Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Too Much To Chew

Bitterly cold night last night to go to the club, sleet on the car and a biting wind. We had organised a four man game of Dead Man's Hand which had to be modified due to the arrival of a couple of guys with nothing to do. We amended the scenario for six gangs, three Law and three Baddies, the Law had to get two prisoners from Julian's magnificent railway station to the jail at the other end of town, we, the baddies, had to stop this and free the prisoners.

I had the Mexicans again, I never learn, and was between one of the posse's and the jail, I set up to hopefully stop them in their tracks, however a rifle shot from the jail forced me to move further into the alley (Colorado and Stumpy were in the jail according to Rob, Rio Bravo, geddit?) A very brave lawman from the jail tried to sneak up behind me and I let loose a hail of lead at point blank range but hit nothing! I did bring him down the next turn but I also lost my head honcho doing so.

I was now receiving fire from the advancing posse and continued to lose men while inflicting almost no damage, I really must change my ammo supplier for the Mexicans. Cut down to only a couple of Banditos my boys got out of Dodge.

On the other side of main street the Law found themselves up against two groups of bad guys and it looked for a time they would be overwhelmed, a small group from the jail tried to intervene but were too slow. A hectic run for safety commenced with lead flying everywhere but on target. Simon's Desperado's made heroic efforts to release their man and were foiled at the last moment by Julian putting a bullet in his head.

According to the Law they had won, but as it was my game I declared that the murder of the prisoner had shown the dark side of law enforcement and therefore the game was a draw. Not a bad game but the addition of two extra players slowed it down too much, this would have been fine for an afternoon bash but not a club game given that time is precious. Lesson learned. Julian had tarted up his 4Ground buildings and done an excellent job, I shall have to follow suit when I get the time.

Just after Christmas it was my sons 40th birthday, we got him some Eddie Cochrane memorabilia but my wife insisted I paint up a Robert the Bruce figure as I had bitterly disappointed him when I sold my Scots army a year or so back. Graham can play a tune but not a wargame was my reply, it fell on deaf ears as did my insistence that model soldiers do not come in 200mm scale on a horse just like the statue at Bannockburn and no matter what she said it was not going to happen. I did however find a 54mm (that's normal love) figure and painted it up for him.

I have at last finished my third phalanx, it was way behind schedule with the Festive Season and then my manflu, but I completed it this morning at around 0730 hrs, it was weighing on my mind. I was going to move on the fourth and last phalanx but have decided to have some fun and am going to paint up my initiative markers and rally point and possibly some support troops I have on the way before the heavy stuff. I was at a loss as to what to use but settled eventually on Greek Gods which I got from Wargames Foundry, they arrived today and are very nice.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Kampfgruppe Anders

Before we had our epic War and Conquest struggle yesterday we played a Bolt Action game on the Saturday, I haven't played BA in a while and Stewart has only a couple of games under his belt but we had all day. I am not keen on the scenarios used in the rules so I decided that the British had made a successful attack on a village in Normandy and were awaiting the inevitable German counterattack, this attack would be an armoured Kampfgruppe from 2nd Panzer Division. The British would get reinforcements but they would be unsure what would turn up and on which road and when.

I was the British and Stewart took the Germans, I originally had three infantry squads with some heavy weapons support and an artillery observer, I had to rely on a 6pdr AT gun and a Cromwell for anti-tank weapons, I had an armoured car also. The Germans came on in numbers with five squads, two in halftracks and two in trucks, they also had an armoured car and a small halftrack as well, the real punch came with a Panther, Panzer IV and StuG III.

As they arrived the Panther took a long range shot at the Cromwell which was behind a stone wall, the shot bounced off but it had given me a shock, however I decided to leave the Cromwell where it was hoping the Panther would not be a lucky tank. I did withdraw the armoured car as it was looking down the barrel of the StuG. I had set up my 6pdr to deny the main road to the Germans but of course as they now came down both sides it was in a useless position.

