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Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

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raydude
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Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Hi all,

I thought I'd post about my session with Fields of Fire the solitaire WW2 boardgame, and
my experience using the VASSAL module: Fields of Fire - All Volumes and Expansions, 2.4.10

For this first playthrough I'm using the first mission in the original Fields of Fire boardgame. So join me as we follow Abel company, 9th Infantry Division, on their first mission in WW2.

June 8, 1944, Trevieres Offensive.

Abel Company was ordered to take and hold marshy ground and some hedgerows on the outskirts of the village of Trevieres, headquarters of Grenadier-Regiment 316 of the 352nd German infantry division, as part of the battalion wide effort to take the town.

Setup in VASSAL is pretty easy. Just click on the Normandy button and it brings up the Normandy terrain deck. Bonus feature, it has all the unit counters I need for the first mission. Clicking and dragging the card to the map flips it face up, and I was able to build the battlefield very quickly with my control markers.

Image

Captain Rand, of Abel comapny, decided his 1st and 2nd platoons would be the assault and support elements, with 3rd platoon in reserve. As such, he gave his 1st and 2nd platoon leaders a .30 light machine gun team in addition to the mortar section, bazooka team, and rife grenades that all platoons received.

Another bonus, changing the unit border colors to more easily show attachments. For this game each Platoon HQ will have a different border color. Attached weapon teams (MGs, bazookas, mortars) will have the same color as the Platoon HQ to which they are attached. I don't need to change the borders of the squads, because their unit designations make them obvious which platoon they belong to. The module also lets me add custom text to the left border of a unit. I use this to highlight which squads carry the rifle grenades.

Here is a closer look at my setup in the center of the staging area. For reference, I am naming the columns from left to right using the WW2 phonetic alphabet. Abel, Baker, Cook, Dog from left to right. Then from bottom to top, row 1, row2, row3.

Image


1PHQ (1st Platoon Headquarters) is outlined in blue. I attached 1/AT team (bazookas) 1/Mrtr (mortar team) and 1/LMG (light machine guns) to it. I forgot to highlight 1/LMG with the blue border, but fixed it later. Notice that I also gave the rifle grenades to 3/1PLT (3rd squad, 1st platoon) and it has 2 charges.

Company Headquarters (COHQ) is also in Staging Area Baker, along with the Arty FO (forward observer) and two runners. The runners are used to send orders to platoons and other company staff that may be out of radio range.

"Sloan, Lennie, Johnson, grab a radio.", said the Captain to his platoon leaders. "The XO, First Sargeant, and I will also be on the Company net. Try not to wander off, these radios have line-of-sight range only."

Speaking of radio range, right-clicking on a unit and selecting "Add Comms" puts a little radio icon on the unit counter. You can see it on the COHQ and 1PHQ above the green "G". I gave radios to each platoon leader and company staff. That's 6 radios. According to the rulebook the Arty FO has his own radio and can talk on the Company Net if needed, so I don't need to give him one.

Staging Area Cook has a lot of units. Note that Staging Areas have unlimited capacity, unlike the terrain above the staging areas, where each card can only hold a maximum of 16 steps. This gives me a little trouble later in the game when I figure out how to move up my reserve platoon.

2PHQ (Second Platoon Headquarters) is highlighted in red. It also has an LMG, bazooka team, and mortar team attached. 3/2 squad (3rd squad, 2nd platoon) has the rifle grenades. 1P and 2P are my fire and maneuver platoons so they have an LMG each. 3P is my reserve platoon, so they only have the third bazooka and mortar team (highlighted in yellow), and rifle grenades assigned to 3/3 (3rd squad, 3rd platoon).

The 1/50 cal HMG (heavy machine gun) and Arty FO are not attached to any platoon. I don't want them moving out when I give a platoon move order, so they will have to be explicitly ordered by Company staff (COHQ, XO, or Co 1SGT (Company First Sargeant). This way I don't have to worry about them being on the front line. I want them behind the front, able to see and support the front line.

