Saturday, 30 January 2016

Delaying Action

Time for another trip back to 1981 and World War Three on the Central Front. Readers with long memories may recall The Soviet airlanding at Hameln and the heroic Bundeswehr counterattack at Wolfenbuttel,  but todays action concerns the long suffering 4th Armoured Div and their desperate attempts to slow up 3rd Shock Army while the rest of BAOR moves into position east of the Weser.

Two of 3rd Shock Armies tank divisions have forced the Mittelland canal and bypassed Braunchsweig, and are heading full tilt towards Hanover. The 4th AD screening forces have turned to try and hold them up behind a small stream northeast of Peine.

The game was played with my 2mm toys on hexon terrain, using Tims 'NATO Brigade Commander'. Tim G and Jerry E took the Soviets, while John A and Tim C took the plucky British.

General scheme as follows:

General Briefing
NATO is beginning to recover from the surprise of the rapid Warpac attack this morning, however although 10GTD is stalled in the north, 12GTD and 47GTD forced their way across the Mitelland Canal this morning. British covering forces attempt to stem the onrushing tide of Soviet armour across the north German plain. To the southeast, 2nd PGD has been counterattacking towards Braunchsweig, but 20th Guards Army is now entering the battle area.
British briefing
4th AD is operating in advance of the rest of the BAOR, the enemy has forced the canal and TF Hotel is now spread thinly trying to slow two enemy tank divisions with three battlegroups. All the divisional reserves have been committed and Army air mobile troops are being deployed. We need to buy time for the rest of BOAR to occupy the defences in front of Hanover. The Battlegroup has fallen back hastily to a prepared position west of the NS stream.

Slow the enemy advance as much as possible but avoid encirclement and escape to fight another day (4th AD will eventually be withdrawn behind the MLR to form the BAOR reserve).

Warpac briefing
The division forced the Mittelland canal this morning but was forced to commit its 2nd echelon. The division is now advancing on a two regiment front, with each TR preceded by a forward detachment to bypass and probe forward through gaps in the enemy position. The 2nd echelon has been broken up to generate these forces.Div Recce report that the enemy have fallen back well beyond (2km at least) the stream and at best will be conducting a hasty defence.

Push west as fast as possible. Bypass enemy blocking forces if possible and only destroy them if they cannot be bypassed. This axis has been designated as Main Effort, so Divisional and Army artillery will support your attack as will Army air assets.

The battlefield from the north. Peine is in the top right corner and 3rd SA are approaching from the left. The Autobahn is the grey road, the rest are secondary.

The Soviet staff, a certain degree of planning had already taken place, including the massive preparatory bombardment. Jerry commanded the Forward Detachment and Tim had a reinforced Cat I Tank Regiment with T-64s.

The British commanders. With only a weak battlegroup to hold up the Russian juggernaut, they were realistic about their prospects, although a heliborne combat team was also en route to support them.

The attack is well underway. The main British defence line was centred on the wooded hills which had already been prepared for defence. Engineers had demolished all the bridges and the Russian bombardment had thoroughly smashed up all the road junctions, so this bit of Germany was looking a bit tatty! Milan teams on the near hill and Chieftans on the far hill have knocked out several T-64s, but a mass of Russians supported by Hinds have closed in one the Chieftans.

 The killing zone around the marshes in the centre.

The defence bravely attempted to leapfrog backwards, but the weight of supporting firepower and speed of the Russian advance overwhelmed them. Under crushing air and artillery attack, both the infantry and Chieftan combat teams became disorganised and streamed to the rear while Russian columns piled down the roads leading west. At this point two Russian tank battalions have exited the west table edge and the British are in full retreat.

The British actually put up a pretty good effort, inflicting a 3:1 loss ratio and escaping with their force largely intact, although the poor old TA infantry were left trying to pick their way on foot back through half the Russian army. The Russians managed an extremely rapid assault however, advancing over 12km in less than an hour and half and being well on the way to pre-empting the deployment of 2nd AD in front of Hanover.

