Saturday, January 19, 2013

A River Too Wide - FoW

On the 13th the group gathered at Gnome Games in Green Bay for a Flames of War game.  With nine players we opted for a 4000 points per side game, Germans vs. British.  An unfordable river cut diagonally across the table.  In the center was a village and stone bridge,  on each side was a ford.

The British started with an infantry company on table, concealed in tall fields.  Attached to them but not yet on table was a recon troop of armored/scout cars and four Achilles tank destroyers.  The half of the village on their side of the river was unoccupied.

The Germans started with a grenadier company on their side of the river with some HMGs and infantry guns.

Turn One the British had the first move and drove a mass of armor (armour) on table.  On the left a troop of Stuarts, a recon troop, and two troops of Shermans with a company HQ element.  On the right were two Sherman companies and a recon troop.  Two platoons of infantry made for the buildings in a normal move as the 2" mortars attempted to smoke German strong points.  We were told that we had outrun our artillery and the airfields were all socked in.

On the German half of the turn a Jerry platoon double-timed across the bridge to occupy some of "our" buildings!  At first I (as the infantry commander) thought this folly but given the "bullet proof cover" it worked out fine.  On our left a company of StuGIII self-propelled guns arrived and opened fire, while on our right a company of Panthers AND MkIVs AND a Tiger rolled in.  (Caps applied for dramatic effect.)  Oh, and some Marders arrived to support the center.  Right way, Shermans started burning. 

On the left the StuGs came under effective fire and several were knocked out.  Things appeared to be going well there, though as an unfortunate precursor to later events, the Achilles couldn't hit anything.  On the right uncoordinated tank attacks allowed the Germans to exact a heavy toll, even if a number of MKIVs were knocked out.  In the center a duel of ineffectiveness started with the British giving as good as they took only because of massively superior numbers.  The smoke from the mortars helped a great deal.

Time and again the British maneuvered for flank shots or to optimize their chances but they either missed, or the Germans made their armor saves, or all we could get was a "bailed out" result.  Meanwhile the StuGs were playing hide and seek using their "Stormtrooper" move on our left, picking off a tank or two each turn.  In the center the bold platoon that rushed to our side of the river had to take a platoon test and failed, giving us our token victory of the day.  Emboldened, and seeing how bad it was going elsewhere, the infantry rushed the bridge with some armored cars in support.

But, surveying the ruin on our right where 21 of 24 AFVs were destroyed....

A group of Panthers moved to our left where only the company command survived of the Shermans.

With the Achilles occupied elsewhere or destroyed (they never killed anything), the Panthers were free to roll through the ford and claim victory on the last turn.

One ford was clearly German, the village was contested and the other ford was German, if for no other reason than no force existed to stop the Panthers or Tiger.

The result was rather lop-sided, especially in terms of destroyed AFVs, but with better luck (or any luck) the British could have fared much better.  The bold move to seize both sides of the village, while it eventually cost a platoon, was well invested and deprived the British of the central position to be able to deal with either flank.  Well done Jerries, we'll do better next time.


New Colors Awarded

In recognition of honorable service to Grand Duke Orzepovski and to Litharus, battalion colors were awarded to the garrison battalions Grodno and Mogilev.  The ceremony was preceded by a parade of the two battalions in front of the Grand Duke and his entourage, including visiting officers from other lands.  At present their flag staves are bare.

While neither battalion had covered themselves in glory at the battles of Danzig and Breslau, they had both turned in solid performances worthy of a "regular" battalion in the army.  After the former battle they were allowed to raise a tenth company to bring them to a full 600 man unit.

A hollow square is formed.

With the Grand Duke, representatives of the two clergies and members of cabinet in the center.

A salute from a heavy gun is fired to honor them.

And the new colors, one for Litharus and one for their recruiting center are presented.
Afterwards the Grand Duke was heard to joke, "Who knows, perhaps someday I'll even put you in modern uniforms!"


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Italians vs. Russians 1942

While pondering what to do last Sunday for a simple game, having gotten through the mega-SYW game over the New Years weekend, it was suggested we do a Flames of War game set on the Eastern Front with my Italians.  I agreed but found that I couldn't field the suggested 2000 point "army" using the appropriate Italian lists.  So I ended up using the 1942 list from North Africa; an armored car squadron.

The scenario randomly rolled was a "Hasty Attack" by the Italians.  Half our troops were off table in reserve and the Soviets placed a T-34 company in "Immediate Ambush."  Both sides started with their on board platoons dug in and emplaced.

Firepower heavy platoon looking towards the Russian position

Our only tank killer

Our 88mm gun we got from the Germans popped a T-34 on our first turn.  It's only success of the day, though the intimidation factor was significant throughout. 

