Sunday, July 19, 2015

Problems with Conflict of Heroes

Josh and I had a game of Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel, using the State Farm 158 scenario that I played with Marco in January.  Josh took the Germans, and didn't lose any to the pre-battle attrition rolls; my Russians lost a couple of hilltop units.
I tried the same ploy I did last time, of sending an SMG over the hilltop into the German mortars, using a Free Action card to make it out of the balka and up onto the hill; however, Josh had a flamethrower card, so things didn't work out well for me. I also made the mistake of moving into close combat; the unit I was attacking had spent all its action points, but Josh pulled out a Free Action card of his own in order to have his unit take a shot, and his panzergrenadiers trounced my rifle squad. As I recall, he needed an 11 to hit their flank, and he had 2d6 +5 for his firepower and +4 for close combat.  Not hard to roll 11 or above when you have a +9 modifier. After that, I merely moved adjacent and fired from there, rather than get into close combat. And his artillery obliterated mine. I did get one turn of fire off, but between his direct fire and his 105mm mission, only one 81mm mortar survived to turn 2.
But despite all this, the Russians won. Partly this was because I got 2VP for each of his units, and he only got 1 for mine. Partly it was because he moved adjacent to the balka instead of using smoke and recon-by-fire; I could send a few squads to adjacent positions and overwhelm one of his units. Partly it was just because I had more units than he did, and could afford to stall until he'd used all his actions, after which I could attack and he couldn't respond.

There are a few things that bug me about this series.

  • No leaders. Leadership functions are abstracted into command points, and those command points don't have any specific location. You can apply those command points to a mortar in the rear, and an infantry squad on the far right, and an SMG squad on the far left, with none of those being in communication or having Line of Sight to each other.
  • Telepathic units. If your mortar squad is threatened in the rear, your troops on the right can turn, move, and take the threat under fire, with no communication and no time delay. They don't have a specific mission, or lane, or target they have to stick with, just instant response to whatever the commander's whim is.
  • No differentiation of unit quality. One a unit is Unnerved, for instance, it doesn't matter whether it's veteran troops or raw conscripts, they still have the same roll to rally. In some scenarios, a unit may not be affected by a particular damage result at all, which partly mitigates this problem; however, it would be straightforward to say "this veteran unit is +1 to rally, these militia are -2". There are also no differences in training and doctrine--for example, when ambushed, a conscript might stand bewildered, a trained soldier might dive for cover, and an elite might assault through the ambush. CoH doesn't distinguish.
  • Wound markers instantly make a unit a priority target, since a second wound will eliminate it. There may be times when you turn your attention to another, unwounded target because it's more of a threat, but in general, you want to finish off a wounded unit. That's how you reduce the enemy CAPs and you gain victory points.
  • If you have more units than the enemy, you may be able to stall until the enemy has no action points left, then you move when he can't respond. You can always send one unit at a time to recon; there's no time pressure. That one's easy to fix, though. You get, say, five activations and have to get all your moves done with that, using group activations as needed. 

New Titles

Well, new to me. One of the local gamers was cleaning out his shelves, so I picked up some Avalon Hill titles:

  • D Day (1977 edition)
  • Afrika Korps
  • Stalingrad
  • France 1940
  • Waterloo
  • Napoleon at Bay (the 1814 campaign)
I also recently got the Lost Legion expansion for Mage Knight.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Josh and I played the Maloyaroslavets scenario from the Russian expansion for Command and Colors: Napoleonics. Many of the scenarios in this expansion are more "historical" than "balanced", but this one seemed pretty balanced, according to the ratings at 
The French have sixteen units and five leaders; they set up occupying the village of Maloyaroslavets, with their backs to the impassible Luzha River--in fact, the two Heavy Cavalry units start behind the river and have to cross a bridge to join the battle. The Russians have nineteen units and four leaders.Victory conditions are ten flags; possession of three of the five village hexes counts as two flags. Josh took the Russians, I took the French.
This was one of those cases where my maneuver cards had a totally different plan than I did. 
The French right only has three units, and a defensible line; I wanted to move my infantry up the hill, ease my cavalry forward to support, and then leave that flank alone. I did get my troops up on a hill and managed to wipe out a Russian unit that trespassed too far. As the game progressed, though, I ended up with a hand that was purely "probe right, attack right, assault right", while I was desperate to shore up my center.
On the left, I advanced when I had cards. The cossacks occupied the woods on my far left; we drove them out with the bayonet, but didn't get any farther. The Russians occupied the woods and hills beyond the church, and I never got the cards to do anything about it.
In the center, I advanced a line unit forward to occupy the farthest town hex. In retrospect, that may not have been the best move, since Josh played "Every Russian From Here To St Petersburg Shoots At You", to the undoing of my infantry. That advance did vacate a town hex for my artillery to advance into, but the Russians had two batteries in position, and cards to fire them, and quickly reduced my battery to one gun and forced it to retreat. I brought up the Old Guard and a heavy cavalry unit and charged, whereupon Josh played BOTH First Strike cards and disrupted my attack; he followed with a Leadership card which wiped out three units and a leader from my center. The heavy cav on his left drove in and crushed my light cav for the last flag. Final score, ten to four, or 11:4 if you count the fact that the Russians had occupied the Church and I couldn't push them out.
I had just drawn my very first "attack center" card of the entire game. I'd had cards which me do things in the center--Grand Maneuver, Fire and Hold, Cavalry Charge--but never more than one at a time and never a specific "center" card.
Despite the way this ended in a debacle for the French, I think the scenario is probably pretty balanced. Josh is a bit better general in this game than I am, and the cards conspired against me and that did me in. 
One annoying thing about the scenarios is that units are set up out of the way. The heavy cavalry, for instance, often starts as they did here, in the rear behind obstacles; you have to use several cards just to get them to the battlefield, much less into action. This scenario started with the Russian guns in good positions but only one of the three French batteries in line, Perhaps other people spend more time slowly developing their position and bringing pieces foward? As for us, we usually have a fight going on and something more pressing to do with our cards,


Monday, July 6, 2015


In honor of the bicentennial of the battle, Joshua and I played Waterloo, from Victory Point Games. It's a classic style wargame, with a low unit count and just a few pages of rules, and covers the crucial days of the campaign rather than just the last battle. 

Josh's French broke the English at Quatre Bras and forced the Prussians out of Ligny. One British corps held the road to Waterloo but the French steamroller kept pressing it back. Meanwhile, Josh kept the Prussians from linking up with the British, and eventually the Imperial Guard took Wavre. Blucher was essentially out of the fight. The English situation was grim--but then Uxbridge's heavy cavalry entered. They charged the French artillery, countercharged the French horse, attacking left and right, and drove halfway to Ligny before finally being overwhelmed by the French tide.

The British managed to rally a few reinforcements, but by then the French had taken Hougoumont and La Haye. The British morale collapsed and the Corsican rode triumphantly into Waterloo.