Monday, May 29, 2017

Battle of the Bridges - Part I

As part of our on-going mini-campaign based on Charles Grant's book "The Annexation of Chiraz" we find that following the successful forcing of the Pilica River, the Latverian army with its cohorts from Prochistan advanced in two columns.  Seeing the need to seize the critical Vistula River crossings, one column advanced on the town of Pulawy which has four bridges.  The local militia and a squadron of hussars took up arms to oppose them and hope for the swift arrival of Rondovian and Litharusian forces.

Rules are "Batailles de l'Ancien Regimes" or BAR for short, figure ratio is 10:1 and action is card driven for movement and firing.  Most battalions are 60 figures in three ranks with specialty troops being 30.  Cavalry squadrons are typically 12 figures.  Game on!

"When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town...."

The militia battalion defends the buildings and wall of the NE corner. 
In the campaign games we dice for the morale of militia.  On a d6 a roll of 1-3 means they are poor, 4-5 is regular and a 6 indicates particularly motivated men.  In our first victory of sorts, the roll for the militia was a 6.  Veterans!

Each opposing army marched on table from parallel corners.  So
order of march was critical.
Going to take a long time to get everyone on board.
The Litharusian army led with the Palanga Dragoons, followed by the Dainava Forest Jagers and the Vilnius Grenadiers.  The Latverians had grenadiers leading, followed by cuirassiers and light infantry, the notorious "Grey Foxes."

Hussars advance to delay the Latverians and find themselves
in a no-win situation.  The survivors would eventually surrender.

A view from the Latverian side.  The Duke of Alten's regiment
in the foreground.

The Vilnius Grenadiers begin to decimate their opposite number,
while the rest march on.

Austria supports Latveria and bleeds for their allegiance.

The Latverian gun is silenced and soon the grenadiers will run
away.  Meanwhile Vilnius was making spectacular saves.

Okay, we're at the bridge, now what?
Farther down table the Latverians had been pushing hard to reach the other two bridges.  Only the Palanga Dragoons, who had been riding hard through town could delay them.  Deploy and wait for them to cross, or charge on a narrow front?  Charge!

Galloping forward before receiving fire and hitting the column.

Both sides thinking, "What are they doing?"

Grand view of the situation before the charge is resolved.
With both sides fully on table now, the charge remained to be resolved.  Maxing out on modifiers the Loudon Freikorps cut loose and rolled a 3 on 2d6 (high is good).  Three of twelve dragoons fell, but the rest pressed on.  In the melee the dragoons held the advantage and the green-coats fell back, tested morale and routed.  The dragoons didn't have to pursue but are left in the midst of the enemy.

"Okay, we won.  Now what?"

At this point, having completed nine turns we adjourned to the back yard for burgers and brats on the grill.  The food, conversation and camaraderie was such that we never got back to the game.  Hence the Part I in the title.  We will resume the conflict (I have the luxury of being able to leave it up) this week.  Stay tuned for Part II.  Two Austrian battalions have routed and left, the only artillery is gone and the Grey Foxes are nearly at half-strength.  The allies have lost a hussar squadron and over half of the jagers.  Depending on who gets the action cards, the dragoons may not be around long either.  Drama abounds!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Scuttled on the Skaggerak

The battle lines were drawn as the dreadnoughts converged on each other.  On one side, approaching from the west, came HMS Warspite, Barham, Malaya, Valiant, Revenge and Iron Duke.  Opposing them were SMS Baden, Bayern, Konig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kronprinz Wilhelm and Markgraf.

Rules are Naval Thunder: Clash of Dreadnoughts.  Optional rules in play are "Crossing the T" and "Cordite Flash."  The former gives the shooter extra chance of penetrating the armor and the latter makes the British (only) roll to see if they blow up when they take a main turret critical hit.  The game was a play-test of a planned convention game.

The Hochseeflotte approaches.

From the west in three columns are the British.

Warspite and Barham draw first blood while the Markgraf and
Kronprinz Wilhelm are still out of range.

The signal from Warspite to "Form line of battle to the north"
seemed to cause confusion.

However, the pummeling continued.

Attempts to form up continued to fail, so we just went independent.

HMS Malaya and Revenge begin to take a lot of hits from the
Baden and Bayern.
 Suddenly everyone had blink and cover their eyes as the Bayern disappeared in a massive explosion.  So swift was the result and disappearance of the ship that no record exists.

