Author Topic: Assault - Red Horizon 41  (Read 4808 times)

bob48

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on: November 23, 2021, 02:58:33 PM
Assault – Red Horizon 41 is the first game from German publisher 'Assault Games' and designed by Wolfgang Klein.

Its a squad level tactical game covering battles on the Eastern Front between June and October 1941. The scenario book has 15 scenarios including 2 small training missions, one to introduce us to basic infantry combat and another showing how to use vehicles, both tracked and wheeled.

In addition, there is a very comprehensive dynamic campaign included, 'Crossing the Narew'  that provides much extra gaming goodness!

Whilst there is no shortage of WW2 tactical games, Assault does have some nice mechanics and some fresh approaches to the genre. The components are of a very high quality, are nicely illustrated, and are of a good size, especially the hexagon shaped unit counters.

First, we'll take look at the Infantry Training scenario which uses just 1 of the 9 double-sided geomorphic maps provided with the game, and 2 squads and 1 heavy MG for each faction.
Using the basic rules also omits the excellent formation selection system which is used in the main scenarios, and we will also ignore the command point and command card rules for these training scenarios which can be treated as 'optional' but add such a lot to the game that I can't imagine playing without them.

Here we see the map, units and unit cards that we will use for the scenario, plus the single 'objective' marker which you can see positioned roughly in the centre of the map.

Please click on the images to make them show up correctly. I have no idea why they rotated. (Brant? Mike? BC? - help!)
« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 03:07:48 PM by bob48 »

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bob48

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Reply #1 on: November 23, 2021, 03:07:33 PM
In the picture above, we see the map, units and unit cards that we will use for the scenario, plus the single 'objective' marker which you can see positioned roughly in the centre of the map.

OK, so the thing we do using the abbreviated sequence of play it to establish which side gains the initiative, and we do this by each side rolling a D6! Highest wins and re-roll ties. The winner then is able to activate a single unit and take an action with it, thereafter, both side alternate until all units have been activated. Note that this will change when we look at using command points, but I'll describe that once we get to the more advanced stuff.

With the exception of units being transported, and during a close combat situation, the stacking limit which applies at the end of a turn is ONE unit per hex.

We have several options when activating a unit, the basic one being a simple move, after which we mark the unit with a 'Normal Action' marker to signify that its action is over. Alternatively, we could take an 'Extended Action' which allows us to increase the movement by one movement point (MP). After doing so, we mark the unit with a yellow 'Extended Movement' marker. This will have an impact on the the unit next turn insofar as it will be penalised if it fires and also will exclude it from taking another extended action. Some units, such as the MG34 Heavy MG is a 'slow mover' as noted on the unit card, thus indicating that the unit cannot take an 'extended move' action. Many of the unit cards carry additional information of this kind, which is very useful in play

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bob48

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Reply #2 on: November 23, 2021, 03:11:57 PM
OK, so the thing we do using the abbreviated sequence of play it to establish which side gains the initiative, and we do this by each side rolling a D6! Highest wins and re-roll ties. The winner then is able to activate a single unit and take an action with it, thereafter, both side alternate until all units have been activated. Note that this will change when we look at using command points, but I'll describe that once we get to the more advanced stuff.

With the exception of units being transported, and during a close combat situation, the stacking limit which applies at the end of a turn is ONE unit per hex.

We have several options when activating a unit, the basic one being a simple move, after which we mark the unit with a 'Normal Action' marker to signify that its action is over. Alternatively, we could take an 'Extended Action' which allows us to increase the movement by one movement point (MP). After doing so, we mark the unit with a yellow 'Extended Movement' marker. This will have an impact on the the unit next turn insofar as it will be penalised if it fires and also will exclude it from taking another extended action. Some units, such as the MG34 Heavy MG is a 'slow mover' as noted on the unit card, thus indicating that the unit cannot take an 'extended move' action. Many of the unit cards carry additional information of this kind, which is very useful in play.

We also have several other options available when activating a unit, the obvious one being to fire at an enemy target within its LOS and range. Each unit cards shows the both the range bands that the unit can fire and how many of the 4 different colour sets of battle dice can be rolled.
Modifiers to this can be effected by the terrain in the target hex and by tracing the LOS through certain terrain types which may serve to reduce the effectiveness of the fire.
There is also a 'Move and Fire' option (move ½ MP allowance and fire) or 'Fire and Move' (Fire and move ½ MP allowance). Both have appropriate markers and have different effects on the unit using those options.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bob48

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Reply #3 on: November 23, 2021, 03:27:10 PM
All units also have an intrinsic defence value which is shown on the unit card and again, this may bemodified by various factors such as terrain.

Just a note here to explain the battle dice. There are 4 sets each of 4 dice, and each set is in a specific colour, which, in order of 'power' are as follows: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue.

