I played a pre-league game last night with my French Resistance vs. Chris H’s Italians. Although we had a good time, I don’t think it was satisfying for either of us.
We checked against the Operation Torch theater rules and, with the layout of the table, selected Hold Until Relieved, with the crossroads piece as the objective.
Chris was running a Tank platoon: two M14/41s (light tanks) and three AB41s (armored cars) and some other stuff. I was running my Partisan list. One of the rules they’re using for the league is that Tank platoons are always Attacker against Mechanized and Infantry platoons (and Mechanized platoons are always attacker against Infantry platoons). (I suspect that my French Resistance, as almost all of it can fit in those trucks probably counts as ‘Mechanized.’)
Here’s the thing: he (almost certainly) could not win. With 3 units and maybe 14 models that could claim or contest the objective (vs my 8 units and 40 models). What’s the point of playing if you can’t win?
Similarly: although the game was effectively a lock for me, I had next to no agency in it. Those cars and tanks might be lightly armored, but that’s still enough to reduce my options for dealing with the vast bulk of his force to next to nothing (2 panzerfausts, a bazooka, a flame tank, and a mortar), none of which are Great (panzerfausts being 1 shot and Mortars being criminally unreliable leave me with hoping I get lucky on activations and maybe get to roll well with the bazooka and flame tank). What’s the point of playing if you can’t do anything?
(In the end, I killed one car, with the bazooka, and one tank, with a panzerfaust. I did get a lucky mortar shot, on another car, but it wasn’t enough to take it out.)
Like I said: it was a good time, but was unsatisfying.
Chris asserted that the difficulty he would face in winning the game was a balance to my difficulty in stopping him. He’s not wrong: it’s a balance, but it’s a rotten one, and dependent on the scenario. If we’d played a scenario out of Tank War, the tank platoon wouldn’t have the same challenges, but the infantry platoon’s lack of agency would still be present. More importantly, though: it’s Harrison Bergeron-style balancing. “Both of you are screwed; thus It is balanced” isn’t fun.
I’m not sure what the fix is. I simply believe Tank and non-Tank platoons should not mix, but a lot of the guys at the store have a lot of tanks and they want to play with their tanks, and I respect that. The leagues at the store are always going to permit Tank platoons, so refusing to play against other Tank platoons isn’t going to work (and would send the wrong message). I suppose I could play a Tank platoon myself, but I don’t want to do that right now.
Anyway, I’m mostly thinking out loud here.
Related/unrelated – I did have a lot of fun playing really aggressively and tactically with my trucks. Instead of just using them to rush up a bunch of grizzled partisans (and inevitably getting them blown up while doing so), I scooted them around, blocking approaches and providing cover. In the picture above, the truck really locked down that M14/41 from getting where it wanted to be for half the game.