Tuesday, 29 June 2021

‘O’ Group - looking at the gun / armour system



‘O’ Group are David Brown's most recent set of rules (he is also designer of Pickett’s Charge and General d' Armee rules), covering World War Two. Published by Reisswitz Press (a publishing arm of the Lardies), the rules cover action at the battalion level. That is, a typical game would see two to three infantry companies per side, plus assets.

Each infantry base represents a section, they are gathered together to make the basic manoeuvre unit - the platoon. Interestingly, each armoured model is representing 2 - 3 vehicles and is referred to as a section, with two sections forming a typical platoon.

As armour is my primary interest, this was the first part of the rules that I turned to and the rest of this post is going to give way to discussing the gun / armour relationships in the game and the processes that fall out of a typical little vehicle duel.

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


Obviously, it is the full package that is important, with the rules working as an integrated whole, but I can’t help myself turning to the ‘anti-tank’ section first and poring over the gun charts and relative armour and gun values.

Pre-purchase, I had thought the game was intended for the smaller scales, so was surprised to see the rules giving two sets of measurements throughout, one for 15mm and smaller and the other for 20mm and above, making it easier to use and avoiding the need for mental conversion of measurements, regardless of what figure scale you choose to use.

At the start of each turn, both sides roll dice to see how many orders they get and then the question of initiative is determined. For the sake of our example, we will assume that our action is an important point of decision on the battlefield and that everything is sufficiently and properly resourced with orders, but we will test initiative along the way.

For our mini gun duel and slice of action, we have a German Tiger I tank taking cover amongst a hedged orchard. Approaching are two Sherman 76mm vehicles in the open. Although there are just two Sherman model tanks in play, we should think of them as representing a full strength 5 tank platoon, with say one vehicle representing 3 tanks and the other 2.



The Tiger model likewise would represent a section of a couple of vehicles in the game, but I don’t want that. I would prefer to think of this as a lone vehicle fending off a U.S. platoon. So to do that, we will start with the Tiger tank having a damage marker already placed on it. This will help represent the section being reduced to a single vehicle.

At this point, it might be worth the reader pausing a moment and deciding in their own mind how they think this mini gun duel should play out and end. Will the Tiger survive? Will the Shermans be stopped in their tracks? Do you have stereo-types of this sort of action?

In the game, a Damage result is interpreted as one of the vehicles in the section getting damaged, a second damage result will see the full tank section Knocked Out and the model marked as KO.

At the start, we will set the Shermans 21 and 23 inches respectively away from the Tiger.

I am using the 20mm scale. In this scale, vehicles have a standard gun range of 40” (30” for 15mm and smaller). Tanks can fire further, but they must be on elevated ground, no matter how slight, so seeking out undulations might become important in some games.



In my test game, there is high ground located around 15” behind the Tiger’s position, which would be a good position for their powerful gun to dominate from, but they have chosen the orchard as their defensive position.



It is always interesting to look at the gun / armour relationships that designers have settled upon.

Here we can see that the Panther and Tiger are very similar, but with the Tiger having heavier side armour. The low velocity 152mm gun in terms of actual damage capability, is performing like the high performance German Tiger and Panther weapons, due no doubt to the weight of that colossal shell hitting a target and the U.S. 76mm is performing at the same gun value as the German 75/48 (not shown here) and the upgraded T-34’s 85mm gun (also not shown here).

All of those values sit in a range that look to be in a reasonable relationship with each other, especially having regard for actual penetrating effect being further influenced by the randomising effect of 2D6, which have a Bell Curve effect on outcomes.

Two good things initially strike me about the anti armour system, it is based around credible maths and the process is smooth and easy to apply.

One final note, we must talk about spotting. As soon as you see the word ‘spotting’ in rules, there is every chance of tedium and trying to remember who has spotted who etc …… but not here!

If the target is in the open, then it is spotted. If it is in any type of cover, then at the time of firing, a different coloured D6 is also rolled and this is the spotting dice. On a 1 - 3 the target will be spotted, on a 4 - 6 it will count as obscured.

Where this matters is on the Damage Table. It has two rows, a spotted row and an obscured row, you simply roll on the appropriate row that the spotting dice determines …. Simple, yes. It manages to get cover and spotting all into one straight forward roll and it is ALWAYS done, even if you spotted or hit the target last turn, so no need to remember who hit who. I do like this rule. 