I should also point out the numbers in the blue boxes for the bazookas, mortars, and machine gun teams. That's the ammo counter. Right click on the unit and click "use ammo" to decrease the ammo left every time the unit fires. Much easier than having to consult the mission log.

That's it for now. My next post will talk about turn1, and some rules and gameplay lessons I learned along the way.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by hepcat »

I’ve owned this for a few years but STILL have yet to play it. I need to read through your playthrough for some tips. Thanks!
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by Smoove_B »

Cool stuff. I have someone teaching me to play using Tabletop Simulator in STEAM and it's definitely big fun.

I think my biggest issue with the game is the manual. They'd be so much better off doing something like this - an actual play through - and giving players a sample setup. Instead they kinda throw you into the deep end and expect you to figure out how to set the game up (it's a bit complex, imho). But the actual game play wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Definitely worth the time investment.

Definitely interested in reading more of your impressions and what you've learned.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Thanks for the encouragement Smoove and hepcat! I should mention that some of the moves I made make sense tactically in hindsight but at the time I wasn't thinking too much about positioning for future moves. Also, I think I've played this first mission up to several turns at least 5 times since I've owned the game. Each time I've quit because I realized I missed a major rule that could have changed the course of the game dramatically or because my company was just getting shot to pieces.

June 8, 1944 6am.

1/1 squad moved out to the farm in Abel1, 1/2 to the orchards in Baker1. Their movements were mirrored by 1/2 and 2/2 squads, which moved out to the farm and woods in Cook1 and Dog1. These were the lead elements of the company's advance. Their job was to find and fix the enemy. It usually happened in a hail of bullets. Or worse, artillery barrage.

Activation Phase
The COHQ drew for commands, getting a 4 (number on helmet on action card). Normally I would subtract one since HQ is green, but there is no contact with the enemy (+1 command) so the +1 and -1 cancel out. I also used to think I had to pre-allocate all the commands from COHQ before activating and moving the platoons but that is not true. Each platoon HQ draws for commands as soon as they are activated by COHQ and gives their orders. Only when I am done with a platoon does COHQ get a chance to activate someone else.

In this case, I activate 1PHQ, which draws 4 commands and orders 1/1 and 1/2 to move out to Abel1 and Cook1 then saves 2 commands. I then activate 2PHQ, which draws 4 commands and orders 1/2 and 2/2 to Cook1 and Dog1 and saves 2 commands.

That's all I will activate for now, so COHQ saves 2 commands. Note that since all my commanders are green they can spend at most 6 commands per turn and have a max of 3 commands saved.

Initiative Phase
3PHQ was not activated so it draws and draws 2 commands (number on the star on the action card). It's the reserve platoon so it saves 2 commands.
The XO and 1SGT were not activated so they both get 1 command to spend or save. They save theirs.

Image
Vassal lets me track the commands via the command display. Note that it also has nice markers showing me the max amount of commands I can spend/save based on the experience level of the command unit.

General impulse draw - 2 commands. These can be spent on any units and do not have to be ordered by command staff. I spend it on 1/1 and 1/2 to find cover, since they are both in farm terrain (+2 cover and concealment) and it is designated urban terrain (building icons in lower left) so they get to check against the urban cover table to see if they get strong buildings(+3 cover) rather than the generic cover (+1).

Corporal Barnes noticed it right away. A stone building halfway completed on a small rise. It was perfectly situated to look over the nearby terrain of Abel2 and Baker2. PFC Farnsworth in 1/2 squad found some low outcroppings for cover in Cook1.

Evaluate PC (Potentical Contact) markers
Now is the moment of truth. Each squad is on a card with a PC "C" marker. So first I draw to see which squad resolves first, then I draw the number of cards needed given the activity level (no contact) and the PC letter ("C" in this case). The first time I ever played this game I just chose the order in which to resolve squads. That introduces unconscious bias, as the number of draws decreases when the enemy activity level goes up - so I found myself resolving units in good terrain first so the units in bad terrain had a better chance of not getting any contact. I also think that forcing the player to draw to see which unit resolves first lets the player go through the deck faster, giving a wider range of results.

