Saturday, 15 June 2019

Seven Days to the River Rhine - part deux, the game

We eventually got around to the game, and there are some really nice mechanics here.

Take-away features are:

  • Like 'Iron Cross', there is no mucking about with all of the features that make mechanised combat / wargaming so 'finicky' and complex in rules systems. No artillery plotting, smoothbore WarPac missiles are handled via a card, infantry units have intrinsic AT and AA values etc. 
  • The game is more concerned with the to and fro of the turn sequence and making you think about how to manage your resources - whilst leaving enough in reserve to react, rather than thinking about how to manage the Quick Ref sheet. That's a real bonus.
  • In one case, the Soviets expended all of their command tokens. This allowed the British to pull out and form a second defensive line. You don't always see that in other rules. Well, you probably can do it in other systems - but it's a pain to do normally.
  • So, given that, you would think that it would lose the flavour of a modern battle - since all of the minutiae and 'tech' aren't there in terms of game mechanics, but we were pleasantly surprised.
  • ATGWs are deadly when they interrupt, and infantry get good cover, but can be exposed fairly easily by a canny opponent. We certainly got a feel for how they would be used on the north German plain so extensively, whilst still also getting a feel for why their crew's life expectancy in 'the Zone' was only 72 hours.

  • LAD and Blowpipe/Stinger are subsumed into a defensive roll that is the same for all sides. This is far more preferable to me than looking up a table to see how the writers have overestimated the effectiveness of the 'Blowpipe' AA missiles ... (on which more later) .

  • The Soviets need quantity. I thought 2 or 3 steps of difference in the armour rating was wrong at first - until playing. The difference between a Challenger's 19 armour and 16 on a T64 makes a BIG difference, and yet still seems right. It took a Soviet Hind to even things up on the British flank. 
  • There are lots of little nuances in the rules, such as recovering via pulling troops back for rally etc., which all make sense, and will come out with further plays I think.
 A good set of rules, and I can see how they would work so well for WWII (Iron Cross).  Absolutely perfect for multi player bashes.

...and so to battle. Kit is all Skytrex 10mm/1:200. My Timecast infantry has not arrived yet..

Soviet Battlegroup is: 2 platoons T64, 1 company BMPs plus Recce, 1 x Hind
British Battlegroup: 1 reduced platoon Challenger I, 1 platoon MICVs, Striker + Recce platoon.

Soviet start line. There is a lot of British armour hidden up there.

 It's not long until Soviet recce elements run into trouble on the highway.

 MILAN action against the infantry company, which taken the British right, while armoured thrust goes in on the British left - completely against doctrine!

The Soviet right...will get hit particularly badly.

Lurking British Recon elements.

Whoosh SPANG! (It's the best MILAN impression I can do at short notice).

 ATGWs slow down the armoured advance.

The Challengers haven't fired a shot yet, and there are still plenty of command tokens in their turn.

 'Ready mate? Here they come...'

 Red Air comes's not going to be pretty.

 Blowpipe action from the infantry in cover. Predictably, Blowpipe misses.
(I have spoken to one of the engineers (Retired) who worked on it believe it or not, who tells me that the government budget meant that Blowpipe wasn't properly tested and had to be swiftly replaced by Starstreak/Javelin etc. Its record in the Falklands speaks for itself. Granted, it's just like any other AA missile here - so it's ok for these rules). Oh misses...

 ...a Challenger suffers the consequences.

 Infantry assault on the British right.

 This time Blowpipe hits however, and the Hind goes down.

 ...confounding what remains of the armoured assault.

The Russians had run out of command tokens however. To watch the British pull back from their forward positions, which were now under considerable threat from Russian infantry, and form a second sustainable position, was a thing of beauty...and really showed me how you can exploit your opponent overstretching his force. Very good.

Having recoivered and found new positions, the MILANs are back at it.

Russian armour can not sustain the assault against Challengers on the British left.

 The British right too, was able to hold, after the infantry pulled back. The Russian attack was stalling as we drew matters to a close.

 As night falls, all is quiet.

