Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Nuts! Final Edition - A Tale of Three Patrols

To round off my 10x10 challenge, I had an evening of Nuts! Final Edition* gaming.  I love Nuts! and should really get it to the table more...

Patrol One:

I took out a British patrol of 8-men, with a Rep 5 Corporal armed with a Sten leading a section of six Rep 4 Riflemen (including a Lance-Corporal) and one Rep 4 Bren gunner.  I just used the base level of enemy investment for the start of a campaign - i.e. 2 for a patrol

The area - the British patrol will enter from the bottom and must reconnoiter the opposite table edge

Another view

The British section enters in file formation

One PEF (possible enemy force) is off to the right flank (see black marker under the pink blossom tree)

And two PEFs are off to the left (just see the black counters behind the central red blossom tree)

The British have been observing the left flank and notice an MG42 team coming out of the woods...

The British Bren gunner spots them and takes aim...

The Germans are unsuspecting...

The chatter of Bren gun fire tears the silence - the MG42 gunner is down; his No.2 knows he will merely be cut down if he tries to help him, so ducks back into cover

And retreats through the woods

Just as the British approach to grab the MG42, the rear soldiers sets off a mine!  In the strange way of chance and fate, he is unharmed but the fragmentation hits the two soldiers in front, both of whom are down injured

Meanwhile the British Corporal completes the reconnaissance, with only some inaccurate sniper fire to worry them.
Mission complete, although the British have taken two casualties from the mine-strike - and they did take one wounded prisoner, the German MG42 gunner.

Patrol Two:

This time the Germans are patrolling from the opposite side of the table, to try and regain the initiative in this sector.

The German patrol consists of 8-men, with a Rep 5 Corporal with an MP40 leading a section of six Rep 4 Riflemen and one Rep 4 MG42 gunner.  I just used the base level of enemy investment for the start of a campaign - i.e. 2 for a patrol

The Germans begin their patrol, using the woods for cover

An overhead shot

The German squad leader detached the MG42 to cover possible British approaches; however, as is the Nuts! way, this plan is slightly wrecked by a random British sniper shot wounding the MG42 gunner!

The German corporal takes his group right-flanking...

And gingerly steps through the woods towards his objective (the opposite table edge)

Mission completed!

"Schneller, Werner!"

But what's that?  British riflemen have outflanked the German MG42 team...

The Tommies open fire and the new MG42 gunner is hit!

Hearing the rifle and SMG fire in the distance, the Germans rapidly retrace their steps...

Outgunned and carrying two wounded, the German MG42 detachment bugs out.

More British infantry turn up in the woods to the right.  Thankfully for the Germans, they don't seem too aggressive

The German squad leader and his group rush back

They are just about to re-combine with the MG42 group...

When a British mortar strike hits the MG42 team!  Two are left wounded, two are killed

The Germans pick up their casualties then get the hell out of there
Another successful patrol, but 50% of the patrol became casualties.  Not atypically for Nuts! only one of these casualties was caused by direct fire from a visible enemy, the others were caused by snipers and mortar fire.  This seems entirely reasonable from what I understand to be the nature of fighting in Normandy outside of set-piece assaults.

Patrol Three:

A US Patrol this time.  Rather than a standard patrol, this is a "raid" mission, to rescue a wounded pilot believed to be held in a farm building at the end of the table (I had some camera issues at this point, so the photos are "reconstructions" rather than live - but I don't consider that against the spirit of WW2 at all!).

The board was the same as for the previous missions but on a different orientation, except I added a barn, a farmhouse and a bridge over the stream by the pink blossom trees (see Patrol One photos for context).

The US patrol consisted of a Rep 5 Sergeant with a Thompson SMG, a Rep 4 BAR gunner and two Rep 4 riflemen.

The US patrol will start at the base of this table.  The target farm is at the top.

The farm complex.  The pilot is believed to be in the barn on the right

And from a slightly different angle.
When the US were advancing through the woods, they were lucky enough to pick up some reinforcements!  Three riflemen out on patrol from an adjacent battalion join the group

Advancing through the woods...

Minestrike!  The BAR gunner is wounded and out of the fight...

Luckily they meet no opposition and civilians in the farmhouse confirm that the wounded USAAF pilot is in the barn, confirming the information received; the new BAR gunner and two riflemen set up position in the farmhouse to cover whilst the Sergeant and a couple of GIs poke forward...