Ships were commonly double-upped on for firing.  Splash markers
indicate targeting.
 SMS Markgraf and Kronprinz Wilhelm succumbed to repeated hits and raging flooding.  The Valiant disappeared in a cordite explosion.  HMS Revenge sank after receiving seven critical hits at once.  SMS Grosser Kurfurst went down as the Iron Duke limped away with severe flooding.

Death ride of SMS Baden and Konig.
Torpedoes began to fly and secondary batteries went into overdrive as the ranges dropped.  A severe list on the Baden kept her from firing torpedoes and both the Baden and Konig went down in a blaze of glory.  However, the celebrating British still had to deal with damage control issues.  As the Iron Duke crept away from the battle scene her list increased till she turned turtle and was lost.  On the Warspite fires increased till the cheering German survivors in the water watched he go down.

So while the Admiralty will not be pleased with the loss of so many fine ships, the Kaiser will be even less pleased that his splendid ships will not be returning to Kiel.  In the real world, the game was completed in just under three hours, so a perfect convention game.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Bally Jerry, pranged his kite right in the how's your father;..."

Pulled out an old-timer this afternoon for our "Gentlemen of Leisure" weekday game.  I first met "Red Baron" in the 80s and for many years it was a staple of our gaming experience.  So since I still had  the sticks and planes, we decided to give it a go, as a true 3D flying game.

Keeping it simple, the Americans had a pair each of SPAD XIII and Nieuport 28 fighters.  The Germans had a pair of Fokker DVII, a DVIII monoplane and a Dr.1 triplane.  We diced to see our entry points.  The Americans came in together and the Germans separated.  Altitude was 3,100', plus or minus 100' at the players discretion.  Each solid mark on the stick represents 100'.  Tally ho!

My Fokker Dr.1 and DVIII with the Yanks in the distance.

Americans in a loose gaggle as Bob plots and plans.

I swung over to join with the others then turned into the enemy.

One our of old, classic traffic jams.

Taka-taka-taka as the Yanks draw first blood double-teaming
a Fokker DVII.

It looked promising for us at first.  Bob's first shot resulted in a double jam and when he later tried to clear the jam one was permanently out of action.  One SPAD flew off table severely damaged so the odds were even again.

A diving half-loop puts one in a perfect firing position.

Close-up of the attack.

A head-on shot that turned out bad for me.

After catching fire I maneuvered to try and put it out and promptly exploded.  And we ended it.  Whie we caught on to the plotting fairly quickly, I had forgotten a lot in the last 12 years since I played so we messed up shooting.  But consistently for the game, so it didn't really matter.  In the end 2-0 Americans, so a rematch is in order!  Thanks Bob, Todd and Dan for playing.

PS. The post title comes from Monty Python.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Beda Fomm with FoW

The third and last of our mini-campaign for Early-War North Africa was played today.  We used the 4th Edition charts for Flames of War to resolved the game.  Scenario was a Breakthrough Mission though we skipped the objectives part.

Historically the "Desert Rats" had gotten ahead of the retreating Italians and set up a blocking position while the 6th Australian Division pursued the main body.  Having been repulsed the day before, the Italians gathered up what forces they could and threw them at the British positions in an attempt to clear the way for the others.  Our forces were 1700 points.  The British had immediate reserves and ambush, and the Italians delayed flanking reserves.  As it turned out, the latter did not even get into play.

Pausing at the well, wondering what all the noise it about.  Also
marking the center point of the table.

Broad view of the mainly open table with some rocky outcroppings.

The initial deployment for the Italians and British.
 The dice rolls for "8 Million Bayonets" were kind to the Italians.  Everyone was at least confident and with rolls on the Elite table for the tanks and Bersaglieri it was a formidable force.  I considered lowering them given the long retreat, but decided for these elites and the desperate nature of the battle to keep the dice rolls.

Dug in British infantry, some cruiser tanks and more in ambush.
 The Italians started with two platoons of five M13 "tanks," one veteran and one trained.  A veteran Bersaglieri platoon, a platoon of 47mm anti-tank guns, a battery of 75mm artillery and a battery of 100mm artillery.  Ah yes, and my beloved biplane, the CR42 Falco.  Off table in delayed reserve were L3 tankettes, more trained Bersaglieri and a pair of AA trucks.  The British had veteran infantry and twelve trained cruisers, half in immediate reserves.  British tanks are very spendy compared to the Italians.  Almost twice as fast and with a better gun, but lower armored and only trained while the Italians might be veteran.

