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chairborne
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Join date : 2018-02-24

AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:21 am
Last Sunday we had a test game of Richard C's unofficial Cold War mods for Battlegroup. We played it in 6mm. I've been trying out Fistful of Tows 3 with one of our club members, but the rules just aren't quite gelling for us. So we are on the lookout for a 1:1 Cold War ruleset that flows and has a bit of character. All of those who played were very familiar with BG WW2 in its various flavours, so imposing a new set of mods over a much enjoyed core ruleset did not seem too daunting. We've also played BG WW2 in 1/200 so were fairly confident it would work.

We drew up a very basic hasty attack/defence game, small battlegroup of plucky Brits in Chieftains and FV432s versus a Soviet T-64 coy and a BMP-1 motor rifle company with some supports (see below for force lists) . I did have some minor playability concerns about the size of the forces involved but these turned out to be unfounded. One decision we did make (based on our 1/200 games) was to use centimetres rather than inches as the unit of measurement. More on this later.



A basic shot of the table - 8x3. The hill on the right marked in red (henceforth to be known as Hincmar's Hill) formed one side of the British defence with a Chieftain troop and a recce/arty spotter. The line on the left was infantry dug into the buildings and hedges, with another Chieftain troop and some ATGM support from a CVRT/Milan Compact Turret.

Turn 1
The Soviets did not opt for subtelty. Down the road went a mixed T-64/BMP-1 company, with the rest of the force going left and cross country. The BDRM recce also pushed towards some woods to get into positon for calling down the 122mm battery.



Soviets start down the road.

Turn 2
Largely uneventful. NATO called in some 81mm mortar fire, which scratched some paint of a T-64, but little else. The Russians continued forward but failed to call in their artillery.

Turn 3
We started to get into engagement ranges (remember we were using cms, so max range for the Chieftains with advanced guns was 100cm). The Soviets got their FOO hooked up to the net and called in a 122mm barrage on Hincmar's Hill. This turned out to be unpleasant for the British. I rolled two direct hits and multiple pins (3 guns firing twice = 6D6) and killed the recce CVRT and pinned two Chieftains). Not bad. In return, Fred drew a mine strike chit which he placed on my lead T64, killing it.



Hincmar's Hill gets hit with 122mm barrage...



...and the Soviets hit a stray mine

Turn 4
We were now definitely within range of the Chieftains, but they struggled to hit anything. Playing in cms and against moving targets, the British needed sixes and were not having much luck. Fred was also playing canny (as ever) and used reserve move to move to the edge of the wood, fire and back off again. The T-64s moved into their effective range and started use HE to suppress the Chieftains on the left side. The 122mm battery continued to harass and pin, but failed to better its earlier success.



Soviets start to deploy off the road and into line.

Turn 5
Things started to get up close, with the T-64s now in a position to return aimed fire and some of the BMPs using their ATGMS. A coupe of tanks brewed up on both sides, and some pinning,  but NATO was about to get hit by a lot of tanks and infantry, some of which started to dismount and move up. 



T-64s start to engage with Chieftains around the crossroads and largely ignore those on the right..



...and the British lose a couple of tanks.

Turn 6 
The remainder of the Chieftain troop on the right came off the hill in an attempt to get some flanking shots on the T-64s. Fred hit a couple but much to his disgust managed to not get the penetration rolls. The Russians returned fire to little effect, and there was a brief but bloody infantry firefight.  At this point we called it a day - it seemed obvious that the British centre was about to get overrun. We then had a good discussion on what we thought of the mods. 



The only infantry firefight of the game, with both sides losing a squad each.

Observations/feedback

General.The rules played quickly, even with a fairly high points value. This was partly due to everyone knowing the core mechanics, a simple scenario,  and  the fact we stuck to quite vanilla forces, and no airpower was involved. Regardless it played well with 1400 points on one side and 900 on the other.

Units of measurement. We all agreed that we should have stuck to inches rather than cms. For too much of the game NATO was trying to pick off Soviet tanks at 50-100cm and needing sixes to hit. This didn't feel right over the relatively open terrain. One concern was that using inches means (for example) a T-64 on the road could move 3 feet down an 8 foot table in a single move. However the counter to this is obviously a higher likelihood of being hit and killed.