From left to right I number the units 1,2,3,4 and draw a card. Then look at the bottom of the card to see the number of possible results (4) and the number underneath (1). So 1/1 resolves first. No enemy contact, so it draws 4 cards. None of them say "Contact" on the card. Abel1 is clear. 3 units left, so left to right I designate them 1,2,3. 2/1 goes next. No contact. Same with 2/2. Abel1, Baker1, Dog1 are clear of enemy contact.

Finally comes 1/2 in the farm at Cook1. 1/2 drew a contact card. Then drew another card and checked against the PC "C" table, mines. For mines you draw 3 cards and if any of them have the burst icon the mine goes off. Enemy contact level immediately changes to "Contact!"

They called him Chief on account of his Native American heritage. But also because he had a spooky sixth sense about him. Like he could tell what was going to happen before it happened. And so it was that PFC Henry Standing Bear pushed Sargeant Longmire right before the mine went off under his feet, yelling "Contact! Mines!" The whole squad fell to the ground. "Anybody hurt?" "No sarge!" "Good! Don't nobody move!"

Combat Resolution
Only combat is the mine in Cook1. +2 card terrain, +1 unit in cover, -2 unit is exposed (moving), -4 mine. Net=-3. I drew a card and for -3 the result is "PIN". No casualties, squad is pinned.

Cleanup Phase
I used to hate this phase, as I had to remember to remove everyone's "exposed" counters, and sometimes I forgot one unit. With the module I just hit the "Cleanup" button and it removes all of them for me.

The following shows the situation in row1, right above the staging area.
Image
Thus ends turn 1. The first time I played this game I didn't realize that the activity level changes immediately on getting a contact resulting in some incoming fire. So for each unit after getting a contact I kept drawing the same number of cards as when it was "no contact". And I was wondering how I was ever going to win with all this enemy popping up all over the map! So now I know.

Also, I didn't know how to resolve the mines for the following turns. Do they keep me at "Contact" level of enemy activity? Turns out, yes, as long as the mine stays there - and it does because you cannot remove it - it counts as one VOF (volume of fire) marker and thus at a minimum you are at "Contact" activity. I think this makes sense because that mine kept me from advancing in nice 3 columns, as you'll see in later turns.

[edited to add a few more sentences]
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by Holman »

Definitely interested in this!

I love FoF, and there was a time when I had the rules down cold. I'd probably need a review now.

There is a team at GMT doing a complete rewrite of the rules. It's not a new edition, so all your components will still work, but it's a new approach to explaining and learning the game.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Turn 2
"1st and 2nd platoons, move out!" Captain Rand's voice crackled on the radio. Having secured Abel1 and Baker1 he wanted both platoons forward in preparation for scouting the next row of defenses. "Sir, what about 2/2 in Dog1?" asked the XO. "I'll go fetch our wayward lamb, Cap." The First Sargeant drawled his statement as if it was a done deal, which it was. Captain Rand knew better than to argue with his more experienced NCO.

"Nothing from battalion Jim?" asked the Captain. "Not a word," answered his XO. "Good. It's nice to be ignored for once."

Turn 2 is the start of checks to determine whether your Friendly Higher HQ or Enemy Higher HQ has something to say about the battle.

Friendly HQ Event goes first. I draw a card and no "HQ" is on it. So nothing happens.
Ditto when drawing for the Enemy HQ event.

Activation Phase
COHQ activates and draws 2 commands. We are in 'Contact' so I subtract 1 because the COHQ is green. Luckily I have 2 saved commands.
COHQ spends 1 command to activate 1PHQ.
  • 1PHQ draws 2 commands - 1 for green HQ + 2 saved commands. 1PHQ orders a platoon move to Abel1, spending 2 and saving 1 command. The LMG goes into the building next to 1/1 squad
COHQ spends 1 command to activate 2PHQ
  • 2PHQ draws 3 commands - 1 for green HQ + 2 saved commands. 2PHQ orders a platoon move to Baker1, spending 2. It then orders the LMG team to look for cover (spend 1 command). LMG finds cover and goes in it. 2PHQ saves the last command
COHQ saves the last command

Initiative Phase
Third platoon wasn't activated, so it draws and checks the initiative value (number in star) = 1. A one cannot be reduced to 0 , so 3PHQ adds it to the 2 saved previously for a total of 3 commands. This is the maximum amount of commands a green HQ can save during daylight ops.

