Wednesday, February 18, 2015

St. Valentine's Day Massacre on the Western Front

We gathered on Valentine's Day at our favorite venue to play a special Flames of War game.  Last November we held "Tanksgiving" where armor-heavy companies slugged it out.  This time we let the infantry hold the spotlight.  The "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" was fought with 1500 companies, which could have no more than one tank platoon.  The Allies fielded two British rifle companies, one heavy in heavy machine guns and self-propelled artillery, and one with Churchill Crocodiles in support.  An American armored infantry company rounded out the force.  The Germans had a Gebirgsjager (mountain) company and a grenadier company.  Expected "any minute now" was a Fallschirmjager company with Tiger support. 

Adventure Games hosted us again on their attractive and useful tables, liberally covered with Battlefront terrain and buildings.  As compensation for their missing company the Germans were given fortifications and obstacles.  We tried out minefields, barbed wire and entrenchments in this game.

Here the US armored infantry looks to run a race to the unoccupied town.  Gebirgsjagers are set to counter.

The center, where my boys are looking at minefields, broken ground, hedges and fences

And our left.  Self-propelled artillery in support of infantry and heavy machine gun platoons.

The grenadiers and Brummbars await the onslaught behind barbed wire entanglements.  The mission rules meant only limited troops started dug in and most are within 12" of the the back table edge.

Paul fearlessly advances.  No, check that.  Gebirgsjagers are only confident.  (FoW joke.)

The grenadiers hold their position in the center while the Churchills lumber forward.  Entrenched infantry has little to fear early on, and only artillery can hurt the Churchills.  Happily, it targeted other things.

The Tommies surge forward on the left with the massive artillery battery raining high explosive down onto the Germans. 

The first Churchill Crocodile gets within range of the forward German positions and whoosh!  They are gone.  I've never had flamethrower armed troops before.  Impressive if you can get them into range.

Others wait while the infantry moves up, now that the German machine guns and anti-tank guns have been eliminated with flame and artillery.

British pioneers move up with the intent of gapping the obstacles but a well-placed barrage kills some and pins the pioneers and both infantry platoons!

On the left the Brummbars have gamely advanced, only to be taken down like army ants take down a grasshopper in the wild.

The Americans and Gebirgsjagers get into a fierce fight on the outskirts of the town.  The Germans destroy more vehicles and stands, but the Americans get established in some of the buildings.  Both players had rather icy cold dice, especially early on.

At this point the score was 7-0 in favor of the allies.  You got a point for eliminating an enemy platoon or two points if it was destroyed in an assault.  There were other ways to earn victory points but it was pretty well over.  The Churchills got within range of German infantry seeking to replicate the destruction of the Brummbars, but the flamers got in the first shot, scoring four kills.  With the results elsewhere it was over.

Our first St. Valentine's Day Massacre and it was fun to play with more infantry and supports than heavy metal lists.  Next year we can get the word out sooner and pull in more players.  With these kind of special themed games it is truly the more the merrier.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Battle of the Thames

Revisited using Cousin Jonathan, a highly morale-driven game, available free from The Perfect Captain. 

Given that it was one of the most lop-sided engagements during the War of 1812 the referee tweaked some unit strengths to make it more playable.  Perhaps too much so as it turned out.

Here we see the 41st RoF, 10th Royal Veterans and Royal Newfoundland Fencibles with a light gun deployed across the road to Detroit, the line of retreat for the Crown Forces.  The less than inspiring Proctor commanding.  Two war bands of natives under Tecumseh lurk somewhere in the woods.  Lots of Kentucky militia, on foot and mounted approach, commanded by William Henry Harrison.

The Yankee view of the table.  Where are the natives hiding, on the left or the right?

As the light gun pops away, the troops form up.  Some mask the American right against native incursions.  But naturally they appear on the American left, sniping at the mounted troops who approached too close to the 10th.

The Americans have the luxury of two lines, where the British have only one unit in reserve. 

The first American attack is repulsed as the second line prepares to attack the natives in the woods. 

An opportunity?  The unit facing the 41st becomes disordered.  The 10th has recoiled from their starting position but this may be a big chance.

A turn with three charges.  The mounted KY infantry and an enthusiastic militia regiment go into the woods after Tecumseh and his men.

The 41st charges home as well, despite rolling a horrible number on the dice.  But quality and morale are key in Cousin Jonathan.

The 41st is victorious, even as things worsen elsewhere.  The Newfs have now fallen into disorder from the pounding and the 10th Veterans move into reserve.

In the charges against the natives each side wins one and loses one "melee."  However, the natives, seeing one war band run decide today is not a good day to die and also flee despite Tecumseh's calls.

