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Subject: VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR rss

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Art Bennett
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I am one of the playtesters for Victory Point Games expansion to their Trenches of Valor (ToV) game. ToV is a small, fast playing game of Trench raiding on the Western Front of WW1. A small section of the trench line is represented on the map and players (or solo play) are the raiders and defenders in a series of scenarios. The Expansion Kit adds a new map (Map 2), new Scenarios (6) and updates of the original Scenarios for the new counters/rules, new counters (Leaders, Engineers, Flamethrowers), and new rules to support the new units.

I will be doing an AAR of the first Scenario from the expansion pact - S7 Basserville Outpost Barbeque.
From the Scenario:
“Historical Notes: In July of 1917, the New Zealand Division captured the village of Basserville as part of the preparations for the 3rd Battle of Ypres. It was driven out again after a few days of hard house to house fighting. On the evening of the 28th, just before dusk, the German artillery opened a heavy barrage against the New Zealand lines now outside of the village. Although a defensive artillery and machinegun barrage was soon called in by SOS rockets from the defenders, a raiding party of some 60 Germans attempted to cross No Man's Land. With the help of a flamethrower, some of them managed to capture one outpost, while adjacent sections held out or withdrew temporarily."

The German’s are the Raiders and they need to earn 14 VP’s by the end of the game. They get VP’s two ways: clearing 2 objective hexes (5 VPs each) and having units occupying trench hexes at the end of the game (1VP each). Since the German’s have a total of 7 units the math says they must clear both objective hexes and then have at least 4 units remaining and on trench hexes at the end of the game. The Scenario length is 5 turns.

Below is the initial setup:


The Commonwealth (CW) have 2 objective hexes with an LMG and Rifle on each, and 4 reinforcement units in 2 dugouts that enter play as the game progresses. This is my 3rd solo play of the scenario. I am new to ToV so I made some dumb mistakes previously. The first game I focused all the German’s on clearing the objectives and did nothing to prevent/slow down the CW reinforcements. The Germans got hung up clearing the objectives so when the CW reinforcements arrived they wiped the Germans out. The second game I realized the location of the CW dugouts enabled the Germans to send a unit to each on the first turn. This pinned the reinforcements in them and then on the second turn they cleared out both dugouts and all defenders (per game rules). They then proceeded to wipe out the remaining CW units. This time I will incorporate those 2 lessons.

Here is my thinking on the CW setup. The dugouts need to be close enough to the objectives to help in a timely manner but not too close so the German’s can pin and then destroy them easily. Where they are now, no Germans can move on them on the first turn. The German Grenadiers have a movement factor of 3, but entering trenches cost 2 MP so on the first turn they can only get adjacent to the dugouts. Then on the CW phase they can activate 1 of the units in each dugout and hopefully protect the dugouts from the Germans.

For the Germans, the Grenadiers, Flamethrower and Leader can setup on the cut wire hexes but the 2 Rifle units must setup on hex row 01xx per scenario rules. I have divided the Germans into 2 main assault groups. First the Leader and 2 Grenadier’s on 0402 are going to move adjacent to the dugout at 0603. The CW will then activate one unit in their phase and on the 2nd turn the Germans will attempt to destroy the unit and then the 2nd Grenadier (using the Leader’s ability to give 1 unit an attack/move combined action in a phase) will move onto the dugout. This will pin the remaining reinforcement and then the dugout and unit will be cleared on the next turn. Depending on the results of the battle with the other group, the leader and Grenadiers will either reinforce or move to clear the objective at 0301. The other main attack group (Grenadier and Flamethrower in 0307) will attempt to clear the objective hex at 0407. The 2 Rifle units at 0108 will move thru the cut wire into the trenches and attempt to block/neutralize the reinforcements from the dugout at 0507.

As I play the turns I will explain the rules in more detail.
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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 1 Raider Phase
The ToV expansion introduces 3 new units to the game: Leaders (CW, Fr, Ger), Engineers (CW,Ger), and Flamethrowers (Ger). Two of these units are present in this scenario.


Each side in the game can potentially have one Leader present in a scenario. The leader is a unit in its own right, with a movement of 3, a range of 1, and a 2 to kill. But its special characteristic is the ability to also give 1 unit per turn a combo action. Normally a unit can either move or attack during its phase. The Leader can give 1 unit per turn the ability to move then attack or vice versa. As an example, in my game on the second turn the German Leader can give one of the Grenadiers the ability to first attack and hopefully eliminate the CW unit guarding the dugout and then occupy the dugout in the same phase, pinning the second defender. Or later in the game, the Leader can give one of the Grenadiers the ability to move close to the second objective hex and then also attack the CW LMG in the same phase, hopefully destroying it before it can fire back.


