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(06/23/06)
Bengal Club W.W.II on the Eastern Front:
or
The membership finally has another go at W.W.2, only this time in 20mm.
Here's a link to Major Roller's web site explaining his version of events. The rules used for this game are named 'Frontline,' and are probably available for sale, somewhere, on Major Roller's site.

Righto! For some time the membership has been threatening to game W.W.II somewhere, both in terms of scenario and gaming location. Major Weenie has even gone so far as to purchase numerous, expensive, 28mm figures suitable for a Vichy army in North Africa. However, when it developed that one of the members already had 'all the 20mm figures in the world' needed to run such a game -and don't forget trees in the appropriate scale, everyone always forgets the trees - then it was thought that we might try our hand at the frequently discussed, but as yet never played FRONTLINE rules. A quick scenario was set up pitting 6 Russian T-34 tanks and 6 squads of Heroic Red Infantry against 3 squads of German infantry, 1 75mm PAK antitank gun, and 1 Marder self-propelled antitank gun (for wives & girlfriends that's a little tank with a big gun and no turret) who were defending some ruined houses around a river ford. No one knew anything about the rules at the beginning of the game, but the game master kindly offered to gently talk us through the mechanics whilst he kept the bar open.

Top right, the tanks from the Soviet center and left flank sneak through the forest in an effort to reach the start line for the attack without the Germans noticing them. Each vehicle has a squad of infantry riding just behind the turret, but these were not represented by duplicate figures sitting on the outside of the tank hull. The tank labeled as the '2nd Most Heroic Tank' would later rush forward bravely. The tank labeled as the 'Most Heroic Tank' would later employ a most extraordinary tactical maneuver. More about that later.

Immediate right, more, or perhaps the same, Soviet tanks still sneaking towards the German line.

At right, units on the Soviet left flank eventually confront one of the German army's deadly 75mm PAK antitank guns hidden in the ruins of a building. The umpire had cautioned the Russian players to 'get in close fast, and don't worry so much about casualties.' Consequently your humble correspondent, who was commanding 'The Most Heroic Tank' was prepared to be shot to pieces early on by the threatening PAK gun. However, the initial, and apparently largely random, Russian artillery barrage succeeded in placing a number of 'suppression chits' against the fascist forces. For those not familiar with the rules, players may fire on targets not only in an effort to 'kill something' but also hoping that a near miss might cause the intended target to fumble on its return fire. For example, a German PAK gun might never be hit by Russian tank fire, but if it suffered 2 suppression chits from Soviet firing this turn, then on the next German turn when the PAK gun needed a roll of 8 on a 10 sided dice to hit its target it would have to add the total number of suppression chits to the roll needed. So instead of needing to roll an 8 the gunners would have to roll a 10.

At right, on the Soviet right flank German infantry with a heavy machine gun pop up in yet another ruined building. The figures are very nice, but have a look at that custom built barbed wire. The umpire created it by using wire cutters to trim off a single strand from a metal window screen, then bending it into the correct shape for 'concertina wire.'

At right, a close up of the nicely painted Germans hiding behind that spectacular barbed wire model. Here on the Russian right flank things developed in a more dramatic, some might say worse, fashion than over on the left side of the table. The Heroic Red Army had hoped to engage in a sweeping flanking maneuver along the forest at the very edge of the table. However, the member most famous for the subtle (sneaky & hiding) nuances (unbelievably high dice rolls) of his game skills suddenly erupted from hiding with what was apparently the most reactionary weapon on the table. He then used this 'very big gun in a very little tank' to decimate the armor on the Russian right flank. In a few quick turns of appalling marksmanship (from the standpoint of the Red Army) both of the T-34's were flaming hulks and the accompanying Soviet infantry was scrambling for cover.

At right, the evil (from the standpoint of the Red Army) Marder self-propelled antitank gun, whose appalling marksmanship (from the standpoint of the Red Army) changed the sweeping attack on the extreme right flank into a 'Cunning diversion designed to tie down Hitlerite resources while the real attack was committed... Umm, somewhere else.'

At right, normally described as a dirigible shot, but being as this is a modern game one supposes that it could actually be a helicopter shot? To the right of the photo are the two Russian tanks immobilized under clouds of oily black smoke. The unpleasant German Marder is hiding behind the building at the top of the photo. The '2nd Most Heroic Tank' is about to perpetrate the most cunning Soviet ploy of the entire game when it nips around behind the building and shoots the Marder through the thin armor in its rear. Good show 'comrade Debaclski!' The tank in the center of the photo was commanded by 'Subaltern Dennovski' who turned in an impressive performance for one so young. The blue squares in front of the building are the much mentioned suppression chits, in this case inflicted upon the German defenders by Subaltern Dennovski who spent the game firing wildly at the building without bothering to take time to aim. He didn't actually hit anything, but he did succeed in suppressing the Germans so that they were unable to fire effectively at the Russian infantry scrambling away from their burning tanks over on the right flank.

On the road can be seen two squads of 'Heroic Red Infantry' which have dismounted from their tanks in preparation for an assault on the suppressed German infantry in the building at the top of the photo. To the left of the photo is the building containing the unlucky German PAK gun. At this point Comrade Weenovski, who may have been paying more attention to the supply of liquid refreshments available than the opportunities presented to him by the game, has dropped off his infantry behind a hedge just to the left of the photo. Weenovski's infantry were not quite so heroic as the rest of the Soviet riflemen and they spent the rest of the game cowering behind the hedge and firing at the Germans with the PAK gun. Weenovski's tanks largely abandoned aiming, and blazed away at the building in front of them. They only 'hit' once, but didn't kill anyone. However, they did manage to amass a varying number of suppression chits each turn. Sometimes it was 2 chits, sometimes it was 8 chits, but by this point in the evening the by now exceedingly jovial Weenovski wasn't really paying very close attention to game mechanics.

At right, the heir to the umpire's vast fortune can be seen in the distance chortling at the decorative flame markers used to denote the burning Russian tanks on the extreme right flank. In the center can be seen Comrade Debaclski's '2nd Most Heroic Tank' which is preparing to rush forward and fire on the German Marder whose vulnerable flank is just visible past the building at left. In the foreground a squad of German infantry, much to Weenovski's surprise, abandons the PAK gun and flees the building. The German commander preferred to describe this as "Maneuvering to a more advantageous position." The huge number of suppression chits explains this action. Unable to fire effectively, because they were repeatedly suppressed by the barrage of Russian tank shells, they have elected to leave before the expected Russian infantry assault. At the extreme right of the photo is the most surprising action of the entire game. This assessment being based upon the expression on the umpire's face when Comrade Weenovski explained what he wanted to do. The 'Most Heroic Tank' has driven around the flank, crashed through the building, and crushed the PAK gun. Because the ebullient Weenovski's announced this stratagem out of game sequence the German commander was able to evacuate his infantry from the building and maneuver to a more advantageous position.

Bottom right, in the final photo 'Subaltern Dennovski's tank has replaced that of Comrade Debaclski's, which has by now moved deep into the German rear. German engineers, who courageously remained in the building while their infantry compatriots were maneuvering to the more advantageous rear, have hurled a cascade of teller mines at the 'Most Heroic Tank' which is now stuck on the building rubble. Weenovski's tank crew is exceedingly lucky and the tank is only on fire. However, the gallant comrades have passed their morale test and are ready to continue on the next turn.

At this point it was growing late and the membership, some of whom are quite literally old enough to be Subaltern Denovski's Father, elected to throw in the sponge, finish their drinks, and go home. All agreed that a grand time was had at the 'Bismarck Annex to the Bengal Club' and that another event of a similar nature should be organized very soon.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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