Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for..... Disposable Heroes & Coffin for 7 Brothers

This morning I received a yahoo group message from Iron Ivan, makers of the Disposable Heroes & Coffin for 7 Brothers (DH&C7B) rules, with a link to a AAR for the system. It similar confirmed that this was a great topic for the day.

Disposable Heroes is a ruleset from Iron Ivan for WW2 for small unit skirmish with the possible addition of some (few) vehicles. I originally became interested in it (in a vague way) when I was following the Kokoda campaign being run over on Doc's Art of War blog. It's helps that there were gorgeous tabletop layouts and some prime pictures (even Photoshopped at times). It's not often you get to see gaming with the japanese facing off against enemies in the jungle. All very cool. Some of the things that popped out for me in the write ups were:
Doc's art of war. Nice Jungle!
- a very bloody game, lots of figures falling, lots of morale checks
- snipers taking out leaders and being difficult to spot/return fire on
- some type of spotting rule (including some mechanic for hidden units)

 Unfortunately the Kokoda campaign seemed to run out of steam and the posts trickled away. Later I stumbled across a soviet afghanistan writeup using DH on Dr. Merkury's blog. Dr Merkury has a large number of write ups for DH using different era's and modules.

Speaking of which, there are numerous modules for DH. In many sense they are the 'army lists' that allow you to create somewhat balanced forces (as the system has a points value included), but the books also include era/geographic appropriate special rules that affect the core system. Modules include many for WW2, but also a french/indian war (this very ground), zombies (no room in hell), pulp (where heroes dare), rhodesian bush war (Man among Men), Vietnam (long road south), and Modern (seek out, close with, destroy).

The basic rules:
1/. Players dice for initiative, the winner activates a unit (activation is move, fire, close combat), then the opponent activates.
2/. A unit is a section of a squad, a support team, a vehicle
3/. Movement: 3 modes: sneak, maneuver, run. Has effects on shooting and distance moved. Sneak does not provoke snap fire (a type of opportunity fire by the enemy).
4/. Firing: approximately 1/2 of a unit can fire. Rolls are based on a d10. There is an accuracy roll to hit, followed by a second roll (antipersonal for infantry) to kill those hit.
5/. Morale: there is pinning, falling back and routing. Morale checks on a d10, modified by the cover occupied, the leaders Guts value, and the morale modifier of some weapons (i.e. a flamethrower is more scary than a machine gun which is more scary than a pistol).
6/. Vehicles: Need to acquire targets before they fire at them. There are armour values versus an antitank value to check for damaging hits. 3 zones: turret, hull, tracks/tires.
7/. Additional rules for spotting, hidden, artillery, air strikes, and more.
The basic rules include point values for German, US, Soviet, and Commonwealth troops in WW2.

Seek out, close with, destroy
This module is intended for modern conflicts. It adjusts some of the basic rules:

1/. Command and Control: Rather than every unit activating during a turn, there is now friction which requires the player to decide who is important to activate. A certain number of tokens are generated depending on the size of the force and the Guts of the commander. These tokens get spent, with units further from the commander requiring more tokens (1,2,or 3) to activate. Just shooting can be achieved with a discounted (-1) rate.
2/. Fire doctrine: There are some rules for forces that have different weapon capabilities/troop training. They largely affect the morale modifier of weapons, making it easier for the superior force to pin and force failed morale checks.
3/. Equipment: expanded rules for grenades (smoke, defensive, offensive), body armour, increased spotting for artillery, night vision equipment, NBC gear, and Anti tank missiles.
4/. Aircraft: slight changes for aircraft, new rules for helicopters.
The module includes point values for Falklands conflict (UK and Argentine), as well as Somalia (Militias vs Rangers/Delta force).

The soviet module is a free download called: By the Knife. You can peruse it yourself here.

Here are some of the comments by players of the system.

From todays AAR: Sound officers call
Suppress the Enemy:  This mantra of the modern military professional holds true in DH, and, as it turns out, the "grim darkness of the far future where there is only [Disposable Heroes]"  3 and 4 man fireteams are efficient especially if you have a light support weapon, but if you can't combine your firepower with quick, aggressive action, you've relegated the battle to 2 sides taking pot-shots at each other until someone wins.
When 1 team suppresses for a turn or 2, send another team around their flank or in their general direction.  Their teams will inevitably fire on your advance unless you can cover the ground quickly, with supporting fire.

My rule of thumb would be to have the entire squad (2 teams) fire for 1 turn, then send a team in next turn.  I'll have to try that next game.

Go Big, Go Fast, Go Early: My blood pact troopers in little teams were no match for a heavy crew served weapon with a ROF of 5 and a morale modifier of -3.  Moving out with the entire squad not only increases your assault chance for success in the advance, but ensures you have enough bodies for the inevitable close combat to follow.

Dr Merkury
The game lasted about 1.5 hrs and ended with the Soviets in a little better condition. There were a lot of Muj suppressed on the table and losing their leader meant less activations in the Point Blank system. The Soviets took some losses too, but their training gave them a greater tactical flexibility by way of more activations and better morale.

All in all a fun game, I like how the mechanics of the game allow individual actions and you see a tactical choices being made by the players. 

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