Wednesday, November 27, 2013

(CLA) The Battle of Five Palms

Last night I had a sick wife and two small children who all listened to me and went to bed at a decent hour. That left me with the task of cleaning the kitchen and dining room, followed by this mysterious concept known as personal time.  I broke out my Samoan Civil War figs and some Askaris and instead of trying to paint, I made a further foray into learning Contemptible Little Armies.

I had written a fairly glowing review previously, but actual play, even solitaire is better than working through the turn progression and chucking dice .  

Due to time constraints, I kept the terrain and objectives simple. The five palm trees I had painted were set in the middle of the table, and both sides would need to dash to seize this odd strategic objective.

Samoan Loyalists and Western Allies
Samoan Loyalist Rifles (x10):            Tactical 3, Morale 3
US Marines                 (2 units x10)  Tactical 5, Morale 5   - Marksman
British Sailors              (x8)               Tactical 4, Morale 4

Samoan Rebels and German Assistance
Matala'afa's Elite Guard  (x8)            Tactical 4, Morale 4  - Stubborn
German Schutztruppe  (x8)               Tactical 5, Morale 5
German Askari            (x8)               Tactical 4, Morale 4
Samoan Spearmen      (x10)             Tactical Irregulars, Morale 4

Using the point system, the Rebels are woefully undermanned.  This order of battle might work better if the Loyalists are attacking, and certainly with more cover.

Using the same breakdown as I did the review, let's see how everything works:

Initiative/Movement:  The I-go-you-go system works, especially with the command and control rules, detailed below.  Trying to play solitaire as fair as possible, I made a few crucial mistakes in deploying the right unit.  The variable movement rate (2d6" in clear, 1d6" in rough terrain) did cause a few problems for the Americans, who got off to a very slow start, and aided the Rebels, who managed to establish the defense of their flanks earlier.

Firing:  Using the defending unit's Tactical Rating to determine the attacker's to-hit roll is brillant.   The casualty check at the end of the turn was a bit more brutal, although the Samoan Rifles and Askaris traded bloody volleys of fire at each, hitting all involved, only to watch them survive their casualty checks.   My only concern was the wordiness of the casualty modifiers.

Close Combat:  I love the simple dice-off mechanic, just like in Gnome Wars.  The outnumbered modifiers was key in a deadly melee among the palms, but the most crucial attack involved the Samoan Spearmen.  By giving them a Tactical Rating of Irregular, they were 5+ to hit as they advanced toward the enemey.  However, once they engaged them, regular infantry earns a +2 bonus in melee versus Irregular infantry.   I may make them T4-M3 and keep them behind/in cover.  Two other things I missed in the initial review:  melee is a draw unless a figure beats another's roll by two or more and the loser is killed outright (casualty checks are for victims of weapons fire only). 

Morale:  I said this was easy in the review.  In retrospect, it really feels incomplete.  The first few checks were easily passed.  It wasn't until the units were whittled down and still received multiple casualties that they took over.  The moral markers seemed unnecessary, and there were units at 12% strength (the Schutztruppe) that still kept fighting, as the Elite Guard suffered three failed checks in one turn and simply routed.  I would like to see rules allowing units to fall back to safety with a failed check.

Command and Control:  The ability of staff officers to move in place of another unit, to effect the meta-gaming aspect, is commendable, in the inital reading, I missed the rule that if an attacking unit makes base-to-base contact with another figure, and that figure did not get the chance to move, they still get to a firing action before melee.  Many a man in the Samoan/German army never got a chance to engage their enemy.

On-Table Units:  I only used infantry.  The ranges are quite short, and the -1 penalty for hitting someone more than half your maximum range allows for a lot of near misses.  With additional cover, Marksman is a great attribute, but it was barely worth the cost here.

At the end, I called the game after the 2nd unit of Marines finally arrived at the palms and wrecked havoc. 

Per the picture below, the Samoan Rifles and Askaris were still at half strength, despite hitting enough times to strike every member on the board.  The Marines still had two spearmen harassing them, and the Royal Sailors had routed the Elite Guard and secured the flank, firing a few warning shots at the lone Schutztruppe who was running away. 

I really need to finish the banana trees
I'll play a few more games before I start tweaking the Morale rules, and perhaps some rules for non-officer special characters.

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