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Subject: Castlecon 1 October 2011 rss

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Laurence Cutner
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I attended Castlecon (] last weekend and played an excellent game of Steam & Steel that helped solidify the rules and added some minor changes. The AAR follows - enjoy.

The scenario chosen was a simple 'slug fest' where victory went to the player that destroyed the greatest number of enemy unit by points value. As a head on collision between two matched armies, this presented a nice and simple game that was great fun.

The Imperial German player decided that firepower would be the key and stormed onto the field of battle with five (count them, five) U-Wagens, a small number of supporting infantry along with a couple of anti-armour guns and a lone howitzer. However, in the rush to battle, the German player forgot to include transport for all his artillery and a carrier would have to designated to go off board to collect it.

The British player decided to advance with a more balanced force. Three dreadnoughts supported by a large force of infantry supported by two anti-armour guns.

With faith in their superior weaponry, the Germans decided to head straight for the enemy and deluge the British dreadnoughts with a storm of steel. Their guns took up positions of the main hills dominating the centre of the battlefield and supported by their small infantry guard.

The British commander decided to throw the German plans off kilter with a charge by his armour directly through the German U-Wagen line. This unexpected move drew all but one of the enemy armour off to face this threat and blunted the German advance. Meanwhile the British guns took up ambush positions behind the various folds in the ground. The anti-armour armed infantry began to stalk the U-Wagens and the HMG armed units drove hard to outflank the enemy guns.

The armour of the dreadnoughts withstood the fire of the U-Wagens while dishing out huge damage in return. However, as the game continued, the gradual wearing down of the dreadnoughts became a real threat to the British. During the armoured melee, a brave (suicidal) PIAD armed infantry unit stalked the U-Wagen units inflicting minor but annoying damage. After a while, the German decided to take on the infantry and guns protecting the rear of the British line thus allowing his armour greater room to manouvere. Unfortunately for him, the concentrated anti-armour fire from two guns and PIADs soon blew his armour away and the crew scattered to the four winds.

However, by the last few turns of the scenario, the weight of fire from the U-Wagens began to tell and two of the British dreadnoughts became riddled hulks. The victory points gained were added to the points garnered from a lucky hit on a British carrier early in the battle. By the last two turns, British infantry had 'taken out' one of the German guns and two infantry units and were steadily stalking the next gun when darkness brought the day to a close.

This rather bloody and confusing day ended with a victory for the Imperial German army by 300 points. The German combination of armour and artillery ultimately outgunned the British who relied on infantry to take the battle to the enemy. This battle clearly indicated the issues with British dreadnoughts that were mainly anti-infantry platforms. The stage is set for the US to arrive and for next-generation dreadnoughts to move off the drawing board.

Following this game, we came up with some minor additions and changes to the game. Infantry was rather too strong on defense in open ground - easy to change with a reduction in defense when attacked by infantry only. The option to use a full attack on reaction and the possibility of armour crew fleeing on lesser damage became part of additional optional rules. The design of the damage sheets had a minor revamp. Overall, the rules now seem quite 'tight' and the scenarios work very well. There was a lot of interest at the Con and at least one order was gained - hopefully more to come.
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