Monday, June 27, 2011

Secret of the Third Reich - British

Once upon the time, the British Empire was almighty and ruled over the 7 seas. Secret of the Third Reich is not about this story.
In 1949, England is a battlefield of Horrors. Nuked, London is now a forbidden place, grave of Churchill and its cabinet. Bombed, the Southern part of the island is a no-man's land, where it is usual to see zombies, victims of the V-Gas.
Gibraltar fell, and the underground fortress is theater of the most horrible fights. Egypt may fell anytime if its defenders are not vigilant and lose faith in the fight. In the East, the Indies are under pressure by the Soviets and the Jap's.

In 1949, the United Kingdom is fighting to the very last man against what is perceived as the Truest Evil on Earth, the Junker's, the SWD and sometimes the Soviets. British units are brave and have seen all. 

British units in SOTR have a common rule to re-roll all their Horror tests and field the most unit with "Monster Hunter" skill. They are the Nemesis of the 3rd Reich. 
There are 2 official OoBs for Britain, Rifle and Para. Rifle is a common infantry platoon unit while the Para are comparatively expensive but good.

British have good support options, not highly armored though, they focus on speed and flexibility. British Steel are formidable opponents and Para Sniper (in the support options) are the best Sniper even if not clearly required. A great guide to UK option can be found here.

More on the Sniper. While they have a lot of skills that allow them to start first and be anywhere on the board, this is usually not a key asset as most sniper rifle have no limit meaning they are highly efficient even if fielded in the original deployment area.

On the background, the British player can play both Good Evil (The Temple and its deadly secrets) or the True Good guys (the M13). British can fight both Germans and Soviets. It is still possible for them to fight against the US, but this looks strange unless you field a Temple unit, then it will make sense.

In strategy, the British seems more expensive and less armored than their opponents. The Para OoB is symbolic of this trend and the lack of heavy armors too. 
Against Soviet the British can face issue against an all-Mecha Platoon, the Brit lacking heavy armor and Mecha/tanks.

They are my preferred army. They have the right balance and are not black or white. And while they lack heavy armor, they balance it with true courage.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Battle Report - British Para against German Mech

Last Saturday saw a fight between Para and Mech Grenadier.
The mission was using a home-made scenario, "Get the scientist". The scenario is here.

The party was a demo at the Hong Kong Society of Wargame HKSW. The game was played with 34 RP, mostly because a new player should not be overwhelmed by the number of units.

The OoB of the Para was the following :
- Standard Para HQ + Battle Chapelain and one radio.
- Standard Para squad, all bren
- Half-team Para squad, all bren, commanded by a Corporal (value 4RP)
- 2 British Steel (value 3RP), 1 flamer, 1 vicker, Corporal has a radio.
- 1 HMG
- Armor and Elite upgrade

German OoB:
- Standard HQ
- 2 Mech Grenadier squad, all Gewehr
- Aufklarer
- MG team
- Werewolf (Weird unit on the table)
- Armor and Veteran upgade

I am still waiting for my British vehicles ordered in Warlord and just received last Monday info that my Tetrarch won't be coming due to no stock. Anyhow, for a demo party, vehicles may be a little too much. And no trees as well. Wood will be delimited by "white foam". To say that 1949, even the trees are weird.

