Sunday, 20 October 2019

Shermans on the Pinboard

The recently painted N.W Europe 10mm U.S. Battlepack units from Pendraken have been yearning to make it to the table and get into action and so here they are.

It is late August 1944 and an American force is attacking small farm based hamlet held by a platoon of Volksgrenadiers with A/T gun support. This is a small action that I am using to look at converting my Into Battle - WWII Tactical rules from hexes to an open board. 

The game is confined to a large pinboard (34" x 22"), converting hexes to 10 centimetres per hex.

Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post. 

This is a first attempt at this and so just to initially identify any problematic areas for conversion, I am keeping things simple, this is just a head-on assault against the hamlet.

Orders of Battle.

For Volksgrenadiers, I have gone to the (The West '44 to '45) module, which give Volksgrenadier troops a reduced fire ability at 2 hexes and beyond, with their NAF reduced to 1D6, but when firing adjacent and in close combat, their high proportion of automatic weapons gives them a NAF of 3D6. Further, I have reduced their command radius down, though it mattered little here, as everything in the hamlet was still within command range.

German set-up. Each building got an infantry section. In addition, the building on the front right got the HMG. Two Pak 40 anti-tank guns were deployed on the flanks, one in Henri Woods (left) and the other at Champ de blé (right)

The Americans enter the game from their side of the table. On the left is an under strength infantry platoon with a .30 cal MMG. On and to either side of the road, the Shermans will pump HE into the hamlet and on the right, the second infantry platoon will attack via the hill.

I decided the battle would start at 0900 hours and last for 1 hour. The Americans must capture at least two of the buildings to win. German morale starts at level 3 and American morale at level 5.

0900 hours.
First blood is immediate, as the Shermans enter the table, the vehicle on the left is hit and knocked out by the Pak 40 tucked away in Henri Woods. Fortunately for the Americans, it did not retain its fire and is marked (used) with an Opportunity Fire marker.

0909 hours.
Very bad! another Sherman is destroyed, this time from the Pak 40 over at Champ de blé. It does also however fail to retain it's fire and is marked OP Fired - a situation then made worse when it then becomes Out of Command, which means it will not be able to remove its limiting OP Fire marker this turn.

HMG fire from the hamlet opens on the exposed American infantry on the high ground, pinning one section. This already looks a tough one for the Americans.

0911 hours
The advancing of the game clock results in both sides getting random events, which are applied. The German HMG causes the loss of an infantry section at the hill and the Germans do well this turn, recovering quite effectively from their Pin results.
The hamlet defences hold. Note the HMG on the right.

0922 hours
On the American left, the infantry heave reached the far field boundary and their .30 cal opens up on the Pak 40 position at Henri Woods, destroying it.

0927 hours
The Americans are unlucky to suffer with a goodly proportion of their force going out of command, however, that is somewhat countered by poor German fire.

On the left the American infantry prepare to move out from Henri's Field towards the hamlet, covered by the .30 cal.
Henri's Field

0932 hours
The action is hanging pretty much in the balance. On their centre / right, things are held up and regretably exposed, though on the left, the .30 cal removes a German section from the front left house, forcing German morale to drop to 1.

The German HMG removes another American section at the hill and American morale also drops to 1. This is very tight.

0941 hours
Firefights everywhere!

0951 hours
Guns continue to blaze, but the Germans make the first breakthrough, they decimate the infantry at the hill and American morale hits zero. This causes everything to check their morale, failures cause a fall back. This sort of thing can dislocate a defence or cause an attack to lose its momentum.

An infantry section and a Sherman lose their nerve and pull back, but enough of the attack force remain in place for a feeling of 'just one more push should do it'.

The German HMG crew dash across the lane from the house on the right to get into that now empty front left building, but they are caught in the lane by Sherman fire and are pinned.
Caught by raking fire from further down the lane

0955 hours
The remaining two Shermans continue to fire into the lane and the weight of fire overwhelms the HMG team, causing the German morale to crash to zero. The German units all make their retreat tests. The section that had been sharing their building with the HMG have had enough and they flee through the back door.

There is now just one section holding the hamlet.

1001 hours
An hour of game has passed and so the scenario concludes. The German have managed to hold out, or rather the Americans have failed to get a toe-hold in la ferme.

That all seemed to go rather well and again a load of action falls out of a small gaming space and relatively small order-of-battle.

This test game has made me more inclined to do a hexless version of the rules. I shall add it to the list of things to do :-)

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is a bit more snippet based than here. Link.


  1. Lovely little action Norm. I like the idea of the clcok for actions such as this, as it adds a nice level of uncertainty to how long things will last.

