Saturday, December 26, 2015

Joyful Wishes

From the court of Grand Duke Alexander Orzepovski and the Duchess Mara of Litharus comes the following:

"Our Christmas message for you, at this special time of year, may your home be filled with happiness and laughter where memories are made. Good times, good memories and the love of family is one of the best wishes we could every receive."


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Battle of Grünfeld

The traditional December gave of BAR (Batailles de Ancien Regimes) convened for a Russian-Prussian game at the home of rules author Bill Protz.  To add a little twist to the usual slug-fest, a walled chateau on the Russian right and a large hill in the center were worth 50 victory points.  Additionally, the side with the fewest casualties got another 50 points.  The huge table had rear areas for reserves and rallying, all in play.

There were the equivalent of between 13-14 battalions of 60 figures per side, a smattering of cannons, 100+ heavy cavalry and 36 light.  To give them table time and as a gimmick, my untried pioneer half-battalion was placed in the order of battle.  They had an assortment of push carts loaded with explosives, ladders and hand-held grenade launchers.  With the Prussians starting the game in possession of all the VP places, the onus of attack was totally upon us.  Hopefully the specialty figures would prevail.

This is just the back table after the first move.  This area is in play.
Prepared to fight a classic linear battle.

Pioneers forward!  Probably rashly as it turned out.
A natural choke point was on the right.  As I was fighting on the left I can just report that my impression was that our forces came through one at a time and were crushed one at a time.

The objective on the right.

The afore-mentioned choke point and the rest
of the table stretching off into the distance.

Russian cuirassiers advancing to get to grips quickly.

Newly completed combined guards battalion from my Imagi-
Nation, Litharus.

A card driven game, the opposing lines move towards each other.

The first of two successful cavalry melees on the left. 

The second clash, also initially successful.  Infantry fire had
softened up one of the Prussian units.

On the right Prussian jagers and adventurous light cavalry exact
a toll.

BAR is a decisive game so units were whittled down fast.  Here
my grenadiers rout.... again.

Still not getting any closer to the chateau.

Bye-bye boys!  Have fun storming the castle!

At this point I thought we were making progress
on the left and center.

The center advancing as the Prussians retire a bit to reorder.

Six cannons defend the top of our objective.

On our right-center, the Prussian attack begins.

A view from the chateau.  This sector had their own deck of
cards to set the pace.

Wait, what is SHE doing here?!  Lady Pettigree?

The routed Prussian cavalry does the statistically unlikely and both
rally.  Placing my disordered and difficult to maneuver Prussians
at a disadvantage suddenly.

The rumps of units begin to fall back as the right-center crumbles
in the distance.

The Russian commanders, not liking what they are seeing.

Despite the firing cards being hugely in our favor, we still crumble
before Prussian volleys. 

The hill remains firmly in Prussian hands.

We begin to be flanked on the right-center.

No progress is made against the chateau.  Cossacks ride up to
it but are helpless to do anything.

As the outcome was obvious, it was not part of a campaign, and there was birthday cake to be had, I conceded the game on behalf of the Tsar and Grand Duke's forces.  I'm really not sure what happened.  Each turn a card is drawn to see who moves first, then another for firing.  If a joker is drawn it can be used to "trump" an unfavorable card when you really need to move or fire first.  We had two jokers in hand when we conceded, the cards had been so favorable.  Casualties are "saved" by a d6 roll so perhaps one side was really hot or cold or both.

The important thing was ten friends played a visually spectacular battle, had a fine lunch and cake, and shared time together.  Thanks Bill for hosting and congrats to Der Alte Fritz for the win.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Tanksgiving 2015"

Eight players and 15,000 points gathered at Adventure Games in Oshkosh for the annual Flames of War "Tanksgiving" game on Sunday the 29th.  A late-war struggle with Soviets, British and Americans against the best of the German Army.  Each side started with 4,500 points on table and started bringing in reserve companies right away as more players joined in. 

The Soviets were a mass of T-34s and self-propelled guns, the Americans a tank company headed by a "Super Pershing," and the British force fielded Comet cruiser tanks with Achilles tank destroyers in support.  No artillery except for some 105mm Shermans.  The Germans had Kampfgruppe Peiper, a Jagdtiger "company" and a veteran Panther company.  Needless to say, the expensive German tankers were significantly out-numbered.

Looks peaceful, eh?

Germans had the first move and tanks began burning on both sides.

Air missions were regularly obtained and frequently intercepted.

Fearless SS tankers mix it up at point-blank range.

Facing the Jagdtigers and some Panthers the Soviets burned
brightly, even with close US support.

Is that Brad Pitt?

Part of the 2nd wave, more US armor.

The Super Pershing hunting cats.

After killing Peiper, two more waves came against the British,
both with Tigers, but were held off.

