Sunday, 15 September 2019

The only way is up!

My son came over for some Chain of Command, completely new to him and still relatively new to me, it was a good opportunity to get some of my new terrain out so I put down the outskirts of a small village complete with local car repair man, Church and Cafe, the terrain was probably a bit too close but I will watch that next time.

Stewart chose the Germans and I had the British, which is just fine by me as I do not get to fight with them very often, the first game was a delaying action by the bad guys, there were not a lot of support points lying around so I settled on a Humber armoured car while Stewart went for a halftrack armed with a 3.7cm PaK. The Jerries got a couple of squads into a decent defensive position which I thought I could force with help from the Humber and some smoke from the 2" mortar. The smoke was not a big help as I could not get it on target, the Humber missed the 250 and the 250 missed the Humber, however the nearby Panzerschrek did not miss and left my armoured car a heap of burning, tangled wreckage, plan A was again out the window. I still thought I might bring some hurt by deploying three squads but the forward troops were so badly shot up that the numbers simply did not add up. I had to concede defeat.

Hard luck Humber.

The second game was across the table and an attack/defend scenario, I went with a 6pdr anti-tank gun for support, I had wanted to take an MMG and possibly a sniper or a second PIAT but didn't, I was too afraid of a panzer turning up and thought the 6pdr would handle it, I can hear you laugh as I type.
I ran a squad across the road and  into the Cafe de Normandie, hoping to cover one of the German Jump Off Points (JOP), I was no sooner making myself comfortable than the Panzer IV loosed a shot and made the building unstable, I jumped out tout suite in case it collapsed on me. Meanwhile the German infantry had taken over a large orchard in the middle of the battlefield, I now ran a squad into a house on the left hoping to cover another enemy JOP and stop anyone flanking my postion. Meanwhile on my right the useless 6pdr barked and continually missed the MkIV, luckily I managed to bring on my PIAT and those lads put a round right through the German menace brewing it up. For the rest of the game I turned the anti-tank gun on the Boche in the wood and needn't have bothered, a few leaves dropped but nothing more serious.

The PIAT boys win the day.

On the left my guys in the house must have been so comfortable they hunkered down and failed to shoot up a nearby German squad in the open, the Germans though were whittling away at the squad and the back room filled with casualties. I then made a daft mistake and advanced a fresh squad to take advantage of a nice target, although I did wipe out one enemy squad I lost my own eventually. This left me with one good squad and the damn gun which had hit nothing all game. I threw the towel in. My die rolling in this game was really dreadful, allied to my bad choices it done for me.

Having a bit of a rest we now decided to leap into a campaign, the Scottish Corridor which is a part of Operation Epsom where 15th (Scottish) division was holding open a corridor against a counterattack by Kampfgruppen from 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" in the west and 1st SS "Leibstandarte" and 2nd Panzer Divisions in the east. The German attack opens at 0700 hrs in the east with a probe of the defences around Bas de Mouen. The British do not get a lot of support points for this and the Germans get a fair amount, they have enough to bring along a Tiger, who is going to resist a Tiger, so I felt I had to leave the useless anti-tank gun at home and whistle up a Sherman. I started off fairly happy with a JOP near a large house at the crossroads, I decided to concentrate a squad, PIAT and 2" mortar here, and like a fool I showed my hand and brought on the Sherman, I won't do that again.

Sure enough on rumbled the Tiger, bang and boom up went the Sherman, I thought now all the beast has to do is drive along the road and I would be forced to abandon the village, but no. My boys in the Barnier house had evicted the family despite some of the lads wanting to let them stay, had become a pain in the side of the German infantry while grimly holding the building. The Tiger put some holes in the walls but nothing which interfered with the defence, I was hoping that in the heat of battle Stewart would overlook the fact that I had a PIAT team behind the house and that as it rumbled by I might get in a flank shot. I also now brought on two more squads and started putting some hurt on the Germans fixated on the Barnier house.


It was all too much for my brave boys and eventually as casualties mounted they broke dragging their wounded sergeant out the back door with them. With the loss of the house it was all up with the Jocks and they wisely decided to retreat in the face of the Tiger. So 0800 and Bas de Mouen was clear of the British.

