BATTLEGROUND 2015

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Last weekend I traveled down to Stockton for my last Show of the year – Battleground. This is a really great Show, extremely well organised by Pendraken Miniatures, even down to bacon butties at 0830!!. It has a very friendly atmosphere and is well laid out with plenty of space to circulate, even around the tabletop sale. There are loads of interesting traders to visit and, although I didn’t get around much, there were quite a few games that caught my eye and that I would have liked to explore further and closer up – better organisation required on my part next year!

As ever, I was there both as Monty and as a Lard Ambassador, in this case showing the upcoming Red Dawn Cold War supplement to TooFatLardies’ excellent Chain of Command rules. The scenario was based on a Soviet air assault on the crossings over the River LEINE, with our particular interest focused on a small bridge on the approach to the river. The Soviets were keen to seize it to ease the advance of their Main Body, the British clearly wanted to prevent that.

Here’s the table, the British to the left as you look at it:

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We managed 2 games and ended up with one win to each side. In the first game, the Soviets made a dash for the bridge, were caught in the open and hit hard. The British managed 4 phases in a row and had effectively dealt with one squad and pinned another on the hill over to their right. All going well! But the Soviets don’t give up easily – the British player brought on a section and rushed for the cover of the hedge to the left of the bridge. Decisions, decisions, do you try and make it in one go or go tactical? The British player opted to go for it with 2 dice and fell short! The Soviet player then let rip with all he had and managed a couple of phases in a row. Here we see the active members of the section after that:

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And those at the back are a different unit! One section wiped out, 2 leaders lost and the Soviets were laying down some serious fire. The British continued to take losses on their left, where they were now outnumbered and finally broke. Round one to the Soviets!

Round 2 saw the same set up. The Soviets again spread themselves across the table with the British focused on the centre. This time we saw little attempt at manoeuvre with both sides seeking cover and trying to win the firefight. The Soviet player was spread and the British were able to focus their fire, causing some significant damage (very good dice rolling) and the Soviets were unlucky in losing leaders quite quickly and they all, except the Platoon Sergeant (!), proved quite popular. Soviet force morale plummeted and, as we approached the end of the Show they were down to 2 with no real prospect of making any progress. Honours even.

And here are some more shots of the action:

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Monty the Desert Rat

A HUNDRED YEARS OF WAR – RED DAWN

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A week ago yesterday I travelled down the road to Falkirk for the ‘Hundred Years of War’ day – an event that is becoming annual and which is designed to promote the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers.

The format for the day is that there are 2 game sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon; the idea being that people can get 2 different games in during the day.

In the morning I played in a Pulp game – far from my normal fare but it was an excellent game – well thought out, well run and with interesting challenges. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, if you’d like to know more about the game, just visit:

www.morvalearth.co.uk

and look up Skull Island.

In the afternoon I was running a game of Red Dawn the upcoming Cold War supplement to TooFatLardies’ excellent Chain of Command rules.

You can see the table here:

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The scenario was that a Soviet Motor Rifle unit had been air assaulted into an HLS some distance off table to the left. Their objective was a bridge off table to the right. The Bridge Guard – a platoon of Territorial Army soldiers and a detachment of Royal Engineers (preparing the bridge for demolition) dispatched 2 sections led by the Platoon Commander to establish a blocking position on the high ground to the left. The Platoon Sergeant remained in command of the bridge with one section and the Royal Engineers. So, the British needed to establish their blocking position, meanwhile one platoon of the Soviet Motor Rifles had been sent ahead to clear the route and try to capture the bridge by coup de main.

The scene was set and the Patrol Phase saw the British with two JOPS in the low, rough ground in the centre and one on their extreme right flank, well advanced. The Soviets were similar, with 2 central just behind the ridge and one well advanced on their right flank. The British centre JOPs;

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The British came on quickly, pushing a section from the right hand JOP up into the woods, aiming for the hill.

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The second section and platoon HQ came on in the centre. The 3 Soviet squads also deployed quickly – two behind the ridge

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and one over on their right.

The British on the right got into a good position on the ridge but the Soviets sent 2 squads that way, aiming to get into close combat and swamp the isolated Brits. The centre British section was moving to assist, but the Soviets closed quickly and attacked. The dice gods were not kind – only one squad made it into close combat, but they threw the Brits off the crest and occupied it themselves. The British Section, however, then responded by opening fire on the reorganising Soviets and did tremendous damage – leaving them suppressed. The other British section arrived and they all went over to the attack. This time, both sections made it into combat against the one remaining Soviet squad, which had moved up to support the suppressed squad. Outnumbered, the Soviets failed to cause much damage and the British not only broke that squad, but killed the platoon commander. Things were not looking good for the Soviets and, at that point, we called it.

