16 Nov 2016

WW1 Skirmish Rules: Playtest 5

Hi guys,

It has been 2 months since I played my last playtest - or at least  it was 2 weeks back when I played this game and wrote this post. Yup, it took me 2 weeks to put photos in and slightly edit the text I've written while playing the game.

Anyway, the rules were being worked on and have now reached a point where I can confidently call them 'draft 1'. No, not 'version 1', draft. As in they now include more or less everything I wanted in a game and it is time to see how it works out. Scenarios and victory conditions still need to be done, but the core game should be fine now.

For those unaware, the rules are intended to play with something like 20-30 miniatures per side and should (that is the intention, at least) encourage players to engage in melee. If anyone would like to give them a run, please contact me via the form on the right ->->->->->

This particular game, as I imagine it, would look something like this:
1 - Assault troops attack
2 - Defenders launch a defensive bombardment
3 - Defenders counterattack

As usual, I am making things up as I go.

Attackers forces:

4 men Shock unit (assault troops)
4 men Shock unit
4 men flamethrower
4 men light machine gun unit

3 turns after the initial attack, attacking infantry is scheduled to consolidate trenches:

3 units of 4 men with rifles each.

They appear on a roll of 3+, all at once.

Defenders forces:

2 men sentry unit
2 men sentry unit
2 men sentry unit

Additionally, they get support from one off board HMG flanking the trenches.

When assault troops enter first trenches (4" into the defender's half of the table), defenders get an artillery barrage.

The barrage is followed by the main counter attack:

4 men assault troops
4 men assault troops
4 men rifles

They appear on a roll of 4+, all at once.

Additionally, every turn before the main counter attack force arrives (after the bombardment), on a roll of 2+ a local force emerges from the dug outs, attacking from any board edge except the attacker's (randomly determined).

This 'force' consists of 2 men armed with rifles.

Everyone is rated 4+/4+, except both sides assault troops that are rated 3+/4+.

Game lasts for 8 turns, at which point VPs are counted:

Each opponent killed - 1 point
Each opponent captured - 3 points

Attackers control defender's forward sap - 10 points
Attackers control defender's first trench - 20 points
Attackers control defender's second trench - 30 points

Defenders control their second trench - 10 points
Defenders control their first trench - 20 points.
Defenders control their forward sap - 30 points.

THE GAME:


Markers:
Yellow indicates modifier to save due to action or terrain (1-3)
Orange indicates unit activated already (or failed to do so).
Blue indicates 'On guard' status.
Red indicates suppressed units.
Green indicates penalty to saving roll due to terrain

DEPLOYMENT

The barrage has lifted and the six sentries, fortunate enough to have survived the bombardment, have signaled for help at the sight of advancing assault troops.

Attacker has divided his troops (top down): shock unit, LMG unit, flamethrower (paras), shock unit.


TURN 1

I gave the attackers the first turn, given they launched the attack.

Attackers all activated and pushed forward. Shock and flamethrower units are armed with pistols and could not fire. LMG made use of  'marching fire' rule to suppress the forwardmost defenders.
I love this miniature and it fits perfectly as a stand-in!

Defenders were less lucky as the suppressed unit lost its chance to activate and the other two failed to do so and went 'on guard.

TURN 2

Defenders won the initiative and previously suppressed unit activated. To buy them some time, they withdrew and fired their rifles at the LMG unit, as it was standing out in the open. They both missed.

Middle unit also activated and fired at the LMG unit, hit one but failed to produce a casualty (hit was saved).

Last one failed to activate and went on guard.

Attackers had a bit more moderate luck, as upper two units (shock, LMG) failed to activate and bottom two surged forward, flamethrower engaged the defenders. A burst of flame was enough to convince the defenders this battle is lost and they surrendered!
Flamethrower!

Defenders that were on guard now opened fire at the flamethrower unit and killed one of the crew.

TURN 3

Turn 3 marks the timed arrival of the follow up infantry, which failed to keep pace with the assault troops (roll failed).

In the same turn, defenders off-board HMG opened fire in the area in front of the barbed wire, catching all 4 of the attacking units in its beating zone.

The problem: 6" wide corridor at any angle might be a bit of an over kill!