It was good to get back to WW3 after a long break, and we are finally well into afternoon of the first day. I've got a bunch more scenarios lined up, and hopefully now the covering force actions have largely been concluded, NATO won't have to spend quite so much time as a punchbag. The German counterattack towards Braunschweig has some interesting possibilities, and BAOR really should do something about all those VDV paras sitting in their rear areas. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016


One of the highlights of my year is generally the January WW2 airsoft game the 34th Infantry group organise at their site near Tamworth. It is the ideal thing to blow away the winter cobwebs and the weather has usually been kind. This  game was the latest scenario in their long running Italian Front campaign, and featured less stand-up fighting and rather more recce and demolition missions than usual.

There was much excitement with the prospect of snow in the air, but in the event there was just a heavy dusting of frostt and it was very, very cold. Still, an excuse to break out all the cold weather gear as I don't often get a chance to play a game in a greatcoat.

My camera battery died so the photos below are all those taken by Pedro, who has an excellent Facebook site: Photos by Pedro

Our somewhat depleted section (it was a small game anyway and you always get dropouts). This was the first outing for the panzerschreck (built by Chef on the left). It is a repro one fitted with a firing adaptor for the TAG CO2 rifled shells, a two man job to load and fire, so quite realistic really. It is made of steel and very heavy, perhaps not the ideal thing for lugging through the undergrowth.

Well at least we got to wear wool uniforms, the poor old Americans (here a squad from the 34th) only had their freezing cold cotton ones. I suspect some thermal base layers under there...

Although I've used an old inner tube on my German helmet for years, I finally picked up an original breadbag strap and had a go at doing a foliage frame using the strap. It actually worked quite well and was a lot more secure than the inner tube which has a tendency to slip off on helmets which aren't treated with aluminium oxide to roughen the outside.

Despite the cold, by the afternoon we were  sweating buckets in our greatcoats so off they came, but the fire at base was very welcome! A good shot of my A-frame setup, the most useless piece of load bearing equipment ever invented.

Airsoft games generally look a bit rubbish in photos, particularly 'action' shots, but this one was quite good I thought. Taken during the final assault on the German supply base, and the still, cold air meant the air was thick with smoke, which hung around a fair bit.

It was a successful day out and the Panzerschrek appeared to work, as we successfully engaged three vehicles with it. Unfortunately none of the frangible rounds exploded, and it may have been a bit too cold for the gas propellant (which arms them as they are fired) so we had to demolish them with conventional flash bangs instead. First game of 2016 and a good start to the year, next off to the Reichswald in February.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Herring Wars

Tim and Jerry have been participating in a PBEM campaign covering a hypothetical Norwegian-Danish War at the turn of the century. The various map based manouverings led to a naval encounter, which we resolved at the club using Tims 1/1200th toys. Tim had also put together a special set of rules to go with them, using his matchstick firing cannon to resolve combat, but I managed to avoid taking any photos of that bit!  

 The mighty Norwegian fleet, a torpedo boat, a coastal defence battleship bearing a distinct resemblance to the Schleswig Holstein and three, err, merchant ships. Two of them were serving as AMCs and one was loaded to top with explosives! We put that one at the back. Wicked Danes in the distance with three torpedo boats, a cruiser and a battleship. 

First blood to us. Our torpedo boat tore into the heart of the enemy fleet as the formed line of battle and torpedoed the enemy battleship, which promptly rolled over and sank. Well, these aren't dreadnoughts.

Night fell shortly thereafter and sadly our brave torpedo boat was overwhelmed by enemy gunfire, the crew taking to the lifeboats. Meanwhile the large ships broke out their searchlights (only our elderly battleship actually had any).

 Much to our amazement we succeeded in despatching most of the enemy fleet, Danish torpedos proving considerably less effective (or lucky) than ours. At the end of the action our fleet sailed majestically on, picking up the torpedo boat crew en route, while the one surviving Danish torpedo boat fled the scene carrying the dreadful news back to Copenhagen.



