Northeast Atlanta Gaming

October 11, 2010

Merkavas and More

I’ve been  thinking along the lines of a set of Israeli armor that could span most of the period that Israel has been fighting and for now this is it. It includes tanks misrepresented in the AIW stock set and tanks whose combat ratings should be changed, based on a modern understanding of their armor and firepower. The Merkava is the tank in most need of change, as it was seriously underrated by Avalon Hill.

Also included are 90mm M48s and 20 pounder Centurions, as these played a major role in the Six Day War. Very few of the weapons  had been converted by then. It was in 1973 that essentially all M48s had 105mm guns and the Centurions had been converted to the Sho’t. The weapons presented date from prior to 1956, but do not really include the tanks of 1948. So, yes, incomplete, but spanning more tanks and types than any post before, are the tanks of Israel.

Merkavas_and_More

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August 29, 2010

More 1980 British Battalion Sheets, and an Options sheet

I’ve updated Sheet E on the previous British post (missing CP and S counters), and I’ll add two more sheets of 1980 British AIW factored units in this post. Sheet F are the Royal Marines, as depicted by Dan Fraser. Sheet G is an options sheet. Included are: Wombat 120 mm recoilless rifles, an anti-tank gun still used in some units in 1980. I provide a battery version, a section sized version (2 Wombats, with a AF of 15), and a “reload” counter, to be placed under an infantry unit or a vehicle to indicate that they are mounting Wombats (i.e. take a Land Rover, place the Wombat reload counter under it, and now you have a Land Rover that uses Wombats). Depending on the scenario you may find them useful. I also provide Milan launchers as a reload counter.

In most of my British charts I broke 81mm mortars down to sections of 2 mortars. You may not want that, so batteries of 81mm mortars, both foot and mounted in FV432s, are provided. A variety of AFVs, not used on the charts, are provided. Included is the Centurion AVRE with its 165mm cannon (do not allow this unit to shoot vehicles or units; the HESH shell is just not designed for that. It is terrific against fortifications or bunkers). Also included is the FV180 combat engineering tractor, and the Spartan ARV.

Included on Sheet G are commando infantry units; these can replace the rifle units in the Royal Marine sheet. There are Scorpion and Ferret reconnaissance vehicles, and 9 later model Centurions, 4 tank platoons, of the Cents that had 50mm of additional frontal armor applied. Centurions are not front line units in 1980, but everyone needs some variety now and then.

80UK Sheet F

80UK Sheet G

August 24, 2010

1980 British Battalions and Regiments

These are based on Dan Fraser’s TO&E, with some modifications suggested by the Yahoo TO&E group. There are 4 tanks per tank platoon. The anti-tank units are composed of Milan sections. 81 millimeter mortars have been broken down into 3 2 mortar sections, so they can be assigned to individual companies, if needed. FV 432 Cymbelines have been added as an option to artillery regiments (replace Signal and OP transportation with them, if engaged in counter battery fire), and an optional infantry company has been added to the tank regiment.

The British used a wealth of ARVs in their service and it is a total tangle to unravel which ones are used at which level. The wheeled ARV depicted is based on the AEC Militant Mk 3.

80UK Sheet A

80UK Sheet B

80UK Sheet C

80UK Sheet D

80UK Sheet E

August 15, 2010

Counter Cards for Panzerblitz and related tactical games.

Although I have been making plenty of counters, I have yet to play with these counters at the local clubs. Some of the complaints about Panzerblitz that I’ve heard is that it is “too choppy”, that it is too much work, too complicated, that it takes too long. Choppiness can be alleviated by changing or modernizing the turn sequence, in ways similar to Axis and Allies Miniatures, or as Panzerblitz: Hill of Death has done. You could make the CP of Panzerblitz similar to the HQ function of Lock and Load’s “World At War” Eisenbach Gap series, and then use chit based mechanics on a unit by unit basis. You can make the game shorter by planning more small unit count 6 and 8 turn scenarios. But one technique, not well used outside of miniatures, can markedly improve the quality of play for any tactical game, especially with an older population of players with diminishing vision.

