Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome a new unit

The Grand Duke Alexander Orzepovski of Litharus is pleased to announce the formation of the Dainava Forest Jagers.  It had been noted in previous engagements with Germania that our Pandours, however valiant, have been out-classed by their rifle-armed opponents.  Drawing on the husky hunters and woodsmen of the vast Dainava Forest, a small experimental Jager Corps has been formed.  With a unique Litharusian touch one third of the men are armed with muskets and bayonets, to be able to provide a formed base to operate around as well as to offer a faster rate of fire and the bayonet to the enemy.  (Translation: I had a bunch of mixed figures with no clear use so I created an Imagi-Nation unit.)

Wearing a mid-brown coat with dark green facings it is hoped that they will operate effectively in cover.  Being a mixture of fresh and older recruits, some opt for a more relaxed look to their uniform.  (Translation: I'm told these are mostly OOP Redoubt figures and are an odd lot.)

And so a new half-battalion joins the army, with more than a little bit of whimsy.  At present the Grand Duke has no plans to expand the corps to a full battalion.  (Translation: very unlikely I'd ever stumble across anything similar.)  With the Pandour battalion and pulk of Cossacks we now have a light force with which to wage le petite guerre

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mossy Creek, 1863

December 29, 1863 a largely cavalry action was fought between 1st Cavalry Division, Army of the Cumberland and Martin's cavalry corps of two divisions.  The Union forces had been pursuing Longstreet's Corps after the failed assault on Knoxville and in this action the Confederates have turned to attack their pursuers.  Scenario is taken from "Forward the Colors" by George Anderson and Ryan Toews.  Rules are Johnny Reb III.

The first thing the Yankees see is Morgan's division, all dismounted with two batteries of rifled guns just off picture to the upper right.

The Yankee force is a mix cavalry and infantry under Brigadier General Elliott.  One unit of cavalry had repeater rifles, the others breechloader carbines.  And elite battery of rifles were in attendance.  The two infantry regiments had a single section of green 12 pdrs. in support.

Looking the length of the table the Reb objective is the crossroads beyond the Branner Farm.

Oops.  On the first turn Armstrong's cavalry division trotted on table.  Historically the eight regiments were rather small, so five represent them on the tabletop.  Meanwhile the Union 1st TN had trotted out to distantly threaten the dismounted troopers.  Now they have a real foe!

The dismounts continue to advance as the Reb artillery bangs away totally ineffectually at long range.  The Union guns are little better.  Palmer's unit of cavalry detachments emerges from behind the farm.

In response the 1st and 3rd AL quickly remount and charge, beat and melee Palmer's.  They rout leaving the Rebs disordered.

A similar result befalls the 1st TN as they are meleed with a pair of Texan regiments.

The remainder of Armstrong's division moves up mounted to threaten the Union forces on the edge of the woods (brown swatches).  The dismounts advance is stalled when one unit becomes shaken at its first test and the rest advance slowly to maintain a more or less continuous front.

Most of the Confederate cavalry is armed with rifled-muskets so out-range the carbines, but they don't feel there is time for a musketry duel.  Besides, crouching cavalrymen with breechloaders make a difficult target.  The 1st and 3rd AL reorder themselves and seek opportunities.

As the troopers draw close, the Union line disengages and scurries away into the woods.

On turn 4 the Union brigade under La Grange trots on table to support their beleaguered comrades.

The view of the table from the Union perspective.  A lot of Rebs out there.

The 1st AL takes out the green section of 12 pdrs., but the 4th and 7th AL are taught a lesson about dismounted cavalry assaulting regular infantry.  They were lucky only to be thrown back shaken and disordered.  The 2nd GA routs away in the face of elite cannon fire but the 3rd GA is ready to step into the gap.

With their targets disengaging away the cavalry sees no option but to plunge into the woods where they move very slowly.

2nd Brigade to the rescue!(?)  Some of the disengagers are getting in the way.

The 3rd AL charges the left flank of the Union line but the gunners abandon their guns and disengage away.  The 'Bama boys try to stop their charge but cannot and charge disordered in pursuit of their target.  Rolling very well on charge bonus they catch and rout the 16th KY and gunners.  The 4th TN is less successful and ends their charge disordered.

