Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tank-Giving, a second helping

While visiting family in Lincoln, NE I had the opportunity to join a fine bunch of gamers for their annual Tanks-Giving game.  Compared to ours last weekend, this was freakin' huge!  Twenty players, each fielding a mid-war tank company of 2000 points!  To help compensate for the Tigers and Panthers and Elephants (oh my!) everyone was allowed any and all of the mid-war monsters that were planned but never executed.  Victory points were earned from holding any of the six objectives at the start of your turn, eliminating a platoon, or two points for seeing a company fail their test.  The lull before the storm:

By roll off the Germans won and elected to be the defender.  This allowed each company to put a platoon in ambush.  I had five Tigers and two 2cm SPAA.  The "Tiger Ace" rolls for my commander were re-rolling misses and ROF3.  Sweeeeet.  A platoon of two Tigers were impassioned to fight for the Fatherland.  The platoon in reserve had ROF3.  Each side started with priority air for their side of the table with as many 5+ you rolled equalling the number of flights coming in.  Air power could be devastating at first, with a dice subtracted for each turn or attempted intercepts.

So that's what 40K points look like?  No, not everything was on table yet, but mostly in place.  From here on, primarily pictures with little commentary.  Hugely significant was the failure on turn one for the Allies (one British, three Soviet and six American) to get ANY aircraft.

In the foreground six of the nine T-34s or KVs my Stuka killed.

KV-5 "land battleships" with a naval gun.  "Togs" in the foreground.

No idea what these were, but they had a 12.8cm gun and little armor.

Note the good-spirited duel between Czech 38s and Stuarts.

We begin the counter-attack on the left with ambushing MkIII and IVs. 
My ambush platoon of Tigers still waits for their moment.

Our own battle of the "Wheat field" raged on over Teddy Bear fur.

 As they say in a famous movie, "oh, the carnage!".  At the end of turn 4 I had to excuse myself due to family commitments.  Substitute Tigers were found, though I forgot to tell the guy about the ROF3 status.  As I left the score was Axis 24, Allies 20 as I recall.  The Allies had made some lucky company morale checks that turn.  I came back later this evening to find that the final score was Axis 54, Allies 25 so I guess things went downhill fast.  I wonder if my ambushing platoon ever got into play?

As I said, a fine bunch of fellows and one lady.  All in good spirits, mature behavior, and a positive attitude.  The coordinator/judge Hobie did an excellent job keeping the game flowing and his command of the rules meant there were no discussions needed, just the occasional question.  Stop in Gauntlet Games on S. 13th street next time you are in Lincoln.  Thanks for letting me join in!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Tanks-Giving" 2014

The Fox Valley Rangers and a few friends gathered at Adventure Games in Oshkosh for the annual excuse to get lots of tanks on the table, Tanks-Giving.  A great many tank-based companies of 1500 points each were assembled and battle was joined.  We had so many Americans that unlike last year where the Germans faced all three "big" Allied powers, we only had to deal with Americans.  Lots of them.... with plenty of extra bells and whistles.  But with special aircraft rules in place and the need for lots of tanks it meant that the usual vast host of American artillery was absent.

Points are scored for eliminating a platoon or holding an objective (all V-1 stands) at the end of the game.  I believe the final score was 10-7 in favor of the Germans.  Enjoy the pictures, click to enlarge.

On my side of the table I had a kampfgruppe under "warrior" Kersher with four Tigers and two Hetzers to start, plus a few stands of panzergrenadiers.  Later I got another Tiger.  I faced a light company of many Stuarts, Chaffees and M-10 tank destroyers.

On our left, American right, Panzerjager IV and MkIV with some panzergrenadiers and artillery faced an American medium company with Pershings in support.  Most of the Shermans had 76mm guns, so it was as difficult for Todd here and for Paul against me.

We "won" the roll-off and were the attackers.  Todd boldly advanced while I moved as quickly as my slow tanks would allow.  Risking a double move with the panzergrenadiers to try to get them to cover.

It didn't take long for debris to begin littering the field on both sides.  The tank destroyers teleported in but either whiffed or failed to penetrate.  I was hot with armor saves most of the day, but weak on firepower tests.

With the next round of American companies a Super-Pershing arrived.  Yes, the ONE that saw combat in WWII.  It announced its arrival by toasting a Tiger.  Since my Tigers couldn't hurt it frontally, my surviving Hetzer decided it was Iron Cross time and raced for a flank shot.  It hit but the Pershing shrugged off the hit.

