Sunday, March 29, 2015

Waterloo warm-up

We decided to do some practice games for our upcoming 200th anniversary refight.  This game between six players featured three Prussian "brigades" (anyone else's division) and a Brunswick division take on three French divisions.  Each side got a brigade of cavalry.  Click the photos to enlarge.

The starting positions below.  On the left the three French divisions of nine castings per battalion and their cavalry on their right.  The hedge would disorder anyone charging over it.  Fields are cosmetic and the woods are open.

Opposing them are the Brunswickers in the foreground, cavalry and the infantry brigades filling out the line.  The Prussians have 12 figure battalions.

Both sides aggressively moved to close.  With no modifiers for either side it came down to a straight dice throw for how went first.  The French won and started attacking immediately.  The single cuirassier regiment charged the landwehr in front of them and had the good fortune to have their targets fail to form square.  These were summarily run down and then they bounced off the second line which had formed square.  The French infantry began to maneuver against the larger but less experienced Prussians.

The Brunswickers take a wide flanking maneuver, supported by the Prussian cavalry.  The cuirassiers are routed by flank fire from the squares and then the Prussian hussars routed the French dragoons.  All the French cavalry is gone now.  Fortunately the Brunswickers only had one impulse that hourly round.

As the other two French divisions are locked in combat the third begins systematically clearly the ridge in front of them.  Artillery is deployed to deter the Prussian cavalry and Brunswickers.  In the subsequent ME determination test, the Prussian brigade runs off.

On the left and center both sides deploy into line and start slugging it out.  In the middle the French combine firepower and shock action to disrupt the brigade.

With the Prussian brigade from the French right gone the Prussian cavalry moves over to slow and threaten them.  Abandoned guns litter the field.

The center begins to favor the French.  The crack French battalions have a big advantage in both firefights and shock action against the mostly conscript and landwehr Prussian battalions.

The Brunswickers close in the second hour of combat and threaten to flank the French division.  Strangely, both sides roll poorly and both the Brunswickers and French division have only one impulse each.

To counter the cavalry some French battalions form close column and block the cavalry, while the others combine with the French center division to finish off another Prussian brigade.

The French appear victorious everywhere except the left where they did not press the issue.  Given the ennui that hit the far right they will be able to recover and counter the Brunswick contingent.

The result was not totally surprising.  The French infantry was man for man superior and the guns higher class.  Leaders and cavalry were roughly equal.  The extra maneuver element and bigger battalions were not sufficient to make up for the quality difference and aggressiveness

Training games continue as each side tries to be at their best for the "big game."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bridge at Zahn

The cocks were crowing, the birds were singing in every tree.  The regulars were trooping the colors following role-call nearby while the Latverian town militia was either still eating breakfast or was trying to clean up the rusted old town cannon.

In the distance towards Litharus a trail of dust materialized into a loose mob of Cossacks cantering towards the bridge.

The town militia quickly formed up to block the bridge and take up firing positions in flanking buildings  Being a border town, the militia of Zahn was a cut above your typical town militia.  The Cossacks fanned out, screening the masses of formed infantry and artillery was now clearly seen advancing?  Neither side fired a shot.  If there is to be war again, will it start here?

Suddenly shots ring out and fire is returned in earnest.  The troops from Litharus begin to form line of battle as still more pour on table.

Many saddles are emptied before the Cossacks adjust their position and the regulars begin to cut swaths through their respective ranks.

Volleys echo as the town militia and regulars fire forward.  The Babruysk Pandours fire from the safety of the flank onto the Latverian line.

Taras Shevenko is not pleased with the losses among his men.  "Cut down for now reason or chance for profit!"  These superb scouts may be missed in the future but for now General Orlov is pleased that they have kept is regulars from taking too much damage.

Finally the Cossacks are allowed to move away from screening the line, the decision helped by one squadron routing away. 

On their first test the Latverian regulars rout back, away from the river.  This leaves just to local town militia and their antiquated cannon to contest the river bridge.  There can be only one outcome now.  Even the arrival of two squadrons of hussars that had been scouting the river in either direction can do little without infantry support.

