Sunday, 25 August 2019

WaT Wreck Obstruction

While I prefer the wide open spaces of the Russian Steppe to conduct a game of What a Tanker - more bang, less messing about - an occasional bit of ‘obstruction’ is not amiss.  I do have fences and trees and the usual terrain, but to keep a different look and a bit of 'eye-candy', I created an old “wrecked tank”.
It was much a "hmm, what can I do with this?" idea swiftly made after I had torn all the supports from the 3D print tanks I was provided. Necessary for the print construction, these bits are usually tossed as unusable scraps but my ‘cheapy wargamer brain” thought that, with a large degree of “wargamer squint”, it kinda would work especially with a liberal covering of 'snow'.
 The base square edged hopefully makes any LOS easier to adjudicate.

If Napoleon and Wellington ever tweeted:
In an internet cafe somewhere near Hougomont, 18th June, 1815.....
Capt. Mercer noticing Wellington looking over his shoulder. "The Ogre is online, permission to give him a scathing comment?"
Wellington:  "Certainly not!  Generals have better things to do than to bad tweet each other!"

Friday, 23 August 2019

Winter WaT add ons

Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner of the Two Fat Lardies must do a lot of moaning when wargamers want to stretch a perfectly fine set of rules to add yet more onto them.  With that I have already seen examples by others the use of panzerfaust and bazooka armed infantry.  Of course I will add the use of AT guns into the mix (if they haven't been already as they are a natural add-on.  Basically a gun without the armor and the immediate ability to move!

As I am doing the Battle of Moscow with the Russians defending, and if we have too many German tanks or players wanting to play the baddies, I have constructed a AT gun emplacement as a means to even things out...or make them interesting....

foam core and wood dowel construction

the inspiration from an advert in one of the 'glossies' 
With "weathering" added.  More like a very heavy frost than snow.

the gun is the inside tube of an ballpoint pen
The two extra logs on the top add to the hasty construction look of the emplacement but actually serve as arc markers showing 60 degrees from the rear barrel of the gun.

The rear showing the gun struts stuck into the foam core interior. Thin pieces of styrene are bent and glued to the ends of rod to simulate the AT gun.
Glue infused paper is used to hide the lack of an actual gun model.  Beads are used as shell casings. Pieces of balsa wood are ammo boxes. Obviously the boys have the blankets down in an attempt to stay warm....

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Historical battle of Vitoria game

"hey wait for us!" Action from the game.  (Prussian artillery follows the advance of von Hill). 

I host an annual ‘Big Napoleonic Mystery Battle” each summer and invite the regular players of our developing rules of GdC for an all day affair.  I am always pleased that James and Ron from Oregon make the long 250km trek to join me along with DaveB from the Island (also a bit of a trek with the ferry and all) to come to Surrey BC, Canada to participate in my ‘mystery’ historical battle. Unfortunately SethT of Seattle had pressing work commitments and had to bow out shortly before the date.   I kept the scenario in the realm of Napoleonics this time with the Battle of Vitoria, Spain, 1813 but using my Prussians and Russian in lieu of the British, Portuguese and Spanish of Wellington’s army.

Couple of the locals, ChrisP and KevinA took Dalhousie/Picton’s command and D’Erlon’s French together with Joseph’s small “Royal” contingents ,respectively.   The French commands of Gazan and Reille would be DaveB’s.  He is experienced enough to handle these important forces.  James and Ron decided to stay on the same side (so able to trade the war stories on the ride home!) and thus took Colesky (the historical Gen. Cole but as we were using his own Russians….) and Ron, the Prussians under “von Hill” (obviously the British General Hill).  This left Graham and his Russians ‘Grahamsky’ under my usual dubious command.
Colesky moving across the bridge while to the left, von Hill's forces advance between the river and the heights near Subijana.  Gazan's French are doing rear guard action while the majority of that force is already turned about for the withdrawal at Arinez.

The deployments and numbers were kept as historical as possible.  Thus Cole and Hill came in from the east end of the table to try to pin the French while Dalhousie/Picton “von Pikton” came over the eastern most of the northern crossings of the Zadorra River.  Graham, “Grahamsky” , was to take the furthest of the crossings to trap the French in the valley from their escape route to the east.

Unlike the French command in 1813,  the French of the game, looked at the table and concluded the trap was on and proceeded to set up for an immediate general retreat eastward only restricted by my scenario deployments.
Ron and James contemplate the situation. The pressures of High Command!
The height of the battle with the French defence of the "central hill" collapsing.

