I've been wanting to try out IASBM for ages, particularly when Chain of Command didn't "float my boat". Knowing how long it would take to set up (and tear down) a 20mm game I decided to go for 6mm instead, using my eight man section hexes as half-sections, so I've got sixteen figure sections...but who cares.
One of the nice things about doing in 6mm is that with ~30m = 4cm hexes its almost 1:1 ground to figure scale. Needless to say I'm converting the rules to hex!
The overall layout looks really nice. Both sides start on Blinds (like the Blinds idea). A weak German platoon is defend the village from an advancing British platoon.
The Brits get three 12" square (3 x 7 hex) stonks at the beginning of the game. But I then discovered that since all the Germans are on Blinds then all the Brits can do is reduce German Activations for next turn (but see Update below): which they do for two of the Blinds, despite one salvo being so widely off it picks up the next target (like the deviation dice). Doesn't look like the artillery rules give any benefit from being entrenched that I could see either (whether on Blinds or not).
Preliminaries out of the way then, on with the fight...
Realised that "stonk" is a specific thing in IASBM (it doesn't mention that at the start of the Indirect Fire chapter). Far nastier. Rolled for the damage on the two Blinds that got it: one twice. Not revealing to myself which of the two Blinds are real troops 'til I need to (by dice), so (as a German) hoping that the Germans are defending forwards!
Going Well So Far
The effectiveness of the initial (corrected) stonk was blunted somewhat by the first few turns having Tea Break cards after the Axis Big men (removing Shock - ah, are they allowed to do that to Blinds?) but before the Brits could move!
Eventually the Brits got going, using the cover of the corn-field and in two turns were crossing the small hedges into the first orchard. The Germans spotted the far right British Blind - but that was revealed to be the dummy (1-3 on D6).
The next left British 3 platoon were also spotted by the German Blind in the forward house, but spotting back this was revealed to be a dummy - so there were no Germans in the first two buildings. The Company Commander doubled 3 platoon towards the house, and they quickly moved in, spotted the German Blind in the next house, and tried to get off some rounds but not being at full effect caused no damage.
Interesting how simple the IABSM fire chart is: no modifiers, just three range band and three target/shot categories...seems very odd! 2 Platoon also pushes forward and into the left hand near house, being spotted as they do so. Spotting working well and love the Blinds.
Now that the situation was clear, the German's defending the two rear houses (left and centre) and his forces balanced also to the left it was time for the company commander to sit down and do his appreciation or Tactical 7 Questions.
In "normal" wargames mode the Brits might just push on, squaring up against the two German strongpoints, and their two MG42, and probably get wiped out. All the Sandhurst training though says to focus on the right building, leave 3 Platoon as a fire base and then go right flanking with Platoons 1 and 2 with bags of smoke. So our gallant company commander calls for 1 Platoon to swing across to the right, followed by 2 Platoon (do they leave the 2nd house vacant?) to make their way to an FUP and start line. We'll see how it goes...
The picture above shows the situation at end of Turn 3.
Only 1 Platoon is left on a Blind on the British side. At the 1:1 scale, 3 Platoon by the right near house is only just visible.
The Action Continues
After about another turns of damage which forced one section of 3 Platoon to withdraw under the "loss of bottle" rule (and down to three men!) the Platoon Commander finally managed to get the 2" mortar to lay a smoke screen in front of the German position.
At the same time 1 Platoon (still on a Blind) and 2 Platoon started to swing right behind 3 Platoon ready to launch a right-flanking, bags of smoke assault.
1 Platoon in position, 2 Platoon almost there. The screen is now fully stoked so has four turns left, and the German Zug 2 commander has brought up his reserve Gruppe to cover his left flank in expectation of a British assault.
Should be time to test the hand-to-hand rules!
The Attack Goes In
The British attack finally goes in. 3 Platoon is providing the smoke and firebase, everyone else is going right flank, bags of smoke, with 2 Platoon on the left and 1 Platoon on the right.
