Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weird World War II Battle: Testing Tank Rules

Gearing up for the future casual-play Weird World War II campaignette we're planning, we tested out some rules for tanks within the framework of the Goalsystem 'Chaos in Cairo' rules.

Those rules weren't seemingly intended for heavy vehicles, but general consensus is: vehicles are fun and we'd like everyone to be able to field 1 in their skirmish force if they'd like to.  But how to make it balanced? We'll be limiting vehicles to nothing more substantial than a light tank or equivalent, but to test the rules we threw a load of tanks on the field, and nothing but tanks, so as to get as many shots happening as possible to see how it felt for tanks: if the simulation created the feel we're after.

Using the Chaos in Cairo model, we gave most tanks a shooting of 3 dice from Ag3, add one for the gunner, one more if moved 4" or less, one more if firing at a vehicle that it fired on in the previous turn (tracking) and 2 more if unbuttoned. We started with spotting rules, but tossed them out as needlessly complicating things. Giving 2 extra dice for targeting from unbuttoned tanks worked out well.  It motivated people to shoot at unbuttoned tanks, which caused them to close those hatches! Even if you can't damage the tank, it helped to reduce their sighting to limit it's effect when firing back at you.

We also started with a double system for damage: a vitality stat like standard Chaos in Cairo, and also a damage chart for flavor.  We soon abandoned the vitality, feeling the chart gave good flavor but also worked well in general, and it's nice not knowing just how much damage a tank can take. It is a lot more fun when shots might destroy a tank, or could continue to annoy it, doing only minor damage to tracks: you just didn't know, so no metagaming like 'oh, that tank has just 2 vitality left so I'll shoot at it'. etc.

The scenario started with German Tigers, Panzers and an older light tank & a Stug  on the field as a squad of 4 american light tanks tried to hightail it out with info on the German position. Or at least that is what it looked like to the Germans...

The lights shoot back as they head toward the board edge.
The lights took some damage, but moving so fast, most of the German shots went off-mark. The return fire the Germans suffered was barely more than an annoyance. So far so good on the simulation.

But what's this? A rumble from the woods to the left and a company of Shermans with a Lee & AT emerge, springing the trap! They concentrate fire on the two closest tanks: the first Sherman shot reduces the German light to rubble, so the other two Sherman shots are wasted (declared fire per group activating on a card: the benefit & drawback of acting in unison.) The others did a little damage to the Tiger, but not much: With 12 armor to the front and 2 rerolls, even the AT with 12 damage dice plus 1 for a well placed shot make it hard to do much damage.

Maneuvering is key, when it's possible. Trying to get shots on side & rear armor is nice when you can pull it off. But hitting such locations at an angle give the defender extra defense dice, an aspect that appeals to my sense of realism.

We didn't play it out to the end but we got a good test of the rules. We made a few good adjustments.
And I'm glad we won't be seeing any Panzers or Tigers in the skirmish game! 


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