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. 

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