British Cromwell hunts Whittman!

British Cromwell hunts Whittman!
A pic from a Fireball game at Fall In 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Latest game and new thoughts on Machine Guns

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to run Fireball for a great group of guys that unfortunately I can only game with on rare occasions. Rick Wynn and his crew are a very creative bunch that play a wide spectrum of periods and are always open to new and interesting rules. We played the scenario 'Holding On' from the Panther mini-campaign of the St Lo book. It features two platoons of GIs with some M10s trying to hold off a full company of Panzer Grenadiers supported by a Panther. I am not going to give a blow-by-blow account and suffice to say that everyone had fun and the Germans were not able to breakdown the American defense. One of the primary reasons for this was a flank attack by the M10s. Steve Wynn (Rick's brother) maneuvered them through hedgerows on the flank of the German assault and although he lost one tank destroyer he essentially caused the general German attack to bog-down.

There was one big issue that he raised during his battle with the German infantry. His remaining M10 was alone in the middle of a field that was bordered by hedgerows. Since the Germans had an entire platoon of infantry facing him they decided to charge the entire platoon into the field to bombard the tank destroyer with panzerfausts. Since the M10 can only take one opportunity fire that means that two squads could move in a frontal assault against the M10 with impunity. This does not seem right. The vehicle has machine guns and a frontal assault is not the correct tactic and in fact seems like a 'gamey' move. Since the rules philosophy is to encourage correct tactics we need to address this.

Steve has a good suggestion that I am going to try. Tanks, AFVs and machine gun teams can fire multiple opportunity shots if the infantry target ends its move in the open. Simple, elegant and I think right on. This encourages infantry to move from cover to cover while making machine guns significantly different from regular small arms. Machine gun teams will have the option of either doing the 'grazing fire' rule -OR- take multiple opportunity shots at targets that finish their move in the open.

Thanks to all the guys at 'Wednesday Night at the Fights.'



  1. Mark,

    My one comment on the proposed idea is that it sounds right for an open top vehicle or similar AFV with good vision, but I would not expect a buttoned up tank to gain the same advantage. Perhaps a tank that is suppressed/buttoned (I can't remember the exact possible states in the game) gets only the one shot.

    Giving machine gun teams a boost like this would give players a good reason to use those teams as their historical counterpart. I still remember the one game I oplayed at Fall In! where my position fell because the German's MG-34 team was able to fire as an MG (with appropriate bonuses) and also then get up and act as an assult team to turn the flank of my position...

  2. Brian,

    Thanks for your insights. We are definately trying to design rules that reward players for good tactics and punish bad tactics without relying on excessive charts and rules. I hope this new take on MGs will do that. As for the MG team assaulting your position we'll think on that. They do suffer a -1 in close combat which means against a full squad they will lose the fight twice as often as the squad. Maybe that is not enough of a penalty...