Friday, September 8, 2017

Oshkosh Game Day

Just for our group, the Fox Valley Wargamers.  We had different gaming interests last Sunday so we went to our favorite shop, Adventure Games in Oshkosh, WI and used two of their tables.  One for a Russo-Japanese War game and another a mid-war Flames of War North Africa game.

The RJW game was the historic action at Port Arthur immediately following the Japanese "sneak attack."  Rules were Naval Thunder: Rise of the Battleship.  The Flames of War had slightly less than 100 points of Germans and British squaring off.

An "annihilation" battle, much of what you see wasn't on table yet.

Battleships leading, cruisers following.  Russians at zero movement.
The action was the Japanese attack on Port Arthur the morning of their destroyer attack on the anchored Russian fleet.  While the Japanese did not immediately know, two of the battleships and one armored cruiser were "hors de combat" and could not fight.  The others had steam up and could begin moving on turn 1.  Historically Togo formed two columns of major ships and ran in close before the Russians could make much speed, daring the shore batteries (marked on the table with thumbtacks).

Russians slowly getting underway.  Advantage lost.
We quickly found that outside of 20" it wasn't practical to shoot.  So the long range plan of Togo would be for naught.  It also negated the Japanese range advantage with main guns.

Battle is joined.  Game mat is gorgeous.
Both sides had recon to do an initial move forward, but soon came under heavy fire from large numbers of tanks on both sides, particularly the British as their tanks are much cheaper than German.

Wasting no time starting fires.
The British pushed on their left and tried to hold in the center.  The Germans had no trouble hitting the British armor, but had a lot of trouble blowing them up (fire-power test).

Closing the range, Japanese AC prepare to attack.
My command was the three Japanese armored cruisers.  Six Japanese battleships squared off against five functional Russian, three armored cruisers and the shore batteries.  I left off a Japanese cruiser division for play balance.  I thought the shore batteries would have a significant effect, but I was wrong.  Historically Togo was very concerned about them.

Germans can't buy a firepower test.  Lots of hits, little destruction.
The Germans began to be whittled down as the British made critical dice throws when they really needed them.

Taking evasive action while trying to close to torpedo range.
I had considered giving the Russians a -1 to hit due to their historic abysmal record, but nothing was needed today as the Russian dice were colder than a glacier.  Only the Japanese damage control rolls were keeping them in the game.

An engine room hit forced one AC to fall back, but the Russians
are all tangled up and masking each other.

And then they were over.  The Petropavlosk got a second severe list result and rolled over and sank.  The rest of the fleet began to run for the inner harbor.  On the other hand, as we rolled out the damage results even though the game is over, both the Mikasa and Fuji succumbed to flooding results.  This information would not be known to the Russians immediately though, so they would likely stay in port.

The Germans were cleaned off the table in the other game.  I didn't witness the end but one turn they were fighting and the next they were picking up.  Both players seemed satisfied however.

Seven players gathered to roll dice and Adventure Games were fine hosts as always, providing the tables.  Till next time!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Battle of Cressey

The invasion and attempted annexation of Rondovia by the militant nation Latveria has not gone well so far.  Despite easy (foregone?) wins early and holding the Arsenal, defeat at the Battle of Four Bridges left them needing a win to continue.  At the beginning of the campaign we were asked to allocate forces for the coming battles.  As fate would have it, the Latverians are attacking a superior force in this critical battle.  Three Litharusian regiments of 60 figures each combine with the Rondovian Augsburg regiment of 48 and the Grafenwhor light battalion of 30.  This against three Latverian regiments of 60 each and the glorified brigands known as the Grey Foxes.  Each side has four squadrons of cavalry but the allies have three of cuirassiers, while the invaders only have two armored squadrons.  Finally, a Rondovian medium gun rounds out the order of battle.  Rules are "Batailles de l'Ancien Regime" (BAR) by Bill Protz.  Release the hounds of war!

