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Subject: My First Mission Demonstrates My... Lack Of Respect For Fields Of Fire rss

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Michael J
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So after months of fence sitting, reading of rules, and finally a purchase of Fields Of Fire, I sat ready to embark on my first mission against the Germans in Normandy. The game is overwhleming at first (and I think that's part of the put-off for some people). You have dozens of platoons, weapons, and pyrotechnics to assign, and knowledge of the terrain makes a big impact here as well. It took me almost an hour to divide up my troops, and I felt like I was making arbitrary decisions for some of the attachments and assets ("OK, you go here, red means retreat, green parachute means cease fire. Yeah, that looks good."). I was not confident I had the pyrotechnics worked out optimally, but it was time to invade.

Layout:

The layout looks favorable (from my green commander's point of view). Row 1 is full of woods and bocage, giving me good cover opportunity. Row 2 has open fields to the west, and good cover to the east. Row 3 has a gully, woods and bocage throughout. The easy decision was to set up my primary and secondary objectives to the northeast, allowing my troops to move up east of the open fields and stay in cover. So that's my plan. Invade up the eastern front. Move some long range gunnery to the west, and have them stay on row 1 and shoot through the open fields.

(Initial thoughts: I like games that give me the chance to plan strategies in advance at my own pace. Fields Of Fire succeeds perfectly in this case).

Turn 1:

My ONLY good decision comes on turn 1. I receive a ton of commands, and could easily have overspent. Instead, I took a cautious approach, sending two squads to recon in the woods. I save the rest of my commands. One squad finds an empty region, no contacts, and manages to find cover. The other squad, however, finds a minefield, suffers an immediate casualty, and becomes pinned (although it too managed to find cover). Had I gotten greedy on turn 1, I could easily have sent more troops to the minefield, and would have suffered heavy losses. So good decision there.

Unfortunately, the minefield was directly in the path towards my primary objectives, and the way to the west led me into open fields with no cover. This put my mission at an immediate crossroads. Fortunately, I had woods to the east of the minefield I could try to squeeze through, but that would put a lot of pressure in that region, with possible limited cover available.

(Immediately, I like the tactical considerations Fields Of Fire offers. I take a break, trying to figure out my next move)

Turn 2:

Turn 2 starts with me receiving a complementary ammo drop from BN HQ. 4 Ammo dropped onto Row 1, and it was nice to know it was there in case I needed it.

On this turn, I decide to send my troop on row 1 that found cover further to the west for more recon, and move the rest of the platoon to the cover location. This operation goes well. The entire platoon, including some big weapons, is safely on row 1 under cover (although vulnerable due to overcrowding), and the lone recon scout manages to clear the woods to the west, finding no contacts, but no cover either.

Seeing the minefield blocking my path, I send a recon scout to the east of the minefield. He fails to find cover. He also walks into a PC that results in artillery fire on his location, with an unspotted artillery spotter to the north. The artillery fire immediately deals a casualty, and pins the rest of the team. Again, thank god I only sent a single scout.

But now I'm blocked on BOTH eastern paths. I have a decision point. Wait until the artillery spotter runs out of ammo, or send in more troops to try to spot him so we can take him out. His chances of launching another fire mission on the very next turn seem small, but I'm not sure since I haven't played the game before. Unfortunately, he probably won't go away on his own. I'd have to make him leave.

(Wow, this is tense. I can actually feel my troops in danger!)

Turn 3:

Basically, I decide that I don't have time to wait out the spotter if it means waiting 3 turns for him to go away. I'd send in troops from the western front to spot him through the open fields so I can attack. And then, here I make the first horrible mistake of the game. I order a platoon move to the woods where the last artillery shell hit. What are the odds the spotter draws another fire mission card? (spoiler alert... they are pretty good).

My scout from the west manages to go north one more card without revealing any new contacts, and now has an open view of the spotter's location from open fields and through some woods that don't block LOS. I'm happy with that decision. I order the scout to attempt to spot the artillery spotter during the initiative phase rather than searching for cover, and he manages to spot him. I'm feeling confident I can take him out before his next call for fire, and slightly relieved that I might be able to make it with my platoon moving to the artillery target zone.

Unfortunately, during the enemy activity phase, the spotter succeeds in his call for fire, and practically my entire 2nd platoon is devastated by the reign of artillery shells. Two casualties, a litter team, a paralyzed team, loss of my bazookas and one LMG. Complete disaster. I killed an entire platoon... I guess I should have gone more carefully here. At least the artillery spotter is gone, having run out of fire missions to call.

(I am feeling very guilty right about now. I am confident I have enough troops to finish the job, but I made a very bad decision sending those guys into harm's way. I'll have to get much better if I want to succeed at a full campaign!)

Turn 4:

With the woods to the east now clear, and my scattering of troops, I push forward from the east, and move my other platoons up on the western front (not having enough moves to shift them all the way to the east). I put men in the open fields. I now have 2 PC markers to uncover. I feel like I am doing well.

