Last night at the club meeting, I ran another play test of G.A.M.E.R. (which stands for the attributes of a figure in the game: Guts, Accuracy, Melee, Endurance, and Reaction). I have been pretty happy with the way the infantry rules are working, but I have been needing to give the vehicle rules a good workout. Last night I ran a game that was almost entirely vehicles. It wasn’t a particularly realistic scenario, but it served its purpose. I also wasn’t very accurate on vehicle mixes, as the scenario included some late-war tanks, even though the scenario was set in Poland in 1939.
A column of German tanks was assigned the task of pushing across the board. They were supported by two tank-killer infantry teams, one with a panzerfaust and the other with a panzerschreck (recall that historical accuracy was not part of this event’s objective). The Poles had two 7TPjw tanks, two Vickers E tanks, two TKs tankettes, an anti-tank gun, and an infantry team with an anti-tank rifle.
The game began badly for the Germans, with a Hetzer and a Marder getting knocked out by the two tanks on the far hill in the picture (above). After a while it evened out and was considered a marginal German victory, since they still had two “real” tanks left at the end, and the Poles only had one.
As the objective was to give the vehicle rules a workout, I was glad to see Bill use anti-tank rifle grenades (again, not necessarily historically accurate) and a satchel charge against Chris’ 38(t). I don’t think he ever knocked out this tank, but he immobilized it early. The tank-on-tank action in the center of the table between Geoff and Sam (Germans) and Duncan (Poles) seemed to have about the right feel. Duncan’s Polish AT gun had ammunition trouble or something, because it kept jamming.
Recall from previous posts that G.A.M.E.R. is designed to be played at three levels of “detail” or “resolution,” at the GM’s or players’ choice:
- Low Resolution: All infantry figures in a unit have the same G.A.M.E.R. attributes. Wounds are all the same. Wounds are tracked with markers on the table. Vehicle crews aren’t tracked; if a vehicle is destroyed, all crew are killed. If the vehicle is not destroyed, there is no effect on the crewmen.
- Medium Resolution: All infantry figures in a unit have the same G.A.M.E.R. attributes. Wounds are tracked on the record sheet. Upper body wounds effect fire. Lower body wounds effect movement. Vehicle crews aren’t tracked; if a vehicle is destroyed, all crew are killed. If the vehicle is not destroyed, there is no effect on the crewmen.
- High Resolution: Each infantry figure has its own G.A.M.E.R. attributes. Wounds are tracked on the record sheet. Upper body wounds effect fire. Lower body wounds effect movement. Vehicle crewmen ARE tracked (at one of three levels of resolution, GM’s preference). If a vehicle is hit, card flips are used to determine impact on individual crewmen.
Last night, I wanted to test the crew casualty resolution, so we played played at high resolution for vehicles and low resolution for infantry. My preference will be to play with low or medium resolution on most cases, I think. The extra steps required to determine which crewmen are wounded or killed as a result of a hit is usually not worth the effort. But we tested it last night, and it worked fine. I can see a lot of WWII gamers wanting the higher resolution. It was fun to see that the gunner was wounded or the driver was killed and see the impact on the rest of the game.
We also tried the bog check rule (see previous post). Woods and plowed field are considered “green,” pun intended. When a tank moves through woods or plowed fields, it flips a card to resolve the “green” attack on it. If the terrain succeeds in hitting the vehicle, the vehicle bogs down. I was worried that this would be so frequent that players would get frustrated or so infrequent that players would forget to do it. I think it was about right, but I’ll have to try it a few more times before I decide. Rougher terrain might be considered regular or elite for bog attacks on the vehicle. (This is how I plan to handle mine field as well.) We had a TKs that bogged for three turns, and a German tank bogged down in the woods.
Part of the objective last night was to test the vehicle hit resolution procedure. Geoff said that he had trouble remembering the sequence. Most of the other folks who had played the infantry rules seemed to have picked it up quickly, but clearly G.A.M.E.R. is a paradigm that is different from what players expect.
I had a draft vehicle record card for last night’s game. As a result of the play test, I revised the card. Below is what I think it will look like. When printed in full size, this looks like three 3″x5″ cards. I think that experienced players will only need the one on the top left. They will eventually learn the hit resolution procedure and the effects of a penetrating hit and won’t need the card, so I think that in a practical sense, a player will only need the single card. At high resolution, the players will also need a second 3×5 card with the crew information.
I can see players printing this, cutting it into an L and then folding it to be a single 3×5 card. On the hit resolution procedure card, I tried to show cards next to steps in which you draw a card, and a die next to the step where you roll a die. (There is a d10 on the cards, so you could use a card and read the result instead of rolling a die if you want.) The only “trick” on vehicle hit resolution is that you have to keep track of the hit location card, because if you don’t get a penetrating hit, the non-penetrating results are read from THAT card. You don’t draw a different one.
As a reminder, here is what the infantry (or crew) card looks like:
I think it went pretty well last night, and the players enjoyed the game. Sammy thinks that she likes it without vehicles better. I need to come up with good stats for the vehicles I have in my collection, which I’m not looking forward to doing. I’ll keep plugging away at it. I think this game has potential.