As the Yankees move away to re-organize the dismounted line surges up the ridge line, past the abandoned guns.  Meanwhile the 1st AL dismounts and occupies the farmstead.

Sadly not pictured, the Union launch a desperate charge against the ridge.  Breechloaders drop a stand and the subsequent impact roll allows them to hold.  The exposed and disordered Confederate cavalry run off to get re-ordered and the Union forces reluctantly begin to withdraw.  Given that they controlled the crossroads and heights, the Confederates were willing to let them withdraw.

Historically the Rebs didn't fare as well.  The Union forces held until the 2nd brigade came up and they could launch a counter-attack that drove the Rebs miles back.  The observation was made that historic refights rarely turn out as they originally did.  That does seem to be a pattern in our games.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Regulars by God!

On the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Chippewa during the War of 1812 we brought out the minis last night for a game of Cousin Jonathan.  A free set of rules from the Complete Captain, it is a highly morale-driven game where your training level is also critical.  As such it allows outnumbered Crown forces to match up against the more numerous but typically lower trained Americans.

By a dice roll the Americans were standing on the defensive.  The American left had two drilled regiments of regulars, the 1st US Rifles and an elite militia group.  Facing me was a cloud of Natives, a Canadian Fencible regiment and two units of well-drilled regulars.

On our right three regiments of regulars, a militia unit and a medium battery defended the hill and woods.  Opposing them were the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, a cannon and three redcoat units.  At least two of them were well-drilled regulars, the 49th RoF.

The GLI kept up a harassing fire across the line with honors fairly even.  The "Black Stumps" allowed the regulars and artillery to get into position.

Casualties, maneuvering and terrain cause the small "D" markers which are easily removed if you are well-drilled.  Otherwise you will fall into disorder.  A unit or brigade covered by you colors indicate your orders for that turn.

Terrain and unlucky rolls delayed the British on the American left, so the right turned into the main struggle.  British artillery began to rip holes in the American formations as the Glens peeled away to unmask the deadly lines.  The American gun spent most of the game getting into a better position, but would have a critical effect later.

Finally, we come to grips on the left.  The Rifles are about to retire to allow the regulars to get into play.  Elsewhere we were slowly losing the musketry duel.  The natives were forced to fall back, but began to relocate where they could threaten American flanks.  The Rifles began to follow their route.

And so it came to a close.  The British came storming up the hill in an all-out charge.  They routed the first unit they hit but then were ravaged by the finally effective US artillery.  They routed and took another unit with them.  At this point the British commander called off the engagement.  Unable to move AND fire (unlike the British) the Americans were content to see them go.

I used to play this game system regularly when I lived elsewhere but this was the first game in eight years.  The basic play is smooth and quick after the first couple of turns.  We will definitely be trying this again.  Miniatures are from the Complete Brigadier to true 20mm figures.  I'm sure there will be more games.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Not My Waterloo

On the 199th anniversary of arguably the most famous battle in history a small band gathered to contest, not the fields of Belgium, but Italy in 1800.  My newly painted Republican battalions and regiments debuted against their inveterate enemy, the Kaiserliches (Imperials).  General Kellerman (the Elder) led the French against Graf Count von Bellegarde.  So a Mediocre/Impersonal vs. Poor/Impersonal match.

The French had 18 battalions of 12 figures each, three batteries and four regiments of cavalry.  The Austrians fielded a similar number of infantry in line, jager and grenadier battalions, five batteries and three cuirassier regiments.

The objective for both sides was control of the central town.

With the same modifiers at play the French rolled higher and got the first impulse which allowed them to seize key buildings first.

The Austrians straight away went for the assault on the buildings occupied by the French, but determined musketry from the crack battalions hustled them back to their starting positions.

The Austrians got into line and forced a firefight upon the French still in column, but they were able to hold their own till they were able to flank the Austrian line.

The Consular Guard went forward but failed to drive off the Austrian artillery with musketry.

The the left of the village things were going very much the French way as time after time flanking fire drove off the Austrians.

