Sunday night I had the opportunity to run WWII Operation Whitebox for some of the Boxcar Nation members on Roll20 and Hangouts. Now having played the game I have a much more defined overall opinion of the game. Let me start by saying I had fun running this game and I will be running it again in the near future. Huge thanks to Pete Spahn for providing a copy of the rules that allowed us to play! Thank you to the players (Tucker, Stephen, Rich, Gilbert) for working through the missions and rules with me.
Here is the video of our game from the other night. Please note the language can get salty (NSFW).
See my review, WWII Operation Whitebox – Her Majesty Uncle Sam Wants You!, for more insight into what the game is all about.
TL;DR – Fun game, but I need to re-read portions of the rules!
At its core, the game is mechanically simple and the rules work pretty with the theme. There were a few things that jumped out at me and the rest of players throughout the session. Let me be clear, I know I botched the rules in a few places. I also adjudicated some things on the fly as we played in favor of the narrative.
Being a hex-and-counter wargamer that plays tactical games from time to time, the sequencing of the combat round proportional to a unit’s ability to fire and when they fire didn’t feel quite right to me. I do have a few ideas on how to adapt the structure of combat slightly to give me the feel I think I am after with regards to opportunity fire without bogging things down.
I also realize that I failed to execute the rules for suppressive fire and cover properly, as written, and this goes to my above comment about the opportunity fire did not feel right to me. A post-game conversation with Pete showed me I will need to re-read these short sections and make sure I have a firming understanding of how to effectively implement them during play. It is likely that I will then achieve the feel I was looking for without the need for rules tweaking.
During play, we noted the range of a grenade was 6ft. It didn’t dawn on me until after I spoke with Pete, that the ranges listed for all ranged weapons is the short distance range only. How in the hell did I miss that? Beyond that range, there are modifiers to bit due to distance. There is no penalty To-Hit at short range. Medium range is x2 short at -2 To-Hit. Long range is x3 medium at -4 To-Hit. Extreme range is x4 long at -6 To-Hit. So a grenade has a range of 6’ with no penalty, 12’ at -2 To-Hit, 36’ at -4 To-Hit, and 144’ (48 yds) at -6 To-Hit. Obviously, I need to go back and re-read some of the rules to ensure I have them internalized.
I still think the game is solid and will provide countless hours of gaming fun. Like most things I run, I have a tendency to make minor little tweaks or on-the-fly determinations to make it feel right for me and my players. This is not a dig against the game in any way. It’s all about working with the narrative to ensure story continuity is maintained while still adhering to the spirit of the rules. If you watched the video above, you’ll notice that I did this several times during the game.
Time to plan the next game!
Another thing I learned the other night was most gamers are murder hobos! I ran the intro engagement (Ambush in the Hedgerows)and the mission Apples of War (Normandy Breakout). Every one of the players has played some iteration of Fantasy games in the past and did exactly as I had suspected. They attempted to neutralize (within reason) every threat. Stealth was used, but mostly to position themselves to shoot. It’s true, you can’t take the murder hobo out of the gamer!