Monday, October 25, 2010

Turret and Front Armor House Rules Part 1

I've been playing games for a very long time.  And one thing I usually don't do, is house rules.  I've never really found that games need house rules.

I find most people play a game once and immediately say "this game is broken".  Go on any game forum and you are sure too see a hundred topics on how a game is broken and suggested house rules.  How about adapt to the situation and learn.  Most games you don't get a good feel for strategy and rules until you've played it several times.

Having said that,  the one thing that has always bothered me about Flames of War is how useless turrets are in the game.  And until recently Hull mounted guns had an advantage over turrets.  They could just turn their hull but tanks with turrets had to turn their turret.  This made turreted tanks more vulnerable to side armor attacks.  But at least you were using the turret.

In a topic on the FOW forum Phil (creator) came out and said that now if targets where in front of the 180 degree firing arc turreted tanks could also turn their hulls.  They would only have to turn their turret if targets were behind this 180 degree line.  Well now this makes turrets even more useless.  How often are you shooting at targets behind you?  and even if you do, you might turn your hull anyway, or part of the platoon is in front, and you don't need to.

The same thing pertains to Front armor.  If you are in front of the 180 degree arc, you still shoot at the front armor.  Playing a few weeks ago with my friend Quach, he had a tank sitting right on the 180 degree line.  He could not fathom, he still had to shoot at the front armor.  Especially for a game that is WYSIWYG.  For those that don't know this stands for What You See Is What You Get.  In the rules they talk about getting down at eye level to see if you have line of site and stuff.  Well you can't even see any of the front armor from that angle never mind hit it.

I understand this is all for simplicity, but you have these beautiful models, and you are making the game so simple that there is zero point to even having turrets on these tanks.  You might as well glue them down.  I have these beautiful tanks.  I want to see the turrets turned in pictures. Not to mention the rules for turrets that you'll NEVER use.  Like Slow Traverse and Limited Vision.  There was never any point to spending money on the cupola for soviet tanks because the rule never came up.

So, I've come up with a solution that adds a LOT more realism to the game, and makes turrets far more useful...

Change the firing arc to 90 degree's.  45 degree's out each side.  Also change this for determining if you hit the front armor or not.

How are you going to figure that out you say?  Easy.  I have 2 laser levels I used for line of site for other board games.  You put them perpendicular to each other, and boom....instant 90 degree arc you can place on top of your tank.

In the little play testing I've done, I'm finding this to be far more realistic (not that FoW is realistic), puts some choice into the players hands, and makes the turret (and turret rules) useful again.

Take the Diagram to the right as an example.  Lets say the tiger at the top of the triangle wants to shoot at the 6 pdr no. 4 over to his right.  He has 2 choices.  He can turn his turret and fire with his full rate of fire. Or, he can turn his hull and count as being moved (for shooting outside his 90 degree arc) and fire with 1 RoF.  The player now has a choice because if the 6pdr shoots, he will now hit the side armor form there (for shooting outside the tigers 90 degree arc).  And now Slow Traverse also comes into effect because he is turning outside his firing arc. 

If the Tiger was an assault gun in the same situation,  He would have no choice but to turn his hull and be considered moved and shoot with a 1 RoF.

I have also found that rotating your vehicle after moving matters more now.  with the 180 degree arc it never really mattered.  You would just basically face your vehicle forward and pretty much everything is in front of your 180 degree arc.  thus again, always shooting at front armor, never using the turret. 

I find this triangle adds more realism to articles I've read about combat.  Especially against Tigers.  I always read that T-34's and Sherman had to get very close to destroy a Tiger.  You can see by the Triangle, the further away you are, the more likely to hit the front armor.  the closer you get, the more likely to hit side armor.  Where before, you would have to get all the way past the tank, (never mind close) and survive to get a side armor shot on a tiger.  And you'd almost likely have to move at the double to get past it. 

You can also think about it from the point of view of the gunner looking through his firing slit.  He is going to see things of to the side that are farther away, where he won't see things off to the side that are close up.
Since artillery and anti-tank guns would follow the same rules, they would have to really crank their guns to shoot something to the side.  therefor considered to be moving if they are outside the firing range.  Makes movement and placement far more interesting.

The only thing, I think, that I have to work out, is how things will work if the turret is already turned.  but don't think it will be to tough.  I'm going to do some more play testing and then post my official house rules on this in part 2.

This new rule really makes Panthers vulnerable...and not as scary. 

I know the hardcore FoW people will think I'm crazy.  But I'm a gamer as much as I am a historian or hobbyist. The best games are always the ones where there are difficult choices.  Simply adding this firing arc, adds so much choice to how you move and shoot, and makes turrets mean something again.

