Saturday, May 7, 2011

WI 283: Lone Pine Scenario #1 - Playstest/After Action Report

WI 283 cover
John Bianchi asked me to playtest his Lone Pine scenarios that he planned to use in Wargames Illustrated's Gallipoli issue. Keep in mind we did not have a map at the time but constructed the battlefield using a map we found of Lone Pine online. As it turns out, this is the map source John used and when I got a look at the Lone Pine table created by Grand Manner (a great work of art) in the magazine, its layout appeared much as I expected - however, its beauty surpassed all expectations!

I believe there may have been some changes to the original draft we played. Regardless, if you read (and hopefully play!) the scenario, the playtest might come in handy for what to expect. The first scenario is a brigade-level game - ie. units represented companies. We took some ideas from Too Fat Lardies' If the Lord Should Spare Us and applied them to Memoir '44 game mechanics. All the World War I gaming blogs I made earlier this year/late last year were pretty much based on getting rules in shape for these scenario playtests. So, without further ado...the After Action Report on Lone Pine Scenario #1:

The playtest went well. The ANZACs came close twice to breaking into the second line of trenches, but just couldn't pull it off. Some of it came down to luck, so it seemed pretty balanced to us. Oh - and the game was quite fun!

I did not see a map with the scenario, so we made one based on a historical map of Lone Pine trench networks we found on the Australia War Memorial:

The scale seemed to work well; we pretty much based the game around 40+ yard increments.

Some notes:

The roofed nature of the Turk main trenches made it hard for those troops to provide mutual support for each other, at least from the first line of trenches. This makes for some interesting choices for both sides.

I tried to play the ANZACs according to the plan - first companies bypass first trench line, second companies assault first trench line, third companies provide close support. The Turk player kept a company from each battalion in reserve; good move - once the ANZACs got past, it was hard to chase them and man the line.

HMG and trench mortar support played a big role, as did the occasional off-board bombardment. Turk MGs were nasty and the ANZAC mortar concentrated fire on them fairly often.

Most of the Turk casualties occurred in the fight for the second trench line. Again, due to the nature of their trenches and the time limits of the game, the ANZAC player is encouraged to get on with it and not worry some much about wiping out all the Turks in the front trenches. These two game conditions really make the game.

We liked the dubious nature of the wire. As luck had it, my ANZACs never encountered impediments.

If you include options for tweaking the scenario, consider adding something like this:

"If the Turks consistently win the Lone Pine scenario, reduce the number of HMGs by one or two."

I'm not sure what to do if the ANZACs consistently win (and I don't expect they will), but I'd start by making the wire and dugout roofs a little bit tougher (by no more than +1) - and I think the wire may be more important. I don't think increasing Turkish troop numbers is the real answer; maybe increasing chances to rally or improving morale according to chosen ruleset.

Again, great scenario. Looking forward to the others.

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