The faces of the die are marked with symbols to represent one or more hits and / or suppression. One of the results is also a 'critic hit' which may inflict additional damage or effects. Obviously, the Red set is more likely to result in damage, and this diminished as we descend through to Green. All the dice also have a minimum of one blank face to indicate a miss.

Most units have 4 steps, being flipped to their reduced side after 2 hits and 'odd' hits are signified by a small red 'hit' marker being placed on the unit.

In order to resolve a combat, we therefore look at the firing units data card and check the range to the target. For example, our basic infantry squad at 7-9 hex's will roll 2 green and 1 blue die. At 4-6 this will be 1 yellow, 1 green and 1 blue, while at 1-3 hex's we will roll 1 red and 1 yellow.
This may be modified by various events which I will cover later. Furthermore, there is a value for when units are engaged in a same-hex close assault situation which, again, I'll describe later.

Now, our target, another basic infantry squad, has an intrinsic defence of 1 yellow die. Its in clear terrain which gives and additional green dice.

Both side roll their die and we compare the results to see if any of the defenders die cancel out any/all of the attackers rolls. There is a handy matrix to show how this works, but its not hard to follow and the process is quickly assimilated.

Any unsaved hits are applied which may result in step losses or even destruction, or maybe suppression, in which case the unit is marked with the appropriate counter.
If there is an uncancelled critical hit, then we use a sub-routine to determine any additional effects. This may result in suppression or the unit having to make a 'fallback' move, in which case it is again marked with a 'fallback' counter.

Once we have activated all our units we go to a 'clean-up' phase. Here, we remove 'white' markers, such as 'basic move', 'fired', 'suppressed' and so on. Other 'yellow' markers such as 'extended move' and 'fallback' are flipped to their white side to show that a different effect now applies. For example, the reverse of the 'Extended move' marker indicates that if that unit now fires, it loses its 'weakest' attack die. Since this is now a 'white' marker, it will be removed at the end of the current game turn.

As you can see, all units with the exception of the MG34 took 'extended move' actions in order to dash to take up position as close to the objective marker as possible. Flipping the marker now shows that the units will lose their weakest attack die if they make a fire action this turn.

Turn two and the Germans win the initiative roll. First action is to fire the MG34 at the Maxim MG unit in the forest. Because the Maxim is in terrain that provides a defensive modifier, and it is not marked with a moved or fired marker, we have to make a spotting check. In this instance, we need 2+ on 1D6, but this roll will have a -1 modifier as the Maxim has a 'Low Silhouette', as indicated on the unit card. We fail the spotting roll, so that will add an extra green die to the defender.

The range is 6 hexes so the MG34 will roll 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green dice. Looking at the defender card, we get a base 1 yellow, plus a yellow and a green for the forest terrain, added to which is another green due to the failed spotting roll.

Both sides roll resulting in 1 hit and 1 suppression, both of which are cancelled out by the defenders roll. The MG34 is now marked with a 'fired' marker.

We now activate the Maxim to return fire at the MG34. No spotting roll is needed since the MG34 is marked as fired. At 6 hexes the Maxim rolls 1 red and 2 green dice. However, since the unit is marked with an 'attack dice -1' marker (as a result of conducting an extended move last turn) one of the green dice is removed. Defending unit has a base 1 yellow, plus another yellow and a green for the defensive value of the forest.

The attacker rolls 3 hits, only 2 of which are saved thus inflicting 1 hit on the defender. Since the MG unit only has 2 'steps', we flip it over to its reduced side.

Units which are reduced to half strength or less are treat any 'double success' rolls as a single only.

This brief description illustrates how the basic movement and combat system operates. I should mention that units which have not been activated have an option to make a 'reaction fire' against units moving within its range and LOS. Units also have an option to 'dig-in' as an action which imparts a defensive bonus of 1 green die.

Next, I'll take a look at how the close combat rules function.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2021, 03:30:15 PM by bob48 »

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bayonetbrant

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Reply #4 on: November 23, 2021, 03:30:10 PM
I have no idea why they rotated. (Brant? Mike? BC? - help!)

If they're too "tall" when attached, then the forums will show the preview in landscape view, but when you click on it to open, it'll be in portrait view. It's trying to save screen space in the preview mode.

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bob48

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Reply #5 on: November 23, 2021, 03:34:44 PM
All technically way above my pay grade :-(

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bayonetbrant

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Reply #6 on: December 03, 2021, 08:54:35 AM
How are the hexagonal counters working out?  I know some people hate them while others have always wondered how we ever got by without them

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bob48

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Reply #7 on: December 03, 2021, 09:07:56 AM
I really like them. Its even better when you start using vehicles and heavy weapons that have a facing, which is indicated on the counters by a green pointer in the appropriate vertex. This makes it very easy to establish firing arc and facing. I will be covering this in a later addition to the thread.