The Action!

In our first turn, we will assume that the Germans have won the initiative. This allows them to take the first part of the turn, so they will fire first.



Firstly the Tiger must hit the target, so rolls 2D6 to do that. The ‘To Hit’ process always needs 7 or more to hit (after modifiers, such as firer moving or suffering shock or damage etc). It does not roll the spotting dice on this occasion, because the Shermans are in the open. It applies a penalty of -1 to the 2D6 for being damaged.

It misses!

The target is allowed to immediately fire back, but requires an order being spent on it to do so, we shall definitely do that.

First the Sherman must pass a ‘To Hit’ roll. The Tiger is amongst cover, so a spotting 1D6 is also rolled this time and so the Tiger may or may not be obscured. A different coloured D6 for spotting is rolled at the same time as the 2D6 for the ‘To Hit’. The Sherman ‘To Hit’ roll misses. As an aside, the spotting dice is successful, not that it matters in this instance as the target is not hit.

That concludes the Tiger’s actions, so assuming that the rest of the German forces over the rest of the table have concluded their part of the turn, play now switches over to the Allied player.

What to do? The decision is to fire with both Shermans and not to move them. You can move and fire, but the fire gets a penalty.

The first Sherman fires and misses. This allows the Tiger to immediately fire back at the Sherman.

So in this game, the tanks get a chance to fire twice during a full turn, once in their own Action Phase and also once as response to incoming fire during the enemy Action Phase, though each firing requires the expenditure of a separate order. A player will be unlikely to have enough orders available to fire many things twice per turn in a full game.

It is still the Allied Action Phase, but the Tiger spends an order and responds to the fire, firing back and hitting the Sherman (rolls an 8. Anything that is 7 or more is a hit), so we move to the Damage Table.

The Tiger has a gun value of 11 and the Sherman has a frontal armour value of 7. Taken as a differential, this gives the Tiger a significant difference of 4 to their advantage. They roll 2D6 on the Damage Table, getting 8 and then deduct that 4 (the differential) from the 8 …. giving a final result of 4 (the lower the better).

So anti-tank combat is essentially based around the difference between the gun and the armour and this difference acts as a modifier on the Damage table.

We ignore the ‘Obscured’ line on the Damage Table and look at the ‘Spotted’ line on the chart, as the Sherman is in the open and automatically spotted. The Table shows that a score of 4 or less is a straight Knock Out. Other results from a higher dice roll could have been Damaged, Shocked or No effect.



The KO against the model is representing the destruction of 2 - 3 tanks. The model stays on the table, but is marked as being destroyed.

“Oh Dear” says the remaining Sherman commander. It is still the Allied player turn and an order is placed on the remaining Sherman to fire. It scores a hit and also rolls a successful spotting dice, so we go straight to the Damage Table and roll on the ‘spotted’ row.  

The Sherman 76 has a gun value of 9, set against the Tiger’s armour value of 11, so the attack is made with a difference of 2 in the German favour. This will add +2 (bad) to the Allied dice roll. They roll high at 10 (Oh No!), which the +2 modifies to 12.

A score of 9 or more is no effect. If we pretend for a moment that we had rolled say 4 (+2 differential) to give 6 and the Tiger was successfully 'spotted', then the result would have been 'Damage' and since the Tiger is already damaged, that would have been converted to a Knock-Out. Even a roll of 6 (+2 differential) to give 8, would have put shock on the Tiger, so the 76mm gun does have some potential to harm the Tiger.

That is the Shermans done for this turn, once all Allied units on the table have concluded their turn, the turn will end and a new one will start, with both sides creating new order allowances and testing for initiative.

The Allied player must think now. What is the best thing to do? The odds are now very much stacked against them. They decide that reversing into the small wood behind them is a good idea, but first, Initiative needs to be established.

But it is the Germans who win the Initiative, so they will get to go first and will spend an order to fire against the remaining Sherman, before the Sherman can spend an order to move. 

Kaboom! A hit and a Knock Out, the Sherman is smokin', so that is the end of that!

