Sunday, 21 October 2012

The War for Wales: Alternate WW2 Games

Yesterday saw my first game in a while, and the first ever game of NUTS! with my old friend and adversary, Colonel Scipio. Neither of us had played the game before and to our turn-based minds, the reaction system of NUTS! occassionally threw us ("hang on it's my turn, why are you shooting - I wanted to shoot you...") but once we got into the flow of it, it definitely has the to-and-fro feel of a real skirmish and firefight. We did make some minor tweaks to the rules such as rolling a separate dice to see who goes first to the activation dice (it's a combined roll in the original rules), with the result of a draw meaning the turn goes to the player whose turn it wasn't previously (is that even English...?). Although we didn't implement it, we did discuss the idea of a passed reaction test allowing the player to withdraw the miniature from the back and forth firefight rather than being condemned to continue returning fire. Luck definitely plays a big role (or roll) in the game, but so does trying to compensate for the fact that everything may not always go to plan.

The shouts of children overdosed on Skittles made both of our voices hoarse after two games of trying to communicate to each other - I did like the idea of the game club "manager" to minimise such noise from the young 'uns - if they got further warnings after a certain point they received successive "fines" in the form of losing a percentage of their forces from the table. I'm no killjoy but I thought that was inspired.


Anyhoo, Scipio did a superb write up which I have included in full below. Photos were taken on Scipio's camera passed back and forth across the table. And my PDF copy of NUTS printed by Scipio was utilised. A truly collaborative effort :P Sit back and enjoy the War for Wales: Germans in Gwynedd (it's a working title...).

Colonel Scipio's Write Up

Hi again everybody, and welcome to yet another battle report - that's four so far this year!  I've tried to make this one a bit more picture-heavy and less wordy.


Me and Headologist had one of our all-too-rare crossovers today as we went down to a local club to try out some of our WW2 stuff - all for the alternate history Army of Freedom campaign in which some dastardly Germans spoil the beautiful countryside of North Wales and try to fight off the partisans.
These two games weren't strictly part of the campaign, as me and H hadn't played historicals in a while, and neither of us had ever tried Nuts, so we did these two test games to get us into the swing of things for a while.


The Rules

We used NUTS, available from Two Hour Wargames, for our two missions.  I wouldn't normally include a section on rules, but these were so mould-breaking (to our 40K minds), that I thought it would be good to flesh out some of the mechanics for the uninitiated.
The rules are heavily dependant on an 'action-reaction' system, almost like a card game.  You take an action, your opponent 'blocks' with a reaction.  It reminded me of Magic the Gathering a little bit.  The side with initiative moves and shoots as you would expect in 40K - but as soon as one of the initiative soldiers moves into line of sight (LoS) of a non-initiative model, the non-initiative player can interrupt by firing (pending a successful roll).  It gets a bit frustrating, having all your moves blocked and countered - but as someone who's done it for real I can tell you that the old 'no plan survives contact with the enemy' really counts here.  The enemy won't let you do anything without trying to shoot at you.  And, of course, when the enemy gets the initiative you can sit back and shoot as his blokes try to dash from cover to cover.
That brings up the old 'exchange of fire' system.  If you shoot at someone, you can try to react by shooting back.  Then the first firer can counter-react, then the second can counter-counter react - there's no limit to this, as it carries on until:
  • one of the firers runs out of ammo
  • one of the targets fails his reaction test and ducks back into cover
  • one of the targets is hit
So one turn of shooting can develop into a long running shootout, as your men get distracted into firefights rather than following your master plan!
In short (and without listing the rulebook here), it's all about action-reaction, and it's very unlikely your men will do what you tell them to do for a whole turn.  A very dynamic, flowing and action-based system compared to the clunky you-go-I-go 40K system.  Took a good game and a half to get used to, but by the end of the second game we had the main mechanics committed to memory and were smashing through the turns.
Forces, Battlefield and Mission