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We declared it a British victory – they had men on the ridge, albeit down about ½ a section, but they had their blocking position. The Soviets had lost 2 squads, but the third was moving round the back of the British position and would be able to continue on to close with the bridge. With no radio to talk to company, coordination would be problematic, but we acknowledged the partial Soviet victory as well.

 

Monty the Desert Rat

THE CHAIN OF COMMAND CHALLENGE!

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Not yet got a copy – now’s your chance!! 20% off the Chain of Command at

http://toofatlardies.co.uk/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=25&zenid=05f4ed6773c6c9e3036a4158099ad7c8

There is more info at:

http://toofatlardies.co.uk/blog/?p=5132

And if you’re not sure, there is a great review/comparison with Bolt Action at:

http://trailape.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/so-youre-platoon-commander-comparing.html

 

Monty the Desert Rat

CLAYMORE 2015

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I know it has been a couple of days since the show, but I was exhausted after the day and then it was straight back to work so I am only now finding the time to put finger to keyboard. That said, it was as excellent a show as ever as far as I could tell. I was pretty much tied to my stand all day with interested parties and the game, so I really didn’t get to see much of the show at all, which is a real shame but goes with the territory.

Anyway, the game. I ran Red Dawn but this time we were part of the covering force battle. Once again, the game was curtailed to suit a participation game – no Patrol Phase and only a couple of Soviet squads against one British section and a sniper. The scenario pitted the remnants of a Combat Recce Patrol of a Motor Rifle Battalion, BMP equipped, against British mechanised infantry. The table looked like this from the Soviet side:

 

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and like this from the British side:

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The woods were broken ground as was the deforested area in the centre. The game started with a T64 brewed up by a bar mine just to the left (as we look at it from the British side) of the far trees. A BMP with the Platoon Commander was following and a second BMP with the Company Commissar was about to cross the stream just above the trees on the left of the picture.

The Soviets began by moving the OC’s BMP into the trees looking to use the dead ground behind the hill on their left to approach the British end, the second BMP, moving very slowly (double 1!) edged across the ford aiming to close before debussing.

The British Rifle Team duly deployed into the left wood and fired their Carl Gustav – close range, in the open, moving slowly – KABOOM! Scratch one BMP. This caused a flurry of tests as it exploded so the Soviets had to throw for the loss of the vehicle, the loss of the section, the loss of the section leader and the loss of the Commissar. But these things matter a lot less to the Soviets than NATO and Force Morale only dropped by 2.

Was this game over? Some thought so, but the Soviets pressed on and brought the BMP up the reverse slope. They deployed their dismounts, placed the BMP in a hull down position and held the Platoon Commander back out of the line of fire but still in a position to control matters. The fire from the dismounts and especially the BMP’s HE started to blow chunks out of the British. The GPMG team deployed with the rifle group to add their fire and shock kept hitting the Soviets. However, the combination of the Platoon Command and the BMP commander allowed them to keep the shock down and keep firing. It was an uneven battle and, after a particularly devastating HE round, the British, close to being pinned and reduced to little more than a gun group, pulled back into cover.

At this point, the Soviets saw their chance to close and the BMP accelerated across the table with the dismounts running as fast as they could to keep up. This exposed the Platoon Commander and the sniper duly deploy, in the same trees as the rest of the British, and did not miss! Down went the Platoon Commander. The Soviets dodged the Force Morale test, which is a very damaging one for the Soviets, by using a Chain of Command dice – a good call.

And the BMP rolled on! As it came through the trees the British, using a Chain of Command dice to interrupt, fired their last anti armour weapon – an M72 LAW – at it but the weapon had clearly been damaged in all the fighting as no hit was achieved (double 1). At this point the British scattered and conceded.

Overall, another good game of Red Dawn and one that all players seemed to enjoy! Many thanks to everyone, who stopped by to say hello.

 

Monty the Desert Rat

 

CARRONADE 2015 – RED DAWN DEBUTS

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What a great day! I have always had a soft spot for Carronade – the Falkirk Club are great people and really do work hard to put on an excellent day – but it is also the first show of the year for me and it’s great to see all those old friends emerging after their winter hibernation!

