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"Look Sarge, No Charts! after action report" Topic


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2,102 hits since 19 Jan 2007
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JHaygood19 Jan 2007 9:25 a.m. PST

I had the opportunity to play Look Sarge, No Charts (LSNC) this past weekend at the small HMGS convention Siege of Augusta in Augusta, GA USA. Everyone that played had a good time.

The battle was setup on a 4'x 6'-ish table and we used 6mm figures mounted on larger bases per the rules. The GM is the same David as noted at the end of the rules so I knew I was in a game with someone who knew what he was doing…<GRIN>

Basically we had a battle set in late 1944 around the Battle of the Bulge period. The table had several hilly areas and there was a lot of woods covering everything. A major road bisected the map running toward a town in the back of the American deployment area. A bridge crossed a river in the town. The German objective was to capture the
bridge in 10 turns if possible.

The Germans had 1 battalion of 3 companies of panzergrenadiers, 1 battalion of 3 companies of Stugs, and 1 battalion of 3 companies of MkIVs. Some recon assets were also assigned as was some off-map artillery that became available several turns after the battle started.

The Americans had 2 battalions of 3 companies each of armored infantry with an attached company of M10s in support. Some off-map artillery was present but only available late in the battle.

At first glance (and in other wargames), all that armor would wipe up infantry post haste. But LSNC is different and I knew it (I was on the only person at the table other than the GM with the rules..<GRIN>) As I was 'experienced' with the rules, I took the tough assignment of the Americans defending and my brother-in-law joined me. 3 other players took the Germans and broke up the commands into a PzGr player, a Mark IV player, and a Stug player.

In the deployment I setup halfway in the woods and covered our whole front with a company of blitzdoughs in each of 3 big, woody areas. A couple of 57mm AT stands were placed in locations that could cover likely avenues of approach and both were lucky to have some hills to sit on to give them some heighth, line of sight advantage as well. The other battalion deployed in the town ready to reinforce as
necessary. The M10s started in a likely supporting place as well, hidden from view.

The Germans deployed 2 companies of their PzGrs forward probing toward my main line of resistance. 2 companies of Mark IVs supported them, weighted toward their left flank. The other PzGrs and the last Mark IVs deployed behind these. The Stugs deployed in column along the main road that ran right into our lines. The recon formations were thrown forward in good positions as well.

The fight started with the German recon doing good work and sighting several of my platoons. They also found a hasty roadblock setup on the main road that would impede movement along that axis.

My men didnt sit idle and we damaged some recon forces in return for spotting all along the German line.

The Germans pressed up with their PzGrs and 2 of my companies became heavily engaged. Spotting was hard for the foot forces but the Germans managed to spot my halftracks rather well. Several platoons of transports went up in smoke and my boys would be walking for some time to come. The Mark IVs on the German left pressed hard ahead and
added their weight of fire to the fight on that flank. The Stugs continued down the road much to my pleasure. Nothing in my opinion was to be had along that axis of attack as we had 2 more hidden road blocks that would have bogged them down forever.

My 57mm section saw the German armor engage and they tried their best to neutralize it. They got off a good round or so and knocked out half a platoon of Mark IVs. They traded fire for the next several turns but with little further effect.

My company on my right flank was taking the brunt of the German attack and it was beginning to tell. Although my blitzdoughs had taken their number in combat, the weight of the enemy was beginning to tell. Finally we broke under the strain and streamed back toward the town. Only the company HQ, 1 halftrack, and 1 platoon made it back into the town. They never rallied unfortunately.

My company in the middle had done yoeman's work and had seen off the German recon as well as a PzGr company and was able to displace distance and put my collapsing right flank under some covering fire.

Much to my pleasure the Germans never pushed too hard again on that flank as my center company kept them guessing my intentions.

The Stugs finally decided enough of the road business and began a long, slogging flank march toward their far right flank. I was under intense pressure from the PzGrs there and they were going to see us off for sure. That is when the M10s and a company from the town plowed into the woods I was just barely holding on to. The PzGrs there broke as did a company of Stugs.

