Saturday, 13 July 2019

Postnaya Bridge 1941 WaT game


Having winter terrain (my Retreat from Moscow game) and Russian early war tanks models, I thought that I might be tempted to do the ‘frozen gates of Moscow’ Nov-Dec.,1941and do WaT with a winter style.

I invited a bunch of the guys over with tank models to have a go at these clear rules. After a quite a long discussion over sizing (who knew that the difference between 1:48 and 1:56 could be so much!) and it was determined that my KV-1A model was 1:48 scale and so we went with that.  Jim brought his Matilda II, in jungle dark green(!); ChrisP brought a Stuart (a lend-lease not offered until 1942 so we cheated a bit there and he was reluctant to apply a whitewash over a rather bright green color-scheme.  I used the big KV-1a along with the truck full of engineers and explosives for the scenario.

On the German side, Gord grabbed one of Bill’s numerous builds, the non-white-washed 38, while Bill used the other with an artistic whitewash motif.  Clayton used my T-34 with German markings as the third tank.  The points were even for each side with 3 tanks aside.
The Germans move into the town 

The Russians were trying to blow the critical bridge before the Germans foremost troop of armour could control it and the town.  Lots of manoeuvring and die rolling in this game but the Germans got to the town first and concealed themselves well, awaiting the Russian advance.  The Russians need the engineers to blow the bridge; but as we can see, it was not to be, so Jim and his Matilda had to destroy it with shot.  Chris’  Stuart tank, we nicknamed “Stewie” was unfortunately brewed near the end of the game, the only casualty.
Germans position themselves.  The t-34(r) is holding the right flank (top)

But the bridge’s destruction was after Bill, in a rather bold move - either silly or a brilliant tactical maneuver depending upon result - used a fist full of Drive Dice to move out of the town, over the bridge and move swiftly around to the flank of the slow turreted KV in order to destroy the truck from behind its KV protector.  Russian panic enthused with my dice rolling slowly spinning the KV around with slow turret movement while the truck [we gave it command dice for movement only - for those knowing the rules the Drive Dice and Wild Dice as usual and with the Acquire Dice convertible to a Drive Dice but only if on the road.  All other Command Dice were ignored] needed to go off road to get away from the rampaging German tank.  While with all this slow motion maneuvering (I was rolling low for movement inches) it managed to block the line of site of the KV to its attacker which did not help.  Bill was relieved to have survived the Russian beast and promptly blew up the truck and the engineers and all their explosives within.
Bill's small but fast 38 vs my lumbering KV1a.  The Lorry driver is attempting to move away off-road but the tires are obviously slipping in the mud;  at least that is what the very low dice rolls suggest!
..then the truck finally can move down the road next turn only to move slow enough to block the KV's line of sight!
...and pays the price.   The lorry is a MDF from Warbases and I bought just for fun.  I added a 'canvas' cover (a large bluejeans clothing label of all things!) and realized I could add it to the collection. It looks the part of a 1930's design Russian truck of the early war with a wargamer's squint.

The KV, without the need to protect the truck, and too slow to engage the fast 38, lumbered forward to engage its original target of Clayton’s T-34(r).  We extended the game another turn as the destruction of that tank would not allow the Germans to maintain their scenario conditions.  However, no further effects were made and both sides had achieved minor victories.  I hope the boys enjoyed the play on the white cloth of Russia....




Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Happy Waterloo Day

To everyone,
Happy Waterloo Day!!
the two hundred and third edition.....

a photo from the perhaps ninth game (!) of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) with deployments per the historical example on a element = brigade level. Very hard for Napoleon to win in any event.  In all those games (and most had excluded or reduced the Prussian involvement) only once did the Allies lose and only because the "Picton" player did a very foolish thing and charge over the ridge and into the grand battery AND again the Prussians did not arrive.  While a French victory it still could have gone either way; so hard one for the French to be victorious.
my 28mm Napoleonics - mostly Perry Miniatures

Anyway the 'Battle of La Belle Alliance' (as it SHOULD be known but Wellington was, of course, SO obnoxiously British....) is always a favourite to play.


