Monday, October 17, 2011

Introducing...Disposable Heroes: Point Blank!

With the imminent release of Iron Ivan Games newest wargame system, Disposable Heroes: Point Blank, I thought I would take the time to post a short 1 turn battle report to show how the system plays.

Disposable Heroes: Point Blank is our newest system and is our first 1:1 individual skirmish set. The rules are designed to allow players to game pretty much any modern fire arms period from WWI all the way up to today and beyond. Players will find that Point Blank allows for fast and intense tactical action while allowing for an almost role play element without all of the complexity of an RPG or traditional overly detailed crunchy simulation. The focus of the rules is on tactical decision making and every player's action can alter the course of a fight. There are rules for infantry, support weapons, vehicles and artillery. The scope of the game is squad level, where players control roughly a squad of soldiers and perhaps a support weapon or vehicle. Players are controlling individual soldiers, weapon teams, and vehicles. Larger games are possible with multiple players, yet even single players can handle two squads. The rules provide lists for WWII, Vietnam, and modern forces.

On to the battle!

For this battle, I chose one of my favorite conflicts: WWII, and one of my favorite periods of the war: France 1940.

The forces:

German Motorized Infantry Squad

Accuracy: 5, Close Combat: 6, Guts: 9/8/7, Training and Experience: Trained +0.

Squad Leader (Sergeant) with MP-38 and Luger pistol.
Squad Leader (Corporal) with Kar-98k rifle.
2x Light Machine Gun team with MG-34 LMG and Kar-98k rifle (assistant).
4x Riflemen with Kar-98k rifle.
Anti Tank Rifle Team with PzB38 and Kar-98k rifle (assistant).
Anti-Tank Gun Team with Pak 36 and Kar-98k rifles (assistants) (led by Corporal).

French Dragons Portes Squad

Accuracy: 5, Close Combat: 6, Guts: 8/7/6, Training and Experience: Veteran +1.

Squad Leader (Sergeant) with Fusil Mle 1916 rifle.
Squad Leader (Corporal) with Fusil Mle 1916 rifle.
2x Light Machine Gun team with FM-24/29 LMG and Fusil Mle 1916 rifle (assistant).
3x Riflemen with Fusil Mle 1916 rifle and 1x rifleman with Fusil Mle 1916 VB grenade launcher.
Panhard 178 Armored Car.

Both sides are roughly 200 points. The system has a points system available for those who like to use them, but it is NOT designed as a tournament style points system. It is just a way of coming up with a number for when you create historically based squads and their worth in terms of rules function only (stats and weapon costs).

My rationale for the French having a higher T&E score is that these are Dragons Portes. The kind of troops in the French Army who had been given special training in combined arms warfare and who had the higher esprit de corps of armored infantry units. Their Gut score is standard reflecting that they might have at one point had a higher morale score but the French campaign in 1940 was not going well, so it evened out.

The German Guts and T&E was based on the idea that they had a higher Guts because they were on the winning side in the campaign of 1940 and were pushing towards a (hard fought) victory, but their T&E was simply trained (+0) to show that while the unit might have had experience in Poland in 1939, with the high casualties in that campaign and the influx of new recruits for this operation, it evened out. What this meant was that the French were better trained, but slightly more shaky in morale, while the Germans had higher morale but were nothing special in training.

One of the fun parts of the game is coming up with interesting combinations of stats that reflect lots of different potential troops types. That way you aren't stuck with "Germans are always elite with better morale". Now you have two dimensions with which to represent troop quality. Want to do fanatical but poorly trained troops such as the Hitlerjugend units in the fall of Berlin? Give them an Elite Guts score (10 scale) but poor Training & Experience (Poor -2). There are tons of possibilities.

The scenario itself is a pretty straightforward meeting engagement type of combat patrol, though the Germans are in a slightly more defensive posture. The table set up is as shown below. The German deployment zone goes down the left side of the table while the French deployment is on the right. The scenario is that a French R-35 has been knocked out on a road leading to a German salient (the crew escaped). The French are attempting to locate and destroy the Pak 36 that knocked out the tank. The French Dragons Portes squad is attacking just as the Germans are moving up troops to expand out of the salient.

Here is the table:

The game began with a roll for initiative. The Germans rolled a 9 and added their Guts of 9 plus their T&E of +0 for an 18. The French lost by rolling a 4 and adding their Guts of 8 plus their T&E of +1 for a 13.

The German player receives 9 Activations he may use during the turn (Guts of 9 plus T&E 0=9). The French also get 9 Activations (Guts of 8 plus T&E of +1=9). The report is a single turn from a game.