So the end game ended.  No objectives taken and held but after factoring companies destroyed or run off it was a tactical victory for the Allies.  The gaps created by company morale failures were going to allow a speedy advance by the Allies.  Twenty Soviet tanks were destroyed, about ten American and five from the one British element fighting.  German losses were numerically smaller but with the majority of their vehicles expensive Panthers and Tigers the point count was in the Allies favor as well.  None of the three Jagdtigers were destroyed, so with the Ostwinds keeping aircraft off them they made a good purchase.

Always fun to play with lots of armor and vehicles we don't often use.  We got to introduce one player to the game and give another an opportunity to play.  Thanks to everyone for playing and for Teddy and Char hosting the game in their store.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Somewhere German-speaking: 56 years later

Empire has always been our Napoleonic rules of choice, love it or hate it, I don't care.  Today's scenario was set in 1813.  So gone is the army from the Camp of Boulogne.  In place of it is a mass of conscripts bolstered by veterans recalled to the colors or built around cadres from Spain.  Cavalry is down-graded and it faces a resurgent Prussia.  Eager to avenge past indignities.

The Prussian right.  The large stream is slow going and disorders
chargers except at fords.
The road to France is covered by a corps led by Marechal Marmont, Duc du Ragusa.  His 34 battalions. already depleted by the rigors of war, and cavalry full of regiments on remounts, faced off against Marshal Blucher.  "Alt Vorwarts" had 36 battalions to attack with, ranging from grenadiers to landwehr.  His cavalry was plentiful if not spectacular, but he had plenty of guns.

Prussian left.  My command.

Prussian center with a massed grand battery.

The river and skillful fire initially stopped the Prussian flanking movement by cavalry on their left.  The terrain and deployment meant that although in large numbers, cavalry did not play a significant role in the engagement.

Contact was made across the field and very few elements were unengaged from the start.  Due to leadership and decent dice the attacking Prussians held the tactical initiative for all four hours of the battle.  In the picture above an elite "brigade" of Prussians first massed in dead ground and then began to work on the French lines.

The Prussian grand battery was ineffective at first but rapidly began to shred the hapless French battalions facing it.  While the French guns were still Class I and the Prussian only Class III, the weight of numbers told quickly.

On the left center the Prussian grenadiers and guards (only rated grenadier) advanced methodically due to the disordering effects of the water.  But once beyond it were aggressive, even though uncomfortably pressed together.

French view of the Prussians breaking through.  The heavy guns on the hill have stalled some but the grenadiers are pushing the French conscripts and veterans back steadily.

The grand battery in action as cavalry and a reserve "brigade" await the orders to advance on the shot up French.

Another view of the somewhat stagnated Prussian right.  Their cavalry simply couldn't break through.

The Prussian left-center has broken through and is threatening even greater advances.  The reserves were committed the fourth hour of combat to run over the severely depleted French center and support the breakthrough element.  And so Marmont decided to yield the field.  Given that the Prussians had mostly been ordered to attack to specific territorial objectives, once broken off the French could easily open up a breathing gap.

So in the end our five players completed four hourly rounds of combat in four real hours.  We are a bit rusty on the rules but the game played quickly and with much laughter as we experienced the joys of poorly trained troops rather than the usual crack armies.  The Prussians had 432 infantry against only 306 French castings, but we felt the defensive nature of the battle and troops would make it a good fight.  In the end it was the mass of Prussian artillery that made a difference.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Somewhere German-Speaking

The latest in our Final Argument of Kings games featured Prussians vs. French.  My good camera has failed, so my phone had to suffice for pictures.

Six French cavalry regiments faced an equal number, if sometimes smaller sized group of superior Prussians.  Eighteen battalions (two Swiss and two grenadier) opposed sixteen Prussian, ranging from a monster grenadier battalion to Frei Korps troops.  The French had three medium and one heavy battery.  Not sure what the Prussians fielded for artillery.  Given the qualitative edge across the board for the Prussians, we thought it would give chances for both sides.

The Prussians split their cavalry equally between the two wings, while the French kept theirs concentrated on the left.  Newly painted Maison du Roi were in one brigade.  They wasted no time and charged with supports as soon as they were within range and threw back the out-numbered Prussian cavalry.

In the center the French advanced only far enough to contest some light woods and establish a line.  The Prussians advanced boldly and managed to catch the French heavy battery limbered, scattering it with artillery fire.  The other Prussian cavalry brigade advanced unopposed, only held up slightly by terrain features.

As the battle progressed the French cavalry ran off or destroyed their opposite numbers while retaining enough fresh troops to impact the center.  The infantry lines began to do a clock-wise turn as each left defeated their opponents.  The devastating volleys of the Prussian regulars was dealing out great harm but the French were holding on as the two grenadier battalions were committed.  The other Prussian cavalry, taking a wide swing to avoid entangling with friendlies, emerged too late to save the day.

With the resurgent French cavalry ready to fall upon their flanks and rear the Prussians began a steady withdrawal.  Given the shattered state of most of the infantry, the French could only follow, not pursue.

I don't recall how many turns were played but it was perfect for the time available and we were done in two hours, not counting set up and take down.  Thanks to Todd, Dan and Andrew for coming over for a friendly one-off game.