Thursday, 30 May 2019

"Ney's Folly" Enfilade 2019

In my third hosted game the critical part of the Battle of Waterloo was reenacted having Marshal Ney order much of the French cavalry unsupported over the crest line of the ridge only to find themselves unable to break the Allies infantry squares and be met with the one coming squadrons of Allied horse to force them away.

Preface:  one year ago at the 2018 convention....in one of our suites after-hours drinking beer... we decided that "it would be cool" to combine the Lion Rampant medieval rules to the showy uniforms and dash of the Napoleonic era into a fun ruleset.  I was tasked with making it happen.  After many trials, some of which have been previously documented in this blog, the rules seem to have operated well especially after having undergone a major trial of a convention setting, having 14 players move around 28 units ..and my voice virtually at a whisper from speaking in the din for the entire day.  Nevertheless, it seemed to go along well for all the players many of which painted up their favourite Waterloo units specifically for this game.

  I cannot describe much/any of the action as I was involved clarifying to the many players the charging procedures (a bit tricky at first but with experience players seemed to have them understood) but I wanted interesting action and not your standard "you set up there and they set up opposite" deployment.  So I had each side dice for their position in a random method: French from the south and west, the Allies from north and east. THAT produced some interesting angles!  I also used random bases of casualty figures as "terrain pieces" to provide delays in movement and charging (horses don't like treading on dead things and so will cause problems for the riders!)



Battle of Dresden - at Enfilade 2019

Battle of Dresden

This Napoleonic battle of 1813, was the second largest of the wars.  Our developing ‘big-battle’ rules is specifically designed to play these massive affairs but even these are challenged by the size.  However, the Allied command conveniently did not utilize large portions of their numbers and to fit it comfortably into a single game session with a convention table restriction and time restraints, I reduced the element numbers by some third.

As with the dedicated group enjoying these rules, the players each painted up their own command with a common basing which really helps with the look of the game increasing its ‘visual continuity’.  We had DaveB with his commands of Mortier (the French Imperial Guard foot) and Ney (the Young Guard), St. Cyr by James, all the Austrians done and commanded by Seth and the remainder filled in by myself.
viewing from the index area of the above map
The Prussian commander moving his heavy horse toward Dresden and the awaiting French. Later in the battle he would be reversing course!  While not strong, apparently the French artillery did sterling work.  
Overview- looking from the opposite westward view with Dresden on the right, the Allies to the left and the Great Garden (Grosse Garten) the landmark area of this battle made from a piece of hardboard for playability.

As I gave myself the “adjudicator” task, I was not intimate with all the actions of the game, moving from one small judgement situation to the next, but the game kinda followed history compressing the two days into one.  In the game, as on Day One, the Allies attacked in the middle forcing the French back to the artillery emplacements before the city. However, the French sprang back, in this case with good artillery support as per Day Two of the historic affair.  On the French right flank, BobE commanding most of the French cavalry with infantry outnumbered the Austrians who were separated from the rest of their army by a rain-swollen river crossable at only one point at Plausen.  Historically the Austrians were severely defeated in this area…as were the Austrian elements on the tabletop…

Marmont's French move to destroy the Austrians.  Elements of my French army.  While mine, the following photo shows four different painter's collections in action together.  They look good together.
the action in the centre and in the distance the Allies right/French left flank.

On the French left flank, DaveB, used the advantage of the French Guard elements to push back the Russians under Ian and Prussians under BobS to their breaking point.
See DaveB's blog post and his activities during the game/battle at: link with a very well written account.
We ended the game without the need to have the obvious happen having those commands inevitably rout off the board so ending with the situation very close to the historical battle.

Retreat from Moscow - at Enfilade!


The first of my three games I hosted at the Enfilade! convention in Olympia, Washington State USA, was a “Retreat from Moscow” affair conceived after learning the convention’s ‘winter’ theme, the fortuitous acquisition of the beautiful Perry sculpts, the ownership of a large white sheet which could be a tract of snow covered tabletop, and the re-conceiving of the church which I previously constructed but with which I was not entirely happy so I was quite willing to cover it modelled snow - all the parts of which a miniatures game may be made; except for the lack of the rules.

