Saturday, May 12, 2012

Perspective: This Is What I'm Talking About

Untitled, Julian Beever
I lot of folks are probably a little scared now, because I'm suggesting all sorts of things that don't currently have much, if any, any relation to 40K-as-we-know-it. Some of it has a basis in how Flames of War works, but 95+% of you aren't going to have the same experience with that game that I do. So let me show you a 'moment' from Flames that epitomizes the promise that I see in adopting some of Battlefront's ideas and improving on them.

Here's a typical table, set up for Flames, from the game I watched last Wednesday night between two of my friends. Farmpunk, who was playing Americans; and Patrick, who was playing Brits. I set up the terrain and then we rolled a mission. With no idea what it would be.

We rolled up a long-ways defensive battle (my favorite mission). The flags are the objectives that the defender has to hold.  Farmpunk was playing a tank list, and Patrick was playing an infantry list. So Farmpunk's tanks are automatically the attacker in this mission. You only roll off if both players have the same kind of force. So you can choose a list based on whether you usually want to attack or defend.

Now look carefully and you'll see that the Brits only have a few units on the table. While Farmpunk has deployed his entire army. The mission requires that the defender put half of his units into reserve before the battle. OMG! REALLY? THAT'S 15 TANKS VERSUS JUST SOME INFANTRY!

Yep. Patrick had 8 'Platoons' (units in our game). So he had to put 4 of them into reserve. The other 4 could be put on the table, and one of them could be put in ambush. Which means that within certain restrictions, he can deploy the ambushing unit anywhere he likes on his half of the table during his movement phase. He chose a unit of 3 Sherman tanks for this.

Now, Patrick's an old 40K hand and a relatively new Flames player; and this was his first time playing this mission. So his 40K sensibilities kicked in and he started getting REALLY worried. "There's just no way...", he kept saying over and over.

But you know what? He won that game. He had some dice luck, and me coaching him, but during his first turn he took out that entire platoon of Shermans in front of him. Then he tore up the self-propelled artillery in the center that thought it could just drive up close and blaze away. His own Shermans popped out next to the hedge to the right of that infantry platoon and tore Farmpunk's Priest platoon a new one.

The rest of the game was still tight and fun as Farmpunk tried to take the far objective instead. He wasn't out of it yet. But he got squeezed between Patrick's tanks, SPG's, and the infantry on the objective with a single spring-loaded AT gun that killed 2 of his remaining tanks. Eventually, Farmpunk took so many losses that he failed a company morale check and had to bug out after about 8 turns.

And do you know what Farmpunk said when it was done? He said "Yeah, I rushed up to fast.". You see, he didn't fail because of his list. Infantry is tough to dig out, but it's not that hard to do. He had the tools he needed. The Shermans could have assaulted those infantry and won the combat easily if the target had been properly prepared first.

But no, he got impatient and rushed everything forward instead of bombarding that platoon and smoking the guns. So he needed 6's to hit the infantry, and the 6 shots from those two 24" six-pounder guns only needed 3's and 4's to hit back. Not a single infantry base fired a rifle all game long. But they blocked Farmpunk's movement so that he couldn't just rush the guns. They were an obstacle. That's what infantry are for. :)

I've played that mission many times, and every single time the loser had only his tactics to blame. Not his list. I haven't changed my tank list in over a month, because tweaking lists out perfectly isn't required. The action on the table counts for far more. Which is a far cry from 40K where I used to spend WEEKS tweaking my lists over and over for every small advantage that I could get.

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