A German squad arrives to join the party - but some very accurate shooting from the new BAR gunner kills two Germans outright
The Germans courage fails them and they high-tail it, figuring they have run into a superior force
The US patrol managed to extract itself without any further incident - a very satisfactory patrol, with the wounded pilot rescued and two Germans killed for one wounded GI in return.

Game Notes
Nuts! is brilliant.  I have probably written this before, but I wish that this game had existed when I was 11-12, it would have ticked every box - cheap to get into, playable solitaire, full of adventure and fun.  I really love Ambush! back in my early teens, which is a work of genius, but although its missions are replayable, and there are plenty of expansions, it doesn't have the open architecture of the Nuts! system.

The only slight moment of head-scratching I had is to do with the 2" of free movement at the point of conducting the in-sight test, since it seemed possible to trigger the test but then not take it, since the triggering unit could then simply move back out-of-sight.  Then it occurred to me that this is entirely a solo player's problem when moving the enemy (or PEFs) - when a live player is moving, if he or she doesn't want them to be seen, then they don't make the move in the first place!  Obvious, when I'd thought.  But it did leave an issue - should PEFs / enemy forces move into in-sight tests or not?  If not, then the solo player can never ambush anyone, because you will always avoid your own ambushes.  So it seemed more in-keeping to rule that PEFs can't immediately "step-back" and the they will only go back out-of-sight as a reaction or as directed by their combat tactics.  Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

I wonder if there are slightly too many events.  Events are triggered by a double, which means that you can expect an event every 6 turns or so.  Since an event is a mine-strike, a sniper shot or an artillery strike, this seems pretty fierce.  I may make the event subject to an investment level check.  Any thoughts?

Figures by Battlefront, Peter Pig & Plastic Soldier Company.  The buildings are from Warbases and a manufacturer whose details I don't have to hand.  I will update this when I find them!

*It isn't the final edition.  THW have since released a 4th Edition of Nuts!  It does look good mind...


  1. Good set of BatReps. The guys I game with gave Nuts! several tries years ago and we found it lacking. No recollection of what exactly we did not like but the sentiment was universal. We have moved on to Chain of Command have not looked back.

  2. That's interesting. I love bits of Chain of Command - and I love Troops, Weapons & Tactics, but I never got either of them to work very well solitaire, because they demanded so many interactions between the two sides that it felt "too" involving command-wise. Nuts! on the other hand is pretty prefect for a solitaire game. It would be interesting to know what the problem was, if the memory returns.

    Thanks very much Jonathan

  3. Nuts is great for solitaire. I remember playing Silver Star and Ambush as a teen.
    Regarding Events; perhaps roll to confirm the event, On 1-2 event 3-4 could have something negative but not immediately deadly - add a PEF, slow movement due to wet socks, LMG jam, whatever, and 5-6 original event occurs. Might that work or slow game down?

    1. Hi Brucka - firstly apologies, I just found this comment at the bottom of my spam folder!

      I think your ideas regarding events seem worth a try, definitely.

  4. Nice Batreps. I play quite a bit of Nuts! and tweaked it to my liking. Like you I loved playing Ambush!, but Nuts! pretty much replaces Ambush! for me. I didn't quite understand your part about the PEFs. I usually don't try to game the system. I'll move my men to their objective and usually the PEF at some point will come into LOS. Once this happens I roll the Insight test. The random events may seem repetitive because there isn't a huge variety. I created a d30 random event table inspired by the events found in Ambush! which makes each battle a little more unpredictable and also adds to the story. I also really like the Italy After Normandy supplement, many useful optional rules and scenarios which are very Ambush! like.

  5. Hi Kurt, thanks very much for the kind words. Those are good ideas about the events and I will have a look at the Italy After Normandy supplement on your advice.

    How to explain about the PEFs? Imagine you are playing a US squad, defending a building and looking out at a wood. There is PEF coming through the wood. When the PEF reaches the end of the wood, it tests to see if it generates an actual enemy (or civilians, or nothing). Imagine at this point the PEF generates a Panzerfaust team. Before the in-sight test is taken, the Panzerfaust team could step back into the main bit of the woods and go out-of-sight again. Such a move wouldn't seem that realistic, but as far as I can tell, it would be legal for the "AI". Now, I have played it as I think you have, that the "AI" can't do that; but I do wonder if that is what is intended, or if I have miunderstood something - very possible for solo players to get into a groove of playing something wrong. Does that explain it better?