Surprise, flanking reserves immediately hit the Italians.

Simultaneously the ambushing tanks were sprung.

Good shooting coupled with poor morale and one Squadron of
Brits take to their heels.

Artillery, anti-tank guns and M13s take out another squadron.

Starting to look good for Italy.
 The British got their other reserve squadron and elected to bring it in on the flank again.  Good shooting but poor firepower rolls bailed most of the veteran squadron of M13s, but they passed morale.  In return the man-handled anti-tank guns and remounted tanks ran off the flanking force.  The Bersaglieri assaulted and eliminated on British platoon but then poor saves and morale forced the remainder to run away.

At the end.  No British tanks remain and the infantry will be
fodder for the tanks.

The Falco appeared in two of our four turns of play but although bomb hits we made, British saves largely negated them.  Italian artillery was intimidating but also unable to do much.  The lower AT values and firepower for bombs and artillery really took the teeth out of them.

All three of our mini-campaign games have seen a blowout of one side.  The first which saw the Italians hitting the Egyptian frontier was shot to pieces by British artillery (3rd edition).  The second game, an assault on an Italian frontier fort area was likewise destroyed by the Italian reserves (also 3rd edition).  None of them even went six turns.  You can read the accounts in the blog archives.  Not certain what to make of the results, but 4th Edition definitely puts a different spin on the game play.

After discussion we decided to continue the thematic games and allow the arrival of the Deutsches Afrika Korps, henceforth referred to as DAK.  The Italians were still running for Tripoli and while perhaps not the historic disaster, still a defeat.  Watch for more game reports.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Battle of Arcot - Somewhere in India

The background to our action:
"Messieurs, we have gathered at the behest of the Nawab of Arcot to repel the British and their allies who have invaded Madras from the Northeast coast.  Clive will no doubt be marching to support the force which seized the village to our front.  Following a preparatory bombardment, when the sun is at its zenith we will attack.  The honor of the assault will belong to the Nawab's forces.  I will place myself near the center with the Royale Ecossais and Grenadiers de France and support from native irregulars.  Monsieur Lambert (my mother's maiden name) with the Irish regiment Lally, converged grenadiers and marines will cover our right.  A swarm of native cavalry and some French light cavalry will support.

Bon chance mes amis.  To your positions!" -- Marquis d'Bussy

The French primary objective,

The French back table, fully in play.

The rest of what we knew of the English/native army.

Native irregulars to the front.  Europeans in the second line.

Turn 2 Clive arrives with reinforcements.

A methodical French advance.

My elites (dice roll) scatter enemy vedettes and hit regular cav.

Protecting the center flank by pushing.  Thr new Duc d'Arboy
Marines in the foreground.

Pushing the center as the British quietly await.

Slow advance on Arcot.

We are noticeably out-numbered on the right but a bottleneck
greatly helps.

Routing irregular cavalry are jeered by the advancing Irish.

The Irish are greeted by a charge of enemy light horse,

They calmly empty all but a few saddles and the remainder rout.

Having taken galling fire the redcoats charge my native infantry.

The infantry didn't immediately rout so cavalry to the rescue!

Marines and converged grenadiers against Sepoys and regulars.

Close order natives charge our open order troops so cavalry pile
in to help. 

The regulars prepare to decide the center.  But they have elephants.

A real cluster... uh... mess in the right-center.

After the fact, my lights eliminate the British regular cavalry.

The center is won!  Despite the British getting the first fire card
seven turns in a row.

Final position on our left.

As time (and energy for me) ran out at 4:00 the consensus was that it was at least a marginal French victory.  The defender of Arcot felt that it would eventually fall, the center was a clear French win, and the right would be turned by Clive in time.  Though having the only viable cavalry on the right would hopefully make it take long enough.  We saw a number of cavalry mobs swarm in all directions during the game.

The game featured the colonial version of our popular "Batailles de Ancien Regimes" system which caused a few "oops" for those like me that assumed things were the same.  Although there were some wonderfully painted new units specifically for India, we were forced to press into service an assortment of Eastern Europeans, Afghans, etc.  Not an area of concern.  The occasion was the birthday of our host and rules author Bill Protz.  We even got birthday cake decorated with the image of the Taj Mahal.