Thursday, 18 December 2014

the Waagh Wagon

Those of you who are serious historical wargamers might want to look away now as I am about to show my excursion into the "silly-side" of the miniature gaming. 

The other day I pulled out an long buried box
which jolted the memory to recall over a decade ago when I was drawn into gathering at Lisa's place (a dramatic leader of alternative gaming at the local club) for a building session of her new game of 'shoot-em' up' car racing.  Obviously inspired by GW's Waagh, she gathered a bunch of toy 1:35 scale Humvee models which we all proceeded to dismantle, or add to, or modify to our hearts content.  Frankly, a bunch of strangers all together with the task to build with similar models with a big box 'o bits was, I remember, a hoot. 

I chopped the roof off my Hummer thinking it would be easier to place the necessary driver and crew within, having some Orks lying about  -- and why did I have these??? However they provided the inspiration for the haphazardly armored, quite rusted but heavily weaponed, bucket of a wagon. 

my rust-bucket of a vehicle with the pit stall behind

The construction was mainly of plastic found in household goods packaging!  The result was then painted to simulate rust.

The game was to create your own vehicle based upon a point system.  Up-armor = 2 pts, +1 on driver reaction = 1 pt, extra nitro =3 pts;  that sort of thing.  So every one starts the race with the same points expended but the attributes of the vehicle could be very different.  I went with armor and fire-power.  Very Orkish I thought.   I remember in my first game I started last (rolled the lowest....once again <sigh>) but ended up finishing first as I destroyed every vehicle I came up to with my flamer up front or the heavy bolter to the rear should any fool come up to try to lap me!  The game was kinda NASCAR with guns and nasty obstacles (oil slicks, barricades etc. ...and land mines - if memory serves me ....  and probably doesn't) 

Great fun.  Haven't played it many years but will hold onto the model.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pavlovski Grenadiers

The famous Pavlovski grenadiers form my first element of Russian infantry painted.

Could not help myself but to buy the lone pack sitting in the store's new bargain bin.  It is ex-Victrix metal selection.  Discovered upon getting home and, more importantly getting the reading glasses on - getting old just sucks - that they are of the earlier 1805 uniform with waist belt and round backpack.  With the simple thought that the basic uniform is the same -  a Russian is a Russian  - I painted them up nonetheless, adding a Perry officer who, with swinging sword, also serves to fill in the extra gap in the line with the lack of numbers.

The regiment is famous for the continued wearing of the old-fashioned mitre headdress and was an elite unit and in 1813 was elevated to the Russian Imperial Guard.   Officers wore shakos apparently allowing me to use the additional officer figure.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Russian field fortifications at Borodino

I still remember two great influences of my wargaming interest as a kid.  A book on Waterloo which I still own and a relative's novel "War and Peace" with very moody painting of battle scenes which I still have in my memory.  No, I have not read the novel, well except those chapters about the battle itself, of course! But those illustrations still stay with me thus, I guess, my obsession to game this battle.

Of course one of the most important focal points was the main Redoubt the Russians built. The other, the Fleches, I think would make good victory points in recreating the battle.  Russians have them, the French need them for the points.  While historically the battle became pointless, for wargamers it is pride in that of the taking, just as it was in real life.

So without further ado, my Raevski's "Grand Redoubt" ......

Raevski's Redoubt .... 

Yeah, not all that grand, eh?
Well, in size, it really wasn't.  While I have seen very large renditions with 8 or more model cannons, those were for battalion scaled games and might well have been even overlarge for that.  Indeed the redoubt was only less than 200 meters (~200 yards) in length and having only 18 guns or 1.5 Russian batteries within.

I viewed several maps and have made the tabletop scale approximately 1 foot of table to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles). The table will be only 8 by 5 feet.    So at 200 meters the redoubt is about 1/5 of a foot which, if all my math is correct - never a sure bet - is about 2.5 inches or under 6 cm.   So my redoubt at 4 inches is oversized!!  Yes, the vertical and horizontal scale problem of wargaming rears annoyingly again.
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Obviously I did not plan all this out while starting the building.  I simply just took an available piece of hardboard for the base and started cutting hard insulation foam to shape.  With such a small footprint I decided on a more abstract creation knowing I could not possibly get all the correct details within. I did elevate it a bit as to give it more imposing character.  In the game,  as historically, it may well become an important focal point.
The French attack in masse.  The Pavlovski Grenadiers help defend.

