Sunday, 27 February 2011

WW2 1943 Eastern Front Take Cover report

After posting a review of the Britannia Miniatures Take Cover rules  I thought i would post a small battle report using the rules before heading back into some ancients.  We used to play on a 9'x5' table, but with children etc, and the expectation it will be set up for a week or so, I am using my next size down table - 5'x'3'.  A third the area!  I've played a few 20mm games on it and so long as the forces are small, it does not end up looking like a parking lot.  This particular game was played solo.  There is a bit of description of play and the occasional die roll included to show how the rules work.

All the photos were taken at night in a room with poor light so the picture quality is variable.

I'm using a cut down version of the first game in Perry's Heroes Kursk campaign.  The board is roughly laid out the same, but the forces are about 2/3rds.  And the scale is different (as it is designed for IABSM, and Take Cover is another level up in scale).

Rule changes
I have done some minor rules changes for this replay:
1. Passenger vehicles (P) only carry 3 figures, not 10.  In the rules, a P class vehicle tended to carry 10 figs, with 1-3 casualties if the vehicle was destroyed.   While there may be a good reason for this, it did mean that Germans, who can armour assault right on top of the enemy, could guarantee to get there with 7 figures.  It does mean there will be more half-tracks on the board (4 per company rather than 2).
2. Currently there are 4 armour classes - Heavy, Medium, Light and Soft-skin, with medium having the base armour modifier of +0.  To offset the greater number of passenger (light armour) vehicles, I've added a class and reclassified. Light vehicles keep the -1 modifier but these are vehicles such as the PanzerIII or Stuart.  There is now a very light (VL) armour category for half-tracks etc with an armour modifier of -2.  Softskins now have an armour modifier of -3.
3. Gun Type 7 at battle range can only damage a AFV, there is no score for a Kaput.  So a 7+ on the d6 damage roll will cause a Kaput.  So now Gun 7 has a chance to destroy those half-tracks and light tanks. A score greater than 6 can only be achieved by flank shots or at vehicles with lighter armour than medium. 
As a side note, I've never been entirely satisfied with companies being simply a number of figures (with each figure = a squad/section). Don't mind it, just need some reasoning.  I am not that familiar with how a company commander utilises his forces - does he move sections around, or leave it to the platoon commander, or both?    Anyway, it does make a difference as 3 figures can only score one casualty, with 4 figures firing have a chance of scoring 2.  And it is a nice linear casualty chart for 1, 2 and 3 figures firing but 4, 5 and 6 figures is not linear  MMG, HMGs and cannons fire with the equivalent of 4 or more figures.  After much thinking, I've gone with that a 'platoon' is 3 figures, so that fits nicely with carrying capacity (see rule mod 1 above which was influenced by this thinking) and firing units have to be within 2 so normally, the 3 figs have to stay close to each other.  But I'll allows extra figs to join in from other platoons.  Otherwise, fire is by platoon.  It will also mirror the reduction in firepower linearly as casualties are lost. 
Forces are roughly in line with the scenario
Soviets (Regular)
1 Battalion HQ: 3 figures
2 reduced companies, each:
     6 figures
     1 MMG (with 3 crew)
2 45mm ATG (3 crew), gun 7
1 T34/76 (Cruiser, Gun 6)
Reinforcements arrive on a d6 roll of 4-6 after turn 4.
Germans (Elite)
1 Battalion HQ: 3 figures in Sdkfz 251/10
2 companies each
     9 figures
     1 MMG (3 crew)
     4 Sdkfz 251/1
3 PanzerIIIJ (late) with skirting (Light Tank, Gun 6)
I'm using PanzerIIIJs as I have just acquired them so wanted to use them.  Could argue they are Medium Tanks but wanted a difference in armour types on the table.

While the Scenario calls for the Red Army to be poor, I just couldn't do it to them (equivalent would be Militia in take cover), so made them Regular but morale tests will be at 20% rather than 30% (as per pre-Stalingrad Russians).


The board.  Note the trees have a light clay unpainted base.  I just did them the day before with my two small children.  Do you think I could get away with putting the painted ones on the board?

All building are wooden, and treated as soft cover.  Wheatfields are not cover, and provide concealment for infantry only.  However, there are low bushes etc around the wheatfields that provide soft cover.