This time I was showcasing Red Dawn, the upcoming Cold War supplement for Chain of Command. A huge amount of work has gone into this so far with numerous playtests and so I felt it was ready to be exposed to the wider public.

I ran the same game though twice on the day with all places occupied. Here is the table:

From the Soviet left flank:

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From the Soviet right flank:

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From the British left flank:

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From the British right flank:

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Sorry I wasn’t able to take any more photos but I just didn’t have the chance as I was so busy running the games. Anyway, the story! The Soviets have attacked and, after several days, have reached the River LEINE. The lead echelon, after some hard fighting (as evidenced by all the wrecks on the table) have got across the river and are pushing on. We join the action with the Second Echelon, a BTR equipped Motor Rifle battalion, mopping up the remnants of the British defenders. The Soviets had 2 dismounted teams already on the table – one in the woods top centre, as we look at this table:

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and one behind the fields in the centre. The Platoon Commander is in the woods and the Platoon Sergeant with the men behind the field. Their one BTR is coming on the road at the rear. The British have a GPMG team in the right hand building, a second GPMG team at the edge of the woods and an anti tank team with a Carl Gustav held back in the woods. The Platoon Sergeant is with the men in the woods.

In the first game the Soviets pushed the BTR well forward to support the team moving through the field. This proved their undoing as the British in the building let rip with their one M72 LAW. Some excellent dice throwing and the BTR exploded! This also left the Soviet team in the field exposed to the fire of the 2 GPMG teams and the riflemen of the anti tank team and they just could not match this, gradually being whittled down. The rearmost team played little part in the action and the Soviet Command Dice limited their options and forced them to focus effort on the forward team. Game 1 to the British.

Game 2 was the same set up but played differently. The Soviet player kept his BTR well back, masked from the Carl Gustav and out of range of the M72. He proceeded to use the HMG to target the GPMG team in the building and some excellent dice soon saw the team wiped out. The Platoon Sergeant had tried a quick dash across to help once the Team Leader went down, but only got as far as the cover of a wrecked BMP before realising that the team was no more. He returned to the woods.

The Soviet player was now in a difficult position. The obvious course of action was to move the BTR to engage the British in the woods but doing so would require him either to significantly close the range or expose himself to the Carl Gustav. He chose the latter course and moved at speed into a new firing position. It was a sound decision – he was at longer range and moving fast, so would be hard to hit, but the Carl Gustav gunner was on fire – 11 on 2 dice! A good, clean hit and the BTR was knocked out.

The Soviet player now moved his rearmost team forward and engaged the British in the woods with the team in the field. Both sides had cover but, as elites, the British were harder to hit and the GPMG gave them a significant fire advantage, especially when the Platoon Sergeant was able to direct their fire. But they missed the effect of the second GPMG and a more drawn out firefight ensued. The second Soviet team moving forward was caught in the open and cut down, but casualties were mounting all the time on the British. In the end, the last Soviet team was down to only a handful of suppressed men and the British advanced to take their surrender. A British victory of sorts. They had stopped the Soviets but the Soviet task was to clear the home bank and there were so few British troops left that they had effectively achieved that. Okay, at some cost, but men and BTRs are cheap in the Red Army!!

 

Monty the Desert Rat

CARRONADE 9TH MAY – RED DAWN DEBUTS!!

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Hello Everyone,

I will be at Carronade in Falkirk next weekend with my game – ‘On a North German Plain’, which is the first public outing of the new CoC Cold War variant known as “Red Dawn”. It is a participation game, so do come along for a look, to chat or to roll some dice with us. I will be running through the game twice – once at 1100 and once at 1330 and I am more than happy to take pre bookings. See you there!

 

Monty the Desert Rat

COLD WAR COC AAR – LUDERSEN 2 APRIL 2015

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Thursday saw another trip to Edinburgh for a further playtest of the Cold War version of TooFatLardies’ superb Chain of Command rules.

Once again, we saw the might of the Soviet Union pitted against the plucky Brits of 1 Br Corps. We were situated in the Main Defensive Zone as the Soviets sought to expand a breakthrough to open a route west for exploitation by their tanks. The Soviets had a full BMP mounted Motor Rifle Platoon and a section of 2 T64Bs in support. They also had an HE preliminary barrage and a smoke preliminary barrage. The British had a full Mechanised Infantry Platoon (less 432s), 2 minefields and a Chieftain positioned off table in a support role.

Here is the table from the Soviet and British ends respectively:

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And after the Patrol Phase – you can see the advanced Soviet JOP on the left (the rest were on the home table edge) and the British along the trees with one more over by the building on the right. It also shows the 2 British minefields on the left.