Meanwhile the French cavalry, facing off against close columns kept retiring.  The non-battle cavalry would stand little chance against their foes.

Next hour Bellegarde placed himself at the head of the grenadiers and led them forward, along with the first initiative.  Suddenly the French infantry was out-classed.  However, with Bellegarde distracted the Austrian cavalry again sat idle as spectators.

Jagers harass the French line as the Austrian battery turns to face the guard battalion.  With nothing else to do, the guards charge!  Once they passed their elan test against the battery they did not stop till they had cleared their front.

The ever increasing mob of routed Austrians in their holding area.

And so things drew to a close.  The Austrian cavalry would be personally led forward in the coming hour but that would only cover the withdrawal of the remnants of the army.  The failure to activate the grenadier element and cavalry the first hour probably doomed their army from the start.  The French infantry and cavalry outclassed their opponents man for man, but the Austrian cavalry was vastly superior to the French.  When they became a non-factor in the game it was largely foregone.

Still, it inspires me to continue work on the project.  I have at least as many battalions awaiting paint and way more artillery that would be common.  Add to that I've started amassing 1806 Prussians!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Armored Strike

"Panzers Herr Rico!  I'm-a burnin' them down!" (with apologies to Heinlein)

There was a need to try out a new Soviet assault gun "battalion" so I provided the German opposing force.  Both lists taken from Grey Wolf, 2000 points per side.  The mission we randomly rolled seemed to favor the Soviets.  "Encounter" mission with delayed and scattered reserves that meant half the Soviet force would start on table while I would have four of nine.  Which is roughly half but Dan got a lot more for his half.

I faced a mixed T-34 company with SU-100s and limited air support.  To defend my two objectives I took the Panzerjager IV/70 (4) Marders (3), Pak43 (2) and self-propelled quad 20mm (3).  At least I got to see where the Soviets would be before placing my more important platoons.

Looking left towards the T-34s and centered SU-100s.

On the right I relied on my immobile Pak43s and AA to hold.

Early on we set the pattern of lots of hitting but few firepower tests.
We don't play with or against Soviets that much but we quickly found that the special restrictions placed on them, coupled with some ROF1 elements meant that the veteran Germans couldn't be hit at long range.  Throughout my AFVs played hide and seek with the Soviets.  Popping out to take a shot and "Storm trooping" back under cover.  In this way the Germans chipped away at the Soviets while only losing one Jadgpanzer.  Even a bogged Marder lived to fight again.

The Soviets get reserves and the Germans do not.  Looks grim.
Turn three saw more SU-100s come on table while the Germans failed to roll a 5+.  Fortunately the Sturmoviks that showed up most turns were shot down by the vigilant SPAA.  One of them, which had to stay in the open for a good field of fire became a burner for their efforts, but it was worth it.  Somewhere about the time the picture above was taken came a moment that symbolized the Soviet shooting in the later stages of the game.  At long range my three Marders were in the woods, exposed to Soviet fire.  Dan had sixteen dice needing a six to hit, which would have gone straight to a firepower test.  No hits were scored.  Meanwhile I continued to get hits but mostly bailed the enemy tankers.

Turn four the SU-85s came on table, but so did a three gun section of Pak40s.  While not terribly effective against the SUs, they provided a necessary distraction.  At least they showed up where they could do some good.

Seeking to overwhelm my defenses before more reserves arrived the Soviets plunged into the woods after me.  But even then the hit probability was not great and as they closed on their objective some drifted into range of the Pak43s which could snipe at the limit of their 40" range.

A dog-fight in the woods.  Pak43 takes out the Soviet CO.

Panzerspah platoon from reserve races past burned out T-34s.

Late arriving infantry double-times it to the other objective.
In the end (sorry, no picture) the point-blank knife fight went in my favor.  With the battalion commander "dead" and three units destroyed, the fourth went away when forced to test.  In the end I never got my second infantry platoon on table nor the nebelwerfers.  Amazingly all the Germans lost were the one Panzerjager, two Pak40s and an armored SPAA.  Half a dozen Sturmoviks were shot down and the armor eliminated on the Soviet side.  We need to look at what works best for Soviet tactics for next time.