By way of a change we played ‘The Great War’, the Battlefront WW1 FOW version of the rules. Cousin Mark came over and brought his toys to give them a run out. The Great War (GW) is just a simple derivative of FOW. The scenario we played was 1918 trench battle – The Big Push. The two armies were Germans consisting of 2 rifle platoons of infantry with attached MG and anti tank rifles, an HMG platoon and finally 2 A7Vs (5 platoons strength). They were all classed as confident trained. The British consisted of 2 rifle platoon, with MGs attached, and 3 Male tanks. All of whom were rated veteran. The Germans obviously have picked the wrong bit of the trench to attack!
The scenario dictated that the attackers (Germans) had overwhelming force meaning that any lost platoon (either by losses or voluntary removal) would return as fresh reinforcements. Losses accrued in this manner would count towards the company morale. The effect being that losing 3 platoons would mean that company checks would be required.
The battlefield used the Battlefront trench system, which fits exactly the 4’ required for the game. The rest of the battlefield was defined as hard (bulletproof) cover for non-moving infantry.
The game was pretty straight forward. Each Brits platoon occupied its half of the table (it was looking pretty stretched out). The tanks in reserve. The Germans lined up in their half of the table. The deployment rules meaning that the Germans would be 2 moves away (with or without Stormtroooper moves – Vorwärts) . The A7V were limited to a 4” move and would get left behind unless they were ‘pushed’ to get an extra 2” movement (that would require a skill test, with a risk of a roll of 1 being breakdown). They would be useful in support though each toting 4 MGs and a 5.7cm gun.
The game didn’t really have any tactical finesse. There were 2 turns of advancing, firing , pinning and unpinning. The Germans losses were lite because the British couldn’t really muster a massive amount of firepower – having no HMGs in this section. But with a dozen firing dice per platoon hitting on 3s with a 3+ infantry save the Germans were only losing 2 stands per turn. On the right flank the Germans would always pin due to hits , but failed to unpin. ON the left flank again the platoon would always pin but with the 1IC in tow the 4+ with a re-roll meant they would keep going.
2 of the allied tanks arrived very early and there was a tit-for-tat exchange of gunfire between the Landships with little effect.
The main action was on the left flank where the 1st German platoon had reached the trenches having only taken limited damage. Their flamethrower eliminated 1 British stand, all others making it into assault range (the Brits failed to stop the assault with their defence fire being pinned and a poor show on the dice). The close combat in FOW is always bloody , but the British did have quite an edge being classified as ‘trench’ fighters (meaning they needed 2+ pt hit and eliminate a German stand). The Germans needed 4+ for the same result. The Germans going first did have an edge in that respect and killed 3 stands in the first phase. The allied veterans passed their motivation and charged back in, inflicting about the same in return. Both sides kept passing motivation and the number of combatants fell until finally the British were wiped out. The Germans at that point failed their motivation too and also fled the field, leaving the section vacant. However, with the other British platoon engaging the German on the right flank then there was little to stop the ‘overwhelming’ forces reserve platoon from occupying the position and winning the game. The lead to a British tank to heading over that way to camp next to the objective (supply line junction in the trench). At this point an A7V was knocked out and rightmost platoon was 1 stand from needing a platoon check. That would be 3 required for a company check (which would have a 50/50 chance of failure) . This resulted in the right platoon hiding in the shell holes (gaining a bulletproof cover), allowing the brits in the trenches to file across without risk to try to cover both objective (a tall order)
The fresh Germans advanced and clambered in the trenched unopposed, this was short lived as they were driven into by the newly arrived British tank. This resulted in a real stalemate. The Landship rule meant that even if losing an assault the tank does not have to retreat and is not captured. The tanks also has defensive MGs so you have to re-confirmed each hit. So, with only an ATR and half a dozen stands of infantry the Germans had to throw a lot of dice with even a change of damaging the tank. Typically each stand had only a 25% chance of a hit, followed by 18% change of damage.. slim.
We played out a couple of turns of the assault neither side getting an advantage. On the other flank the Germans were held back, they could try to get refresh reinforcements, but that would require a company level morale check. As we had played for a longer time than we had anticipated we called it there with an allied victory (if the Attacker doesn’t capture and objective the Defender wins)
As a review of the game it was OK. It passed the time without any incident. I like games with lots of dice, but this had LOTs of dice to get any sort of result from shooting. Hit on a 4+, Save on a 3+ , destroy on a 6+ typically. 3 dice with small chance of getting an effect. In contrast the assault if very bloody with a single roll with at worst a 50% chance of destroying a stand. For me it was OK enough, but didn’t really much flavour of the period, and you end up working out the odds of success for each attack on an individual basis rather than executing a plan as such. Very much an exercise in micro management. That said lots of people like FOW – and its mechanisms – and I played it fervently for 5-6 years a few years ago, so I can’t complain. Battlefront GW release is great from a pickup point of view. I believe that this game was just the 2 army boxes and the boxed trench system. So with the rules being free? – still .. and easy introduction to this period. Good pick up for the casual WW1 player.
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