“What A Tanker” Eastern Front battle at November Mass Pikemen Session

On November 10, 2018, the Mass Pikemen held their monthly gaming session with a game of What a Tanker set on the Eastern Front in 1942.  The scenario was a 1942/1943 one where a Soviet force consisting of 1 KV-1a heavy tank, 2 T-26 M1939 light tanks, 2 BA-64 armored cars, and a couple of Gaz trucks was surrounded and needed to break out through the Axis lines. It was my first chance to get all of my recently painted tanks on the tabletop.

Initially opposing the Soviets was a German force consisting of  2 Panzer IVd tanks and a 1 Panzer 38(t) tank.  Reinforcements were staggered for the Axis, and they consisted of a 1 Panzer IIIN tank, a Hetzer tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer 38), and an Italian M13/41.  It was imperative for the Soviets to exit the other side of the board with the KV-1 and the two trucks as quickly as possible.

The Germans moved on first – and one of the T-26’s was able to early on get a couple of shots in on one of the Panzer IVd’s, with the second one knocking it out.  This was a fun event for 7-year old Jack Burns who was playing in his first war game ever.  He was so excited to knock out the German tank.

1 Mike's Panzer IV death
The Panzer IIIN moves on the board as a reinforcement.  The second Panzer IVd takes advantage of its burning comrade’s smoky wreck.

The Soviets KV-1a was slow to move forward, and the T-26’s outran it.  The Panzer 38(t) moved up to the ruined factory and took aim at one of the T-26’s in the open.  It fired, and missed the Soviet.  Returning fire, the T-26 hit and knocked out the Panzer 38 (t).  Two down for the Axis!  Shortly after this, the other Panzer IVd peeked out from behind its brother, only to suffer the same fate from the plucky T-26.  Three down now!

2 Chris, Jared, Jack
Chris Smedile, Jared Burns, and Jack Burns advance their vehicles.  The Panzer 38 (t) is behind the wall in the center in a good defensive position, facing the T-26 that was to knock it out.
3 Chris C, Mike, Jared, Jack
Chris Comeau and Mike Morgan (and later myself) played the Axis.  This view shows the length of the board the Soviets needed to cross.  Each fighting vehicle had a magnetic dashboard, and its own colored dice.  Command Dice were always white though.

Let me add a side note here on my rules modifications for this scenario.  What a Tanker does not have rules for either armored cars or trucks.  I modified them here for the armored cars, which I made Fast (easier to always move), and Small (tougher to hit).  For their Armor, I only gave them a 1, which meant that any hit from a tank gun would very likely be enough to kill the BA-64.  As the BA-64 only had a machine gun, I gave them 2 modified Strike dice.  The modifications were twofold.  First, their range was 24″ (half that of the tanks).  Secondly, the BA-64’s would hit on a 6, but the only likely result of such a hit would be to force the target to button up if it was not already.  If the BA-64 player rolled double-6’s, I would allow 2 strike dice.  So the BA-64’s were harassers at best.  I had the Gaz trucks move last, with 2 D6 of movement (no command dice).  If they were hit, they were destroyed.

4 Chris celebrates his kill
Chris celebrates his second kill, while the Panzer 38 (t) burns.  You can see here behind the BA-64’s a D12, which I used for initiative rolls instead of D6’s and re-rolling for ties.  It worked much easier and was much less confusing.

Back to the battle!

At this low point, they got reinforcements in consecutive turns.  First, the Panzer IIIN came on in turn 2.  In turn 4, the Axis got the Hetzer and the M13/41.  The tide of battle was turning.

5 Hetzer chases KV-1a
The Hetzer ignores the BA-64 and sets out to hunt the KV-1a.

The Panzer IIIN moved up to the hill, awaiting the T-26 and a truck.  The German successively took both out, leaving the Soviets only with one T-26, one truck, the KV-1a, and the BA-64’s. The M13/41 rolled badly, and hid behind the Panzer IVd wrecks for better dice rolls, even taking humiliating fire from the BA-64’s that caused it to have to button up.

5 truck death
In the foreground, a Gaz truck burns.  The crew of the Panzer IIIN behind the hill looks at the burning T-26 in front of it.  In the left center, the Panzer 38 (t) burns, as do 2 Panzer IVd’s in the right rear.  On the left, the showdown between the lumbering KV-1a and the Hetzer is about to begin.