Well, that rather fitted my own stereo-typical view on the likely outcome for Shermans going head on against a heavy tank in cover, though with the right dice (a bit of Lady Luck), either side could have dealt out some shock or damage results, which brings tactical nuance and flavour to the game, it’s just that the rolls in our test game didn’t bring any of that out.

The damage result represents one of the vehicles within the section getting damaged, which would then cause a -1 To Hit modifier on the tank’s future firing, plus a second damage result would destroy the tank section.

Shock is more nuanced. The Damage Table can generate either 1 or 2 shock and this can accumulate, building up on the vehicle. It also causes the ‘To Hit’ dice to be modified by -1 (bad).

An AFV can absorb 3 shock, but at that stage it goes Suppressed (can’t fire or move without a Rally or Withdraw Action). Once suppressed, a further 2 shock will cause a KO, so there is a downward spiral of effect with accumulated shock.

Units can spend orders to attempt to Rally shock off and this will become important as the shock results gather.

In our test game, the two Shermans might have been lucky enough to inflict some shock onto the Tiger if they had rolled 6 or less on the damage table, not a desperately hard thing to do and you have two barrels attempting that, but a frontal engagement against a heavy tank is still pretty fraught, as it should be.

If the Shermans could manoeuvre and drop onto the Tiger’s flank, the Tiger’s armour value drops from 11 to 8 and that becomes a much more attractive proposition for the decent 76mm gun on the Sherman and we must also remember, many engagements will be against the more common Panzer IV’s and StuG III’s, putting the Shermans on a much more even footing.

We chose the Tiger / Sherman match-up here to deliberately bring together contrasting values.

The Shermans are classed as an average vehicle for movement purposes and so can move 2D6 + 2” over open terrain, so it would take them a couple of turns at least to get into flanking positions, but if they could also get the range to the Tiger down to 15” or less, they would be able to claim ‘Close Range’ when firing, which helps both the ‘To Hit’ die roll and tank fire value by +1. 

Since that would help both the Tiger and the Shermans, the initiative and who fires first might become the critically important factor. 

But WAIT! What’s this!

We have suddenly been transferred to the eastern front and one of those S.U. 152 ‘Beasts’ has shown up! With an armour value of 8, it is not so well defended, but a gun value of 11 gives the Tiger something to think about.



The S.U. fires - it hits - it spots. 11 gun value Vs 11 armour value gives a zero differential, so no modifier. A roll of 8 or less will do something. They roll a …….. 5! which results in damage, usually it takes a second damage result to destroy the section, but remember, we started this scenario with the Tiger already damaged to represent a lone vehicle, so therefore in this instance the Tiger is destroyed.

Had it survived, The Tiger’s return fire would have been gun value 11 against armour value 8, giving -3 modifier on the Damage Table (in the German favour), so a raw 2D6 roll of 11 or 10 (minus 3), would cause shock, a raw 9 or 8 (minus 3) would cause damage and a raw 7 or less (minus 3) would be a KO - leaving it practically as vulnerable as the Shermans were and preserving the fearful reputation of the Tiger!

In all of my tactical games, regardless of the system, SU 152’s never seem to last for long! They have a powerful punch, but fairly weak armour by comparison, which makes nervous things want to pick on them.

Overall, my afternoon of tinkering with the gun / armour rules have left me pleased with the processes and outcomes. Once I get a full battlefield up and running and start to play a more integrated game, I can see this rule set delivering a lot of nuance and points of decision. 

Gun / armour rules have the potential to be quite complicated, but these are very streamlined, made more-so by the simplified spotting process and the results seem credible. I am pleased with my purchase.   

Resource Section.

EDIT - Rule support, including comprehensive vehicle and gun lists for ‘O’ Group LINK

http://generaldebrigade.blogspot.com/

‘O’ Group forum on the Lardies site LINK

https://toofatlardies.co.uk/forum/index.php

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.

https://commanders.simdif.com

53 comments:

  1. Interesting to read how the system works.

    I'm not convinced by the flexibility given to a tank platoon - of being split into two sections. But the alternative of having individual tanks able to roam all over the place is very ASL and equally unrealistic.

    But these are design decisions where you have to play the whole game and see the overall effect. Certainly in your restricted little scenario, there was nothing obviously wrong.

