Monday, October 22, 2012

IABSM AAR on a Whiteboard

Here's the post where I discuss the setup of the game and my thinking behind it.
Now, on to the game and my mistakes, questions, etc.
The British were given pre game stonks (arty hits) that were planned out before the Germans set up and kept secret from them.  I had my 11 year old pick out the 3 locations after explaining to him the objectives of both sides. I had already set up the Germans, mentally, where they were going on the map and didn't change that based on his plan.
He did well and the dice did well.  3 total casualties and 28 shock points. All spread out among the units. In fact one of the HQ MG 42s with the level 1 leader "lost their bottle"  (new term for me, meaning loss of nerve). Therefore they had to move backward 2cm, therefore moving them out of concealment. 
In IABSM, if I'm understanding correctly, if someone is in concealment with cover, like a foxhole, buidling, woods, etc then you don't have to put a blind on the table for them. You can just mark on a map where they are and call it good. This is cool cause it can allow for seriuos ambushes or surprise shots. The alternative is that the defenders start with blinds on the table representing each platoon.  Blinds are revealed by spotting or automatically at the draw of Tea Break cards.  However, you lose concealment when you have to move.
I suppose I could've put them on a blind, but I'm not clear how that works when the other half of the HQ platoon was on the other side of the table with the Level III Big Man and the other MG42.  I kept the other leader and MG under concealment and hidden.
3 Quick Tea Break Cards allowed the level 1 Big Man to rally the shock off the MG and others before the British even making much progress through the 5' tall wheat.
I sent two British platoons on their right and the 3rd platoon and the dummy blind down the middle of the board, still through the wheat. My goal was to get the front three houses, with the 3rd platoon able to support 1 and 2 if they needed it getting the front two on their right.
I struggled a bit with spotting and the kind of view they had. Because both sides were spotting through 5' tall wheat, I made it pretty difficult to spot. And the Germans were holed up in homes and foxholes, which in my eyes made it very hard to spot as well. Both sides had to be very close, 4cm from the edge of the wheat. I also made it very badly obstructed for the units in the homes. I don't think that is best. I should look at the overall terrain they're in and make that the base roll. Then perhaps modify the roll down 1 if they're in the house.
The challenge I would have is being confident in umpiring a game. You have to be consistent. But that would come with time and more games under my belt.
There aren't set turns, meaning, not everyone will get to do what they want all the time. The Tea Break card may come up in the first couple cards (which it did a few times) and that signifies a change in turns for purposes of auto spotting, using left over dice, and reducing pins/suppressions.  But it doesn't necessarily advance the clock. So it's hard for me to say, "In Turn such-and-so unit A shot."  Life doesn't move in turns, so this is a nice thing.  However, I like the idea of putting a blank card in the mix and everytime it comes up, the turn clock would advance. This puts some pressure on the players.
Another challenge, and I've read this a million time in aars, putting the cards in of the units that have been spotted.  I went  very deep into the game before I realized I hadn't given the germans two of their cards. No wonder they weren't able to rally or fire or move.  Whoops.
I played this game over a few days, squeezing in a few turns before working on life stuff. At the end of my first day, platoon 3 had been spotted and the MG42 that had retreated out of the front building was able to set back up.
There are moments in the game when you know if a unit's cards have been chosen. Or, if the unit's already activated and used all their actions.  Knowing this,  you can run your guys in front of them w/o fear of opportunity fire.  However, you may face the unfotunate incident that I had. I ran some British across the road. The Tea Break card came up. And one of the first couple of cards was the German MG - needless to say those two squads took a few hits.
As the British get closer, the mortars start doing a number and giving quite a bit of shock - when I realize late in the game that I'd been playing those wrong as well. The smaller mortars, for the most part just dish out a point or two of shock. But I was rolling them as regular weapons which increased their effectiveness to very powerful.  Funny thing is, I think I did it right half of the time.
As I'm typing this I'm realizing how many mistakes i made while playing. Embarassing but true confessions of a wargamer. Another big one I made on the first couple exchanges of fire was to count all hits as casualties. What you're supposed to do instead: If the fire table says "4P" as a result of the rolling all your firing dice, you are then supposed to roll to see the effects of those "hits". The results could be 1-2 = near miss; 3-4=shock; 5-6 dead.  If you don't have this roll and just count the "4P" as 4 hits, the game will go very quickly.  Fortunately, I caught this pretty quickly.
Though, because of this quick hits, the 1st squad of 1st Zug was routed off the table and out of the most forward foxhole. This was the result of Close Combat by 2nd Platoon. 3 full squads against one partial squad with shock, I didn't even have to roll the die, they so outnumbered the Germans.  Close Combat occurs once the troops get within 4cm of each other.  There's not necessarily a special command to go into close combat, just whether or not you move to within 4cm.
I gave the Germans a MG bonus card. This gives one of the MGs an extra set of dice to fire. I had moved 1st Squad, Platoon 1 up to the hedge on the far right. A couple cards came up where nothing occured and I was sure the Tea Break card was coming...I had forgotten about the MG Bonus card. It came up and the MG42 in the middle of the board.  The hedges and orchard made it a poor shot, but they still ended up with a couple dead, shock and suppressed.
(Another reminder: MGs always pin.)
(Another reminder: Big Men only may direct fire when their card is pulled.)
The MG42 on the German right was tough to use because of the Big Man I.  This means he has one initiative to use. He spent most of the game removing one point of shock each time.
Another tough time I had: trying to move the mortars. A Big Man must be attached to them in order for them to move (unless under small arms fire). So, I had to keep my Big Man moving around to move it and then to encourage their other men.
At one point, the Germans all moved back to reinforce the back houses that the Brits were going to have to take in order to get their four. After my 3 or 4th day working on the battle i called it a draw. The Brits were taking some hits, but the Germans were down as well.
This AAR is somewhat scattered because that's how the game felt. I was very uncomfortable with the rules and it was a shaky implementation.
(Reminder: take away actions as the squads get whittled down.)
My judgement - I was so unsure of the rules, that I'm  not sure I enjoyed it. I hate saying that, but I'm just going by the vibe I was feeling afterward.
I like the cards, but I really like the idea of using poker chips in a bag instead of cards.  Something about reaching into the bag to pull out the chip seems cool.

1 comment:

  1. When I first played IABSM with version 2 around 2005, I had never played a card based activation game before. I immediately fell in love with it for ww2 as it seemd to me to capture the uncertainties of ww2 battles with a simple mechanism. First play with rules can always be trickey - sometimes the rules stick really well the first time through, other times they don't. My recent play with new rules the first time saw me make more errors than the last 4 or 5 new rules first play before then. And they were not that complex either! Hang in there - IABSM is one of my favs.