The Fleches are similar in their small footprint.  Rather than have the proper three separate earthworks in the correct configuration - resulting in a model more suited to 6mm than our 28mm - I went for only one earthwork, not particularly tall,  to portray the rather inadequate protection it offered.  Due to its open nature, in the game it will offer no combat protection at all and only to forward fired cannon shot.
The Fleches

Again, as historically, it becomes a focal point, a marker almost, to be fought over.

The models have the necessary dice frame holder for the rules however the crew are detached to allow placement on other stands should they be required. The figures are Foundry and were acquired from MikeB who got them, poorly painted, in an ebay lot but he did not require.  So with a quick repaint, their small bases are ideal for these field fortification models.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Battle of Wavre 1815 refought

As Dave B. is an excellent sounding board ideas for developing the ongoing Napoleonic rules, a foisted upon him another Napoleonic game.

The Battle of Wavre was fought at the same time as Waterloo so gets little of the same treatment as it was considered a side show to Waterloo's main event.  Even the Prussians themselves knew this to be true and so left General Thielemann with less than his full corps to delay Marshal Grouchy ('Grew-she') while the rest of the Prussian army left to beat up on the Wellington's forces.
My "Marshal Grouchy"stand.  He is eating his strawberries as Gerard berates him to march to Napoleon's aid.

The Prussian defensive line was the difficult to cross Dyle River, so once again we are dealing with Napoleonic town fighting across the bridges at those points.
Looking from the south-east toward the direction of Waterloo, this photo shows the Dyle River.  Dave's initial French forces of Vandamme's infantry are assaulting both Bierge(center) and Wavre on the right while Exelmann's Dragoons look toward Limale on the left. Only the Prussian artillery are showing themselves on the far bank of the river near the villages.
I took the Prussians as they were pretty well stationary giving Dave the more decision making French command.  Historically, Grouchy followed what he believed to be the proper course of action from Napoleon's rather cloudy directives.  After the Battle of Ligny Napoleon gave Crouchy who previously led only a corps of cavalry, command over the infantry corps of General Gerard and Vandamme both of whom were heavily engaged at Ligny, along with the cavalry of Exelmann and Pajol.  Napoleon seemed to want to have Grouchy keep his sword in the back of the retreating Prussians while Gerard pressed for him to march to Napoleon's aid once the cannon fire from the direction of Waterloo was heard.  These two different actions formed the options - by secret die roll - which the French under Dave B. could take unknown to me, as the Prussians.  Thus I could not commit my reserves accordingly.
Dave moving an element between Limale(right) and Bierge(center) .  Note the large blank bases which form my potential hidden reserves.  These bases I kept from their previous use as our artillery bases, which are now considerably smaller.

Now to be honest I did not have much choice in my reserves deployment, nor did Thielemann,  as he was seriously outnumbered and most of his forces were already committed to the defence of each of the towns forming the crossing points and so placed them historically.  Again, historically, the French had little idea of the forces ranged against them, so I felt justified in the scenario to have many potential hidden forces for the Prussians keeping their numbers unknown to the French.

As it was only a medium sized game, we ended up playing one and half-ish games rewinding the clock several times as we came to grip with different ways of handling the town fighting rules.  In the past we had town fighting a function of the normal open field element combat with an addition of overwhelming modifier for the defenders. Lucky dice aside, the only way to defeat any defender was to attrition them and so a "conga-line" would enviably form with a long line of attacking elements cycling through until the defender was worn down enough to evict. While simple, I felt it did not feel right nor was it satisfying play for the commanders.

So the scenario was kinda set aside as Dave B and I myself tried various options.  In the end, while it still needs to be tested, we came up with combat much in the same vein as cavalry combat with squares as in the defenders stay put until voluntarily removed or eliminated (not literally but as a cohesive body of troops).  Combat itself is simply a die roll-off without modifiers.  Elites only have more staying power.  A bit more to it of course but it follows the rules approach we continue to strive for in simple "convention game" procedures. The effect works however.
The French of Vandamme's Corps assault the town led by the 2nd Foreign Regiment ("the Swiss") representing Habert's brigade

With much of the game in intellectual discussion, the scenario was not played out to any extent. I was worried about reinforcement timing as for the rules now more streamlined, can cause historical timing of forces entering the table to be difficult to establish.  This proved again to be the case and is but another item to be looked at, but the new town fighting rules might work now. Hopefully.

