In our first Action Point for Sherman Leader, we took a look at how setup works, including my favorite part, the selection of units and Commanders. In this Action Point, we are going to take a look at an example of an Attack and how it works.
Choose Battalion to Fight
At the beginning of each week of your campaign, the first thing that will be done is to choose the Battalion Card/s that you will be engaging that week. Each of these Battalions are their own challenge. You will typically have to fight 2-3 times per week in order to have a realistic chance of scoring well at the end of the campaign so it is important to choose wisely with the Battalion Cards that you will engage.
What do I mean by choose wisely? Don’t you have to fight all of the Battalions to have a reasonable chance to win? The answer to the second question is yes. But I want to give you some insight into the process first with an answer to the first question.
As we discussed in the 1st Action Point that focused on buying units and choosing Commanders, those Commanders are inexperienced and don’t offer good benefits; in fact, most of the Recruit Commanders have negative modifiers to attack rolls. You have to have the opportunity to gain experience so that your Commanders can level. When they level, they will gain new benefits to their combat rolls as well as increased abilities to be able to perform special actions such as repairing damaged vehicles, healing wounded soldiers and Commanders and being able to Move and attack in the same action. So you don’t want to choose the toughest Battalion Cards (such as the one pictured above) at first. You want to try and build toward your capacity to successfully engage and destroy that Battalion. I mean look at it! 8 Tanks, 2 Half Tracks, 4 Infantry units, 2 Anti Tank Guns and 2 Armored Cars! That is a lot to engage at once. And a lot to deal with for rookie Commanders. You will have to choose manageable Battalions at first and then build up to the tougher ones.
After you have chosen your Battalions to engage, you will then have to choose your units that will fight and the Commanders that will lead them. This too is a process that you must learn how to effectively do as you want to make sure to have the proper assets to deal with each of your enemy’s assets. Having a bunch of M7 Priests that are great against Infantry units is no good if the enemy has mostly tanks. If that is the case, you will also need to have several tanks as well as Anti Tank Guns and Anti Tank Teams to deal with your enemy.
After the Battalion and your teams are chosen, you will then dive right into combat.
Combat…Where Dice Meet Cardboard!
In this Action Point, I will not cover how to setup your units for each battle but want to give a simple example of how an Attack works in combat. In this example, we will look at the grouping of American units below as they are engaged with a fairly tough German Battalion in the deserts of North Africa in 1942. You will notice that each of the below counters has a silhouette of the unit it represents. In this case I have a Rifle Team, an Anti Tank Team and an M4 Sherman Tank. You will also notice that each counter has a 3 number (sometimes they have 4 numbers) designation that ties them to a certain unit card.
Here you can see an example of the M4 Sherman Tank, which is designated as unit 042. I would first like to give you a quick rundown of the stats listed on the card.
At the top, you will notice the name of the unit, M4 Sherman, and even a little bit of extra designation as it has a 75MM gun. Below the name, you will also notice a range of years. In this case, this unit was active from 1942-1945. This is important because you cannot use units if their date range doesn’t align with your chosen campaign. Below the 3 number code on the right is the unit’s SO Point cost to purchase. This is a hefty unit with high AP Attack value and a good Range of 0-3 so its cost is much higher than say an M3 Grant which only costs 8 SO Points.
At the bottom of the card, you will see on the left side the unit’s Speed, which represents the number of hexes they can Move in a turn, as well as their Defense Value, which is the number they have to roll less than or equal to in order to shrug off a hit from an enemy unit. In the middle of the bottom, is any special text regarding abilities or negatives. In this case, the M4 Sherman suffers a -1 DRM to Attack rolls when it is moving. On the right side of the bottom are the important numbers. First up is the unit’s AP (Armor Piercing) Atk value which is a 6. This means that an M4 Sherman will hit on a roll of 6 or greater against enemy armor units. The HE (High Explosive) Atk value is a 6 which is the number needed to hit against Infantry or other HE units. Range is then listed and is a very important part of the game as I said in our first Action Point. If you can shoot the enemy before they can shoot you, either because you Move first or have superior Range, that is the key to victory.