German Activation 1: The Germans decide to go first. The German player moves his LMG team up to the corner of the farm shed.

French Activation 1: The French LMG team moves up to the edge of the road looking down a long gulley alongside the road and sees a column of German troops. The French let fly with a burst of LMG fire and manage to suppress one of the German riflemen at the lead of the column.

German Activation 2: The two rifles behind the lead share their Action Points to scatter out of the ditch and onto the road or into the bushes. This leaves the lead and the last rifle in the column exposed in the ditch.

French Activation 2: The same LMG that had suppressed the lead German in the ditch puts more fire downrange. After failing his Gut Check and becoming suppressed, the German player decides to have his rifleman Fall Back. This move allows him to shake off some of his suppression now that he is in a better position away from the deadly hail of fire.

German Activation 3: A second German LMG team moves up into a firing position and is able to set up a Crossfire with the other German LMG team (this makes LMG fire more effective). The first burst does not find its mark, but this Crossfire will come into play later.

French Activation 3: The French LMG team continues to pour fire into the ditch, this time dropping one of the exposed German riflemen, wounding him and removing him from the game.

German Activation 4: The 2nd LMG team begins to bring it's fire to bear on one of the French LMG teams that had been firing down the ditch. The fire causes the French team to become suppressed, momentarily silencing their gun. The German LMG's assistant was able to help keep the German gun in action, despite a jam during firing.

French Activation 4: A French Panhard 178 Armored Car arrives on the scene and moves onto the road. It turns it's turret and finds a German LMG team in the sights. After acquiring the target, the Panhard lets loose with a blast of 25mm cannon and some machine gun fire. The German LMG team is hit and the assistant is wounded while the gunner is suppressed.

German Activation 5: The German player does not like this new French arrival and sends his Anti-Tank Rifle team over to try to knock out this armored threat. The ATR moves up and finds a firing position. He hits the Panhard, but the round bounces off. He then quickly reloads so he is ready to fire again next time.

French Activation 5: The French corporal wants to get the LMG team back into action, so he rallies them by waving his arms wildly and shouting.

German Activation 6: The ATR team once again puts a round into the side of the Panhard. The shot bounces off, but the ATR gunner reloads and lets fly again. This time the round penetrates the hull. The vehicle suffers minimal damage but suppresses the crew.

French Activation 6: The Panhard decides that discretion is the better part of valor and pulls back down off the elevated roadway and out of sight of the ATR team.

German Activation 7: The German LMG fire is beginning to take it's toll. The French LMG team is now heavily suppressed.

French Activation 7: A French rifleman makes a dash forward to attempt to get into a better position.

German Activation 8:The German LMG team's fire is becoming so effective, that the French LMG team decides to Fall Back away from the fire and into a (slightly) safer position.

French Activation 8: A French rifleman lets loose with a rifle grenade at the German LMG team near the shed to try to take them out. The round explodes harmlessly nearby, but does cause the LMG team to be lightly suppressed.

 German Activation 9: The German Corporal rallies his LMG team to get them back into action. They quickly draw a bead on the French corporal who had been rallying his men while standing along the road. The burst misses, but causes the corporal to become suppressed after ingloriously diving off the road and into the ditch away from the fire.

French Activation 9: The French player moves up an LMG team desperately needed to try to wrest control of the firefight away from the Germans. The team moves up into an orchard.

With that, the first turn of the game comes to an end. The next turn would begin with a new roll for initiative. The Germans have taken two casualties, so would be down two Activations on the next turn, and their initiative will be taking a hit. The French are not in a good position, but they have not taken any casualties. However, their firepower is either not in a good position, or is heavily suppressed. It will be hard to tell how the next turn will go.

Will the Germans be able to even the score? What is the Panhard going to do? Do the French have enough maneuver room to bring up their firepower and push the Germans? Where is that Pak 36 lurking? Will the French be able to move some of their rifles into close range and unhinge the German position? Will the Germans launch their own counterattack now that they have suppressed some of the French?

I hope you enjoyed the battle report. This is only a small taste of what the rules set allows you to do. This game went very quickly and the action flows from moment to moment in ways that are tense and challenging. We didn't even cover the use of skill checks or spotting and hidden rules. That will be another game for another day.

Disposable Heroes: Point Blank is a 100 page book crammed from cover to cover with solid gaming action. We hope to release the game at Fall In this year in Lancaster, but this is depending on printing time. As always we will be taking preorders for the book as soon as we are sure we ready to go. Stay tuned!