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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Nuts! vs Flying Lead

Last night I played my first game of both Nuts! and Flying Lead at the club. We played the same scenario both times to see how the outcomes and general play felt. The scenario was a handful of Fallschirmjager have arrived at a weapons canister and setup an LMG to cover the rest of the squad coming up. Meanwhile, a British section has spotted the canister drop and have sent a patrol to secure the area and prevent the Germans getting the weapons. We set up the table as per the sample scenario given in the Nuts! rulebook, except instead of trees we had a couple of olive groves and I also moved the building to the right and put a walled field down on the left. Note that I set up the German figures the same in both games. On the left is a single rifleman; on the right at the house is an LMG team and an NCO with MP40. Reinforcements were a Star with a pistol and five rifleman. Here's a couple of shots from behind the Germans (played by me). I got carried away playing and forgot to take anymore :-

Let's examine the games then :-

In the first game, using Nuts!, the British split into fire teams and attempted a flank move to their right. The left section moved up and around the olive grove and, as expected were forced to duck back by the LMG. The right flank easily overwhelmed the single rifleman who's reaction fire was insufficient to stop the group advancing. The reinforcements came on and one of the riflemen managed to put one of the British left flank rifleman out of the fight. I tried to get the SMG armed NCO and a couple of rifles over to protect the German left but the Brits had managed to get the Bren gun set up and the enfilade fire managed to 'obviously dead' or 'out of the fight' pretty much half the remaining Germans. At this point I conceded defeat. All in, the game took about an hour and we had a very satisfying conclusion. I should point out that we did a couple of things wrong. First off we rotated any figures shooting as a reaction to face the target, which we shouldn't have. This did not affect the result, though. Second, we did not allow groups of figures not accompanied by a leader to form groups during reaction. So we ended up having one British soldier jump out and resolve the whole chain reaction against one German before moving onto the other. This was not right and the Germans could have formed a group and all fired before the Brit took the 'received fire' test. Again, though, I don't feel this would have really swayed the outcome. Peter, my opponent, showed a shrewd understanding of the tactics required to attack an LMG position and executed them well. The LMG dominated it's field of fire, as expected, but was susceptible to an aggressive flank attack. The reinforcements came on a little too late, as the Bren managed to setup and decimate them as they attacked. All in, it felt right....the LMGs were totally pivotal to the outcome and rifle fire seemed to have the right level of effectiveness. It didn't hit often, but when it did it was reasonably lethal (we just removed OOF figures to simplify things).

The second game used Flying Lead. In this game, the British fumbled a few activations trying to get the flank attack into position and this allowed the German reinforcements  to arrive and get into a better position to hold off the flank attack. On the German right side, though, the LMG was a little less effective as in the Nuts! game. It managed to pin a couple of the British, but they were able to bring enough firepower to bear to manage to kill one of the team and the NCO. Of more concern, the NCOs SMG didn't seem particularly effective, even at short range due to the low combat rating, which I felt a little odd. Unfortunately we didn't have time to finish the game and it was left hanging finely in the balance with pretty clear battle lines exchanging fire with each other.

I have to say it was a very interesting experiment, playing the same scenario with different rules, but which ones did I prefer? I honestly felt that Nuts! gave a better game in a shorter time frame. I honestly enjoyed the Flying Lead game but Nuts! simply left me wanting to play more. In Flying Lead, there seemed to be a bit more mental arithmetic going on, with dice results being added to stats and then modifiers applied and whatnot...and then comparing the results against each other! OK, it's not as bad as it sounds, but the Nuts! system of adding a dice roll to the Rep and then consulting a chart that gives you a hit/miss decision was a bit more elegant and flows better. Second, with the reaction system and the 'outgunned' rule, the LMGs in Nuts! were virtually impossible to frontally assault, which feels right to me. In Flying Lead, they were a little less effective which allowed British riflemen to actually engage an MG-34 in a firefight. Hmmm! Lastly, the 'battlefield chaos' mechanisms differ somewhat. In Nuts! you roll initiative with only those characters with an equal or higher Rep getting to activate, but the highest roll getting to go first. There were only a couple of occasions where this left one player unable to do anything, but crucially, the reaction system means your men aren't standing there having bad things done to them without retaliating. In Flying Lead you can try to roll up to 3 activation dice for each figure or group and if you fail 2 it's turn over. As mentioned this actually affected the game in that it took the British too long to get round the flank. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, as it adds some excitement and risk into the game, but I think I prefer the Nuts! system in that all the risks you take are realistic ones, not abstract. In other words, running out in front of an MG nest is all the risk you really need!

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