At the club meeting last night I ran another test of the World War II game, I’ve been developing. I was hoping to test two recent rule changes: assaulting tanks and hand-to-hand combat.
The scenario involved a disabled German tank (mobility kill) between two small buildings. Because the tank could fire on an off-board road the allies were using for supplies, a US platoon was sent to destroy it. Two squads of infantry and a machine-gun section protected the tank. The American players could choose which table edge to enter. They chose the three sides on which the tank couldn’t fire — imagine that! To try to get to vehicle close assault, I didn’t give the Americans a bazooka, just a couple of anti-tank grenades and some anti-tank rifle grenades.
Only two of the players had been involved in earlier play tests, so it was also a chance for me to see how people pick up the rules. Everyone pick them up easily. I don’t have my GM spiel for these rules well rehearsed yet, so I forgot a few nuances that had to be explained during play, but in general, the rules played smoothly, and the players were able to continue when I had to walk away from the table.
We didn’t get to fully test the vehicle assault. The Americans had trouble getting close enough, because I didn’t give them enough forces. Still, one squad got close enough to fire rifle grenades at the tank. Normally only one person in a squad would fire rifle grenades, but again I wanted to test this part of the rules, so I let the Americans fire a rifle grenade with anyone who got close. In this case “close” was long range. As a result, all of the rifle grenades went wide. After the game was over we tried it again. In “post game play,” the rifle grenade hit the tank, penetrated, and brewed it up. Very satisfying.
Half of an American squad rushed the wall the Germans were using for cover. This wasn’t foolhardy as you might expect; they were trying to get to rifle grenade range. This gave me a chance to test the new melee rules. Bottom line: huge success. The two guys who had experienced the earlier hand-to-hand mechanic thought this was a huge improvement. One of the new guys controlled the American squad. His comment was that it was quick, bloody, and decisive. I wanted it to be exciting, and it was.
On the way home, Duncan said his only criticism of the game was that morale resolution didn’t seem to have enough bad effects. This was partially offset by the number of stuns and duck-backs resulting from fire. I’ve been using this set of morale results for three or four games now, and I had come to the same conclusion myself, so Duncan validated what I was thinking. I don’t wan to swing too far in the other direction, but I think I’m going to take about five of the “no effect” results and make them something else. A thought is to make them “all figures stunned” results. This is less punitive than a pin result that can persist for many activations, but it’s something.
I will be running a game with these rules on Sunday at Cold Wars. I was hoping that the cards would be stable enough for me to get six sets printed professionally so that each player can have his own deck. I don’t think I’ll go to that expense until I get morale about right and do a little more vehicle testing.