Lethality. This might have been entirely down to the units of measurement (or just lousy dice), but it did not feel like NATO was benefiting from the presumed advantage in training/troop quality. They simply weren't hitting things very often. I may be wrong but I feel NATO should have more of a gunnery edge over the Soviets at longer ranges. We will retry using inches and see if this changes.

Orders/Command and control. It felt like the Soviets (who I was playing) had a huge surfeit of orders every turn. We had two companies and a senior officer so had loads of extra officer orders, on top of our dice, which coupled with the Battle Drill, felt too much. My perception (which may be wrong) was that Soviet C2 was expected to be clumsy/inflexible. It didn't feel that way. Should WARPAC get orders for platoon officers? Or should there be more options for NATO to disrupt/reduce orders rolls? One query we had - we assume that mechanised infantry vehicles/embarked infantry can use the Battle Drill/Stahlx3 rule as well as tanks.

Defences. The NATO side definitely needed some defences/obstacles to disrupt/slow down the Russian onslaught. A minefield or two on the main road, and some tank scrapes with a couple of PTRPs would have made a big difference. Table space to fall back to a second line would have helped too.

Artillery. It feels like artillery may play an even bigger role in NORTHAG than say FOTR. Which is probably as it should be. I can see FASCAM being popular among NATO players.

The Hitchin club is suitably enthused after this test game and plans are afoot to try it out on a bigger table, with some more interesting elements and some air power. Possibly an opposed water crossing as well.

A final note to acknowledge the amount of work and effort that Richard C has put into these modifications. The breadth and depth is impressive, and the attention to detail (down to the formatting - and wide choice - of army lists) is amazing.  I'm looking intently at the Soviet Naval Infantry and have just noticed the VDV have landed!. I've finally played a Cold War game I enjoyed rather than flicking through rules and technical data lists (looking at you Fistful of Tows....). This all bodes well for NORTHAG when it lands.

Terrain was mine, as were the Soviets, British were Simon's, from the Hitchin club.

Soviet force
Forward HQ
Forward Signals Unit
1 x Motor Rifle Company in BMP1s
1 x LMG support squad
1 x T64 MBT Company
1 x BRDM2 Recce Command
1 x 2-tube 120mm off-table mortar battery
1 x 3-tube 122m off-table howitzer battery
2 x Shilka
Total c1400 points  

British Force
Forward HQ
Mechanised Infantry Platoon in FV432
1 x FV120 Spartan MCT
2 x 3-tank troops of Chieftain Mk9 with Stillbrew armour
1 x slick crew
1 x CAT crew
2 x 2-tube off table 81mm mortar batteries
2 x FV101 Scorpion light tanks
4 x 0ff-table Swingfire shots
Total 920 points.


Last edited by chairborne on Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:47 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Post title edited to reflect Pier's note.)
Nick2729
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:04 am
Thanks Chairborne. Some really interesting thoughts/insights from the game - particularly arround the orders/3C and the relative troop qualities.

It will be interesting to see some further AAR to see if this is something which needs adjustment - certainly the orders sound out of kilter with my own perceptions.

Cheers

Nick
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Piers
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:12 am
Just to note these are Richards rule amendments, with some comments and changes suggested by myself and Warwick.

They do not necessarily represent what Northag will look like, or play like, but do offer a means of discussion.
sediment
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:54 am
Nice report and great to see the rules work with 6mm forces at that scale.

Some interesting reflections on the rules. For NATO, FASCAM is your friend if you don't have prepared defences and a long road along which Warpact can approach at speed. We played out a 500 point game last Thursday evening (report on this soon), but we experienced the same phenomena with my Chieftain Mk9s failing to score a single penetrating hit all game, although they were picked off with ease by T-72s, despite good cover. It seemed as if the Chieftains either couldn't hit or penetrate at long range. The T-72s suffered similar problems hitting at long range, but if they did hit, the Chieftain brewed up every time. Maybe CAT or Slick crews as standard for NATO are a way ahead? Ironically, I thought it was all over for my British battlegroup, but BMPs are very vulnerable to mortar strikes and T-72s really don't like Swingfire missiles fired from concealed positions behind woods.

