It was quite interesting to see how the changes effected the game play. One of the big differences was the fact that in this edition it is actually a viable move to rally your troops. I can't think of a time previously when I had actually used the order before, but in this game we both used it at least three or four times each. The introduction of templates for the HE weapons is also a good move in my opinion though I understand that's always going to be a touchy subject for some. Personally my favourite change was the ability for the HQ units to draw order dice out of the bag and send orders to nearby troops, for me this finally makes them worth their points cost.
We decided on a standard scenario with the sole objective of killing each other. We deployed our troops and suffered the preliminary bombardment on both our troops. Toby got the better end of it with a couple of his units managing to avoid pinning, while I ended up mostly heavily pinned and my 1st Lieutenants accompanying trooper left as a casualty.
A disappointing first order saw my PAK team fail to understand their fire order and the men went down. My regular infantry squad picked up the pace however catching the veteran US ranger squad in the open and pinning them further. Toby returned fire with his M3 half-track killing one of the men crewing my medium machine gun team. My HQ team then barked orders out ordering the nearby machine gun team to fire on the distant regular US infantry squad and when they missed the veteran Grenadier squad to advance into hard cover and fire upon the same unit who still ended up pinned despite going down to avoid taking too much damage early on in the engagement. The US rangers manged to make it into cover despite being heavily pinned and the turn ended with my mortar team also failing to understand their orders and going down.
The German lieutenant again sent orders out to the machine gunners and veteran grenadiers. This time the machine gunners managed to pin M3 while the infantry unit manged to get a couple of kills into the US squad and keep their heads down. The German momentum continued with the regular infantry not only managing to hit the rangers again but killed their NCO leaving the US squad with a serious hit to morale. The rest of the exchanges were mostly ineffective fire, though the Sherman did make it onto the field for the US where as the German Hetzer was delayed.
The Rangers having just successfully rallied were again pinned by the German infantry. The Hetzer finally made it onto the battle field and while it's machine gun helped keep the Rangers contained it's main gun missed the US M8 by a long way and the plucky little armoured car returned the favour with a well placed shot, not managing to damage the tank destroyer but stunning the crew inside. The US sniper team continued harassing the second squad of veteran Grenadiers but the gunman was unable to take out any of the dug in men. The other squad fired their panzerfaust at the M3 but couldn't manage to hit the vehicle leaving the machine gunners to keep the vehicle pinned while the remaining men in the squad harried the US infantry they had contained.
The crew of the Hetzer managed to shake off their ringing ears and sent a well aimed shell at the M8 blowing the little vehicle apart, the US Sherman moved to revenge the armoured car but while it's shell hit the front armour of the German vehicle was simply too thick for such a hastily lined up shot to penetrate. On the far side of the battle field the 2nd US infantry squad made it to a position to put pressure on the veteran German infantry but while their fire was largely ineffective the return fire saw them lose two men to the efforts of the German light machine guns.
Seeing an opening the US M3 driver took a risk to try to assist the distant infantry but was caught out in the open by the grenadiers who made a short effort of assaulting the vehicle leaving it a smoking ruin before regrouping back to cover. The US made a valiant effort to try to regain some ground, but despite some heavy fire and a few casualties they failed to make much of a dint in the dug in German line.
The final effective shot in the game saw the PAK team finally understand what "Fire!!" meant and they're shot took out the US sniper and his assistant. Seeing his line badly compromised the orders went out and the US pulled back leaving the Germans in control of the field and taking victory for the day.
Again I really like the changes to the rule set. It was mostly tweaks in my opinion but those couple of changes really helped the flow of the game out without changing the feel. I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to getting another one on the table soon.