Hmm, I think I will have to re-roll that one!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

WW2 - "Battle of Smolensk"

Based on a real battle in Russia, this scenario designed by Brandon and played over two nights, had the Russians attacking a strong German defensive position including a town (always 'fun').  The two victory points being the town and the extreme German left flank of the table point.

The following is not really a narrative of the whole battle but merely observation from my point of view.

Gives a flutter to any Stalinist heart

Evening One:
The usual "what do you want to command?" allocation of forces with myself taking a Russian all-tank force as I don't often play their favourite "Battlefront" rules and so tried to keep it simple.
I was told to go attack 'over there' to the German left flank and so proceeded to move along the curvy roads gaining road bonus.  Now in the far, far distance the German Tiger tank fired and took out the tank on the crossroads so blocking that for all other use. THAT is the range?!  Oh dear.
My tank conga line.  The markers placed on the tanks are suppression and disorder markers.   And yes, for you tread heads out there, it is a German truck following.  Let's pretend it is Russian as Dave's growing Russian collection doesn't quite have enough Russian trucks yet.  (all Russian troops in the battle are his) 
Forced by terrain to limited attack avenues the Russians were forced "up the gut" and so I pushed my strung out tankers into immediate attack against the STuG and PaK 37 in the wood line.  Well they HAD been rolling poorly.....
A STuG and PaK in the woods support by SS infantry and a MkIV and Tiger in the background.  Yup, let's charge them!

.........with the usual results
With Kev's forces reaching the dragon's teeth, our casualties mount.
Of course at this point Comrade Dave who had initially stated " yeah, yeah, move everything that way.  I've got the town", now started to despair about his chances of taking the town faced with determined German resistance ( read: good dice rolls)
German infantry in the rubble.

At this point four hours and 6 turns gone by with the battle still in the balance.

Evening Two:
With the expected non-arrival of Sean, and the depletion of my force, I switched sides and took command of the German right flank holding the town.  I immediately went on the offensive to help what little infantry were left holding the corner of the town.  Ultimately while slowly losing hold on the town [ my first turn saw me roll three successive 9's to beat off a overwhelming infantry assault on my remaining town sector ], my panzers did some good shooting ( again, read: lucky dice )  to hold off any moves from within the town.
my situation as German commander.  The Russian trucks are disgorging lots of infantry as they are blocked by the burning Russian assault guns.  I have a couple of infantry stands in the pale house and good armour support.
Traffic jam in the town
a wider shot including Dave's T-34 in the upper right corner of the town at the precarious angle trying to get himself out of the rumble and failing for several turns his 'bog check' roll with the curses of " FOR THE LOVE OF...!!!!"
The overall battle was interesting as the Russian fire was so poor (rolling six successive 2's at one point of the game) that the German armour was seldom hit.  Brandon commanding the German left stated that his lone PzMkIV sustained 14 shots without harm. On the flip side, the Russian morale rolls were outstanding rolling 9 or 10 every turn!  The result was that the battle lasted much long than it have should as the Germans were still alive and the Russians tenuously holding on with meager resources.

After 8 turns and 8 hours of play the battle was declared a draw due to the location of forces at each victory point.

Highlight of the night:  Dave tends to be very demonstrative when rolling his dice.  Often he rolls the dice for firing with a loud "BANG!!" and with the usual result of a 1 or 2 ...rather than the expected 10.  Rather finding this silly, I suggested that he scares the dice with his loud scream and suggested he talk softly to them.  Sooo.. the very next roll he smooches them with kisses and soft purring of "I love you"  { yes he actually does these things. I lie not. }  And so rolls his one and I believe only 10 of the entire game.  Does he continue this sedate practice?  Heck, no.  Actually started using other, than the Soviet red dice, to make his rolls, to no greater effect.     Mind you, the group tends to blame you and you personally for any poor "shooting" i.e. random and unlucky low rolls, than the fates of the dice.  They like Armati and THAT is all dice so I should not expect less.  My bad....