So, how was it, I enjoyed all the games if a bit disgruntled in the second where I seemed unable to hit or kill anything, we both learned a lot about the rules but have some questions to ask on the forum at some point, we did some things wrong but it affected both of us so no big deal. Not only was my A/T gun useless Stewart's sniper also proved never to have gone to sniper school. Notably I got quite a few double phases in two of the games and in the last I got four on the run. We decided that in future if you get a third role for a subsequent phase the sixes will be treated as fives (chain of command dice) as it just does not seem right that one player can get so many turns while the enemy sit around and die. I really must learn not to bring my armour on too early.

Next month should bring the second game in the campaign, looking forward to it.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Dark Age War and Conquest

After enjoying a couple of good games on Sunday Simon asked me to give him another game of War and Conquest, more a learning game than a match to the death, so I was quite happy with that. I went with two Romano-British forces both with Allies, the armies were a mirror of each other and were kept basic, no fancy stuff like elephants, chariots, cataphracts etc.

Parking at the club has now fallen foul of the modern equivalent of belt and braces, the building in whose grounds I have parked for what, over three years, maybe four now has girls staying in it, so in order to keep them safe bollards have been erected to stop cars parking, it seems strange that no one has mentioned that possible monsters on foot will have no problems but hey, what do I know.

Back to the good stuff. Simon lined up with some infantry way out on his right then nearer the centre his cavalry, Milites, Picts, Comitatus and Franks, I put my cavalry on my left then two units of Milites, Saxons, Welsh and Comitatus. It wasn't going to be a fancy game of maneuver, it was going to be a bloody slog, we both wanted to get the hill in the centre of the battlefield, to this end I threw in extra dice to gain the initiative and managed to get to the top before Simon's men. On my left I put my cavalry into skirmish so that they could deal with the archers and keep away from the large block of infantry while showering them with javelins. I was quite happy to have a stand up fight and if I could charge first then all the better.

 Everything went well, I held off the enemy right and my Saxons smashed the Picts, after this Simon threw two units in and although my Milites stood the Welsh ran. I now took on the Franks with my Comitatus, they were winning but slowly. With the crises approaching and things looking fairly even my Milites, which had been pushed back earlier, turned the tables on their opponents and in a superhuman effort broke them, this in turn caused the archers and the cavalry to run, a really bad morale throw for the mounted Milites. This pendulum swing brought the battle to an end and Simon offered his sword.

A good little game and as usual with a Dark Age battle could have gone either way, I think Simon's only mistake was not to put his cavalry on the wing and leaving them in the main battle line, they just cannot face infantry battle formations.

I have just ten minutes ago finished my British grenadiers, this is the second battalion in the army, I have now primed my second French battalion and will begin them this evening no doubt.

I have a Chain of Command weekend coming up with my son and have been getting all my bits and pieces ready, I had hoped to have the new figures for my Jump Off Points but they have not arrived, now over the two week mark, I shall test the waters at three weeks because I know Black Tree Design has been having problems. I have however managed to put together an Allied and a German set of dice complete with dice for command roles, considering I have 12 dice sets and odds and ends is mad, you don't have to tell me, just don't tell the missus.

Monday, 9 September 2019

The lads come through (just)

The last time I led my brave boys on to the battlefield was back in May, so when Mark offered to come up from Leicester for a days wargaming I could not resist, I did warn him about the roads but it didn't phase him so yesterday was spent playing War and Conquest.

There are several sets of Army Lists going about for WAC, the original Scarab lists, Gravesend lists and my own (carefully researched for my armies). Mark wanted to use the originals so no real problem for me as the one army I have not researched is the Seleucids and am happy to go with what everyone uses. The Patrician Romans are different, my own list differs in some respects, although I agree with Scarab's use of light armour for all the Roman formations as there is an historical argument for this, but I do not agree that there are no elite foot troops available, the Palatini are average in this list and the bulk less so. This feeds from the fact that the Western part of the Empire was defeated hence their soldiers had to be rubbish, there were a lot less veterans than there should have been but they were not all rubbish, even the Limitani had some good press when forced into the field army. I digress as it is a pet subject of mine. The upshoot was I played with the Scarab list.

