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Subject: Silence the Guns (1st and 2nd play) rss

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Tony Ross

Maryland
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Our little cadre of friends just got TOI and for the first two full sessions, we played the "Silence the Guns" scenario since it seemed like a good one for getting a feel for the rules and wasn't too many rounds.

FIRST PLAY
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Four players, with one very experienced wargamer and one moderately experienced wargamer playing the Germans, and two less experienced wargamers playing the Americans. We played per the four-player rules so that each player controlled a division.

The Germans set up their machinegunners on the hilltop near the reinforcement zone, set to op-fire for the whole game. Mortars also on the hilltop, on the other end of the board. A few units in the objective area in the woods, and a few in the objective area in the rough ground. The Americans set up with the smaller division facing the bunker in the rough ground, and the larger division over by the manor house.

Basically, each American division fought toward the command objective opposite it, without trying to do anything about the German forces on the hilltop. That meant the German op-fire machinegunners had a field day, since they had pretty sweet LOS covering a lot of the board. Many many American troops were taken out by op-fire.

The tanks were used mainly to try and take out the bunker in the rough ground, and after bringing some flamethrowers up, the Americans did eventually occupy that objective. The fight in the forest didn't go as well, as the Americans got kind of congested and op-fire took its toll. The Americans conceeded after round 4.

The clear lesson was that those two machinegunners need to be taken out early for the Americans to have a hope.

SECOND PLAY
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This time it was two-player between the two players who controlled the Germans in the previous game. The more experienced player took the Germans again, and more or less had the same setup. The other player set up the Americans almost completely in the manor house area with only a token two squads on the other side of the board to draw some fire. The American plan was to drive the tank up the center to knock out the two machinegun positions while the bulk of the force smashed through the woods, using the half-track to help ferry elite strike forces. The goal being to occupy the German reinforcement zone so that the forces due to the Germans on Round 4 would be denied, while also flanking the hill.

This American plan failed and on the whole was only marginally better than the results of the first round. The reasons for this failure were many:

1) The American player didn't read up on half-tracks properly, and thought they could carry two units, not one. This meant they weren't able to move a large an initial strike force up as quickly as intended. They also didn't realize that half-tracks are made of cardboard. The German machinegunners took them both out pretty quickly and easily with op-fire, making them immobile peashooters by the third round.

2) The American player didn't realize the American tanks come armed only with nerf projectiles. They charged up the center and started blasting away at the machinegunners as intended, and pretty much didn't do **** the whole game. Part of that is the overwhelming protective power of the bunker, and part of it was fairly awful rolling. With the tanks at least, the American player didn't come close to rolling the odds.

3) The American player left the mortars all the way in the rear, meaning that most of their shots were at long range. That made them pretty ineffective the whole game. In retrospect, they should have been moved forward in the first round so that they would be in normal range. Of course, that would have made them targets for op-fire, but it's probably a gamble worth taking.

4) Once the half-tracks were revealed to be pathetic and the tanks ineffective, the American player dithered too long in changing their plan, allowing forces to languish in the rear, taking long potshots instead of moving them up. Part of this was due to the American player thinking it was a seven round scenario instead of six -- he kept thinking that if he could just knock out one of the machine guns, he could blitz forward, but by the time he did, it was too late.

5) The map with the forest on it was accidentally reversed, which probably gave a marginal advantage to the Germans in terms of line of sight for the hilltop machinegunners. With the map in the correct position, it becomes slightly easier to bring American troops up the side, using the trees to block LOS. It wouldn't have changed the overall outcome due to other mistakes on the American player's part, but it sure didn't help.

6) This is debatable, but in basically ignoring the bunker on the other side of the board, the American player was allowing the Germans to reap two uncontested command points every round. Command points that he used solely to buy reinforcements. Had the American player ever gotten to fight for the hills, those reinforcements would have been key.

It wasn't entirely negative for the Americans. Notably, they had several assault attacks that worked out really well in the woods. If you can bring the right combination of forces to bear in an assault, it can be pretty sweet. But getting that all organized can be tricky. Bunching all the forces in basically 1/3 of the map made for some tricky organization in order to avoid stacking problems. Once the machinegunners were taken out toward the very end, the Americans were able to break cover and even got an elite flamethrower unit into the hex adjacent to the German HQ.