Resolving the impact from bottom up, shock unit didn't lose any of its members and was not suppressed by the barrage; flamethrower lost a member, but was not suppressed; LMG lost a member but was not suppressed; shock unit didn't lose any member but was suppressed.

Initiative was won by the defenders again. Both units activated and fired at flamethrower (1 man killed) and LMG unit (no effect).

Attackers successfully activated flamethrower's lone survivor who jumped over the barbed wire and continued down the trench.

One of the shock units moved to the wire with an intention to cut it, rather than trying to jump over it - this will also make a passage for the reserves that are bound to arrive sooner or later.

The LMG team is making great use of its marching fire as it pushed forward and suppressed another of the defender's units. While this fire can't grant kills, it is a god way to force the defenders to keep their heads down.

Last of the shock units failed to activate and keeps hiding in one of the shell holes!

TURN 4

The reserves arrived!

The problem: I neglected tackling accurate rules for support. In previous games they were unit by unit dripplets and getting support equaled activating the unit. This time, I played it that successful roll for reserves brought supports to table edge (just outside it) and a successful activation would bring them on board.

Defenders won the initiative again, but fail to activate their first unit.

Attackers activated the wire-cutting shock unit first and it cuts the wire sufficiently. Flamethrower's lone survivor activates next and moves forward, eager to lob some grenades. He must have been the last on the list of dedicated bombers, however, as he failed miserably.

Two-left-hands Joe did not pay attention at the bombing practice
Attacker's other shock unit, the lazy one, failed to activate again. As it is suppressed its members simply sit it out in the shell hole. This reverts initiative to the defenders, who activate and kill two of the wire cutting shock troops!

Attacker's LMG activated again and moved a bit closer into what looks like a good position to hold the line from. The LMG didn't fire but two of the crewmen fired their rifles at top defenders, hitting both and killing one.

Only one of the reserves activated and the unit sprinted in one of the old saps, to close in with the defenders.

TURN 5

Defenders won the initiative again and failed to activate its unit.

Keeping the mid defenders suppressed is a good chance to get them to surrender, but the attackers are still too far away. Flamethrower crewman fired, but missed again.

...nor on the shooting range.
All attacking units, except for the two reserves that failed to activate last turn, now activated. Apart from some shooting without effect, they just closed in.

The last remaining defender's unit failed to activated.

The problem:  I have the attackers at the level of the first trench in the sap (flamethrower), but to make it easier to determine who controls the trench, I decided this does not yet count as them being in the trench itself.

TURN 6

The attackers won the much needed initiative this time, and the flamethrower lone survivor activated. Inspired by the thought of a medal, he surged forward and captured the startled defenders!

Prisoners of war!
The top shock unit, that gained a reputation for laziness earlier has now activated and bombed the last defender - time to push forward!

While the board was empty of defenders, some attackers pushed as far forward as possible, while those that failed the activation went on guard to wait for the incoming counter attack.

Yet, even now one of the  reserves failed to activate for the first time.

TURN 7

The defenders have signaled that enemy has broken into one of their trenches! Not long after the rockets were fired, barrage felt on the area.

Mind, as this game is played on such a small area, the bombardment covers whole table, if the defenders would not have all been removed from play by now, they would have been hit as well.

The effects of bombardment were determined from defenders edge towards the attackers as follows:

2 men  shock unit - 1 man dead, not suppressed
1 man flamethrower - dead
4 men shock unit - no casualties, not suppressed
4 men reserves 1 - 2 dead, suppressed
3 men LMG - no casualties, suppressed
4 men reserves 2 - 1 dead, not suppressed
4 men reserves 3 (waiting to enter board) - no casualties. Mind, I rolled for them as usual, seeing they are 'close by', why would they be spared?

The main counter attack does not yet arrive, but from near by, two defenders rushed to delay the tide!

While the initiative was won by the defenders, they failed to activate.

Attackers used the time to find better positions, go on guard and so on - except, of course, for the reserves unit 3, that still didn't show up!

TURN 8

Whistles were sounded as the counter attack force made its approach!

The attackers have not only won the initiative, but also managed to activate every single of their units in the anticipation of defenders' arrival.

The defenders jumped on the attackers and the advancement of two assault troops ended in one of the attackers (lone survivor shock unit) fallen as a casualty to grenades.