But again the German advantage began to tell. The M10s fell to the main guns of the Stugs and the last PzGr company tried gamely to clear the woods taking my doughboys with them.

The situation became tenuous for the Americans as German artillery started to land in our positions. Our last 57mm AT position fell and some further damage to my left flank company was taken.

We had two fresh companies in the town and my relatively fresh center company in the middle of the map, with a mangled company on our left. The Germans had turned our left flank with 2 companies of Stugs but their PzGrs were on their last legs. The Germans on my right flank had seen off my company there but because of the deployment of my center, they could not advance without taking damage to flanking fire.

The key to me was the loss of the German PzGrs! A couple of times the German armor pressed into the woods against US armored infantry and they were sent packing. The Stugs made a small effort at the town but they too were bloodied by the US infantry stationed there.

Although the Germans could see the bridge, they were at a stalemate on how to take it. We had played 9 of 10 turns and even if they jumped straight at the bridge it would have taken a couple of turns to capture it if everything went well. And we had seen how unsupported armor fared against infantry in cover. We called it an American victory.

The game was a blast to play.

In most wargames infantry are just a speedbump to armor. And in LSNC they are as well if deployed in the open. But infantry deployed in cover are deadly. As it should be. Armor and artillery in an open field can rule the day. As it should be.

LSNC rewards you using your recon to spot the enemy. LSNC rewards you for saving some reserves to fling into the gap if necessary. LSNC also rewards you for supporting your formations with units that cover their brother's weaknesses. As it should be.

Likes:
Spotting Rules! Easy, straight forward, felt realistic, actually fun. My infantry stayed hidden a lot longer than I expected and when they were seen they died. But until then they killed things that blundered too close.

All Stats on the Unit. That kept everyone knowing what was going on without much hassle.

Fun and Quick to play. Felt like a real battle reads. In fact my story above is just what I remember and it jives with what we read in the history books!

Looking forward to my next game. Now you "Get to playing!"

-------------------
"Commence Firing!"
Jay Haygood

CorpCommander19 Jan 2007 9:47 a.m. PST

What does all stats on the unit mean exactly? Are there cards for each unit that contain everything you need? Aren't these, then, charts? Just curious. The system sounds interested to say the least and your narrative was fun to read.

--Pete

Dave Gamer19 Jan 2007 10:05 a.m. PST

On the unit's base you put a strip of card with a bunch of symbols and numbers (when I saw it at Fall-In! it looked like about 6-8 sets of values). The bases are very large (similar in size to Volley & Bayonet or Grande Armee'). So frankly, the game DOES use charts, they just put the charts right on the bases themselves. I'm sure it does facilitate smooth game play but I felt it looked a little unsightly. You could, of course, not put the values on the base and instead put them on a roster sheet, but then you are back to looking things up on a chart.

DaveWinSC20 Jan 2007 11:17 a.m. PST

"Just a note, this is copied from a what I posted on the Look Sarge, No Charts website, but since it may address some of the points brought up at this website, felt it might be worthwhile."

Jay,
This is a belated thank you for write-up. Buck feels (correctly) that a write-up of the game helps to promote the rule set and for each of the games that I have run at a convention, I try to do this. I was late with it (just as I was late with this thanks), but this is better than anything I would have done. Additionally, you made my job at the conventions easier (and more fun). The only thing I would like to add was some other observations about this rule system that Buck and Chris developed (I just helped with play testing and made some suggestions, I didn't come up the ideas that resulted in a very fun, easy, and realistic game (the truth will out :-) Buck)). 1st fun thing As the table was in use until an hour before the game (as expected at a convention), up until the start of the game I was concentrating on getting everything set-up. To have a player show up and, based on his reading of the rules, explain the game to a fellow player (and a brother-in-law at that), was nice. Then, I went through the rules/scenario brief (for the two players on the other side). 2nd fun thing. Just after we started a third player asked to play, and joined the American side. As we played, he picked up the rules based on what his fellow players told him and the tags on the bases. From the third turn on, I just turned cards and watched. 3rd fun thing. Unsolicited comments from the players, one was that this was the "most elegant" spotting system of any rule set and, from another, "I like this, no f…ing charts." 4th fun thing. Nobody, on either side, seemed to think the results/rule set was illogical, we didn't have any arguments, and all had fun. What more could I ask.