I am a firm believer that all convention games, with the accompanying noise level, player inexperience, and general confusion, must be of a simplistic level to work and be fun to play.  So I made these really simple!  If the participants are not playing the game unaided by the fourth turn, the rules are too challenging!  Generally 6s to hit, movement by standard stick, shooting range by the same, blob movement, no formations and above all, no morale.  “Morale”, the mental state of which our metal miniature representative conduct human emotional responses to combat situations on the tabletop can be the bane of rule writers and players alike…so I just said there are none. Units will continue until no figures remain.  None got to that stage in this game….some were close however!
As my game write up suggests, “ To surrender is to be killed, to give up is to die frozen, to run away is to die alone in the white vastness. Your only option is to fight and keep walking but that the Russians and nature may not allow.  It's fun in the snow!!  Simple rules for a simple game!” 

I had 7 players controlling their small units of either 6 foot or 3 horse of the retreating Grand Armee including Poles, Bavarians, French and a group of various other nations (for which the Perrys made) verses the Russian defenders of jagers and Cossacks but mainly small groups of armed peasants.
(l-r)  Bavarians, French cav on foot, French infantry and on road, one unit of Old Guard

All the aspects of the game are random, including the use of hidden cards indicating who next chooses his - or her - unit.  I had the two players who picked the jagers or Cossacks also move and roll for the peasants on their side of the table to speed up play.    The game flowed along with all the French players making it across the rather rickety bridge (a chance for figures falling to their deaths in the frozen river ) and “victory” in safety off the table.  

At first, most players were under the belief that it would be a very difficult task, as I suggested even by crossing some of the terrain could kill them; but, by the end of the game, they were suggesting for more dangerous approaches for the Retreaters!  As with randomness, sometimes the aspects were not that dangerous with the dice rolls; my favourite, the wild boars, proved rather ineffective on both occasions (!) and being shot with good musket fire so not having the chance to get their teeth into either French or Russian flesh.
Russian peasant group in a 'staging area' 

I was a bit surprised being judged best of session theme winner, and handed out the swag I was presented - small flashlight measure, tape/bottle-opener combo etc. -  to the players first over the bridge as a bit of a reward for their play.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Hussar Rampant action post Waterloo-ish


Hussar Rampant fictional action somewhere in southern Belgium, post Waterloo?

The French needed to get the wagons pack and moving. They also needed the squadrons active to counter the Allies horse attacking them.  They could not do both at the same time.
French wagons quickly (too quickly for the Allies) packing up and moving.  Perry metal horses (team separated) with Warbases MDF wagons.

….However, both Allies players (myself and ChrisP) failed our first activations even though Chris had accurately predicted his starting position (closer to the bridge to the French’s rear but harder the roll to do so but of which he was successful)  Because of the wagons/non-activation problem for the French, I gave them quite the points advantage which they used the numbers and tough cuirassiers to counter each of our attacks.
My badly handled 4th Dutch-Belgian Light Dragoons showing the new 'blown' markers - hussar pelisse left on the ground
Jim's cuirassiers verses my British Light Dragoons (left) and my converted Dutch-Belgian 5th Light Dragoons (right).  The fight to cross or defend the bridge lasted the entire game.
Though much of the discussion of the rules could be clarified if I could remember them (!) or remember to look them up (!) I guess they survived.  But combat over the wooden bridge was controversial to such a point that I exclaimed, “Note to self - no more bridges in scenarios!!”
"Illegal" formations made by ChrisP due to my rather poor instructions about river crossings and requirements for combat .
This was corrected but poor ChrisP never did cross the river to assault the retreating wagons due to the attentions of JimF.  
SteveA came over to have the rules a go and give them a tough 'tug'.  His very young step-son was given the command of the two squadrons of French Chasseurs light horse.  While the kid's rolling for all of dad's combat was quite good, he failed ALL of his own activations so thus these horse remained inactive for the game.  The good thing for the French were that they were really not needed! In the background, the cuirassiers were doing yeomen service forcing off my D-B attacks.

You may note in the photos the use of a new version of our “blown” marker - a discarded hussar’s pelisse in light blue with some of the units during the game.  With the number of Perry plastic hussar boxes I have used in the past while, I have a lot of them left over which I decided to put to good use.  These can be used in conjunction with our normal ‘horse-head’ markers. Any marker would do, but these have a nice aesthetic look.
My Dutch-Belgian Carabinier heavy horse.  Perry plastics converted from dragoons and modified.  The two pelisse markers does suggest the front squadron is in trouble!