Example of an Attack
I now want to run you through a simple example of an Attack in combat. In this example, I will show you how the American units can Attack the German units. As you can see in the picture below, I have three units grouped together in the bottom left corner of the board. These are the same units that were shown above and include a Rifle Team, an Anti Tank Team and an M4 Sherman Tank. The units have not moved during this turn and are currently located in Low Terrain which offers a cover bonus of +1.
My M4 Sherman Tank is the only unit that has Range great enough to target the German units in the hex, which is located 3 hexes distant. I must first identify the target of my Attack and I choose to go for the Armored Car on the left. It has a Defense value of 2 and is worth 2 points toward the total needed to destroy the Battalion (number shown in the upper left of the counter). I am fortunate as this hex offers no cover to the German units as it is open terrain. You will notice that to their left is a hex that has High cover which offers a +2 Defense bonus, but luckily that is not where they are located. Now that I have targeted the unit I will begin the Attack.
Once again, in using the M4 Sherman Tank, I must roll greater than or equal to a 6, which is the AP value needed to hit the Armored Car. In each attack, each unit will always roll 2d10. This is standard and never changes. I must then calculate my DRM’s. I will have a -2 DRM as I am firing at a target that is 3 Range distant. If I was only one hex closer, I would only have a -1 DRM. I wasn’t moving this turn so I have no further DRMs for that. I must then look at my Commander that is assigned to the Tank unit. My Commander is named Stout and he is an Average skill level. I consult his card and see that at Range 1+, he gains a +1 DRM to the Attack roll. So, with the -2 DRM for Range and the +1 DRM for my Commander, I have a net DRM of -1.
I then roll 2d10 and the results are fabulous as I roll a 9 and an 8. These rolls are them modified by the -1 DRM and result in an 8 and a 7, good enough for two hits against the Armored Car. But wait. The Armored Car has a Defense value of 2 (shown in the bottom right corner of their counter) so it is entitled to roll a d10 for each successful hit from the enemy hoping for a roll of less than or equal to the noted 2 Defense value. A tall order….but possible, as I have seen happen many times in my plays. I then roll the 2 Defense rolls and get a 4 and a 2. The 2 is good enough to shrug off one of the hits but the 4 is not good enough to avoid the 2nd. Because I hit the target, it is now destroyed. You simply flip the Armored Car counter over revealing a smoking heap. End of combat for that round as my other units are out of Range and do not want to Move into the open only to be fired upon.
One difference in the combat system for the Germans (your enemy) versus the Americans is how damage is assessed. When a German unit is hit by an American Attack and fails it’s Defense roll, it is destroyed. When an American unit is hit by a German Attack and fails the Defense roll, the unit is not automatically destroyed but must draw a chit from the prepared wound token cup. One chit is pulled for each hit and the tokens are double sided, one side is used for hits to vehicles (denoted by a gray background) while the other side (denoted by a camo colored background) is used for Infantry hits. There are 56 of these chits and some are wounds, some are damage counters that can accumulate until a unit is unfit for combat, some have no effect and some are automatic kills, such as the dreaded Explosion for vehicles and the Mowed Down for Infantry. When these ominous chits are pulled, the unit and its Commander are KIA.
These chits are really well designed and I will cover the statistics of them when I get to my full written review later. I really like that when a chit is pulled, and it has a lasting damage effect, that it is placed on the unit or Commander card and is removed from the cup. This chit being removed then makes it more likely that you will pull one of the bad chits as the number of possible draws has been reduced. Some of these damage counters give you negative effects, such as a hit to the Gun (cannot attack at Range 2+), take out your Suspension meaning that unit cannot move in the battle or Wound your Commanders or inflict a Casualty to an Infantry unit. If they accumulate two such Wound or Casualty counters, they are eliminated from play. You can also spend SO Points at the end of weeks to repair and or replace damage or destroyed units. Great little system that can be really challenging to manage as you will find that your units will be pretty badly beaten up after a long and sustained battle against some of the German tanks, including the mighty Tiger and King Tiger.
I hope you enjoyed our look at an example of an Attack in Sherman Leader from Dan Verssen Games. I have played this game twice now and really enjoy its systems, the structure of the AI and the management of your units and Commanders. Really engaging and enjoyable experience of ground combat in World War II. Another great entry in the Leader Series. I am now looking forward to getting my hands on Tiger Leader as well. Keep on the look out for my video review and full written review over the next month for this great game.