Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pteria 547BC

Tim put on this CnC Ancients game a few weeks ago, at 547BC it is positively modern. It featured a bunch of Persian upstarts led by some chap called Cyrus against the Lydians led by Croesus. Evidently he had a few bob as he had a huge army with all sorts of cool stuff and very tooled up soldiers.  The Persians otoh, were just starting to carve out their Empire and had a reputation for being pretty hard at this point. 

The armies line up, Persians closest to the camera. John and I took the Persians, Tom and Graeme the Lydians.

One fun thing the Persians had were these camel mount archers.

Whereas the Lydians had a lot of rather professional looking cavalry.

They also had a load of these heavily armed and armoured foot soldiers. Ooo-er.

Well, never mind. Our chaps had nice wicker shields, leather trousers and lots of bows. With which some hits were duly inflicted on the Lydian centre. Sadly Croesus survived the hail of arrows.

The Lydians committed their medium infantry and a terrible slugging match ensued in the centre. After a bitter struggle (look at all the hit markers!) the Persians eventually gained the upper hand and Croesus was left looking a  bit lonely surrounded by dead soldiers.

The coup de grace was delivered against this lonely unit of Lydian auxiliaries (the angry looking chaps standing behind them are Persians blocking their retreat).

Victory went to the Persians in this case and the Lydians withdrew. Historically it was something of a draw, but the Lydians fell back to reorganise after the battle and expected the Persians to do the same thing. Instead the Persians followed them and caught them by surprise. Lydia was added to the Persian Empire and thereafter Cyrus became known as Cyrus the Great.

Another fine CnC Ancients game, as we have come to expect from this excellent set of rules.

Friday, 21 October 2016

WW1 in five battles part II

Having painted up some late war German cavalry specially, I thought it was time to continue with our WW1 mini campaign using One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas. The first two battles have been covered in an earlier blog post.

As we'd already done 1914 and 1915, it was on to 1916 which meant breaking out my 20mm late war figures. The scenario was 'Static Defence', the Germans had to defend two key objectives but keep two units within 12" of them at all times, whereas the British had to take just one of them. The battlefield was bisected by a large forest, which rather got in everyones way. Jerry and Graeme took the Germans, whilst John and Tom took the British.

The battlefield from the west. The Germans have to defend the hill (which they chose to cover in artillery) and the town (which contained an infantry regiment). The rest of the Germans were located somewhat centrally.

The shiny new German cavalry. I had wanted ot pick up a Strelets set but got these Tumbling Dice metal ones instead. As the forces are randomly generated, I was pleased the Germans actually rolled up some cavalry. In this case they have dug themselves and their horses in.

'Gun hill' was covered in dug in German artillery, and was a prime target for the opening bombardment, which inflicted a number of casualties.

The British rolled up quite a balanced force, four infantry brigades, a field artillery brigade and a cavalry brigade which in 1916 they are able to convert into a battalion of Mark 1 tanks. Unsurprisingly they took the tanks

The British went left flanking with their entire force, and fairly quickly the massed German artillery destroyed the leading brigade, and tanks rapidly pulled ahead while the infantry struggled though the mud and artillery fire.

The German artillery began to suffer some more losses and switched some of their fire to engage the tanks.

The tanks closed in on the hill, and German cavalry decided on a death of glory charge and rather ineffectually enaged the tank.

The following infantry had meanwhile lost another brigade as the Germans in the forest woke up, but by now counter battery fire had destroyed one of the German artillery battalions.

Sadly the photographic record ends at that point, but the last German artillery battalion was destroyed and the cavalry driven off, allowing the very depleted tank battalion to rumble onto the hill and claim victory. This game was actually very close and I was deeply dubious that the British would survive the charge up artillery valley, but they gambled and got away with it.

So, on to 1917. As the Germans lost the last battle, they were defending again. This scenario was 'Melee', a confused fight over large hill feature, with both sides forces rolling up in dribs and drabs. The Germans started with two units on the hill facing south, and on the first turn three British units come on up the road after the opening bombardment.

The Germans rolled up an infantry heavy force, and put an artillery battalion and a regiment of 'heavy infantry' (chaps tooled up with extra machineguns and mortars) on the ridge facin gfsouth as per the scenario setup instructions. Half the British meanwhile came on up the road.