Turn 1: All started with the Para making a run for the tower and the cemetery
The Germans were lucky most of the time and were able to bring most of the platoon on the board, with the noticeable absence of the MG, which would be fatal to it.
Turn 2: Advance of the Para to the Tower, and the British Steel cleared the woods of a decoy, slowing them down a bit. The German rush through the wheat field and the wood, while the MG finally join the fight.
Turn 3: German and Para exchange fire. The Para decided to take the MG down with success, killing 1 and downing the 2 others. The German retaliate by firing at the HQ squad who failed the Cool Check! The Para Half Team suppressed the woods while the rest of the squad rush to the Tower.
In the mean time, the German HQ retreat to bring the medic close to the MG while the Aufklarer rush to the Cemetary and another Half Team rush to the Tower.
Turn 4: The MG finish the MG team before it can be brought back to fight while the German eliminate the HQ team, including the Battle Chapelain. Only the private avoided death by heroically being wounded. But that meant the loss of one of the two radio. Around the cemetery, the Aufklarer and the British Steel/Para Half team are closing.
Turn 5: Para finally got into the Tower, the German downed a sniper, threw grenades in the house while the British Steel flamed the Aufklarer after they threw grenades to the Para Half Team. The British cleared almost the two half squad on the top with accurate aiming.
Turn 6: The Para started to collect items in the tower and found the mad scientist almost automatically. In the cemetary the British and the werewolves were able to see each other, activating the unit that jumped to the Para Half Team, while the British Steel finished the Aufklarer. The werewolves met heavy opposition from the Para Half Team as the corporal was no more than down. In the mean time, the HQ with the remaining late Mech Half Team rushed to the cemetery. On the other side of the battle field, the Para kept on shooting right and to kill. The German suffered heavy losses.
Turn 7: The corporal recovered from the wound and decided to take up the fight by eliminating the werewolf in Close Combat (a poor "1" for the werewolf against a great "6"). Meanwhile the British took advantage of the Tower to clear the German still in the wheat field. The German successfully called a draw by destroying the last Radio (the British Steel Corporal), meaning the Para would have to find another way to escape from Behind the Enemy lines.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Secret of the Third Reich - The Germans

As anybody doing World War 2 gaming, you need to look at the German for they will be your army of choice or likely one of your opponent. Something I found interesting is that you will almost never meet 2 opponents playing Germans against each other.

The Germans have the most extensive background, units and weirdness. With the Germans, you can field entire platoon of Werewolf, Mecha, Vampires, Zombies, Drop Troopers.

Their backbone of your platoon is normally composed of MechGrenadier with good options, even if somehow expensive when you start to buy optional equipments. They also field the Aufklarer, a deadly mid-size units to destroy a specific powerful unit. Still their size and their cost make them a difficult choice : to sacrifice or to protect?

Some characters will bring you the option to replace the regular MechGrenadier by Werewolf only, or field more vampires.

My platoon field use regular OoB, with more weird units than tanks or mecha. Well, in fact, there is no Mecha and Drop Troopers. Just because I like it that way. True, the mecha are highly flexible compared to tanks and other conventional transports and the Drop Troopers are deadly when dropped at the right place at the right time.
Na~ I prefer fielding my 40 zombies, werewoves or wolf runners together with my mechanized platoon. I have a Stug in case I need heavy support, just because I've always liked the Stug' shape!

Werewolves are deadly if the terrain include woods. Werewolves can hide and wait, unless grenades and flamers are used against them. They are deadly fast and can outrun any humans, and in close combat, they are more than a match to any specialized close combat units. Their weakness lie in their lack of armor, lack of range attack and pack of 3 only.

Regarding the Wolf Runner? Wolf Runners are a mix between Aufklarers (scouts) and werewolves. Powerful and good in hidding, it is deadly in distance, contrary to the Werewolves who still bring back the grenades in their jaws and barking to the thrower to throw it again.

The Vampire is a pain in the arse for the opponent. Vampire can be in vapor form and enter most of the vehicles, tanks and mechas. It can wipe out a full squad of infantry in close combat and sometimes win just by getting close (Horror skill). Their fighting skills are so special that it requires a special attention for the opponent. The issue with Vampires is they fight alone and are easy to kill with flame or any Monster Hunter character.

Finally, to complete the horror for the Allied and the Soviet, there are zombies. Brainless, numberless dead corpse walking slowly to the trenches or any well defended position to eat the defenders. They are tough, without fear and they do not easily die for good.

At the end, people may wonder : what can stop Germans to win every encounter?
The answer : The deadly Monster Hunter characters/units and Flames. And heavy machine guns too. Most of the weird units are very powerful in close combat. To avoid losing against them, usually a good digging and a good aiming are enough. If not, support and special units will finish them.