Only the Germans get the Flamethrower unit. It has a movement of 2 - slow. It also only has a range 1, but it’s to kill is 5 and since the die is yellow, defending units in trenches do not get the +1 DRM against attacks. Therefore the Flamethrower will kill any unit on a 1-5 on one d6. Very powerful, but it also is a magnet for enemy bullets and grenades. As the rules state, "If the equipment didn’t explode during use, these soldiers were still prime targets of irate defenders who despised the psychological impact of this weapon’s use." This was well depicted in the movie "The Lost Battalion".

Now on to the first turn Raider phase.



First the Flamethrower in 0307 fires at the adjacent CW LMG in the trench. As stated above, the German needs to roll a 1-5 to kill with no DRM for the trench. The roll is 3 so the LMG is destroyed. Next the Grenadier fires at the remaining CW Rifle unit in the objective hex. At range 1 the Grenadier has a 3 to kill, and since its attack die is yellow there is no +1 DRM for the defender being in a trench. The roll is 3 so the Rifle is also destroyed. The first objective hex is cleared and both German units in hex 0307 have performed their one action for the phase and are done.

Next the 2 Rifle units in 0108 move onto the cut wire hex in 0208 which costs 1 MP. Raiders are only allowed to enter wire hexes with Cut Wire markers placed on them. Even though the Rifles have 1 more MP remaining they cannot move into the trenches which cost 2 MP to enter (but later only 1 MP to move along the trench line).

Finally the Leader and 2 Grenadiers move into the trench at 0604 using all their MPs (1MP for the clear hex and then 2MP for entering the trench hex). This will put them in position on turn 2 to try to kill the CW unit that activates in the first CW phase and then move onto the dugout to trap the 2nd CW unit in it. But they will also have to brave a long range shot from the CW LMG in 0301 during the CW phase.



All in all a good phase for the Germans, with everything going according to plan.

But even the best plans rarely survive contact with the enemy...

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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 1 Defender Phase
Not much for the CW forces to do this phase. The only units that can move or fire are the LMG and Rifle in the second objective hex (0301). But since the goal of the CW in this game is to hold the objective hex, these units are not going to move out of it. Therefore all they can do is take long range shots at the Leader and Grenadiers trying to neutralize the dugout (0603).

On the left side of combat unit counters is a vertical stack of hexes with or without a die in them. This indicates the range and to kill number for the unit when firing.



For the LMG at range 4 it needs a 1-2 roll to kill (good long range weapon). But since the defending unit is in a trench it gets a +1 DRM (unless it is being attacked from an adjacent connected trench hex or the attacker’s die on the unit is colored yellow indicating it is exploding). This means the LMG must roll a 1 to kill. The LMG fires at the German Leader (highest value unit because of its special ability) and rolls a 4 - miss. The Rifle unit also has a range of 4 but it’s to kill is 1 and when combined with the defenders +1 DRM means it is ineffective in this case.

The CW defender can also activate 1 hidden unit per turn per dugout hex/entry hex. Since I am playing solo I will select 1 random unit in each dugout to activate. On the turn a unit activates/unhides it can do nothing else that turn. Both dugouts get a Hand to Hand CW unit.



This is a great unit for close in combat with a range of 1 and to kill of 4. If they survive and can close with the Germans hopefully they can start slowing them down. But things are still going according to the German’s plans - we’ll see if their luck continues on the next turn.

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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 2 Raider Phase
Big turn for the Germans - they need to destroy the CW HtH unit guarding the Dugout in hex 0603 and then be able to move onto the dugout to pin the second reinforcement. On the left, the Germans need to move into the trenches and take up blocking positions against the CW reinforcements coming from the other dugout. Then phase 2 of the assault can begin with the Leader and 2 Grenadiers moving against the LMG and Rifle in the 2nd objective hex. One decision that needs to be made this turn is whether to shift the Grenadier in 0307 to reinforce the assault on the remaining objective. This decision will be made after seeing the results of the assault on the first dugout.


The first Grenadier in 0604 assaults the CW HtH in 0601. The to kill is 1-3, and since the Grenadier’s die on his counter is yellow there is no trench modifier for the defender. But also since the Grenadier is attacking from an adjacent Trench hex in the same line as the Defenders, the modifier does not apply. The roll is 1 which kills the CW HtH - German luck holds. The Leader and both Grenadiers move onto the dugout hex. This is possible for the Grenadier that fired because the Leader is using his special ability to give one unit an attack/move combo action. By moving both Grenadiers into the dugout this ensures that even if the CW LMG gets a lucky shot during its phase and kills one of the Grenadiers, there will still be a unit present to clear the dugout and kill the remaining CW reinforcement during the next German phase.

