Battleshed Diaries

Thursday 12 February 2015

More smoking armour - Hell Hath No Fury play-test 3

Another visit to Arabianknight’s bunker, saw us lining up tanks for our third play-test of the Hell Hath No Fury rules from Two Hour Wargames. Previously we’d practised manoeuvring, gunnery and the reaction system, initially with a couple of tanks apiece and then in slightly larger platoons or groups. For this session we added in the final ingredient - applying personal attributes to our lead tank commander and his crew.

This adds welcome cinematics to the game, fleshing out individual crews with various strengths and weaknesses that provides a level of idiosyncrasy to what would otherwise be a generic move and shoot tank game. It’s all optional of course, and provides flexibility with how you want to play. You can enhance some or all the crews as little or as much as you prefer. As the rules are designed primarily to be played using linked scenarios in a campaign setting, this is where the abilities come into their own, giving personality to individual tank crews, telling a story of a particular platoon over the course of a number of battles.

A crew is defined by either Stars or Grunts, with the ‘Star’ representing you, the player, and the ‘grunts,’ the individual crew, managing your tank such as the Gunner, Loader, Driver and Bow Gunner. For this game, we had two platoons each and chose to roll up a crew just for the lead tanks with me (think Captain Mainwaring) in the single British Sherman Firefly and Arabianknight being represented by an immaculately dressed officer protruding from the turret hatch of a Panzer IV. The rest of the platoons were my British Sherman's and a mix of StuG and Panzer IVs for the Germans. We only rolled for the ‘REP’ (reputation) which represents the level of training, or initiative, for the remaining crews.

There are a number of attribute tables provided, where, for example the Star (the player) can have two attributes, one random – rolling a D6 for an attribute table and then rolling again for a random attribute within the table - the other chosen. The Grunts can have one random attribute. The Stars also have certain ‘inherent’ advantages that can impact various aspects the gameplay. There are also rules for the size of the crews which dictates the type of jobs they can do. You can even drill down to equipping crew with personal weapons if your bailed out crew decide to fight on using the Nuts! rule set.

Once again, for test purposes, we contrived a simple capture the fuel dumps with Arabianknight deploying his ever versatile Dave Graffam buildings, hedges, crop fields and some newly acquired, but suspiciously cheap, trees ordered from China. This time the most revelatory factor was how quickly we both got stuck into the action, swiftly rolling dice for the various tests as the reaction system kicked in – Line of Sight, Firing, Crisis tests etc. The dice rolling was coming quick and fast, as was the smoke markers on my Shermans! The attributes we’d assigned to our lead tank crews made their presence felt, as modifiers were applied depending upon the type of reaction test, all conveniently covered by the supplied Quick Reference sheets.

My observations from our three play-test games are:

  • This ruleset is relatively easy to pick up, as long as new players take time to follow the step-by-step walkthrough provided. 
  •  Once familiar with the turn and reaction sequence, battles will be fast and brutal. Ideal for an evening’s gaming. 
  •  It’s also very scalable, being able to deploy a couple of tanks all the way up to large company-sized battles.
  • The option of defining individual crews adds an interesting layer of role-play to the game and this, in conjunction with the linked scenarios, provides an excellent opportunity for playing a mini-campaign - multiplayer or cooperatively - potentially within a couple of hours. Ideal for a club environment. 
  • The inclusion of PEFs (Possible Enemy Force) enhances the versatility of the ruleset even further, providing options for solo and cooperative play. 
  • The Reaction system and rolling for the initiative each turn, adds an unpredictable dynamic to the gameplay, where the adaptability and decision making of the players will be sorely tested.    

Arabianknight and I plan to apply all the aspects of the ruleset we’ve tested so far into a full scale cooperative, linked mini campaign for our next Hell Hath No Fury session, probably using the full 8x4 table in the Battleshed and using up all our available tank miniatures! Which reminds me…I need more smoke markers!

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