Humorous event from the game:  poor JimF was lamenting about the lances he manages to knock off his metal figures each game.  Well, surprisingly he did not knock off a single lance this affair - it was instead the eagle standard off the cuirassiers to much amusement of the other players.
...at least the broken piece was not a lance!  (Jim's French 13th Cuirassiers in 'Spanish brown' and the broken piece)


Wednesday, 17 April 2019

other 'Trumpeter Salute 2019' games

While London England hosts its large Salute convention, Vancouver, Canada hosts its "Trumpeter Salute" three day convention near the same time.  I believe our 'Salute' name was first but not near as large or famous...

Aside from hosting a game, I played in two other games.  The first was Thomas' WW2 late war action in which I played a German commander holding off a serious British attack on a village.  His winter terrain was very nice to look at and gave a great feel to the game.  I remember one veteran wargamer gave me advice many years ago when he suggested "Only get in games which look good. If the rules are bad, if the GM is unsure, or if the scenario sucks, at least you have something nice to look at"



However, the 'Rapid Fire' rules under the excellent tutorage of Thomas and the straight forward scenario made for a good game; other than the excellent British dice (and tactics if I were honest) and our rather poor dice made for a rather quick game.

Examples of the balance of play:  I heard my German co-player moan to look to my right to see our mighty Tiger 1 tank, the glorious holder of our right flank, in flames!  Apparently lots of sixes were rolled by the British player firing his Shermans at it..... On my side, early in the game I had a panzerscreck crew jump out of cover to fire a surprise shot at the nearest British tank...it missed and was promptly shot to pieces. Later, my StuG moved up from cover only to be destroyed in the first shot and my AT gun in apparent hiding - at least I hoped- awaiting its chance after the additional British Shermans to cross the hedge, finally had to concede the enemy were content only to shoot up my infantry in the buildings, so fired a shot only to have it miss and have return fire kill most of the crew. Meanwhile I was struggling to find anybody to re-man the heavy machine gun - the only real asset the Germans had left,  from the continual British fire.  The game/battle was over in less than two hours. But it was pretty to look at!



---------------

The second game was another of DennisC's ACW historical scenarios, this time the Union assault on the Sunken Road during the Battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam.
I took one of the Union divisions and almost (!) took the right flank of the Confederate stronghold but the local player, JimL, a boy who can pull high dice out of his a*s apparently by demand, always rolled a 10 to my 9 and in the ruleset of "Fire and Fury"one point can make all the difference.
In the middle, the rather weak Union division could not make headway against the small but strong force of Rebs holding the sunken road and so DennisC in his continual quest for history to repeat itself had his wish.....


Retreat from Moscow - 1812 edition

On the cold road home......

Another “Trumpeter Salute” convention by the local Trumpeter Tabletop Society club is over and leaving me with a bit of a “wargamer hangover”  This can be described as a worn out feeling, sore feet, weak voice, throbbing head, aching back, and always that slight regret of not purchasing that good deal…..
the 'Vodka Wagon' pulled along

I hosted my “Retreat from Moscow” game.  For those two fellows in the back row unaware of the history (or myth…) Napoleon’s Grand Armee consisting of most of Europe’s armies was making its way back from the disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812 and through the snows of winter.

The game has very simple rules using measuring sticks and lots of randomness which helps in the fun atmosphere. Because the Russians (mostly armed peasants but a smattering of Cossacks and Jagers) are on ‘auto-pilot’ they can act in unforeseen ways but in this game with my rather low rolls, generally did not give the Allies much grief.  This, at least to me, rather boring state of affairs would change when one of the players, having safely crossed the bridge with his two units abruptly turned about and starting shooting at his compatriots!!
The peasants make a rare stand near the log pile
a close up of the Polish contingent

