Friday, February 27, 2015

10 Games, 10 Times: Iron Ivan's Disposable Heroes / Coffin for Seven Brothers

Soviets try to get their tanks across the table in a later game in the series.
i had played DH/C7B a handful of times before, initially not really digging it, but later coming to decide that it might well be my favorite set or 1:1 WWII gaming, for squad to a platoon per side. Yet, I hardly played it thereafter, and when i did, it was primarily infantry only conflicts, hence its inclusion on my 10 Games, 10 times challenge list.  

The first few games were straight up infantry affairs to help me shake off the cobwebs and figure out where I was forgetting rules.
Backing up, for those who don't know, DH/C7B is a 1:1 set of WWII skirmish rules, where the basic unit is the fire team. It's recommended for up to a platoon per side, with support, although you can extend it further if you have time or multiple players.

My sole gripe with the rules is the use of markers for tracking activation, pinned, acquisition status (for armor), and # of armor penetration hits. You also need some way of tracking the number of destroyed units for each side, as these, plus the # of currently pinned units effect the initiative score.

So many markers. The white cards are blinds - I used Platoon Forward for many scenarios, along with its enemy force generation method. This is from one of the last games I played in the series - after I had mounted the figures to 3 inch squares.
However, so many games require markers, that it seems like short of an all or nothing approach to hits, or off table tracking (difficult in a 1 figure = 1 man game with more than a handful of figures per side), there really isn't a better option.

So, other than that, the game has a lot going for it although it took me 5 or so games to really see how good they were, as I kept forgetting rules in the early games or situations just didn't come up:
  • The Guts score - it effects both initiative and morale, including the ability to rally. It's a mix of quality and motivation.
  • simplified movement
    • if one figure reaches cover, the whole group does
    • move one figure, then place the rest around that figure, rather than measuring for all
    • terrain does not effect movement rates of infantry
    • Movement rate determines what additional actions a unit may perform and any penalties
  • Snap (opportunity) fire is restricted to one enemy unit.
  • Using grenades to supplement a charge is abstracted and works quite smoothly
  • Taking fire, regardless of result, triggers a Guts check - this seems right to me, but surprisingly few systems I have played incorporate it
  • It is difficult to score a hit on a target in cover - based on what i've read about the expenditure of ammo in WWII to hit a target, this too seems right to me.
  • The way it handles armor.
I wanted to really go big,both because i wanted to see if it made a big difference in my enjoyment, and also as a way to see if I could at some point eliminate a table and the space it takes up. Playing on the floor was loads of fun but no more so than a table, as it turns out.

One thing that has flummoxed me about some other systems at the 1:1 scale has been armor: either they are too simple, and the type of vehicle does not matter, or too complex to the point of having to use calculus to understand the tables. DH/C7B's system for attacks by and against armor sits somewhere in the middle and I rather like it. It has enough flavor to get a feel for the period and the differences in equipment, but not so complicated that every rivet matters.

I had to fudge any vehicle that wasn't a tank, since no stats are included in the core rules beyond a vehicle or two per army.
One  downside is the mix of roll low/roll high is somewhat annoying - you want to roll low always -to acquire a target, to hit, to pass a Guts check, but  when you're rolling for armor penetration, then you want to roll high. 

It's hard to see, but the PZ. IV had just made it onto the table when one of the T-34s brewed it up on a single hit This is less frequent an occurrence than my pictures might relate.
The other is that the core rules, which contain the "big four" nations, do not include much in the way of vehicles for these. As such, I had to fudge a bit on anything not remotely covered. The force supplements contain the desired data but those are additional purchases.

The core rules do, however, cover tank riders!
Once again, the 10 Games, 10 Times Challenge comes through, and I have a new understanding and appreciation for this game. That said, I also have come to realize, that i prefer 1:1 games with 3-5 figures, rather than squad to platoon sized engagements. 

As a bonus, I suspect these rules could work well for that - treating each figure as their own fire team and disregarding the man-alone rule and the "only 1/2 figures per unit can shoot" rule. I may try them in that respect at some later date, but Five Men in Normandy awaits first.


  1. All I can say is start here:

  2. Glad the 10 by 10 stuff is working. I have wanted to give Disposable Hearoes a go. I had got it out to at least have a re-read! Besides my own rules, I want to give 10 by 10 a go but I am a butterfly.