Re the C3 issues, how many orders dice were the Soviets rolling? With 2 platoons each on table in our 500 point game, we were rolling 2d6 each plus 3 officers for the Brits and 2 for the Soviets (they didn't bring an FHQ). Even then, the Soviets never needed to use their battledrill options.

Our experiences totally agree with yours about playability and a focus on the game and tactics rather than lots of data and tables.

Thanks for posting - any more games planned?

Cheers, Andy
chairborne
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:23 am
Piers - noted and apologies - didn't intend to imply this was a playtest of anything official. To be clear the above is an AAR and some feedback/thoughts on Richard C's unofficial CW mods. I've amended the title to reflect this.

Nick - thanks, and yes am also looking forward to seeing how others feed back.

Andy - the Soviets had 1400+ points, so it was a battalion game, which = 4D6 plus 8 officers (2x Coy Cdrs, 6 x Plt Cdrs), which did feel too generous. Interesting that you've had a similar experience on the gunnery side. We did discuss the idea of making CAT crews as standard (although if you look at how British tank crews performed at CAT, it was not an entirely rosy picture!). For our Yom Kippur mods we gave IDF crews a standard +1 and it didn't break the game.  But that's just my view - its for Richard to consider. I think the Brits could have invested in more ATGMs as well - some well sited/dug in Milan teams and Swingfires may have made the Soviet's job harder. Overall I really enjoyed the rules/game - we're hoping to have another on a bigger table next week, using inches this time to see what difference that makes - I suspect it will be significant and may address some of the above.
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Minkey
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:39 pm
Thanks for posting the report. Perhaps the Soviets should only have the officer rule in company sized formations? That would better reflect their emphasis on companies or battalions as the smallest manoeuvre unit.
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Piers
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:33 pm
In my playtests, NATO generally hit at worse on 5+ - Depending on the vehicle traits and crew of course. Though extreme range firing will always be hard as it's a game on a tabletop and it has to have some restriction. The balance will be in the Soviets having access to larger numbers to offset losses on way in... a rather streotypical view perhaps.  

This may not sound like much but it's a significant increase. 

With a single Leopard 2, in a playtest, Brian took out four T72s as they closed over a table at cross country, before being pinned, while the Leo 1s did appreciably less despite being three of them. 

It's why, in our view after a chat this weekend, myself and Warwick think we need to take a different approach to this and perhaps trying to 'update' WWII isn't the approach to go for and look at some new mechanics.
nickdives
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:19 pm
The Warsaw block should certainly have less flexibility, below Bn Cmdr they are not going to acting on their own initiative, they will continue in the direction they have been given until they have reached the objective or died!
Nick2729
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:51 am
@ Piers - I think that is probably the best approach. I agree - IMO - its not just WW2 with flashier vehicles and assets.

I also think that the victory conditions need to be carefully considered and scenarios written with the likely "real" battle actions in mind. Potentially the Soviet steam roller should "win" most actions in the broader sense - actions should be more delaying actions, rear guard - with staged withdrawl - to slow and damage the Soviets whilst trying to preserve own assets etc rather than standing to the last man unless a desparate situation.

Just my perceptions and thoughts!

Cheers

Nick
chairborne
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:11 am
I don't know - the game still felt like it worked for us and a couple of tweaks (which we'll try) I think might address things. I'd be reluctant to throw the baby out with the bathwater - but admit I've only had a single run through so far. Either way, I think Richard's mods are great and are going to be the mainstay of my CW gaming for the time being.

Nick's point about well thought out scenarios is one we've talked about in Hitchin and I think he is right on this.
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Piers
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:21 am
Well the changes I made to Richards original set (included in what you are playing) made the game play quicker and gave a more 'Battlegroup' feel to Richards original mods.

Those who have played our test games have enjoyed then immensely but I'm not convinced that, for me, that truly capture the 'feel' of the period as I would want them too. It's a difficult thing to know, but for me, the rules mods as they are don't quite hit the mark. Myself and Richard have discussed this and he has alot of our ideas incorporated except for the chit set that Warwick developed and some more work that I did on gunnery and vehicle traits.