Although the Jonava Musketeers will rout, it only serves to unmask the fresh battalion behind it, which gets the drop on the militia.  An opening volley delivered at short range eliminates all the men formed up in the streets.  The men in buildings seek to parley as the defiant gunner push their cannon into the river.  Just as well, had they ever rolled double sixes when firing it would have exploded.

After the battle, with the bridge securely in control of General Orlov's men, the grim task of counting the fallen began.  The town militia was disarmed and allowed to return to their homes on parole, though they will be watched.  For each of the fallen a d6 is thrown.  1-3 they are allowed to rejoin the ranks.  4-5 they are severely wounded and out of the campaign or prisoners if they fail to hold the field.  Some of these will die of their wounds sadly.  On a 6 there is nothing to do except as in the words of Max the Magnificent, "go through their pockets for loose change."

Is this a raid, an invasion or a tragic mistake?  Check the newspapers for more news.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flames of War Tournament

So I finally played in a Flames of War tournament.  At TundraCon I filled in for a round but had other commitments, so when the Battle Badgers announced they were running a 16 player mid-war tournament at Adventure Games in Oshkosh I was excited.  Especially since it gave me a chance to play with my Italians in a situation where they might actually stand a chance.

So I put together my Squadrone Esplorante (Recon squadron) of 1710 points and stumbled on down to Oshkosh.  I say stumbled because I'd been sick the whole week before but finally felt recovered enough for the day.  My list had a bit of this and that.  Armored cars, motorcycle infantry, light tanks, medium tanks, self-propelled guns, a platoon of "Demolishers" (pioneers), portee AA, a pair of 100mm guns, two 88s for tank killing, and sporadic air support.

Round 1 I faced Joe from Madison and his Soviets.  We don't play Soviets much around here so a mass of KV heavy tanks supported by lend-lease armor kind of steam-rollered me.  I think I had my chances, but the dice failed me when I needed them most.

Round 2 against Soviets again, facing Chuck from La Crosse.  I could compete with T-34s and SU-85s and my 88s earned their points, even though one died without firing a shot.  Showing real class, Chuck pointed out a potential game-ending brain fart on my part.  I'd like to chalk it up to fatigue, but regardless the mark of a gentleman by Chuck.  This game the dice failed my opponent and I won.

Round 3 found me on a table of all ruins and rubble facing an American tank company.  While not ideal for a light recon company it worked well as I was the defender and my 88s were in ambush mode.  Once again, my opponent Jack was a pleasure to play with, alleviating my fears of running into a tournament power player.  I stopped playing tournament chess many years ago because I want to game to have fun, not destroy someone's ego.  I only took one picture but it was the game-ender when my Demolishers swarmed the last two American tanks.

A satisfying finish of 2-1 for a first outing.  I accomplished all my tournament goals, played three new opponents, got to run my Italians and sampled the tournament circuit.  Adventure games had a nice package of prizes to choose from and with the 5th drawing I picked up an Irish Guards dice and token tin and another set of 82nd Airborne tokens.

Rick Gearheart as director did another fine job keeping the rounds running on time and keeping it light with banter.  Terrain was nice looking and there was plenty of room.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

St. Valentine's Day Massacre on the Western Front

We gathered on Valentine's Day at our favorite venue to play a special Flames of War game.  Last November we held "Tanksgiving" where armor-heavy companies slugged it out.  This time we let the infantry hold the spotlight.  The "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" was fought with 1500 companies, which could have no more than one tank platoon.  The Allies fielded two British rifle companies, one heavy in heavy machine guns and self-propelled artillery, and one with Churchill Crocodiles in support.  An American armored infantry company rounded out the force.  The Germans had a Gebirgsjager (mountain) company and a grenadier company.  Expected "any minute now" was a Fallschirmjager company with Tiger support. 

Adventure Games hosted us again on their attractive and useful tables, liberally covered with Battlefront terrain and buildings.  As compensation for their missing company the Germans were given fortifications and obstacles.  We tried out minefields, barbed wire and entrenchments in this game.

Here the US armored infantry looks to run a race to the unoccupied town.  Gebirgsjagers are set to counter.

The center, where my boys are looking at minefields, broken ground, hedges and fences

And our left.  Self-propelled artillery in support of infantry and heavy machine gun platoons.