  2. Thanks Steve, it does, at one point I rolled 2 minutes and next turn 11 minutes, that can really matter when either waiting for reinforcements or when one player is hooping they are in the last moments of the game :-)

  3. Norm this is outstanding news for me. I love TAM but have to break out the hexmat to play it. Cannot wait for this project to come to fruition!

    1. Hi Steve, this thought has been with me for a while and harks back to a time when both your good self and Jonathan liked the look of the rules, but wanted to use 15mm and this causes a stacking problem in the hexes. I made some amendments to allow just one vehicle per hex, but this changed the dynamics of the game and the larger the scale, the harder it is for forces and terrain to co-exist in the hex ... anyway this has put me onto the path of open table rules, which raises other issues such as artillery mechanics, so I have a bit to go, but am interested to do this.

    2. Thanks Norm. I can tell you i am very much looking forward to this! Let me know if you want any help playtesting :)

    3. Thanks Steve, your encouragement is most welcome.

  4. Excellent little action, Norm! Sharp fighting with the Germans just holding on. When the two Shermans brewed up at the start, I figured the American attack would stall sooner than it actually did. Neat little scenario. I am enjoying these small scenarios since they are decided quickly and have high replayability.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. Yes, I thought the same, it all looked rather uphill for the American side, but considering this was just a made up throw down game, it did give a good game and could be refined to a nice scenario. I would like to re-run it and bring the American attack on from the right side of the board only, just to see how that changes things.

  5. A nice short action. Why the move from hex to open movement with your rules?

  6. Thanks Peter. Initially it was to accommodate the larger scales, as the 4" hex struggles with the co-existence of bigger scale forces and terrain and the number of vehicles a hex will hold becomes compromised. Also visually I quite like the open board with the larger scales, it just so happens I was using 12mm on a pinboard today for a trial so that I could compare play with what I would normally get out of a 8 x 6 hex space, but 1/72 on a 4' x 4' should work the same and I am still keen to keep my play in the realms of the 'kitchen / dining table' style game.

    A 6" hex would work better with the bigger scale, but would heavily compromise the number of 'cells' I could have for my set up.

  7. Decimation causes US morale to plummet? Can't have been very tough troops to start with!

    1. Tough guys, they had taken high losses (your specialism, wasn't 'Decimation' in the classical sense 10%?). There is a formula in the game that basically allows for 50% casualties, at which point a side's Morale will bottom out at zero. This causes every unit to test morale based on its level of situational protection. To fail causes a retreat of that unit. It can cause strong defensive positions to crack and attacks to waver. Every loss thereafter causes a similar check.

      As the player, this felt a bit of a lost cause early on and so I think the sense of failing morale both with the army and the player has been fairly well reflected here and by the end of the game, both sides were pretty much 'done in'.

  8. Thanks Michal, a quick set up and take down and some fast action, allowed this to fit into a time slot that otherwise would not have been used for gaming.

  9. Thanks Kevin, I am thinking about running the same action using the Old School Tactical boardgame.

  10. Nice report, your terrain/buildings are awesome...Great looking game!

  11. Thanks Phil, I wish 6mm / 10mm (and your beloved 15mm) would get as much media attention as the big boys

  12. Great game report Norm and as usual the small space scenario works a treat. The 12mm stuff looks interesting, I just can't get on with the 1/72nd plastics, much as I have tried. Love the smoke markers, those Shermans do go up in flames don't they.

  13. Hi Lee, I saw your other blog that drew a curtain across the 1/72 project and opened a 28mm chapter. Yesterday I picked up the Warlord 1/56 Panther tank and a Soviet Maxim HMG team .... why! :-)

  14. Very cool, Norm! It's a very well-constructed battle board that shouldn't take up too much space. Figures and terrain are impressive too. A scale I would like to try out someday.

  15. Dean, I can see this working for a lot of space strapped gamers, pretty much everything can fit into a tub and the board can slide down the side of a wardrobe or desk etc.

  16. Nice report and illustrating again how a lot of action can be had on a small space. The map is also pretty and well done. Next time the Americans should call in artillery support and pulverize the town first. 😀

  17. Thanks Stew - It was advancing over the exposed right (hill) that did for them and losing a platoon there. They did get smoke, but unluckily it dispersed too quickly. This kind of scenario is well suited to a 'pre-game' artillery strike.

  18. Considering the two Sherman's brewed up from the get go I thought they did pretty well to hang on and be close to a result at the end!
    Best Iain

  19. Iain, by the end of turn 1, I thought I created a significantly unbalanced scenario.It just goes to show!

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  21. I'll try that one again! Hey Norm is there another way of getting a copy of Tigers at Minsk other than by drop box? My old iPad won't accommodate such modern wonders!

    1. I have sent a PDF to the e-mail address listed in your profile. It is 6.7MB, so I don’t know whether that will pass through the e-mail gateway. Norm.



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