But personally, with my test, while others enjoyed it and said it felt 'Cold War'... to me it was just WWII with different models and a couple of special rules.

I'm not sure that works for us. Besides which it has to be something we are happy with... and at present I'm not. That's not to say it doesn't work, but while you might think 'don't throw the baby out with the bath water' cos you enjoyed it, to me I think that there is potential for something alot better, with far more period feel and a chance at making a far more period immersing system... It certainly works at present (though I think there is lots that needs tweaking and alot that needs refining to a more Battlegroup 'ethos') but I have been left from each playtest with a feeling it should be more... I don't want that. I want to feel enthused and excited for more as when I play WWII with Battlegroup.
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RichardC
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:51 am
Sorry to join this discussion a bit late (and in a bit of a piecemeal fashion) by first up I want to say thanks to the guys in the Hitchin Club for giving the game a go and I'm really glad it looks like you enjoyed yourselves. It's great to see you guys playing a nice BIG game and to hear that it played smoothly and quickly.

My first thoughts after reading the report is why did you decide to play 1400 vs 900 and why no British defences (like minefields) or reasonable off table artillery like an Abbot or M109 battery? Just wondering – as it might have helped balance things out a wee bit.

Units of measurement. We all agreed that we should have stuck to inches rather than cms. For too much of the game NATO was trying to pick off Soviet tanks at 50-100cm and needing sixes to hit. This didn't feel right over the relatively open terrain. One concern was that using inches means (for example) a T-64 on the road could move 3 feet down an 8 foot table in a single move. However the counter to this is obviously a higher likelihood of being hit and killed.

I’ve only played in 20 and 15mm so I can’t really comment on how things work at 6mm. Is it possible to use cm for movement and inches for shooting? Might that help or is it crazy talk?

Lethality. This might have been entirely down to the units of measurement (or just lousy dice), but it did not feel like NATO was benefiting from the presumed advantage in training/troop quality. They simply weren't hitting things very often. I may be wrong but I feel NATO should have more of a gunnery edge over the Soviets at longer ranges. We will retry using inches and see if this changes.

I think the fault here is mine. We did most of our BAOR playtests a few years ago and in the mean time I have fiddled with the Soviet AFV stats without coming back to compare them to the more prominent NATO tanks. Based on feedback from others I was going to get rid of the early version of the L11A4 rifled gun, and just use the later version stats so that will improve the lethality of the Chieftains. It would also give you advanced ammo.

I’ve also reviewed the T-72 and T-64 armour rating and may reduce the T-72 to 18 at the front. I may need to consider raising the Chieftain 9’s front armour.

I agree with you re the gunnery edge but have never been 100% certain of how to represent it. The technology side of it is relatively easy to do using Piers’s add-ons. If you had taken the Mk 11 Chieftain you would have automatically been +1 to observe, +1 to hit, extra range, advanced ammo and no penalty for moving and shooting. If NATO tank crews automatically gained +1 to hit it would in essence mean you’d never be worse than 4+ to hit. Does that swing things too fair in the opposite direction? I’m not sure.

There must be some way to better reflect NATO training standards, professional NCOs, greater usage of live ammunition in training etc etc. I just haven’t come up with something I think works – I’d love to have you guys thinking about the problem as well.

One crazy idea I had was to use a D6 for everything, but NATO to hit rolls used a D8 or a D10??!!??

Anyway - I'll attempt to finish my comments/questions etc later today when I have a free moment

Thanks again for posting up the AAR and I really appreciate the time and effort you've gone to to provide such valuable feedback.

Richard
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RichardC
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:39 am
Orders/Command and control. It felt like the Soviets (who I was playing) had a huge surfeit of orders every turn. We had two companies and a senior officer so had loads of extra officer orders, on top of our dice, which coupled with the Battle Drill, felt too much. My perception (which may be wrong) was that Soviet C2 was expected to be clumsy/inflexible. It didn't feel that way. Should WARPAC get orders for platoon officers? Or should there be more options for NATO to disrupt/reduce orders rolls? One query we had - we assume that mechanised infantry vehicles/embarked infantry can use the Battle Drill/Stahlx3 rule as well as tanks.