Great game. Really nice rules. Just what we needed.

(Obligatory DM3 track attached...Radio Gobin presents: 'Do Wrong Right' ...that about sums up the rules right?)


  1. Another great looking game Sir Duc, sounds like the rules are simple in the best way, less clunk and more game.

    1. Less clunk and more funk mate.
      Yep. I remember playing WRG moderns back in the early 80s (I am that old) and they tried to systemise everything. It's the way that rules were done. Everything was there except a system that was exciting.

      We've now come full circle in wargaming rules and finally realised that tense action is the thing, and the minutiae of weapon systems is not really that important unless the difference is major enough to affect effectiveness.

      ...and relax..

    2. I know what you mean having started with warhammer 3rd edition and gradually shed layers of needlessly over fussy bobbins until the realization finally hits that all a game system actually needs are the fun bits!.

    3. Yep. Reminds me that I need to try your rules out on the 'other' blog mate ;)

  2. I enjoyed reading your game report and views on the rule mechanics. Most interesting.

    1. Thanks Peter. Again, reminds me though that I must try out your rules.

  3. Great looking game with very modern roads.

    1. We must try them out. I think the 'Iron Cross' WWII rules aare perfect for the PanzerGrenadier scenarios. Less fuss than most rules, but nice mechanisms for smaller scale battles.

  4. Excellent, I picked up a copy today from Great Escape Games. I really like the lay out and the way that everything is contained in a single book.

    1. Thanks Norm.
      Yes, I hadn't been as impressed with 'Iron Cross' when I first got them, but having seen this new layout I'm going to revisit the WWII version.
      An exciting system with 'interrupts' which doesn't always work (it always seemed a little clunky in 'Force on Force') but does seem to fit here because of the way that they afre costed.

    2. I have just visited the website and download their errata file, I was disappointed to see the errors in the stats!


    3. Yes - a few major changes there. Ouch!

  5. Nice report, splendid collection of vehicles, love the awesome Red Air...

    1. Thanks Phil. Red Air actually a toy helicopter that I got years ago. Didn't even need to paint it. That's the type of miniature I like :)

  6. Great looking game and thanks for the insights into AA missiles (had to go away and read about Blowpipe). The helicopter is very smart btw

    1. Many thanks Jack. Yeah, I think the philosophy behind Blowpipe was that it was fine as long as the operator could stand on the battlefield and concentrate on the target. Maybe a tad of a design flaw...
      I can't claim credit for the was a purchased toy - but not having to paint it, is a bonus :)

  7. WOW looks outstanding sir! One thing I love about this system is the use of supporting weapons to cover your advancing troops is vital to keep the advance going. Nowhere else in a wargame has that been accurately modeled without being finicky and this game, like IC, seems to have it down in an elegant and simple way. I'll definitely play IC again and it's looking more and more like my staple WWII rules.

    Honest to God can you believe I just typed that?

    I cannot wait to play SDTTRR now that I've read your post!

    1. Perfect Steve, and thanks for earlier email.
      It's been a long search for rules like this I know LOL.
      My reason for asking is that I have a Battle of the Bulge 'Stoumont' scenario in mind. I visited the battlefield 20 years ago this month and have been wanting to do the scenario (complete with motorised 155mm artillery piece) for years.

      As it's a reinforced company size, I have been wondering what rules to use, and IC may be the answer. Thanks for earlier advice re. HoF, and I think IC is perfect for what I have in mind.

      Again, there is no adverse level of complexity with these rules, and that is a critical bonus - where you get to play the commander rather than worry about weapon systems - you simply need to know whether they will work or not and when to reinforce your positions and exploit the fact that the enemy has 'run out of steam'.

      I haven't seen that focus in many mechanised era rulesets...but again, watching the British in yesterday's game, pull back and reform as the Russians had run out of command points was such a rare thing - and sometimes so difficult to do in other sets.

      Now it may be that the ability to exploit enemy command management may be an accidental by-product of how the system works here - but if so, it's a happy accident. If it was by design, then the writers are genius level :)