Germans have numerous platoon composition, making them highly flexible against different opponents. While generally efficient against the Soviet, where werewolves, vampires and zombies can offset the camouflage ability of the Soviets, against tanks and heavy fire oriented Americans, being careful is good. British are a wonderful opponent with their resistance against weirdness and characters/units with Monster Hunter as a basic skill.

I usually use the weird units as magnet of fire and annoying the enemy while the infantry and less scary units can take positions. That's expensive strategy and the success is, I must admit, limited. But very fun to see the other player's face when I move werewolves toward his main infantry.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Secret of the Third Reich

For years I was looking for a "good" game.

A good game would include alternate playing, where all units got their importance, even the smaller, include a nice background that is easy to play and not detailed enough so I won't meet somebody who will tell me : Sorry you cannot play this unit because if you refer to page 23 of the extension version 3 and based on the timeline, ...

I first encountered Secret of Third Reich by luck. I kept on collecting miniatures against all odds, as living in HK space is precious and as many of my friends tended to smuggle whatever I buy to hide my weakness. Anyhow, I was buying on my favorite website, Ludikbazar  and got into a promotion for Secret of the Third Reich. Without knowing it, I jumped into a Universe of Madness and Despair. Madness as I loved the miniatures and their design, Despair because mister Credit Card and my banker were setting up a trap.

I ended up pretty much with 3 armies, German, US (French 1949 proxy) and British, without buying the books! Again, they were dedicated for a game I was self-developing, "Run n'Steel" - More on it later on on that blog.

When I finally saw some battle reports, got into Anatoli's blog I finally invested into the books and discovered that lovely game.

Without being perfect, the game include a lot of ideas and concept, and here are my comments on Secret of the Third Reich (SoTR):
- Releases : The game is developed by a medium size gaming company, WestWind, very small when compared to Games Workshop, but with more entrepreneurial spirit and they are listening to their fans. Their releases are quite periodic but hectic. Some periods are full of novelties, other are dry.
- Miniatures : Here people have mixed view. Mostly of good sculpture, the weapons are can look funny as they are less detailed than other WW2 brands (Bolt Action for instance) but moreover compared with the body. There is a good idea with the Separate Head System that gives more flexibility. You just buy the heads and give them the body you want. They have also some interesting mecha and tanks (from their not-weird games). Finally, WestWind officially allow proxy models, so WW2 models and other retro Sci-Fi models can be used too.
- Weirdness : This is were the game take off, but Weirdness distribution among Nations is not fair. While the German and the Soviet got a lot of Weird units, the British and the Americans received less. Thanksfully, they were supplemented later on with the Doomsday extension. Still, where we could expect some nice innovations, the size of Westwind lags behind gamers expectation. At the same time, I can say that the openness of the game are somehow opposed to it. If Westwind develop everything, there is less room for gamers to create the parts they want. It is clear from the game and the different unit creation mechanism that the game developers want the gamers to expand the story beyond the booksm and That's Good!
- Openness : that's the crazy innovative and good part of the Madness. Nobody sane in his mind would let people's imagination free to build what they want. Maybe that's the era and the audience of the game that is avoiding the "Grosbillisme", a typical gamer word in French for using all rules possible to build something not realistic, not funny but flawless, strong, powerful and invincible. A drawback is that we are waiting for Westwind to give us guidelines for the Japanese and the Spanish Forces. Germans are feeling a little bit alone in their war against the world.
- Diy unit : As part of the openness, Westwind develops a nice concept of diy units and Order of Battle (OoB). Mecha, tanks and transport are ready for customization. As we are in Weird 1949, it is likely that most of the weapons and vehicles look different.
The custom OoB is also a nice addition for the one who wants to play the minor powers, whether they are French, Italian, Polish,...
- Background : A big +1 to the background even if sometimes there are inconsistencies between the main book and the extension. Anyhow, I have as a comparaison, it would be more the 1st Age in Tolkien's universe (major events, focus on them, but what is happening in the mean time to the rest of the Universe is up to the reader and his imagination) than the Lord of the Ring where everything is streamlined with all the causes and consequences explained and where there is little room for imagination of the reader.
- Game system : Unit activation based with alternate activation between players. That's a good system where a small powerless unit has its use and won't be sacrificed, who said wasted?, to make room. Same for the coolness factor, down and goner. A soldier hit is not a soldier gone, and any human can be killed by machine gun, whatever their Heroic level is. There is no indestructible unit on the table, just the right strategy. It  encourages game with a lot of terrain, which is quite realistic.You can argue that weird WW2 is not realistic, no general sane in his mind would send his army in an open field to confront his enemies. We are not facing the tactical challenge of another welknown game that a friend one day resumed : I traveled 10 million light years with my spaceship to cut you down in hand to hand fight. Remind me to add that most weapons have no limit. A sniper gun won't stop to be dangerous after 200m. A tank won't need to shoot at short range to destroy another tank. Remember than even in WW2, tanks could kill each other at more than 1 kilometer!
- Balance : Warning, the game is not balance at all, and this is why I like it. Army can be small in size and high quality or big in size and low quality. And this is not limited by the nation you take but how you spend your points. Germans can field an only werewolf platoon, US a power suit platoon only, British a commando, Russian a mecha platoon, and still they can all can also field infantry only platoon. This is really giving a lot of customization and if you like the background of your nation, you can field a platoon with a lot of variant every time without being limited by the nation's choice. That brings a lot of surprise during games and tournament as, even if you know that your opponent is a Soviet, you never know what it will contain.