The tank duel continued and I hit the Panther but my shell bounced off, I think I hit it twice and got nowhere. The Germans now poured fire on my advanced squad behind a hedge, due to their cover and being afraid to pop their heads up they took very little casualties, I moved the armoured car over to this part of the battlefield hoping to use it against the halftracks and German infantry as and when they broke my front line. In his urge to kill my guys Stewart forgot my PIAT team hiding behind a tree, the enemy armoured car ventured into range and bang, it went on fire and its turret jammed, but it was not knocked out, my armoured car also took a shot and missed. Around this point the Cromwell brewed up from a Panther shot.

The German assault on my right was not pressed as much as on the left, I loosed mortar rounds, small arms and dropped a barrage on these troops, all I got out of it was setting the Opel truck on fire, I did hit the top of the StuG but did no damage, I was most dischuffed. The StuG eventually gave me an opportunity to assault it with one of my squads, these brave lads clambered all over the vehicle but sadly to no effect apart from dispersing from their efforts. There was now nothing to stop the StuG turning on my centre squad.

I did get more British troops and the first to arrive was a Sherman tank on the left hand road, I drove it into the same area as the burning Cromwell, I also moved the 6pdr to this side but left it in the middle of the bridge sealing off the road, what was the chances of more stuff coming on that side? Pretty good as it happened, a Churchill now rumbled on on the same road, gah! By now I only had one squad in the village and the last one was coming under increasing pressure, seeing as I had backed my armour into a corner and it was move six we called a halt, Kampfgruppe Anders had won back the village, my famous curry and the pub beckoned.

I would play this again but instead of rolling for each reinforcement and what turned up I would make one roll for all of them, albeit they might come on on different roads still, I would also start rolling perhaps from move 3 and maybe make the game a little longer as we used a big table and a lot of troops. A good four man game perhaps. One thing which did stand out was the change in going Down, this now gives a -2 rather than a -1 to hit and this allowed my front line infantry to survive for far longer than they should have, we think we will go back to -1 for home games in future.

A good weekend of wargaming, more tomorrow night and back on the bloody War and Conquest field on Thursday, the year is picking up. Oh and I am now 99% OK.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Wargaming At its Best

I thought I would do today's report first and leave yesterdays until later, mainly because it has been an exciting day and it is still fresh in my mind.

The game was a large one and we both fielded almost every unit we have, the Carolingians had three cavalry units one or two of which were elite and a large infantry force with several elite units in the line, two skirmish units and one of massed archers. I could not afford to bring my elite infantry so all the Roman units were average and one unarmoured, in support I took two Foederate Goth warbands, one of nobles. My plan was to strike with my elite cavalry so as well the generals Hunnic Bucellari I had Alan and Germanic nobles, I was hoping the nomads would pepper the enemy with arrows before having to charge in.

Romans left, Carolingians right.

As we deployed we had the infantry opposite each other as well as the cavalry all on the one flank, it was here I thought Stewart had made a mistake as he had had the opportunity to put his massed archers in support of his mounted troops but instead he put them in his line of battle. In fact it was a mistake but one he recovered from with some good generalship. My plan was to strike quickly with my cavalry and turn the Carolingian flank, I was hoping for a little time but the enemy cavalry came straight at me. At the first clash I found my cavalry on the back foot while my third unit was now being outmaneuvered as an infantry unit peeled off to approach them and the enemy cavalry started to pelt them with javelins, oh oh. I held my infantry back for the moment as did Stewart.

The cavalry clash.

 All the action was now on my left as my cavalry eventually stood and began to push back, however one combat all but destroyed my Alans, leaving them victorious but basically useless as a fighting force. My Bucellari eventually broke their foes but the pursuit took them away from the battlefield and they basically took no further useful part in the action. My last cavalry were now forced to charge the Carolingian infantry but died to a man in a very one sided affair. My left and Stewart's right were now both finished as far as the battle went, honours were probably even here although I had expected much more from my horsemen.

Break them, damn it!

What happened?

I now felt that I had to push my infantry forward or they could be outflanked by some marauding Carolingian skirmishers if they managed to reform. Again I was forced to charge the enemy although I was not yet ready, I expected to be beaten but the Lanciarii Gallicani fought like Trojans and began to push back their foes, an unexpected turn of events for me. Meanwhile just as I was ready to throw the Goths in Stewart won the initiative (again) and charged me, I cursed the Foederati as their javelin volleys fell short, this must have galvanised them as they stood their ground, no quarter was given. I now managed to get my remaining troops into action and the fight rippled along the battlefield, both sides gave as good as they got, albeit I thought my days were numbered.