Dave

With regard to some other comments/questions here (and on LSNC).

Although Buck developed the rules using a larger scale, since I have Micro armor, that is what I use. All of mine are individually mounted (on metal bases), so I just used magnetic bases (of the sizes listed in the rule system and purchased from Litko or Wargames Accessories), and put two vehicles/infantry/artillery bases per stand (or one for command stands) and added the tags (or, as pointed out by another player, charts)* to the bases. After this game at the convention, I took the miniatures off the magnetic bases and ran a game using another friend's rule set (needed because the scale for this rule set was 1-1).

*I'm prejudiced of course, but I don't feel that these tags, or the markers used to indicate spotted units or a morale check, distract from the appearance of the game, but that truly is in the eye of the beholder. Game on everyone, which rule set you use.

surdu200520 Jan 2007 12:57 p.m. PST

Thanks for the write-up Jay and Dave. The name of the rule is meant to refer to chart CARDS. Of course the little tags on the back of the bases could be considered a chart. (This is actually admitted in the book.) The point is that you NEVER have to look anything up on a chart card or cross index anything. Everything you need to know is where you are already looking. The rule book also describes in some detail the statistical analysis that went into the systems so that you could get rid of chart cards without becoming a "shotgun full of dice and sixes hit" system. Shooting, morale, and spotting are all quite elegent, if I do say so myself. :)

As for whether the labels detract from the aesthetics, as Dave says, that IS in the eye of the beholder. I print mine on khaki card stock, and I think they blend reasonably well into the terrain. It's not as though no one has ever put lables on their bases. I've seen many GMs over the years put labels on bases to help folks figure out what the units are, etc., for many rules sets, including Command Decision, Shako, Empire, and Spearhead. (That is not to say that the rules require such labels, just that I have seen GMs do it many times over the years for various reasons.) In the case of LSNC, the bases play an important role in the game beyond merely identifying what kinds of units the bases represent -- and they eliminate the need of a chart card.

There are almost no other markers in the game. We use a marker to indicate when a platoon base has taken a hit and another marker to indicate that a unit needs to make a morale check. LSNC has about the CLEANEST looking board of any game I've ever seen, and I've been gaming for a really long time, even with the base labels.

As Pete pointed out, you could do without the bases and just put the information on some sort of roster. Kurt Schlegel does this when he uses the rules for his Arab-Israeli war games. I give Kurt a hard time about this, because it gives folks the wrong impression of the rules, but this is clearly a valid technique. I would expect many people trying the rules to see if they like them doing this before going to the effort of making the labels. (Color versions of the labels are available from the LSNC Yahoo groups site.)

There are a number of folks who have ventured opinions of the rules without ever having read them or played them. Response at conventions has been gratifyingly positive. There will be many LSNC games coming at Cold Wars in March. I'd encourage all of you to play in the games and see what all they hype and mud slinging is about and form your own opinion. We are quite pleased with the way the rules played.

I recently played a large game with another large-scale WWII set and was once again struck by how static and plodding many "battalion-level" WWII rules can be. As one loyal CD player said at Fall In, "these rules really move." And you don't have to wait until the end to say "well lots of goofy stuff happened along the way, but the result was okay."

As I said, come and play in one of the LSNC games at Cold Wars and see for yourself what this is all about.

Buck

JHaygood21 Jan 2007 11:47 a.m. PST

I will be running some LSNC at cons I am at in the future. I have both 6mm microarmor and 15mm WW2 figs I will adapt the bases slightly from the rules to fit what I am playing. I actually have 10 sets of Axis and Allies the boardgame and I was going to put those figs on bases as well as a quick pickup effort..<GRIN>

surdu200521 Jan 2007 2:00 p.m. PST

Thanks, Jay. That will be great. I'd be anxious to see pictures of the game with the Axis and Allies figures.

Tommiatkins23 Jan 2007 4:48 p.m. PST

Sounds like a blast. Nice battle report too.

More please!

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