Monday, 17 October 2011

Tomorrow's War AAR and review part 2

I finally got a chance to play some Tomorrow's War at the weekend. Not, as I had expected, with my two nephews, but with my brother and another friend. They took control of the two forces and I umpired and looked up the rules as we went along. We played the 1st scenario in the book, which pits a USMC patrol against the loyal forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Glory. A US pilot has been shot down, and the US squad has to retrieve him, whilst the DPRG have to prevent the capitalist running dogs from retrieving their Yankee Sky Pirate and capture as many of them as possible.

The initial setup was as follows:

The red dots are the DPRG squads, the yellow the USMC and the black dot the pilot. Light woods were scattered around, along with a couple of buildings and a crop field surrounded by hedges. Troops by the bank of the stream could also claim cover if they were up against the bank (i.e. standing in the stream).

The first turn saw the USMC begin with initiative. The DPRG troops are hidden at this point. The USMC troops to the south by the crop field spend their turn trying to spot the enemy. They do so and transmit the information to the other two squads. USMC Squad 2 moves up to the edge of the wood and opens fire on the DPRG squad in the northern woods. This prompts a reaction from the DPRG in the building to the north who will try to fire on the USMC first. The US troops win the quality roll and get to fire first, dealing four casualties to the northern  DPRG. The DPRG in the building return fire, but it is ineffective. The USMC squad return fire on the DPRG in the building and score two casualties.

USMC Squad 3, on the far right, moves up to the edge of the woods and fires on the DPRG in the buildings, and scores a couple more casualties.

In the end phase the two DPRG squads on the left move up.

Here is the situation at the end of turn 1.

The first thing we did in turn 2 was make first aid checks for the DPRG casualties. The squad in the woods was in bad shape, with four casualties. Three of these turned out to be serious wounds, and one light wound. The squad in the building were better off as they had the medic with them - who hadn't been hit. They managed to get only 2 light wounds out of five casualties - clearly the medic was earning his pay. For turn 2 we needed to roll for initiative. The DPRG had more units, so were rolling more dice than the USMC, but the US's greater quality meant they still managed to draw with the DPRG. On a draw whoever held initiative last turn keeps it, so the US continued their advance.

The first squad advanced across the crop field and opened fire on the remains of the squad in the woods to the north, easily turning the last two figures into casualties.

Squad three, on the far right, opened fire on the DPRG squads in the building and caused another five casualties. The remaining two DPRG soldiers returned fire for no effect.

Squad two in the centre moved out of the woods and headed for the river bank. The DPRG squad on the left in the river tried to react to the movement, but weren't quick enough and the marines managed to get out of their line of fire before the DPRG could open up on them.

In the end phase the last DPRG squad moved up behind the building.

Situation at the end of turn 2 (actually, it's the start of turn 3, after we did the first aid rolls but before anybody had moved):

Turn 3 started with first aid rolls. The medic was a casualty in the building, so the basic first aid table was used. In the building there were two deaths and three serious wounds, which reduced the squad from 7 to 2 operational figures. The medic, the squad leader and both heavy weapons were lost (and nobody else was able to use them after failed quality checks). In the woods there was another death and a light wound, reducing this squad to 2 men.

The DPRG lost the initiative this turn, again, despite having more units and thus initiative dice. The USMC elected to put squad 3, in the woods, on overwatch. Squad 2, in the river, moved along the riverbank and opened fire on the DPRG in the building. The DPRG again lost the reaction test and the last two figures became casualties. USMC squad 1, in the crop field, opened fire on the DPRG squad in the woods and again the DPRG lost the quality check, and the last two figures became casualties.

At this point we elected to end the game, as the DPRG player was feeling pretty glum, after having two squads wiped out without even landing a single shot on the USMC.

So, what were our thoughts after the first run through? Both of the players liked the initiative and response mechanic, and could see how it related to real world experiences. Only one Fog of War card came up, which wasn't relevant, so we had no real feelings about that. The fire combat worked well, and we were quickly used to toting up the number of firepower and defence dice each side had.

However, there were three areas that we though were major shortcomings.

Firstly, whilst it probably was an accurate reflection of how a firefight between the Marines and "North Korean conscripts in space" would have run, it was no fun for the DPRG player to be continually losing each quality test to the marines. The DPRG had quality of D6 and the marines D8, but the DPRG just seemed not to be able to get a break. Even if they scored maximum on all their dice, the USMC could still do better.

Secondly, even though the DPRG had more men, the combination of the USMC tech level advantage (the Marines had better guns and armour, which meant the got an extra dice in attack and defence) and their higher quality meant that even when the DPRG did get a shot out at the marines, it was easily negated. UPDATE - I've re-read the relevant sections in the rules and noticed a couple of things we did wrong. Firstly, I missed off some of the modifiers for shooting and defence dice, so the DPRG troops who didn't move and satyed behind their cover should have got the "in cover" bonus, in addition to bonuses from actual cover. So, for instance, the troops in the building would have got +1d for being in cover and +1d for the cover from the building. I also capped the defence dice pool at 10 the same as the firepower pool, but there is no upper limit on defence die that I can see. Also, I didn't reduce the firepower pools for movement or reactions.

Thirdly - and this could be me reading the rules wrong - there seemed to be no penalty for having figures as casualties for morale rolls. The DPRG at one point had 5 out of 7 figures down in a squad, and had to take a morale test, but there seemed to be no penalty for all the casualties? Once the first aid roll is made and the extent of the wounds known then there may be effects, but morale rolls are made at the point when fire is taken, and thus before the first aid roll is made and thus before casualty effects are taken into account. It seemed to us that there should have been a penalty for casualties to the rolls. - UPDATE - Ambush Alley games confirmed that this was an editing error on The Miniatures Page. Apparently the wording should indicate that only combat effective troops can make morale tests, which would exclude those taken as casualties and those with Serious Wounds.

Despite those drawbacks we enjoyed the game and will have another go next time we are together again. This time we'll try with a couple of vehicles and maybe some more closely matched troops and see how we get on.


Kealios Achilles-Fang said...

Nice write up. I was reading in bed last night and thinking about how I want to play the forces _I_ want to play, and not what some random scenario tells me to play.

That makes a difference when you've been asked to bring militia versus experienced troops. As it says in the rules, the difference between even 1 die type is big, so I would think that slightly less aggressive tactics might be in order.

I think if I had to run d6 irregulars versus a trained Marine force (which I may need to try this coming week in my TW learning game), I'd set up my forces with a view of the pilot and go on Overwatch. Not moving and being in cover can give up to +2D for defense, right? And being on OW gives a +1 to the Reaction roll? Anyway, that's one way I'd tackle this. Doesnt mean I'd get any better results, but being in a firefight with superiors is a bad thing :)

Thanks for putting this up!

Paul said...

Nice write up mate, havent played TW yet but shall get around to it. And Kealios, unless i am mistaken TQ6 troops cant go overwatch. Only trained TQ8 or above, not to sure but i think thats the case.