XO gets one command, which it saves.
1SGT gets one command, which it uses to move to Dog1. Next turn it will try to get it to move.

General Initiative
I draw and get 2 commands. 1/2 in the minefield tries to rally itself and remove the pinned marker (1 command)

"Everyone get up slowly. Try to get to Chief and me and then we'll move out. Step where we step!" Sgt Longmire's calm and steady voice steadied the nerves of the rest of the squad. They slowly got up and made their way to the Sargeant.

1/2 draws two cards and one of them says "Rally". Pinned marker is removed

3/2 tries to look for more cover in Baker1 and fails. Note the lower left hand corner of the card has a number. This represents the number of cover markers that can exist on the card. The farmhouse cards in Abel1 and Cook1 can only have 1 cover marker max, so I can't find any more cover there.

Cover also doesn't help if you cram a lot of men in there. For every step above 3 you decrease the cover provided by the cover marker by -1. So the LMG and 1/1 squad (3 steps) are crowded in the stone building so it only provides +2 cover (+3 - 1).

No combat happens this turn. I hit "Cleanup" and all the exposed markers are removed from the units I moved. The pic below shows my movement to the current positions. Company HQ is in a good position to command all 3 platoons and his XO via radio. The XO can command the 1st SGT if needed. So far so good.
Image
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Orders
You may have noticed that Baker1 still has a squad from 1st platoon on the card (2/1). That's because the platoon commander was in Staging Area Baker when he gave the order to move out, so 2/1 was not in visual-verbal range (same card, same cover (or both not in cover)). I could have given him a general initiative order to move himself to Abel1 but I decided to use it to try to find additional cover in Baker1. In any case, he's fine where he is for now.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Turn 3

Getting through the first row was pretty easy. The second row with Potential Contact A markers is going to be a little harder. Ordinarily, with "No Contact" activity level it is an automatic contact when entering a card with a "PC A" marker on it. Luckily, having found the mines the activity level stays at Contact, which means I get to draw 7 cards to see whether there is a contact when resolving the PC A marker.

Here is the situation at the start of turn 3:
Image

I've marked in red the fire lanes that are possible from 1st and 2nd platoon. The dotted white borders mean that I can trace line of sight through that part of the card. They each have an LMG on their card which means I can bring automatic weapons fire on any card in the fire lane. Baker2 (Cemetary) is relatively open ground, allowing me to cover Baker3 and Cook3.

At first I thought I could move a squad into Baker2 and give it covering fire, but then I remembered that friendly units will not fire into or through a card that has friendlies unless they were already firing into it. Then I saw the hill in Cook2.

Image

The First Sargeant looked at the men of 2/2 squad. "Get moving men. Scout me that hill on Cook2." He figured that First and Second platoon had probably moved up by now, given that he couldn't hear any shooting. They would most likely be in a position to cover the advance.

Moving 2/2 to Cook2 would allow the LMGs to fire on any enemies in Baker3 and Cook3 that decided to show up. Granted, they wouldn't be able to fire if the enemy popped up in Dog3 but covering two out of 3 possible cards was pretty good odds.

Higher HQ phase
No Friendly or Enemy HQ activities drawn.

Activation Phase
COHQ draws 6, -1 for green = 5 + 1 saved = 6 commands.
  • activate 1PHQ. It draws 2 - 1 (green) + 1 saved = 2 commands. 1PHQ saves those.
  • activate 2PHQ. It draws 3 - 1 (green) + 1 saved = 3 commands. 2PHQ saves those.
  • send a runner to 1SGT. Next turn the runner will appear at the 1SGT location and he will get to activate.
Initiative Phase
3PHQ draws 5 - 1(green) = 4 + 3 saved = 7 commands. Third platoon is still in reserve so they don't do anything. I can only save a max of 3 commands though (green, daylight).