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And now with the Soviet smoke:

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The Soviet plan was to push along both flanks. Their armour came on over on their right flank and was pushed forward hard, covered by the smoke. Their Motor Rifle troops came on dismounted via an advanced JOP on their left flank and they were quickly in occupation of the building on that flank – one section upstairs, one down and one to the rear of the building on cover. They were also able to gradually bring on their BMPs in off table positions to provide fire support, albeit obscured by the smoke at this stage.

The Soviets moving into the house and the armour heading into the smoke:

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The British struggled to deploy. Some poor dice throwing meant they came on in dribs and drabs and, crucially, the Soviet armour was able to block the JOP on the British left flank before it could be used. This forced the British to deploy in the treeline across the centre. A firefight then ensued. The British had the numbers against the Soviets in the house, but the better cover of the house evened that out and the arrival of the Soviet armour, bristling with MGs, really swung the balance. The British were gradually worn down, becoming pinned and then suppressed with several leaders falling dead and wounded; there was only one way this was going to end. The Turn ended and the smoke duly cleared. For the Soviets, this allowed their BMPs to add their HE into the firefight, but not before the British Chieftain interrupted to destroy one of them with a well placed round. Although Soviet morale had suffered, the bombardment of the British platoon left them with few men, lots of shock and a force morale that duly plummeted. Victory to the Soviet Union!!

At the top here we see the British deploying on overwatch in the treeline and, below, we see one Soviet T64B in position and the second will come up on the nearer corner. We also see the 3 BMPs poised to give fire support.

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From a game design perspective, this game went really well. We have been working through some issues of Soviet Activation and Command to try am make sure we accurately represent the way Soviet forces operated. In the past, we have found it simply too difficult for the Soviets to work in a combined arms fashion but with the inherent friction in their command procedures still evident. This time, we think we cracked it! It felt absolutely spot on.

The firefight also played out very well with the adjustments to overwatch being thoroughly tested and proven. Again, a real feeling that we had captured that exchange of fire and the effects very well.

The Victory or Defeat process is also much better, but a couple of tweaks are still necessary.

Overall, the consensus was that it was another great game, that we really are hitting the mark now with the rules, after over half a dozen full playtest games, at a pretty well developed stage.

We will be at Carronade on the 9th of May running a Participation Game – whether you fancy taking over Western Europe or defending freedom from the Red hordes, do please come and join us or stop by to see how things are going on NATO’s Central Front.

 

Monty the Desert Rat

TOOFATLARDIES RELEASE “OLD HICKORY”

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Cover Abbaye

The latest Pint Sized Campaign by TooFatLardies concentrates on the actions around L’Abbaye Blanche between the US 30th Infantry Division and elements of 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich during the Mortain counter attack in August 1944. Although designed for Chain of Command, I feel there is something of interest here for anyone playing Platoon Level WW2 rules.

Monty the Desert Rat

COLD WAR COC AAR – WITTENBURG 6TH MARCH 2015

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So, last Friday saw another playtest of the developing Cold War rules for TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command rules. We increased the scope of the game this time and pitted a full Soviet BMP Motor Rifle Platoon with 2 T64Bs in support (yes, I had to proxy T55s on the night!) and a further BMP without dismounts. They also had a smoke barrage and an HE barrage to start things off.

On the other side, the British had a full, elite infantry platoon and a Chieftain off table, along with 2 minefields.

The table looked like this with the British edge to the right and the Soviet edge to the left. The woods and building on the far side are the Soviet objective:

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And the Soviet task was to get at least 3 armoured vehicles (with passengers) off the table AND clear the left hand woods as they looked at it. The British task was to stop them.

Once again, we didn’t play the Patrol Phase as I know this works and I wanted to focus on the action. I therefore positioned the JOPs for the players.

The Soviets diced well for Force Morale, the British less so and the Soviets had the first move. They had deployed the smoke to cover their advance:

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and used the speed of their BMPs to close 2 of them on the objective and then debus under cover of the smoke. The British were struggling to deploy – failing to come on in time to protect the JOP in the wood, which duly fell.

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Finally on the table, the British had a section in the woods on their left and 2 sections in the open ground in the centre. The latter 2 engaged the 2 soviet dismounted teams in a firefight. This was a real dilemma for the Soviets, they really weren’t strong enough to close assault but, even with some of the British masking the others, fire power was not in their favour. They really needed some support from their armoured vehicles but their BMPs were very close and would be vulnerable both to the section AT weapons and the off table Chieftain had they emerged from the smoke. They had only managed to get one tank on the table and that was stuck a long way back and with no field of fire.

