I've had it on the back of my mind for some years to do a small WW2 table and try out some small actions on it. One of my regular opponents plays Kampfgruppe Normandy (Published by the now dead and buried Warhammer Historical), and the obvious reboot by Kampfgruppe's author, Battlegroup Kursk. Not exactly designed for small actions, those rules. Still, I adopted the model scale from my opponent in hopes of gaining some synergy. 1/72 it is.
My WW2 bug was inflamed by the new Bolt Action rules, which I naturally had to procure. I got the book, read it through and wasn't terribly impressed. They seem fine, but there was something missing. Somehow pinning and machine guns seemed odd. I haven't tried out the rules, so I might be wrong. Anyway, I continued shopping for rules and bumped into Rate of Fire. The rules were available as a cheap PDF so I picked them up. Actually, they're on sale for three british pounds as I write this! I liked the rules. They seem to inherit a lot from Squad leader, without much of the complexity. The act of firing upon moving enemies as opportunity fire feels somewhat like Defensive Fire, there's rules for concealing troops under "?" -markers and so on. The size of the action seemed ok too. The ideal size seems to be a platoon per side, so I thought up a scenario set during the Allied invasion into Normandy between some Germans and US Paratroopers.
|Somewhere in Normandy...|
|A small stream separates the farm from the 88. Anyone crossing will be easier to hit.|
Rate of Fire is recommended for a 6´ x 4´ table, but I made mine a small 3´x 3`, just to get enough space for a small skirmish between an understrengh paratrooper platoon and a larger but less prepared German platoon guarding a Flak 88. I didn't have quite as much time for the table is I hoped, but it came together quickly. Some paint layers are flatter than I wanted, proper hedgerows became trimmed hedges and the roofs of the buildings are textures printed on card. It still came out nicely to draw some attention from the boardgamers at Kinkkucon.
|A view from the other side. You can barely tell I cheated on the roofs.|
|The objective. I was in bit of a hurry to paint this one too. Nothing really but a grey undercoat.|
In the scenario, an entrenched German Flak 88 is shooting at allied aircrafts, and a nearby platoon of paratroopers still searching for their company after the jump decide to take it out. The trench has no other troops beside the gun crew, but the nearby farm is occupied by a platoon of German infantry. The first couple of turns are still dark, so LOS and movement speed are restricted. The Paratroopers enter from the table edge opposite from the Germans and the scenario ends when the 88 is taken out or either side breaks.
|The paratroopers advance.|
The games I played ended in US victory, even though the Germans have the benefit of good defensive terrain. The veteran status of the paratroopers seems to make all the difference when it comes to firing. A bit of tweaking on the scenario is required, but it makes for a good tutorial to those interested in miniature wargames.
|A light machine gun provides covering fire from a knoll.|
|The paratroopers make a daring rush over to the trench, suffering casualties in the process.|
|A desperate last stand.|
The Rate of Fire rules are quick to learn and seem to give plausible outcomes in infantry engagements. You don't want to go rushing into open ground when a stationary enemy is ready to fire, I tell you! I'm sure the concealment rules help bring some uncertainty and paranoia into the game when played on a larger table, but they weren't too useful on a small table like this. I recommend you get a PDF copy of the game, it has excellent value for your money! I picked up the AFV rules for the system as well. It will be interesting to see how tanks alter the equation.