Apparently he decided on gaining the ‘Vodka Wagon’ for himself and the points.  He had asked me before doing this nefarious act, if he "could shoot at any unit?".  I said “yeah, sure I guess” not thinking it would be his friends.   JimD, up from the States, after this action, said he moved closer to me so I would hold him back from lunging at “the traitor”. He later said he was really angry.  I totally missed his reaction and thought the whole thing amusing and made the game that more interesting…….
congestion on the bridge
the 'traitors' (on the left) fire upon their erstwhile compatriots who retreat from the fire and abandon the wagon

As a note I made up a rule, on the spot, about the bridge, over which they must cross lest they chance dying in the frozen waters of the creek, a chance of partial collapse.  1 in 6 chance.  Of course, it would break three times each time having a greater chance.  PeterM, our statistician, wryly was calculating if it were better to chance the cold water instead!  
the Old Guard form a powerful rear guard...that is until JimF orders his unit to break rank to run for the bridge leaving PeterM to hold on his own with only half the firepower.  Only his good dice and random fate (aka my poor dice rolling for the Russian aggression) allow him to retreat intact also. (the bridge held intact long enough!)

Monday, 18 March 2019

Battle of the road apples....


“Oh for the love of !*#!”,exclaimed the infantry General.  “That is it!  I have had it with those damned idiots on horses! I am tired of stepping in horse dung. If they want their forage then they can MARCH and step in their own sh!t”

And so it passed that elements of the French 5th Dragoons and 8th Cuirassiers would be foot soldiers escorting the wagon to the forage depot.  The convoy will be the target of the local Hungarian Grenzer militia [ their history ] in this solo fictional game using the new Rebels and Patriots ruleset.

Both side had 12 points apiece. The Dragoons elements were the lead elite troop of 6 skirmishers - but not being so elite - along with 2 units of poor shooting line (unaccustomed to being on foot and armed with only carbines) following with the wagon and the large line unit Cuirassiers also poor shots.
My "foot cuirassiers" are Perry plastic dragoons with the lapels scraped away and a new color scheme. Note the one bloke still wearing his armour which I added with a torso swap. Plastics can be fun; to create what you want.

The Hungarian Grenzers were formed into two light units, one to hit the front of the column, the other the rear in a classic guerrilla attack.
The 'Grenzers' and cuirassiers in the distance trade shots

The attack starts with the front Grenzer unit “missing the start-time” and failing to move!  Luckily the rear unit fires upon the cuirassiers, who, with only the benefit of the commander with the unit, pass morale and so not disordered and then could move into the protective woods.
A unit of Dragoons move to help the beleaguered Cuirassiers while the other moves to protect the wagon.  The lead elite Skirmishers are frozen in place.  This seemed to be the pattern in the front as both the Skirmishers would not activate or not produce enough firepower to frighten the Grenzers.  They would eventually fall back on the wagon guards and together would keep the Hungarians at bay.
The wagoners await the opportunity to continue the march.

In the rear, the Cuirassiers would fire at the Grenzer light infantry (gaining the benefit of cover even in the open vs the weak return fire being in the woods).  With generally only 6s hitting and 3 hits = a kill, casualties and thus important enemy morale tests were hard to obtain.  The Grenzers with 5+ hits were a bit better but at a simple 7+ morale fails are 50/50 and so most could be passed (often with the help of the officer however!).  The Dragoons assisting the cuirassiers from across the stream were particularly unhelpful as their fire was desultory at best.

However the fire, weak that is was, was finally able, to have the Hungarians retreat (failing to rally) for successive turns.  At this point I would roll double ones on activations which trigger fun chance occurrences.   The Grenzers had a disorder marker added automatically (which they would roll off) and for the Dragoons are now “running of ammunition” - which might explain their poor fire!
more shots traded
The Grenzers (in the distance with the knapsack markers) having a only one disorder need not rally should they choose, but having such disorder is a large hinderance...

Back at the front… the Skirmishers finally got out of the way to allow the ‘reserve’ Dragoon unit to fire upon the Hungarians.  Together they held off the light infantry.  I did not conduct any attacks as both sides were not upgraded to being “fighty”.  Shooting by poor shooters frankly was not effective and so attacks might be in order.  While the rules are simple they are uncommonly tactics sensitive so different styles of play would be best at different times.  Very interesting indeed.