This is something we have come up against on numerous occasions as well. You can see in the Rules under Battle Drill I’ve written Ura Ura and Sta! Sta! Sta! in red. That’s because I’ve not felt they were quite right in reflecting Soviet Battle Drill in the 1980s, but also because we’ve never needed to use them as the Soviets more often than not have plenty of orders to get everything done that they need to do.

I agree that while probably a bit simplistic to say the Soviets inflexible, at the level we are playing in BG that probably is the best way to represent the Soviet approach. Have loads of orders and Battle Drill is not giving the right “feel”. I think the general rules, technology and lists are pretty good – not perfect but evidence suggests they give a decent, enjoyable game. I think we just need a few tweaks to get that correct Cold War “feel”.

I’ve tried as best I can to keep things as BG as possible, and Piers and Warwick contributions have reinforced this – hence my not straying too far beyond to come up with ways of dealing with this. It now looks like more options are possible to deal with these Command & Control issues and I really look forward to seeing what people come up with.

One thing I’ve always wanted to try is a Lock ‘n Load board game mechanism where the NATO player puts 3 activation chits in a cup and the WARPAC player puts two activation chits in a cup along with 2 end turn chits. They get pulled at random and when the second end turn chit is pulled the turn is over and you start again. This gives the NATO player a chance to get more done – somewhat reflecting better command and control. I don’t know if it would work in BG but I’m willing to give it a test.

Defences. The NATO side definitely needed some defences/obstacles to disrupt/slow down the Russian onslaught. A minefield or two on the main road, and some tank scrapes with a couple of PTRPs would have made a big difference. Table space to fall back to a second line would have helped too.

Agree completely! Some dug in ATGMs might have helped as well!

Artillery. It feels like artillery may play an even bigger role in NORTHAG than say FOTR. Which is probably as it should be. I can see FASCAM being popular among NATO players.

Again true. Aircraft and helicopters can also make a significant difference. I played a game with German FJ (not armour at all) defending a valley exit from a Soviet armoured force. I thought I’d lost the game when a Soviet timed air strike with cluster bombs took out the centre of my defensive line – however two PAH-1 helicopters (one random) and numerous ATGMs managed to turn the tables and win me the game.

The Hitchin club is suitably enthused after this test game and plans are afoot to try it out on a bigger table, with some more interesting elements and some air power. Possibly an opposed water crossing as well.

A final note to acknowledge the amount of work and effort that Richard C has put into these modifications. The breadth and depth is impressive, and the attention to detail (down to the formatting - and wide choice - of army lists) is amazing. I'm looking intently at the Soviet Naval Infantry and have just noticed the VDV have landed!. I've finally played a Cold War game I enjoyed rather than flicking through rules and technical data lists (looking at you Fistful of Tows....). This all bodes well for NORTHAG when it lands.

Thanks very much for the compliment. It is greatly appreciated. I totally acknowledge the help, direction and support I've received thus far from Warwick and Piers. This was all done on my part out of love of the Battlegroup rules and a desire to use what I consider to be the best WW2 wargaming rules out there (for me) as a basis so I could play my favourite period - the Cold War in the 1980s. I feel very privileged that blokes from around the world have had a crack at the rules and enjoyed them enough to provide us with some real quality feedback.

Thanks again - I'll have a crack and making some adjustments to the lists and stats this week - hopefully before your next game.

Richard
Hincmar
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:18 am
Just to chip in as I was one of the players at this game:

I really enjoyed the game and echo Chairborne's comments entirely. Indeed, he ran his feedback past me before posting it as we had similar thoughts on how it went. The mods work very well and for the first time, I feel that we have a game engine that does what it says on the tin so far as Cold War Gone Hot is concerned, for the early to mid-1984 period before technology really escalates.

The points that could do with a little tweaking have been aired, and we'll give them a go again over the next few weeks. So - thanks again to Richard (with Piers' and Warwick's input) for putting in the work that enables all of us Cold War gamers out there to "scratch the itch".
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RichardC
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Re: AAR - Richard C's Unofficial Cold War Mods

on Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:50 am
Thanks Fred - really appreciate the comments.

Richard
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