Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baraque de Fraiture

"So do you think they will come again Major Parker?" asked Capt. Alaniz.*  "Why wouldn't they?  Just some scared glider infantry, a few tanks and the remnants of our battalion." came the expected reply.  "Well, we've established the perimeter, aimed one of the 105s down each road and made an educated guess where to put the armor.  Now we wait and hope they don't lay down another barrage like the last one.  Cost us a third of our infantry."  The wait was not long....

All Americans started dug in and gone to ground

Emerging from the woods, somewhat where expected, came two companies of German infantry with eight MkIVj panzer in support.  Happily the artillery had been shifted to other targets so they only had HMG platoons in support.  The entrenched paratroopers hunkered down in their foxholes and waited for them to get closer.

Everything behind the lichen was very difficult going

The German HMGs rushed forward to get within normal range and unleashed a torrent of fire on the foxholes, but the troopers were lucky and between their own MGs and some mortars the Germans quickly disappeared.  Showing survivability in the open was going to be tough.

A tank duel developed as the five 76mm Shermans decided they had a chance to survive a hit while their shells would go right through the Panzer armor.  Casualties were quick for both sides.

Sensing a need as well as an opportunity the two M-10 tank destroyers who had evaded capture earlier moved into action and took out a panzer.

Just in time to greet the arrival of a pair of Panthers on their flank.  They were not long for this world, though one of the Panthers bogged in the snow trying to maneuver for a shot.  He remained bogged till the very end.

Now, if the situation wasn't desperate enough, a full company of panzergrenadiers in halftracks arrived on an otherwise quiet sector.  Brushing aside some American recon elements, though not without cost, they surged forward towards the town.

By now all the American armor was out of action.  While about half of the MkIV panzer had been killed, some still remained and the halftracks looked to over-run everything in sight.  Germans in snow suits began to close as the 105s fired over open sights.

A corner of the village fell to the snow suit Germans.  The road into town became choked with the wrecks of halftracks, and little infantry remained on that side of town.  The only bazooka team had been eliminated.  On the other side of town two German platoons attempted to rush the American foxholes but in the face of intact MGs and rifle fire faltered, pinned and faded away into the forest.

Looking at two bogged Panthers with no infantry in sight the paratroopers rushed out of their foxholes and captured one

At this point, with darkness coming on (or whatever reason was ending the game), most of the tanks either destroyed or bogged, and very little infantry left, the Germans conceded.

A tense game where the advantage swung to and fro and each side thought they were winning at some point(s).  Show Flames of War can be good as a scenario driven game as well as points.  Five players and one ref, held at "Fire for Effect Games" in Oshkosh, WI.

*Paul Alaniz was the American commander in our game, not a historic figure.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Battle-cruiser Action in the North Sea - 1916

With visibility at 20,000 yards and a moderate sea state light cruisers and their attendant squadrons of torpedo boats and destroyers had scattered to scout other areas as the British and German battle-cruisers suddenly found each other.  (Translation: with only four players and two of them new with the rules I elected to just use the capital ships.)

Spotting the enemy on converging courses the Germans were pleased that the British did not take advantage of their greater range, but in the best Nelsonian tradition closed quickly.  At the start 1st Battle-cruiser squadron; Lion, Tiger, Queen Mary and Princess Royal were slightly behind and paralleling 2nd BC squadron; Indefatigable and New Zealand.  Beatty order the Lion to join with 2nd BC squadron to balance the forces.  (Translation: two British players, each with three ships.)  Meanwhile 1st Scouting Group had Derflinn=ger, Lutzow, Seydlitz, Moltke and von der Tann in one continuous line.  ("Hipper" controlled the two big BCs while I had the 3 smaller ones.)

The first turn all the German ships except von der Tann who was out of range by accident fired on the Indefatigable.  With the over-concentration there were a lot of splashes but no hits.  The British however scored on penetrating hit on the bridge of the Derflinger, killed Hipper and locked them on the steady course for at least two turns.

Retribution was coming fast though.  On turn two the Moltke and von der Tann concentrated on the Indefatigable and the Seydlitz on the New Zealand, while the heavy BCs engaged the Tiger.  A pair of hits on the Indie lead to a magazine explosion that stunned all.  (Translation: we were using the "Cordite" rule to see how it played.  So any penetrating main turret hit gave the possibility of a magazine explosion.)  All the other ships except von der Tann took damaging hits, though none as serious.

Turn three had Derflinger and Lutzow continuing to sail away while the other three BCs wondered what was afoot?  Moltke and von der Tann continued their teamwork taking on New Zealand while the Seydlitz shifted fire to the Tiger.  Seydlitz was rewarded by a flooding critical that induced a severe list on Tiger.  In what was turning into two combats, the Derflinger had the attention of two excellent BCs while the Lutzow was taking love from the Princess Royal.  Again, a mix of penetrating and non-penetrating hits were scored as the range dropped to medium for both sides.