First up though was Spartans vs Seleucids, I have only fought with this army a few times and am not comfortable with it. I decided that the Spartans would have very few light troops so as I had some good light troops I would take these and drive in one or both of the Spartan flanks while my main line held back supported by an elephant and a scythed chariot. I took the Companions as it was a new unit and had never seen battle and I knew they would have no cavalry capable of standing against them. The plans of mice and men often go awry, mine was no exception, once the players make their choices of terrain, we throw dice to see if it moves, it all moved and completely snookered plan A and I had no B.

I decided to basically hold the main line back while probing with my right, my skirmishers were to drive away their opposite numbers and then I would inflict pain on the infantry as it advanced. It started well enough but one unit of Spartan slingers just refused to die or run and although I was getting hits I could not kill enough, I got fixated on these guys and failed to make good with my own skirmishers. Over on the right I had decided to trust the companions to sweep away a small unit of hoplites but lost the initiative and instead found myself being charged, the cavalry thus lost all their bonus' and got cut up and fled, some Thureophoroi alongside also got caught and were slaughtered, my right flank had gone. This now forced me to advance my line as I had stopped the Spartan right and my Peltasts were keeping two skirmish units and some cavalry out of the fight there. My first unit to charge in were the Mercenary Hoplites, this was an even fight against some Spartans which with the advantage of charging I should have won, but they were trounced and headed for the hills only to be caught and dispersed. In a last gasp I threw in a phalanx and the chariot, again hoping for a swift result but no, the Spartans stood. 

The game was over, time was up, looking over the shattered field the Spartans would have won had there been one or two more moves, but I had held them, no, I had survived and Mark missed getting his objective by millimeters. A very hard match for my guys, almost every Spartan unit was elite and as they get the WAC phalanx rule they are extremely hard to kill, too hard in my humble opinion but hey that's the rules, you really need another Greek or Spartan army to fight them. I also fought badly in this game making some very daft choices which were leapt on by Mark. I must mention the unit of the game, the Spartan slave slingers, they were more than a pain in my side.

The second game was more to my liking, my Patrician Romans vs Normans, and if you read this blog you know I don't like Normans, I had beaten them the last time we met in May and Mark and no doubt his Normans wanted revenge. I took five Legions supported by some Goths and my general's Hun bodyguard along with some skirmishers. The terrain this time was fine and as we deployed unit by unit I put my Legions on the right and centre and the Goths and Huns on my left, I saw a gap in the Norman line and decided I would push it further, I hoped my skirmishers and horse archers would keep a large unit of Norman archers on their extreme right from interfering. Again most of the opposite army was elite.

Mark came on bravely on his left and I held my right back while my skirmishers hurled death at the Norman cavalry on this wing, my boys got into position and then went into shieldwall. The Norman advance had offered me the opportunity of advancing into the gap, the Huns and Goths closed with their opposite numbers and the cavalry went in. I wasn't sure if the Goths would shift the Norman infantry opposite so was a bit cautious with this unit. On my left my guys again got plenty of hits on the Norman archers but could not kill anybody, so the archers eventually swept my men away, they now turned into the centre.

I had won the battle in the gap and flanked the Norman line, they meanwhile had crashed into my right. I was now forced to charge the Goths in before the archers got the range, everyone was now engaged. Although I lost my two rightmost legions everyone else was victorious and the Normans shattered, I had managed to pull off a victory. This army suits my style.

A great day with two excellent games and a chance to get some big armies on to the field of battle, a big thanks to Mark for making an effort to come all the way up from down south, he left at 0530 I believe and got here around 0800.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Go East Young(ish) Man

Not a bad morning, not raining for a change albeit the clouds are pretty grey. Poured down last night on the way to the club and dark as well, as much as I like heat I do like it to be dark when it's supposed to be so no car washing or gardening etc. on light nights.

I digress, another round of Chain of Command on the Eastern Front, a leisurely combat again more for learning rules etc. than trying for an outright win, which is just as well because by the time we got sorted out it was 2000 hrs before a shot was fired. In future a lot of the faffing about at the beginning can be done before we arrive. The Russians were trying to delay the German advance, again I took infantry rather than panzergrenadiers and threw caution to the wind by taking in support an infantry gun and SdKfz 7/1 Quad AA halftrack and no tank. Simon took time deliberating between a KV or a 57mm A/T gun and MMG, thankfully he came down on the choice without the tank, although all my squads had one Panzerfaust 30 and the platoon had a Panzerschrek so I was not completely without anti-tank capability.

