Principles of WWII Play Tests August 2022

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Game 6 - Play Test 3rd August

Play testing of Principles of World War II continues.

A German infantry regular infantry battalion and a ‘Foreign’ conscript battalion with a battalion of Panzer IV’s in reserve is defending against a British armoured battalion and two full strength infantry battalions with engineers, flail tanks and close support artillery. The attacking player places 4 possible objectives on the German side of the table then the defender deploys their defences on table. Both players then allocate their objective points and write their orders. The attacker places blinds on table to represent their foot units. Their ‘mobile’ units will advance onto the table on turn 1.

In tonight’s game the British have a rush of blood to the head and try to push all three battalions up the last third of their right hand flank, leaving dummy blinds and their Recon to keep the rest of the German defences occupied. The British traffic jam is further complicated by a German artillery barrage on their main point of advance. Meanwhile, the British off-table artillery and three batteries of Sextons pound the German positions at the crossroads causing heavy casualties. The German unit manages to hold on being left with only an A/T gun facing the British assaults, despite their own artillery barrage falling short and hitting their own defences.

On the right, the British Recon unit is engaged by an 88mm battery, forcing them to fall back while the German Recon move forward to the destroyed town to confirm that it is only being held by a dummy blind.

On the right the British engineers penetrate the minefield and move forward just as the German reserves arrive on table. The German C-in-C hurriedly starts to change orders to move their more experienced infantry from the unengaged right to support the point of penetration.

The game went well and the changes made to firing after last weeks game worked extremely smoothly. So, on the whole the basic game system is now working well with only a few tweaks hear and there to clarify points. The main focus now needs to be on tightening up the ‘Scenarios’ and game setup to make sure they are balanced.

Game 7 - Play Test 6th August

Today was a rematch with the British trying to improve on their performance in Game 6.

This time the Brits took a more considered approach, spreading their units out. The first British infantry battalion, supported by engineers and carrier platoons moved up the right hand flank to attack the German flanking positions. The second battalion formed up in the centre of the table to keep the German unengaged flank from reinforcing their friends. All the support units (SP Guns and mortars) formed up between the two infantry battalions to provide fire support for the infantry attack, the SP guns providing fire while the mortars used smoke to cover their infantry. These were soon joined by the British Sherman battalion who also joined in the fire support roll. The Germans also used smoke to cover their positions to protect themselves from British fire.

The British C-in-C suffered as a series of poor dice rolls meant that there was no off table artillery support for the whole game. But on the other hand the German C-in-C rolled a string of ‘1’s for initiative and failed to get the reserves onto the table until turn 6, and could not move any of the unengaged units to support their friends. This left the one German battalion to face the full weight of the British attack on their own.

In the centre, the second British infantry battalion moved forward, angled to attack the German positions on their right. A German Recon unit moved forward and ambushed a formed company of British, forcing them to deploy. Once the British infantry closed in on the German positions penetrating the minefield the C-in-C changed the armoured battalion’s orders and they moved onto the attack, moving through the minefield in front of the German second position.

At the end of the game the Germans had taken their first objective worth 20 points and were within a move of taking the second position.

Game 8 - Play Test 10th August

After a couple of days tidying issues that came up during the last game we had another play test last night. It was a set piece game with each side having one armoured and two infantry battalions. Both sides placed their objective tokens (3 each) on their opposite side of the table, then deployed their on table blinds (infantry) and recon units. After this each side selected the objectives and allocated their objective points (50 max).

With everything done the British got the first move, pushing one blind toward an objective counter on a hill on their side of the centre line on their right. Another blind ‘rushed’ towards an objective on the hill in the centre of the table only stopping when they reached tactical range of the enemy. A third blind advanced slowly towards a third objective place on the British left. Another blind moved onto the centre of the table and moved forward. The two British recon units moved forward and found the first German infantry battalion formed upon the hill holding an objective in the German deployment area and the second German infantry battalion with both support companies holding the central objective in the German deployment zone. The British failed to get any off table artillery support but their on table 25pdr batteries and an air attack caused some casualties on the German infantry.