The Hetzer moves fast, and tried to move around to the rear of the KV-1a.  It succeeded, and missed with its initial rear shot.  The KV-1a immediately turned the tables, turning 180°, and rotating its massive turret towards the diminutive tank destroyer.  The Soviet again got initiative, firing not once, not twice, but three times – and unbelievably missing on all three attempts!  The saving grace for the Hetzer was its Small characteristic, which meant the KV-1a needed a “7” instead of a “6” to hit.

The Hetzer then got initiative and rolled its Command Dice well enough to fire but not to maneuver towards the Soviet behemoth’s vulnerable rear.  It decided to take a chancy shot at the frontal armor of the KV-1a.  It got 5 hits on 7 dice (needed a “5” or “6” to hit).  The Soviet player got zero saves, and the KV-1a was knocked out.

6 KV burns and truck faces m13 41
The KV-1a burns on the right, while the Hetzer and the M13/41 hunt the last truck (on the left).  The BA-64 attempted a ramming attack on the Hetzer to give the truck a chance to escape.

The BA-64 ramming attack did nothing to the Hetzer, which dispatched the armored car with one shot.  Meanwhile, the Italian M13/41 took out the last truck.  The surviving BA-64 was destroyed by the Italian, leaving the Panzer IIIN and a damaged T-26 in a showdown.  With the loss of the trucks and the KV-1a, the game was called an Axis victory.

7 final
Mike Morgan victoriously surveys the smoky battlefield.

The game was a fun one for winners and losers, with highs and lows for both.  Next time, I will probably give the Soviets a second KV-1a.

The next Mass Pikemen’s gaming session will be on Saturday, December 1st from 2-8 PM, at 110 Pleasant Street in East Brookfield, MA.  This is a change from our previous 3-9 PM time slot.  We will be playing What a Tanker again!

Please join us, and share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below!

Mass Pikemen Gaming Club: An Action-Packed Combat Patrol session for May 2018

Last Saturday, May 19th, the Mass Pikemen held a gaming session in East Brookfield, MA.  We were fortunate to have a fun game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based rules system – which I have adapted for use in retro sci-fi games using fun Old School miniatures.  The ones here were from Archive Miniatures and Team Frog.  The scenario involved an attack by the Mark III Warbots (two squads) on the peace-loving amphibian F.R.O.G. Commandos, who were once again defending their sacred pond from enemy desecration.  This time, the Warbots brought along two new troop additions.  One was another Archive Miniatures Juggerbot to act as the Warbot’s Platoon Sergeant.  This improved command and control in support of the previously existing Juggerbot platoon leader.  Secondly, this marked the first deployment for the death-dealing, flame-throwing giant robot known as Roberker.

The F.R.O.G. Commandos defended their pond’s enclosure with a couple of squads and the heavy weapons section, including the Dread FROGBOT.

In addition to our experienced players, we had a couple of new players, Mike Morgan and Chris Comeau, who quickly picked up on the Combat Patrol™ system.

1 05192018 Mass Pikemen
The F.R.O.G. Commandos deploy. 
2 05192018 Mass Pikemen
Roberker, the two Juggerbots, a Red Khang Robot, and the Red Warbot Squad move over the bridge.  Roberker, in the rear, being a giant robot, just walked through the river

The Frogs quickly moved to counter the Warbot’s movements.  The Dread FROGBOT with its short cannon and two chain guns arrived at the defensive outer wall, and was able to get off a couple of bursts, damaging several Warbots.  However, the Warbots effectively closed and used a devastating plasma breaching weapon against the FROGBOT.  Even though the fire was off center slightly, the FROGBOT’s left side was basically vaporized.  Undaunted, the Frogs kept up their spirited defense with their assault rifles, holding the line.

3 05192018 Mass Pikemen
The Warbots use a Plasma Beam Breacher, knocking out the FROGBOT.

A little to the Frog’s left, Roberker advanced and took fire, but not before spraying flaming death from its two nozzle arms.  Several Frogs were fricasseed, but Roberker took several hits as he advanced.

