Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mixed Company : Some Morschauser and Blitzkrieg Commader

The other night, I wanted to play a wargame, but I wasn't quite ready to begin Blitzkrieg Commander. At the same time, I've kind of had my fill of Nuts!, for now and really feel drawn to games where 1 base = 1 squad, where individuals don't matter so much as whether or not the squad is still fighting, and where they are.

The end result: I gave Morschauser's modern rules  as appearing in the John Curry reprint, an outing (supplemented with a bit of info for mortar ranges from Bob Cordery's grid-based modern game in the same volume).

For the scenario, I used Grant's Holding Action (1) from Scenarios for Wargames. 

I used squads for the scenario's infantry units, which made the game a fight between an under-strength company and a reinforced platoon. 

For Light Infantry, I gave each side an anti-tank squad, and for guns, I used HMG and mortar squads. Cavalry was a tough one as I have few vehicles and no actual cavalry; for the Germans, light cavalry was a kubelwagen and nothing in the case of the US, while heavy cavalry were tanks.

Paper slips are German blinds.
The rules play fast and furiously - I had time to play the game twice, once as the attacker and once as the defender. In both cases the attacker won. Although I set an 8 turn limit, the US won in 5 turns, the Germans won in 6. This is a tough scenario for the defender and I think on my table, with these rules, for a real challenge, victory must be achieved by the end of turn 5 at the latest.

Germans marching towards victory.
In any case, when I finished playing, I wondered why I was bothering to try any other rules - they are the perfect toy soldiers type game, using bases instead of individual figures. They have the ability to be quick, with 1 hit taking out a base (and thus no bookkeeping), or slowed by using a roster. They are easily modified - as written there are no morale rules, and adding a saving throw and suppression would be possible, too.

Still, Blitzkrieg Commander (1st ed.) is on my 10 games, 10 times list and it does have some stuff that I find interesting.

So, with the same setup, plus the addition of my newly arrived German mortar team (OK, teams. I bought 3 of them), I began playing my first BKC game on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before the game reached a conclusion, but I got a decent taste of the command phase, of movement, and firing. 

On Monday, with the same table, I ran it again, this time to completion, but I doubled the ranges per the suggestion in the rule book for company-sized games. And, surprising to me, the Germans won as the defender!

2nd BKC game : The US advance is clearly having problems.
My early thoughts:

In the second game, the roll for command kept the American attack from ever developing - my mortar and anti-tank team never even made it on the table. One platoon never got their part of the advance under way, staying stuck on the road near the table edge after being forced back by the German mortar. This was frustrating as hell and, thus, already a favorite mechanism.

I really like the "press your luck" mini-game that the command phase uses. 

Just about the only thing to go right for the Americans.
Doubling the ranges for a company-level game is fine, but it felt too "simulation" and not enough "playing with toy soldiers". For the next game, I'm thinking of doubling movement, but keeping the firing ranges unchanged. This almost directly maps to Morschauser's ranges.

There seems to be a fair number of people who dislike the removal of hits at the end of a turn, but this doesn't bother me.

Suppression on the tanks by small arms fire can be very effective and helpful. I found this out a bit in World War Risus games, but it really is a lot simpler to do here.

With the doubled ranges of the second game, i had units able to act in the initiative phase (when i remembered it). This can greatly speed up the devastation. Making a game that is already fast-play, a little faster play. Start to finish, with tons of pictures (only some you see here) and plenty of rule book referencing, it took 90 minutes.


  1. Interesting. Nice little games. (oddly enough, while I enjoy WWII movies and tv series - I loved Rat Patrol and Combat!, I don't really have any interest in gaming anything that "modern")
    I do like posts like this about smaller quicker games, though. Lots of food for thought and inspiration.

    1. Thanks Fitz-Badger!

      Using 1 base per unit listed in the scenario setup really keeps the game manageable. I suppose if I had used a platoon of 3 bases per unit the game would look more impressive, but then i'd have neither the space, time nor figures (in this period+scale) for such an undertaking!