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"Battle of Puffendord at HMGS Little Wars" Topic


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Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2022 11:58 a.m. PST

Battle of Puffendorf: This is a video interview after a game and will explain the overall game and the miniatures and terrain used. None of it belonged to me.
YouTube link

We played four games in 2 days with a 4 hour time slot using the Treadheads Time Competitive OODA Loop concept and rules which are almost finished.

All of the games had pretty much the same outcome. The momentum went back and forth but by the end of the game the US was in a superior position and had stopped the Germans for a historical outcome. The German player had a choice of moving or stopping to engage. By stopping he lost his attack momentum and allowed the US to flank him and call in artillery. While engaging the Germans with the Sherman's the US player moved his M36's into a position to engage.

With a few Panthers and Tiger's destroyed and a few more suppressed by WP hits the German attack bogged down. By having to advance they lost their long range advantage. The Tigers and Panthers on the German right flank would have done better if they kept moving and flanked the Sherman 75's on the hill but they did not. Gamers are used to stopping and shooting and not maneuvering.

All weekend the Sherman 75's were the big stars of the game. Using a Reverse Slope Defense, popping up to shoot WP and then reversing and relocating really frustrated the German player. However, all weekend the Sherman players were pretty lucky with their die rolls and the Germans kept hitting the hull down protection. There were even a few ricochets on the Sherman's too.

One WP shot result was a critical hit on a Panther with the result of the round hitting the cupola of an unbuttoned Panther, no survivors. The Sherman's superior speed and engagement time allowed them to "seize" the initiative to shoot first and then move before the Germans could effectively respond sometimes with only a second or two to spare.

Overall Summary: All players were new and their first time playing a Time Competitive OODA Loop type game like Treadheads (no activations or initiative rules). There were no rules to read. Each player had 4-5 vehicles each to command with 4-5 players per side.

The Germans had one group of Tiger II's, three groups of Panthers and one group of Hetzers which were not on the board set up for an ambush on their right flank. When they fired they revealed themselves. The US had a two units of Sherman 75's (with 3x WP rounds), two units of Sherman 76's and a group of M36 Tank Destroyers. The US had artillery support of 155mm howitzers, the Germans did not.

The game began with no LOS meeting engagement so they moved until a LOS was established and the fun began. The US player quickly moved some Sherman 75's on their left flank to a turret down position (cannot be spotted) by a hill and waiting for the German Tiger's and Panthers to get within range. This allowed them to engage the German Tigers and Panthers without being detected. His Sherman 76's moved up and the M36's hung back to see how the battle develops.

When the Germans got to about 900m the Sherman 75's moved to a hull down position to shoot and the German reacted to engage them by halting. However, the Sherman 75's were able to get their shot off in 3 seconds and then reverse back to turret down and reload taking 4 seconds. The Germans could not react fast enough to get a shot off before they disappeared. The first salvo of WP blocked the LOS on two Tiger II's and a Panther was hit and suppressed. This forced the Germans to stop to engage which allowed the Sherman 76's time to move behind the tree line on the road to flank the Germans.

Gunnery: To shoot a player rolled a D6 with a modifier to determine how long it took to shoot based on historic engagement and reload times. This gave the US a distinct advantage. A Sherman 75 could generally get off two shots before the Germans could engage and shoot. The US was quicker to shoot first because of the fast turret traverse, commander override for traversing and a roof mounted periscope for the gunner which the Germans did not have. Accuracy was determined using a Ranging (first shot at a target), Bracketing (missed Ranging shot) or Ranged In shot (Ranging shot hit of 3+ shots at the same target). Bracketing was more accurate than Ranging and Ranged In gave the best accuracy. Each had their own row on the gun chart in 100m increments.

