Sunday, August 30, 2015

USMA Class of 2016 Gets Their Rings!

It was a very special weekend as my wife and I travelled to the United States Military Academy to see our son receive his own West Point Class Ring.

Proud dad and Cadet Lieutenant Decoteau.  Thirty-three years and two generations of USMA rings!

I cannot tell you how proud we are of all that he has accomplished!  In approximately 265 days we will have an even bigger celebration!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Modern Bolt Action - Serbia 1999

We played a game of Bolt Action for moderns yesterday here at the house.  Ralph, AJ, Mike Ed and Charlie joined me for the game.  It was set in Bosnia in 1999 with a UN envoy trying to escape the board with the help of Canadian, French and Belgian troops.  The Serbs had the village surrounded and were trying to cut off the envoy and escorts from the relieving forces moving in to open the road out.  In the end the Serbian sniper team took out the envoy and the game ended, but casualty wise the allied forces caused a significant number of casualties to the Serbs.  Unfortunately, I was so busy running the game that I did not take any photos.  One of the players did take a couple of pics and I will get those up as soon as he gets them to me.

One of the primary learning points of this play-test was that having a single victory condition, the UN had to get the envoy off the table, meant that the Serbs on had one thing to worry about.  This created a "Pee Wee Soccer Game" phenomenon in that all of the Serbs piled on the town and worked at killing the envoy.  This was exacerbated by the inability of the French and Belgians relief forces to get to the fight fast enough to have any affect on the outcome.  I need to modify the allied deployment areas so they can get into the fight faster and make the Serbs worry about defending themselves more.  Also, I need to have some other form of victory conditions such as a box if documents that are being transported in addition to the envoy so there are multiple ways for the allies to win.

The modern modifications for BA worked really well.  All of the players felt the addition of a "marksman" within some of the squad organizations  is a very accurate "modern" feel.  This is a single shot sniper who does not pick the figure if it causes a casualty.

I did over-classify the vehicles, using Light Tank instead of Armored Car rankings for the M113 and BRDM-2 that we had in the game.  This made the HMG's totally ineffective against them, which was not accurate.  We also decided that all moving fire will get the -1 modifier from this point forward.  The RPG's and LAW's were appropriately inaccurate.  And probably the best modern rule test was the Sagger ATGM and the time of flight rule where the missile has a full range of 96 inches, but only "flies" 30 inches per turn.  One of Ralph's M113's almost dodged the missile, but he was still within the 45 degree angle of attack and the Sagger easily caused a catastrophic destruction.

We also decided that modern troops do not get to close assault armored vehicles.  For one thing, there are very few, if any, effective hand-held antitank weapons.  Secondly, modern vehicles are very fast and infantry would be pretty unlikely to get them in a situation to get close enough to destroy them.  Current tactics stress getting close to armored vehicles, but still using ranged weapons, such as RPG's to take them out.  So we have decided to allow infantry to only close assault soft-skin and open-topped vehicles.

For this large type of game we modify the dice pull so that all of the players on one side issue an order, then all of the players on the other side issue an order, etc. until all order dice have been played.  The side with the most order dice in a given turn get to go first.  We all like this version of the orders dice as it keeps all players engaged with the game, but still have that BA feel.

Overall, this is one of the best first play-tests that I have ever had.  I really appreciate everyone's patience as I search out an effective modern skirmish rules set that works for the way our club approaches war-games.  We like realistic, but simple rules and games that can be fought to a conclusion within a 3-4 hour period of time period.  I think that we are onto something with this particular set of modifications to Bolt Action.  90% of the rules are straight out of the rule book and the modifications are primarily in the weapons systems and ranges.

We are looking forward to further play-tests to see if the rules continue to give good results.  I will get those photos up as soon as I can.

Here is a link to AJ's website so you can see some photos of the game: