesting and playable... instead the next to guys to design your forces looked at his force and made stuff he could never defeat - one made a pumped up inpregnable übertank and the other I think had some star marines in super power armour with force shields that would take care of any heavy weapons that could possibly defeat their armour... or something like that...

If you do the same thing with WW2 and say here's the point system lads; go to it. You'll have one guy show up with a platoon of fallshirmjägers and another guy show up with a KV-2... or something else absurdly unevenly matched - despite the fact that they cost the same number of points...

That's why I'm running this more like a role-playing game. With players being the Soviets, playing agianst me, running the Germans. The players will be given missions to accomplish. To start with they have just the one squad, with the occasional "attachment". Eventually, if they survive, they may end up being platoon/squad leaders each commanding their own squads of extras... Whatever they end up having, as "GM" I can design a mission scenario with SOME measure of "balance" in it.

Chris said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Savage Worlds: Showdown download. I completely missed that somehow on the Pinnacle site. I downloaded it and will definitely give it a read through.