Sunday, May 31, 2015

Operation Ambrosia

This isn't about an obscure action that the History Channel somehow has missed, but our Mega-Game of Flames of War.  One of our lads is home on leave before being posted to the DMZ in Korea and he asked to play a huge game so we trotted out "Das Book" to guide us in playing a 15,000 point late-war game between the Americans and Germans.

Each side had victory points known only to themselves, along with defensive points that needed to be held, also known only to their respective teams.  Airpower was handled in a unique way to let the American forces be dominate without being a game breaker.

We started with infantry companies on table, along with the special "reserve company" outlined in the rules.  This allowed the thirteen players a good amount to play with from the start and the reserves kept them busy.  Our good friends at Adventure Games, 927 Oregon St, Oshkosh, WI 54902 provided the 12+ x 6' table.

Very picture heavy, enjoy the eye candy.

German right.  Volksgrenadiers with lots of Pak50s.

Part of the German reserve company.  A fast and a slow element.

View from the empty left looking at the confident Americans.

Any why not?  Three infantry companies and a ton of artillery.

The river was shallow but both sides wanted the railroad bridge.

Part of the American left looking towards the right.

We saw a lot of this template.

Calliope Shermans with their distinctive smoke trail.

Heavy armor in the center and "Das Book."

A swarm of American armor came in as reserves.  Chaffees,
Shermans and Pershings in that order.

US paratroopers advance towards the dominate ridge.

American right after coming on table.

The American advance and doomed observer aircraft.

Nein, nein, nein!!  Our only Jadgtiger.

Both sides are rightly scared to come over the hilltop.

Two reserve companies devastate the American light tanks.

More tanks come in on the American left.

The duel for the bridge goes the German way.

Tank destroyers materialize, have an unlucky round of shooting
and are quickly taken out.

Lots of burners on the American right too.

Clearing the way the surviving Elephant tests the bridge.

Pershing enter the fray and the Germans burn and regroup.

Flanked, even a StuG is a threat to a Pershing.  105mm Shermans
are destroyed.

Paratroopers continuing to advance in the distance.

But Panzer IIIs and IVs assault them on the ridge.

American left in the foreground, looking down table.

The distant assault over, the Panzers regroup on their ridge.

We should have allocated the weekend to such a game, but we only could gather the people for a day.  So after spending a total of seven hours at the shop, of which two and half were setting up and sorting troops, we quit.  Seven or eight turns in four and a half hours seemed quite acceptable given the number of troops being moved.

By the scenario the result was a draw.  The extra victory point the Germans held was not enough to claim the win.  However, in my opinion things were looking bad for the Americans.  They had taken heavy losses on the left and center without making any real progress on the right.

We (the Germans) were very lucky in that several times in the game American artillery bombardments of massed batteries did not land at all.  The aircraft were largely negated by the plentiful German AA resources.  There was however, simulated carnage and glory enough for all.  Thanks to all for playing and keeping it light throughout.  Okay, maybe I got tired of the American tank destroyers teleporting in, but there's always something.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Troubridge's Dilemma

Naval Thunder is a popular system with our group because it gives a quick game while offering a lot of "flavor" of the genre.  With just three players available I took it as an opportunity to fight a "what if" action from the first days of World War One. 

Historically the German battlecruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau sailed past two British battlecruisers just hours before Britain declared war on Germany.    A confused pursuit resulted in the pre-satellite days with no knowledge of whether she was headed for an Austro-Hungarian or Turkish port.  A squadron of British armored cruisers had the potential to intercept them near the mouth of Adriatic.  Battlecruisers were intended in part to kill armored cruisers so although there were four of them to the one battlecruiser Troubridge opted not to engage when he couldn't manage a night-time encounter.  While officially exonerated by a board of inquiry Troubridge never held a command at sea again.

Here we assume that a dawn engagement occurs.

SMS Goeben and her consort the Breslau attempt to reach Turkey.

Armored cruisers HMS Defence, Black Prince, Warrior and Duke of
Edinburgh boldly attempt to intercept.
The British squadron sighted the Goeben at a range of 31,000 yards on a converging course, well outside the range of their 9.2" guns, but also outside sighting range for the Germans.

