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Programmeable Opponents- Men versus Artificial Unintellience!

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The Americans moved cautiously down the road. The copse of trees to the right was being scanned by the weary veteran, Chris Temptress. Was that a barrel amongst the branches?

The quiet before the storm?

The quiet before the storm?

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There amongst the trees was the unmistakeable silhouette of a puma Armoured car. The recce troop was not going to hang around. The puma reversed awkwardly towards the village.

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The Programmeable Opponent for Solos or Teams is of course legendary amongst wargamers for its realistic portrayal of combat. Each two foot square is given a rating by the “umpire”. Each turn a die is rolled for each square that the players enter. A low priority square will have a unit in it on a roll of ‘six’, medium priority, on a ‘five’ and a real key point on a roll of ‘four’. Once you know an area has defenders then roll for their composition. The lads were facing a reinforced German infantry company so I numbered the platoons and rolled for anything from a pair of HMGs or an 88. Once a square has troops on, successive rolls the dice is one less. In addition once a square has no attackers in it, reinforcements could still arrive on a ‘one’ followed by a 4 plus on a D6.

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The aim is to get the players to face realistic decisions. One early decision that would have repercussions later was that Chris Temptress decided to give ChrisJ the Stuarts, tank destroyers and reconnaissance jeeps. Unused to the idea of hierarchy or indeed of tactics, Chris Jackson chased after the puma and into the sights of an 88…..

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John G moved forward only a little faster than commander Chris Temptress’ doughboys on foot. German 105s zeroed in on the road, unable to resist such a target rich environment.

JonG is advised to move forward at his convenience...

JonG is advised to move forward at his convenience…

Meanwhile, ChrisJ was not lacking in martial spirit. His Stuarts took out the pair of Pumas. His jeeps ‘found’ the minefield before the village as his Hellcats silenced the 88 battery. But, his luck ran out when two Jagdpanthers barred his further progress.

Oh dear, ChrisJ wasn't happy. He was top gun but his command was decimated...

Oh dear, ChrisJ wasn’t happy. He was top gun but his command was decimated…

As any veteran would tell you, now would be the time to relinquish command and start blaming the force composition.

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Poor old Chris Temptress! The German defences were proving a tough nut but this is where true grit and leadership showed. A zug of Stugs had appeared behind JonG’s Shermans but he had been playing possum…..the tanks cooly turned their turrets and brewed up all three assault guns. On the American right flank, three sdfkz250s shot up the infantry but ChrisTemptress used the Stuarts to plug the gap.

With sheer force of will, Chris Temptress led his force to victory!

With calm control Chris Temptress led his force to victory!

I had found the system had worked well. Later in the game we gave the Germans an aggression rating, moving forward on a roll of a five or six. I loved the way in which having an umpire led opponent forces the players to interact. We may have to stress that players must at least attempt to follow orders next time. Look out for Remagen bridge scenario in August. Thanks very much for reading!

Apologies to the makers of the excellent film

Apologies to the makers of the excellent film “Fury”

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About the Author

Posted by

The wild ramblings of an infamous wit and wargames guru. One of nature's true gentlemen who devotes his time to the care of his two sons, i.e. watching episodes of Peppa Pig together, and recreating great moments of military history using toy soldiers. Currently a leading light in The Collectivo Despertaferres wargames and duelling association who meet regularly at Firestorm Games ( formerly Ali Baba's Carpet Warehouse). Find me also on Facebook "Despertaferres"!

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