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The third BMP came on and raced along the table edge to exit – one armoured vehicle off and 2 to go. The Soviets were taking a pounding in the centre with the Chieftain also using HESH to pile on the misery. Something had to be done and they took the risk and their 2 forward BMPs emerged to engage the British infantry. One succumbed to the section’s Carl Gustav but the HE of a 2 phase run really hurt the British. By this time the Soviets were down a section – the dismounts wiped out, the Plt Sgt lying wounded and the BMP smoking by their side. But the British had also lost a section’s worth of men.

The Soviets pulled their remaining team back and brought the BMP round to board and race off board – 2 off, 1 to go. The Soviet on table tank was also now racing for the base line. It survived a couple of hits from the Carl Gustav in the wood to the Soviet right (this allowed me to test the mechanisms for infantry AT against more modern tanks than we had used before). It duly used the cover of the woods to also exit the table.

The British in the woods on their left/the Soviet right with the Carl Gustav gunner on the right by the front pines – good shooting, but his 84mm just wasn’t enough for the job at hand.

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So, another good game and all the basics are working well. The one thing it really threw up was the difficulty for the Soviets in handling a force of this size, so we are no reviewing how we do this to try to get a more realistic outcome. But, as I say, the key rule basics stood the test of yet another game and I do feel we are making some very good progress.

 

Monty the Desert Rat.

COLD WAR COC AAR – HOHENRODE 26TH FEB 2015

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On Thursday evening I took the trip down to the club in Edinburgh for another playtest of Cold War CoC.

The scenario was that the British had occupied the village of Hohenrode and that this blocked the route of the Soviet advance. It had to be cleared!

The table was as seen below with the British end being by the line of buildings.

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Neither side threw well for Force Morale but the Soviets got the initiative.

The Patrol Phase went as normal, with the British getting the maximum number of free moves and pushing forward aggressively. They ended up with their 3 JOPs quite spread – one in the building area on their right, one in the centre building of the row at the back and one on the table edge on their left. All 3 Soviet JOPs ended up on their baseline and quite close together by the road.

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As part of the support to their standard, BMP mounted Motor Rifle platoon, the Soviets had 2 Preliminary Barrages – one of HE to disrupt deployment and one of smoke to cover their advance. They used the latter well to cover a push up their left with 2 dismounted teams and a BMP in support. The third dismounted team masked their right.

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The British played a very cool game. Rolling their Command Dice but choosing to remain inactive, building towards the CoC Chit/Dice needed to end the first turn and get rid of the barrage and smoke. Of course, just as they were toying with coming on, the Soviets threw for a double phase and pushed through the smoke to block the right hand British JOP!

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However, the British ended the Turn and got rid of the smoke and barrage (the JOP didn’t fall just yet) and deployed 2 sections in the treeline covering their right flank and forward towards the Soviet team masking this area. The Soviets used an interrupt to get their on table BMP out of the way of any AT weapons, a dismounted team by the British JOP took some very effective fire and lost a couple of men and took some shock, dodging into the building to recover. The other dismount team was in cover and busily removing the British JOP – causing a Force Morale roll. The Soviet team on their right started to lay down covering fire but their firepower was no match for the British. However, the remaining 2 BMPs deployed to off table fire positions and their HE started to really shift the balance. Realising this, the Soviet commander moved his on table BMP into a fire position and let rip too. But the British Carl Gustav gunner was a cool man, he took careful aim, it was a hard shot, but BOOM, a direct hit (10 on 2 dice!!!) and a net 3 hits for a KO. The Soviets tested for Force Morale, which dropped hard. The British then focused fire on the isolated team on their left and wiped it out – more Force Morale loss. Only the Platoon Sergeant remained there, but not for long. A further wave of fire and he succumbed. This last Force Morale test broke the Soviets and game over!!

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I felt this was another really good test for the rules – the last had been with novices, these guys know CoC very well and also included ex military. The rules got a pretty all round thumbs up, although we did agree that the Soviets just aren’t right yet (many good ideas were, however, exchanged so I expect to be very close with them next time). So, excellent progress, I’m now revising the rules in the light of experiences so far and they are due 3 more runs out at least in the next few weeks, so we shall see how it all goes – watch this space!

Monty the Desert Rat