They tried to advance through the wood to avoid the German artillery, but the wicked Germans pushed their own infantry into the woods, and an unpleasant scrap ensued.

The British had clearly forgotten about the German reinforcements who duly rolled up on their flank. The fighting then became 'confused'.

The Germans in the wood were overcome as the rest of the British infantry marched on.

As before the British tried to hide from the German guns.

And ended up jammed in this almost square formation in and around the woods while they dealt with the German reinforcements. Good the Germans didn't have any MLRS...

While this was going on, yet more German reinforcements turned up behind the hill.

The British outflanked the hill, and after destroying the Germans on the crest, moved their artillery up

The last German infantry were overcome, but the hilltop was left occupied by a very ragged infantry unit, so the British pushed up their guns onto the hill.

On the very last turn the German guns destroyed the British infantry on the hill, but survived the British return fire. As exclusive control of the hill was required for victory, we gave this one to the Germans, which means they will be attacking in 1918. Very historical!

Monday, 10 October 2016

3 Div on D-Day - Morris

I've been looking for a few representative battalion sized NWE engagements to try out a revised version of 'Battlegroup' by John Armatys. Originally these were a pretty lean and fast playing set of rules, but somehow along the way I've managed to turn them into a bloated monster with endless fiddling and revisions. I went right back to the original set we played at COW some ten years ago, and added in the merest sprinkling of changes based on our experience of playing them in the last decade.

For scenarios, I recetly acquired a copy of 'Mapping WW2' which included various sets of defence overprint maps of the German defences around and inland from Sword beach, so I had another look at 3 Divs drive on Caen, and in particular the actions at Morris, Hillman and Periers Ridge. I rapidly discovered enormous discrepancies and contradictions in the various accounts of these actions, and settled on an 'average' version of these, partly with an eye to giving a decent game.

The first scenario was based on the 1st Bn, Suffolks attack on Coleville-Montgomery and the battery at 'Morris' (WN 16). As far as possible the map was based on the 1944 invasion map with overprints, which clearly show the positions of the company of Ost battalion troops covering Coleveille, but which are absent from most accounts. Apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos, clearly all the explosion were making the camera shake

A general view of the battlefield from the south (which covers roughly two map squares). Morris is in the foreground with the Suffolks forming up area east of Hermanville in the distance. The marshes in the top right are the boggy areas behind Sword beach (which itself is offtable).

We played this as a team vs umpire game, so the Germans are entirely hidden (apart from the known battery position). John was CO of the Suffolks, and Jerry and Graeme his trusty subordinates.

The British formed up to move out. John kept the carrier platoon in reserve, whilst Jerry took A company, the attached MMG platoon and 76th Field Regiment observer to establish an OP and base of fire. Graeme took B, C, and D companies left flanking with the battalion mortars in support to clear Coleveille from the north.

All went swimmingly well at first. The entrenched positions by the road were found to have been destroyed by the RAF and largely abandoned, but some enemy opened fire from trenches along the St Aubin road, and a firefight with B company ensued. 76 FR dropped a regimental concentration on one of the enemy positions, neutralising it.

The enemy were soon pinned by small arms and artillery fire (one platoon from C company also being pinned in the exchange of fire). The reserve platoon of B company, and remaining platoons of C company moved to assault.

The western positions were cleared and D company moved through to enter Coleville. It was discovered that the 'Germans' were actually Azerbijanis and only too willing to surrender once the British got close. The hit platoon of C company proved very hard to reorg though.

D company clears down the east side of Coleville. There wasn't any opposition at first, although they did find a house full of German casualties and medics. Further into the village, some light small arms fire came from a compound to the east.

The enemy troops in the compound were stonked with smoke and HE by the mortars, and a regimental concentration landed on Morris as B and D companies formed up. C company had found more Russians in the woods (who all surrendered) but some small arms fire came from Morris, which pinned a platoon of B company.

Once the barrage lifted, the assault went in. The wire had been gapped by the naval bombardment earlier in the and he artillery positions had largely been destroyed with the surviving gunners only too happy to surrender. A tougher nut proved to be the battery HQ which recovered from being pinned and held off an entire company asasult from their trenches, however B company joined the attack the HQ was overrun in a second attack.

