Last weekend we didn´t only play By Fire and Sword, but also got some playtesting done for Code Red.
This report covers the first of three playtest games. The games were quickly thrown together, without much thought about balance, dramatic scenarios or somesuch.
We threw a US Mechanized Formation against a Russian-Style Force using my Soviet Cold War models. Somewhere in the Desert, a US Intervention force was pushing along a valley to reach a strategic refinery that had to be defended by the local authorities. Let´s call our Russians OPFOR for the remainder of this report.
We wanted to test Vehicles some more, so both factions got vehicles. Unfortunately I forgot to give the Americans some spare AT weapons on their infantry squads – it turned out to be an interesting tactical challenge to work with what you got.
OPFOR had to defend three obstacles barring the way to the refinery while preventing their force from breaking. We were testing a mechanic for force motivation that governs the end of the scenario.
US Forces are in blue on the left – USA deployed two Infantry Squads placed along the entire frontline. Their Bradley was left in reserve to minimize risk of sudden RPG fire.
OPFOR deployed in a forward defence towards the centre of the table.
The first turn saw some exchange of fire without much movement. Looks unspectacular on the pictures, but you might notice the two yellow markers on the OPFOR unit in the centre. These are morale chits inflicted by enemy fire.
After the first exchanges of fire the OPFOR infantry unit was almost suppressed while US combat effectiveness remained high – also aided by the fact that the US Force fielded more leaders and was able to rally troops more easily.
But mostly the result was due to bad dice on the OPFOR side.
In the next turn, the Opfor unit was suppressed for good.
With the enemy combat ineffective for now the Fireteam on the US right moved in to start the flanking maneuver that should finish the Opfor infantry group.
The Bradley was now ordered to join the battle as the biggest threat (RPG fire from the infantry) was neutralized for the time being. The Bradley began it´s duel with the Opfor BTR-70.
Opfor command now orders the second BTR to join combat against the Bradley.
The Bradley is the superior vehicle and unlikely to get mission killed by the BTRs, but there´s some lucky chance the HMG will find a weak spot and knock it out or drive it back.
The second Opfor infantry unit advanced as well to get involved in the fight, but it had to cross a field first to establish Line of Sight to the US troops.
The US unit on the right moves into the field to pour flanking fire onto the Opfor unit. Unfortunately they get caught pants down by the BTR rotating its turret and interrupting them.
Luckily only one man down.
The second BTR trades fire with the Bradley and damages the Optics due to a critical hit.
At that point, we got carried away with fighting and didn´t take many pictures.
Below you see the final shot of the game.
The flanking US Infantry group has been suffering from adverse Morale effects from the BTR pouring fire on its position. The second fireteam is advancing to take over their role in assaulting the Opfor Infantry, which has by this point suffered catastrophic losses.
At that point, the critical weakness of the US forces shows: No AT weapons means the Bradley has to clear the vehicles – infantry cannot engage armored vehicles effectively.
Fortunately, the Bradley finally aquires target and explodes the BTR. This pushes Opfor force motivation below the breaking point and ends the game.
We had some debate about the results.
Opfor suffered from bad rolls and early suppression of their units. None of the infantry unit ever fired with full effect, the battle was mostly fought by the BTRs – hence the result.
We realised that my friend felt stuck with the infantry because he wasn´t aware that he could voluntarily retreat them to get them out of harms way – this comes at a cost, but might have yielded different results. Might.
The game was very interesting to me as it brought some rought edges to light that need tweaking. I took a lot of notes on potential changes that are now being implemented.
We decided to play the game again in reversed roles but without making changes to force structure or rules yet – me playing Opfor and my friend US.
Read more about how that went in the next report about Game 2!
If you want to try Code Red for yourself, head over to my Website
and download the Quickstart Rules – they contain all the basic rules you need to play in a very condensed and somewhat simplified form.