Old School Tactical: Volume 2 – West Front 1944-1945 is a simulation of small unit engagements during World War II. The game is a tactical wargame that pits groups of units and historical weapons against each other using a fairly simple to learn and easy to play system. In this Action Point, I will take a look at the various types of combat, including Fire, Fire Groups and Melee.
The basic formula for all attacks in OST is as follows: Attacker Fire Power (FP) – Defender Defense = Attack FP. Each unit is assigned a value in these categories. In the diagram below taken from an OST rulebook, you can see that the German Assault unit has a 5 Firepower, a 4 Range (the superscript number that appears in white text next to the FP value), a 3 Defense and a 4 Movement.
In order to make a Fire Attack, you must pay an Impulse Point (more on this in the 2nd Action Point in this series) and identify a unit that is going to fire. This unit can have an attached Support Weapon, which will supplement the unit’s FP and Range, as well as an attached Leader who will give bonuses to the attack. Remember the simple formula above for all attacks: Attacker Fire Power (FP) – Defender Defense = Attack FP.
Once a firing unit is identified, you must then choose a target that is in Range and for which the firing unit has a Line of Sight. If those two qualifiers are met, the firing unit will now calculate its total Fire Power. For this example, we will look at the picture below to illustrate a Fire Attack. The Airborne unit with the attached BAR support weapon is in firing Range of the German Rifle unit holed up in the Heavy Structure (which you cannot see as it is under the counter). The Airborne unit has a base FP of 4 but also adds the 1 value for the BAR to the attack for a total of a base FP of 5. The unit has not moved so will not incur a -1 to the attack roll but is firing through Smoke which is a degrading terrain that will reduce the FP number by -1. So, the final FP for the US Airborne unit is a 4.
We then compare that FP number to the Defender Defense Value of the Rifle unit. The Defender Defense Value is made up of the units Defense value, which in this case is a 4, plus any modifications form terrain or fortifications. The Heavy Structure offers a +2 Defense modifier for the Rifle unit bringing their total Defense Value to a 6. 4 – 6 = -2. This means that we are firing at a -2 and will now consult the Infantry Combat Table.
The player then gets to roll 2d6 and consult the Infantry Combat Table focusing on the -2 Column. In our example, the Airborne unit rolls 2d6 and obtains a result of 9. As you can see from the table, this result is a B or Broken and means that the defending unit will acquire a Broken counter that will inhibit their movement and attacks until it is removed through a successful Rally check. But wait, after every successful Fire Attack that results in a Broken or Shaken counter being placed, the defending unit gets to do a Gut Check, which means they will roll 2d6 and must roll equal to or greater than their identified Gut Check value in the scenario. In the scenario we played most recently, the German units were assigned a Gut Check of 7. So, in order to avoid being Broken, the German unit will have to roll a 7+ on 2d6. The dice are rolled and result in a 6, which means they fail their Gut Check and are now considered Broken, which means they cannot Move or Fire. Had the roll for the Airborne unit been one point higher (10), a C or Casualty result would have been inflicted. Casualty or Eliminated results do not provide the Defending unit with a Gut Check.
As you can see from the Infantry Combat Table, no matter how poor your Fire Power differential is, if you roll well enough, damage can be done to the target. Even on the terrible -5 column, a roll of 10+ will result in a Shaken, Broken or a Casualty result. The lesson here is that no Fire Attack is a bad one, there are better shots but each attack has a chance to be successful if the dice are in your favor.
A Fire Group may be formed with up to 2 units and their attached Support Weapons. In order to form a Fire Group, the stack must have a Leader that is attached to one of the units and this action will cost the expenditure of 2 Impulse Points as compared to only 1 IP for a single unit Fire Attack. All FP factors for both units involved in the Fire Group will be added together, including any bonuses from Support Weapons. In fact, the 2 units that are used to form the Fire Group, don’t even have to be in the same hex but can be located in adjacent hexes, as long as both of the units have a Line of Sight to the target. Just a couple of other notes, if the different units of a Fire Group fire through the same degrading terrain, the negative modifier only counts once, but if they fire through different degrading terrains, the negatives will both be counted. The Leader attached to one of the units will provide that unit only with a +1 Die Roll Modifier to the roll.