XO gets 1 command, which he saves.
1SGT gets 1 command, he orders 2/2 to Cook2.

General Initiative
I draw 2 commands. 2/2 tries to find cover, and it fails
1/2 moves to Baker1 to rejoin 2nd Platoon.

I draw 7 cards to resolve the PC A marker in Cook2. Amazingly I don't draw any contacts.

"Lieutenant! I see movement on Cook2!" one of the sargeants calls out to Lt. Lennie Michaels, who focuses his binoculars on the hill. "That's second squad. That's second squad! Holy crap, Cook2 is wide open! Radio the old man, we're moving up!"

Thus ends turn 3.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by Holman »

This thread is getting me excited about FoF again!

Considering the abstractions and the focus on command & communication (rather than just combat), I think it's an amazing system capable of producing realistic results. One flaw in the design (for me), though, is the use of pyrotechnic signals.

Here's something I posted on BGG some time back:
I play the game very strictly according to every rule but the suggested signals. For one thing, it seems very strange (in fact impossible) that a leader could use a smoke canister or a flare (perhaps from ten or a hundred meters away) to order "shift fire." The shooters wouldn't know *where* to shift it, and of course the signal can't tell them.

I also consider it perfectly reasonable to parcel out different colored smoke to each platoon so that (for example) the blue smoke canister means "2nd platoon (and only 2nd platoon), move or infiltrate (as appropriate) towards this smoke's location." In other words, the signal (which will be in the hands of the platoon leader) is a "re-group here" order of the sort that is perfectly possible in real life and unambiguous in intent. It's not on the allowed signals chart, but I use it anyway because it not only makes sense but also fits the spirit of the game's order system.

My guiding principle is that, within the limits of KISS ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"), I can assign any game order that a company commander could reasonably give before the battle begins, and I do it before seeing details of the terrain.

In practice, it means that I really only assign orders like "Cease Fire," "Move or Infiltrate (as possible) towards the Objective," "Fall Straight Back," and the above-mentioned platoon-specific "Regroup."
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by YellowKing »

Yeah I just want to pop in and say I'm enjoying this report. I've never played any wargames outside of light fare like Memoir '44, but this - along with a few Solosaurus wargame reviews - has me interested in trying one out sometime.
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raydude
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Thanks for the encouraging words everyone. Hope to post more tonight.

On the subject of pyrotechnics (ie. use of smoke for signalling), you'll note that I didn't mention anything about assigning colored smoke, starshells, or anything like that to the various squads. That's because I read a recommendation in the Fields of Fire Quick Start Guide (can't remember where now) that I shouldn't worry too much about the pyrotechnics while learning the game until I find myself in a situation where sending some kind of smoke signal would be useful.

Als, The Fields of Fire 2nd Edition Living rules has updated the section on pyrotechnics and gives better examples of the kinds of orders you can give using them.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by Holman »

raydude wrote: Thu Dec 09, 2021 10:35 am On the subject of pyrotechnics (ie. use of smoke for signalling), you'll note that I didn't mention anything about assigning colored smoke, starshells, or anything like that to the various squads. That's because I read a recommendation in the Fields of Fire Quick Start Guide (can't remember where now) that I shouldn't worry too much about the pyrotechnics while learning the game until I find myself in a situation where sending some kind of smoke signal would be useful.

Als, The Fields of Fire 2nd Edition Living rules has updated the section on pyrotechnics and gives better examples of the kinds of orders you can give using them.
Yeah, but it still specifies that you can order "Shift Fire" with a smoke grenade or a flare. (See page 25 in that rulebook.)

That just seems wrong to me, as I interpret "Shift Fire" to mean "stop shooting *there* and shoot *over there* instead." This is the kind of thing an officer in close contact with his squads could order, but I can't imagine how a distant abstract signal (especially one established at game start before the enemy is encountered) could specify the "theres" in question.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Holman wrote: Sat Dec 11, 2021 6:04 pm
raydude wrote: Thu Dec 09, 2021 10:35 am On the subject of pyrotechnics (ie. use of smoke for signalling), you'll note that I didn't mention anything about assigning colored smoke, starshells, or anything like that to the various squads. That's because I read a recommendation in the Fields of Fire Quick Start Guide (can't remember where now) that I shouldn't worry too much about the pyrotechnics while learning the game until I find myself in a situation where sending some kind of smoke signal would be useful.