4 05192018 Mass Pikemen
The F.R.O.G. heavy weapon section gets a bit roasted by Roberker

Then the Frogs made a bold jet pack assault focusing on the golden Juggerbot platoon leader.  They managed to damage the leader, however they actually killed two of their own in the crossfire as shown below.  However, this proved to be a critical move on the Frog’s part.

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The F.R.O.G. Commandos make a bold assault, damaging the Warbot platoon leader (golden Juggerbot), and unfortunately killing two of their own with friendly fire.

One of the modifications that I make to the Combat Patrol™ rules in retro sci-fi games is to have robots use the South Pacific Japanese decks, which have different morale results.  The golden Juggerbot platoon leader, having been wounded, now had to make a morale check.  Amazingly (and against all odds) he pulled the card that said the leader was shamed – and commits hari kiri – is destroyed, and is removed from the game.  This pinned all of the attackers, reducing their advance significantly.  Some of the Warbots, like the purple squad on the other side of the tabletop (played by Ellen Morin) did manage to rally, but it was a big turning point in the game.

Another interesting action at the end was the brave individual attack on Roberker by the F.R.O.G. leader, Captain Frog, armed with only a Frog Blade and a pistol.  Captain Frog jet packed into hand-to-hand combat with Roberker, and despite the stiff odds, beat the giant robot.  As Roberker was already severely damaged from the previous assault rifle fire of the Frogs, Captain Frog’s actions took out Roberker.

(This proved again the Buck Surdu theory that the first time a figure gets on the tabletop that it gets whacked!)

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The purple Warbot squad advances through a narrow defile.

On the other end of the table, the purple Warbot squad made significant advances away from the other carnage, and were able to use their plasma ball breacher (in this case a ball of high energy plasma) to fire at the defenders.  Even though the fire was slightly errant, as shown below, one Frog was vaporized, and the fence breached.

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The Warbots fire a Plasma Ball Breacher (think flying ball of plasma fired like a rifle grenade, not like a putt!), opening the way to the pond.  We use the card’s bayonet at the top left in Combat Patrol to show the direction of scatter if the target is missed, as was the case here.

At this point, the game was called.  Clearly, I believe the Warbots were going to make it to the pond, but the F.R.O.G. Commandos defense was truly spirited and exemplary!

We are looking forward to the next Mass Pikemen Gaming Club session on June 23rd!

Thanks for looking – please share your feedback below in the comments section.

 

8/31/2017 Mass Pikemen Gaming Night

Last Thursday Night we had our monthly gaming night for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Turnout was light but we were able to have a couple of games.  We had a brief card game from 1983 – Flying Buffalo’s “Nuclear War” in honor of our nights game master Jared Burns.  Why?  Well the game has a B-70 Bomber card which was a semi-prototype of the B-1, which Jared served on in the US Air Force.

The second game was an X-Wing demo game run by Jared.

Our next gaming night is September 28th at the East Brookfield Senior Center hall.  We should have a sci-fi skirmish game (retro sci-fi) and more.  The pics below tell the tale of the night – overall my daughter Ellen Morin was the night’s big winner!

 

1 Nuclear War
While Jared set up X-Wing, we broke out this old cold war card game – and all were annihilated – no winners of course!

 

2 x wing me
The rebels side – me -with a 60 point team consisting of Ibtisam in a B-Wing and Blue Ace in a T-70 X-Wing

 

3 x wing me
My B-Wing and my X-Wing

 

4 x wing Ellen
The Imperial side – Ellen Morin – with Tomax Bren in a TIE Bomber and Countess Ryad in a TIE Defender

 

5 x wing Ellen
Ellen Morin’s ships

 

6 Ellen and Jared talk
Early maneuvering

 

7 Ellen plans the destruction of her Dad
Ellen prepares to destroy her Dad’s (my) X-Wing

 

8 Mark rolls BLANKS
My defensive rolls for my X-wing – yes – ALL BLANKS!  Blue Ace, we hardly knew ye…

 

9 Ellen rolls BLANKS
Later Ellen returns the favor by rolling 5 blanks – ensuring the destruction of her TIE defender.  I was still out gunned though…

 

10 Jared GMs with glee
Jared the able GM

 

10 Mark rolls HITS
The Empire gets on a roll, and I am getting hammered…

 

11 Close encounters
Too close!

 

12 I am undone
And my B-Wing dies…Ellen is the winner!

It was a fun night!