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bob48

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Reply #8 on: December 07, 2021, 04:02:48 PM
Close Combat.

Having looked at how the basic move and fire rules function, we'll now turn our attention to Close Combat. As you would expect, this is slightly more involved and works on the 'same hex, simultaneous combat' principle.

The first picture shows a German infantry squad poised to move into the objective hex, while in a nearby light Forest hex is a Soviet squad wanting to do the same thing!

We roll for initiative and the Germans get first impulse, which we use to conduct a 'fire and move' action in the hope that we may get a result on the Soviet squad. Because the Soviet squad has not yet been activated and is in terrain which has a defence modifier, we need pass a spotting roll prior to firing. We roll 4 on a D6, needing a 2+ to be successful, after firing, we move the German squad 1 hex onto the objective and mark it with a 'fire and move' marker.

Range to target is 3 hexes, so we roll 1 red and 1 yellow combat dice for the attack as indicated on the German squad's unit card. In defence, the Soviet unit rolls its basic yellow plus a green because the firing unit is marked as 'fire and move'. In addition to this, we add a further 2 green dice for the light forest terrain. The Soviet unit easily counters the attack and now conducts its own impulse.

The Soviet squad has a basic movement of '2' so we mark it with a 'move' marker and move it into the defenders hex. Note that had the German unit not have been activated, or had there been any other unactivated German unit within range and with a LOS to the moving unit, they could have taken the option to conduct 'reaction' fire against the moving unit using the normal rules for firing.

Once the attacking unit has successfully moved into the defending hex, its 'moved' marker is removed and replaced with a yellow 'active close combat' marker. The defender retains its 'move and fire' marker until the end of the first combat round as it may have an effect on the combat.

Now we calculate the combat results and any actions that the units may be forced to take as a result.
Both sides roll 1 red and 2 green dice in close combat for attack, and we will set the result of the attack rolls against the defence rolls in order to resolve the first round of combat.


The German squad has its basic 1 yellow dice with 1 green die modifier for clear terrain, whilst the Soviet unit also gets its basic 1 yellow plus an additional green die due to the German unit having conducted a 'fire and move' action. Note that as the moving unit, the Soviet squad does not get the benefit of a terrain modifier. For the first round of combat, both side ignore one 'suppression' result as specified by the 'Adrenaline Rush' rule (12.7.2). In our example, the Soviet unit suffers no adverse result while inflicting 2 hits on the German squad, thus reducing it to half strength. We flip the unit over to show its new status. Since neither of the units have suffered a result which would force it to make a 'fallback' we remove the 'active' markers and replace them with red 'inactive' ones.

During the next turn, either of the 2 units could instigate the close combat until a situation exists where only the unit(s) of one side remain or the hex is empty due to mutual destruction, fall back, or a combination of both!

Rules also exist for firing into a close combat and for reinforcing an existing melee with a maximum of 2 units per side in the hex. Apart from when units are being transported, this is the only situation where 2 units are permitted to occupy a hex.

Close combat between infantry and vehicles and vehicles vs vehicles are covered, but we'll look at that in the future.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2021, 04:26:46 PM by bob48 »

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bob48

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Reply #9 on: December 10, 2021, 01:08:06 PM
Units

Having looked at the basic infantry rules for movement and combat, we can now turn out attention to the units in the game.

There are three categories of unit; Infantry, Artillery, Vehicles, all with unique unit information cards to describe a units attributes.

Each faction in the game consists of the following unique units per category;

Infantry. German (8 ) Soviet (9)
Artillery. German (4) Soviet(4)
Vehicles. German (10) Soviet (9)

The game provides us with a large number of hexagonal counters to represent these units on the map. Most units have four 'steps' but smaller units, such as snipers and AT rifles only have two.

Infantry types includes anti-tank rifles and heavy machine guns, while artillery types have mortars, towed anti-tank guns, ranging from the German 37mm 'door-knocker' up to the 88mm flak 36. Light field guns such as the leIG 75 are also included in the category.
Vehicle types cover both wheeled and tracked and tanks include both turreted and non turreted, such as the early model StuG III.

Artillery and vehicle units now introduce us to the 'facing' rules. Each hexagonal unit counter has a green 'arrowhead' marker pointing to a vertex to indicate the units facing and fire arc. Since this points to a map hex vertex, it makes it very easy to determine facing and fire arc.

This also introduces us to a new rules phase; the 'Support Phase', which allows us to change the facing of an artillery unit and an option to fire with units which are designated as having the support ability.

Vehicles can change facing with no penalty whilst moving on roads, but otherwise pay a movement cost to change facing by one hex vertex. Some terrain moved into may also cause vehicles to become damaged or immobilised depending on if the vehicle is wheeled or tracked.

Turreted vehicles may fire outside of their firing arc, but suffer a penalty for doing so.