Als, The Fields of Fire 2nd Edition Living rules has updated the section on pyrotechnics and gives better examples of the kinds of orders you can give using them.
Yeah, but it still specifies that you can order "Shift Fire" with a smoke grenade or a flare. (See page 25 in that rulebook.)

That just seems wrong to me, as I interpret "Shift Fire" to mean "stop shooting *there* and shoot *over there* instead." This is the kind of thing an officer in close contact with his squads could order, but I can't imagine how a distant abstract signal (especially one established at game start before the enemy is encountered) could specify the "theres" in question.
I just chalk it up to the fuzziness inherent in trying to simulate a large group of men trying to coordinate in real-time. It's not like you have a lot of smoke or flare charges anyway and the rules for smoke (must have LOS to the smoke) already limit your options. As another example - theoretically, you could give an isolated squad general initiative orders turn by turn and have it rejoin the platoon leader. How did the squad know to go there?

Btw, I had hoped to post more turns by this time. I've played and made notes and screenshots up to turn 7, but work got in the way. It's still getting in the way - as I write this I am working at 7pm EDT and will be getting up at oh-dark-thirty to go on vacation with my family. So unfortunately this AAR will have to wait until after I get back!
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Turn 4

Sitrep

Image

1st platoon (minus 2/1) occupies Abel1. 1/1 and the light machine gun squad are holed up in the building. The rest of the platoon finds cover and concealment throughout the card (+2). Note that since 4 steps (count the little yellow dots) are under cover of the strong building that the building only adds +2 to cover (+3 -1/per step over 3).

Most of 2nd platoon (minus 2/2) occupies Baker1. Only the LMG squad is in additional cover (+1), the rest of the platoon finds cover and concealment throughout the card (+1).

2/2 squad has advanced under orders from the Company First Sargeant into Cook2.

3rd platoon is still in reserve in the Staging area Cook, along with the XO, 50cal team, and jeep.

Company HQ is in staging area Baker, along with the artillery forward observer (FO), and a spare runner.

HQ Events

No friendly or enemy HQ events.

Activation Phase

The COHQ draws a card for 5 commands (-1 for green HQ) = 4 + 3 saved = 7. Max we can spend is 6.
  • COHQ activates 2PHQ. 2PHQ draws 4 commands (-1 for green HQ) = 3 + 3 saved = 6. They move the attached mortar, LMG, and bazooka teams to Cook2 (3 points) and 1/2 squad to Baker2, saving 2 commands. Part of the scenario goals is to clear out the first two rows of potential contacts, and at the time I felt I was going too slowly, hence I pushed one squad to clear out another potential contact marker. The heavy weapons are moved to Cook2 to provide support in case 1/2 squad runs into trouble.
  • COHQ orders the Artillery Forward Observer to Abel1. I'd like to get him moving up so he can call artillery support if needed.
  • COHQ activates the XO. XO draws 4 commands (-1 for green HQ) = 3 + 3 saved. XO moves 50cal HMG and himself to Baker1 (2 points). We can't save more than 3 command points, so 1 point is lost.
COHQ saves 3 command points.

The 1SGT is activated from the runner and draws 5 command points. The runner goes back to COHQ and will be available next turn. The 1SGT moves to Cook2 and orders the LMG squad to look for cover (1 point). LMG draws 4 cards, and one of them has the word "Cover" on it. It succeeds and moves into cover. 1SGT then orders 2/2 to look for cover (1 point). It fails.

The following shows my plan for this turn. Image
Heavy weapons are moved to Cook2 to cover 1/2 squad as they push into Baker2. 2PHQ is staying with the regular squads, and the CO1SGT will command the weapons teams in Cook2.