UNTIL, the enemy event phase... the Germans draw a Counter-Attack that causes me to place PC markers on every card I am on. I have to add 7 PC markers, and all of my troops just moved and were mostly exposed.

With a total of 7 PC markers to reveal (2 markers disappeared because I had more than 1 on a couple of cards), I revealed the worst of the worst. Command posts at point blank range, unspotted. HMG, spotted. 3 squads of automated weapons fire, a leader under a bunker, all unspotted, etc... etc... Basically, my forces come under attack from all sides from unspotted foes both within LOS and/or at point blank range. They are exposed. The majority are now in open fields with no cover, and no PDF towars the enemy (except for a HMG gun). Two patrols have walked directly on top of enemy forces and don't even know it; they are about to get hammered!

(Holy smokes! What just happened? Did that counter-attack really say to add 7 PC markers? That's INSANE!!!! This game is brutal. I thought I was going to walk right up the battlefield, suffered a horrible loss of a platoon due to artillery, and thought I had escaped the worst. I was wrong. This game is crazy!!!

I have to take a break now for dinner, but I am thinking about the counter attack the entire time. I know my soldiers are in trouble...)


The combat effects phase is disastrous. Half my forces are dead, wounded, paralyzed, or pinned.

I retreat, and give up, ready to analyze my mistakes. I'm not sure what I could have done against the counter-attack. Once it appeared, my forces were decimated.

What I learned:

1) Don't understimate artillery fire.
2) Advance slowly so that I can achieve cover for more troops
3) Open fields are NOT good; don't underestimate terrain
4) I need to advance the platoon HQ's faster. It seemed like my scouts and forces were out of range too often.
5) Don't draw a counter-attack event

I have learned to respect Fields Of Fire a little more. This is no game. Fields of Fire means business. Time to plan my next assault.
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Andreas Krüger
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Quote:
4) I need to advance the platoon HQ's faster. It seemed like my scouts and forces were out of range too often.


Which means, of course, the HQ will be in danger....
 
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Matt R
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Fun little game - eh?
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Blake Phillips
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Ahhh... the dreaded counter attack. I went through something like 4 games without seeing one and then BAM... I sat there with my jaw dropped open. Blew apart the advance and just kept me from a last turn victory. Thematic as hell. Welcome to the club.
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Michael J
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Thamos von Nostria wrote:
Quote:
4) I need to advance the platoon HQ's faster. It seemed like my scouts and forces were out of range too often.


Which means, of course, the HQ will be in danger....


Yes, I'm seeing the challenge of sending squads out into the woods. If you send them out, they can't hear you. But if you send in the platoon leader, you risk total chaos if he is hurt. Too bad I don't have enough field phones for all the units. Perhaps I can forgoe a phone to my XO or 1st SGT, and give one to a unit that is out scouting. Of course, I risk losing the phone completely if the unit is destroyed and the phone with him due to failed phone integrity check.

I actually am holding off asking for advice, because I think discovering new tactics and strategies is part of the fun!
 
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Michael J
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Yaboo wrote:
Ahhh... the dreaded counter attack. I went through something like 4 games without seeing one and then BAM... I sat there with my jaw dropped open. Blew apart the advance and just kept me from a last turn victory. Thematic as hell. Welcome to the club.


I may have been able to recover, but I took so long to get to that point (probably 6-8 hours, in between setting up, reading rules, reading threads on the forums, etc..., that I decided to start over with a better sense of how the game works for my second round). I'm looking at the box now, desirous of some playtime, but I'll have to wait until later when I'm done working!

It definitely was a rude awakening. I purposely did not scan the enemy HQ event tables just so that enemy events would be a surprise. This one made my jaw drop. I haven't looked at the others, but I doubt any could be worse!

I did not count on enemy forces appearing in cards I was already on so fast! I will have to re-think some strategies!
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Lawrence Davis
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Great stuff Mike. Hey man, like a previous poster stated, WELCOME TO THE CLUB!

We have all been there I can promise you that. Two things. Don't get to down on the time. Things will speed up alittle as you get more and more use to the system and the phases. But there is just a certain amount of time that is needed if you plan on finishing a mission successfully. I've been playing for months and I still take several hours to finish a mission. It's a thinking game for sure and I use a lot of time thinking through strategies and plans. Because just going in willy-nilly without thinking things through will certainly get you FRAGGED!

Second, you will come to not get to upset about seeing your troops go down. I remember vividly when I had a platoon get hit by a mortar barrage. I just shook it off and moved on with my other troops and succeeded with the mission.

That's when you know you are a Cherry No-More! When your little cardboard soldiers are screaming and writhing in pain and you are as cool as John Wayne and push-on with who's left! That's when you will know you are a Veteran!!

Carry on troop!!
 