Nevertheless in this play and battle, the light infantry of the Hungarians would not press the issue and would retire intact, while the dismounted cavalry would be thankful not to sustain more damage.  Nonetheless, the losses were 8 of 24 figures for the Hungarians (30% losses) and 14 of 48 French (28%)

Continued firing, and thus the chance of any hits forcing a morale test, seems to be the way of the rules (and frankly of the era’s method of fighting) so gives the correct impression.  I like the effect even though one can have turn after turn of little effect.
Even with half the recommended points, it was a fun little game.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Panzer Schaden


“What a Tanker” game from a month back.  My Pzkw III would charge up to take on some little Frenchie thing, but heavily armoured.... apparently, so did no damage.  I got shot up, tried to reverse out of trouble, ran out of command chits and was brewed.  No Iron Cross for me.
Craig's nice layout.  Will's effective Char B can be seen in the middle left of the scene. 1/56 (28mm) scale.
Having reversed but not out of trouble, I am finally put out of commission but the "little Frenchie thing" unseen to the far left.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

a Tercey battle


The Tercey Campaign:  fictional solo game : Battle of Sticksley

With the return of the main armies to the Shire, and Earl of Rockforth’s Red faction’s command of the area, the Tawney party was on its heels.  However the knowledge of one of the Red’s wagon was a prize to tempting not to resist,  and so Lord Pomsby sought to plan its ambush near the town of Sticksley.
The area was very flat and with crops not of any height, he needed to place his ambush units some distance and widely spaced.  Longe’s Musketeers were to be the main unit, hidden as it was in a graveyard near the important crossroads.  Ballard’s Pike were to march from its hidden location to block the bridge and support Longe.  Ballard’s Shotte would then advance from its hiding of a farm house to the creek’s far edge offering protection as it would offer volleys into the flank of the enemy column.
Robarte's Shotte at the bridge

The Red column was led by Urry’s experienced horse.  However there seemed to be no overall command of the column which was to led to problems during the battle. The wagons for example continued their slow trek only to clog up the bridge and be lost in during the battle.
Urry's horsemen about to be shot upon by Longe's musketeers

The battle commenced with Longe’s very effective volley into the surprised horsemen. The following column too were put into confusion by the start of the fighting, rolling not to activate at all.  Bravely charging their tormentors, Urry’s horsemen, hurled themselves at Longe but the musketeers calmly met the charge.  Urry’s remaining troopers morale finally collapsed as they fell back to the bridge now cluttered with wagons, packhorses and men from the musketeers of Robartes Regiment. The latter had advanced to meet Ballard’s counterparts who had rapidly moved through an early growth wheat field to line the creek edge.  They would continue to shoot at each other for most of the remainder of the battle bravely matching casualties.“the valley was all smoke and fire such as the bowels of hades” wrote one participant, “and such bravery the devil himself could not conceive”
(Successive courage tests were passed regardless of the casualties)

Ballard's await word to advance.  The sheep look on.
Tawny forces converge on the Red position at the bridge. Longe is in the field on the left, Ballard along the creek on the right, Ballard's Pike coming down the road.  Robarte's red-coated shotte facing Ballard while the useless Nerne dragoons are unable to find ammunition to fire upon Longe's unit in the field. The abandoned wagon blocks the bridge.

While Robarte’s Shotte was effective, Nerne’s Dragoons were still on the far side of the creek, the wagon abandoned at the bridge, its horses shot down and driver having legged it.

Robarte’s officer now ordered a retreat hoping to take the remaining pack animals back to the other side of the creek to safety but obviously his men’s ardour overwhelmed them. (I sought to have the unit save themselves but it failed its move activation!) It took further casualties and a courage test to have them break and run.

Meanwhile, Nerne’s Dragoons, true to form based on their rather poor previous performances in battle, failed numerous activations and stood about without effect. (it failed 70% of its activations this game!)

Pomsby's ambush has been a success. The wagon, not surprisingly stocked with liquor, was quickly ransacked by the troops.  An officer managed to recover one bottle of claret which the Lord accepted gracefully. He toasted the troops for their victory which was met with resounding cheers. The Tawneys may have found their new leader to challenge the command of the Earl of Rockforth’s dominance of the Shire.