Monday, June 19, 2017

Hampton Roads Encore

In a radical change of pace, we pulled out the 1/600 scale "ironclads" to replay the 2nd day of Hampton Roads in March, 1862,  Models are a combination of Thoroughbred Miniatures and Bay Area Yards models.  Rules are "Steam and Black Powder" by Neil Stokes.

Since we were blessed with six players I felt the need to modify the historic scenario.  Besides the CSS Virginia and the tenders Beaufort and Raleigh I gave the Rebs the Patrick Henry.  Historically a boiler hit had delayed her arrival but today the Yankee shore battery missed.

For the Union we could have had the USS Monitor, Minnesota and Roanoke.  The latter two were steam frigates and historically had both grounded.  Today I gave them mobility but substituted substantially weaker ships.  I also let the Virginia have her ram even though it had snapped off in the hull of the Cumberland the day before.

CSS Virginia, escorted by the Beaufort and Raleigh looks to
finish yesterday's business.

But a new danger lurks behind the USS Minnesota.

The USS Congress still burns from the day before as the ships maneuver.
The Roanoke had to traverse most of the 9' table to get into play and the Minnesota started at speed zero so the early turns were maneuvering by the Yankees, looking to get into range with their smoothbore armaments, while the Rebs seemed to get in each other's way.

The two tenders, each lightly armed, raced in to get their guns into range and maybe try to ram.  They weren't easy to hit, but had little strength.  A hit on the Beaufort destroyed her boilers and once she coasted to a stop would be immobile.  Rather than try to ground the craft and save the crew, they bravely(?) turned into the Minnesota to try and ram.  Shot and shell raked the small vessel, killing the crew and starting a medium fire.  But....

The Beaufort, burning and her boilers blown hits the Minnesota
and starts a minor flooding result.
Next the Raleigh succumbed as her boilers were ruptured and the crew swept away by gunfire.  The Monitor steadily closed on the Virginia, counting the yards to her target and the 11" Dahlgrens.

Broader view as the ironclads close, with effect.
 A "lucky hit" from the Monitor and max damage blew a hole below the waterline of the Virginia, starting a severe flood, almost impossible to control.  The Patrick Henry, who enjoyed good shooting now needed to risk closing and getting all of her guns in play.  And the Roanoke?  She was steaming at full speed, trying to get into the fray.

The USS Roanoke looks on as the battle winds down, never firing.

The Beaufort almost set fire to the Minnesota as she drifted away.

The Patrick Henry will receive a broadside as the Monitor rams
the Virginia and adds a major flooding result!
It seemed the Confederates couldn't buy a break today.  After early sniping with rifled weapons against the Yankees their dice, especially the Virginia's, went cold.  Perhaps the unwillingness to close and try to ram ruined the Rebel chances.

The Virginia cannot survive two floods and sinks.

So in the end, the Virginia went down from flooding, the tenders were lost and the Patrick Henry likely would not have escaped.  A total disaster for the Confederacy, wiping out the success of the previous day.  The hard-to-hit Monitor was lightly damaged, the Minnesota had a lot of holes on her starboard side but had successfully battled fire and flooding, while the Roanoke cursed their inability to even fire a shot in anger.

Monday, June 5, 2017

101st Airborne vs. 12th Volksgrenadier

I've been enjoying a real glut of gaming lately, making up for the dismal early spring.  Sunday we played a round of Flames of War 4th Edition at our favorite game shop, Adventure Games Oshkosh.

My LW list was from Market Garden and the paras were supported by the 11th Armoured Division.  My 1500 points had two para platoons with extra bazookas, a battery of pack 75mm howitzers, a .50 cal AA platoon, LMG platoon, a pair of 57mm ATGs, a "limited" P-47 and a troop of Shermans (one Firefly) from the 11th.  Bob fielded three grenadier platoons, a platoon of 8cm mortars, three StuG III, four Mk. IVH and a Tiger.  We initially rolled an Annihilation mission, then were talked into trying the new Fog of War Objective Cards, which pretty much eliminates the mission.

My initial deployment.  Both sides start dug in and gone to ground.
Bob had the first move and as such couldn't issue bombardment fire.  Not sure why the rules call for that since we hadn't moved.  It gave me the chance to hit them with my 75s and pin them for most of the game.  The Germans advanced with StuGs and infantry on my left, tanks on my right.