Resolution Phase

1/2 squad resolves PC A. Enemy Activity Level is at "Contact" so we draw 7 cards, and one of them has the word "Contact" on it.

"Contact front!" yells Pvt Schmucker as German bullets pepper the ground in front of him. The sound of automatic gunfire sends the entire squad flat on the ground. Miraculously no one is hurt but the squad has been rendered ineffective, pinned down by German MG fire.

Further draws determine that the enemy is a German LMG squad to the front of 1/2 squad. They are firing from foxholes and have not yet been spotted. The photo below is actually showing the situation in turn 5, after the German LMG has been determined to take the "Concentrate Fire" option, but aside from that this is the situation at the end of turn 4.

Image

Retrospect

I still couldn't figure out a way to get 3rd platoon advancing. I definitely do not want 3PLT advancing along Dog column because that would mean I cannot use them to help first and second platoon in case they run into trouble. In retrospect I should have moved all of 2PLT into Cook2, which would have opened up Baker1 for 3PLT.
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Re: Fields of Fire Vassal Session Report

Post by raydude »

Turn 5: Things are heating up

In our last turn, the majority of 1st platoon had moved up to Abel1, 2nd platoon to Baker1.
A weapons team consisting of a light machine gun squad and a bazooka and mortar team had gone on to take the hill in Cook2, while a German LMG squad in Baker 3 pinned down 1/2 squad in Baker2.

The following shows a move I was contemplating at the start of Turn 5.
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3rd platoon moves up through Dog1 to Dog2, clearing Potential Contact A in Dog2. I decided against it because it didn't gain me much. The mission objectives were to clear contacts in rows 1 and 2 only, then take objectives 1 and 2. Since objectives 1 and 2 were in Abel 3 and Baker 3 that would put 3rd platoon out of position to support anything except an attack on Baker 3.

Ideally I want all three platoons on the line from Abel2 to Cook2. So instead I decided on the following plan:

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2nd platoon moves up to Cook2 to make room for 3rd platoon, which moves up to Baker1. Meanwhile, 2/2 squad will move from Cook2 to Dog2 to scout that card, and a squad from 1st platoon will scout Abel2. I felt that this was a fairly good gamble, as contact is not guaranteed (thanks Mines!) and I wanted to have the enemy pop up sooner rather than later so I can attack them back. This would give me 5 more turns to focus primarily on the Primary and Secondary objective.

HQ Events

No Friendly HQ Events

The German LMG team paused in their firing. "Hans, do we have any leaders we need to retreat?" The assistant gunner laughed. "Leaders? We don't need no stinkin' leaders. Just concentrate fire on the Amis!"

Enemy HQ Event - Remove leaders on cards with no US troops (no effect)

Enemy activity check
I drew a card, cross-referenced the value with the Mission 1 table, and found that the German LMG team decides to concentrate fire on Squad 1/2. This gives them an additional -1 to their VOF.

Activation Phase

COHQ draws 3 commands (-1 for green) + 3 saved from previous turn = 5 commands.
  • COHQ activates 2PHQ. 2PHQ draws 4 commands (-1 green) + 2 saved = 5 commands
    • move 3/2 and 2PHQ to Cook2 (2 commands)
    • order 2/2 to move to Dog2 (1 command)
    • have lmg team attempt to spot the german LMG team (1 command)
      +1, spotting unit at higher elevation, -1 target in cover, +1 automatic VOF = 3 card draws. German LMG is spotted!

    The men of 2/2 squad heard some rustling and saw third squad along with their platoon leader emerge from the brush below their positions. "Good work men," mentioned the Lieutenant. "I'm going to need you to scout out Dog2. Think you're up to it?"
    "Move out? But we just got here." smirked Corporal Tully. He gathered his squad and headed out down the hill to the east.

    "Contact! 150 yards, low tree by the hedgerow!" The 2PLT LMG team opened up, their tracers allowing the pinned members of 1/2 squad (in the cemetary of Baker2 to spot the German LMG team and add their own ineffective fire.