The allies wait while the lights scout forward.

"For whom the bell (tower) tolls."

The invaders got to see our deployment, then march on table.

On our left the Phull Cuirassiers immediately charge and melee.
In BAR potential casualties are plentiful but saving throws can negate them.  In the above match-up between Rondovian cuirassiers and Latverian hussars, it should be an easy win for the heavies.  Better numbers in the melee coupled with a superior save, 3+ on a d6 vs. 4+ for the hussars, make the cuirassiers the odds-on favorite.  But, that's why we use dice.

The cuirassiers are thrown back, but pass morale.
It was a tough day for morale tests.  I do not believe a single infantry unit passed a morale throw.  Only the cavalry (sometimes) knew how to make a successful test.

As usual, the Latverians got the early first fires and together with
a trumping joker inflicted a lot of potential casualties.
All day my saves were either unreasonably high or unreasonably low.  So I suppose they balanced out in the end, but early on when it mattered most my dice were on fire.

"Run away!  Run away!"
The Rondovian lights, with their only shot of the game scattered some Latverian hussars, only to be charged by cuirassiers.  In open order they had no chance of standing so successfully evaded.  Round two of the melee had the cuirassiers push the hussars back, but their morale held.  Only one more round of melee is possible.

Abysmal saves by the Latverian commander made the first of
several infantry regiments on both sides rout.

Hack 'n slash, hack 'n slash.

Now it the turn of a Litharusian unit to have to test and of course
rout.  A reserve unit filled the gap.

The Rondovian infantry, sensing an opportunity, advance without
Now we came to the critical point.  Each side has lost an infantry regiment on the right and all are damaged.  Each side has had some cavalry rout.  But, the allies have been given a joker by the deck of cards, so a critical first fire is ensured.

Routing the Lilienberg hussars, the cuirassiers pursue, catch
and destroy them.

The melee continues as the Rondovian infantry advances and the
lights reorder behind them.
We all assumed that the odds would catch up to the hussars, but the third round of melee saw them win again and the Rondovian cuirassiers, below 50% strength, could not stand.  Elsewhere the Latverian cuirassiers showed how it was done by routing Rondovian hussars and catching them in pursuit.

The remaining Rondovian cuirassiers have had enough and rout.

Confident, the Litharusian brigade comes to grips with the enemy.
As the Litharusian infantry advanced, their two cuirassier squadrons maneuvered to charge and put an end to things.  On the other wing the Rondovian infantry and 2nd Battery put the final touch on an enemy regiment, which forced to test morale, routed.

Rondovian front is cleared, cuirassiers are ready to charge.  The
lights have reformed and protect their backs.

General Gogal and his AdC have reason to be pleased.  General
Orlov will be denied his chance to charge with the heavies.
It was now two shot-up Litharusian regiments and the fresh Rondovian infantry against one line and the small light battalion.  The Litharusian regiment that routed, who will remain un-named to protect their honor, rallied in the midst of Cressey amid the whistles and jeers of the populace.  The Latverian cavalry was either routed, retreating, or far removed from the main battleground.  So their commander ordered a retreat.  If there was another battle to follow we would have vigorously pursued and perhaps captured or destroyed them.  But there was no reason to shed more Litharusian blood for Rondovia, so we let them go.

In the days that followed the battered Latverian army limped home, only modestly pursued by the victors, happy instead just to see them go.  The only combat now was diplomatic in nature as Count Lippe of Litharus went to work to secure the future.  In the end, the final treaty ensured that Rondovia would come under the protection of Litharus while retaining its independence.  Litharus will provide garrisons as requested to guarantee the security of Rondovia and the Rondovia military will serve with Litharus in time of need.  The question of war reparations and the store of missing gunpowder from the arsenal were left for another day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Prussia, 1806

The plan was for a classic Franco-Prussian battle using figures and values for the 1806.  Due to a miscommunication, we unexpectedly found ourselves under-Frenched.  So a revised scenario was developed on the fly.