My tanks hide from the superior numbers.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, advance in the center.

Utilizing the "Blitz Move" my tanks engaged the Mk IVs finally.

The remnants of my para platoon seek cover.  Meanwhile the
StuGs and 57s continue a mostly ineffectual duel.
 I discovered quickly that 4th edition has really emasculated aircraft.  Planes that used to be the terror of the battlefield are no longer effective against real tanks.  I'm told that it is because the author feels that aviator claims were wildly exaggerated and they really destroyed very few tanks.  Maybe.

Finally gaining the advantage.  Six shots vs. six, then four, then two.

Bob's previously hot dice went cold and my tanks gained the upper
 The Objective Cards were... strange.  We each got three cards initially and had to play one a turn till the three were out.  Each time we played a card we got three more and kept one of them.  One card Bob played had him place an objective along the mid-line and two more within 12" of the first.  Naturally it allowed him to place them close to his forces.  Another played later let him place a 3 point objective (we were now playing to six points) anywhere.  There was a countdown before he could claim the points, but about 3" from the table edge behind a dug in grenadier platoon meant he would get them unless the game ended sooner.

I also drew the place three objectives card.  One next to Bob's
and two more safely in my zone of operations.

 The tide drastically turned in my favor.  The last StuG was destroyed, giving me a free hand on the left.  The Tiger was bailed by the Firefly and being a one tank platoon, failed his motivation test and ran off.  The surviving Mk IV likewise failed, so suddenly my two remaining British tanks were the only ones on the field!

Keep moving boys!

Tanks secure the center objectives and along with the other points
from cards mean a 6-4 win for me.

I had mixed feelings about the game session.  The firepower cap of 3 on artillery and plane bombardments doesn't seem right.  Tigers can no long be killed by Rockets or bombs, only bailed.  Planes needing to range in on targets in the open also seems weird.  Mortars no longer get to re-roll the first ranging in attempt, but also not have to range in every turn anymore.  The Objective cards felt gamey to me and introduced an extra element of luck, though it was suggested that picking good cards and knowing when to play them added to the strategic element.  Maybe.  Other things: I continue to like the improved survivability of gun teams.  Morale and "Last Stand" changes are superior to the old system.

We'll continue to play and report.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Battle of the Bridges - Part II

At the end of the last session a lucky dragoon charge had routed an enemy battalion and found themselves surrounded on all sides by the enemy.  In BAR the draw of a card indicates which side moves first and after everyone has moved, more cards determine firing.  We were operating in brigades for drawing cards.  As we resumed the first card was...... Red!  For Litharus.

The Palanga Dragoons ride disordered into the flank of the enemy.

Elsewhere the Vilnius Grenadiers continue dealing out destruction.

Oops.  Despite having every advantage the dragoons lost, and
routed which after discussion we decided it meant surrender.

With the lucky result the Latverians line the river, daring us to cross.

The Latverian view of the table.

The heroic militia finally rout as Litharusian battalions mass to
force a crossing.  But...

The constriction of the town and enemy proximity limits
deployment options.

The Rondovian battalions suffer as in draw after draw the
Latverians get first fire.  But they hold, for now.

This will take a while and must be properly prepped.

At this point the Latverians had three full battalions and a half battalion that had routed away, along with the gun destroyed.  Although the allies had taken a lot of casualties, nothing had routed and stayed that way.  Given the campaign setting, the Latverian high command came to a reluctant decision.

The Latverian infantry begins to back off as the cavalry redeploys.

Some relief for the brave Rondovians as the range opens.

But finally one battalion could stand it no more and routed on
the last turn played.

In the end the combined Litharusian and Rondovian forces controlled all four bridges as desired.  The invaders would not penetrate farther into Rondovia here.  Not counting routers the attackers suffered more casualties than the defenders, mostly among the Rondovians and grenadiers.  The Vilnius Grenadiers in particular distinguished themselves with firing.  Heavily wounded Latverians fell into the hands of the allies during the retreat, who will give them all due care.  Later an exchange will likely be worked out for the captured cavalry.

Now all wait with bated breath to learn of the Latverian assault at Cressey.  Would this victory be for naught?