Commentary on Epsilon Scenario

OPTIONAL: By agreement it is possible to use "Cross of Iron" rule 71, that allows reverse movement (copied here, without permission).


71.1 Occasionally an AFV will find itself in a situation where it wishes to _back_ out of its present hex without changing its Covered Arc and in the process exposing itself to a side or rear target facing. Such backwards movement costs four times the normal MP cost for entrance into that terrain. (CoI EXCEPTION.)

71.2 The hex entered with reverse movement must be one of the two hexes which formed the rear target facing of the vehicle prior to reverse movement.

71.3 The vehicle's Covered Arc may not change while moving in reverse. Once backed into its new hex, it may change its Covered Arc at the usual cost of moving outside its Covered Arc (2 MP for AFVs plus the COT of any subsequent hexed moved into).

71.4 A vehicle combining both forward and reverse movement in the same Movement Phase must pay a 2 MP cost before switching from one mode to the other.

COMMENT: Wins, Losses, and Draws in Armor Combat - Alan Yngve, 11/6/00

Many have asked why there are provisions for Draws in the Victory Conditions for "Tanker Delight". This has a lot to do with two things, one historical and one game-related. The use of Armored formations against other Armor formations in WWII, without the presence of supporting arms did occur. But these battles often had the type of disparate goals of the two combatants in this scenario. Here, the attacker wishes to get to a destination and the defender wishes to reduce the size of the enemy threat.

To some extent Armor fights, in contrast to infantry fights, were decided by improbable events, like a shell entering through a vision slit or exploding under a turret overhang. These events are simulated by the "To Hit/To Kill" tables, without the benefit of a good After Action event report! So Victory is based upon whether an Armor force can achieve the goals/orders of higher command. If both sides meet their VC, then the victory will have come at considerable cost. Neither side meeting their VC is less likely, what do you think your superior officer will think if this is the result?

Scenario Epsilon is designed to give players the opportunity to experiment with tanks and assault guns in a situation that can encourage repeated trials and a concentration on tactics. With the added recognition that success with AFV's often requires a certain amount of fortune with the dice, these Victory Conditions are designed to give competent tactics a reasonable chance of at least a draw. With this game mechanic, winning will often mean that both your tactics AND your dice rolling were good this time!

COMMENTS: AFVs and AFV Combat with the Squad Leader Rules - Alan Yngve, 9/1997

A frequent topic of discussion among SL'ers is the "realistic" or "simulation" value of AFVs in the game system. Although all AFV detail is significantly expanded in the first SL gamette (Cross of Iron), the basic value and treatment of AFVs in basic SL is quite sufficient to explore the implications of direct armor support, as introduced in Scenario Delta. Beyond this support role, the tactical implications of using armored vehicles in SL are very interesting and should not be ignored simply because of real or imagined missing detail.

By emphasizing the infantry support role of AFVs, basic SL does generalize many vehicle characteristics. To the military equipment devotee this is easy to find. The generalizations can best be seen by comparing the main tanks of the three national forces in Squad Leader (MkIVf2, T-34, and M4A4). Within the SL system, these tanks are all equivalent except for minor differences in MP, MGs, and crew survival, despite the fact that each vehicle had distinctive characteristics, both good and bad. Since AFVs were an important component of much WW2 tactical combat and their inclusion in a game of this scale has obvious importance, learning how to use these "mysterious" pieces of mobile hardware is a task worthy of study. The system's generalizations aside, how to use AFVs when opposed by enemy AFVs is best demonstrated by removing the accompanying infantry so that vehicle issues can be better isolated, this is what Scenario Epsilon is designed to provide to each SL'er.

When approaching AFV combat in the SL system it is good to keep one thing in mind. The vehicle combat system is very different from the infantry combat system. Besides the necessity to achieve a "hit" before you have a chance for a "kill," perhaps more critical is that vehicle combat will only result in a kill or no effect, its like having an IFT that only has KIAs and NEs on it! In practice, this will mean that success at SL armored combat will be heavily weighted by luck and fortune, a situation that is difficult to integrate into your tactical planning. Despite this combat resolution framework, success in Squad Leader AFV combat does involve more than just rolling the dice, its just harder to note the issues that often seem to become overwhelmed by the "to kill" results. Best suggestion is to try very hard to look beyond the success/failure of your dice rolls and to try to figure out how to improve your chances of success through maneuver, terrain use, and mutual support.

And to revisit the first issue, can SL armor combat be considered realistic? A good answer to this question actually requires a significant evaluation of armored vehicle combat in WW2. The best answer is that, except for the lack of a morale component (yes, tank units sometimes "broke and ran" as well!), the representation in SL is fairly good. What it lacks is the characteristics that made some AFVs superior and some inferior. What the system does effectively represent is that the course of specific armored combat engagements were, very often, greatly effected by "chance" events that could be attributed to a success or failure to penetrate an AFV by fire. It may not always be satisfying to the scheming gamer, but that is the way it often was. Keep your spirits up, with Scenario Epsilon, after four quick turns you can try again!