    A useful post indeed. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Hi Ellis, I would need to see the whole game in action to form a firm opinion, but in my initial foray, in terms of scale, I am reminded of the rules Rapid Fire, where 9 men are a company and 1 tank is a platoon, but as you play it, you can't visually disconnect from the fact that you are looking at one model tank and 9 individual infantry figures, so you play it and see it like you would a lower tactical game, where things are representing one to one.

    However, the thing of a vehicle being able to take a 'damage' does in effect give a tank and extra life, which in mechanics at least brings you back to the notion of the vehicle representing 2 - 3 vehicles ..... although you can have a straight knock-out on good dice, which slightly undermines that thought process and reinforces the 1:1 ratio.

    There is a strong command element in the game, so in that regard, it is very un - ASL like. Infantry sections must be within 2" of each other and their order is give to the platoon. Tanks with radios can be 6" apart, but those without must remain within 3" from the other platoon member. Orders are also deliverable at the company level and at the battalion level, again reinforcing command structures.

    As always with these things, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, playing a full game and seeing how it works as a holistic whole.

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    1. That visual disconnect you mention is something I personally experience only with WW2 and Modern miniatures games. (Doesn't ever arise in boardgames.) I have no problem with a single base of miniatures, for example in Napoleonics, being a battalion or a regiment or a brigade. But in WW2, somehow, what I see is what I expect it to be. So, if it's 2-3 soldiers it's a fireteam and not a section or a platoon. A tank is a tank, and so on.

      I wonder if it's because I see (or interpret) WW2 and Modern combat as being an individual contest more than earlier warfare.

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    2. I don’t know, but it is a real sense, so the wiring of the brain is doing something. Perhaps it is because the Airfix generation ‘played’ with tanks and soldiers at the 1:1 level during formative years, or perhaps in our everyday lives a vehicle is a vehicle and that real world experience is embedded, whilst I have never actually seen a battalion of rank and file soldiers and so suspension of belief is easier.

      Having a system where tanks receive platoon type damage is a reminder if what we are representing ….. but it fights with the eye!

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  3. A very useful post Norm, has I mentioned elsewhere the official YouTube videos left me cold, I could not see what it could add to the WWII party that I didn't get from Rapid Fire apart from a more modern command element, can't be doing with writing down orders and having to change them has the game progresses. I look forward to a full game report none the less.

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  4. Hi Phil, I am interested enough to explore further. I was thinking that basing with 2 figures per base to represent a section, would allow some universality between these rules and rapid fire, while keeping the section footprint down since I will be using 20mm. That would mean 3 sections of 2 men representing the platoon, so some visual gymnastics for me :-)

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  5. Thanks for the review Norm, which as always is interesting and informative. I find the 'one stand is an infantry section' versus 'one tank is a couple of vehicles' rather strange, certainly from a visual point of view. However it does reduce the number of AFVs on the table, given that a full strength Battalion would be 27 infantry bases alone, excluding support and command units, which from experience makes for a very busy table. In terms of game mechanics, it works well and is a neat idea and the armour table die rolls remind me of 'Rules of Engagement'.

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    1. Thanks Steve, a full strength battalion is going to be a squeeze on my table, but I would like to see how the system plays out. I was reminded a little of good old WRG 1925 - 50 rules. I imagine that in the 6mm - 10mm scale, you could put 2 -3 tanks out to represent the section, of course only one can fire and one would be removed on receiving the first damage result, but it would sort out the visual thing. like most of the things we play, once you get drawn into the play, many of the ‘theoretical’ considerations disappear and one gets caught up in the play.

      Most things I play are bath-tubbed in one way or another.

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  6. A very interesting insight to the rules, thanks for that Norm.

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    1. Thanks Ray, I hope to do with these, though ultimately, it will cause a tug-o’-war with my Battlegroup rules - I am trying to slim down to ‘go-to’ systems.

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  7. A great example Norm. Play through the Cristot scenarion in the book. You'll find the single Panther more than a match for the British armour. One thing to remember though: The damage roll is made by the side being hit. So you roll to hit and your opponent rolls to see if their armour stood up to the shot. It may sound as if it makes no difference but it can save some confusion along the way.