Large, 4 men rifles unit that was with the counter attacking force also moved down the safety of the deep trenches, lobbed their grenades at one of the attacker's reserve units and while scoring two hits and forcing a suppression test, failed to get any kills or at least to suppress them.

Small defenders unit failed to activate.

Now, at the start of the game I said the game would last for 8 turns, but as the game has only really started on  the 8th turn, I decided to end it on 10th  (okay 12th at start, but then I got tired of playing and concluded at 10).

Should  the game have ended now, the result would be:

Attackers: sap (10), first trench (20), kills (2), prisoners (12) = 44 VPs
Defenders: second trench (10), kills (7+ 5 bombardment), prisoners (0) = 23 VPs

This seems hardly fair perhaps, as the attackers took so long to initiate the defenders bombardment.
If we also count the troops deployed: 28 attackers versus 20 defenders and add the difference (8) to the defenders (to  even the field), the result would be 44 versus 31, for a good attacker's win.


TURN 9

Defenders won the initiative, but their bombers failed to activate.

Attacker's reserves that were subjected to grenading last turn now returned the favour and killed 2 of the defenders!

Attacker's surviving shock unit moved up some shell holes in the trench system and bombed one of the defenders bombers. As the tradition goes, they scored 3 hits but failed both to suppress the target unit and to remove any figures from play!

The rest of the attackers units either activated and moved forward or failed to do so and went on guard, ready to cut down any defenders bold enough to climb out of their deep trenches.

Defenders, too had a changing luck with activations. Notably, the larger rifles unit activated within assault distance of the enemy, but out of sight. So instead of engaging in melee, they had to move down the trenches and opened fire, killing one.

The smaller of the defender's units now activated  and lobbed grenades at the aforementioned enemy unit, killing another one.
A close up on trench junction. Slovenes were stand-ins for the defenders.

TURN 10

The defenders won the initiative yet again and the larger of the rifle units tried to activate in order to assault the attackers. They failed, which produced an awkward situation.

They were in LOS and within 6'' of the enemy, but there was also a friendly unit within 6" and LOS. The rules state the unit does not surrender if there are more friendly units within LOS and 6" than Enemy units, but as there's 1 of each it surrenders.

Had I gave it a thought earlier, I would delay the activation of this unit, because the attacker might fail his activation and give himself up to the defenders instead. Alas, 2 prisoners for the attackers!

Upper duo surrendered!

Attackers shock unit moved forward just slightly to avoid being confronted by two of the defender's assault units and kept lobbing grenades into one of them, scoring a kill. It is better for the attackers to wear down the defenders (who are the ones attacking at this point), making the melee easier.

Defender's bombers disappointed as they failed to get any hits with their pistols and bombs.

Other unit emerged from the dug out they were in and threw a salvo of grenades towards the enemy shock troops. In all fairness, I forgot to do that with the attacker the turn before. Anyway, they scored 6 hits which were distributed between the 4 men so that two got two hits each and two got one each. Now, they were saving on 5+ and both of the former made it, while both of the latter failed them! Ugh!
¨The explosions were enough to suppress the unit.

The last of the defenders units, the smallest one, activated and moved to the cursed junction, where their friends surrendered to the enemy just moments ago. While they did not surrender, they missed their shots and the lone attacker survived - will he be able to capture them as well?

Well, as it turned out - no. He failed his activation and raised his hands. First prisoner for the defenders!
Attacker surrendered this time.

The rest of the attackers did nothing worth mentioning.

So, after another 2 turns, the end result is:

Attackers: sap (10), first trench (20), kills (5), prisoners (18) = 53 VPs
Defenders: second trench (10), kills (11+5 bombardment), prisoners (3) = 30 VPs

If I continued, the defenders with fresh shock units would defenitely wipe out the attackers at least in the first trench. While LMG is a formidable weapon, it is night useless when troops are fighting in the trenches, out of line of sight.


POST GAME THOUGHTS:

Well,  I inevitably become bored sooner or later when playing solo, but this is not the rules fault. This is perhaps rare with me, but I am VERY satisfied with how the rules work. I was a bit surprised at the power of six sentries, but that was in part my fault for slowly advancing, when I should instead run to the wire, cut it and get across by turn 5 the latest (as opposed to turn 8 as it was).