So, the overall lesson just more or less confirms what our first play of the scenario showed -- the Americans have to knock out the German machineguns quickly, probably in the first three rounds, in order to have a chance of winning.

So, how then, can the Americans prevail in what the experienced wargamer called the "Mission Impossible" scenario? In addition to avoiding the pitfalls outlined above, I think the answer might at least partially lie in two things we haven't tried yet.

1) Combined fire: The idea that instead of a single squad attacking a single squad, you add half the fire power of some other squads to basically try and overwhelm the opponent's cover. For example, when the American player was rolling 9 dice for their tanks vs. the bunkered machine gun, he was generally only hitting once or twice, while the German rolled 6 defensive dice. That meant he could easily negate the few hits. Now, if the American player combined firepower so he was firing both tanks at once, he would be rolling 14 dice for him to defend against with his 6.

2) Suppressive squad fire: So far, we have been playing so that only mortars have been making suppressive attacks. However after this play I just checked the rules and discovered that _any_ attack can be suppressive! Now, you might think that making an attack suppressive doesn't make sense when you could be killing off figures. But once again, think of those machinegunners. Typically, they're on a base with two infantry cannon fodder. And when they get hit, the infantry are the first to go, while the machine gunners in op-fire get to keep putting Americans 6 feet under. Instead, if an attack is designated suppressive, a single hit isn't negated by a dead rifleman, it's pinned the machinegunners so they are no longer able to op-fire for the rest of the round! And one more hit disrupts them for the next round too...

So, now it becomes a little more evident just how the Americans can be expected to bum-rush that hill, and I imagine we will see this play out the next time we play the scenario.

Any reactions or tactical tidbits greatly appreciated.
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Sean D.
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Good report. I haven't played this scenario yet. I agree on several points. Especially about Americans (who usually have superior numbers) using combined fire to compensate for German cover.

We played a user-made scenario (Dog Green - D-day)and the 2 American Tanks just destroyed everything the Germans had in bunkers. Getting like 4-5 hits per roll-- Without combined fire!! It was my friend Eric's first game and he just thought that the American tanks always killed the bunkers in one shot every time... heh heh Next game

One overall thing that I have noticed for Americans (who are usually on the offensive)is that they can't be that worried about taking casualties. They usually are better off just plowing through the defences, doing a kind of leap-frog approach by moving up the forces in the back and using the ones at the front with better range to do combined fire attacks. Just my 2 bits.
 
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Dean Thomas
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Nice session report.

Silence the guns is a very tough slog for the Americans. I have won it once (out of 2 attempts).

The 2 Gemrman machine guns need to be pinned down at the very least (mortars are great for this). Denying the Germans command is also a major factor. With limitless command the Germans can bring in hhuge numbers of reinforcements, as well as get some useful abilities from the morale deck (I usually don't bother and just take reinforcements).
Half tracks and engineers can assault the 2 CP German entrenchment on the first turn, I think this is a good tactic (but good OP fire will kill it almost immediatly (a concealed AT unit in the hex with the entrenchment on OP fire is just rude). But I think that it is imperitive to capture that position as early as possible.

On the other side of the board. The 2 Shermans can move and fire first turn, using their concussive fire ability to start pounding the daylights out of the pillbox. Eventually they want to get close enough to squash down some barbed wire to assist the assault.

The remaining units advance through the woods to capture that objective and set up an assault on the bunker. Make sure you've got some engineers to remove some barbed wire when they get there (in case the tanks dont get there, or in addition to the tanks if able.

But that's just my take on the situation.
 
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Peter Appleton
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edgeonyou wrote:
2) The American player didn't realize the American tanks come armed only with nerf projectiles. They charged up the center and started blasting away at the machinegunners as intended, and pretty much didn't do **** the whole game. Part of that is the overwhelming protective power of the bunker, and part of it was fairly awful rolling. With the tanks at least, the American player didn't come close to rolling the odds.


You do realise that tanks get a big bonus firing against buildings (including pillboxes) don't you? I won as the US by parking both of my tanks directly in front of the pillbox and shelling the crap out of it at point blank range - nothing can survive that.

