Saturday, June 16, 2018

WWII Spearhead in HO

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a WWII game presented in HO scale.  Many ROCO Minitanks, Haswegawa, Fujima, Airfix, and other models crowded the landscape.  Not since my youth have I seen HO and 1/72nd armor deployed upon the field of battle.  In my younger days, I had a large collection of plastic models for my own "Little Wars" situated primarily in North Africa if I recall correctly.  Great memories.
Soviets ready for the German counterattack
The action on this day featured two German formations attempting to thwart a Soviet breakout from a bridgehead.  The Soviets began the game with most of their forces deployed but concealed on the German side of the river across a broad swath of table.  The German plan of attack was to bypass all of the Soviet prepared positions on the Soviet right and drive down the center towards the village with one formation while the second formation attacked the Soviet left.  This strategy proved disastrous to the Soviets since Soviet commanders had planned for a German drive directly into the awaiting formations on the Soviet right.  With poor chance to change orders, the bulk of one Soviet formation lay motionless and unengaged for most of the game.  Brilliant German plan!  
Jon's German column drives on the Soviet Center
Bob's German column advances against Soviet left
As the German left column swings around possible Soviet defenses on the German left, Soviet positions pop up from concealment to harass the attackers.  Having exposed their positions, the Germans call in mission after mission of artillery to suppress or destroy the Soviets.  Some missions were successful; others not so much.
Germans make a left hook toward the objectives
With great success on the German right, the Soviet defense begins to crumble on that flank.  Those not killed outright in the assault stream toward the rear.  In the center, tank duels are frequent and casualties high.  Fortunately for the German center column, they dish out more punishment that they take.  The Soviet armor formation astride the road dissolves.   
Traffic jam!
After one or two more turns of heavy Soviet casualties, the Soviet's capitulate.  A major victory for the Fatherland!
Soviet positions collapse
The rules in use for this game were WWII Spearhead.  While I played Spearhead a few times many years ago in microarmor, I recalled very little of the actual game mechanisms.  The Sequence of Play seemed straight forward and not too complex.  With a veteran umpire at the helm, the game progressed rapidly and smoothly.  Moving from my recollections of Spearhead in microarmor up to a game in HO was a new experience.  Shocking too.  Visually, the closeness of the models in HO I find not as believable as I do in microarmor.  Vehicles hub-to-hub is a rub.  I need to sit down and read the rules for the author's perspective on this visual disconnect.  My preference would be to field fewer models on the table in HO to reduce this visual clutter.  Traffic jams were common in this game with many models having little space to move or deploy.

Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable half day out at the gaming table.  I look forward to doing this again.  Until then, I have rules to read.

32 comments:

  1. 1/72nd is lovely for these actions, but the proximity and number of vehicles does seem a little ridiculous, as you point out.
    Still, it's a game at heart and fun was had hey?! :)

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    1. It was fun, James, and very enjoyable seeing all of these old kits from my youth.

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  2. One's skill at parking lot management would be handy here, but getting in a game is always a good thing.

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  3. What an amazing collection of tanks! I too fondly recall my youth with 1/72nd Rocco and other tanks - that and model building got me into the hobby. In fact, I may revisit 1/72nd tanks since playing "What a Tanker!" from TFL.

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    1. Dean, there was a lot of armor on the table this day. Great fun to see all of the old models on maneuver.

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  4. Interesting. Spearhead was originally written for microarmor. I've seen it played using 15mm miniatures but never using 1/72nd scale. I believe the White Rock Gamers from BC used to play in in 20mm since almost all of their WW2 gaming is in 20mm.

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    1. My introduction to Spearhead was with micro-armor and I don’t recall the impression of hub-to-hub tanks. I may not be remembering my earlier Spearhead battles correctly, though.

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  5. Impressive and beautiful collection, nice pictures!

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  6. Nice looking ww2game,does look a bit weird when you have pzkfwIVs as close as a swiss Kiel! Sounds like a fun game though.
    Best Iain

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    1. Love the Swiss Kiel analogy! The game was fun especially on the winning end of a crushing victory.

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    1. It is! Not my figures but good fun to push around the table.

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  8. That's a grand looking sight 👍

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    1. I agree! Straight out of the old Wargamer’s Digest.

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  9. One of the few times that an older eye sees more :-)

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  10. The change of scales may create traffic jams, but what traffic jams! That is very impressive Jonathan.

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    1. For traffic jams, this game produced one in spades!

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  11. Now THAT is a crowded table! I remember games like this using Airfix etc when I was a teenager too - except there was virtually no scenery and we crawled about on our hands and knees on the floor of the Scout Hall on a Sunday afternoon - only time I have played games that were totally unrestricted by table "edges"!

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    1. Crowded indeed! Not much space for maneuver. I would enjoyed seeing your floor games. Any old photos?

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  12. I’m unfamiliar with these rules but it did seem cool that the initial plan of attack mattered a lot as the game played out. Which really should matter when playing at higher levels of command.

    I see the friendly war about the proper scale of tank combat goes on and on... 😀

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    1. Yes, this plan survived contact it’s the enemy. My gaming partner thought it brilliant.

      Some things never change, do they?

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  13. Fantastic stuff. Thanks for posting this.
    We are so used to seeing Spearhead in smaller scales. Appreciate your thoughts on traffic jams, but still looks like a good game.

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    1. Glad you liked it!

      The game was entertaining, for sure. My Germans took out many a Soviet tank with several low probability shots. My artillery had several good runs too.

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  14. Being of a certain vintage, those HO & 1/72 tanks, vehicles, and infantry occupy a transitional identity between “models” and proto-wargaming attempts in my history. Quite a a trip down memory lane to see them in use again. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Ed, I like your terminology of “Proto-Wargaming.” I wonder how many of us in our vintage came Into Wargaming via this same route? More than a few, I suspect.

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  15. Looks impressive, even with the crowding. Who hosted the event?

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    1. Certainly a lot of models present on the table. The game was hosted by fellow Spokanite, Terry Griner. Terry is a seasoned umpire/host and his games always flow smoothly.

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  16. I can somewhat understand your lament on the scale. Spearhead is my favorite set of microarmor rules as it moves to the 1 stand = 1 platoon scale. I have started to shift from 1 6mm tank per stand to 3-5 3mm ones instead. I guess it never occurred to me to go the other way with that....

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    1. While playing this game, I did not recall the cramped feeling felt during any of your microarmor games. Having given Spearhead a try, I am looking forward to you hosting a game or two.

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