    I place a Primary Direction of Fire (PDF) marker going from Cook2 to Baker3, another PDF from Baker2 to Baker3, and a Volume of Fire (VOF) automatic weapons (-1) marker on Baker3. Note I only put down the best VOF value on the target card, and between the LMG (-1) and the all pinned 1/2 squad (+2) the LMG is laying down more effective fire.
    • order direct fire by mortar team (1 command), grenade miss
    "Mortars! Direct fire! German LMG team in the bocage!" shouted the lieutenant. The mortar team hastily set up their tubes and fired at the LMG team, their initial rounds off the mark.

    NOTE: I shouldn't have been able to order both the LMG team and mortar team in Cook2, since the LMG team was in cover and the mortar team was not. Units in cover would have only been in visual-verbal range of 2PHQ if the HQ was also in cover, which I could have done when I moved there. But then the mortar team would not have been in visual-verbal range. So I would have been able to command one or the other, not both.

    Also note that the LMG team didn't need to be ordered to open fire. Squads and teams that are not mortars, bazookas, or forward observers open up automatically once enemy units are spotted.
  • COHQ activates XO (1 command). XO draws 5 commands (-1 green) + 3 saved = 7. Maximum allowed to spend per turn is 6, so 6 commands.
    • order 2/1 to Abel2 (1 command)
    "Sargeant, take your men and recon that farmhouse in Abel2. I'll have the rest of 1st platoon follow on your all-clear."
    • XO moves to Abel1 (1 command)
    I can only save a max of 3 commands, so 1 command is wasted
  • COHQ activates 3PHQ (1 command). 3PHQ draws 4 commands (-1 green) + 3 saved = 6 commands
    • Platoon move to Baker1 (2 commands)
    • Order 1/3 squad to find cover (1 command). Success! 1/3 moves into cover
  • COHQ moves to Baker1 (1 command), and saves the remaining command
Initiative Phase
1PHQ draws 2 initiative commands (-1 green) + 2 saved = 3 saved commands. 1PHQ has no need to move or order units.
1SGT gets 1 command + 2 saved = 3 commands
  • Order 2/Bazooka to fire at LMG (1 hit). Saves 2 commands
General Initiative Phase
I draw 1 general initiative and order 2/2 in Dog2 to find cover. It draws 3 cards (bottom center icon of the terrain card) but none of them say "Cover", so no cover is found.

Resolution Phase
I draw to see who resolves first. It is 2/2 Squad in Dog2. We are at Contact! activity level, so I draw 7 cards. Contact! 88 front at max LOS, spotted!
The 88 goes in Dog3, with a PDF counter pointing at 2/2 squad in Dog2. I place a Heavy Weapons Volume of Fire marker in Dog 2 (VOF HW -3). Ouch, that is going to hurt.

The contact level goes up to Engaged (2+ enemy or friendly cards are under VOF markers), so 2/1 squad in Abel2 only has to draw 5 cards to see if there is enemy contact. NO Contact! The farmhouse in Abel2 has been captured with no losses!

Resolve Combat

Corporal Tully could still see it in his mind. A third of his squad gone, blown away in the explosion. Then, he heard his own voice, as if from far away, "88! Hit the dirt!"

I randomly draw and 2/2 squad in Dog2 goes first. +1 terrain cover, -2 exposed (moving), -3 heavy weapons = -4. The card draw shows this is a HIT! The unit is pinned, and flipped to the other side, and one of the steps is reduced to an assault team.

The German LMG squad in Baker 3 is next. +2 (Terrain card) +1 (foxhole cover) -1 (VOF automatic weapons) -4 (grenade attack) = -2. I draw a card: Pinned! I change the VOF of the German LMG team from -1 to +2 (all pinned)
Note that the grenade attack is cumulative with the VOF. Not only that, but grenade attacks are also cumulative with artillery attacks.

The First Sargeant nodded, sure that the German LMG was knocked out. But then it started firing sporadically. The Germans were down, but not out.

Finally, 1/2 squad in Baker2: +1 (Terrain card) +2 (all pinned) +1 (squad is pinned) = +4. I draw a card: Pinned!
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