The big advantage to forming a Fire Group is that you are able to increase your total FP and therefore create more favorable odds on the Infantry Combat Table. For example, assume that 2 German Rifle units, one of which has an attached Light Machine Gun located in the same hex, one with an attached Leader, forms a Fire Group. The German Rifle units will add both of their Fire Power together (4 + 6 (base 4 + +2 LMG) = 10 FP. The target they are firing upon is a lone Airborne unit located in a Light Structure (Defense Value of 6 (5 + +1 from the Light Structure = 6). Remember the formula 10 – 6 = +4, which means the attack will use the +4 Column on the Infantry Combat Table. 2d6 are rolled, remembering to add in the +1 bonus from the attached Leader, resulting in a 10 which means the target will be Eliminated. Those two same units doing a Fire Attack on their own would have been rolling on the -2 and 0 Column, and with a roll of a 10 would have resulted in a C – S and a C result. Big difference! Now onto my favorite type of attack, the Melee.
I love how different tactical systems handle Melee. As you know, Melee is close quarters fighting and resulting casualties are normally high. In OST, this is the case as well and I really like the way it is handled. First off, a unit must make an Assault Move into an adjacent hex, which will initiate a Melee. This unit performing the Assault Move must be in good order. Once they enter the hex with the target, a Melee Marker is placed and this locks in the hex for the remainder of the turn. No additional units can move into the hex to bolster their forces and no Fire Attacks can be made into the hex. This fight will be determined by the units involved without interference. One of the neat things about the process is that all Melee are carried out at the end of the round after all other actions have been carried out and Impulse Points spent. This is part of the design intended to create tension and make the suspense last, which it does very well.
At the end of the round, the Melee will be carried out and is really very similar to any other type of attack, with the main difference that all terrain and fortification modifiers and Moving Fire penalties are also ignored. Any units that are Shaken have 1/2 FP and get a -1 to their attack roll. Broken units will not get an attack roll but will wills still add their Defense to the total.
So the first step is that each side adds up their total Defense. Remember, you ignore terrain, fortification and Move modifiers and just use each units Defense. You also add up the total Fire Power for all of your units in the Melee and use the difference between the FP and the Defense (remember the trusty formula Attacker Fire Power (FP) – Defender Defense = Attack FP. Each individual unit will use this column as the basis for their roll and each unit gets an attack against their enemies. For example, if an Airborne unit and an attached Leader Assault Move into a hex with a reduced Rifle unit and a health Rifle unit the calculation will look like this:
Airborne unit = Defense 5 + Leader = Defense 1 (all Leaders have a Defense of 1 and a FP of 1) for a total US Defense Value of 6
Airborne unit = FP 4 + Leader = FP 1 + +2 Melee FP (added once to each side; not per unit) + +1 FP for Elite units (Airborne are considered Elite units and get a +1 FP in Melee) for a total FP of 8
Reduced Rifle unit = Defense 4 + Rifle unit = Defense 4 for a total German Defense Value of 8
Reduced Rifle unit = FP 2 + Rifle unit FP 4 + 2 Melee FP for a total FP of 8
We would then compare the total FP of the Airborne units of FP 8 against the Rifle units Defense Value of 8 to see that we would roll on the 0 Column and then compare the total FP of the German units of FP 8 against the Airborne units Defense Value of 6 to see that they would roll on the +2 Column. The Airborne will unit will get a +1 DRM from the Leader on their roll but that is it. Each unit then rolls and you consult the Infantry Combat Table to see the results. The Melee happens simultaneously so it is very possible that both sides will roll well and eliminate all units involved. Remember, Melee is brutal and this system treats it that way.
I hope that you have enjoyed our look at some of the different types of attacks in Old School Tactical: Volume 2 – The West Front 1944-1945. In our next Action Point, we will take a look at the Impulse System as well as Airborne Operations.