Despite some initial set-backs, the Allies of James and Ron, aggressively pursued the French forcing them to make a concerted stand near Chrispijana.  ChrisP added his numbers to the attack on this position. The French needed to slow the Allied advance all the while retreating elements east before the door would close from Graham’s force.  Perhaps luckily for the French, I was commanding Graham and, like the historic commander, I could only slowly deploy my forces against the French LOC to Pamplona toward the north east corner of the battlefield. However with the French unable to do much than cover Graham with artillery from coming directly via the Gammara Mayor crossing,  Graham committed forces spread out to the further crossing at Durana but with that, completely cutting off that route to the French retreaters (as was done historically).
....meanwhile in the east, Grahamsky's forces are met with accurate artillery from across the river and Reille's forces crossing the river.  While the town fight for Gamorra Mayor did not occur in the game, DaveB did accomplish much like Reille did to delay Graham's "closing of the door" in the actual battle
While I did much the poor effort that Graham did in 1813, I did manage to block the main retreat road of the French which was enough. Photo of the lead Russian light cavalry.  Infantry and artillery support would follow.

The final turn had us play 20 turns (some 10 hours of battle which started late in the morning real time in 1813) The famous looting of Joseph’s wagons and treasures gathered from all of Spain was not completed however as the French (the wagons under the command of KevinA’s “Joseph’s Spainish Royal” contingent)  were driven away just in front of the pursuing Allies, thereby giving the French some small argument that it was only a minor Allied victory….
But despite the lack of the wagons capture, the battle went basically to historic form with the French to be shortly expelled from Spain.

James playing “Colesky” (the historical command of the British General Cole) provides the following AAR of the action:
“ I thought the Allies would be the aggressors to kick things off, with Colesky coming across the western bridge and von Hill having sneaked up on the dastardly French from the south end of the hills. We should have easily pushed through the French defense, even with Picton dallying around (waiting for double evens(*), which came the 2nd turn!). Colesky made the decision to forgo splitting his command and making use of the hidden ford(^) to maintain a firmer control of his troops as the PiP cost of moving some elements out of command would have impacted the command’s ability to move forward.
James' own Pavlograd Hussars leading the assault

 Gazan surprised us by going on the offensive. The French cavalry stymied our movement, forcing us to deal with them and allowing for a retreat behind the hills east of Ariñez and what looked to be a full-on withdrawal. Gazan was able to check the allied thrust for four turns, causing a loss of both horse artillery bases and making Colesky rethink things (by forcing a moral check which caused a fallback result). Picton was making his presence felt crossing the Zaddora. 

Having absorbed the initial French push, Colesky and von Pikton began their push. In a bit of combined arms, the Pavlograd Hussars forced a French infantry element into square which was subsequently assaulted and destroyed by some Russian infantry. Ariñez was taken the following turn and the race was on, as the three Allied commands began pushing eastward. Picton began taking substantial fire from d’Erlon. Von Pikton screened Chrispijana and advanced as well. Grahamsky decided to show up and began blocking the main retreat line of the French. 

Gazan and d’Erlon massed behind the central hill and at this point, it could have gone either way. The Allies amasses on the opposite side, but the loss of Colesky’s foot artillery (I’m sensing a theme...) caused another fallback. Von Pikton, after a whiff of grape removed the last of the French cavalry, pushed forward and forced Gazan to rout. Colesky finished off Gazan with another feat of combined arms. Grahamsky stubbornly denied the line of retreat. As night fell, the French were in retreat and the Allies the controllers the field. “

(*Note): This was the scenario trying to simulate Dalhousie’s cautious approach. Eventually the historical Picton would be so frustrated and take things into his own hands and order his division into the action (for which I committed the entire force).  ChrisP, being his usual lucky self, achieved the rather difficult dice in a very short time and so went to the attack quickly.
(^Note):  The ford, the location of which was not disclosed to the French, was the one Kempt and his Light Division used upon being advised by a local Spanish peasant. In future, Cole will be given the option to use some of his force for this purpose without hindrance of that distant command for his PiP amount for a historical scenario design.
James's own Russians...looking good in their attack

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The big battle style....

The previous post had a 6mm big battle which each element was brigade strength.  My Napoleonic rules employ a similar ratio but using 28mm figures (but obviously fewer of them for the ‘footprint’!)
Here are some pictures of a Waterloo refight done a while back.  The area of this game would be but a square foot or two on Kevin’s table, but I assume (due to being a historical refight) all the fun maneuvering has already been done (all the corps been committed to one area of the countryside or the other like Grouchy and Gerard's) and the true tactical fighting is to begin……
Looking from the north-east 
the view Napoleon might have witnessed
and that of Wellington

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Mini Gettysburg - Day 1

The monthly ClubNight had KevinA, the Micro King, put on his “three-day Gettysburg in an evening” game.  Spoiler: it only went to the end of the first day, but it was an interesting game.