The terrain was fairly open with clumps of corn and a couple of woods giving some cover, very different from a Normandy battlefield. I brought on a squad in the middle and started them off to take the nearby wood, the Soviets countered by putting a squad in a cornfield, I met this with my infantry gun and started shelling the Reds, my rolling was very good and although I did not manage a lot of shock I did get kills, I also managed to wound the Junior Leader and put him out of action for the turn. Simon now brought on his 57mm A/T gun and another squad on my right, now was the moment I had been waiting for, my halftrack appeared and Simon's face went white, OK, an exaggeration but you get the idea. The quad autocannons opened up and dealt out several kills to the newly arrived squad, I also backed this up with an infantry squad and they too dealt death to the Ruskies, another Junior Leader took a hit.

 The wounded Junior Leaders meant the Russian command and control hit rock bottom and Simon had to bring on his only Senior Leader and this meant anything else had to make a die roll before turning up, this, allied to some bad command rolls really left his men floundering. I was not going to fulfill my scenario requirements because we simply did not have enough time however I was a lot more pleased with my choices and the way the game went for me than the last game where I never really got off the ground, the rolls were reversed this time.

I have put up the white flag and will start collecting Russians once my latest SYW battalions are complete, I might even get a tank between them, I am looking at 1944/45. The Russians kept their A/T rifles in use right up until the end of the war and after, I wanted at least one for a support team, the one I liked was the plastic Bolt Action figures but I did not want the rest of the troops from the box. Knowing that people usually had to buy extra boxes to complete armies I asked online and two gentlemen replied and have sent me a few rifles so that I can have my supports and am not restricted to just one either. Many thanks Paul and Michael. I have done the same in the past with decals and figures so perhaps no good deed goes without some reward, gotta love wargamers.

Commission from a new client arrived yesterday, a book on Australian squadrons in Europe in WWII, just three maps but hopefully a good start. Some War and Conquest gaming coming up on Sunday, Patrician Romans vs Normans and Seleucids vs Spartans, challenging games, especially the latter. The weekend after will be two days of Chain of Command with maybe the start of a campaign on the second day. Right, back to the drawing board.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Much ado about nothing

Not a lot to blab about today, I didn't attend the club this week as I decided to get on with some bits and pieces which had been building up, not so much wargaming but those things which get you nagged at by a certain person. Rob was running a Cruel Seas game and I have to admit although I love the small ships it is not something I would run out to play, so I gave it a miss. I managed the small jobs and banked the brownie points for use later.

I never learn and have jumped into Chain of Command with both feet, luckily I have all the troops I need so it is the peripherals which are costing me, a bit like cream cakes, I don't need the stuff but I want it. So I got some Allied and German dice with pretty symbols for the six to use as command dice to save them getting mixed up with the 'killing' dice, not that I have done this so far but hey they have symbols on them. I actually have a set of 2nd Panzer dice which came all the way from Australia but no, they wouldn't do and no, I cannot explain it.

Next up was Too Fat Lardy markers, I am more than happy with my Patrol markers but not so with my homemade tactical ones, so I ordered them up. It didn't stop there, I needed more Jump Off Points, I have three already but when Stewart comes over I will need to provide three more and as I was impressed with the other Stuart's JOP's when playing Operation Martlett I ordered up some characters from Black Tree Design to make little vignettes. I have now heard that BTD are pretty bad at getting stuff out quickly and by that I mean more than a couple of weeks, we will see. This has also meant throwing more money at Warbases, I only have one 50mm base for the JOP's so need more, no, I won't use the 60mm bases!

I have managed at last to clear the decks and get on to those two SYW battalions which have been sitting in the drawer. I have started with the British Grenadiers, I have also used a Contrast red on the coats, I like it, it is not as bright as Vallejo flat red but it is probably more akin to the brick red of the original coats. I am wondering whether I should shelve the SYW until next year and perhaps get some Russian forces for WWII, my thinking being that although I have enough for a small game of Honours of War I do wonder when I will be able to get it on the table if I don't do it solo. This brings me also to think how many games will I manage if I build them up to Black Powder numbers, have I done the right thing bearing in mind I have two huge ACW armies sitting in boxes who are lucky to come out once a year.