Archive for the 'Airfix Battles' Category

Airfix Tanks

A little bit of prep for Airfix Battles happened over the hols.  Only a little, but the objective is to get a whole set of figures and minis in Airfix for use in Airfix Battles.

airfix_tanks

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Airfix Battles: A sneak peak at Operation Cobra

Airfix Battles, The Introductory Wargame, has now hit the shops.  If you’ve not yet seen it, have a look here: https://www.modiphius.net/collections/airfix-battles.

The basic game has 10 scenarios, many of which are geared to teaching you how to play the game.  We thought it would be a great idea to present a whole campaign of scenarios to test out our more advanced players – enter Operation Cobra, the US offensive at the end of the Normandy Campaign that resulted in the (almost) encirclement of the German’s 7th Army and 5th Panzer Army.

The Operation Cobra Airfix Battles campaign is made up of 10 linked scenarios.  At the end of each scenario the winner earns Cobra Campaign Points (CCPs).  Most points wins at the end of the campaign.  However, you’re unlikely to play all 10 scenarios, because the outcome of a scenario presents some choices about which one to play next.  Some of the scenarios are not necessarily balanced, but rather they might favour one side or the other – or your style of play may suit you to one type of scenario, but not another.  So, if you think the next scenario is maybe a bit too demanding for your side, you may be able to opt to skip it, and move to a more palatable option.  In this way the path through the campaign can be different each time.

We’ve also introduced a few new bits and pieces for building your forces, setting up the scenarios and ending them.  Typically the Germans during Operation Cobra were scrabbling to keep up with the movement and materiel of the US advance.  To reflect the German losses, in most scenarios German squads will start with less than their full complement, but they’ll still cost the normal stars to buy.  Your Grenadiers may have only 7 or 8 men, instead of the normal 10.  Sometimes the German tanks are not fully repaired, so may have to start the game with 1 pip less on their Hit Dice, while at the end “The Last Throw of the Dice”, German tanks cost an extra star each to purchase.  In compensation, and because they’re on the defensive, the Germans frequently get to place terrain where they want it to be, so their relatively smaller force sometimes has the advantage of the ground.

As Operation Cobra was an offensive of rapid manoeuvre, both sides will face having to split their troops.  In Scenario 3, “Armoured Breakthrough”, the US side has a main and a flanking force and tries to take an on-road objective worth a large number of points.  In this scenario the Germans don’t have any tanks, so their problem is how to shift infantry around to block a flank attack, while also parrying a frontal force.  In Scenario 5, “Encircled!”, the Germans attempt to break out or rescue a trapped force by running the gauntlet of the attacking Americans.

We’ve included a lot of variation in the scenario designs.  The number of troops ranges from 10 Stars to 25, and many scenarios use both maps, so you’ll have a lot of ground to fight over.  We’ve also provided some very different end game and victory conditions.  For example, in Scenario 2, “Opening Attacks”, the Americans can choose to end the battle at the end of any round, thereby allowing them to limit their loss, take a quick victory, or go for broke by staying in the fight.  On the other hand, Scenario 4, “Panzer Counter-attack” is a do or die that only ends when one side has been destroyed, routed or withdrawn.

Scenario 10: Allied Briefing – “That’s it, boys, the Krauts are beaten. I doubt they have a single tank left in the whole of France! It should all be plain sailing from here on.”  Or the Axis Briefing – “General, you may demand all you want, but I cannot make tanks appear out of thin air! The whole division is destroyed! What’s that? An order from Berlin? Then I suppose we have no choice…”  Your chance to fight the enemy in Operation Cobra!

Airfix Battles @ Frome

Saturday 2 January saw a group of Abbeywood Irregular wargamers enjoying the open fire, the mulled wine and the mince pies at our first start-of-the-month session at the Bennett Centre in Frome, Somerset. Many thanks to Pete for laying on the vittals. Not a Big Game session, but a collection of Small Games was the tune, owing to the season.

Saga was played, as was some DBM / DBMM / DBA as a precursor to a campaign to be joined later this year. But for me it was an opportunity to play test Airfix Battles with some more unsuspecting gamers, even though it involved a 3.5 hour trek each way!

We managed 3 AB games during the day, focusing more on the intro scenarios, though I did push the boat out on a complex one with Pete and Colin at the end. Honours were more or less even amongst the opponents, which at least suggested we had balanced scenarios – a good sign. More importantly the game was well received and enjoyed. There was plenty of cheering and anguished cries as a result of the vagaries of dice rolls! But also some nicely executed coups of tactical finesse too. One of the best was an On The Double race by a sole surviving German officer onto the unoccupied objective in the final turn, only for an artillery strike to lay him low at the last moment.