Make a card that represents a single playing piece on the board. Have the counter on the card, but enlarged, so it is easy to read. Place any special properties of the piece on the card itself. In Panzerblitz terms, calculate out the weapons effects on the card and any information that ordinarily would have been placed on the UFT. Below are three examples (double click on the images to see the card at full size):

On it you have a counter representation in the upper left. In the middle is an experimental representation of facing and armor in facing (this idea I picked up from miniatures unit cards on “A Wargamer’s Blog”). The lower left text is a list of the pertinent elements on the UFT, largely Panzerleader ’70 based, and to the right some important facts, or perhaps even some historic trivia.

The cards are postcard sized, 4 inch high by 5 inches long. This size is useful because I can, if necessary, put 4 cards onto a single 1 page representation on my computer and print 4 cards at a time on heavy card stock.

The cards save a lot of math, and save older eyes. They can be applied to an existing game without having to change the rules or the counters. They can add functionality to simple counters without reworking the counter itself. They can be modified on a scenario by scenario basis.

To use them, set them out along the edges of the game board, so people can consult them while playing. You might want to laminate examples.

For people like me, it’s a way to make Panzerblitz smoother and faster, more competitive and relevant in the modern age.

For those commercial game makers out there: these kinds of cards can represent a new revenue stream for the real fans of your game.

1980 US Battalions and Brigades

Taken largely from Dan Fraser’s TO&E, with assistance by the Yahoo TO&E group (esp. for Mechanized Infantry). Sheets for a tank battalion, a mechanized infantry battalion, an artillery battalion and a generic brigade HQ are presented. The ‘B’ options sheet from my 1980 Cavalry post can be used with these sheets to customize for 1981, or replace M60A1 with M60A3 counters.For sheets of an enemy persuasion, please check out my Soviet counters.

80USA Sheet E

80USA Sheet F

80USA Sheet G

80USA Sheet H

Utility Counters – Panzerleader ’70 and AIW.

Filed under: Counters,Games,Tactical — foodnearsnellville @ 11:56 am
Tags: , , ,

A lot of the mechanics of AIW require that the piece be inverted, something you cannot do with reduced counters (as then you’ll be reducing the counter). Instead, a utility counter that says something like fired is needed, a counter that might look something like this:

So below, two PDFs of utility counters. They are obviously influenced by Ward McBurney’s superb utility counters on the Imaginative Strategist site.

Updated Notes: Smoke 1 and Smoke 2 are supposed to be 2 sides of a single counter. Just flip them each turn to count down smoke times. It turns out “Fired” and “Spent” are the same sized blocks and make a good double sided counter as well. “Spent” indicates a counter cannot be used. “Fired” should be used for counters that have fired during their firing phase.

UC Sheet A

UC Sheet B

August 13, 2010

1980 US Armored Cavalry Squads, Regiments and Helicopters: Plenty of Cobras.

I’m a little inundated by the task of building American armies currently, and normally I publish sheets along with explanations of the same. But I’m into working on mechanized infantry and tank battalions and wanted to just publish the sheets for the cavalry and helicopters and come back with explanatory PDFs after the fact.

These sheets (with the exception of Sheet A version 2) have been prepared with Dan Fraser’s TO&E as amended by TO&Es found in the Yahoo TO&E page. The biggest issue with cavalry is the number of tanks simply didn’t fit. So we added a second unit of tanks per troop to make it work. There were only 6 M109s in the Yahoo TO&E, so only 1 battery of SP artillery, instead of 2.  M113s, whether 3 or 4 are being used, are being treated as the same. M113 ACAV’s (upgunned to 4 vehicles) are given as an option. Dragons on the main sheets are being treated as a reload. The unit that fires them should place the reload under the counter to  be used. The unit can use its own firepower and shoot the reload in the same turn. If you don’t like that, an implementation of Dragons as a section are given in the options sheet.

M60A3s are given as options, but the M60A3 often did not arrive at units until 1981 (and then, often in the TTS version). Stingers first became available in 1981. They are provided as reloads.

According to Sabot Dave, M113-TOWs didn’t appear in his unit until 1981. You can replace the M901s with M113 TOWs if you like. M113 TOWs were actually on the Yahoo TO&E, but I didn’t get that in my first read, or attempt at these sheets.

