Well, I played my re-arranged game last night, so if anybody is interested in actual content over WHH release policy, pricing or the merits of scales etc, here are my first findings (with no particular WH axe to grind):
This was a small (called Platoon) game of 250 points per side, played on a 6x4. British Armoured Division vs SS Panzer Division. 7 AFVs vs 4. We started at 7.30 and it was over before 10.30, but we were slow, it being our first game.
Its U-GO-I-GO, with the first turn being determined by a D6 roll off, modified by how many recce units you have (I had 1 and so did the SS) and I won.
First up you roll for command and control, which at this size of game is 1D6+number of command units (in larger games you get 2D6 or 3D6 and will have more command too). I had 1 again. This roll sets the number of units you can activate in your turn. After a few low rolls I started to wish I had more command units or had included the supreme command, which allows a re-roll of the D6 – very useful, but he’s an expensive unit in a 250 point game. But when you only activate 2 units for 2 turns in succession you need one (or better dice).
You then activate units one at time, and each gets two actions. You have free reign here, to move-shoot, shoot-move, move twice or shoot twice (at the same or different targets). This I liked a lot, you can set up attacks, put down lots of suppressing fire with MGs, mortars and HE, then move up with other units. We started by using direct fire actions a lot, and began to realize that it wasn’t so easy. Direct fire requires a spotting check, and if you fail you loose the action, and it’s generally quite hard to hit, especially if you are moving and so are they. Suppressing fire is much quicker and easier, but doesn’t kill stuff. We soon realised that HE shells were far more useful that AP shells in tanks, being good for suppressing and direct fire, whilst AP is direct only. We soon started to run out of HE shells (AFVs have ammo limits). Again, this seemed a cute rule and suddenly made the tanks MGs useful for suppressing too, and made the inclusion of at least 1 supply truck in your force a must – lesson learnt.
So far so good, we ere enjoying the game, moving and shooting away happily. Movement is straight forwards, the detail is in shooting actions.
Easily the best thing (IMHO) was the battle group morale system. There is a pot of counters numbered 1 to 4. Each time you loose a vehicle, a squad or weapons team, or you want to remove suppression, you take a random counter. You keep a running total, and when this gets to your army’s total morale value you have lost - time to withdraw. My total was 18, and after loosing an armoured car, a Sherman and removing some suppression I was already at 9. I knew my opponent had only taken 1 counter, but not his total, which was great. I was obviously loosing, but it added a good sense of tension, and I knew I needed to be more careful – racing the Daimler armoured car ahead for a crafty shot was not a good idea, it just cost me morale.
I have to say the battle group morale system made the game for me, and I’ll definitely be giving it another go. Next time I’ll include some off-table artillery (which seemed very expensive in the army lists – so it better hurt) and aircraft. Its still early days, but I have to say (I know its not fashionable to be positive round here) but it floated my boat - nice level of detail and I think once I’m better familiarized with the rules it will run much quicker, maybe sub-2 hours.
As an added note the army lists don’t seem to draw from real life too heavily. You are described as making an ‘all-arms battle group from a larger division’, and they seem to encourage variety, a bit of everything rather than an over reliance on tanks, although they are flexible enough to built actual units if that’s your bag. I needed more infantry – second lesson learnt.
If I was giving it a rating it would a provisional 7.5-8 on first impressions. I’m looking forward to larger game.
PS. I lost in the end, I reached my breaking point in German turn 6. The Germans had only reached 11 out of 21 and I didn’t get any of his Panzer IVs. Damn those veteran SS, they seemed tough.