Club Night 01/04/19: France ’44, 15mm IABSM/COC

After the last game of IABSM I was moaning about the card activation and how I thought it slowed things down and increased the chance of you sitting there doing nothing for large parts of the game if you were unlucky in the card activations (or if, as happened to me once, someone forgot to add a card into the deck after coming off the blind). Des had a think about it and came up with a very simple but ingenious way of combining the dice activation from CoC with the core rules.

Activation was much the same as in CoC, 5 dice being rolled, but scaled up: 1 activated a team/section, 2 a platoon, 3 a Big Man 1 or 2 (i.e. a JL), 4 a Big Man 3 (a SL), 5 added a pip to a ‘Bonus’ die, and 6’s went to a ‘Tea Break’ dice. Multiple 6’s were treated the same as in CoC so 2 gave you another go (we used our system of decreasing the activation dice by 1 die every time). The ‘Bonus Dice’ was added to until you hit 6 pips (basically a CoC dice) whereupon you could pick a card from the bonus card deck. As soon as the ‘Tea Break’ die hit 6 – which was added to by both sides’ rolls – a Tea Break was called.

As well as the activation system from CoC we were using a similar support points system and so both sides had a core infantry company and a set amount of points that we could spend to beef things up. We would also be using the Force Morale system too with points lost for ‘Bad Things Happening’.

The scenario we would test these out with was nice and straightforward. Andy and I had to take a small village somewhere in the Bocage country. Facing us was the all singing and dancing  ‘Kamp Gruppe Bartram’ led by Daren. We managed to set up a rather spiffing table with the club’s terrain and Des’ lovely ‘Empires at War’ Normandy buildings (the 15mm versions of the ones seen on this blog before). The main picture below shows our view of the battlefield, and we hit upon a nice simple plan. I would take 2 of our platoons of infantry and push through the orchard to the right of the road whilst sending our recce jeep along the right flank whilst Andy would take our Sherman platoon along the left supported by the remaining infantry platoon. The enemy would be pinned in place once discovered then destroyed.

Things started very well with all of us getting into the swing of the new activation system easily enough. We decided to push my attack through first and soon I had 2 platoons in the Orchard and the jeep barrelling around bocage as it headed for the lateral road on the right. Then the shit hit the fan. My lads in the orchard must have been fresh from England as they failed to spot the PanzerGrenadiers that lined the hedge at the far end of the orchard until they opened up a murderous fire on my Napoleonic looking column. Pretty soon I was in all sorts of trouble as the German machine guns chewed through section after section and soon one of my platoons was pretty much out of action. My return fire was not the best but I did manage to cause some casualties assisted by the company mortars but I was forced to pull back out of sight to regroup and re-asses whilst the Germans slipped away to take up new positions in the village.

Just when I thought things were pretty bad they got worse. My recce jeep bumped into something along the road and I actually felt my jaw drop when Daren gleefully put out 2 Tigers – indeed both Daren and Des laughed at my re-action. I did have a go at one of the behemoths with my .30-cal before scooting back desperately trying to get into cover but both efforts were futile and one of the giant beasts pumped a HE shell into the plucky Jeep.

As the right flank was now well and truly shut down we decided that Andy best get forward on the left so he pushed his Shermans forward followed by the infantry. However pretty soon the sharp crack of an 88 signalled the appearance of 2 more Tigers! The American tankers tried valiantly to take on the big cats but pretty soon their Platoon commander and one other tank were burning. There was one small glimmer of hope though as the remaining infantry platoon managed to creep forwards whilst the tank duel was going on and soon a couple of bazooka teams were in position to get a flank shot at one of the Tigers. If they could get a successful shot away we might just be able to overpower the remaining one with the concentrated fire of the surviving tanks. But it wasn’t to be, the GI’s manning the rocket launchers were just too jittery and their missiles either sailed harmlessly past the massive tank or glanced off the thick steel (how they missed is still puzzling me, just how do you miss a Tiger side on?!!). Daren then turned the Tigers turret on the hapless bazooka men who would have been blasted to atoms if they weren’t close assaulted by a fresh platoon of PanzerGrenadiers.

With this further defeat Andy and I decided that enough was enough, most of our infantry was knackered and our tanks had been well and truly assaulted by the Tigers so we decided to concede defeat. Strangely though the surviving tanks disappeared during the retreat, and even stranger when we tried to get them on the radio to ask where they were we received this message back: ‘Woof, woof’. Odd.

Despite the defeat it was a cracking game and we all agreed that the new activation system vastly improved things and even I said I’d love to have another game so hats off to Mr. Darkin for coming up with the rules, we did come up with a few tweaks here and there but nowt too much which shows how well they worked.  Apart from the rules more thanks to Des for putting the game on and for bringing his lovely village set, the figures and models were Daren’s but now in the collection of Andy which is great as we  will still get to play with them as they are crackingly well done.

If you are interested in the new activation rules at all you can find them here – Des has called them: ‘Oh what a total bummer’: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216703912095462/files/

(I think: ‘I aint been CoC’d Mum’ was better but apparently that’s a bit rude?!)

As it was so nice and we didn’t get anywhere near it in the fight here’s some gratuitous shots of the lovely village! (available from here: https://www.empiresatwar.co.uk/15mm-NORMANDY-KITS.html)