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  8. Thanks Ian - that came out of me playing solo, so I was doing everything, but i like the idea of splitting the job as it is just another example of the system keeping everyone engaged. Will do the Cristot Scenario, though will default to my 10mm as I already have the order-of-battle with them.

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  9. Thanks for taking the time to do such an informative run through. WWII is not my current interest, but it is for many in my group--who have expressed an interest in finding a set of rules at this level (ie, units vs individual vehicles).

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  10. Hi Ed, I will be exploring it further. I know a lot of people like Battlegroup, which is a 1:1

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  11. An excellent read - and as a result I'm tempted.. those Attack Values and Defence Values.. straight out of Featherstone.. :o)

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  12. They look to be lifts from armour thickness at 1 point per cm. The Panther is obviously getting an uplift for sloping armour, though the T-34 at Front 7 and Flank 5 is in the same grouping as PzIIIL, StuG G, Sherman and Cromwell. The Pershing and Churchill VII are both rated the same as the Tiger I.

    I wanted to put a Hetzer out, which is listed, so I wasn’t quite sure what to class it as, but it is given a mention in the ‘low profile’ section, where the spotting dice is always used when shooting at such targets.

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  13. First, your models and photos are terrific.

    Second, you created another fine addition to your series of comparative reviews on game mechanisms. I do not recall exactly how many rules for which you have performed these armor effectiveness tests but which rules get it right and which ones miss the mark? And finally, which ones are you playing?

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    1. Thanks Jonathan. In the past, I have run several ‘Tiger Trials’ against advancing T-34’s wit several systems. I have spent much of my tactical WWII time with boardgames and up to 18 months ago, I had significant collections with Lock ‘n Load, ASL / ASLSK, Panzer and Old School Tactical. Aware of the distraction (and expense) of multi-system collection, I sold three of the series and now only have one ….. Old School Tactical, which deals with my nostalgic passion for the original Squad Leader game.

      On the figures side of things, I think the system that best fits the sim / game balance is Battlegroup. Iron Cross and Blitzkrieg do come out and now I am look at ‘O’ Group, but rather like my boardgaming, I would like to drop three of those and become better at just one - those decisions are still being made and have become a bit harder with ‘O’ Group happening, not that i am saying ‘O’ Group is a real contender against Battlegroup, but rather it deserves to be given a chance.

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    2. You make some interesting points there as I’m trying a similar ‘slimming’ exercise. I didn’t get on with BG, mainly due to the spotting rules but also the anomaly in the Orbats which requires a German infantry section to use more orders to fire than a Soviet one. I like ‘Hail of Fire,’ although I’ve only dabbled with it so far, but also ‘Fireball Forward’ which despite a slightly suspect title plays very well. I’d be interested to see your take on either or both of those.

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    3. Hi, thanks for dropping by. I have not owned either of those two titles, though have heard of the latter …. and always good things.

      The ‘O’ Group spotting rule is a good balance of sensible and practical. My own annoyance with BG is the codex thing, so you need the supplements to get the break point values of various formations. I also think that aircraft turn up too often! Quite a lot of the rules that I own now are single book games, everything is there in a single purchase.

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  14. Great overview of the armor rules in O Group.

    I'm currently waiting for my 12mm order to come through with Victrix plastics. While I haven't had a chance to see them in person yet, I'm hoping the tanks are small enough that I could fit two to a base, and so not lose the visual coding of "this tank represents a platoon."

    I do like the idea you mentioned a bit further up to have a secondary superfluous tank to represent an undamaged platoon, with the primary tank being the actual game marker.

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  15. Hi Brian, thanks for dropping by. I do have the Victrix plastics, which are fairly compatible with ‘resculpts’ that Pendraken are currently working their way through, which I think helps as you will not always want six of everything.

    The Victrix are small enough to base as you suggest, but that might come at a cost in flexibility for using the vehicles with other rules, so just having a second vehicle associated with the first vehicle might make for better flexibility.

    I have trialled putting the infantry on 40mm x 20mm bases and the heavy weapons on 20mm x 20mm, but for ‘O’ group the infantry might be better on 30mm x 30mm, so that the infantry platoon footprint is smaller.