You will also note that, unlike infantry units, some heavy weapons and most vehicles have different defence strength for front, flanks, rear and top as indicated on the units data card. In fact, all the unit cards in the game detail which battle dice are to be used depending on range and target type. It also means that heavy weapons crews have the ability to fire small-arms rather than the main weapon should that be an appropriate action.

In game terms, I find that this all works very well indeed and provides and enjoyable gaming experience.

Next, I'll be looking at artillery types and vehicles and how they work in the game.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2021, 02:17:58 PM by bayonetbrant »

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

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bob48

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Reply #10 on: December 12, 2021, 03:04:58 PM
Vehicles.

We'll now look at the vehicle training scenario which uses 2 board sections and 3 tanks per side. The pictures show the vehicle cards and the associated counters and the units set-up ready to begin the scenario.

Note the facing indicators which point to a hex vertex. Its easy to see from this where the vehicles fire arc is and which hex's constitute the front, flank and rear hex's for determining incoming fire.

Turreted vehicles can fire outside of their front arc, but are penalised for so doing. They are marked with a 'turret fire' marker and results in the target unit being awarded an extra die as indicated by the 'ranged fire modification table'.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bob48

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Reply #11 on: December 12, 2021, 03:06:10 PM
Combat works in the same way as described for infantry combat except that the target unit selects defence dice based on where the fire is deemed to have hit. As a result of combat, a vehicle may become damaged or immobilised as a result of combat or maybe forced to make a withdrawal. Vehicles may move in reverse but movement allowance is halved (rounded up).

This shows the situation after the first activations. Initiative went to the Soviets who have made a dash to cover the road junction. One of the T-60 had made a 'move and fire' action against the Pz.38(t). He rolls 1 blue, 1 yellow and 1 green die, while the German rolls a red and yellow for its front armour plus an additional green due to the T-60 having made a 'move and fire' action.
The rolls result in 1 unsaved hit against the German unit, and a red hit marker is placed on the counter to indicate this.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bob48

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Reply #12 on: December 14, 2021, 03:35:34 PM
We'll now take a brief look at some of the units that fall into the 'Artillery' category. As mentioned earlier, there is a specific phase where artillery units can change facing and conduct support fire. Units capable of providing support fire are marked with as such on the unit card.

Its possible in some cases to provide indirect fire provided that the requirements of the spotting rules are met. This also included mortars, although they are classed as infantry type units rather than artillery. Mortars are also capable of firing smoke.

Note that at present, there is no off-board artillery (OBA) or air power represented in the game, but perhaps this will be added with later expansions.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 03:38:00 PM by bob48 »

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bob48

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Reply #13 on: December 15, 2021, 02:21:46 PM
Formations.

One of the many aspects of this game that I really like is the method it uses to generate the forces used in scenario's.

Each side had a deck of 'formation' cards, each of which show affiliation to a higher organisation. These decks are themselves comprised of three types of formation, these being 'Infantry, Artillery, and Vehicles'. Each formation card shows a list of the units, the mix of which are appropriate to the higher organisational type. No two cards are the same and we are give a choice of how these formation cards are selected for the scenarios.

Before I describe the method used to do that, here is some data on the formations of each of the two forces;

Soviet
12 Infantry Formations which have elements from the following;

88th NKVD Rgt
86th Rifle Div.
13th Rifle Div.
36th Cavalry Div.
23rd Tank Brigade

7 Artillery Formations;
13th Rifle Div.
36th Calvary Div.
6th Antitank Brigade

10 Vehicle Formations;
23rd Tank Brigade.


And for the Germans we have;
11 Infantry Formations;

7th Infantry Div.
221st Security Div.
17th Panzer Div.
5th SS Motorised Div. 'Viking'

8 Artillery Formations;
7th Infantry Div.
221st Security Div.
14th Luftwaffe Flak Abt.

10 Vehicle Formations;
17th Panzer Div.
5th SS Motorised Div. 'Viking'
509th Panzerjager Abt.

Each scenario specifies the number and type of formation cards to be used for each side. We have a choice of selecting the formations directly or, and this is the method that I prefer, draw double the number of specified cards at random and then select the correct number from those and discard the remainder. It will be obvious from this that this method adds an enormous amount of randomness to the game and thus provides for much replayablilty.

Some scenarios also specify that certain formations must to drawn and may also list additional units to be used.

Where the scenario has reinforcements arriving, these will be taken using the random selection method. As it states in the rule book, reinforcements would most often be the closest available and not necessarily what the battlefield commander would prefer! A nice little touch which again, adds a nice bit of randomness to proceedings.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'


bob48

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Reply #14 on: December 17, 2021, 01:48:34 PM
Here we see samples of the Formation Cards as described above. The circular symbols at the bottom of the cards are the number of Command Points that you receive when selecting that formation.

Next, I'll describe how the Command system functions in the game.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'