Play testing a set of rules often creates more questions than answers, and so it has been tonight. Daz kindly offered to have a go at my WWII rules. I have tried to blend the best aspects of many of the games I have enjoyed in the past...Advanced Squad Leader, Force on Force, Conflict of Heroes. Add to the mix my own dice system and you have a wealth of opportunities with many pitfalls. I tried just to use infantry tonight and leave the armour alone, as the footsloggers have to be the foundation of the action.
After a slow start, the game clearly heated up in the favour of the Germans. Strong initiative and well placed machine guns suppressed the Americans before they had a chance to make an impact upon the defences. So much so, that the Germans were beginning to counterattack when we decided to call it a day. The game seems to have some rugged, engaging and flexible approaches worth pursuing, with a fundamental concern that may require yet some more re-basing.
- The initiative system using chits and playing cards worked well in representing the ebbs and flows of combat, with either side having opportunities to take command at the appropriate moment (and also cancelling out each other at crucial moments too). Refinements are required to balance how many chits are available to each side to maintain a fair tempo for specific scenario designs.
- Using a square grid worked just as well, if not better than using hexes. Facings become more important with limiting lines of sight
- Machine guns fulfilled their role well when combined with overwatch. They punished the movement of infantry, particularly if moving at speed. Play balance in terms of the ratio of MGs to infantry requires greater thought; I'll consider the ratios used in scenario design from Advanced Squad Leader.
- Defining support weapons as different and attached to infantry sections give a clarity and definition to their role. When the ratios are clearer, I feel they will have the correct impact on decision making for the players
- Stacking limits and the interaction of firefights became unclear, particularly when the attacker had several outcomes available from the results of their dice rolls
- Following on from this, how units sit in the grid became an issue. It seems at the moment the sensible ( and painful) solution is some rebasing onto squares. An advantage is that I can add some dice frames directly to the bases themselves.
Let's hope this playtest will keep me encouraged and motivated to keep going, as I need to get my teeth into something that keeps my attention; we'll see...