In the German turn their recon advanced before they opened up with their two support companies on the British infantry battalions in the open on the half way line causing heavy casualties. The German infantry battalion on their right moved forward towards the crossroads next to another objective on the British side of the half way line, leaving one company to hold the objective on the hill behind them.

Over the next few moves the British infantry battalion on the right stopped once they had taken their objective. The British infantry battalion in the centre suffers heavy casualties, losing two companies and the support coy going down below half strength as the advancing Germans bring them under pressure. To salvage the position the British commander changes the orders for the armoured battalion and moves it forward to support the vulnerable infantry battalion holding the central objective, moving one company onto the hill to block German progress. Three companies of German armour open up on the exposed British tank company, destroying it after two rounds of fire.

The German recon unit advances on their far left and expose the British dummy blind holding an objective and then move on the objective just in case the British had objective points allocated to it. The German C-in-C changes the other recon unit's orders and sends it off to chase away the British recon and to try and advance round the British flank to threaten the British line of communication.

The remaining two companies of British armour force the German infantry on the right back from the crossroads but are brought to a stop when faced by an entire German armoured battalion. Realising they are in trouble the British C-in-C tries to change the orders to their fresh infantry brigade but failed the radio check and the battalion remains holding its position. The German battalion in the centre uses smoke to cover a two company assault on the British infantry company holding the central objective.

At this point the game ended. (We played through the close assault just to see what happened, the one German company did not make it into contact as the British tanks caught them in a crossfire as they advanced. The second company made it into contact but the British held and the Germans had to pull back). At the end of game the Germans held their two 10 point objectives in the deployment area and the British unengaged battalion held a 20 point objective. Both players had 20 points on the central objective but as this was disputed no points were gained. The Germans had slightly fewer casualties so had a narrow victory.

The changes made worked well and the game moved much faster and the look and feel was greatly improved.

Game 9 - Play Test 24th August

The ninth system test game was set in 1943 on the eastern front. A German armoured battle group consisting of one battalion of mixed Pz III & IVs and a battalion of Panzer Grenadiers (1st Coy armoured the rest on lorries). Attached were two batteries of infantry guns and a company of Pz Vs. This totalled 148 strength points. The Russians had two battalions of infantry, one light (two coys T60/70’s) and one medium (3 coys T76) tank battalions. The Russian infantry had two Su76 batteries and two 120mm mortar batteries totalling 220 strength points.

The two sides were conservative in their objective placements with all six being placed in the central portion of the table (max 20 points allocated per objective). The German line of communication turned out to be on their left and the Russian line of communication was in the centre of their deployment area. The Germans, all being mobile units, started the game with only their recon on table and had the first move. The Russians started with their two infantry battalions on table with the two armoured battalions arriving in their first turn.

The Germans chose to attack on their left allocating 20 objective points to each of the two objectives on their left hand side of the table. In their first turn they advanced both their battalions and support forward, taking their two chosen objectives, using one recon unit and two dummy blinds on their left to distract the Russians The Russians chose to spread their forces with one infantry battalion on their left with orders to advance and take the two objectives (allocating 20 pts to one and 10 pts to the other) in front of them (the same two the Germans were heading for). The second infantry battalion was set up in front of the Russian line of communication with orders to tack the central two objectives allocating 10pts to each. Their light armour was ordered to enter between the two infantry battalions to support their attack. The medium battalion was to come onto the table on their far Left to threaten the remaining objectives. Once they had taken the objectives the German armour was to wheel right and move up the table to threaten the Russians. In doing so the German armour (1 Pz V and 2 Pz III/IV coys) clashed with the Russian infantry battalion in front of them and spent the remainder of the game destroying them (by the end of the game only the the support coy and one battery of Su76s were still remaining.

The Russian light tank battalion moved up between the two Russian infantry battalions and, supported by the 120mm mortars and Infantry Support coys, managed to destroy one company of lorried infantry and the 88mm battery but after they close assaulted the German infantry they were attacked in the rear by a German Panzer company. A flight of Russian ground attack aircraft arrived and, when instructed to attack the German armour, hit the Russian T70s instead.