Slight confusion on the Carolingian left.
The Goths advance.
Forward for Rome!
Hold, hold!

Slowly my boys began to gain the upperhand despite excellent Carolingian morale, and although my Goth nobles eventually ran they had stood their ground and gained the rest of the army valuable time, it was now that the enemy began to break. Desperately wounded with his army beginning to flee Charles Martel offered up his sword, my Tribune leading the Roman infantry breathed a sigh of relief.

Battle is joined.
Carolingian victory so close, yet ............
Quinta Macedonica defeat the enemy.

What a fantastic game, hard fought by both sides although I did my fair share of shouting and sighing at both my dice and my boys. I was very disappointed with my cavalry but my infantry more than made up for it albeit not until two thirds of the way through the battle, until then I was sure I was heading for defeat. My missile fire never got off the ground while Stewart had some success with his, his morale also held up until the end no matter what got thrown at him.

The end is nigh.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Winwaed 655 AD

The missus left yesterday and due to the strikes and rail closures had a tiresome journey to London but got there eventually, I am hoping I do not run into the same problems next Friday. Not having had a wargame now since the middle of December I organised one with Kevin this afternoon, he has had his own problems with the great British workman so didn't get a chance to put his usual thoughts into his army. Therefore I decided to choose a Dark Age scenario from my booklet and went for Winwaed, this battle was the last battle of the great pagan Mercian king Penda, he had once again launched a large raid into Northumbrian territory but had accepted gold to go home. The man who paid Penda off, Oswiu king of Bernicia, now decided to follow him and bring him to battle, perhaps he just wanted his money back. The upshot was that as the two forces met one of Penda's allies kept marching and another, a relative of Oswiu may simply have not fought at all.

Mercians on the left, Bernicians on the right.

Oswiu attacks.
 I set up both forces opposite each other, some of the Bernician units were slightly larger than the Mercians also they had two units in reserve, the Mercians had one. Across the Cock Beck, a stream in flood due to a rainstorm, stood Aethelwald Oswiu's relative and dubious ally of Penda, a die throw each turn from turn three would show Aethelwald's intentions, 1-3 he would remain loyal to Penda, 8-10 he would throw his lot in with Oswiu, anything else showed he was still unsure.

Kevin chose to take Penda's forces so I was left with Oswiu, I decided to take the battle to Penda as quick as possible in case Aethelwald became a threat later, I left my cavalry reserve in the rear for just such a possibility, I also had an extra infantry unit which I brought up behind the battle line hopefully ready to deploy where needed. Kevin moved his cavalry to threaten my right flank which caused me to slow this attack down, however I pushed forward with the rest of the army. Very quickly I lost my rightmost unit while another on that flank went charging ahead into the enemy line, this left one unit standing (my Franks, and we know their reputation) not really what I wanted, Oswiu looked around in despair. I was forced to commit the Franks before the Mercian cavalry could flank them while at the same time Kevin threw in several charges on my left, things looked decidedly fragile. It was at this juncture that Aethelwald decided to indeed stick by his promise and began to move his troops across the Cock Beck to Penda's aid.

Oswiu's right in trouble.
Penda is dead and his men ready to run.
Wait, the Franks are fighting and quickly defeat and disperse their foes, at the same time the Red Dog troops, despite being slaughtered stood their ground, things began to look better. The Mercian counterattack turned into a disaster as Penda's bodyguard died around the body of their king unable to defeat Oswiu's household troops, as the king fell more Mercians fled the field. Aethelwald, still struggling across the raging stream took all this in through the murk and advanced no further. The Bernicians controlled the field.

Aethelwald is too late and thinks twice about joining the battle.

A good game and typical Dark Age struggle with no quarter given. Lady Luck had deserted Penda after his first small victories, despite being uphill of the enemy and getting their charges in first his men failed to turn these into more victories while the Bernicians fought far better and managed to disperse most of the enemy army. Aethelwald could have made a difference but took time to make his mind up and by then the Bernicians had troops to spare to meet him as he crossed the Beck.