Highlights for the vehicles over the weekend:

Sherman 75's and White Phosphorus: Each Sherman had 3 White Phosphorus rounds. When fired if they missed we determine if it landed in front or behind the target. If in front the German lost his LOS to shoot allowing the Sherman to maneuver freely for up to 60 seconds while the WP burned. If the tank was hit by WP there was a chance for it to catch fire or the crew to bail out and it was suppressed for 60 seconds (game time, not real time).

This was the first time I used WP extensively in the game. It's a real game changer and increases the Sherman 75 effectiveness. Historically, after Normandy these rounds became available and were used quite a bit and the Germans hated them. I don't know of any other games that do.

Sherman 76's: They were mostly used to move down the tree line (hidden from the Germans) along the road to engage the German on their left flank and then poke through the trees to shoot. However, a group of Panthers had moved up into a tree line and were hidden and ambushed a few. The ones in the town returned fire peeking around a building. However, the 76 AP round could not penetrate the Panther glacis and a few rounds ricochet off the mantlet. Fortunate for the Germans the rounds did not hit the mantlet bottom Shot Trap.

M36: As the Sherman's kept the Germans busy the M36's moved into a firing position. Some were hidden on the other side of the tree line by the road and poked their gun out to fire at the Panthers and Tigers and back out before they could be targeted. Unfortunately, their shooting was pretty lousy. Most of their rounds ricocheted off the Tiger mantlet, glacis and turret side when being hit from the front. They did a good job against the Panthers on their right flank. Their superior speed (45kph) allowed them to dodge out of the LOS before some Panthers got a shot off at them with only seconds to spare. The slow engagement times for the Germans because of slow turret traverse and no panoramic gun sight for the gunner plagued the Germans all weekend.

Tiger II: Surprisingly, they did not have a big impact. The Sherman 75's kept them occupied with WP rounds and artillery barrages. During the weekend three were taken out by WP hits, one disabled by artillery and one KO from a direct hit from a 155mm artillery round. An M36 did take on out with a side shot. They did take out a few Sherman's but most of their rounds hit the hull down protection or the Sherman ducked away before the Tiger could fire. They did knock out an M36.

Panthers: They were the most successful. On the left flank they were in a tree line waiting and knocked out some Sherman 76's but exposed their position. Then the US moved up some Sherman 76's to engage and were able to get the first shot off and then back up behind a building. Unfortunately, most of the rounds bounced off the glacis or ricochet off the mantlet. In one game the US did bring up an M36 to knock out a Panther. On the other flank some lucky WP hits kept two of the Panthers suppressed and knocked out one.

Hetzers: These began the game on the German right flank in an ambush position. They started engaging the Sherman's 75's popping up by bore sighting their gun and getting off the first shot. However, the entire weekend these Sherman 75's were lucky using their hull down protection and lucky ricochet rolls. The Hetzers were somewhat handicapped because of their slow reload time. Fortunate for them most of the WP rounds missed and went long for no effect and hits from the M36 and Sherman 76 bounced off. They were especially hard to hit because of their small size and being in a tree line.

Artillery: The US had artillery support of 155mm guns. The Germans had none. When the US side called for artillery there was a slight delay for radio communications and then the rounds were fired landing 25 seconds later (their Time of Flight based on the range). It was important to get the Germans to stop. This really reflects the problem of firing artillery at a moving target. The US did call in a barrage of WP on the Hetzers in the forest but they moved out just before the barrage landed, lucky for them. All of the artillery was kept secret from the Germans (Fog of War).

Movement: To move they placed a movement marker next to the unit. To halt it took three seconds to decelerate to a halt and removed the movement marker. The movement markers showed which units are moving and which are static. Because of the dense terrain we were not able to use the Virtual Movement Markers the way I normally do but when needed we were able to the second-to-second movement rates when American tanks were attempting to move out of the German LOS before he could shoot.

This image shows how the simultaneous movement works on a second-to-second basis and interacts with engagement and shooting times for a good portrayal of Opportunity Fire without additional rules.