2 Platoon realise too late that making a full 2-3 Activation move to reach the enemy will lose them dice in the melee, so they stop short in the smoke to await the next turn. 1 Platoon has swung nicely wide and sends 2 and 3 Sections against the Gruppe lining the hedge (a flank guard recently moved up), whilst 1 Section goes in against the rear of the dug-in MG42.
2 & 3 Sections get surprisingly bounced, but inflict a fair amount of damage. 1 Section also has a tough time and takes two rounds to get the MG42 team (well, one man) to retreat.
Next turn 2 Platoon finally goes in, and again take a lot of damage from assaulting the emplaced infantry head on. 2 & 3 Sections are going against the Gruppe lining the hedge, and 1 Section against the weak Gruppe in the house.
1 Section gets bounced - unsurprisingly - but 2 & 3 manage to secure their objective and the German Gruppe is reduce to one man, pulls back, and loses it's Big Man.
Next turn, the smoke finally clears:
2 Platoon activates first and sends 2 Section left against the building and 3 Section right against 1 Platoon's opponent. Despite their losses, 3 Section wins out, but 2 Section is repulsed, although only one man is left in the building (and only one Shock so okay!).
3 Platoon then activates, and pours in all its firepower, which ends up being far more effective than earlier in the game (was I doing something wrong?) and kills the brave bloke!
A quick regroup and then its time to turn the British focus onto the second German Zug, still on a Blind in the other house the other side of the T-junction.
1 Platoon is just about battle-worthy (two men down per section, so only two Activations each). 2 Platoon has lost one section and has quite two weakened, so they'll join with 3 Platoon (which has lost 1/2 section) to provide the firebase. It might be nice to swop 1 & 3 but 1 is in a better position to go right flanking and get right behind any German emplacements. 2 Platoon can also provide 3 Platoon with its smoke for the screen.
Overall this phase went quite nicely. Juggling men lost and Shock seems a pain at times for no real benefit. Also I ended up with quite a few units at 2-3 men, so that meant they had no Actions, so could only sit and be assaulted - so I decided to just remove them from the table if they weren't in a good defensive position.
I also forgot about the 2" mortar rapid HE fire in the assault: I think that might be needed as its now a pretty even match for the last fight and the Germans can hole up in the buildings if they want.
Could be a close run thing which is about right given the ratios.
Well that ended quickly!
3 Platoon provided a mediocre fire-base as they couldn't really see the target: certainly not after the smoke went down. 1 Platoon started moving though the open orchard but started taking casualties from the German Zug. 3 Platoon started laying smoke late, but the wind was pushing it back towards 3Platoon, so they couldn't adjust well to cover the rear of the building (off to the left in the image below).
As a result, as 1 Platoon emerged they were due to edge of table too much in line with the German defence (especially as the reserve Gruppe had moved to close the back-door), and not obscured by the smoke. In one round the reserve Gruppe inflicted three hits on each unit which, added to the three they already had, reduced each section to two men, and so no longer effective.
With only 3 Platoon left, and that a bit battered, and the German Zug more or less untouched and in a strong defensive position, the British Company Commander decided to call it a day. Game over.
Overall not bad. Quite a realistic result.
I remember being taught that a good MG position is a Platoon attack target, the Germans had two of them, plus the two platoons which are each Company attack targets, so trying to do this with one un-reinforced company was always going to be a tall order!
What I liked about IASBM:
- The Blinds - but is the CoC patrol phase better?
- The very simple modifiers
- The mortar and smoke mechanism
- The variable movement
- The Tea Break card
- Card-based activation
- Bucket of dice - becoming a convert
- And playing at 1:1 figure to ground scale. But 6mm is just too small for 1:1 men, and looking forward to using the new 10mm figures and happy to have only a ~2:1 error ratio.
What I liked less:
- Suppression seemed secondary to damage, not the other way around
- Shock and damage didn't seem to achieve much different, in this game damage dominated
- Big Men rarely got the change to use their range of actions (since a small game?)
- Not sure that every Platoon needs a Big Man, if the Platoon activates as a unit anyway - gets confusing
- The damage table - you have to look everything up