Quick Reference Sheet with essential charts.

Sighting the Goeben first, they turn to close the range.  HMS
Defence is immediately hit and starts flooding.

Recognizing the Breslau cannot affect the action, the Germans
turn south effectively shielding the Breslau.

Goeben hits with her first salvo and continues to pound the cruisers.
Soon secondaries kick in as well.

The British break formation to attempt to sandwich the Goeben.
She is hit but so far her armor has not been penetrated.

A magazine explosion puts an end to HMS Warrior as the
Germans attempt to cut through the opening. The Goeben takes a torpedo
hit but the flooding is immediately controlled.

A second magazine explosion seals the deal as HMS Black Prince
goes up and the Germans escape.

With that the Goeben was able to escape to the east as a bridge hit was going to take the Duke in the wrong direction for a time.  Though down 32 of 90 points and with a speed reduced to 4 she would not be overhauled by the pursuing British battlecruisers.  The Breslau was also badly damaged with 10 of 18 flotation left, but the Defence had been hit so hard she could be finished off any time the Germans chose.  Had the Goeben speed been reduced to three, regardless of any other result, she would have been ruled a kill.

Done in an hour and a half and fought to a conclusion.  Naval Thunder handles small and large actions equally well.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Raid on Albany

Lt. Elphinstone peered through his telescope, intently surveying the mist that moved and undulated on the lake.  "Take me for a fool, but I would swear that I saw movement within the mist" he said, to no one in particular.  The lieutenant's lackey, seeing no one else around decided the comment must have been for his ears and took the opportunity to say, "No one would take you for a fool Sir.  A fine English gentleman such as yourself...".  "Shut up!" snarled Elphinstone, snapping his telescope shut with a start.  "I knew it; sound the alarm.  The lake is full of canoes and Indians.  Fly Patsy you silly oaf, we are under attack!"  And so began the great raid of 1752.

An assortment of water craft quickly land and disembark the war parties.

Provincial forces are soon drawn up and the blockhouse manned.

The natives move quickly, with murder, mayhem and plunder
on their minds.

One half of the table as the native prepare a simultaneous advance.

To make matters worse, long columns of French regulars leave the woods.

Others parallel the lake and pass through a village friendly to the English.

Gage's lights and Roger's Rangers respond on the French/Indian left.

The provincials carefully prepare before advancing.

Meanwhile a relentless tide of French continue to close.

A few light cannons accompany the French forces.

Part of the native contingent move right, seeking easy victories
amongst the farmers.

Others take on the provincials frontally.

Seems to be an ever growing number of Englishmen.

And now British regulars appear, soon facing the French lines.

Warriors in a very bad way.

Um, who are those guys in the back?  Never mind, save
your homes!

The French infantry are almost upon their erstwhile foes.

Canadian malice screen the advancing forces to prevent surprises.

The lines are drawn.  "Make ready"  "En jou!"  Who will fire first?

Uh, we will.  See "me" and my joker which will allow us to reverse
any unfortunate turn of a firing card.

The natives usually rely on their open formations to minimize
casualties.  This did not work today.

Open order Englishmen advance on the right, driving in the natives.

Buildings begin to burn and the flames spread down the dry wooden
fences.  The milice flank the grenadiers.

In the center the English are being driven back.

On the right the natives have largely been negated as a fighting force.
The milice jeer as the remnants of the Rangers flee.

French grenadiers begin to consider forming an assault column
to hit the blockhouse as the redcoats withdraw.

Despite some reverses on the far left things are going very well for
les francaise.

Victorious provincials find the river bridge is blocked.

Mercy filled my heart and we beat the Parley.  We would allow the troops to withdraw from the blockhouses and civilians from their homes if the English would withdraw.  They agree and even as they march off the field homes and fortifications began to burn.  Loses had been high among the natives and they might not feel as inclined to accompany us on the next raid.

Friends gathered at the home of Bill Protz for the game and happy birthday wishes.  Rules were BAR (Batailles de Ancien Regime), miniatures were mostly 28mm with the usual beautiful buildings and terrain.  Huzzah and vive le Roi!