Twenty-four crack French battalions under Joubert and four small cavalry regiments were tasked with holding the south side of the impassable river.  After three hours they could withdraw.  Prince Louis and his thirty-five battalions and twelve regiments were to cut off and destroy the French.  For the most part the Prussians would need to march on table and catch up to the French.  Given their poor command ratings this could be complicated.

The French, deployed and waiting.  "Hold for three hours."

The Prussian Advance Guard element started on table, so got a
head start on the rest.
The Advance Guard element had three fusilier battalions, one of field jagers, one musketeer, two regiments of hussars and a horse artillery battery.  They faced a French division spread thin across a wide front and four cavalry regiments, three of which were cuirassiers.

A line division, dragoons and cuirassiers  move on the French.
Next up came four brigades of infantry, each of five battalions, four regiments of cuirassiers and two of dragoons.  One brigade of dragoons decided not to play.

Lots of charging, not much in the way of results.
Interestingly, despite written orders I managed to misinterpret them.  Told to advance to the "oblong hill" and cover the right flank of 1st division, I decided the close one was more of "banana" shape and went for the second.  Who needs artificial activation rolls when players create their own friction and fog of war?

The French come out to play.
The French fought aggressively against the Advance Guard with cavalry on both sides swirling about, largely ineffectively.  On the Prussian left things got heavy quickly.  With no cavalry to support them the French were quickly victimized by combined arms tactics.  Stay in line and be ridden down or form square and suffer from infantry attacks.

Cuirassiers coming up to support me as 1st division goes for
the center.  2nd division grapples on the left.

Post charging.  Ran off a battery and a battalion, but was stopped
by squares.

Things are stabilizing on the far right.
The Prussian hussars and jagers largely neutralized the more numerous French cavalry though the Advance Guard would be advancing no further.

The French are getting in a bad way.  Combined arms will win.

"Hold for three hours."
It became increasingly obvious that holding for three hours would be an impossibility as battalion after battalion routed away from either sabre strokes, musket balls or cannon fire.

Taken in flank with infantry ready to exploit, even if they manage
to square up.

Though eventually driven away, the dragoons here covered
themselves with glory.

Escaping French.

Final view as he curtain comes down.

The largest French division lost 12 of 17 elements (battalions or batteries) in the space of one hour.  To the surprise of no one, the remnants routed in the Maneuver Element Determination Phase.  We didn't even check the other ME for seeing the rout, it was clearly over.  This in spite of ten battalions and four regiments of cavalry never getting engaged in the fight.

The scenario may have been a touch unfair but was the best we could do on the fly.  The French had a small quality edge in infantry and a large one in terms of artillery.  Cavalry ratings were even, though the Prussians on paper had three times as many and made the most of it.  Prince Louis could report on a fine victory.  No Saalfeld this time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stalin Moves West

We played a 2000 point, late-war Flames of War game set on the Eastern Front.  Army lists were drawn from Red Bear and Nuts and the 4th edition rules were used.  The Soviets were mostly Confident/Trained (some Fearless) with two mixed T-34 formations of mainly T-34/85s, 4 57mm anti-tank guns, 8 Katyusha launchers, 6 82mm mortars, a company of infantry and Sturmovik air support.  The Germans had two platoons of MG/Panzerfaust panzergrenadiers, 4 12cm mortars, 3 3.7cm AAA, 3 Pak40 anti-tank guns, 3 Pak43 anti-tank guns (that could also bombard), 3 Jagdpanthers and sporadic air support from a Hs-129B3.  The Germans were all Confident/Veteran.

A peaceful looking field, somewhere on the
Eastern Front.

And now "filled" with figures.
 The mission was a free-for-all so while everyone started dug in and gone to ground per the new rules, everything was on table.  No ambushes or reserves for a pleasant change.  Neither side had any luck getting air support on a 4+ roll.  Only once in six tries combined.

