This past Saturday I ran my first two games of Point Blank at Skip Peterson's Legends in the Fall in Illinois.
The scenario was roughly based on the Le Fiere Counterattack scenario from Skirmish Campaigns.
The forces were 1 command squad and 2 squads of Elite US Paratroopers. Germans had 4 Squads of Veteran Grenadiers, 1x 50mm mortar team, 1x MG42 HMG, and 2 captured R35 tanks. There were also some Gammon Bombs, a Bazooka, and some Panzershreck 60's thrown in as well.
Overall, the games went really well…..
Game 1 was a bit slow as there were not many players, none of which had any experience with Disposable Heroes. Also, the large amount of forces on the table per player slowed the game down. The guys still seemed to have fun, and it pointed out a few areas that I needed to focus on for game 2.
I broke a cardinal rule of not playtesting the system before running it at a con. However, I did this for a few reasons. First off, the release of PB prevented me from having the time, I've run this scenario several times with other systems including Disposable Heroes, and honestly, I don't think I'll have the time to put it back on the table again until after Christmas.
Game 2 was spot on, however. I changed the size of the board to get the shooting started much quicker. I also broke the OOB down to allow for each player to focus on one squad each. I also removed the support teams and tanks. In the end this was the right move. By the end of turn one, everyone seemed comfortable enough with the rules to start running the game themselves with the occasional question. By turn three, we put an R35 on the table because everyone wanted to give it a go.
A fun aspect of the game was we had players ranging from around 8 to adult.
Essentially, the Americans started with their command squad around the church, which was the main objective of the game. Their other two squads came in off the causeway to reinforce the command squad, which was the basic layout of the scenario. The US White Squad moved into the village to reinforce the Red command squad in the church. The last (Blue) squad moved into the ruined farmhouse and began to bring fire onto the fields in front of them securing the flank.
The Germans spread their four squads along the southern edge of the board and advanced somewhat in a line. The problem was, the Germans Left flank was moving fairly quickly using the Teamwork rule to keep their forces together, while the right spent more Activations and Action Points on single figures engaging the Americans in the farmhouse with Long Range and mostly ineffective fire.
The game developed into most of the real combat between the intact farmhouse and Barn, the church, and the village on the left side of the board. This area saw most of the casualties as well. The Germans were taking full advantage of the Teamwork rules and at one point got one LMG team up on the second floor of the intact farmhouse, the other in the barn. Then they started to put a real hurt on the Paratroopers using the Crossfire rule.
This all came to a screeching halt with an insane bout of bravery (luck). One of the youngest players decided he had enough. He charged from the protection of the stone walls, and moved into the Hedgerow between himself and the MG's. Due to the Hedgerow's position, this actually dropped him into light cover. After some incredibly bad German rolls and his high Guts score, he then proceeded to throw a hand grenade into the window of each building over two activations, killing both teams! Not to be stopped there, he used the Skill system to climb to the second floor of the barn from the outside and bring rifle fire down on the advancing Germans! Eventually, he was rooted out of the barn and forced to jump to safety from a close assault.
As stated previously, the right side of the board saw a piecemeal advance by the Germans which eventually lead to them falling behind of the main attack, unable to threaten that flank very much.
The R35 ran straight up the road to bring some MG fire on the remaining troops at the church. One of the last remaining soldiers of the Red command team (again, run by that same lucky boy) managed to get a successful hit with a Gammon Bomb on the tank's side, lower hull. This caused the TC to become KIA. The driver made his Guts check. He switched to the turret and brought a little more MG fire on the church, but by that point the time was up.
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Point Blank is a great skirmish system!
It felt more like a different approach to Disposable Heroes than a whole new system. Think of it more as a detail zoom option.
This scenario could work fine with either system. With 6-8 players, it was perfect for Point Blank. With 2 players, Disposable Heroes would have been the better choice.
You also need to take your board size into account. It takes forces longer to get across the board in Point Blank than Disposable Heroes with the individual activations.
It was an outstanding idea to keep Point Blank FULLY compatible with the source material from Disposable Heroes.
For players of each game, I would recommend buying both. Having both sets will allow you to tailor your game to the not only the size of scenario, but also the size of the group that shows up without having to teach everyone a new system from scratch.
Nice work Iron Ivan!