On the left the 2 Rifle units move into the trenches at 0308 at a cost of 2MP. The Flamethrower moves into the trenches at 0408. This puts him in a better position to interdict any CW move to retake the objective hex. Of course he will also be the first target of any CW fire in the process. Now for the decision, does the Grenadier stay with the units on the left to defend against the CW units coming from the dugout or does he move to reinforce the assault on the remaining CW objective hex (or at least draw their fire)? Not wanting to count on the German die roll luck holding, and having a healthy respect for the fire power of the CW LMG, I am going to shift the Grenadier over to reinforce the assault on the 2nd objective. Only time will tell if this was a bad decision.

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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 2 Defender Phase


The CW has a few more options this turn. The first is choosing the targets for the LMG and Rifle in the remaining objective hex. Moving the German Grenadier across the open terrain to support the attack on the objective may have been a mistake since it now gives the CW Rifle a target. The Rifle can’t fire at the Leader and Grenadiers on the dugout (1 to kill, +1 DRM for the defender being in a trench - no effect). But now it can fire at the reinforcing Grenadier on open ground - at range 4 the Rifle has a 1 to kill. The roll is 5 -– miss.

Now the CW LMG needs to decide between one of the German’s on the dugout (2 to kill but +1 Defender DRM for the trench) or the Grenadier in the open (2 to kill). At this point the CW needs to go for the higher probability shot against the Grenadier in the open in an attempt to whittle down the German assault - the roll is 1! Bummer, could have killed the Leader if the CW had took the lower probability shot. Hindsight is 20x20, but at least the CW has finally had a successful attack. Was the German move of the Grenadier over the open terrain a mistake - only time will tell? But at least it drew the fire of the LMG away from the Leader.


Now for the just activated CW HtH on the left side dugout. It only has an attack range of 1 hex so it must move adjacent to the enemy to be able to attack the following phase. Problem is that gives the German’s a chance to fire in defense during their intervening phase. Moving adjacent to the Flamethrower (1-5 to kill) is probably not a good idea. Moving adjacent to the 2 German Rifles also may not be a wise decision either (1-2 to kill, twice). Staying on the dugout could be an option to wait for the next activating unit and then do a combined attack later - problem is the German Rifles can fire with a 1 to kill (2 +1 DRM for trench). First I will activate the remaining hidden unit -– Grenadier. So the CW will move the HtH to 0309 to draw the fire of the German Rifles away from the Grenadier who can then hopefully do a 2 hex ranged attack against the Flamethrower the following CW phase. Sounds like a good plan for now, but it could go down in ‘flames’ later...


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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 3 Raider Phase
The German’s need to do a number of things this phase. First they need to clear the Dugout and trapped CW hidden unit in hex 0603 which will require one of their units to stay on the dugout the entire phase. They also need to rush the last objective hex with the other Grenadier and utilizing the Leader’s special ability to then attack the CW LMG. Finally they need to fend off the CW counterattack forming on the left side of the board. Let’s get started.

One of the Grenadiers starting in 0603 will perform a move/attack combo action enabled by the Leader. First it moves adjacent to the objective hex 0402 and then attacks the CW LMG - 1-3 to kill. The roll is 5 - a miss! This is a setback for the Germans, the Grenadier will probably not survive the CW return fire during their phase. The Leader remains on the dugout with the other Grenadier clearing it so it can give a move/attack combo to it next phase.

On the left the Rifles cannot pass up the shot presented by the CW HtH. Since the HtH is in an adjacent trench line hex there is no +1 DRM for the defender so the Rifles need a 1-2 to kill. The first Rifle rolls a 6 - miss. The second Rifle rolls a 1 - hit. At least the German luck is holding here. The German Flamethrower moves into the left side objective hex 0407 moving out of range of the CW Grenadier but still close enough to rush it next phase with the Rifles.

The dugout and CW hidden unit in hex 0603 are now cleared and that is the end of the phase for the Germans. While things are still going well on the left side of the board, the attack on the remaining objective hex on the right did not have an auspicious start. The results of this assault will probably determine the victor of the scenario.


