Sunday, 5 January 2014

Action at Oberickelsheim - Part VIII - Conclusion

By the 9th turn, it was only 1100 in game terms, but 4 o'clock in real life, and both Aaron and Pat had to leave at 5-ish, so we determined this would be the last turn.  The Czechoslovakian traffic jam on the southern flank had still to be resolved - there was yet another motor rifle battalion waiting to come on right there, and several more tank battalions were also scheduled to arrive over the next few turns, although these were to thankfully enter now mostly vacant roads to the north.

On the opposite side of the board, the US 2/30 Infantry Battalion had now arrived to reinforce the 1st Brigade's central sector, creating what appeared to be an impenetrable mass of American might.  And while this certainly looks formidable, it has one great weakness.  This massive concentration of force created what is aptly termed a "target-rich environment".   One of the problems with MSH is that there is a great incentive to bunch your stands together (concentration of firepower) with precious little penalty - because artillery fire, like all other attacks in the game, is generally conducted on an element-to-element basis.  "Generally", however, does admit of one notable exception - multiple rocket launchers.  And the one thing a Czechoslovakian force has going for it is an abundance of multiple rocket launcher stands.  Because most of the ones in the 15th Division were very short-ranged, they had yet to play any part in the battle, since they spent most of it moving into position.  But by the 9th turn, the last had arrived, and they were now deployed just shy of the table edge, waiting for somebody to give them a target.  How many MRL stands does a Czechoslovakian Division have at its disposal?  Fourteen!  That's enough, should they all be called in at once (an impossibility to be sure) to target every single American stand in this picture in a single bound.  And while there was no way the whole lot were going to be let loose at once, it was inevitable that some were going to be called in successfully.  See that village just below the ridge with the smoke marker next to it?  Four elements, right there (3 in the village itself, plus a stand of infantry lurking in the rear outskirts) capable of calling in rockets, all with targets galore to monitor.  Sure they might need a six to succeed, but one's going to get lucky at some point...

So, as is the nature of large but unfinished games, things were looking quite interesting just at the point we had to call it a day.  At the close of the day, Aaron's Americans had earned more victory points than Pat in charge of the Czechoslovakians, essentially due to the unanswered combat losses the Americans had inflicted until then.  On the other hand, looking to the future, the Americans had little hope of securing much in the way of their positional victory conditions, while three Czechoslovakian battalions were currently crossing the river to their north with not much the Americans could do about it, (short of the rain stopping, followed by some particularly spectacular airstrikes...), so their victory point lead was about to disappear.

So, what was learned?  Personally, I was satisfied by how it went.  We didn't get through as many turns of play as I had hoped - but got through more than I had feared! Of course, a game this size really does demand more than one active player on the WarPac side, but I think we did OK in that regard, all told.  And I like the way neither player lined up against each other in the manner I had expected they would - so there was a real fog of war element there even without any hidden movement (which would be totally awesome, but... work, work, work!) or troops deployed in hidden ambush position.

One thing that did become clear to me was I really do need some sort of base labelling scheme.  While I know my troops well, and can tell them apart (assuming I don't start crossing their command arrows, that is!), that doesn't apply when somebody else is commanding them, because then I have no idea from moment to moment which stands came from where.  And the player borrowing them certainly has absolutely no idea which stand belongs to which unit!  The little white sticker dots you can see in the photos were added by Pat as play progressed because he couldn't tell the command stands from the grunts, to say nothing of one battalion from another.  Now I've been reluctant to do this, because I don't like the look.  But a more discrete colour coding system along the rear edge of the base would be unobtrusive enough, I've decided, and couldn't be seen from above or the front.  So now I just have to come up with a scheme to get all the information I want, and yet retain enough simplicity - it has to be easy enough for someone who isn't me to understand, after all!


  1. I could have told you this in September you know...

  2. I suspect you did tell me in September! Probably more than once...

  3. Been an absolute pleasure following this series of posts. Inspirational stuff! Look forward to future games.

    Well done Luke for probably the best AAR I have ever had the pleasure of reading.



  4. Superb stuff, I have been dithering about which ruleset to use for Moderns (Cold War) for some time in Micro, and write ups, like this, plus your excellent mats tip me heavily to MSH....

    Many thanks for taking the effort to write up.


  5. Well, I've not played CWC (or as much as seen it played), so can't comment on that, although it clearly has a following. I only got into (M)SH because it's what was played by the people I knew. Back in the late 80s I played a little WRG (the older set that didn't have things like "Thrusting" troop types) but I just don't like skirmish-scale games.

    But be aware that while MSH advertises itself as a divisional-level game, it isn't at all (unless your idea of a "normal" game involves 8 people gaming over a long weekend...) - a standard game is going to involve a brigade, not a division. Since each stand usually represents a platoon, that's still quite a lot of lead.