We, the all knowing gods, could indeed see all the 14 by 11 miles of the field of battle and surrounding territory but still with the long distances the troops could travel in a turn (some four hours game time) things moved quickly and so kept the mysteries alive.  I didn’t quite know in which direction the Union troops would take and that was mirrored in my own decision for the entry of Longstreet’s corps, the third and last to arrive.  Go north and reinforce Hill and meet the onslaught of the masses of Union troops arriving in a couple of turns, or go slowly across country to mass against the isolated Union corps on this side of the the Round Top ridge line?  After some internal deliberation, I choose the latter.  The pressures of higher command!

After setting up the classic - pin the front, threaten the flank, and finally “hit the hinge” maneuver - so loved by Napoleon, my dice (and the Union commander ChrisP’s good dice) failed me. All five attacks failed and my forces were pushed back and bloodied.  The main attack I set up on the hinge unit itself had my 12 dice to the Union’s 5 only to have me to roll 40% success to the Union’s 80%! Ugh.  Did Napoleon have to endure that?!

Thus ended Day 1 and the game unfortunately as time ran out.  While not really feasible in only four hours, with experienced players with the rules, and a full day to play, yes, Gettysburg could be done.  The rules were  “Bonnie Blue Flag” HEAVILY adapted by KevinA.  Diced for command points use is crucial.  Combat dicey but simple.

The overall look and feel was good.  I like the 6mm for the grand tactical effect. Each stand represents a brigade of some 2500 men.  The long ‘operational moves’ (infantry stands could move up to 12 inches off road and 18inches (!) on road) meant corps would be quick to be placed in the battle but real thought would be to where, as once in battle that is really where they would remain and die.

yes, a board game could do the same, but it would not have the visual 3D look now would it?
Buford's cavalry before the Lutheran Seminary.  Their commander choose not to fight there and retreated to the hills beyond Gettysburg thereby changing the game from a historical to a what-if.  
Union has the darker blue labels, the Rebs the whiter ones. The player commanding Hill's corps departed suddenly so I was left with what he had done.  Like Robbie Lee trying to make sense of what was what when he arrived on the battlefield I suppose.....
The red beads represent disorder. Note my Rebs have a lot of them, and lots of hits too... The infamous "hinge" was near the location of the blue die and marks the high point of Confederacy in this game!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Medieval ‘LR’ clash

With a slow rotation of games (telling me I have way too many armies/eras/‘projects’ already) we tend to forget the rules and spend quite a bit of the game asking ourselves “what happens now? The rule is?”

Trying to keep fresh on the Lion Rampant rules, I invited the guys over for a simple ‘refresher’ game.  Not knowing the numbers of fellows I placed down terrain, said “you English over there, we French over here”, gave out personal objects randomly (I was the only one who gave THAT any thought) and went at it.  No planning or battle strategy.  Very medieval that.

The only real innovation came with my introduction of a deck of playing cards for initiative.  As we had four players, each player was assigned a card suit from the deck.  With each card of that suit drawn the player then could try to activate any of his units.  If fail or activated, a marker is placed indicating that unit is done.  Eventually, all the players units would have been used. Once that happens, all the markers are removed and should his suit card be drawn he once again can nominate any of the un-activated units to be diced for.  Once the deck has been used up all players would have had an equal number of activations.  Not necessarily on a consistent basis, but eventually at the end.  We did have one player have five of his cards come up in a row (!) thus he was able to try to activate all his units one-after-another with one of the units doing this twice but with only 13 draws per player, it eventually evens out.
With this, rather than the I-go-you-go or heaven forbid the one fail you're out (per original rules), it creates more action and natural flow of the play.  Of course this can be for any game to get away from predictable player sequence.  Anyway it was agreed it did help with the play.

Pictures of the game.  All figures are mine and painted by moi.  (I was using my newly painted Dunkerque liveried types - in yellow and white with the bright blue dolphin and black on yellow shields)  Historically note: Dunkirk/Dunkerque was not actually French but Flemish during this time of c.1350 - the time of the Battle of Crecy and the armour styles portrayed on the figures. D’oh.  Didn't discover that tidbit until after painting them. Let’s over look that historical inaccuracy shall we…..
Dunkerque mixed yeomen militia (sheep optional)
massed English archers
Having achieved my 'personal objective' by burning the farmhouse, the yeomen will enter the battle.  The 'shield' 'marker indicating that unit has rolled for activation and cannot be chosen until after all the players units have done so.
Apparently this lad wanted to make sure the flames got it all.
my new straw fences using real pine fir needles! ....and lots of glue...
and yet more English archers behind stone fences.  The French really could not win this battle/game.