While there was no melee fought (in the one chance I had, the sentries surrendered before I'd roll to hit), I found surrender rules to work very well. There were not that many prisoners that the game would have been broken and I am really satisfied with them.

Except for grenade salvo (where every member of the team throws a grenade), grenades don't seem too powerful at all, and as for salvo - c'est la vie?

The off board support worked fine, the machine guns are a nuisance more than a real threat and the bombardment, while devastating covers up whole table and can hurt the defenders as well. As the rules stand at the moment, the owning player decides from where to the end of the board bombardment would hit, which is honestly a bit too much of a good thing. Joe offered some ideas for random hits, which I have yet to look into - but so far I am quite satisfied with the saturation of the whole board.

Reserves I am not sure about yet - they would certainly come en masse, but when they fail to activate it is a bit of a buzz kill. Still - why give them free activation?

Lastly, small units of two or even just one man seem to do just fine. This is another great thing, I never understood what good does having 100 miniatures per side do.

I suppose this was another of the long posts, where I mostly talk to myself. If it helps, I finished three initial dollies for my sculpts and started working on the rifley YET again. More on that at a later date!

Thanks for looking,
Mathyoo

31 Oct 2016

WW1 project, update 2

Hi guys,

I have to admit I did not realise I haven't posted in almost a whole month - this is quite horrifying.

I can only apologise for the lack of presence on the blogosphere, I do actually look at a lot of blogs, but mostly fail to comment - and to write my own.

Interestingly, I was not passive in this time, as I kept sculpting the WW1 dollies. The progress was (and still is) slower than I'd like, as every time I hit an obstacle, I take a few days of 'rest'. I gave up on weapons momentarily, to focus on the dollies. The thing here is, weapons are eating up my nerves as I've must've started working on at least 7-8 rifles and I'm still not satisfied. Secondly, the more I work on the dollies the better I feel, as they start to resemble miniatures I want them to look like.


Some of the rifles below:

 From bottom down: a ruler; two of the early ones; two of the 'these will be it' ones. There should be 4 but I lost 2 somehow (don't ask, I got no idea); lastly one that tries different approach and that proved to be too thick.

It was not all in vain, for I learned that 1:50 is too large and they need to be slightly smaller.

Since last time, I ditched the dollies without the cork and I dressed up the two I had on corks. Should you care - I decided they are not good enough and I am now using them to practice on the jackets.

I started working on a new trio of walking, bracing/semicrouching (?) and standing/firing rifle poses. As it takes time to get them from being a confusing wire to something odd to apparent legs, I didn't really feel like photographing or posting them.

Here they are, 2 out of 6 legs dressed up. They are the ones on the corks, while the older two sculpts are below them. Left, walking is supposedly Austrian and the right one is sorta-kinda-hopefully-eventually an Italian.

 Close up on the two 'test pieces':

The photos below are as advanced as I've gotten so far. The legs are 'done' and after I add some bulk to their shoes, I will probably start working on another 3 poses. The idea is to have these legs cast in resin and use them to build up both Austrian and Italian uniforms out of them. That's why I won't be working on the torso.

 Back photo here. It is amazing how hard it is to make folds look good.

 Here is a close up on Austrian uniform. It lacks some medals (really), ammo pouches and that's about it. It also needs some clean up around the pockets and I will have to find a better way to do the characteristic flaps.

 I've mad another face today, it still appears slightly too narrow. I am a horrible judge of scale and I can't really figure out what could I do to have it appear wider, but not larger.
 Compared to UFM East German sniper. I suppose my miniature is '28mm to the eyes', which is a welcome surprise.
 And again with the Italian uniform that unfortunately doesn't get as much attention as the other one.

That is pretty much it, if I'd really try, I should have another 3 sets of legs finished by mid month. I suppose it does get easier with time.

Lastly, you might have noticed (I know you didn't!), the photos are a lot brighter. That is because I am a proud owner of a new LED white light lamp. Not to brag, but as the luck would have it, the most affordable one (yup, the one I got, naturally) also had a magnifying glass installed. Now I can both not worry light will dry my paints and putty AND work after 6 pm!