 Russian deployment
Each turn, an opposed roll is made to see who has the initiative. The side with the initiative can choose who goes first in each phase.  In this game, The Russian regulars have a modifier +0, while the German Elites have +3.  As there is only a 1/12 chance of the Russians gaining the initiative each turn, and the game is not likely to last 12 turns, I defaulted the initiative to always be the Germans.  While it could be argued that the rare Russian initiative in a turn could cause the German's heartache, when playing solo I was not too concerned.   

Pre-game bombardments
Although the scenario does not call for it, I will give the Germans 1 round of 105mm pre-bombardment.  In TC, one casualty will occur in soft cover with one 105mm indirect HE impact on a 3+.  In TC, one casualty seems to occur with 50% of shooting (of course, this in just an average but it is a good thing - the game progresses).
I randomly chose a stonk target from a few valid ones.  The house next to the wheatfields was the target.  2 casualties!  Only one guy left, and the company is down to 7.  One more and it will start morale tests.

The Game
Panzers come in down the road on their right flank. Following them is the first company of Grenadiers, heading for the woods and fields.  Vehicles are more than 4" apart.  Have long played the house rule that anti-tank fire may fire at another target within 4" if it destroys its first target.  Stops the wall to wall tanks. 

Note: For HE fire, from 36", one Panzer will score a casualty firing at a timber house about 50% of the time.  But you cannot fire against an enemy unit you have not spotted (well, you can if the target has fired or moved and you failed to spot - but there are bad firing penalties).  To spot a non-firing stationary infantry unit in a building requires you to be within 4" AND roll 5+ of a d6.  Even if they fire, it is still a 5+ at the maximum of 36".  So rarely is there much long range combat in the opening parts of the games from attackers.

Panzers and first company arrive

 First company deploys in the small wood

Russians infantry in fields in front of woods fail to spot the tanks...
The 1st Company Grenadiers unload into the woods.  The other Grenadier company continues to head for the far side of the road.
Next turn, some of the unloaded German infantry run into the Russians who couldn't see anything - Germans get +2 to die roll for elite and charging.  They win - Russians lose 3 (all of them), Germans 1. Morale test for the Russians who have lost 2 more than threshold: Shaken - no movement forward (fine by them!).

Russian ATG (it survives a while) and its view down the road. 

Second Grenadier company cross the road - Russians AT gun lets first one cross; second one, flank shot - Disruptive fire! (in Take Cover, used to fire at moving targets when it is not your turn). Needs a 3+ which it gets and for damage gets a kaput.  2 passenger casualties, only one left to bail.  To spot the firing gun will  require a 5+ at 8"-36".

First company Germans are line up, poised to storm the town.
Germans lined up to storm town.  unseen MMG ready to open fire.

Russian MMG in wheatfield opens fire on the Germans - anything but a 1 will cause a casualty.  Rolled a 1.
Other MMG in woods opens up at successfully spotted German infantry in the small woods (needed a 6 to spot).  1 casualty.

No German manages to spots the AT gun.
No German spots the MMG in wheatfield (even at 6" - needed a 3+)
The MMG in the woods isn't spotted either (needs a 6).

AT gun fires at PanzerIII - miss.
Wheatfield MMG fires at German infantry across the road - 2 casualties.

 MMG fires at the German platoon and KO's 2 figures.

German 2nd company half tracks move across road - another disruptive fire.  Hits but ricochets. 45mm gun is not that great a gun over 18" - the first half-track destroyed was a lucky shot.
The Germans that made it across the road last turn charge the MMG in the flank.

MMG crew in close quarters.  They lose.

Germans win and lose 1 figure, Russian MMG crew gone. For this Russian company, there is only the company commander left (in the building next door) who rolls a 6 for morale - which is modified -4 for losses, -1 figs lost hand to hand, +1 battalion HQ within 12" - and carries on!  The next turn the Germans enter the building and he goes down and takes one German with him (as a result of a a tie on close quarters die rolls).

Germans in centre wheatfields charge the building.

German platoon storms the building with lots of support

...and then enter the building.  The Russians in the next building open fire on them scoring one casualty.  The next turn at lot of German fire goes into that building - an MMG, the 2 rifles and a vehicle MG.  All up, 2 casualties and they are suppressed.

