Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Broadside of a Barn - Hail of Fire AAR

I don't think it would be any big surprise if I say that I'm a little tired of Flames of War. 

I've looked into other games, but most would require the time and effort to rebase my FoW-compliant units into single-based miniatures for the best effect. 

In a search for some new rules to use, I came across Hail of Fire, which are an in-development set of rules by Retro Boom. I was immediately interested by some of the mechanics, which seem to combine Flames of War and Crossfire!.

The one sticking point was the lack of units, and so over the past few days I've been writing out unit stats for Germans, British, and Americans, centered around June-August, 1944 (based on the Forces book that comes with the hardcover Flames of War rulebook). Hoping to get a feel for the system and at the same time test out the unit stats, I invited Curt over for a game. 

We decided to play a small game on a 4'x4' table. The objective for the game was to control the farmhouse at the middle. Curt would start as the defender on the far half of the table, effectively in control of the objective from the beginning.

This would mean that I would be playing with a timer, since there are two ways to lose in a straightforward game. Like FoW, you can lose half your units, fail a Company Check, and retreat off the table. Additionally, you can get 30 total points of chits drawn from a bag when certain conditions are met - when an enemy controls an objective and you don't, when you take a platoon or company morale check, and others. Since Curt's teams started with control of the objective, I was taking a chit every time he started his turn. (This was an additional problem since we were using chits from the Battlegroup rules, not from the HoF rules, which actually gave me higher value chits than normal.)

Not wanting to waste time, I immediately started for the objective with a good chunk of my available forces. 

In HoF, units have to make an activation check to do anything. If one passes, there's a number of actions a unit can take, and units can actually take different actions with their teams - for example, half of the teams in a unit can Concentrate Fire, and re-roll misses when shooting, while the other teams Run and roll double their movement dice.

Depending on what a unit is (Infantry, Guns, or Vehicles), they have different move speeds. Infantry move d6", Guns move d3", and Vehicles move 2d6". Running as an actions doubles these speeds. 

Curt had kept his unit of StuGs hidden for a couple turns, and then revealed them in ambush behind a hedgerow. He failed their activation, and when moving (units can only Move, Fire, or go into Ambush if they fail to activate), one of the StuGs got caught up on the terrain. 

I moved my machine guns up to avoid being shot at by the StuGs, and then moved one of my own tank platoons to keep the StuGs from moving up any further. 

I had rated Curt's Fallschirmjager infantry as MG teams (forgetting they were actually Rifle/MG in FoW), which meant that each stand was throwing out three dice each. Curt activated his infantry platoon and had them Concentrate Fire. In a single turn of shooting, he wiped out most of the HMG platoon that I had moved up, and the remaining team was suppressed. 

The above photo is actually incorrect since teams cannot have more than one suppression token on them at a time. 

Of course, any unit with a single team remaining counts as destroyed in the next turn, so the MG unit went away, and I pulled two more chits. You can see the little pile adding up their on the right.

I finally got my 6 pdrs up on the hill, and started to send my second infantry unit towards the farmhouse. I also advanced my other tank platoon towards the road, hoping to get the drop on the Tiger. 

The unit of StuGs would become Curt's bane as a commander. They constantly failed their activation checks, passing the Initiative over to me. A good round of shooting, however, knocked out the Firefly and suppressed a Sherman. 

With the initiative turned back over to me, I decided to run my infantry into the open field and try to reach the farmhouse. I was getting dangerously close to the breaking point. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that Curt's other infantry platoon had gone into Ambush, and so my infantry suffered 30 dice of shots from Curt's platoon - 15 doubled because I had ran! The infantry were suppressed, but stuck around.

Curt's Tiger was forced to retreat from the two Shermans that had moved onto the road. 

Curt's StuGs still failing to activate, I moved my infantry into contact with the farmhouse, contesting it. No sooner had I done so that Curt's infantry opened fire again, ripping into the exhausted platoon and pushing them back off the objective.

The game ended when the StuGs finally activated and Concentrated Fire. The remaining tank retreated from the table, and I had to draw two chits, which put me over the 30 limit.

While I'm going to hold off declaring a verdict about the game just yet - I want to play a few more games following the actual objective rules and with the right chits being used - I think HoF succeeds in being a company sized WWII game. The activation checks forces player to think about what their most critical actions are. Moving guns are a pain without transport. And there's actually Reaction fire (alongside Ambush fire).

I'll continue working on the lists, and hopefully more games will give me a better feel for the rules. Curt and I didn't get a chance to use the Artillery or Assault rules, for example.


  1. Hey! Thanks for trying out my game! :D I'm working on a new version that has some significant changes, as well as a much more polished presentation. If you'd like to try it, let me know!

    1. I would, and I will. Thanks for reaching out.

  2. I never cared for FoW myself, but each to their own. We do micro armor & use the free rules offered on the GHQ website, "WW2 Micro Armor - The Game". IMHO, the best WW2 I've ever seen.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check them out.