The better half occasionally drops off on the sofa of an evening, usually when the little miniature has exhausted her. Good news for me (unless I’m snoring too), as it gives me a little painting or gaming time. A couple of nights back, I used that opportunity to pull out ‘Airfix Battle’ by Modiphius, for another try.
After the first couple of goes at the first scenario, I was quite taken with this little rule set (a pity it’s had so little support, although I understand they are working on a more generic version still).
This time it was scenario 2, ‘Rescue the Colonel!’ and I decided to try out the proper solo play rules, with me playing the US and the Germans controlled by the draw of order cards against the table in the back of the rulebook. I was interested to see how well (or not) this would work.
Here’s the basic set up, both sides also got two pieces of terrain to place. The US had 1 Captain with a squad of four veterans, 1 infantry squad, and a team of snipers. The Germans had 1 Captain (also with 4 veterans), a pioneer squad, and an MG section of two MG34s.
Both sides set up more or less as mirrors to the other, with the snipers and MG team positioned to be able to fire on the objective in the middle of the table, and their main squad in direct line of advance to the objective, with the veterans to the side.
First positions. US to right
Victory conditions were simple, hold the objective for two consecutive turns; rescue/capture the colonel, whose command post has been overrun.
The Germans had the initiative and started with the ‘Dig in’ card, which was playe on the MG teams. The US cards initially didn’t look great; ‘Stay Frosty’ at least put the snipers on overwatch. The next German card was ‘on the double’ (triple move) allowing the pioneers to move straight up and occupy the objective! However they didn’t get away scot free, as the ‘Stay Frosty’ card allowed the US snipers to fire on the pioneers with no cover save allowed, causing three casualties and pinning them in the farmhouse.
First blood to the US snipers, pinning the pioneers
Suddenly the US cards were looking a bit rosier. The ‘Infantry Assault’ card allowed the US infantry squad to advance and try to push the Germans out of the objective, only for them to fluff their attack rolls and take three casualties and end up pinned. However the one casualty they caused was enough to reduce the pioneer squad to half strength; they duly failed their own morale test and fled. Now pinned, the US squad was unable to occupy the objective, but at least it was open again.
The rather messy US assault. The attacking squad is now pinned
but the german pioneers are just about to leg it!
The German Captain and veterans used a ‘lightning strike’ card to move up adjacent to the farm and fire on the US squad, driving them off with three casualties, then took one casualty to fire from the US captain’s squad.
So the first turn ended with both sides having their largest squads in retreat, and the objective unclaimed.
The Germans won the initiative again. The pioneers failed to rally, but gained back two soldiers through an interrupt card and hunkered down behind cover on the baseline. With options limited, the German MG team rapid advanced to place themselves behind the objective.
The US responded with a ‘Sweeping advance’ (two units can move with +1 movement and fire). Combined fire from the snipers, Captain and veterans wiped out the German vets (the US veterans were using SMGs, which get to re roll misses within 1 square), leaving the Captain alone and pinned, although he subsequently rallied.
After initial successes, things were looking tricky for the Germans.
The Germans won the initiative. Again.
The pioneer squad failed to rally. Again.
The US snipers finished off the German Captain with a fusillade of shots (the ‘open up’ card allowing misses to be re-rolled).
The MG team attempted to occupy the objective, but the US snipers got there first by playing a sneaky interrupt card (the aptly named ‘move’), leaving the MG team no option other than to assault. This was a bit of a quandary as MG teams cannot move and fire usually, but I assumed they would still have various small arms so attacked using the usual one die per soldier). Although they successfully pinned the snipers, it wasn’t enough to push them out.
The US re-captures the objective
The Germans were running out of troops unless those pioneers could rally.
German priority again.
The MG teams attempted to assault the objective again, but it ended in a stalemate. The US Captain and veterans flanked the MGs and wiped them out with their Thompsons and Grease Guns.
Would the pioneers rally and keep the Germans in the game?
The US had now been holding the objectives for two consecutive clear up rounds, so it was a US victory; the Colonel was back in their hands.
I found the solo rules worked well. The enemy drawing cards keeps things unpredictable, but their actions never felt completely random. If they had been a little luckier with die rolls they may even have pulled off a victory in the second turn!
The scenario is interesting. Both sides need to move quite aggressively, but with forces that look better designed for defence (MGs and Snipers)
YMMV, but I really like the orders mechanism using the cards. In some games its very easy to end up playing the rules (including Warhammer, which I still love), ie: knowing the movement distance and range of every unit you face, you can plot your own to a fraction of an inch. Whereas here, you can be all ready to pull off your assault, only to suddenly face an unexpected flanking manoeuvre.