Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Litharus - Winter War Preparation

Battle looms on the horizon.  The dark flocks of war birds fill the sky in expectation of a foul feast.  Meanwhile, the public support swells in anticipation.  We take you to the inner court chambers:

Meanwhile, as the common soldier musters in the new EleckrĂ©nai regiment he wonders aloud:

"I tell ya, it ain't right.  Us going off to some distant land to fight.  And it's winter on top of that!"

Their nerves on edge, some act out inappropriately.  Have they no manners or breeding?

The new Pandour battalion, not yet fully mustered receive a "stiffening" of irregulars and spiritual leaders.
They ask, "hey, who are those guys and why is he holding a loaded pistol?"

Finally all is in readiness and the Eleckrénai regiment receives its colors from the Grand Duke himself.

The colors receive a blessing from the regional clergy, as befitting the solemn occasion.

Artillery chief Colonel Krontsteen and chief diplomat Count Lippe look on approvingly.

And with a final surge of enthusiasm, the leadership prepares to go forth for battle and honor!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

World War II - Battle of Maaten Baggush 1940

Sometime in November of 1940 the Italian II Motorized Corps was tasked with turning the flank of the Commonwealth forces entrenched at the port of Maaten Baggush.  A frontal assault by I Corps would be simultaneous against the 4th Indian Division.  Unfortunately for II Motorized, 7th Armoured Division stood in the way.

Our forces were divided into four battle groups per the Blitzkrieg Commander second edition rules.  Mine was the weakest with 4 M13/40 tanks and 4 CV33 tankettes as my mobile element.  In support I had three towed 47mm Anti-Tank Guns, two 65mm Infantry Guns, an 81mm mortar and off table 3 75mm artillery pieces.  For reconnaissance I had three armored cars.  The Italians moved first and each side got a free move on table before beginning to dice for activation.  Our idea was that my force with all the support weapons would anchor the left while the armor heavy groups swung wide and turned the British flank to drive onto the flank or rear of 4th Indian Division.

As my boys hit the table they were first greeted by this daunting sight:
While the British tanks aren't in any way superior to the Italian medium tanks in 1940, the numbers alone were intimidating.  An equal number are just off picture to my right facing my tanks.

Unabashed, the neighboring 3rd battle group roared on table and we linked up in mutual support, putting my faith in my towed guns and the weak anti-personnel ability of the British to hold my left.
Contact made, can we hold?  Battle groups I & II were delayed (real world considerations) so we were alone for a time.
 As our tanks kicked up dust clouds in the advance, the distant skies were dark and fore-boding.  Perhaps our string of victories would end here?
Ah, our other forces arrive and race to engage the enemy armor, which instead of rushing out to meet us as warriors took up hull down positions and waited for our approach.  Apparently past defeats have dampened the spirit of St. George in them!
Somewhere in here our dice began to fail.  BKC requires an activation roll to move or fire and I hit a dry streak where for two consecutive turns my leaders were unable to make a singe activation roll.  But for some desultory opportunity fire my command did nothing.  Meanwhile, the British who had wisely occupied some good defensive positions began picking off large numbers of tanks.  The involvement on my front of some support tanks mounting 3" howitzers spelled the quick end of my towed guns.  The battlefield was quickly littered with burning Italian vehicles and despite the individual courage of our forces, the end was inevitable and swift.
So the string of victories is broken here unless I Corps can break through along the coast.  That will be the next game in the campaign.  This flank action was a decisive victory for the Commonwealth forces.

As always, a good time was had by all (even we Italians) as the spirit of good sportsmanship and gentlemanly behavior ruled the day.  My thanks to the host and players, and just you wait till next time!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

WWII - Naval Thunder

This afternoon four of us gathered to try out my new copy of "Naval Thunder - Battleship Row."  I had bought these for myself with birthday money along with the supplement "Bitter Rivals," the WWI edition "Clash of Dreadnaughts" and the Russo-Japanese War supplement "Rise of the Battleship."  I had played these a couple of times at conventions (see earlier RockCon post) and believe they reach a good balance between quick playability and detail.  I would put them ahead of General Quarters III for detail and enjoyability but well below the complexity of Command at Sea or (shudder) Seekrieg V.  For the record I love detail and complexity but there are practical limits.

Anyway, we started with the Battle of the River Platte with the "pocket battleship" Graf Spee against the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the twin light cruisers HMS Ajax and Achilles.  We followed the historic deployment but took our own approach from there.  The Exeter closed early while the lights were still out of effective range and paid for it.  Still, first honors went to the Exeter when she put one of the Graf Spee's two 11" gun turrets out of action. 

The Achilles (left) and Ajax (right) have split to divide the fire of the Graf Spee.  The Exeter (distant center) is in a world of hurt and the Graf Spee (in front of the Dew) needs to get past them.  As the Exeter took a major flooding hit she turned away making smoke to try and get it under control, but alas she succumbed to the flooding and sank.

Here we have the Graf Spee fully cut off and soon she lost her big bite completely as the other 11" gun turret was knocked out.  Her 5.9" guns still packed a punch against light cruisers and the Ajax went down about the same time as the Graf Spee.  By the scenario that made the game a draw.  All action plus a run through the play aid sheet meant this game lasted an hour and a half.

Next we went to the "hunt the Bismark" game and had the battlecruiser Hood and mostly completed battleship Prince of Wales against the Bismark and heavy cruiser escort Prinz Eugen.  The game featured a lot of maneuvering as the Prinz Eugen sacrificed herself by making smoke to screen the Bismark from one of the British capital ships each turn.  Here she takes a hit 'midships from the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales was incomplete and so any time she fired her main battery there was a 1 in10 chance that the turret would break down temporarily.  This tended to reduce her firepower every turn since she got to roll 10 attack dice for the main battery.

Critical hits were in an abundance and the Hood garnered most of the German attention (as always) but she never accommodated the Germans by blowing up.  While many rule systems make it likely to happen, in Naval Thunder this is just the regular chance of a magazine explosion on the critical hit table.  In reality the Hood was simply very unlucky in the historic action.

With both the Hood and Bismark having main gun turrets out of action and the Prince of Wales breaking down on a regular basis, the action got up close and ugly and each tried to get lucky first.  In the end the Bismark went down after two torpedo hits from the Hood(!) and the Prince of Wales just survived.  A much different outcome from the actual, but not at all unreasonable.  We finished this action in two hours for another speedy result.  I expect my substantial holdings of 1/2400 naval miniatures will be getting more action in the future.

As always Bob, Todd and new guy Craig exhibited gracious behavior at the table that makes the gaming so much fun.  Till next week!