Sunday, December 6, 2015

5Core Brigade Commander - 2nd Try

I have been meaning to get back and try out the FiveCore Brigade Commander (5CBC) rules from Nordic Weasel Games for a while now. This weekend I got the chance to do that, with another trial game (this is my third game).

This time I made sure to play a game of the size recommended in the rules (the forces last time were smaller than recommended). The scenario this time would see a Soviet Tank Regiment face off against a US Mechanised Infantry Battalion and an Armoured Battalion. The year is 1985.

The Soviet TR had:
  • 3x Tank battalions of T-80Bs (each 3x companies)
  • a battalion of Motor Rifle Infantry  (3x companies)
  • 2x Mi-24D units
  • a battalion of 2S1 122mm SPGs (persistant "Stonk" asset)
  • other (one-use) assets were: Communications Jamming, Deception
The US had:
  • an Armoured battalion of M1s (3x companies)
  • a Mechanised Infantry battalion in M-113s (capable AT) (4x companies)
  • M-901 ATGW Platoon (AT attachment)
  • Mortar Platoon (Mortar attachment)
  • one-use A-10 Air Strike
  • a battalion of M-109A1 155mm SPGs (persistant "Stonk" asset)
  • other (one-use) assets were: Tactical Withdrawal, Intel Advantage. 
The Objectives for each side were randomly generated from the table in the rulebook. The Soviets had to advance and hold a feature, and the US had to capture one. So I made them the same objective (a wooded hill in the centre of the table, covering the road in both directions).

Astute and diligent readers of this blog will notice that the terrain was the same as I used for my last game and AAR (the Team Yankee one). This is a combination of my laziness and the fact that I wanted to see how the different rules played on the same terrain (allowing direct comparison).

So how did the game play out?:

The battlefield and initial turns. Soviets on L, US on R.
Both sides entered from their table edge on turn 1.
Both took elected to take the free 'Scurry' move, to bring on and move all their units.
By using 'Push' moves, the Soviets are almost onto the objective at the end of the first move!

Mi-24 Hinds go looking for targets.

Two M1 companies advance towards the objective.
(for the 5CBC rules, I am using two of my normal Platoon bases for each company)

The Soviets advance on the Objective Hill.
Tasked with taking and holding it against counter-attack is the BMP-2 MR battalion.

The Soviets advance onto and consolidate the Objective (L of picture).
Their Tank battalions take up positions in the tree-line to disrupt counter-attacks.
The US battalions move up (R of picture).
Tanks ready to provide fire support for the Mechanised Infantry battalion to try and capture the objective.  

M1s take up fire positions in the fields.

Another T-80B battalion takes up position (bottom of picture),
to prevent flanking attacks from this direction.
The Soviets played their Electronic Jamming asset (cancelling one of the US activations this turn).
But this was immediately cancelled, by the US use of their Intel Advantage asset (giving an extra activation for the turn).

The US A-10 Air-strike goes in on the forward Soviet MR Infantry company.
Direct hit!  The Soviet MR Company is destroyed.

Close up of the A-10 strike.

The Soviets move the MR battalion's depth company up
to assume the position of their destroyed comrades.
The Soviet artillery targets the advancing US Mech Infantry, but fails to hit.
To add insult to injury, the Soviet artillery becomes unavailable for the rest of the game!

This company is pinned by Guard Fire...

... Then cops an Artillery Stonk as well!

US covering fire engages the Soviet Tank Battalion in the tree-line (L),
Forcing a company back to the rear to cower (bottom R).

T-80s on the R flank are also driven back (bottom R).

The Soviet commander sees an opportunity and sends the third (second echelon)
tank Battalion around to the L, to take the advancing US Mech battalion in the flank.

The US Mech battalion Assaults the Hill, two companies forward and one back.

The US artillery suppresses the defenders again.

The lead US Mech Company destroys the first Soviet MR Company position,
and takes their place on the hill.

The remaining Soviet MR Company re-orientates to face the attack direction.

The Mi-24s move around the R flank, to attack the advancing US troops in the rear.

The Mi-24s inflict casualties on the assaulting US Mech Infantry.

The remaining Soviet MR Company is flanked by M1s, and pinned by the US artillery...

... causing casualties and forcing them back off the hill.

The US Mech battalion has captured the hill,
But in the process, a T-80 company destroys one of the Mech Companies.