But in the center a rout set in.  The unit the 41st defeated created a stampede (aided by some really bad rolls).  Soon only the unit facing the Newfs and the half-strength mounted militia remained fully functional.  And with that the battle ended.  We ended it rather than try to bag the steady troops.  Proctor would no doubt continue the retreat to Detroit while claiming a great victory.  Strategically the situation which necessitated the retreat in the first place would remain.

Not that this would change history much.  Tecumseh might become disenfranchised with the British but wouldn't give up on his dream.  Harrison would regroup and continue the advance.  In all likelihood the biggest effect might be a lost presidency bid in the future.

Four players brought this to a conclusion in about 2 hours of actual play.  Cheers!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pioneer battalion added

The forces available to Grand Duke Orzepovski of Litharus have been augmented by the addition of a pioneer battalion.  Anticipating increasing operations across rivers and the potential for sieges it was deemed necessary to expand the handful of officers under Count Krontsteen to a full unit capable of combat operations as well.

Here we see them in simulated action constructing gun positions and parallels for siege work.  While such routine operations may not excite the men, the skills perfected will pay dividends later.

When not toiling at the works, the pioneer battalion is armed with muskets just like any other infantry unit.  Although they fall under the heading of the artillery arm, they are drilled with musket and sabre.

The construction of siege parallels is an important function of the pioneer battalion, all while keeping a watchful eye on the enemy.

Here we see the flag of the artillery regiment.  While not carried into combat, here it serves to inspire the men and remind them of their heritage and power.

Gabions, like those in the rear serve to not only provide additional cover, but also to keep any "overs" from counter-battery fire from rolling deep into the position.  Chevaux de Frise in front of the works serve to slow or discourage enemy infantry from getting too ambitious.

Members of the battalion stand guard near the workers in the event of a sortie from the besieged enemy.

Work continues on the gun position.  This will hold a larger gun and crew than one would see in the line of battle.

And so their training continues until such time as they are needed for army operations.  The Grand Duke is well pleased with his new unit and ponders how to best use them.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The General has been shot!

Once more the forces of Washington and Clinton are drawn up for battle.  Perhaps this will be the engagement to end the unfortunate rebellion and bring peace back to the colonies. 

Rules are Guns of Liberty by Eric Burgess with 25/28mm miniatures.  Game table was 9x6' and we finished in less than 3 hours.

 The British left with Butler's Rangers, the American Legion cavalry, lights and line battalions.

 The right with grenadiers, line and 8 pdrs. in support looking across the field.  Let's see, from right to left; Continental regulars, French regulars and.... do my eyes deceive me?  Are those militia in the centre?

 Our centre, with the 9th, 54th and 42nd Highland with a pair of 3 pound battalion guns.

 Some impertinent civilians wish the rebels good fortune.  Confound them all!

 After a delay clearing the woodline, the centre advances while the right holds back and our left attempts to frustrate the cavalry present.

 Bulter's makes for the relative security of the woods to hold the Continental Light Dragoons at bay.

The rebels and French close on our right, but have a long distance to travel so we have  time to strike in the centre.

 Neither the militia nor the Continental Lights and guns are able to stop the advance of the 9th and 54th.  The French 12 pdr. does great execution but cannot stop them on its own.

 On the left the light/Loyalist brigade is able to advance and press their right because....

 The dragoons attempted to charge Butler's in the woods.  Although their defensive fire was less than impressive, in the melee they diced up the disorganized dragoons.

 General Gates had personally led the dragoons forward and now found himself a guest of the Crown.  No long-distance ride this time Granny.

 On the right the Continentals and French had finally crossed the field and had bravely closed, but found they did not have the stomach for canister and fire from the grenadiers.

 Although the 54th, down 40% of their strength, were forced to recoil the attack on the centre went well.  Routing and driving back the militia and lights.  General Washington rode forward to rally the troops.

 With half the cavalry neutralized, the guns eliminated, and infantry in retreat the light brigade took the opportunity to advance while the American Legion cavalry got ready for the pursuit.

 Looking the length of the field, the Crown Forces are advancing on the left and centre while the right holds firm.  A crisis is at hand.  Both commanders are in the forefront, attempting to rally or urge on their men.  When a shot rings out....

And George Washington, heart and soul of the revolution, is shot dead.  With Washington dead and Gates captured, is this the end of the revolution?  Time will tell.  At this point the game ended as the rebel and French army dissolved.  Perhaps the remaining cavalry would hold the pursuit back, or perhaps Tarleton will add to his laurels.  

A fun time with lots of drama and action.  We were out of practice (as usual) with the system but it all came back fast.  This is ideal for a afternoon game, giving a good ebb and flow to the game.  It also works well with the "battles" of the American Revolution that would be counted as large skirmishes in the Napoleonic era.  Thanks to Todd and Paul for coming out in the snow to play.