The Helicopter sheet shows a variety of Cobras, including the generic Cobra of AIW and more specific Cobra versions. My reading of the stats of the AIW Cobra are that it has a minigun and a single hardpoint with 17 HEAT rockets. It is firing these rockets singly, or perhaps in pairs. I’m saying this because the 20 mm varieties of Cobra weren’t available in 1976, and there is no other way to account for the 12 A 6 rating of the stock Cobra. There is no other way to explain, why, when the Cobra has 4 hardpoints mounting 2 TOWS each, that the stock Cobra is claimed to be able to add as many as 6 TOW missiles.

In the middle 1970s, Cobras were being upgraded to provide TOW missile capability. These conversions started roughly in 1976 and were finished in 1981 with the AH-1F Cobra. The AH-1G is the Cobra of Vietnam. It cannot mount TOW missiles. It can mount 2.75″ rockets, either HE or HEAT. It can mount 1 external machine gun, either 20mm or minigun (more causes vibration issues). It has 4 hard points, so 4 extras is the maximum it can have. This could be a M197, a set of HEAT missiles, and two sets of HE missiles. HEAT missiles never run out (a simplification, but in essence my interpretation of the 12 A 6 rating of AIW). HE missiles are fired once and the counter discarded.

For other varieties, the loads can be: AH-1S anything. AH-1P anything. AH-1E anything but 2.75″ rockets. AH-1F anything.

The loadout counters are to be placed under the Cobra/other helicopter to be used. Those of you that are clever can use the loadouts to customize UH-1 Hueys, if you wish. Just be sure to have historic justification for your experiments or your game mates might not be so impressed. The OH-58 can carry a single minigun, if desired.

The Sheet A v 2 was my first cut at Sabot Dave’s actual Cavalry unit in 1980. Consider this an ongoing experiment, where I’ll be posting more sheets as I know more.

Building Units:

To make a regiment, combine 3 copies of Sheet A or Sheet A version 2 with Sheet C. Sheet B contains options for Sheet A. Sheet D are helicopters, and hardpoint mounted arms that can be used to swap out or customize the generics on the Cav sheets.

Note: Sheet D has been updated with a range correction for the 7.62mm minigun. Corrected Sabot Dave sheet is US Sheet Av3.pdf

80USA Sheet A

80USA Sheet B

80USA Sheet C

80USA Sheet D

80USA Sheet Av2

80USA Sheet Av3

August 11, 2010

Machine guns, helicopters and more

There is an ongoing discussion about the power of machine guns in the PB/PL/AIW context. I see J Smith of Consimworld, Byron Henderson, Daniel Escobar and Gary Exelby all weighing in. PL tends to minimize machine guns and infantry. AIW has to pay more attention to it because the “blitz” in tanks disappears if tanks aren’t part of a combined arms team in the post 1967 period. The portable shaped charge weapons like the RPG-7 and the LAW pretty much ensure that. The vehicle causing me the biggest issue is the M113:

This unit has 3 vehicles, and 6 machine guns, according to The General. It doesn’t specify which kinds, but the only photo I have of a 2 MG M113 Zelda shows 1 .50 caliber and 1 .30 caliber. My call would be to rate the .50s as 3 I and the .30s as 2 I. So, since US platoons use 4 M113s each, what is the firepower of that unit?

Maybe something like this.

And a 4 vehicle M113 ACAV unit might look something like this.

But given how loose the definitions of ‘I’ type weapons are, all of these three could still be the same 5 I 6 5 8 unit. Not easy to say.

To summarize what I know, we have that normal .30 MGs are 2 I, in a bunch, unspecified, and .50 MGs are 3 I, in a bunch, unspecified. My gut feeling about .30 miniguns is that they are 4 I with plenty of ammo and 2 I with limited ammo. No one cares how fast you can fire if you only have 50 bullets.

20mm cannon (see for example, the Mark II German tank) have been a 2 A for a long time, unless you’re a Corsair, in which case they are a 4 A. I suspect the M61 Vulcan is about 4 A. I suspect the three barreled 20mm cannon on the AH-1 F is a 2 or 3 A. Probably 2. Someone might be able to argue 3 or 4 for me, if he can point to better armor penetration in later rounds.

The GAU-8 30mm Gatling gun on the A-10 is a 30 A 5, according to Toshach miniatures.

The 25mm and 30mm chain guns are 6 A/H 8, according to Toshach miniatures. Since these later weapons have DU penetrators and high explosive shells, that all seems reasonable. They can switch very rapidly from one load to the another as well; this is clear from combat reports, such as the book “Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting”, by Doug MacGregor.