We had access to excellent club terrain, and Warlord Miniatures Bolt Action range I painted a while back - check out the WW2 tag for the full story of their construction and painting.  We went for a fairly random deployment of buildings and no clear objective - just a meeting engagement, while we got a feel for the rules.  Seven men a side, mainly rifles with three SMGs a side.  There are lots of pictures, so I'll let them tell the story.  Also, the very fluid and reactive system meant that any note-taking would have been hugely overcomplicated, so I'll just give you a flavour of what happened by annotating the pictures.
Mission 1
Latvians - Colonel Scipio
Partisans - Headologist

The burned sheds provide cover for the partisans in the first mission
The Latvians approach at close range across open ground
A wider shot - the partisan barns are just off to the top of the picture as the
Latvian SS run towards that burned grey building, top-centre.
Before the Latvians can reach cover, a burst of SMG fire
scatters them, forcing them to change their plans!
A few manage to get into cover, as the sergeant tries to get the men back together!
The SS manage to get into firing positions - the two sides are swapping fire over
 an area of open ground between the two ruined buildings.
The partisans in cover.
It's a fairly close-range engagement, with the Latvians managing to gain the upper hand.
One man pinned down, the Latvians still pour lead into the ruined building.
The lieutenant with SMG puts some very accurate fire down and kill some of the partisans.
In the end, the Latvians roll some very lucky dice and tip the scales.
The partisans make a run for it, and get cut to pieces.
Result:  SS Victory

Mission 2
Latvians - Headologist
Partisans - Colonel Scipio

After the 'Alamo' shootout we had, we made the terrain a bit less linear for the second game with some walls.  The partisans deploy bottom left, the Latvians towards the upper right
Learning the value of cover from the last mission, the partisans start behind the farmhouse!
The Latvians moving into position.
The Lativan lieutenant skulking around the side of the farmhouse with some of his goons ...
... while his cronies hide in the burned ruins (no bias in the write-up!)
The American specialists covering round the corner!
A powerful group in Nuts - automatic weapons, led by an officer. 
The partisan commander moves into a commanding position for the Bren gun, overlooking the burned ruins ...
... while some of the Partisans make a dash for the centre!
One man takes a rifle round in the head at close range ...
... forcing the others to take cover behind the farmhouse.
They try to make their way round the other side ...
Arg!  Dastardly Jerry lies in wait and kills two more partisans as they wander round the corner.
The noose tightens - now the Bren group are all that is left (bottom right), pinning down the Latvians in the ruin (top
centre), while the others sneak round to flank (bottom left).
No LoS lets those deadly SMGs sneak right round the edge of the farmhouse.
One of the Americans tries to force an escape route - and gets a
mortal wound from the Latvian sergeant's SMG for his efforts.
That nasty lieutenant just mows down the Bren gun group from a flank like ninepins.

Result:  SS Victory

In both games, that Latvian lieutenant was a lynchpin in both games.  His high Rep value, coupled with the automatic weapon, meant that he could reliably kill off partisans while they could only pin in return.  The partisan officer only had a carbine, which meant that although he often hit he would only wound or stun the opponents.  As for the campaign, I don't think this will count towards the narrative as we we're both not familiar with the rules and the forces probably weren't quite balanced despite our best efforts.  Hopefully the partisans can get their act together for the start of the campaign!
Anyway!  Hope you got a feel for the back-and-forth, cut-and-thrust nature of the games - it was certainly very nice to play a game with painted miniatures and on decent terrain, and a nice change from 40K as well.  Hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!

3 comments:

  1. I saw these reports the other day on Col Scipio's blog as you mentioned, I've not played the rules but they do look like a fun game.

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  2. Great photos! Looks like its was loads of fun. Seven men a side makes a cool little game. thanks for sharing this :)

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  3. Thanks all, it definitely was a great game, really fun despite the fact it was only 7-a-side

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