AT gun fires again at the PanzerIII. Hits. But only a ricochet (need a 5-6 on a d6 to do damage at that range on a light tank).
 View down the road from the still surviving ATG

Still no one can spot the firing AT Gun.  At this stage I remember that unspotted units that are firing can be fired at speculatively with a -2 penalty.  So the PanzerIII MG fires and luckily scores one casualty.
Mid game overview

Ready for the big push into the rest of the buildings.

So far, it has taken 2 hours, plus note taking.  It is about 1 hour actual playing. Setup was about 20 minutes on top of that  Also, I've needed to look up a few of the rules.

Buildings to the right of the road are all cleared by the Germans.  The anti-tank gun misses, and the tanks fail to hit any of the crew (bad rolling - a 3+ by any fire would have scored a casualty).

The MMG in the woods has a great line of sight to one of the buildings occupied by the Germans and fires.  Anything but a 1 is a casualty.  Rolls a 1.  I am seeing a pattern with the Russian MG fire.

The previously silent MMG (and Another ATG to the right)

The German PanzerIII covering the town speculatively fires on the woods MMG with its MMG and scores a casualty.

At this stage I remember a T34/76 was supposed to come on for reinforcements. Oops.  I will do so now while I remember.  I'll even allow it to fire at a panzer as it is so late coming on. It misses.

  The forgotten cavalry turns up

Continued fire at the Anti-tank gun results in one more casualty (from 2 tanks, 1 MMG and another 3 figs) - the ATG crew are going down slowly.  A Panzer misses the T34, which then fires back and destroys the PanzerIII.
Dead panzer

A German platoon (3 figs) storm the Anti-tank Gun and destroy the last remaining crew member, for a loss of 1 of their own.

 Storming the lone crewman of the Anti-tank gun.

The German 2nd company (the one circling around the far side of the town and has just stormed the ATG) needs to take a morale check as it has lost 50% of its figures - but being elite, even a 1 will be fine.
The Russians ATG company (a total of 2 ATGs) also need to take a morale check but is OK.

A PanzerIII circles he lower end of the town to get a flank shot on the T34.  misses.  Other PanzerIII also misses. T34 returns fire and misses.  But the other ATG that has been waiting in the woods all this time has a clear shot at the circling Panzer.  Misses.
The Germans that stormed the ATG now charge the Russian Battalion HQ in hiding behind one of the buildings.  And lose the hand to hand combat,  so are lost.  Another morale check triggered for the Germans but are still fine.

The T34 destroys another panzer.  With only one left, this triggers a morale check for the remaining PanzerIII that must pull back for a turn and cannot advance until passing a rally check (easy for the elites - 2+ on a d6).
The Germans storm across the road into the barn/stables and succeed in hand to hand combat against the 3 defenders (all gone).

  Storming barn/stables

Morale check for the remaining Russian company is pullback for 2 turns.
A Higher morale check (for the whole force in this case) is required for the Russians as one company gone and another pulling back.  a 1 is rolled (low is bad), which is modified to a -1 and results in pull back for 2 turns.  As there is no hope of holding the town after those two turns, I will call the game for the Germans. A  narrow victory though - two-thirds of the tanks destroyed and nearly two-thirds of the infantry.  But they took the town!

 End game overview

Post game review
Having been years since playing Take Cover, or 20mm WW2, it was refreshing that is is still just as fun as I remember.  I will be playing more (maybe in 6mm on a smaller board as I can hide that from the children) during the year, and hopefully some non-solo games. The motivation test for infantry under fire never came into play - the Russians did not move, and the Germans automatically passed every time it could have happened.  Having read a little bit more of battalion actions since playing this game (about 2 weeks), the rules do seem to capture the feel of a brigade/battalion commander and the decisions and information that have.  The rules could do with some streamlining - there is a table and modifiers for everything, and a lot of the modifiers are the same across tables - and I may do some of that during the year. I may also try out some simple card activation (a card per company) rather than initiative as I do like the uncertainty that card activation, in moderation, gives).  But, as it stands, without any modifications, Take Cover is still a top favourite for my WW2 gaming.


  1. Take Cover now there is a rule set I enjoyed (as a much better alternative to Rapid Fire) but have not used in several years. Enjoyable read.

  2. Thanks. I am through a second 6mm game and while I have opted for a card activation system to activate companies, the rest of the rules remain almost unchanged. I still like it. I spent 4 months of downtime as I was distracted by thinking I should try other rules, but came back to Take Cover. I will try other rules later on though!

  3. Great stuff. I love the home made feel to it all. Stimulating.