Reverse Slope Defense: The US Sherman 75's used this tactic to safely engage the Germans. Immediately after shooting the Sherman would "Shoot & Scoot" in reverse and disappear in 4 seconds back to Turret Down. This more than anything else and the WP slowed the German advance.

Critical Hits: When rolling a D20 to determine the hit location a 20 was a critical hit (5% chance). Surprisingly, we only had a few over the weekend. One was a Sherman 75 WP round hitting a Panther cupola.

This is an older version of the Critical Hit Chart:

SNAFU's: Each time a unit fired there was a 5% chance of a SNAFU that could be a historic result like a misfire, jam, gunner panics, etc. One result on a Hetzer was the loader was injured by the gun recoil. Another was the gunner had a hard time aiming and took an additional D10 seconds to shoot. Another one was the shot was obscured by the muzzle blast and the player had to use the same fire control for the next shot. However, it did hit so no real effect. A Hetzer had his loader injured by yhe gun recoil and had to withdraw.

This is an older version of the SNAFU Chart:

Ricochets: I analyzed the different target aspects to determine how much of the surface would be rounded enough or a Compound Angle of 70+ degrees to potentially ricochet a shot. When hit, the target player rolled a D20 and if <= the ricochet number the round bounced off for no damage. Rolling for the ricochet chance was one of the highlights of the game. The Sherman 75's players made a number of successful rolls needing only a 1 or a 2.

Air Support: The US did historically have air strikes but I didn't use them as the US was doing fine without them.

What worked:
The players picked up the use of the OODA Loop and how it works pretty quickly after the game started. Using the game clock to tick off the seconds kept the game moving. When a unit's Act Time matched the game clock the player announced his intention to shoot and we paused the game clock for him to do so and it started up again when he finished giving his next order to his unit. However, many times I had remind them to "Play the Loop" and immediately issue their next move or shoot order.

The "Play the Loop" concept just means as soon as you shoot you "loop back" to observe the results (hit, miss and damage) and decide to shoot again at the same target, engage a new one or move. There is no orders phase. Several times I had to remind players as they'd just sit there like in other games waiting for their next "turn". The game system forces you to think and act like a real crew would.

To engage a target to shoot he rolled a D6 with 1-3 modifiers to determine the future turn in seconds when to "Act" (called Act Time in the game) based on historical values. This takes into account turret traverse, estimating the range, aiming and firing. So if they shot and missed at a game time of 2:27 and it takes 9 seconds to reload and shoot again they secretly record 2:36. Their opponent does not know exactly when which creates a realistic Fog of War. I didn't get any complaints about record keeping which was just the Act Time and target ID and sometimes the Accuracy Penalty for a Snap Shot. I did have two former tank crewman play and gave their approval.

We did have a few times when a tank was knocked out one second before it was able to fire, normally a German tank (seconds really count in a Time Competitive game). The Time Competitive system delivers split second combat results without additional rules or die rolls.

We did have one occurrence of two tanks, a Panther and M36, shooting at each other at the same exact second and both hit. The Panther round ricocheted (it was about a 2% chance of that happening) and the M36 round hit the flat part of the mantlet and penetrated without ricochet. Luck was not with the Germans all weekend.

The American tanks fired more quickly than the Germans so I showed the German players how to use the Snap Shot rule (shoot sooner but with an accuracy penalty) and to track targets and bore sight their guns to a specific location to engage those pesky Sherman 75's when they popped up. This took out a few Sherman's 75's when they popped up but most of the shots hit the hull down protection. Using the game clock to tick off the seconds/turns kept the game moving along quickly and the players engaged as no one knew what was going to happen as the game progresses second-to-second.

Running the game: As the GM I took about 10 minutes to explain the game concept, what's different and what will be expected of them. We went over their data cards that are customized for each vehicle to determine the Act Time of when they will shoot and the gun charts that use Fire Control rules just as real guns (Ranging, Bracketing and Ranged In) which determines accuracy. Most of the time I was sitting down.