The T-80 company counter-attacks back onto the hill.
The Mi-24s continue to cause casualties.
An interesting game. I'm getting used to how the 5CBC rules play - they are growing on me, although I still have some difficulties with some of the levels of abstraction.
For example, my main problem at the moment is the “Scurry” special turn, where both sides get to make a move with all of their troops. This allows some unusual and (IMO) unrealistic behaviour, because there is no reaction fire against Scurry moves! So units can move away from imminent contact, or even worse move right up to within assault distance completely un-scathed. Hmmm…
I think that it's only after playing  a few games that you see some of the subtleties, tactics and importance of Assets in the rules. For example, the Asset that allows you to convert a Scurry or Firefight to a normal turn gets around the problem I outlined above for an attacker, by not letting their intended victim escape if a Scurry is rolled.
I have decided that anything that generates Kill dice can be brutal in ranged combat. Assault combat is just brutal all round.
One of the things I do like (a lot!) is the speed of play (the game only took about 90 mins). Also the feel of specialist troops supporting the 'main' units, rather than being special game-winning troops in their own right. This aspect feels pretty realistic to me.
The key to the game seems to be the Assets and Attachments, plus the usual Rock/Paper/Scissors interaction between the main troop types. I still think it may be too abstract for me, but I’ll keep giving it a try.


  1. Fantastic looking game - love the warthog and Hinds pictures.
    I've had similar issues with 5 core rules in general, but I remain convinced that there are subtleties in them that I'm missing - in a very unique design which fosters gameplay and reduced rules flipping.

    More please :)

    1. DdG, thanks for your comments. I agree - I think there are plenty of subtleties, which is why I'm willing to keep having a few games to learn them a bit more. cheers : )

  2. I have played the sci-fi skirmish game, which has the same mechanics, but yet to play the Company Commander or the Brigade Commander. Overall, I like the mechanism and can see it work for bigger scale games, but I have two minor issues. First, I disagree with "a soldier is a soldier" concept. I think in combat situations, highly trained troops are going to respond much better in combat situations than poorly trained troops. Second, and maybe I'm an old rivet counter from the 70s, but I think non-infantry combat resolution is a little too abstract for my liking. Currently, I am trying to think of ways to combine much of 5 Core rules with FFOTs.

    1. I know one guy who somehow squeezed the Shock die mechanic into his games of Spearhead so don't be afraid to tinker :-)

    2. Hi Chris, I tend to agree with you on troop quality issues. Ho else have small, well led and well trained forces (not necessarily with better equipment) beaten the lower quality hordes throughout history? I do note, however, that 5CBC relies on players to tailor their forces to reflect these kind of aspects, using 'Assets' that can reflect better C2 aspects, and 'High Spirits' points, which go some way to addressing the quality issue. I too prefer some of the detail in a game like FFT or MSH, but the thing 5CBC offers over these is the ability to play *large* battles very quickly. So I can deal with some abstraction on the occasions when that's what I'm after...

    3. Good points Mr. B! Its work in progress for me: the more I read the rules, the more I like them.

  3. Thanks for the report. Have been trying these rules out as well and had similar thoughts about the scurry turns. But like Duc de Goblin, I firmly believe that there are subtleties I've yet to grasp. Cheers!

    1. Prufrock, agreed. BTW, I love your blog too - very nice! : )

  4. Hey gang :)
    If Scurries happen too much, use a D10 for the action die instead.

    Another option is to reduce them in scale. Apply the special turn result to only one battalion for example.

    1. Oops, hit "send" too fast.

      It should be noted that you can ditch the action roll completely and the rest of the game stays intact just fine. Every piece is intended to be portable and modifiable.

    2. Hi Ivan, thanks for checking out the blog. Please don't take my comments as implying I don't like the game. I AM enjoying it, but there are just a few aspects I'm having more trouble getting my head around, compared to other rules I've played. But there are some really novel concepts.

      Point taken on the ability to pick and choose some of the optional rules (eg. the d10 activation version), or ability to tweak how things are modified. Before I go tweaking though, I intend to give the rules a few more runs 'as-written' to give them a fair playing before I decide if I feel anything needs tweaking. : )

    3. Cheers and no fuss.
      I didn't take your comments in bad faith at all :)

      The Scurry rule is usually what trips people up, so I wanted to throw a few bits at you.

      I do agree with playing "as written" for a few times. That's usually how I start with a new game. Sometimes there's some subtlety I miss the first time around and even if there's not, it helps to be better grounded in the game before I change something :)

      Thank you for sharing your AAR!

  5. Interesting! You should email Ivan (aka Nordic Weasel) with your thoughts - I am sure he would welcome them or at least be able to discuss the thought processes behind them.

    1. Gday Paul. Ivan seems to be here already!

  6. Beautiful stuff, as usual Bish. I rebased by 1960s style armies for 5core Brigade. I really need to get them onto the table soon!

  7. Good stuff, just left you a loooooong reply on TMP.


  8. Hey Bish, do you wanna pop me an email at ?