 Meanwhile the Americans were giving the Panzerjager company a pounding and ill-treating a Tiger company that came on as reinforcements when another player joined us.  The gallant Hetzer was hit and penetrated, twice.  But both firepower tests failed and he passed his "double bail-out" motivation test. 

In rare form my Hetzer crew remounted their tank destroyer and got another hit.  Heck, I even got two AFVs to remount their vehicles.  An unheard of feat for me.  This time the Hetzer scored a hit and was rewarded.

By friendly agreement and wager we decided (before the shooting) that if the Super-Pershing was destroyed it had to sit out a a future game.  Naturally Paul will almost certainly be on my side next game!

Six participants, 9,000 points on table, and enough wrecks to start a salvage yard.  Hopefully we can get a few more players next year.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chippewa 1814

As a playtest for our coming mini convention "Tundra-Con," we fought an element of the Battle of Chippewa using the free rule set "Cousin Jonathan."  Figures are roughly 20mm from the Complete Brigadier many years ago.

Indians and Glengarrys on the left, the 89th and Fencibles on the right.

We await the onslaught.

The Jonathans advance boldly, taking artillery hits.

On the left the Glens skirmish as the natives attempt to flank them.

Very morale driven the rules see lots of advance and retire. 
Here the 89th falls back disordered as the Lincolns advance.

On the far right the artillery keeps the Americans at bay,
though it is running out of ammunition.

With the Glens in trouble, the Indians leave the shelter of the woods.

Seeing disordered Americans everywhere, the brigade charges.
Many as the Lincolns melees with the second line.

The 89th moves left as the Glengarrys rout from being charged
in skirmish order.

Although the Lincolns rout, three of four American units in the
brigade are running, so their brigade will have to retire.

Although the Glens have run off, the natives double-team the far
left and will rout the enemy.

So with most of the American army in rout or retreat, we ended the game.  Two British vs. four American runners will require the army to retire.  The general break point for the American army is almost always lower than the Crown forces and gives a game that "feels" very right.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Germans v. Poles 1939

Needing lighter fare than the SYW hammerings, and with only three players available for the game, it was decided to go early-war with Flames of War.  Our resident "Tank-no-phobe" had a Polish infantry company that needed table time, and we have Germans in abundance.  Or so I thought.

The mission, appropriately enough was "surrounded."  So the Poles, Todd and I, started with one platoon in immediate ambush and the rest gone to ground and dug in.  Points were 1420 because that was the max the Poles could field, albeit with some imagination.  There was no Polish artillery models available so we reverted back to 1st(?) edition to allow for off-table artillery.  They had a 105 and 155mm battery with one spotter for each.  As it turned out we very much missed having the direct-fire option.  For the Poles had no anti-tank guns nor even a single anti-tank rifle.  Not that they historically had many.

Then the Germans hit the table.  All armor, all the time.  That was the force built, so it had Panzer Mk.Is, Mk.IIs, MkIII, and Mk.IVs with a trio of armored cars for recon.  We had lots of Fearless-Trained infantry, HMGs and even 5 Vickers 6-ton "tanks."  But when all the German armor appeared I thought to myself, "about three turns."  As an aside, I was surprised to find the Poles rated Trained.  I thought the conflicts against the Soviets, ending in 1921 would have given them cadres of experienced men, especially when the Germans who had even less experience are Veteran across the board.  Perhaps it is meant to increase the likelihood of a historic result?

The river is impassible except at the bridge and the fields and hedges give bogging chances.  Panzer IIs, IIIs and the armored cars are here.  What about the trees you may ask?  When I arrived I said, "It never snows in September!"  (An excellent book on Market Garden BTW)  It was explained it was in honor of the first Wisconsin snow-falls forecast.

The Mk.IVs with their short-barreled 75mm guns and more light tanks are on the other side of the river.  All our forces are dug-in on the ridge except for an independent platoon of machine-guns.

The German advance is swift and largely without incident.

The main effort, in terms of numbers, was slightly inconvenienced by artillery fire and some bogging, but mostly rolled on.

The Poles held their fire, but the Germans moved into sighting range and prepared to assault. 

To add to the Polish woes we failed one turn to get artillery to land and when it did could rarely achieve more than a bail-out despite good numbers against their top armor.
The Mk.IVs assault the defenders of an objective.  The Poles manage to bail one tank, but nothing more, while the Germans did max damage almost every round.  Finally the remnants of the Polish infantry had to break off.