Thanks for looking,
Mathyoo

4 Oct 2016

WW1 Progress - No progress

Hello,

In the past weeks of radio silence project's momentum was lost by other more pressing matters - as one would expect. The  plan is still alive and the time spent on hobby was spent doing some trial and error (by which I mean error). 

I tried myself at all sorts of things, from faces, weapons to bodies themselves.
 I sculpted 6 faces to go with my initial six dollies (that I have since quit working on). They are all a bit too small or at least too narrow - the second from the right being the only one I was satisfied with. And yes, it does look better in person!

The best face with UFM German below. Perhaps the size isn't that bad at all.

  I also realised there is no chance I can sculpt shoes "in the air" and I needed a base to help me sculpt my miniatures from. This is the reason I quit working on the initial 6 dollies, but being raised to recycle, I will cut them slightly and repurpose them sooner or later.
 I also decided 6 is an overkill while I am still finding myself, so I started working on two instead. I also decided to try and look up to Under Fire Miniatures' Germans instead of Great War Miniatures. I began to believe natural poses are what makes miniatures great (even if sculpting is sub par as in my cases), so this is what I am aiming for.

 As you've probably noted so far, I took Ebob's advice and gave paper putties a try. I wasn't too convinced at first, but they give just the impression I want. Unfortunately, I am having huge trouble with consistency and only one leg out of 4 ended up as I imagined it.

The good leg up front, with the other being swollen:

 And another view:
 The other dolly has both of them awfully chunky. I was actually meaning to show them to you then cut them, but have instead decided to finish the dolly - it will be good practice and if miniature ever gets finished it will be fine for my purposes.
 Both together, mind the leftmost leg is the one I am happy with.
 What I will do with the next batches is keep the lower legs very slim, but slightly exaggerate the muscle and the curve of the bone when looking from the side. That should hopefully work.

You might notice I didn't talk about shoes at all. I can be brief here: not satisfied.

To keep me interested, I was jumping from one part of the project to another and started working on some weapons and equipment. The latter I didn't bother photographing as there's nothing to show, but here are my rifles.

Bottom up: First test short Austrian; First test long Austrian; Short Austrian; Long Austrian; Short Italian; Long Italian.
 These are between 2 and 2.5 cm long. Carving is "easy" but I have no clue whatsoever how will I make short versions have the same stock as the longer. The best option would be having long versions cast and made smaller, but that's a task that can not really be done at this point.
They are now on stand by as I am gathering courage to work on them some more.

 Sidearms I had more confidence doing as being 4-5mm long and being covered by the hands, they are essentially a rectangle for Austrian and a box for Italian. Should you care, left one is Steyr M1912 that looks (but doesn't really) like Colt pistol and the left one is Italian that should (but doesn't) look like an "Italian luger".

The problems encountered were all expected, so I am not too surprised and I indeed told myself I would sculpt 20 dollies to get 4 decent out if necessary, so I think its best to finish these and work on fixing mistakes with the next batch. I have a very old Miliput and GS to use anyway.

While sculpting prevents me from playtesting the rules, I can say there are nothing but good news in that department, as core mechanics are more or less all done and I am now working on some additional features.

Thanks for looking,
Mathyoo

13 Sep 2016

WW1 project - expanded!

Hi guys,

The WW1 really sparked my interest and now I'm neck deep in the project - and already on the edge of desperation.

The rules I'm working on are slowly taking shape and I started looking out for suitable miniatures for Austrians and Italians (I am aiming for the time around 11th Battle of Isonzo, a prelude to the more famous 12th).

Long story short, I found there aren't any. Brigade Game has Italians and Austrians for 1915, which isn't good enough. Then there are Scarab games, which have lovely characterful miniatures, but I couldn't get myself to like the style (not the quality of the sculpts, that doesn't really bother me that much).

In the end I decided I could sculpt my own. Yes, again. Yes, from the scratch. I started gathering material, being very familiar with Austrians that part was easy. Italians less so, but I slowly gathered enough information to be able to put something together.

To help me with judging scale and style, I bought some Great War Miniatures Germans. While waiting for them to arrive, I was working on one of Ebob dollies I had laying around to give me some taste of what's to come:






The first lesson I learned was premade dollies are no good. They snap and this guy has wire for the arms, for example. His legs are held together by putty alone and I am afraid to touch it by now, as it's all woobly. The other lesson was I convinced myself this is something that could yield results.