In summary, a good game if you like the period and the atmosphere and challenges. A good game if you like not being told how you need to play. A good game if you like to field a platoon with your today's mood and miniatures you like.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What about the Werewolf?

To speak a little about the blog (last article and then we go to gaming directly, promise).
The werewolf is related to an old serie of RPG games I created, the Wolfen serie.

Wolfen is more a concept than a game itself. The whole game is based on temporary alliance between the characters with divergent objectives that require them to split around the end of the game if they want to succeed.

Up to now, most of the group that played the scenarii (sometimes scenarii were played 2-3 times) ended up dead or not better. And usually I as a Game Master had nothing to do, they killed each other in different methods or coincidentally ran into problems.

The Wolfen serie include also an arch-ennemy, the infamous Biotech America, kind of Umbrella corporation of the game.

The serie included the following scenarii :
- Wolfen I (Cold, Snow and Journalism) : The story is in the US mountains during a major snowstorm.
- Wolfen II (Pinacolada and Virus) : Took place in a Caribbean leisure island where something went wrong. All characters start the game "in media res" and are the only official survivors looking to escape.
- Wolfen III  : Based in Europe, the game start with 2 groups splits and then merges into one, one group hijacking the other one cars while trying to escape a wolfen
- Wolfen Zero:  It is the "what happened before Wolfen I that lead to the background on Wolfen I).
- Wolfen !1943 : The founding of the Biotech America from the ashes of paranormal researches from Nazi scientists. The characters are US and British commando sent to infiltrate a castel.

I will post soon English version (I got them in French, my mother tongue)  but here is an extract of the materials used during the games.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting to Blogging

Getting to blogging is a hard attempt that requires more than courage but dedication and discipline. It is hard to say one day: let's write a blog, and then give up few weeks after.

As every people involved in creation, creating is easy, keeping doing so and moving toward something subtancial, perfect or usable is painful.
Everybody, thanks to our brain, has ideas. French usually are full of ideas and comments that sometimes upset the rest of the World. But getting to the point of making your ideas real is another stuff.

So here I am. I have been thinking for quite some times and after reviewing what I had to say, I finally decided to give it a go.

Main contents will be oriented the games I am playing, played and will play with 2-3 articles minimum a week.

Cheers up!

A new blogger.