Now, the take home is that the 12 A/* 6 of the AIW Huey Cobra is not derived from on board guns, but rather the 2.75 inch rockets the early AH-1Gs used. And it must have this kind of firepower, else you can’t explain the results of the fighting in An Loc in 1972. An AF of ’12 A’ gives it the ability to take on and defeat a T-55. And it’s justified as the rockets can have a HEAT explosive head.

It’s important to know where the combat values of the generic AIW Cobra are derived, since the AH-1E variant of the Cobra does not mount 2.75 inch rockets and cannot be represented by the generic Cobra counter. The AH-1E can mount TOW missiles, though, so it’s hardly defenseless.

I think ungenericized AH-1s would look more like this:  4 I/* 6 for the AH-1G, S, and P. 2 A/* 6 for the AH-1E and AH-1F. Typical * loads could be 12 A 6 for rockets and 50 G 12 for TOW missiles in this era. Please note that TOWs improve markedly over time, and that the rockets can be used as HE delivery systems. By 1972 the rockets have switched to the Hydra 70, or Mark 66 rockets, which have a wide variety of warheads. Range is enhanced too for the Hydra system, maximum effective range being reported as 10,000 meters (40 hexes).

August 10, 2010

Early August Notes

On Saturday played two new games. The first was Conflict of Heroes, the second was Wings of War. The first seemed kind of neat, with game flow and control working in ways I hadn’t seen before. Its very luck driven, though, with good rolls and cards counting for a lot. The second was just plain fun.

I’m working on a 1980 era American unit, a Armored Cavalry Squadron. I’m in the late stages of development. Issues to resolve are: 1. M113 firepower. The stock M113 Zelda in AIW is 3 vehicles, 3 .50 cals, 3 .30 cals, and a rating of 5-I-6-5-8. So what would a standard set of 4 M113s be? It’s 4 instead of 3 as the American platoon of the time used 1 M113 per squad and 1 M113 as platoon HQ. And to add juice to the equation, what would 4 M113 ACAVs be ( 4 .50 cals, 8 .30 cals)?

One I have nailed down is the M106 mortar carrier.

This unit differs between Toshach miniatures depiction and Marco Valerio Bonelli’s depiction. Marco’s relies on the mortar in the M106 being the same as the WW II M2 4.2 inch mortar. Thing is, that mortar was replaced in the early fifties by the M30 4.2 inch mortar, which has 3 times the rate of fire as the M2. The M2 is a 10 M 15 2 0 unit in PL terms. The M30, as 4 mortars, would probably be 30 M 27 2 0 in PL terms. Conversion of big mortars from PL to AIW involves dividing by 2 and 2/3. So in AIW terms, a 4 mortar team would be rated 11 M 27 2 0. In the M106 units I’ll be fielding, there are only 3 vehicles and 3 mortars per unit, so you get 8 M 27 as the firepower.

Wow. Exactly what Toshach said. These kinds of results leaves me with a lot of respect for their expansion.

Other items up in the air are firepowers for various Cobra helicopters, the firepower of the OH-58A when armed with a 7.62 inch minigun. A lot of these issues revolve around the power of miniguns and machine guns. Carl Schwamberger says he wrote something about this a couple decades ago; items living from the beginning of the Internet period are easily lost in this day and age.

Oh yes, Byron Henderson has just published an enormous set of DYO documents for every unit on the IMSTRAT and Greg PB boards. It’s an impressive read, in sheer scope and extent. You can get some of it on Yahoo PB/PL, a sister group to Yahoo PB. It’s also complete up on the Consimworld thread.

August 9, 2010

T-80s and more

Filed under: Counters,Games,Tactical — foodnearsnellville @ 11:28 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This is a repost of an archive I’ve placed in the Yahoo Panzerblitz group. It includes not only the T-80, but also the T-84 that Ukraine makes. These are representative of front line Soviet tanks, and they are ranged as if these are well trained front line troops. There is a PDF with the units and a PDF explaining how I designed the units.

AIW T-80 Tanks

AIW T-80s in explanation

Since I haven’t done it yet, a 1981 era T-64B tank battalion is also posted. This is about the first year such a unit could be seen on the battlefield.

Sheet J

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