I had the players using a laser for LOS and a 6 foot measuring stick for ranges representing 1800m (1" = 25m). When situations warranted for new tactics I huddled up the players for that side and explained how Reverse Slope Defense, Snap Shot and Bore Sighting worked and how to use them. It was pretty amusing as one German player had his hands visibly shaking every time he rolled the dice.

The Snap Shot rule allows the player to fire a first ranging shot several seconds sooner but with a +100m accuracy penalty. So if he decided to shoot 3 seconds sooner at a target that is at 700m he uses the hit # for 1000m.

I didn't get any complaints during the game and everyone seemed to have a good time. They really liked how the game progressed second-to-second in a playable and intuitive manner and how simultaneous movement sped up the game without resorting to activations and initiative die rolls. I've had so far six inquires to help in future play testing. Everyone that played will get a free PDF of the intro version of the game and Quick Start rules.

I'll post some in game photos later.

Here is a link to download my Designer Notes: link

I plan on doing a number of Zoom meetings with people that have played the game or want to learn how. That will help in editing and making the rules clear. I plan on attending Historicon, Dice Tower East, GenCon and NashCon later this year.

Thanks,
Wolfhag

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2022 5:14 a.m. PST

Here are the photos of the event:

Left to Right: Sherman 75, Sherman 76, Sherman 76, Tank Destroyer

Left to Right: Tiger II, Panther, Hetzer

Panthers moving out on their left flank

Town Square

Farm

Farmland

Town Square with church

Town where the German started their attack

American Sherman 76 and Tank Destroyers moving up to attack. The Tank Destroyers are poking through the trees to ambush the Germans. At the top of the picture you can see the Sherman 75's in a Turret Down position waiting for the German Tigers and Panthers to come into range and use the Reverse Slope Defense to engage firing WP.

Panthers moving into the trees. The three Panthers with a flame marker have been git by WP shells and suppressed and in cover.

North of the road is the German right flank with Tiger II's and Panthers. The Americans did very well firing WP to slow the attack.

The small markers behind the tanks had their ID #. If the marker was on the rear deck it was moving. If it is on the table behind them the vehicle is halted.

I can't give you the details of the make of the models and terrain as I borrowed them. If you watch the video interview he does go over the terrain and model details.

This is the gun chart we used for the Panthers. There are no die roll modifiers. An accuracy penalty increases the range in 100m increments and an accuracy penalty decreases it in 100m increments. Panthers and Sherman's were large targets with a -100m bonus, Tiger II -200m. The Hetzer is a very small target with a +300m penalty. An Ace crew is -100m and a poor crew +200m.

If a Sherman is being targeted with a Ranging shot at a range of 800m the shooter uses the D20 hit # of 1-14 at 700m but the penetration is 155mm at the true range of 800m.

The Ranging, Bracketing and Ranged In rows are for the Fire Control types. The first shot is always a Ranging shot. If it hits all following shots at the same target are Ranged In. If the Ranging shot misses the next shot is Bracketing. This is translated from the manuals.

The bottom blue rows are for HE, AP and APCR penetration

Thanks,
Wolfhag

doubleones07 May 2022 6:53 a.m. PST

Gorgeous looking game. Those rules look a bit dense for my tastes, but to each his own.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP09 May 2022 7:48 a.m. PST

Dense; yes I get that a lot <grin>

Don't be intimidated. The version we played is about the same one I used when a group of teens that had no war game experience.

To make it easier, each vehicle has a data card with all of the info you need to play the game. To determine how long it takes to execute an order roll a D6 with 0-3 modifiers to add or subtract. There is not much to memorize.

The main thing is to pay attention to the progress of the game and keep track of what turn (game time) we are on. I tell players to think and act like a real commander. The data cards will tell you what tactics and timing to determine when you'll shoot. There are few abstracted rules telling you what you can or cannot do, that's your decision and it's always your "turn" to react and issue/cancel an order.

Wolfhag

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