Sunday, 10 January 2016

Latvia 1919

John has been working on some RCW rules which started life as a variant of 'Restless Revolutionaries' (which we rather played to death, back in the day) but was more inspired by our more recent outings with Neil Thomas.  Bases are companies/squadrons/batteries and units are battalions. The ground scale is a little mysterious, but rifle range is 12" and MGs 18", so similar to AK47.

For this particular outing, what used to be the Imperial German 8th Armee in the Baltic States has been sponsored by the Allies to halt the inevitable march of Socialism in Latvia. At this stage most of the actual Latvians are in the Red Army, while the 'free Latvian' forces are almost entirely Germans, including some Freikorps types. Lovely!

Tim G and Jerry took the wicked Bolsheviks, whilst myself and Tim C took the even more wicked Freikorps. Our mission being to push a regiment off the far table edge.

My own command was the army vanguard: a battalion of Stormtroops, a cavalry regiment, battery of machineguns and a platoon or Erhardt armoured cars on their very first tabletop outing. All toys are Johsn 15mm WW1 and RCW collection. Here are my chaps vanguarding away up the left flank.

Meanwhile the Red Army, commanded by these two sinister (and somewhat blurry) types, unimaginatively lined up their entire force from one side of the table to the other and marched slowly forwards. Comrade Commander Tims directives had to be agreed by Comrade Commissar Jerry.

The German Army adopted all sorts of exciting formations whilst the Red Army stuck to its lines. Keen eyed readers may notice an absence of German troops east of the railway line.

After a brief exchange of small arms fire (evidenced by the little white crosses) I decided to try out the close combat rules by conducting a frontal charge with my cavalry against an enemy infantry battalion. These proved to be extremely bloody, the infantry were wiped out and my cavalry took heavy losses.

Sadly the Reds had also noticed the absence of troops on our right flank and duly marched off the table clinching victory, despite the Erhardt and remains of my cavalry moving to intercept. Our utter defeat was even more embarrasing as the overall combat value of the German force was almost twice that of the Reds, and we just completely bungled it.

 This was great fun and the only real issues seemed to be the somewhat anomalous close combat results. The morale rules in particular worked very well and produce a nice ebb and flow. John has drafted some amendments to the close combat rules to fit in better with period experience, and I'll look forwards to trying them out.

Unusually the Erhardt survived its first battle unscathed, so a victory of sorts?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Club Games Day, December 30th 2015

As usual the Sheffield Wargames Club ran an extended games day during the Christmas break. I rolled up around 2.15 and was amazed to find the hall a hive of activity already. With my usual group of reprobates we managed to play a couple of toy soldier games and a couple of cards games, with a brief break for pie and mushy peas, topped off by Sarahs excellent sponge cake.

Command and Colours Ancients, this one put on by Tim and covering the Syrian revolt led by Cyrus teh Great against their Medean overloads.

Nick and Jerry take on the Medeans while Tim supervises.

Later on,wind forward a few hundred years to the Punic Wars, this one with my 20mm figures. The Battle of the Ticinus River. Jerry and Nick get to command Hannibal, Hasdrubal et al while Tim and John get Publius Scipio. 

An interesting engagement as it was fought almost exclusively between cavalry and light troops. Romans on the right, Velites out in front, support by cavalry. Carthaginians on the left, Cartho heavy cavalry flanked by swarms of Numidians.
 Another major activity going on was a huge game of Waterloo, being played using 'Blucher' (so brigade bases).


Napoleon confers with Jerome, while Ney fiddles with his toys.

The crisis of the battle, massive French attacks either side of La Haye Sainte as viewed from the Mont St Jean ridge.

Meanwhile the Prussians pour on from the flank.

A very enjoyable afternoon/evenings gaming and one of the highlights of the year.