  6. After your clarification, the 2" movement by enemy units would make sense and at least consistent with your units. You would probably use it after the PEF resolution during their turn to move. Even so I don't think I've ever played the enemy that way. I think it's another layer of detail I prefer not to think about. I usually resolve the PEFs, set them up in cover or prone. When it's enemy's turn to move and an enemy steps in to LOS, I'll take an Insight Test. I've even tried playing without additional Insight Tests once the initial insight test with the resolved PEF is taken, just to see if I could make gameplay more streamline. I think the latest version Nuts! may do this.

  7. That seems very sensible Kurt

  8. John,

    A nifty trio of fights, very cool! I'm with you, I love being able to re-use a table when I'm able, I hate tearing the table down and setting back up. For what it's worth:

    1) Not sure if the mortars, mines, and snipers were too much. It kind of seemed like it as I was reading (as in, 'man, that's happening a lot'), but when combined with the fact the PEFs didn't seem to generate a lot of enemy contact (minus the German squad in the final battle, but then they didn't really choose to engage), it actually worked out pretty well I think.

    2) I don't think a PEF that turns into actual enemy troops should get to fall back 2" out of sight; the whole point of testing the PEF was that your guys saw something (or thought they did, if the PEF turns out to be nothing).

    Thanks for posting, very enjoyable!


  9. Thanks very much Jack, I appreciate that.

    1 - It definitely ensures the game is a challenge even when playing against low investment levels. And historically, overall, I have no dramas with a large proportion of casualties being suffered through unsuspected sniper and mortar fire. But I still think that an average of 1 turn in 6 is just too much, given that the rate would stay the same even if I doubled the investment level. The Brits in the first mission definitely did get an easy ride but the Germans in the second were really outgunned - they were more saved by the Brits being on defensive orders so that once the German team in the support position had been driven off, neither side wished to re-initiate contact. The US too encountered superior forces but won by an inspired bit of shooting! Unless you are playing with quite a high enemy investment level, the odds do actually favour not that much happening on patrols until the last PEF is encountered.

    2 - Agreed, and that is the way I have played it thus far. To be honest, I am considering dropping the rule entirely, as it seems slightly unwieldy. Either step into sight or don't.

    1. John,

      1 - I don't mind the 1 in 6 turns, just if there's a high investment level it's really going to break your heart when you're already having a rough time handling all the bad guys on the board, AND THEN you get hit by a sniper or mortar round.

      You could scale back the chances of a random event the higher the investment level, but then it's kind of counterintuitive in that the more bad guys you're facing, the more likely they are to call in mortars, have a minefield present, or be supported by a sniper.

      Do what you like! ;)

      2 - Sounds reasonable. And because of you I'll be picking up the final edition, though I'm going to be sticking with games strictly in the 5-10 guys range, none of the platoon level stuff.


  10. 1 - I think what I may do is do as suggested above and create a wider variety of events which will create a little more atmosphere but also reduce the overall chances of incurring unstoppable casualties from them. On the big attack/defence scenarios when using a platoon, the events actually matter a bit less since it isn't such a high proportion of one's force in danger (the sniper may take out 1 in 30 rather than 1 in 3 on a small raid mission, but with the same chances of each), so that would be the benefit in using the investment level to determine the event chances.

    2 - I think that you are right about this too. Although I think that Nuts! works mechanically at platoon level, I think it struggles a bit visually unless you change the board size. 3'x3', even with 15mm figures, gets very crowded. Imagine doing a platoon attack with 30 guys in 3 sections/squads, going 2 up. With even 2" spacing, then that means the platoon is going to be advancing using the entire width of the board (and you aren't going to want to bunch up more than that, since the grenade blast radius is 5"...

    1. John,

      You're own set of events, sounds great, particularly given that it will lessen the chances of 'automatic casualties.' I've always been a fan of confusion, where troops mistake an order and move to the wrong place, or don't do anything because they're getting conflicting orders. Mortars/artillery/air still work without causing casualties, too; just make it so that 'x' amount of guys are hugging the dirt for this turn and can't act/react.

      And yeah, a platoon on a 3' x 3' sounds a bit dense, unless you're working a really built-up area. In any case, I'm looking at small numbers just because that's where I want to focus with some of my upcoming projects.


    2. I saw that you have been very busy painting - looking forward to seeing some of the new stuff in action soon.