Our final scenario involved 3 Shermans and a couple of US squads attempting to resist some German panzergrenadiers and Panzer IVs. The Panzergrenadiers special ability enables them to Move immediately after disembarking from their transport, typically to dive into cover. Sure enough, they grabbed one end of the village before the Yanks could say ‘coca-cola and French fries’. However, this did lay the panzergrenadiers open to concentrated fire, and though they bravely resisted for a while, in the end they were pushed out. Meanwhile a US squad carried out a Rapid Advance to the flank of one of the Panzer IVs – surely a dangerous move, as they’re armed with a couple of bazookas, as well as rifles. But no, despite maintaining a constant fire for 4 turns, and hitting several times, no penetrating hits were scored – questions will be asked in Congress about the quality of US ammo! Some days things never go right, and the US forces were beaten by the narrowest of margins, in a battle that was bloody for both sides’ infantry, but strangely not for the tanks, only one Sherman KOed.

As a result of the test we’ve tightened up the wording on 3 or 4 Command cards, and we’re looking at a final tweak or two on the Assault rules. Assaulting permits a rapid elimination of Units with poor morale, but woe betides you if you try it against a prepared enemy. Vehicles can overrun infantry by using Assault, but you’ve the risk of KO by their AT weapons.

We’re now finalising the precise details of how to engage soft skinned vehicle targets. In earlier versions we gave them Hit Dice like armoured vehicles but with no need for penetration rolls. Our discussions currently centre on what weapons should be able to engage them, and how to make this consistent and simple, bearing in mind that these have to relate to Towed Guns, which are also soft skinned targets.

Our Frome session was very successful, and everyone had a fun time with the new game. Can’t wait to get the final “real” set now!

Airfix Battles – oldie models, new games

Though Mission Command has been taking up a lot of my 2015, what with launch of the alpha version, another little project was offered to me by that kind Mr Birch at Modiphius Entertainment. Airfix Battles!

Airfix! Certainly a name to conjure with for those of us of a certain age. Like most wargamers of my vintage, I was brought up on those 1/72 and 1/76 scale figures and models. I’m not ashamed to say that I still have a few trays of Airfix Napoleonic Line Infantry that I can use alongside the more conventional lead stuff acquired over the years. It was only at my last house move that I decided to ditch a swathe of 40+ year old Airfix plastic – huge numbers of ACW and Napoleonic soldiers consigned to a skip :(. But enough of reminiscences.

Nick Fallon and Chris Birch asked me to give them a hand with ‘One War’ as Airfix Battles was initially labelled. My credentials were mostly as a WW2 buff – I’d introduced them to Mission Command earlier, so I wasn’t an entirely unknown quantity – so I was brought in to help out with historical details in the first instance. I found the project very interesting and a great contrast with Mission Command. The latter has focused very much on detailed simulation, whereas Airfix Battles is all about playability. Yes, theme has to be accurate and the ‘feel’ of the game is vital. However, the Airfix Battles Introductory Set has to do what it says on the tin – introduce newbies to the wargaming hobby, specifically WW2 land battles, while also appeal to the, ahem, older fan. Players have to be up and having fun within minutes.

After a few weeks of tinkering and developing, I was honoured to be asked to co-design the system with Nick and Chris. How could I refuse?

To be entirely fair the Airfix Battles system had been at least sketched out by the time I got involved. It’s a D6 system based on squared maps with only 1 Unit – primarily infantry and vehicles – allowed per square. Movement and shooting are configured on the basis of squares, where a more complex board wargame might use hexes, and a tabletop game would use tape measures. It uses Unit cards to describe the troops themselves. In the first set these cover stuff you’d see in a late war Normandy game – Shermans, Panzer IVs, basic infantry squads, MG sections, snipers and the like.

Players take actions with their troops by playing Command Cards from a limited hand. Actions are what you would expect – primarily about moving and firing – but we have interesting and fun combinations with additions to movement points and variations to firing, so that the unexpected can easily crop up and challenge the unprepared. IMHO the system does a good job of representing ‘fire and movement’. Keeping the enemies’ heads down really pays, especially if you’re aiming to assault a dug in squad!

Airfix Battles has preconfigured small scenarios to teach the rules gradually. More experienced players can dive into larger fare and design their own forces, as each Unit has a points value dependent on its weapons, abilities, and importantly its ‘War Dice value’, a number that must be rolled to succeed when the Unit fires or rallies. You can play with a single player on each side, or with 2 or more players per side taking team decisions. There’s also a solo play mechanism.

The Intro Set will come with counters for those who don’t already have Airfix models. But it’s really time to break out the old Airfix collection, base up those WW2 infantry, re-paint those Panzer IVs, and declare ‘Panzer Marsch!’