Overall this was a very satisfactory game, and I was pleased with how it went, particularly how quickly the turns were resolved. We'll need to play a few more ties to see if I've managed to restore the rules to their former glory, but it is looking promising. The tweaks I'd made all seemed to work OK, but it is always easier to run games with an umpire, so I need to try an opposed game and also perhaps introduce some tanks next time.

For those interested in 'Battlegroup', the original was published in the Wargames Development Journal:  The Nugget in issue 204.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Simplicity in Practice - ACW

John put on this ACW game using his 15mm toys and the ACW variant of Simplicity in Practice. The scenario was 'Positional Defence' from one of the Charles Grant scenario books. I took the Union and Tom and Tim the Rebs.

My chaps had to deny the Rebs the town, and my units which were out of sight were represented with counters, along with a fair number of blanks. At game start the only units visible were my two artillery batteries. The rest were skulking in or behind cover and out of sight. The sunken road on the right of the town was a very useful terrain feature.

The massive Reb army lined up and advanced in a very menacing manner, mostly in open order.

Over on the right, three regiments of cavalry menaced my rifled artillery battery.

In the centre and on the left my infantry put up a spirited defence. Sadly my artillery battery succumbed to the weight of enemy artillery fire.

Over on the right, things were going my way. One Reb cavalry regiment was destroyed by my artillery, and another surprised by my reserve cavalry and infantry regiment which appeared from behind the hill. My weakened cavalry took on the last Reb regiment, supported by the infantry.

And was victorious. The enemy General scuttled away, and my infantry fell back in open order to move and support the centre.

Over at the rest of the battle, much to everyones astonishment my outnumbered infantry continued to deal out death and destruction, and although one regiment fell back, the other proved completely immune to enemy fire, and the Rebs grumpily called it a day.

And so we came to a conclusion. The game rattled along at a good pace, especially considering how much stuff was on the table, and it was an interesting scenario, with some difficult decisions to be made.The only real problem was that cover seemed to be far too powerful. My infantry in the town was bombarded for several turns by three artillery batteries and several regiments of infantry and didn't take any damage at all. This was mainly because I was lucky with my cover saves (every hit in cover is saved on a 4+), and then proceeded to make saves on the few actual hits which got through.

I am not a fan of throwing huge numbers of dice to resolve things and it can produce some very odd results.One idea we did have was to simply not count woods and wood buildings as 'cover', but then I suspect I'd have been overwhelmed in short order. One thought I did have was to simply halve the number of hits in cover instead of making saving throws, round fractions up for normal cover and round them down for fortifications and similar. Another would be to modify the unit morale test/saving throw; either give the unit in cover two saves, or keep the single save but add one.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Somme anniversary game

Tim put on this rather magnificent 54mm game at the club using Funny Little Wars. He'd previously run it outside, but the new club venue is large enough to accommodate such extravagence fairly easily. In the interests of speed, the action was scaled down to a brigade attack. Jerry took the Germans, and Tim C, Tom, John and myself the British.

The Germans (Jerry) contemplate the defences. Between us we had about 48 feet of trenches and fortifications. The defences blended in well with the dazzle pattern on the floor.

The game was structured into three phases, air recce, bombardment and finally the assault. Here a couple of wicked German planes attack the plucky British observation balloon.

Whilst a British spotter aircraft is hit by Archie (party poppers being used to simulate the  fire).

It was soon time to start shelling the German positions, and a furious barrage of matchsticks took place. Unfortunately many of these fell short or went over, and of the shells which landed near the German positions, many were duds.

The wicked Germans then fired their own counter barrage, observed by this rather magnificent spotter aircraft. 

Once the gunnery was complete, it was time for our chaps to show themselves. Four battalions, each of twenty figures in two lines.

My heroic battalion, only spoiled by my crappy cardboard trenches. Each figure was individually named with someone we knew (members of Wargames Developments or Sheffield Wargames Club).

And over the top we went. It all went swimmingly well until we got in range of the German machineguns, and then battalion after battalion took heavy losses and went to ground. My chaps only got further than anyone else as the Germans concentrated their fire on the others.

And with that we called it a day, stopping only to peruse the casualty lists. It really did make it quite tragic being people we knew, and I am afraid to say that one Sergeant Rapier was amongst the losses.

This was really great fun and I think Tims idea of focussing on the fun bits or flying planes around and shooting guns instead of the boring and bloody assault was quite right. It has made me want to re-visit Drumfire and focus on streamlining the assault phases to something much, much simpler.