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    1. Norm - any view on how the Victrix compare (scale'wise) with the Minifigs N scale range? Minifigs always used to be slightly larger scale than Pendraken back in the day (they sold them as 12mm despite the N scale thing)

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    2. Hi Steve, I have never handled minifigs WWII. The Pendraken range is being re-modelled and the new pieces are bigger than the old. I think the new pieces are a closes fit with Victrix - so extrapolating that, it might seem that Victrix and new Pendraken are closer to Minifigs.

      I did a comparison post between Pendraken and Victrix that included both tanks and infantry at this link - (sorry I don’t know how to hyper link it on blogger)

      http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2021/02/victrix-12mm-world-war-ii.html

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  16. Thanks Norm, very interesting. That scale of one model to 2/3 vehicles is also used by Battlefront and it is how I used to play Crossfire (or the support weapon ratios don't make any sense).

    I did sit through a couple of the O Group videos but lost the will to live slightly, they could do with a serious edit. I like the idea of representing a platoon with a handful of section stands, but the whole thing struck me as very gamey and not really my cup of tea.

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    1. Hi Martin, although I ended up buying the rules, it was not the videos that encouraged me, as I thought they showed a bit of a contrived system and erred towards Lardy systems of jump off points and patrols etc.

      However I did get them as an alternative to the War on the Ground rules by anschluss Press, just to compare the two, as Anschluss Press do a nice scenario book that supports the scale.

      I really do like the armour system, but wish their had more encompassing lists, perhaps putting vehicles stats on the web, perhaps they do on their faceBook, but I don’t do FB, so can’t say.

      As an aside, these days, I lose a lot of interest in rules that are support by a closed FB group and ‘O’ Group may become a casualty of that. By contrast, Keith Flint who wrote Shadow of the Eagle, runs some web space to support his games that everyone can easily access.

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  17. Interesting review Norm and I particularly note your comment around the Panther v T34 sloping armour. I have always struggled with the seemingly universal wargaming convention that a T 34 equates to a Sherman or PzKfw IV ...let alone a III! .....as it is routinely referred to as the best tank design of the war, but rarely seems to be credited accordingly in wargames rules....what do you think? Similarly the Soviet 85 mm gun...I would have thought it was pretty much the equivalent of the German 88 rather than the American 76?

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  18. Hi Ross, I agree about the T-34, a design that apparently was ahead of it’s time and its sloping was a basic design principle to the panther and later the Tiger II. The Sherman has slope and rules often seem to ignore that.

    A while ago, while examining gun charts in a boardgame, I was trying to work out where a Soviet 85mm should go (as the system didn’t have one!) after some research, it appears that it is best matched in performance terms for AP with the German 75/48 ….. a surprise I know! Perhaps it could sit a little higher, but many systems are already using that ‘bit higher’ space for gun performance that was clearly better than the 85mm. Either way, I don’t think I would want to be on the wrong end of it :-)

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    1. I think the issue here is that the 75L48 is a pretty powerful gun, but often gets lumped in with other 'medium' tank guns. It isn't a lot less powerful than an 88, under 1500m anyway.

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    2. Agreed and that is probably done to give the the Panthers 75/70 a slot to live in, which itself could out perform the 88/56 over 1500 metres, something not commonly reflected in rules. A lot of systems have a narrow band of slots that various guns can sit in and this generally does not have enough head room to show too much finesse.

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    3. The following Blog has lots of good gun and armour info, which I've found useful and interesting. One thing that surprised me was the poor quality of the German armour later in the War, which like the Panther gun, is often not reflected in rules.

      http://www.tankarchives.ca/

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    4. Thanks Steve, below is a link to another great resource …… but after a while, you start to notice that once source can contradict another. I am guessing in that mix is type of round, the degree of armour angle and the steel quality - perhaps this is where the dice becomes rather useful, giving us a variable for all of those variables!

      http://mr-home.staff.shef.ac.uk/hobbies/ww2pen3.pdf

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  19. Hi Ross, I agree about the T-34, a design that apparently was ahead of it’s time and its sloping was used as a basic design principle to the panther and later the Tiger II. Also of note is that the Sherman has frontal sloping armour and rules often seem to ignore that.