By the time my GWM packs arrive, I had a helmet 3/4 done (it is supposed to be a Berndorfer, please). This is where I quit working on him, but I will be using left over putty to slowly have him finished for that 2 minutes rush of pride when a "project" is finished.
 First thing I noticed when I got my GWM Germans was just how large they were. I hereby apologise for claiming Open Fire Cold War Germans were extraordinarily large. As it happens I just happen to have smaller miniatures in my collection!
 Having made some rough measuring, I decided they are both more or less in 1/50 scale, which makes it easier to sculpt weapons to fit. I also noted that Open Fire are far better proportioned and more naturally posed (mind there's quite some years in between the two sculpts - I am not judging, merely comparing). If you stare at them long enough (as I did!), you can see how exaggerated the position of the legs are on the GW miniatures.
Secondly, they are both something like 6 heads tall (as opposed to natural 7-8) and GWM is a lot beefier. In a way, I prefer the GWM as they are easier to paint, but I found it hard to force myself exaggerate both the details and the poses, for better or worse.

Unrelated to sculpting preparations, I was otherwise disappointed in my GWM Germans. Sculpts are lovely and I would love to have more of them, but the casting was horrendous.  Below, you can make out a large flash in the backpack-helmet-rifle triangle. That's just one of many simpler examples.

Secondly, look at the legs on this one. Firstly, notice the best putties I've seen (I told you I stared at a lot of miniatures), they are made to look as if they cover each other. Exaggerated, yes, but they look fantastic. And then notice the cut in the knee, just below yet another piece of flash. I think this could be due to fact the moulds are old and worn out. It was a bit of a joy killer, however, and they probably won't see their turn to be painted any time soon.


 Anyways, using some of the poses as an inspiration, I started twisting the wire. I consulted my charts carefully and did my best to measure them. This is the point where I learned that you can not use (3 years old) milliput, as it cracks. What helps is to mix it with some GS, making it rock solid, yet slightly flexible.

I made 6 poses out of wire, 3 of them looking something like these:


Now, full disclosure, this is the point where I died a bit inside, feeling I'll never make it. The wires just didn't seem right, something was off and I couldn't figure out what would it be. I am fully aware I need to practice, but looking at that wires made it seem as a bridge too far.

Anyway, I pushed on and started bulking out the legs. It is amazing how much better I felt after I've put some muscle on the wire and just as fast as I'd give up, I was full of optimism again.



Having three done, I decided I would only work on 3 at a time at most, anything else is already a burden. And even here one tends to be left out in favour of other two.

For only a short try, I started working from bottom up. Not using corks that would give me a solid base, I found shoes very hard to do and rather  moved on to puttees. The idea is to work from puttees up and if that doesn't quite work, to bulk out the tights first and then work down with a good support.

I started working out how to make puttees. I can not imagine the greenstuff being rolled around a leg as a real puttee, and I generally came up with two ideas. On the photos below, leftmost example is the first one. I simply wrapped the GS around and indicated puttee with a knife.

 It doesn't follow any patterns, but the notches are subtle enough to give what I believe to be a good impression (it honestly looks better in person).  It is hard to get a knife all around to dent it, but it looks great from a bit further away.
 Other examples were done by twisting a thread around the leg, which both gives a clear indication of a puttee being rolled up, and also looks somehow wrong.
 I am thinking what I should do is use GS-milliput mix for a harder putty, so that threat can't cut too far inside and then figure a way for a slightly more consistent rolls. As you can see on the rightmost example, I left far too much space in between the turns, making it awful. Harder putty could also simply be sanded where it would bulge.

While I try to do something every day, I found myself very busy elsewhere just in the time I started working on these! Keeping it fun, I do try to do little at once to make sure I don't start hating them. I plan on working on these 3 up to a certain level and treat them as a practice, hoping the next 3 might fare a bit better. And then 3 after them should hopefully be reasonable and if all is right, I might be satisfied with the 3 after those. Or that's the plan at least.

As usual, thanks for looking, any comments or ideas would be most welcomed!

Mathyoo