Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tale of Two Games

Last week the local club experimented with a big Flames of War game and also with some FoW alternatives. I'd given up on FoW a while ago but the aftermaths of the games were telling.

I took part in a four player scenario of Disposable Heroes. This is a miniatures game designed to allow a few squads to fight it out, maybe with some armor support. We had Germans with a morter and Panzer IV advancing to take territory from Americans with some light support weapons and bazookas. The first two turns absolutely dragged as we re-learned the rules for firing, artillery, and the like. After that the game sped along nicely. In hindsight several things were notable. The first is that there were no real arguments of squabbles at the table. There were some rules ambiguities and questions that were probably crystal clear if only we could have found them. Nevertheless we muddled on through to everyone's satisfaction. Secondly, everything in the game flowed in a relatively historically accurate manner. The tank blazed away at troops in ruins but mainly acted as a well protected machine gun. Its main gun would have been effective against armor but had no role in this setting. Finally, squads acted most effectively in groups, with one pinning the enemy in order to allow the others to move without attracting defensive fire.

Awaiting the American Charge
I did not attend the Flame of War game, although several of the other players did. The highlight for me has been a week long flurry of angry emails between the players arguing over rules, how the game was played, and whether it was balanced. These emails have included exhortations for Allied players to charge German tanks as a good tactic and suggestions that since masses of King Tigers can be defeated they are thus not unrealistic. Now I know that whenever I want the experience of my own head spinning I can go ahead and imagine actual tank commanders charging their Shermans at a line of Panthers, hoping to get close enough for flank shots.

Poking fun at Flames of War is really cheap humor at best, because it's so clearly not historically accurate and really isn't intended to be. Still, it's so very very hard to resist. At a less snarky level I was once again very happy with Disposable Heroes. Further, we used 15mm figures and that worked perfectly. I already own rather a few 15mm vehicles and a quick phone call to the Hobby Bunker got me a platoon of American Peter Pig infantry. I'm very much looking forward to our next game, assuming the FoW flame war doesn't get out of hand.

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