Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Troubridge's Dilemma

Naval Thunder is a popular system with our group because it gives a quick game while offering a lot of "flavor" of the genre.  With just three players available I took it as an opportunity to fight a "what if" action from the first days of World War One. 

Historically the German battlecruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau sailed past two British battlecruisers just hours before Britain declared war on Germany.    A confused pursuit resulted in the pre-satellite days with no knowledge of whether she was headed for an Austro-Hungarian or Turkish port.  A squadron of British armored cruisers had the potential to intercept them near the mouth of Adriatic.  Battlecruisers were intended in part to kill armored cruisers so although there were four of them to the one battlecruiser Troubridge opted not to engage when he couldn't manage a night-time encounter.  While officially exonerated by a board of inquiry Troubridge never held a command at sea again.

Here we assume that a dawn engagement occurs.

SMS Goeben and her consort the Breslau attempt to reach Turkey.

Armored cruisers HMS Defence, Black Prince, Warrior and Duke of
Edinburgh boldly attempt to intercept.
The British squadron sighted the Goeben at a range of 31,000 yards on a converging course, well outside the range of their 9.2" guns, but also outside sighting range for the Germans.

Quick Reference Sheet with essential charts.

Sighting the Goeben first, they turn to close the range.  HMS
Defence is immediately hit and starts flooding.

Recognizing the Breslau cannot affect the action, the Germans
turn south effectively shielding the Breslau.

Goeben hits with her first salvo and continues to pound the cruisers.
Soon secondaries kick in as well.

The British break formation to attempt to sandwich the Goeben.
She is hit but so far her armor has not been penetrated.

A magazine explosion puts an end to HMS Warrior as the
Germans attempt to cut through the opening. The Goeben takes a torpedo
hit but the flooding is immediately controlled.

A second magazine explosion seals the deal as HMS Black Prince
goes up and the Germans escape.

With that the Goeben was able to escape to the east as a bridge hit was going to take the Duke in the wrong direction for a time.  Though down 32 of 90 points and with a speed reduced to 4 she would not be overhauled by the pursuing British battlecruisers.  The Breslau was also badly damaged with 10 of 18 flotation left, but the Defence had been hit so hard she could be finished off any time the Germans chose.  Had the Goeben speed been reduced to three, regardless of any other result, she would have been ruled a kill.

Done in an hour and a half and fought to a conclusion.  Naval Thunder handles small and large actions equally well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Raid on Albany

Lt. Elphinstone peered through his telescope, intently surveying the mist that moved and undulated on the lake.  "Take me for a fool, but I would swear that I saw movement within the mist" he said, to no one in particular.  The lieutenant's lackey, seeing no one else around decided the comment must have been for his ears and took the opportunity to say, "No one would take you for a fool Sir.  A fine English gentleman such as yourself...".  "Shut up!" snarled Elphinstone, snapping his telescope shut with a start.  "I knew it; sound the alarm.  The lake is full of canoes and Indians.  Fly Patsy you silly oaf, we are under attack!"  And so began the great raid of 1752.

An assortment of water craft quickly land and disembark the war parties.

Provincial forces are soon drawn up and the blockhouse manned.

The natives move quickly, with murder, mayhem and plunder
on their minds.

One half of the table as the native prepare a simultaneous advance.

To make matters worse, long columns of French regulars leave the woods.

Others parallel the lake and pass through a village friendly to the English.

Gage's lights and Roger's Rangers respond on the French/Indian left.

The provincials carefully prepare before advancing.

Meanwhile a relentless tide of French continue to close.

A few light cannons accompany the French forces.

Part of the native contingent move right, seeking easy victories
amongst the farmers.

Others take on the provincials frontally.

Seems to be an ever growing number of Englishmen.

And now British regulars appear, soon facing the French lines.

Warriors in a very bad way.

Um, who are those guys in the back?  Never mind, save
your homes!

The French infantry are almost upon their erstwhile foes.

Canadian malice screen the advancing forces to prevent surprises.

The lines are drawn.  "Make ready"  "En jou!"  Who will fire first?