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Christopher O
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Welcome! It's a great game once you get the hang of it.

In five games I have yet to encounter a counter-attack, but I know it'll come someday.

As for rebounding from adversity, I remember the first game I played, the first contact with a single squad I sent forward was an artillery spotter which promptly reduced that squad to a smoking heap of LATs and casualties. Later in the same game, I got hung up on a sniper.

It's kind of fun stumbling around as a FoF newbie and figuring out things about the system (as well as real-world principles of concentration of fire and manuever). Many years of tactical/ gaming experience with games like SL/ASL and Firepower don't amount to anything when you're faced with a system that actually requires you to account for how orders get passed down the line.
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Great Report. Have a quarter

I really like your italicised thoughts

Looking forward to reading your next mission.
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mjacobsca wrote:
5) Don't draw a counter-attack event


Unfortunately, the game realizes rule 5 is there only to mock us.
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Michael J
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GeneSteeler wrote:
Great Report. Have a quarter

I really like your italicised thoughts

Looking forward to reading your next mission.


Glad you enjoyed my thoughts Randy. FoF produces the most narrative and dramatic session reports I've ever read. They were one of the primary reasons for me purchasing this game with limited to no wargaming experience, and despite my early confusion from reading the rules online and playing around with VASSAL. Reading about troops scouting terrain, calling in air strikes, spotting snipers in church towers, getting pinned, evacuating wounded, and riding in Jeeps around the battlefield was amazing. And best of all, these session reports weren't exagerrations of what happens in FoF. All that stuff DOES happen! It's awesome!
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Steve
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Counter attack is brutal.
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garysax wrote:
Counter attack is brutal.


You've made me hngry to play this game for myself. It's just moved up the waiting list!
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Chris Buhl
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mjacobsca wrote:
I have learned to respect Fields Of Fire a little more. This is no game. Fields of Fire means business. Time to plan my next assault.


Hey, thanks for this write up. I have to tell you, I've been back and forth about a dozen times about giving this game a try. I almost pre-ordered it, then didn't. I almost bought it, then didn't. I almost traded for it... you get the picture.

This write up is the swing vote. I'm definitely finding a copy for my collection.

Chris
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Blake Phillips
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You won't regret it at all... some investment in time, reading, and asking Q's and you will on your way. I have said it before and I will say it again... FOF is a classic.

fatgreta wrote:
mjacobsca wrote:
I have learned to respect Fields Of Fire a little more. This is no game. Fields of Fire means business. Time to plan my next assault.


Hey, thanks for this write up. I have to tell you, I've been back and forth about a dozen times about giving this game a try. I almost pre-ordered it, then didn't. I almost bought it, then didn't. I almost traded for it... you get the picture.

This write up is the swing vote. I'm definitely finding a copy for my collection.

Chris
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Hugh Grotius
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Yep, I agree, it's a classic. I may have trouble going back to ASL after this. The command-and-control model is really terrific in FoF.

Great writeup! I feel your pain. If it makes you feel better, I had two counterattacks within four turns of each other in the re-attempt of my failed Mission 1, and ultimately I failed the reattempt. Counterattacks are highly annoying when they arrive, but like so much else in this game, they "feel" right. Sometimes stuff happens, and you have to deal with it.
 
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Michael J
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Grotius wrote:
Yep, I agree, it's a classic. I may have trouble going back to ASL after this. The command-and-control model is really terrific in FoF.

Great writeup! I feel your pain. If it makes you feel better, I had two counterattacks within four turns of each other in the re-attempt of my failed Mission 1, and ultimately I failed the reattempt. Counterattacks are highly annoying when they arrive, but like so much else in this game, they "feel" right. Sometimes stuff happens, and you have to deal with it.


I kind of wish that I had stuck it out and tried to fight on with my limited teams, but I had spent almost 8 hours on the game at that point, and figured it was near lost. Next time, however, I'm going to play to the last bloody drop! Of course, I also wasn't playing the campaign, and didn't have the opportunity to regroup and re-try the mission with the retry rules (which are great, BTW).
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Chris Buhl
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Yaboo wrote:
You won't regret it at all... some investment in time, reading, and asking Q's and you will on your way. I have said it before and I will say it again... FOF is a classic.

fatgreta wrote:
mjacobsca wrote:
I have learned to respect Fields Of Fire a little more. This is no game. Fields of Fire means business. Time to plan my next assault.


Hey, thanks for this write up. I have to tell you, I've been back and forth about a dozen times about giving this game a try. I almost pre-ordered it, then didn't. I almost bought it, then didn't. I almost traded for it... you get the picture.

This write up is the swing vote. I'm definitely finding a copy for my collection.

Chris


Hey, I see you're about half way between me and Boston. Are you heading to Unity Games?
 
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Chris Buhl
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Just to follow up, because of this write up I traded for FoF, and what a great decision it was. Thanks for the push!

Chris
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