Turn four was a bad one for the British.  Moltke and von der Tann got their second magazine kill of the day as the New Zealand went up in a fireball.  Beatty was heard to say, "there seems to be something wrong..." glub-glub; as the damage control parties, forgetting which side had the list, executed counter-flooding operations on the same side as the list and the Tiger turned turtle and sank.  (Translation: during the damage control phase the owning player rolled another "10" on a d10 which capsized the Tiger.)

However, things had not gone solely the German way.  Moltke was lashed with fire by the New Zealand before going up and suffered both a severe list result but also and engine room hit.  Her speed reduced to "3" she was ordered out of the line.

At this point with a knife fight in progress at short range for some ships and one player out of ships we faced a crisis.  So appearing like the cavalry two of Evan-Thomas' super-dreadnoughts appeared at table edge.  Those German ships that could turn away did so and for four more turns we had a running fight.  Thankfully the gunnery aboard the Queen Elizabeth and Malaya (I know, but they came to hand) was poor.  Still, when we quite the Moltke had joined the others by turning turtle before damage control could eliminate the flooding.  Derflinger was not long for the surface and while the original British BCs all had a little to a lot of damage only the High Seas Fleet could save the German battle-cruisers. 

Satisfied with the blood-letting and game we elected to quit. 

Rules were "Clash of Dreadnoughts" from the Naval Thunder family.  Even with explanation time for the new players we finished in less than three hours.  The game system is such that players needed no help from me after two or three turns except for looking us critical hits.  I'm very fond of the game in that it hits a nice balance between playability and detail to flavor the games.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg Part III - the Finale

As we have seen in the previous posts the battle had veered away from the historical by some degree but was still fairly close.  The main difference was the extra strength loaded on the Confederate right against the two "Round Tops."  As Lee I hoped to use two of Hill's division to push the Yankees off the hills and straight back while using the trailing two to roll up Cemetery Ridge.  If they turned to face, then Longstreet's other two divisions were poised to strike.  As it turned out.....

Ewell's attack continued to make strong headway.  The pounding from the massed guns on Seminary Ridge were making life difficult for any Yankee on high ground as the Reb infantry moved forward.  Some statistically improbable dice throws opened up some gaps or otherwise drove off gunners.  Into a fury of fire and shot plunged Rhodes' and Johnson's divisions.  Charge and counter-attack meant that Cemetery Hill changed hands time and time again. 

On the Reb right massed brigade columns were formed to assault.  These sadly had very predictable results though the sheer mass of men coming caused the Yankees to summon up another corps to take position behind the hills.  Stuart was available to me (Lee) but there didn't seem to be any place to deploy their mass of cavalry.  The first day had demonstrated the futility of charging cavalry against steady infantry.

Back on the left, the Yankees had temporarily evacuated the top of Culp's Hill and the Confederate artillery reserve, with no viable targets, limbered up and started forward.  But General Meade intervened and sent blue-coated regiments back up the top.  In the fighting on and around Cemetery Hill and Ridge the advancing Rebels had captured 36 guns.  A fine set of trophies we thought, but then 24 more guns materialized on top of Culp's Hill, as if by magic (they had been released from the army reserve).  This did not set well with the fighting spirit of the ANV. 

Then elements of the Yankee I Corps, long sitting atop Cemetery Ridge, began to advance in a swinging motion, looking to attack the flank of Hill.  To counter this, the previously prone men of McLaw's Division leaped to their feet and moved to intercept this threat.  Perhaps this fight in the open would give us the edge we sought elsewhere? 

As General Lee I will allow myself the indulgence of thinking we had a decent chance of beating the troops on table.  But the reality check was that against the two Yankee corps still off table and part of the army artillery reserve, we had only Stuart's cavalry.

With gamer exhaustion setting in, a large pick up and long trip home for our Minnesota friends we decided to end the conflict.  We were judged to have scored a "moral victory" because of our successful attacks, but as mentioned barring some rare dice we could not beat the mass of Yankees still unbowed.

Take down and pick up took less time than expected so we had a bit more time to socialize before heading our separate ways.  All judged it a worthwhile endeavor and a success, with valuable lessons learned when it comes time to plan the next one.  The American Legion Hall were gracious hosts and seemed quite pleased with our part in things.  Three TV stations in total came out to report, though alas, my interview ended up on the cutting room floor.  ;-)

My thanks to all who gave their time, effort and money to make it possible.  Again, credit must be given to Dan Wideman without whom it never would have come together.  Cheers my friend.  His blog entry for the whole weekend can be found at:

Back row, left to right: Todd, Clayton, Aaron, Andrew, Paul, Dan, Tom and myself.
Front row, left to right: Bob, Jake, Tim, Brent, Eric (Meade) and Tad.

Now for the next big game.....