Beer & Pretzels 20thC Rules Playtest AAR

We recently had our first playtest session for these rules. Well, the Infantry page only. And yes, I did mean page. These are super simple rules that are intended to be a gateway game to get new people interested in tabletop gaming. It looks like there will be about one page of rules each for infantry, cavalry, and vehicles. Then maybe a page or two of vehicle stats for all the vehicles we sell. The rules will also contain the conversion instructions to take any vehicle’s real life stats and put that into game stat terms. This will allow players to include any models that they already have.

These are written for 1/72 scale figures and models, though players can easily convert distances to use their preferred scale. This is also a 1:1 scale game where each figure represents one person or item. It is also a super “up-close and personal” game where the ground scale is equal to the figure/model scale. That is fairly unusual in tabletop gaming since everything is mostly at close range. We purposely chose this because it is easier for new players to understand and it adds a gritty realism to the game that many others are lacking. You are really living on the edge when most of the game in spent within grenade throwing range of your enemy. This system does allow for (or even rely on) small action event driven scenarios rather than large pitch battles. This is not the rules set to use to reenact all the beach landings on D-Day. It is the one if you want the tense encounter between a few squads during recon patrols, night raids, a group ordered to take out an enemy bunker, or even want some Hollywood antics like in the movie Kelly’s Heroes.

I setup a generic scene with terrain pieces that happened to be laying around close by. I just wanted some rough going areas and obstacles to block line of sight, to disrupt movement, and provide some cover. Some hills, woods, muddy road, and ruined building did the trick. It gave us plenty to work around/over. Most of our fighting was in and around the ruins which was designated as a impromptu fuel depot (i.e. something to fight for).

The session was a success. We had a lot of fun playing. The battles went very quick. Turns pass back and forth between the players very quickly which helps keep everyone engaged. I said at the beginning that we tested the Infantry only but then I included a photo with a tank. Well, at the end of the day, we had a bit of extra time and we wanted to see what would happen if some infantry ambushed a P40 tank (like during city fighting) and we were not disappointed. The P40 opened up with HMG fire but luckily for the infantry, the cover helped save most of them. Then the poor souls attacked the tank, getting close to it with explosive charges in wave after wave that were unsuccessful. The infantry vs heavy armor is still an area in the rules that needs to be expanded. I was not overly knowledgeable on the subject outside of the use of obvious AT weapons. I did stumble across a old WWII training film on YouTube call Crack That Tank (see it here). It summarizes the US infantry tactics quite well. There is also one about the bazooka and the use of the rockets as mines. We’ll research some more and see what can easily be added. Most likely, small arms fire causing the tank crews to button up the hatches will be added; slowing the tanks and limiting the visibility. For the next play session coming up, we will be trying out tank vs tank battles, and will try some more infantry vs tank if there is time. We hope to have these rules ready to distribute at the same time as our figures are ready (3-4 more weeks maybe for the first of them).

I’m always looking to improve my setup but still keep it budget friendly. There a lot of great battle mats and game board systems out there but if you are just getting started, try this simple idea. It is cheap, quick, and easy to make. Also has the benefits of being light weight, easily transportable, and packs up small for when it is time to put it away. I started with some felt, large enough to cover my table. For historical battles, I have used a bright green color that I never was really happy with the look of. After this playtest session, I took the material outside and then lightly spray it with swirly spots with black/brown/green to create a mottled effect. Even though it obviously needs ironed in this photo, it looks much better that the solid green that it was. The hills that I made are from scrap foam which was easy to paint. I’ll be touching them up soon to match the new paint scheme on the ground cloth. Roads and rivers are a work in progress. They are easy to make from scrap fabric covered with paintable caulking. Trees can be scratch build but I find that to be an area better to buy kits or finished pieces from the model train folks. My trees come from many different sources dating back to the 1970s so it is quite varied. We’ll post some tutorials in the future to help get you going but in the meantime, links to some of our favorite video tutorials and products are found here. The house and shed are just some samples that I painted up. I’m considering carrying them in the shop.

Here is an extra free tip if you happen to live near a Dollar Tree store. They have these handy little storage totes that they mistakenly believe are for housing toys. They are perfect for holding tanks and other similar miniatures/models. The dividers do come out to allow for wider or longer items. I forget if they are $1.25 now or whatnot exactly but they are well worth the price. They are not overly huge but they likely will hold a particular faction or unit depending on your rules system. It makes for easy grab-and-go when you are heading to a convention or local game club meeting. The funny thing is, I don’t think they are all that great for their intended purpose. The plastic is clear-ish but far from the crystal clear that you’d want in a display case.

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