Monday, November 20, 2017

"Tanksgiving" 2017

Fourteen players of all ages and experience levels gathered at Adventure Games in Oshkosh on Sunday, November 19th for the annual "Tanksgiving" game using Flames of War 4th Edition.  We locked three tables together to create a 12x6' engagement area, liberally sprinkled with Battlefront buildings and trees.

We hoped to top last year's total of 22,000 points engaged and with 14 players each fielding 1,500 points, it was virtually assured.  As it turned out we crushed it with 28,500 points.  Some of us brought extra commands for those who didn't have their own or had a command eliminated and needed another.  I think we had around 40,000 points available.

The Soviet players were trash-talking for weeks before about how much firepower they mustered so we decided to make it a mid-late 1945 game, or "Patton Gets His Way."  So it was Soviets vs. the World.  As it turned out, we initially had five German, one American and one determined Japanese player.  Given the inferiority of the latter in late-war tank to tank combat, it was a valiant decision.

The table and as many of our participants as my camera
could manage.

Axis center section.

View from the German left towards the enemy.

The Japanese(!) prepare to hold the Axis right flank.

First blood to the Soviets.

Jagdpanthers and Jagdtigers exact a toll on the Soviet center.

A pattern begins to emerge.

View from the Soviet left.  Sturmoviks soon to be shot down.

Despite burning Shermans on the right, the center is looking good.

Heavy tanks and self-propelled guns eliminated or soon to be.

Jagdtigers lend support to their American "allies."

The center Germans have few stands left, but are holding well.

Another wave of Americans rolls on table.

Despite losses the German left is holding, though across the
entire table Soviets are getting VPs for objectives.

A Jagdtiger rushes out to contest an objective.

Good luck runs out and the Japanese suffer.

Soviets begin to penetrate the flank.

Still, many remain behind as wrecks.

Panthers and Shermans fighting... uh, side... by... side.

An early look, photo by Dan Wideman. 
Look at them burn!  Photo by Dan Wideman.

Another view of the center.  Photo by Dan Wideman.

Artillery and AA was present, but saw little use.  Photo by
Dan Wideman.

Late in the game as German SPAA goes hunting infantry. 
Photo by Dan Wideman.

Though few in number, such beasts did great work.  Photo by
Dan Wideman.
From all this one might get the idea the Axis forces won easily.  Not to be the case.  In the end the victory point total was Soviets 30 - Axis 28.  Normally I look for a 10% edge to call it a victory of sorts, so technically a draw.  However it was certainly a moral victory for the Soviets.  We conservatively estimate Soviet tank losses to be in excess of 80, against about 30 for the American/German/Japanese coalition.  The Soviet commander on the left reported: "My section alone had 40ish T34 wrecks.  The left flank called in a total of 68 T34, 5 IS-2, 3 IS-122 and 5 SU-100 46 T34/85s 22 T34/76 and 5 IL2 tip 3m Sturmoviks..."  But with many of the German platoons being one or two big vehicles it was easy for the Soviets to get points for platoons destroyed and given the numbers disparity it was easy for the Soviets to rush the objectives for those VPs.

I've rarely heard so much laughing, joking and good-natured ribbing as we had here.  The novice players were helped along, though the game system is such that after a turn or two you can handle your own shooting and movement for the most part.  The nature of the game is that there is little finesse but rather a slug-fest, ideal for the novice and veteran alike.  We started deploying at 12:30 and wrapped at 5:00ish, all satiated by the carnage.  Wait till next year!  Thanks to Teddy and Char at Adventure Games for again hosting our game.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Action off the Cape

The call went up for sailing ships so I turned to my trusty old Avalon Hill game, Wooden Ships & Iron Men.  Hex based and a d6 game, players with a little experience can easily handle four ships of the line, maybe more.  With just four players and no playing time this year we had HMS Vanguard and Goliath as large 74s, Swiftsure and Culloden as common 74s.  Three crack and an average crew.  The French had the Bucentaure 80, Achilles, Spartiate and Redoubtable all 74s and featuring average crews, and finally the Athena 64 with a crack crew.  The French have an extra ship and the biggest, but the difference between an average and crack crew is large so I felt it fairly balanced.  As another advantage, I gave the British the weather gage.

The French squadron, several ships unable to hold formation.

The British quickly turn into the French while others straggle.
No table talk was allowed unless ships were in neighboring hexes.  Flag signals could be no more than six words.  Since it was a small table I didn't worry about repeating signals down the line or potential errors reading them.