The more I play with it, and think about it....the more I like it.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fallschirmjäger vs Cossacks

Figured I might as well try to start doing some game reports. Last night Sylvain and I played a fighting withdrawal with Fallschirmjäger defending (Curtis) and Cossacks (Sylvain) attacking.  I apologize if some of the picture aren't that great.  I'm still playing around with flash or no flash.  More on that later I suppose.

Anyway, to start there were so many cossacks Sylvain could barley fit them all on the board.  Definatly cause for increasing the offical board size in FoW with the new intelligence books.  You get way more for point costs now.  and the Russians always got a lot before.  I believe he had to leave the trucks off the board for his Anti-tank guns because they just wouldn't fit.  Good thing for me!

My Fallschirmjäger look pretty bare over there in comparison.  And their numbers would start to get smaller each turn.

This was a very strange but fun scenario.  Maybe the coolest one.  But I think we would need to play it a bunch and adjust tactics.  Its also a good fast one because its not to the death.  Basically the defenders will start loosing platoons on turn 3 as they start to withdraw.  But the Trick is on turn 6 the germans get to start removing objectives.  On turn 7 you remove a 2nd object leaving only 1.  And if the Attacker hasn't taken an object by turn 8, the defenders win.  

 Turn 1 not to much happened.  The Cossacks all charged into the ravine to prepare their assault the Fallschirmjäger defenses.  But 2 German StuG F/8's raced across the bridge to start harassing the german flank.

Turn 2 turned out to be the decisive turn.  The German mortars pinned the Cossacks in the ravine, and they failed to become unpinned.  Something to be said about Kommisars hey Sylvain?  Which he had none this game.  This delay prooved to be fatal in the end.

Turn 3 was more of the same, Cossacks stuck in the ravine while the StuG's continued to beat upon rear units.  Except this time 1 platoon was to leave the field of battle. The Fallschirmjäger decided to pull their front line combat platoon away from the barbed wire, leaving the door open.

Soviet Sturmoviks tried to take on the StuG's but there were just to many Soviet Troops, and the StuG's got near them too quickly.  So the aircraft were waived off.  Sylvain, seemed to think the Russians would be OK with their own troops getting in the way.  "We shoot our own troops all the time, why should aircraft be any different".  But I suppose Russian pilots or more sympathetic then Kommisars.

Turn 4 the Cossacks finally broke out of the ravine, and put them selves into position to launch an assault against dug in Fallschirmjäger.  The Fallschirmjäger continued their withdrawal and pulled out the mortars this time.

Turn 5 the Cossacks moved into position to take an objective and dismounted.  Mean while devastating bombardments continued to rain down.  but the guns were just not big enough to destroy the dug in paratroopers.  The Germans would continue to hold on, keeping their heads down and not attacking.  The StuG's completely obliterated the Soviet Heavy mortars, and moved on to destroy more cossacks in the ravine, and they were getting dangerously close to the front lines.  But this time there would be no withdrawing a platoon for the entrenched Fallschirmjäger.

Turn 6 would see the removal of the first objective.  Freeing up the Fallschirmjäger Pioneers to attack.  Realizing, they were running out of time, the Cossacks made a charge for the 2nd line of defenses.  Unfortunately for them German HMG's mowed them down and beat back the assault.  Feeling that they did enough damage, the Germans withdrew the StuG's.

This broke the cossacks back.  the 2nd objective was removed, and they made 1 last ditch effort for the 3rd objective, but it was to late.  The Fallschirmjäger successfully delayed the Cossack charge long enough for their armies to escape.

This was a very fun scenario.  But seeing how history and this article was written by the victor, I'm not sure Sylvain feels the same.  I would defiantly like to try this one several more times.  I think understanding the scenario a little better the out come might be a bit different.

I think my next article is going to be about my purposed rule changes to the fire arc.  My only pet peve for this game is the lack of usefullness of the turrets.  I know they want to keep things simple, but I'd don't care about simple when you have these beautiful figs to play with.  If you want simple play A&A minis'....that game is awful....sorry Matt.

here are the rest of the pics from our battle.

Monday, October 11, 2010

T-34's and Panzer III J's

Its been a while since I've put something up on here.  I haven't painted much in the last month.  Been pretty busy.  But I've finally managed to finish some more tanks.  Tried a couple of new things here, including using an ink that every raves about.  Winsor & Newton Peat Brown ink.  I must admit it worked rather well.  It's still going to take me some practice.  I'm not going to try and move on to do as much infantry as I can.  I've been avoiding it ever since I started using an airbrush.

One thing I am noticing is that the round soviet star decals are thinker then other decals.  These are the only decals where the edges are picked up by dry brushing.  I don't do these any different, but you can still always see the circle after, where you can't on other decals I do.

Of course my son and his mohawk  had to get into one.