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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 3 Defender Phase
This turn the CW has a real chance to stop the German assault - no one moves/everyone fires. Hopefully they can eliminate the Grenadier adjacent to the last objective hex and get a lucky roll against one of the Rifles in 0308. First the CW Rifle with the LMG in the objective hex fires at the adjacent Grenadier. The roll needed to kill is 1-2 with no defender trench DRM because it is an adjacent connected trench line. The roll is 1 - the Grenadier is eliminated. Things are looking good for the CW. Next the LMG takes another longshot at the Leader in 0603. The roll needed to kill is 1-2, with a +1 DRM for the trench. The roll is 3 - miss. Finally the CW Grenadier in 0509 attacks one of the Rifles in 0308. The roll needed to kill is 1-2, and since the die color on the CW Grenadier counter is yellow the defender receives no DRM for the trench. The roll is 4 - miss. CW luck did not hold. But the Germans are going to have a tougher time clearing the 0301 objective hex next turn since they only have 1 Grenadier and there is not enough time to shift the Rifles and Flamethrower over to the objective.


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Art Bennett
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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 4 Raider Phase
The Germans need to do 2 things to win this scenario. First they need to clear the 2 objective hexes for 10 VP’s and second they need to end the game with 4 units left occupying trench hexes for 4 VP’s and a winning total of 14VP’s. Therefore the German’s must charge the 2nd objective hex and clear it, but they cannot lose too many units. With 5 units left they can only afford to lose 1 more unit which will probably happen during the attack on the objective hex. This means on the left they cannot rush the CW Grenadier and risk losing another unit, but instead hold back, fire at a distance and cover the left objective hex.
First the attack on the remaining objective. The Leader and Grenadier charge the hex, moving adjacent to the CW units into hex 0402. The Leader then uses its special ability to enable the Grenadier to attack the CW LMG. The to kill is 1-3 (1 hex no DRM) and the roll is 4 - a miss. I had to resist the urge to ignore the result and reroll. The Germans can still win if neither the Leader nor Grenadier is killed during the CW phase and then get lucky on the last turn and kill both CW units. Not likely though.

On the right the Rifles fire at the CW Grenadier. The roll needed is 1-2 with a +1 DRM for the trench. The first roll is 1 - the CW Grenadier is eliminated. The 2nd Rifle then moves (forlornly) towards the other objective which it will never reach before the end of the game. If only the German Grenadier had killed the CW LMG...


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VPG Trenches of Valor Expansion Scenario Playtest/AAR - Turn 4 Defender Phase – Turn 5 Raider/Defender Phase
The CW has a chance to end the game during this phase. If they can kill one of the Germans adjacent to the last objective hex that will make it impossible for the German’s to kill both the CW units in their last phase. It all boils down to the dice rolls. The German’s had 2 50/50 chances to kill the CW LMG over their last 2 phases and failed both. Now it’s the CW turn.

First the LMG fires at the adjacent German Grenadier. The to kill is 1-3 and there is no trench DRM since the defender is in an adjacent trench line. The roll is 2 - and there was a shout of celebration from Auckland. The German Grenadier is eliminated and with it all chances for a German win. Next the CW Rifle fires at the remaining leader. The to kill is 1-2 with no DRM again. The roll is 5 - a miss. No matter, with 1 turn left the Germans only have the Leader in range of the objective hex and therefore can only kill 1 unit.

Continuing on to Turn 5, the German Leader fires at the CW LMG. The to kill is 1-2 with no DRM. The roll is 5 - a miss again. No luck whatsoever after 3 attacks. The remaining Germans go thru the motions of moving towards the remaining CW units and if the game had 1 or 2 more turns would probably be able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

In the CW’s final phase both CW units fire at the adjacent Leader. The LMG needs 1-3 and the roll is 5 - a miss. The Rifle fires needing a 1-2. The roll is 1 putting the German Leader out of his misery from his failed assault.

End result - the Germans get 5+3=8VPs. A German loss.
End game wash-up to follow.


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Art Bennett
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AAR Wash-up
ToV is a fast playing game (except if you are typing up comments after each phase and learning how to modify and post graphics for the first time). Also in my limited experience I have found it unforgiving of mistakes since the counters are few and the time is limited. As I mentioned at the beginning of this AAR, my first 2 run thru's of this scenario were blowouts because of critical mistakes I made. This one could have gone either way and the victor was not apparent until the beginning of the last turn.

I believe the German plan was sound given the CW dugout placement. It started out well but then crashed against the LMG and Rifle in the second objective hex. If only one of the Grenadiers had succeeded in killing the LMG it could have easily gone the other way...

I hope to start another AAR shortly.

Comments or questions?
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Alan Emrich
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That was a great replay!

Alan Emrich
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Pelle Nilsson
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Thanks Art! thumbsup
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Christopher
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Thanks for a great AAR write up!

This game (and it's expansion) is now on my whishlist!
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Andy Cowen
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Very well done AAR. I just got this game and your report made the rules quite clear, thank you!
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