Elsewhere even the lowly Mk.IIs were able to over-run Polish positions while the Vickers tanks, though unhurt, had also been unable to hurt any Germans.

So at the end of turn three we called it.  Lots of clean-up to do as the Germans had many nasty bits to pull out of their treads.  If we had the guns on-table it could have been much different but hey, it was even points so it had to be a fair fight.  Nicht wahr?  So for us, live and learn.  Any day gaming with friends is a good day.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Prussian and Austrian Dogfight

Following the bloody draw against the Russians, the Prussians under Frederick himself turned on the Austrians.  The latter were eager to show the prowess of their newly raised regiments and accepted battle.  Twenty Prussian battalions of grenadiers (4), fusiliers (4), musketeers (8), and Frei Korps (6), with nine Hessian and Brunswick battalions engaged the Austrians.  The Kaiserliches under Browne fielded thirty battalions of grenadiers, musketeers, jagers, pandours and Croats.  The Prussians had eight fine regiments of cuirassiers, four of dragoons, two hussar and a Frei Korps cavalry unit.  The Austrians had fewer, with only four cuirassiers, two dragoon and four hussar regiments.  Guns were about equal.

Prussian center with four infantry brigades facing the Austrians.

The Prussian left with Hessians and Brunswickers and a fine mass of heavy horse.

Looking down table at the start.
The terrain favored the Austrians but they gallantly came down off the ridge to meet the Prussians in open ground.  The Prussians were happy not to have to shoot uphill like in the Russian engagement.
Grand tactical movement in Final Argument of Kings let the Prussians close.

Grand tac is intended to allow Leuthen type maneuvers to occur.

On the right the "lesser" Prussian cavalry advances against a smaller force.
As the Austrian line advanced their brigades split left and right, to unmask a pair of cuirassier regiments looking to ride down the Prussian center.  Unfortunately for them, they were opposed by grenadiers who emptied many saddles.
The Prussian advance is stopped till the cavalry situation is resolved.
On the right the cavalry swung wide, giving their smaller opponents no real chance to stand, lest they be out-flanked.  Frei Korps bravely(?) advanced through the woods towards town.
Fields are largely cosmetic with no impact on movement.
A savage series of firefights broke out in the center with a slight edge going to the Prussians.  This is a fine army the Austrians fielded and in many places their grenadiers led the assault.
Yellow pipe cleaners indicate shaken status.  Ammo chests are remaining cannon ammo. 
A brigadier lies fallen.
To left of center the Brunswickers add their weight to the fray, pressuring the Austrians even more.  Both sides have infantry brigades unengaged, sitting in the wrong place.
Austrian dragoons attempt to stem the tide.

The Prussian cavalry on the left has mixed results despite a quality edge.

The Austrians are getting thin in the center.  Prussian grenadiers
have broken through in places.
The Ramin grenadier battalion had a very strong day.  They took an Austrian flag and repelled repeated charges by the enemy cuirassiers.  Frederick was so pleased he might even say so.
The right flank maneuvering continues as the Austrians occupy the village.
On the left the Prussian allies sought to unhinge the Austrian position by taking the village on that flank.  Apparently no one told either side to avoid taking formed troops into built up areas.  The Prussian cavalry finally began to gain the advantage on this flank.

The Frei Korps gamely advance.  Cautiously, as they should.

Some Austrian infantry moves to the center, allowing the cavalry to really press the Austrians.
The original Austrian center suddenly gave way.  The battered Prussian first line gave way to the fresh second line of infantry to press on.  Though some new Austrians had arrived they were still out-numbered.
Some Austrian clumps remain, with a new line behind.

Prussian hussars begin to creep up, seeking a spot to exploit.
On the left the Prussian cavalry managed to throw back their opponents and even hit one in the back.  The Austrian resistance had been fierce but numbers finally told. 
Cuirassiers triumphant over their lighter foes.
And so, with the front crumbling on the (Prussian) left and center, Marshal Browne called for a break-off across the front.  The skies were darkening and the smell of moisture was in the air.  Would the rains and darkness come to save the Austrian army?

Rules as usual were Final Argument of Kings by Dean West with 2nd edition modifications.  Four hours of actual play with six players brought the conclusion home.  Perhaps next time Frederick will seek out the French.