Saturday, 17 March 2018

Blitzspiel II - The Road to St Leger

I came across this scenario on another blog and thought it would be ideal to playtest Blitzspiel as it featured a bit less kit than the last game. It features a company of the Green Howards and two troops of the Royal Dragoon Guards vs elements of the 352nd Inf Div Fusilier Battalion and Panzerjaeger Battalion as the british push inland towards Bayeux on D-day.

I ran it on a 4x4 table (800m x 800m) with the German defenders hidden. John took the British and von Gow took the Germans.

John brings on his leading platoons. This game was also an excuse to try out my new Deepcut Studios 'scrubland' game mat. I made up the ridges either side of the road using hexon tiles and laid the mat over them. It draped very well as it is quite thin. 

The British infantry tanks and infantry operating independantly. All that training in England wasted!

A Stug opens fire from behind the hedgerow, and unfortunately misses.

The Shermans make no such mistake and their return fire turns the Stug into a column of smoke. Meanwhile the British infantry press on alongside.

More Shermans roll on as the British infantry pushes on to the far hedgerow.

The German ambush is sprung! Two more Stugs open fire, brewing up the leading Sherman.

A pair of tripod MG42s lay down a devastating crossfire on the British infantry crossing their front on the other side of the valley. The new 200m beaten zone for tripod MGs was really nasty here.

The platoon suffers a several casualties and the remainder are pinned. A German rifle section emerges from behind the hedge and takes pot shots at the survivors.

The other British infantry platoon is largely pinned by long range LMG fire.

Things were looking a bit sticky at this point, however the firepower of the remaining Shermans slowly began to turn the tide. The German advance guard and tripod MGs were suppressed and the surviving Britihs infantry assaulted the hedgerow.

The other Shermans pressed on under a hail of MG fire which neutralised one tank. More Germans emerged from their hiding places.

Perhaps more importantly, both the remaining Stugs were knocked out without any further losses of Shermans. The Germans were a touch unlucky here and might have been better siting their guns with more restricted fields of fire and aiming for flank shots. Easy to be wise after the event though.

Over in the orchard, a British rifle section stalked the suppressed MG teams.

Down on the main road, one of the German rifle sections fired their brand new panzerfaust at a Sherman, egged on by the platoon commander. Only to miss completely.

We called it a day at that point. The remaining defenders were pulling out, but the British infantry had suffered a bloody nose with only their reserve platoon intact. Without effective infantry support the Shermans weren't going anywhere in the ever denser country.

The game rattled on  at a fair old pace and we got through the whole thing in an hour, which was great. It just plays much faster than Platoon Commanders War, which is what John was after. In the washup I felt that the British would have benefited from closer infantry-armour cooperation as the tanks and infantry fought virtually separate battles. John had decided to dash for Bayeux though, and so kept his tanks concentrated, which worked very well in the tank battle, but less so in mopping up the German infantry. John noted that we were thinking in terms of platoons and troops rather than worrying about the manipulation of rifle groups etc which was what he was after from the design. So all in all, very successful.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Operation Uranus

Bob Cordery has very kindly published my ancient old rules 'Operation Uranus' on his blog. They are very, very simple WW2 operational rules aimed at set piece Corps level battles, and based on Ian Drurys 'Sands of New Stanhall' WW2 island clearing game.

I think I wrote these back in 2002, and they formed the basis for my late Cambrai game (with 11 divisions in action!).

Report here: Operation Uranus The article was originally published in the Wargames Developments Journal 'The Nugget'.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Soviet silliness

Somewhat inspired by the Portable Wargame a few weeks before, I thought I'd finish up a couple of silly Russian 15mm projects that have been lying around for a while.

First up, the mighty Zis-2 57mm AT gun. Not that silly perhaps, but I always thought the barrel looked disproportionately huge. 

This is one of the PSC 76mm guns made up with a 57mm barrel. A nice simple model which looks the part and paints up well. John kindly donated this as he had a spare.

Next,  a command bus for the Russians. This was inspired by a photo I found of a command vehicle based on a Gaz AA in 1944 where the occupants had essentially built a garden shed on the back of the truck. They looked so happy with the monstrosity they'd built, I thought it deserved commemorating.

Essentially I just added a 6mm extension piece to the edges of the rear bed of a Zvezda Gaz AA truck, plonked on the tilt and made up a window and rear door from plastic card. It looks rather more professional than its real life counterpart! I'm sure the HQ chaps will welcome the ride.

Next, that triumph of socialist labour efforts (helped by a spot of spying on the Vickers Independant), the T-35 Land Battleship. 

This is a truly monstrous model. I did have go at doing the radio array but it just fell to bits. Well, it was an optional extra anyway. I left it fairly plain (the supplied decals also fell to bits!) but I'm pleased with the weathering on the side panels, which is a mixture of mud and dust.

It has no less than five moveable turrets, which lets it shoot in all sorts of directions at once. Lack of central fire control must  have made that an interesting experience in real life.

None of your Battlefront or Zvezda rubbish here. This is a proper Premo model, with the instructions in Russian. Which makes them a bit hard to read, so it is a good job there weren't too many parts.

Finally, I thought the chaps could do with some encouragement in the battle to defend the motherland from fascist oppression. I knocked up this chap with a megaphone to bellow out suitably comradely messages of inspiration. Well, I blame Enemy at the Gates.

He is a PSC 'pointing and shouting' Russian officer with a megaphone made up out of scrap plastic.

I rather enjoyed making all of those, and most of them will hopefully be gracing a gaming table in the weeks to come. I've even found a decent scenario to use the T35.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Simplicity in Practice. Squared and 1866'd

I've already converted Neil Thomas's Nineteenth Century rules for squares, so I thought  may as well do the same treatment for his Simplicity in Practice rules, and do an APW/FPW variant as well.

I tried it at the club using my 6mm APW figures and my ancient old gridded carpet tiles, originaly set up for Minischlacht. The scenario was one of may favourites, Nachod from the Six Weeks War. Von Steinmetz leads his Prussian Corps over the mountains and into an Austrian Corps in a classic encounter battle.

The Prussians are coming in from the top right. The Austrians assembling along the road from the left.

Nasty Austrian Jagers ambush the Prussian artillery (it really shouldn't be at the front of the column!).

The Austrians line up to assault the Wenzelberg, they key feature of the battle,

It is all very unpleasant with casualties galore. Steinmetz lurks in the courtyard.

Prussian infantry poised to counterattack the Austrian flanks while some Austrian cavalry put in an appearance.

The Prussians manage to drive the assault off.

I've played this scenario many times before with a range of various rules, but this was all a bit scrappy and unsatisfactory. The roads in particular were just confusing and got in the way. I don't like games at this level which bother with road movement, and coupled with the NT style turn restrictions and grids it was too confusing and gamey. 

The combat system worked OK and using a grid instead of big unit bases worked alright, but the whole thing just didn't gell. So, back to the drawing board with that one, but nothing ventured nothing gained!