Air power would only claim one victim for each side

After learning even from they flank we can't hurt them, they ignore us

Both sides had limited air support and each side scored some hits with them, though they were generally a disappointment.  The Soviet ambush element attempted to sweep around the left and get at the objective held by entrenched Bersagliari.  Our tanks and anti-tank guns couldn't hurt the T-34s frontally so a dance ensued.  If I had known going in how strong the side armor was I might not have bothered. 

However, these guys burn nicely


As the Italian self-propelled guns (which could hurt a T-34) and mass of armored cars, light tanks and portee mounted AA came on table, the Soviets got lots of conscript infantry.  While the flanking T-34s wiped out some so-called tanks, the armored cars and AA trucks went to chew up infantry.  All the while the T-34s guarding an Italian objective where getting attacked on both flanks and frontally.

Just before the decisive turn, ready to rush them.

About turn six the Italians rushed the objective and laid smoke as a very lucky round of fire from the Semoventes scored well.  Smoked and limited by the silly "Hen and Chicks" rule the game was decided by their artificial victory conditions.  Game over.  I guess the idea is to produce quick results and we were done mid afternoon.  This coming weekend we are doing an even bigger game at a game shop.  Hopefully it won't feel so strange.  <grin>


Monday, January 7, 2013

Battle of Dinkydorf - The Conclusion

As we gathered to game amid the assortment of football bowl games on TV, it frankly looked grim for the coalition forces.  With couriers racing across the battlefield from the Frederick figure and with Dinkydorf seemingly in Prussian hands, the challenges facing the coalition seemed insurmountable.

A telescopic view

Prussian right as the Austrians arrive

Irish and French disengage away

The Austrians advanced aggressively on the right, throwing their excellent cavalry ahead in a position where the Hanoverians were already outnumbered.  In the center the morass at Dinkydorf was taking forever to resolve because of the terrain and movement restrictions.  While fielding a greatly superior force it seemed the Prussians would never break out.  Between Dinkydorf and Bittydorf the Russians were acting aggressively as well, charging up hill into the fusilier brigade, but were thrown back.  Oddest was the inactivity on the left.  There things were inactive despite a qualitative and numeric advantage and a direct order from Frederick.

Busting out of Dinkydorf.  Some building have been moved

The contest for Bittydorf, going the coalition way

Long view of the thinned out right flank

The battle ebbed to and fro on the right, with first the Austrians and then the Hanoverians having the advantage and initiative.  Given the situation in the center and the absence of good avenues to use cavalry, some of the mounted arm began to shift towards the center.  Meanwhile the French, Swiss and Irish to the left of Dinkydorf (Prussian perspective) finished their disengage and reestablished a new line.  On the far left a French brigade began the long trek up the hill to support the weak cavalry brigade bluffing off the Prussian heavies and Frei Korps brigade.

Closing for the kill, but not fast enough
Cavalry riding through Bittydorf to the rescue and destruction

With more effort than was expected, the Prussians finally expelled the stubborn Franconian and Swabian battalions in and around Dinkydorf.  Despite being troops of dubious distinction, some of them did very well.  On the left center the Hessians and Brunswickers continued to close on the "French" as the heavy guns limbered up and moved forward.  Dragoons and Hussars came into the area but strangely did not close.  Russian cuirassiers found it unprofitable to charge Prussian infantry in good order on "Hold."  The lodgement around Dinkydorf was expanded and the Grenadiers, finally free of the restricting terrain formed up to take the French line in the flank.

Russian view of the field between Dinkydorf and Bittydorf

Grenadiers ready to charge from left to right

But alas, we were forced to end the game as some players needed to go.  The Prussian/Hanoverian right was stable with no advantage or disaster anticipated.  Bittydorf was going to stay in the coalition's hands with the Bavarians and Saxons taking over the defense.  While the Russians had been mauled between Dinkydorf an Bittydorf, so too had the Prussians and Hanoverians so we couldn't really say Bittydorf was contested.  The French/Swiss/Irish group was in trouble with Prussians on both flanks and fresh troops to the front, but nothing was certain.  The hill on the far left, and third geographic "victory point" had troops of roughly equal strength closing on each other.  The Prussian cavalry was much superior, but the Frei Korps were inferior to the French and had expended their opening volleys.  So it seemed reasonable and homage to the fierce defense of the coalition to call it a draw.

Actual play was roughly eight hours with many impassioned distractions by NFL playoffs and bowl games.  I don't know how many turns we played but I'd guess about 20.  It was nice to be able to play a methodical game and perhaps more historical game without the press to "git 'er done." 

As mentioned in the last post, four of the nine players were playing their first or second game of "Final Argument of Kings" but they quickly picked it up.  Testiment to both their skills and the ease of play of the rules.  Everyone enjoyed the game, the sense of fair play, and the yummy food provided by the host and others.  A great way to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.