First shot of the game, totally ineffective.

Here the Bucentaure and Redoubtable fire, but with little success.

Redoubtable could fire a full broadside at the Goliath, or a partial
against the Swiftsure.  Being a bow rake, she took the latter.

Attempts at formation are tossed aside (as usual) and we get to grips.
Nelson supposedly said before Trafalgar "No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy."  Our captains largely followed that principle, sometimes to their detriment.

The Swiftsure and Achilles have fouled their rigging and are in
a pounding match.  
The Bucentaure was pounded into a wreck and struck her colors on turn 16.  In the raging fight no one could take time or crew to put a prize crew aboard.  This was to later matter.

The Swiftsure grappled the Achilles, but was forced to strike.
A prize crew was immediately put on board.
The Goliath took a critical hit which shot away her rudder.  Unable to steer and fight, she put up full sails and left the table.  Alone somewhere, repairs could be effected.  The crew of the Bucentaure, not yet prisoners, went to work patching holes in the hull.

Swiftsure gets underway with a French flag flying.

Collisions or near misses abounded, while the guns never cooled.

Culloden found herself surrounded and pounded as Vanguard
tries to help.

Culloden fires both broadsides, but can only reload one.

The Athena is ravaged, rolls two sixes, and explodes!

All that is left of a fine ship and crack crew.

The Spartiate puts up full sail and races ahead of the Culloden to
cut off her escape.

After 23 turns and three hours+ play we wrapped it.  The Swiftsure with it's prize crew sailed off table.  Goliath escaped to fight another day.  The Bucentaure rehoisted their colors after the British left and made repairs to be towed home.  The consensus was that Culloden was not going to escape.  The battered Redoubtable had taken a repairable rudder hit and had sailed out of the action.  Spartiate was in good shape and the Achille was also badly damaged.  Vanguard sailed away to search for the Goliath.  So in the end two common 74s were taken against the loss with all hands of the Athena.  A tactical victory for the French.  Nice to get out the 1/1200 ships, a mix of GHQ and Skytrex models.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Raid on Taranto

Or someplace similar.

Sunday was a playtest of the Check Your Six (CY6) game planned for Tundra Con IV by Chuck Seegert.  The scenario had six B-25 bombers paying a visit to some Italian port with some mission that we needed to figure out.  Sharp-eyed readers will identify it as Pearl Harbor, but don't worry and just appreciate the gorgeous mat. 

The bombers were escorted by a quartet of P-40 fighters and four P-38s.  There were a couple of aces on the American side and a lot of rookies.  The defending Italians started with six fighters airborne, four Mc-202s and a pair of Mc-205s.  Two Italian flown Bf-109E were just lifting off.  Yes, the 109E had been withdrawn by now from the Luftwaffe, but these were hand-me-downs to the Regia Aeronautica. 

This is the player sheet for your plane(s), up to four.

Starting positions over the beautiful harbor.

We wasted no time mixing it up.  A P-40 is hit!

The B-25 is a very robust target, especially against the under-
armed Italians.  But Chuck's saves were poor initially.

Hits are exchanged and a second B-25 goes down.
 The dice on the flight stands represent the plane number (black dice), speed (reddish dice) and flight level (blue dice).  There are three different stand heights for low, medium and high with the dice indicating where within the band you are flying.

The lead flight drops and misses as a third B-25 is flamed.

And it's victor is immediately taken out.

Things have thinned out considerably.  
 At the time the above picture was taken there were three B-25s down, a pair of P-38s and a P-40 were damaged, an Italian had run out of ammo and left, my experienced pilot was damaged and out of ammo so also leaving, and two Macchis had been shot down.

A Macchi is tailing the bombers and "hitting" but the B-25 kept saving.

The Mc-202 is destroyed but it's victor is in turn claimed by the 109 ace.

At this point the surviving bombers were going off table and the only remaining Axis fighters were the two aces.  Counting up six American fighters still on table we broke off and the game ended.  The score was 39-24 in favor of the Italians.  There were a lot of high probability shots that were missed and a lot of saving throws were made or it might have been even bloodier.  Six .50 cal. MGs or four and a 20mm cannon just shredded our less-than-robust Italian fighters.

My second exposure to CY6 and I'd certainly play again given the chance.  Come to Tundra Con IV on Jan. 6th at the American Legion Hall in Appleton and check it out.