Friday, June 20, 2014

Not My Waterloo

On the 199th anniversary of arguably the most famous battle in history a small band gathered to contest, not the fields of Belgium, but Italy in 1800.  My newly painted Republican battalions and regiments debuted against their inveterate enemy, the Kaiserliches (Imperials).  General Kellerman (the Elder) led the French against Graf Count von Bellegarde.  So a Mediocre/Impersonal vs. Poor/Impersonal match.

The French had 18 battalions of 12 figures each, three batteries and four regiments of cavalry.  The Austrians fielded a similar number of infantry in line, jager and grenadier battalions, five batteries and three cuirassier regiments.

The objective for both sides was control of the central town.

With the same modifiers at play the French rolled higher and got the first impulse which allowed them to seize key buildings first.

The Austrians straight away went for the assault on the buildings occupied by the French, but determined musketry from the crack battalions hustled them back to their starting positions.

The Austrians got into line and forced a firefight upon the French still in column, but they were able to hold their own till they were able to flank the Austrian line.

The Consular Guard went forward but failed to drive off the Austrian artillery with musketry.

The the left of the village things were going very much the French way as time after time flanking fire drove off the Austrians.

Meanwhile the French cavalry, facing off against close columns kept retiring.  The non-battle cavalry would stand little chance against their foes.

Next hour Bellegarde placed himself at the head of the grenadiers and led them forward, along with the first initiative.  Suddenly the French infantry was out-classed.  However, with Bellegarde distracted the Austrian cavalry again sat idle as spectators.

Jagers harass the French line as the Austrian battery turns to face the guard battalion.  With nothing else to do, the guards charge!  Once they passed their elan test against the battery they did not stop till they had cleared their front.

The ever increasing mob of routed Austrians in their holding area.

And so things drew to a close.  The Austrian cavalry would be personally led forward in the coming hour but that would only cover the withdrawal of the remnants of the army.  The failure to activate the grenadier element and cavalry the first hour probably doomed their army from the start.  The French infantry and cavalry outclassed their opponents man for man, but the Austrian cavalry was vastly superior to the French.  When they became a non-factor in the game it was largely foregone.

Still, it inspires me to continue work on the project.  I have at least as many battalions awaiting paint and way more artillery that would be common.  Add to that I've started amassing 1806 Prussians!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Armored Strike

"Panzers Herr Rico!  I'm-a burnin' them down!" (with apologies to Heinlein)

There was a need to try out a new Soviet assault gun "battalion" so I provided the German opposing force.  Both lists taken from Grey Wolf, 2000 points per side.  The mission we randomly rolled seemed to favor the Soviets.  "Encounter" mission with delayed and scattered reserves that meant half the Soviet force would start on table while I would have four of nine.  Which is roughly half but Dan got a lot more for his half.

I faced a mixed T-34 company with SU-100s and limited air support.  To defend my two objectives I took the Panzerjager IV/70 (4) Marders (3), Pak43 (2) and self-propelled quad 20mm (3).  At least I got to see where the Soviets would be before placing my more important platoons.

Looking left towards the T-34s and centered SU-100s.

On the right I relied on my immobile Pak43s and AA to hold.

Early on we set the pattern of lots of hitting but few firepower tests.
We don't play with or against Soviets that much but we quickly found that the special restrictions placed on them, coupled with some ROF1 elements meant that the veteran Germans couldn't be hit at long range.  Throughout my AFVs played hide and seek with the Soviets.  Popping out to take a shot and "Storm trooping" back under cover.  In this way the Germans chipped away at the Soviets while only losing one Jadgpanzer.  Even a bogged Marder lived to fight again.

The Soviets get reserves and the Germans do not.  Looks grim.
Turn three saw more SU-100s come on table while the Germans failed to roll a 5+.  Fortunately the Sturmoviks that showed up most turns were shot down by the vigilant SPAA.  One of them, which had to stay in the open for a good field of fire became a burner for their efforts, but it was worth it.  Somewhere about the time the picture above was taken came a moment that symbolized the Soviet shooting in the later stages of the game.  At long range my three Marders were in the woods, exposed to Soviet fire.  Dan had sixteen dice needing a six to hit, which would have gone straight to a firepower test.  No hits were scored.  Meanwhile I continued to get hits but mostly bailed the enemy tankers.

Turn four the SU-85s came on table, but so did a three gun section of Pak40s.  While not terribly effective against the SUs, they provided a necessary distraction.  At least they showed up where they could do some good.

Seeking to overwhelm my defenses before more reserves arrived the Soviets plunged into the woods after me.  But even then the hit probability was not great and as they closed on their objective some drifted into range of the Pak43s which could snipe at the limit of their 40" range.

A dog-fight in the woods.  Pak43 takes out the Soviet CO.

Panzerspah platoon from reserve races past burned out T-34s.

Late arriving infantry double-times it to the other objective.
In the end (sorry, no picture) the point-blank knife fight went in my favor.  With the battalion commander "dead" and three units destroyed, the fourth went away when forced to test.  In the end I never got my second infantry platoon on table nor the nebelwerfers.  Amazingly all the Germans lost were the one Panzerjager, two Pak40s and an armored SPAA.  Half a dozen Sturmoviks were shot down and the armor eliminated on the Soviet side.  We need to look at what works best for Soviet tactics for next time.