Uh, we will.  See "me" and my joker which will allow us to reverse
any unfortunate turn of a firing card.

The natives usually rely on their open formations to minimize
casualties.  This did not work today.

Open order Englishmen advance on the right, driving in the natives.

Buildings begin to burn and the flames spread down the dry wooden
fences.  The milice flank the grenadiers.

In the center the English are being driven back.

On the right the natives have largely been negated as a fighting force.
The milice jeer as the remnants of the Rangers flee.

French grenadiers begin to consider forming an assault column
to hit the blockhouse as the redcoats withdraw.

Despite some reverses on the far left things are going very well for
les francaise.

Victorious provincials find the river bridge is blocked.

Mercy filled my heart and we beat the Parley.  We would allow the troops to withdraw from the blockhouses and civilians from their homes if the English would withdraw.  They agree and even as they march off the field homes and fortifications began to burn.  Loses had been high among the natives and they might not feel as inclined to accompany us on the next raid.

Friends gathered at the home of Bill Protz for the game and happy birthday wishes.  Rules were BAR (Batailles de Ancien Regime), miniatures were mostly 28mm with the usual beautiful buildings and terrain.  Huzzah and vive le Roi!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Battle of Waterloo Pt. II

The fury of the previous hours of combat was unmatched by that which followed.  Although both British divisions who had to make determination tests passed, the Dutch-Belgian division easily routed away.  Baron Chasse's Dutch-Belgian division took position to cover the gap.

Pressuring Chasse's division.  Anxious to get to grips the French
end up bunched together.

Kellerman's cavalry is eager to get their sabres on the enemy.

The remaining Guards battalion square up in the face of the cavalry,
having little faith in the Dutch-Belgian carabiniers.

On the French right steady pressure finally opens a hill in Picton's line.

A broad view showing the fresh French units moving up.

Meanwhile, on the French right-rear the Prussian cavalry is
beginning to apply pressure.

Earlier than 200 years ago, the French Guard moves up the
 middle.  Strike quickly and hard!

On the right Exelmann's corps begins to charge with mixed results.
About this time in the battle the allies scored a real victory when Marechal Ney was struck down.  Carried from the field seriously wounded he would expire in the evening.  Yet I believe it is the death he would have chosen, fighting for France in the face of her enemies.  Certainly better than the actual outcome at the hands of the vengeful Bourbons.

d'Erlons 3rd division, with the attached 12 pdrs. engages and
unlimbers in front of the Guard squares.

Paul (Blucher) deploys his forces on new tables, large enough to
accommodate his army.  Multiple brigades engage the French.

Chasse's division is hammered on all sides but holds for now.

Still more Prussians arrive, while Lobau is reinforced by a Young
Guard division.

Oh, and the grand battery, which has relocated from the center.

Picton's division is split in two and French troops reach the back
table.  But retribution is coming in the form of British cavalry.

On the French left it is over.  d'Erlon's mangled 1st division leads
3rd over the fallen Guards, who died in square.
Regrettably I do not have pictures of the British cavalry running rampant over the depleted French infantry and cavalry.  Even 50-50 encounters seemed to go the British way.  However, with three allied divisions destroyed or routed away and two more facing a very difficult determination test we ended things.  The French Guard was badly mangled and some battalions had routed away.  Elite, grenadier and guard rated battalions had exacted a horrible toll on the attackers.  The Prussians were appearing in ever greater numbers but there were still uncommitted French formations and in general held a large quality advantage over the Prussian infantry.

Left to right: Aaron, Andrew, Paul (Blucher), Todd, Dan (Wellington), Bob,
Eric S., Tom, myself (Ney) and Chuck (Napoleon).  Not present for the
picture are Adam, Clayton, Eric D. and Ian.
"We few, we happy few.  We band of brothers."

And so another legendary refight of a legendary battle ended.  So many people contributed to the game and its success.  Painting figures, sculpting terrain and buildings, preparing cards with vital stats and the all-important clock.  Before we started we toasted with wine the men; brave and terrified, hero and coward, present that fateful day that shaped the future of Europe.  With good spirits and friendly competition we attempted to honor and commemorate them.  Salute.