In the Russian centre the infantry battalion easily occupied the two central objectives and ‘dug in’, using their position on the hill to get their support coy and 120mm mortars to fire into the German occupied objective. On the Russian right the medium tank battalion found itself unopposed. Due to their poor radios the Russian C-in-C (rolling a 4 initiative) chose to move personally to the commander of the tank battalion and issue new orders to wheel and attack the German flank. At this point the Germans made an error and did not retire their recon and, at close range of all three Russian tank companies, they were wiped out. The next turn the Russian tank commander rolled a 3 on the initiative roll and with no German units to prevent strategic movement could wheel his command round to the right (30”) to threaten the German flank. In the subsequent moves, although the Germans beat off the Russian light tank battalion with heavy losses, the medium tank battalion moved in to dispute the objective with two companies while the Russian C-in-C took the 3rd company to occupy the Russian line of communication.

In the end the Germans had suffered 67 strength loss leaving them with 55% of their force remaining, with one 20 point objective held, the other disputed and having lost the line of communication left the Germans on 50 points. The Russians started on 220 strength and suffered 92 strength loss leaving them with 59% of their forces remaining at the end of the game. They held 20 points of objectives and lost 20 points and one disputed, giving them 59poins. So as it stands it was a narrow 9 point victory to the Russians.

On the whole the rules worked well and the game is moving at a reasonable pace, a couple of tweaks and clarifications required. The only ‘major’ item we are looking at is maybe putting more emphasis on effective battlefield ranges instead of theoretical weapon ranges, or should this be taken into account by ensuring much more terrain on the table to restrict long range fire etc.

Game 10 Play Test 31st August

After last week’s games we decided to reduce the weapons ranges to better represent battle conditions rather than optimum weapon ranges. So, infantry fire is now reduced to 600 yards and direct fire with larger weapons has been reduced to 2400 yards. To keep the rules simple, ‘effective’ range is half that of the weapon's maximum range. Also, to keep the rules and the weapons tables simple, the army sheet how has the units firing factors pre-calculated for its unit strength on the sheet. This also means that the unit stats can be individually tailored without any negative impact upon the speed of the game.

So, as a test we replayed the same forces as last week but with the changes in place. During the setup phase the Germans ensured there was an objective in the last third of the table so that they have a single 50 point objective they could aim for with their smaller number but higher quality troops. The Russians ensured their objectives were well spread so they could better use their superior numbers. They also spread their objective points over four different objectives.

The Russians deployed one blind on the German main objective and spread their other on-table blinds evenly across the table. The Germans. being mobile, only get to deploy their recon on the table and choose to deploy both on the rear left of the table to restrict any Russian flanking moves. Both players then get to write their orders and allocate their 50 objective points.

In the game the German split their forces into two elements. The tank battalion, supported by a company of armoured Panzer Grenadiers and the two Stug companies and accompanied by the C-in-C to give them more initiative, moved up the right flank targeting their 50 point objective. The second group moved forward from the line of communication and deployed to protect the line of communication and the attacking unit's flank.

The Russian blind on the German Objective turned out to be dummy but is quickly replaced by a battalion on T34s who move forward to engage the German armour at close range. The remaining Russian units moved slowly forward towards the uncontested objectives.

A massive tank battle developed on the right hand side as the two armoured battalions clashed, both sides punching it out for several turns before the Russian units were forced back, allowing the Germans to capture their 50 point objective. The Russian infantry battalion used smoke to cover their advancing infantry and the German Panthers as they moved forward to take the objective in front of the German flanking units.

On the Russian right, their light tank battalion and second infantry battalion moved forward, forcing the German recon units back and taking all the central objectives and forming up to threaten the German flank and line of communication.

At the end of the game the Germans have 50 points of objectives and the Russians take 40 points worth of objectives but loose their 5th objective to the Germans so end up with a net 30 points. The Germans lost 5% casualties and the Russians lost 20% casualties (mostly from their T34 armoured battalion) So, at end of game the Germans win by 145 points to 110 points.

The two main points taken from the game was that allowing a player to put all 50 objective points on one objective makes high quality armies overly powerful as they can focus their power at one point. The second point of note was that ’close assault’ added a level of complication to the game sequence and did not really add anything to the game, so this can be removed and just allow units to get into a close range fire fight.