With regards to the MGs in Op fire mode, suppressive attacks are key prior to advancing. Also the US have the Ground Support deck in this scenario, which has very useful cards for killing/pinning enemy defenders...I used it almost exclusively in this scenario. If your opponent double stacks his MGs in the pillbox, go for killing shots if you can because he can't redirect casualties to regular grunts - every killing shot will destroy an MG.

This isn't a great introductory scenario IMO - you'ld be better with "Breaking the Line" or "Chain of Command" until you get a better handle on the game.
 
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Tony Ross

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TeufelHund wrote:
You do realise that tanks get a big bonus firing against buildings (including pillboxes) don't you? I won as the US by parking both of my tanks directly in front of the pillbox and shelling the crap out of it at point blank range - nothing can survive that.

Yeah, +3 right? Or is there something else we missed? The American player was rolling something like 8 or 9 dice and scoring at most 2 hits, and then the German player would roll his 6 defensive dice and erase the 1 or 2 hits.

TeufelHund wrote:
Also the US have the Ground Support deck in this scenario, which has very useful cards for killing/pinning enemy defenders...I used it almost exclusively in this scenario.

Yeah, in the first play, the US side got some useful cards, like the Sniper one and an Automatic Pin one. That mitigated some of their other errors. In the second play, the US player drew quite poorly and didn't get any of these cards until near the end, when it was too late.
 
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Tony Ross

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Hector131 wrote:
One overall thing that I have noticed for Americans (who are usually on the offensive)is that they can't be that worried about taking casualties. They usually are better off just plowing through the defences,

Yeah, in both plays, the US side was a little tentative -- mainly due to the having to run through fusillades of op-fire just to get up the board. The machineguns set to op-fire are psychologically crippling if you can't take them out quick...
 
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Peter Appleton
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edgeonyou wrote:

Yeah, +3 right? Or is there something else we missed? The American player was rolling something like 8 or 9 dice and scoring at most 2 hits, and then the German player would roll his 6 defensive dice and erase the 1 or 2 hits.


I don't have the game in front of me but unless you're Moving & Firing Simultaneously you should be getting more than 8-9 Dice against a pillbox with the +3 bonus. I think with a Sherman maybe 12 dice?

Also being in Short range (ie one hex next to the pillbox) you hit on a role of 4-6, which helps a lot. When I did that he managed to lightly damage both my tanks with infantry attacks but even if they're immobilised it doesn't matter very much by that stage.

If you're not experienced it is pretty easy to be a bit timid as the attacker in most ToI scenarios - once you realise there is a time limit and time passing generally favours the defender, you tend not to be so precious with your little plastic men any more...
 
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Ingo Ahrens
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TeufelHund wrote:

I don't have the game in front of me but unless you're Moving & Firing Simultaneously you should be getting more than 8-9 Dice against a pillbox with the +3 bonus. I think with a Sherman maybe 12 dice?


Shermans are firepower 6 with range 5 on infantry (same as germans tanks too, btw), so 6+3 dice seems appropriate. It'd surprise me if he'd allowed the Shermans to get in close combat range

Gonna play this one tomorrow, looks interesting.
 
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Ingo Ahrens
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Blademaster777 wrote:

Half tracks and engineers can assault the 2 CP German entrenchment on the first turn, I think this is a good tactic (but good OP fire will kill it almost immediatly (a concealed AT unit in the hex with the entrenchment on OP fire is just rude).


Well, you may not deploy or move concealed units in objective hexes w/o it becoming revealed immediately
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1664804 and a couple other places.
 
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Tony Ross

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CthIngo wrote:
Well, you may not deploy or move concealed units in objective hexes w/o it becoming revealed immediately

We were talking about that rule and trying to figure out what the rationale for it is. Anyone got any clue as to why this rule exists?
 
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Ingo Ahrens
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edgeonyou wrote:
CthIngo wrote:
Well, you may not deploy or move concealed units in objective hexes w/o it becoming revealed immediately

We were talking about that rule and trying to figure out what the rationale for it is. Anyone got any clue as to why this rule exists?


It's in that thread I linked:

Quote:
The point of the rule is to prevent you using a concealed unit to deny an objective hex to an opponent for one turn, since if that concealed unit doesn't attack it can only be revealed in the following Ststus Phase. Therefore logically you cannot set up in an objective hex.
 
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