Two T-34 formations advance on our right.
 With my lack of mobility, the Pak43 and AAA were immobile, I felt I had to hit and then counter-attack.  This seemed to suit the Soviets who were aggressively minded.

Soviet infantry company advances but is pinned by 12cm mortars.
 Artillery against non-armored targets is very effective these days, what with the ability to target a piece of terrain rather than an enemy stand.  Some players were well-practiced in spacing their stands to minimize the effect, but now you just have to take it.

Two anti-tank guns have been lost so the Jagdpanthers move up.

Tanks move up to engage the infantry with MGs, but did not assault.

But we do.  Assaulting from cover, eliminated one and bailed two.
They then returned to their foxholes.

At this point the Soviets conceded the game.  The infantry remained pinned in the open, the tanks were eliminated or run off, and the Katyushas were weakened.  I suppose there was some chance left, we do use dice after-all, but the offensive punch was gone.  At least my Hs-129 got on table once, eliminating a Katyusha.

A quick and violent game, done in an hour or so.  Thanks Dan and Adam for playing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Litharus - Pass in Review

Inspired by other folks blogs I decided to have Litharus' Grand Duke Alexander Orzepovski conduct a grand review of the army, even if technically some are in distant lands fighting for others against the oppression of Latveria.  <grin>  See other posts regarding our Imagi-Nation mini campaign.

The army and beginnings of a navy bear a remarkable resemblance to the Russian army of the 18th century.  Truly remarkable.  Like most it started with, "I'll just do a brigade of infantry."  Then being adept at finding deals I kept getting more figures, which necessitated getting even more so they could be full-strength BAR (Batailles de l'Ancien Regime) units.  Now we have twelve infantry and twelve cavalry units with accompanying artillery and auxiliary units.  Flags are largely my own creation based on a theme and incorporating the city coat of arms that represents the unit recruiting center.

The "Big Picture"

The light brigade, with the Dainava Forest Jagers,
Babryusk Pandours, and Cossack mounted and foot.
 The lights have been an effective part of the Litharusian army.  At one point one of the Cossack squadrons had earned elite status, but an unfortunate turn of events at the Battle of Alten meant they had to be rebuilt and lost their elite rating.

Led by the redoubtable Taras Shevchenko.

The heavy brigade with, front to back, the Vilnius and Minsk
grenadiers, followed by the Leib Guard and Grenadier Guards.
Usually commanded by General Anatol Gogol.

A flag tip 'o the three cornered hat to Lithuania and Belarus.

The Grand Duke and Duchess Mara Orzepovski greet army
commander General Arkady Grigorovich Ouromov.

Honors rendered.  Just in the picture is Count Lippe of the
diplomatic corps.

A brigade composed of garrison battalions Grodno and Mogilev,
followed by Electrenai and Varena line units.  Headed up by
General Georgi Koskov.

Here we see the heavy battery, Memel Pioneers, and the line
units from Virbalis, Jonava and Ariogala.  

The invaluable pioneers, essential for bridging and siege
operations.  Colonel Feyador directs them.

Our heavy cavalry brigade under General Orlov.  In the foreground
the Pinsk Cuirassiers, followed by the Lenkin Cuirassiers, Palanga
Dragoons and Brest Horse Grenadiers.

An army doesn't run without help, so we have maintenance and
supply resources.

A blacksmith shop.

Cannon gin for remounting and repairs.  One of two mortars in
the upper right.

We are experts at raising field works.  Chief of Artillery Colonel
Kronsteen keeps them sharp.

Even the [named-as-needed] militia turned out.

The mighty Inceptum.

The galliot Vindicare, first craft in the navy.

And so we come to the end.  Various other river and coastal craft are available as we are unwilling for the time being to commit to a deep water navy.  No further expansion of the infantry or supporting foot are planned, though the lure of dashing hussars are ever present.  So who knows?