Monday, 26 August 2019

A Sergeant's Normandy - 6mm AAR

Today was a momentous day. I finally took the plunge and used my 6mm WW2 armies for an actual game. The rules I used were A Sergeant's War, a set I have had for a couple of years now and have wanted to get to the table for a while. I am glad that this happened.

The scenario: An under-strength US platoon is tasked with shortening their defensive lines by advancing a few hundred metres to take possession of some nicely defensible farm buildings. However, these buildings fall within the firing sectors of an opposing under-strength German platoon. Chaos ensues. 

US Forces: 3 "leaders", 3 infantry sections of 5 men, 2 BAR sections of 4 men.

German Forces: 3 "leaders", 3 infantry sections of 4 men, 2 MG34 teams of 3 men.

After advancing unopposed a few hundred metres the US infantry find themselves close to the farm buildings. The final push may be where they finally face some resistance. 

An MG team and infantry squad hug the bocage waiting to ambush the advancing Americans.

Another MG team covers any approach to the barn.

A BAR team advances to the edge of cover and comes under ineffective defensive fire. The first shots have sounded. Defensive fire halves the number of D6 you can roll, thus halving the number of possible casualties, and decreasing how many pins you can inflict. 2 pins is pretty bad. 3 pins breaks the unit, forcing them to retreat some.

After a general advance, with the Americans hugging a line of bocage, the Germans advance slightly, to hug their bocage line also. 

A rifle squad had trouble crossing the bocage and found itself out in the open. This time, when the German MG team open fire it was much more effective causing the unit to become pinned, but not inflicting any casualties. For each hit you take, you roll for a casualty. Then, for every hit AND casualty, you roll a morale test. The more morale tests you fail, the more pinned you become. If you get caught in the open, you also take an extra morale test. Mini red dice are pin markers. The numbers on them are irrelevant. I just couldn't be bothered to dig out my little card markers from Starport Scum.

On the other flank the US rifle squads advance into the open field, hoping to rush across. One squad gets heavily pinned under furious rifle fire. This is where I discover that getting caught in the open is actually really bad. Two pins mean you can't move or shoot and can only attempt to rally, or react in a firefight (close quarters combat).

Now it is the American turn and the BAR squad advances and fires, pinning the German rifle squad. I may have played wrong, but I played that my squad took 2 pins, but then at the start of their turn they could rally and lose one, so having 2 pins actually meant nothing because no-one was left to fire at them. But now thinking about it I can see the purpose.

Lots of ineffective fire is exchanged across the bocage, while one US rifle squad holds one of the farm buildings. I said that as soon as the US held both buildings I would give Jerry 2 turns to root them out.

The Germans lay down plenty of poorly aimed fire on the right flank causing little more damage than some scared rabbits and a few broken twigs.

On the left flank, however, the BAR team and the rifle squad both become pinned. It turned out that in this game, even having only 1 pin marker made you pretty much useless. All units needed a 3+ to hit, but had a penalty of -2 for being pinned and -1 because most units had cover, so I needed 6 to hit which almost never happened.

After rallying the BAR team on the left flank double pinned the MG team. This was a good win, essentially buying them some time to advance. The leader failed to succeed in the re-roll of a morale test. The BAR team scored 2 hits. It then rolled 2 casualty checks, but because they didn't roll a 1, none were inflicted. As such, because there were only 2 hits and no casualties, the MG team had to roll 2 morale checks, both failed. The leader nearby allowed them to re-roll one, but they rolled a 2, which failed. Rolling a 1, would have gotten the leader killed, which is the risk of using them. An interesting mechanic.

The right flank BAR team also managed to heavily suppress the German rifle team with withering fire. In this game I completely forgot that US infantry, armed with the M1 Garand get a free second suppressing attack that cannot cause casualties, but can cause more pinning. 

As a response the MG team and rifles opposing the US advance lay down some serious fire, heavily suppressing the GIs and even causing a casualty.

With the left flank heavily suppressed the NCO tries to help rally his men, only to get himself killed. At the start of each round every unit can attempt to rally to remove a pinned marker. If you fail this, your leader can allow you to re-roll, but on a roll of 1, he dies. 

Sick of all this sitting around, the right flank advance into ineffective fire. 

The US rifle squad holding the farm complex also advance slightly to help lay fire down on the German defenders. This is lucky as they manage to heavily suppress them.

Back on the left the US rifle squad charges in to engage in a firefight (close quarters fighting) with a German squad. This was mainly for me to experiment with firefights. I love them.

With devastating effect the GIs unload their weapons across the bocage, inflicting some casualties and forcing the Germans to retreat, broken. Luckily the nearby German unit remained resolute to fight on. The Americans soundly won the firefight. Casualties were lighter than I would have thought. The "spreading panic" thing was interesting, but it had no impact. White die represents broken.

In the centre the BAR team and rifle squad open up on a German rifle team and inflict a casualty while also causing the unit to break. 3 pins means broken. No moving, no firing. Retreat a full move away. Can only hope to rally in next turn.

The BAR team on the left flank advances up to the barn and opens fire on one of the MG teams, pinning it. Unable to do much by way of fighting, and unlikely to retake the farm buildings soon, the Germans call it a day and begin a withdrawal.

It got a bit boring in the middle where people just seemed to be lobbing fire across at each other to little or no effect. Otherwise I enjoyed the game and look forward to trying out some more. 


  1. Hello James,

    I quite enjoyed the report. I have A Sergeant's War but never played it, although from my reading and various reviews it does seem like it would be a good game. It is a shame about the boring middle but I have had games like that where there is just not the weight of fire to be able to do anything decisive. I assume that is like in real life..

    1. It wasn't that it was boring, just repetitive with shots going wide and not much damage being done either side.