The grenadiers and Brummbars await the onslaught behind barbed wire entanglements.  The mission rules meant only limited troops started dug in and most are within 12" of the the back table edge.

Paul fearlessly advances.  No, check that.  Gebirgsjagers are only confident.  (FoW joke.)

The grenadiers hold their position in the center while the Churchills lumber forward.  Entrenched infantry has little to fear early on, and only artillery can hurt the Churchills.  Happily, it targeted other things.

The Tommies surge forward on the left with the massive artillery battery raining high explosive down onto the Germans. 

The first Churchill Crocodile gets within range of the forward German positions and whoosh!  They are gone.  I've never had flamethrower armed troops before.  Impressive if you can get them into range.

Others wait while the infantry moves up, now that the German machine guns and anti-tank guns have been eliminated with flame and artillery.

British pioneers move up with the intent of gapping the obstacles but a well-placed barrage kills some and pins the pioneers and both infantry platoons!

On the left the Brummbars have gamely advanced, only to be taken down like army ants take down a grasshopper in the wild.

The Americans and Gebirgsjagers get into a fierce fight on the outskirts of the town.  The Germans destroy more vehicles and stands, but the Americans get established in some of the buildings.  Both players had rather icy cold dice, especially early on.

At this point the score was 7-0 in favor of the allies.  You got a point for eliminating an enemy platoon or two points if it was destroyed in an assault.  There were other ways to earn victory points but it was pretty well over.  The Churchills got within range of German infantry seeking to replicate the destruction of the Brummbars, but the flamers got in the first shot, scoring four kills.  With the results elsewhere it was over.

Our first St. Valentine's Day Massacre and it was fun to play with more infantry and supports than heavy metal lists.  Next year we can get the word out sooner and pull in more players.  With these kind of special themed games it is truly the more the merrier.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Battle of the Thames

Revisited using Cousin Jonathan, a highly morale-driven game, available free from The Perfect Captain. 

Given that it was one of the most lop-sided engagements during the War of 1812 the referee tweaked some unit strengths to make it more playable.  Perhaps too much so as it turned out.

Here we see the 41st RoF, 10th Royal Veterans and Royal Newfoundland Fencibles with a light gun deployed across the road to Detroit, the line of retreat for the Crown Forces.  The less than inspiring Proctor commanding.  Two war bands of natives under Tecumseh lurk somewhere in the woods.  Lots of Kentucky militia, on foot and mounted approach, commanded by William Henry Harrison.

The Yankee view of the table.  Where are the natives hiding, on the left or the right?

As the light gun pops away, the troops form up.  Some mask the American right against native incursions.  But naturally they appear on the American left, sniping at the mounted troops who approached too close to the 10th.

The Americans have the luxury of two lines, where the British have only one unit in reserve. 

The first American attack is repulsed as the second line prepares to attack the natives in the woods. 

An opportunity?  The unit facing the 41st becomes disordered.  The 10th has recoiled from their starting position but this may be a big chance.

A turn with three charges.  The mounted KY infantry and an enthusiastic militia regiment go into the woods after Tecumseh and his men.

The 41st charges home as well, despite rolling a horrible number on the dice.  But quality and morale are key in Cousin Jonathan.

The 41st is victorious, even as things worsen elsewhere.  The Newfs have now fallen into disorder from the pounding and the 10th Veterans move into reserve.

In the charges against the natives each side wins one and loses one "melee."  However, the natives, seeing one war band run decide today is not a good day to die and also flee despite Tecumseh's calls.

But in the center a rout set in.  The unit the 41st defeated created a stampede (aided by some really bad rolls).  Soon only the unit facing the Newfs and the half-strength mounted militia remained fully functional.  And with that the battle ended.  We ended it rather than try to bag the steady troops.  Proctor would no doubt continue the retreat to Detroit while claiming a great victory.  Strategically the situation which necessitated the retreat in the first place would remain.

Not that this would change history much.  Tecumseh might become disenfranchised with the British but wouldn't give up on his dream.  Harrison would regroup and continue the advance.  In all likelihood the biggest effect might be a lost presidency bid in the future.

Four players brought this to a conclusion in about 2 hours of actual play.  Cheers!