    A while ago, while examining gun charts in a boardgame, I was trying to work out where a Soviet 85mm should go (as the system didn’t have one!) after some research, it appears that it is best matched in performance terms for AP with the German 75/48 ….. a surprise I know! Perhaps it could sit a little higher, but many systems are already using that ‘bit higher’ space for the next higher category of gun performance, that being clearly better than the 85mm, so the 85mm tends to get shoved down to the 75/48 grouping.

    2D6 systems, with that bell curve can leave little scope for available slots to put armour in. Either way, I don’t think I would want to be on the wrong end of an 85mm :-)

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  20. Nice looking tanks and good overview, I like the spotting treatment and I guess the little game is right for period, my uncle was in his second brewed up Sherman when he lost his leg, the Germans didn't call them Ronsons for nothing!
    Best Iain

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  21. Thanks Iain, the simple spotting mechanic is a clever twist. The Sherman seems to have had a reputation with both allies and German for brewing up. I think it serves wargamers well to be reminded from time to time at the sheer misery of war.

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  22. Enjoyable read Norm, can't beat the classic Tiger I v Sherman encounter. I like the simple spotting rules, although I confess to being a fan of the old bending down at the table edge with one eye shut to establish LoS for direct shooting FoW style. The 75mm gun does give an improved chance of doing some damage, but it would have taken some considerable nerve to close that range knowing what was more than likely coming your way with the next shot, something that is difficult to reflect in a tabletop encounter. As usual you describe the rules mechanisms in a very clear and understandable way.

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  23. Thanks Lee, bending down to spot at eye level is something I remember from when I had a much more lithe body :-). I do remember being somewhat enchanted by the ‘periscope’ and of course in those days you made your own and mine was never up to scratch!

    Agree about the difficulties in the gamer putting themselves in the hot seat of the vehicles involved. One problem is that we know there is a chance of a hit and likely know the odds of that chance and probably take it anyway, but I imagine that in real life, one would be less inclined to make such gambles. Maybe if our vehicles really got damaged and after a game we had to make losses good by buying new ones and painting them up etc, we might develop a care when playing that is more honest to simulation.

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  24. I agree that the spotting die is a different and unique way of doing it. Though I’m unconvinced that’s it’s superior to a simple -1 for cover in every other rule set. But of course that’s not the point. The point is if it works and it clearly does.
    I haven’t done WWII gaming in ages. Think I did that genre to death in my youth and now it’s on a long hiatus. 😀

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  25. Hi Stew, I think I like the mechanic mainly because there are two other systems that I have used in which spotting pays a big role and in can be a pain remembering which unit spotted which unit and at what point a unit becomes unspotted and then spotted again, so for me it is more a case of - if you are going to have a spotting mechanic, then make it fun, simple, easy to manage etc.

    A Hiatus ….. so there is hope then :-)

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  26. Thanks very much for that Norm. I am not yet sold on the system in its entirety but I love that spotting rule (for this scale of game).

    I really liked the photos of the Tiger, too!

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  27. Thanks, that pretty much sums up my feelings at the moment. I have just started another full read through and will get a game to the table.

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    1. One thing I would be very interested in reading more about is your opinion about the scale of the game. Sections (or squads) of infantry and half-troops of armour seems quite an unusual choice, compared to the more typical 1 section/1 vehicle OR 1 platoon/1 troop of other rules. It feels, maybe, like the design objective was to have platoons capable of doing more than one thing, then having the minimum number of models possible to achieve that.

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  28. On the face of it, the infantry and vehicles are seemingly being treated in different ways, but the commanded structure of both is essentially set at the platoon level, with the sections used as the small change, to manage casualties. I feel the mismatch comes from the visual, as we see and understand infantry sections, but in wargame rules we are not used to seeing tank sections represented, certainly not by single models.

    So I think it is with our minds that we sense an awkwardness, where there might not be one in practice, only playing will answer that one.

    I did wonder how a 5 tank platoon could be represented by two sections that via mechanics can each have 2 lives, i.e. they are representing 4 tanks, not 5, but I guess that somehow that is missing the point and that the abstraction is essentially delivering a system that works to impart the right feeling / sense of whatever action is being modelled.

    Perhaps in a game where a battalion of infantry looks a goodly number of bases, the tanks just needed more models on the table to represent their threat and function and also to but a brake on the rate that vehicles might be lost and absented from the game.

