Showing posts with label chaco war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chaco war. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

'Brigadier General' In The Gran Chaco

The 1930s Chaco War is on my length list of Things I'd Like To Have A Go At One Day. There's a few figure ranges around, in a couple of scales, and a couple of basic armies look easy enough to assemble.

I don't have any figure for it yet, though, but tonight I decided to dip my toe in the water (not that there was much in the Gran Chaco). I'd read a couple of brief reports/reviews of a newsih, small-scale WWII game called 'Brigadier General', which was supposed to be suitable for solo play; easy for me, therefore, to set up a quick game and see how things went. I bought and printer off a copy yesterday, read the rules through, and set to.

For figures I used my hair-roller WW1 armies, with the Germans standing in for the Paraguayans and the British the Bolivians. A single Risk gun masqueraded as the Bolivian artillery.

'Brigadier General' uses 40mm square elements, each one representing a company, so three bases basically represents a battalion of infantry. A basic force consists of 12 such bases, plus a HQ base. I used the following forces:

Bolivia - 1 x HQ, 6 x Infantry, 2 x Heavy Weapons, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Light Armour, 1 x Artillery, 1 x Fighter
Paraguay - 1 x HQ, 7 x Infantry, 3 x Heavy Weapons, 1 x Cavalry, 1 x Fighter

I played the Bolivians, and left the Paraguayans to the AI.

Here's the board - the Bolivian are deployed at the bottom of the picture, with a strong combined-arms force in the centre, supported by the artillery, infantry on one flank, and a small force of cavalry on the other. The Paraguayans were deployed by the game system - a weak centre, a very strong right flank and a less strong left flank.

Here's the main Bolivian force, with my scratchbuilt MkIV tanks standing in for their tankettes.

The Paraguayan right was an impressively large force of infantry, supported by heavy weapons.

Both sides had aircraft, press-ganged from my 1/600 WW1 collection.

The Bolivians attacked right away, subjecting the Paraguayan HQ to strafing.

The Paraguayans attacked some Bolivian heavy weapons in the centre.

And got shot down. That's an opposed die roll, with the infantry AA scoring three times what the aircraft rolled (after combat factors are added in). Twelve elements - opposed rolls with combat results based on multiples? Recognise this game yet?

The Bolivians advanced, whilst the Paraguayans occupied a hill. At this stage I began to feel that the AI wasn't really doing any good, and just started paying the Paraguayans myself. The AI would have had those two Paraguayan bases launch themselves into a close assault on the overwhelming Bolivian force ...

An overview of the battle.

The tankettes assaulted the Paraguayans on the hill, but were repulsed. Note the small rocks on the unit behind them; units in 'Brigadier General' take Fatigue Points (FP) from combat. These can be rallied off, but if they exceed the unit's combat factor it's lost. Pulling units out of combat to recover is a tactic that is well rewarded.

On the Bolivian right their cavalry attacked a lone Paraguayan infantry company, driving it back.

The Paraguayan right assaulted the Bolivians opposite them, who had based their defensive position on some dense jungle.

The Bolivians fought off the attack, although they lost their exposed flank unit. Unfortunately the Paraguayan cavalry was too far from its HQ to exploit the excellent position it was in.

This was the position at the point I gave up on the game.

Yes, I gave up. I just wasn't enjoying it. 

'Brigadier General' is designed to be simple and, I believe, a little abstract. However I found it too abstract; it just lacked colour. Despite the units having special abilities they still felt very much the same. And the DBA-style groups (for these rules owe an awful lot to DBA) just didn't feel right.

I have to confess that I also found looking things up difficult, The rules really could have used an editorial hand to organise them; things are defined after the rules that use them (groups, for example), and the order of sections doesn't feel logical. Some definitions are hazy, or non-existent - what, for example, does 'unengaged' mean in the rally rules? It's a pretty fundamental section, but the eligibility of units to actually rally is a little fuzzy. For this game I took it to mean that the unit had not engaged in close combat, or been shot at, during the turn. But I may be wrong; it's not clear. And how are supply lines - a link between a unit and the HQ - measured so that they can be cut? The example given in the rules is very simplistic, but is the line between unit and HQ measured from any point of one base to any point of the other (which makes the supply lines hard to cut by interposing an enemy unit), or nearest point to nearest point? Again, the rules aren't clear.

What I felt I have bought is a game that's still partially floating around inside the author's head. Now I don't mind play-testing a set of rules and providing feedback or even just questions. But I prefer to do it before I've paid for them.

I did feel there was merit in the unit activation system, which is tied to an overall force morale. You can try to activate individual bases, which means that some might move, or activate whole groups, where you have the risk of mass failure set off against being able to use a large block of troops. Of course, what a group is isn't defined until near the end of the rules, and how an activated group may move isn't clear; do the units have to stay together, a la DBA, or can they move individually (like in Maurice, for example)?

I really wanted to like 'Brigadier General'; it's a size of game I like, promised solo play and gave me a possible set of quick low-complexity rules for WWII, and similar conflicts. But I was disappointed; there's nothing in them that I felt was worth my while buying them for. Maybe I will try another game, but I can't see it happening. If I relent, you'll read about it here.

Saying that, I enjoyed putting together my Gran Chaco forces, and getting fired up to play a game with the feel of that conflict. And now I have figures on temporary bases, it would be a shame not to use them for something. I see  a Memoir '44 variant coming on ...

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