    Not being a FaceBook user, I feel a bit outside of the ‘vibe’ that will be surrounding this game, where such design decision will likely be getting aired. The closed door of FaceBook groups is putting me off a number of rules - my loss no doubt! But funnily enough, it has been part of the thinking that I have been doing this past week of whether just to revert back to the habit of writing my own rules for simple pleasures!

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  29. Hi Norm,

    Great review, thanks.

    I suspect the tank/infantry representation doesn't impact on play. It would be interesting to know the reason for the design decision but I suspect it is about giving tanks some longevity on the table.

    The spotting dice is interesting. I think it might be more useful if player choices/tactics could improve/degrade the die roll. Otherwise you could just modify the To Hit roll.

    I do like the gun/armour values in this and agree with you that it looks very reasonable. I also really like the fact that the gun/armour differential impacts the damage roll. This is really neat.

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers

    Jay

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  30. Thanks Jay, there is certainly enough here to want to explore further, with a scenario that integrates the various mechanics. I wish they had included stats for more vehicles, I'm not sure what their plans are to get those out, perhaps scenario books. Lists on the website would be good.

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  31. Very interesting analysis - and actually I played my first OG game today.
    The orders system is fluid, and enjoyable, underlined by the national characteristics element which means it takes a different mindset to play each army.
    I found it VERY different when compared with Rapid Fire - mainly down to the actual mechanics of military planning (quasi military planning at least) that are required to play the game.
    Is it 'fun' like RF? A different kind of fun perhaps...more akin to the 'simulation' style that we all thought that we should have been playing back in the day, before we all grew up ...no bad thing perhaps.

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  32. Hi Darren, I have just popped over to your blog to read about and enjoy todays proceedings. I think the simulation style comment is exactly right. The pre-amble and build up to battle feels important, you are given a sense of having just arrived at the ‘jumping off point’ and a plan is being implemented. The sort of thing described in so many narratives. In a crowded WWII market, the author has brought something different to the table

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  33. You don't need to sign up to the Facebook group, there is an O Group forum on the Two Fat Lardies website: https://toofatlardies.co.uk/forum/index.php

    Also, there is a consolidated AFV and Gun list over on the General de Briagde blog under Rules Updates:
    http://generaldebrigade.blogspot.com/

    This contains the stats for the majority of Tanks and Guns including the early war and minor nations.

    Hope that helps.

    DB

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  34. Hi Dave, thanks for dropping by - that is exactly what I’m after, excellent. I will go and explore now.

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  35. Dave, superb, I have added additional links to the main post under the Resource Section.

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    1. Printed and laminated the vehicle stats - thank you.

      Also, l have had the game QRS copied and laminated to give me a good solid working copy.

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  36. Great write up, Norm. The author of the rules (Dave Brown) previously published a set of rules with the same scaling called "Battlegroup PanzerGrenadier." O Group seems like a modernization of that set muvh like Brown's General de Armee is a streamlined version of his earlier General de Brigade. He always likes to specify a unit scale in his games and O Group uses the same 1:2-3 as Battlegroup PanzerGrenadier. So two tank models is a platoon of four or five, and four infantry figures on a base is a squad or section of 8-12 men. Gun teams are generally two or three guns. It is a little odd at first but the mechanics get you used to the idea that you're abstracting in the napoleonic fashion after a few plays! I have considered using 6mm and doing bases with two or three tanks, just to do away with the cognitive dissonance!

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  37. Hi Graham, thanks for stopping by. I did have the original Battlegroup PanzerGrenadier many years ago and though I can't remember the specifics, I do remember feeling that they were a good stab at accuracy, however we view that!

    I still have Battles for the West Vol 1, so will dig that out, as I presume it will be compatible with 'O' Group.

    A few years ago I was doing a Neil Thomas WWII game, the scale is not specified, but as with his other games a unit accumulates 'hits' before being taken out of play - 15 hits in this instance and it looked just plain wrong having a single tank trundle around collecting hits and never being able to have a straight knock out, so I used 3 x 10mm models instead of 1 tank and that dealt with the visual mismatch at a stroke as it now looked like a platoon absorbing damage, so was visually acceptable.

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