Sunday, 29 March 2020

Solo, not Han or Napoleon

Where does the time go, I had a bit of a lie in, made the breakfast then sat sorting the campaigns out, which is proving great fun for me at least, for a couple of hours.

I set up my small Seven Years War forces yesterday for a run through today with the Honours of War rules from Osprey. At 64 pages many of which contain army lists it is way lighter than Black Powder which I also have sitting waiting to try, although I have read through the book I wasn't sure how things would turn out on the table. I am a member of the HoW forum and downloaded a QRS, errata and clarifications before starting a small scenario contained in the rule book, Clash at Kutzdorf. Many people have moaned about the artillery being too effective, I don't know so although you can tone it down I played the rules.

The battle has Blue force (British) being attacked in flank by Red (French) as it sits on a ridge, both are almost equal, the French are supposed to have two light infantry battalions but I don't have any of those so they were instead regulars. I just went along with the sequence of play and checked things as they turned up.

You throw dice for initiative and then the players take turns moving brigades or independent units, the same system is used for firing, once this is complete your men react depending how many casualties they are carrying, five is a rout and lifted off, four a retreat, 3 will affect your shooting, any lower and you are fine. The firing is quite brutal and you either get hardly any casualties or you get too many and you are gone or retire, so far I have had one French infantry battalion and one British cavalry squadron lifted off while a couple of others have retired. You always get one hit on a natural five using an average dice, this is brutal as your five will probably get you three or four hits anyway so that unit is retiring or gone, having said that of the two gone from the field one was from melee and one from shooting over at least half a dozen turns. You can rally these hits off but you have to be out of harms way to do it which with linear tactics is not easy, your commander can also rally off hits but I didn't get the best out of mine as you move them first before the troops so they never seem to be in the right place at the right time, something to learn. I have several questions and need another read through the book as I am only half way through the game and will pick it up again tomorrow afternoon. I enjoyed it.

As to the battle the French cautiously advanced into a firing line while their cavalry went for their British counterparts on the right beyond Kutzdorf. The British infantry too formed a line and their left hand brigade moved off the ridge while the Scots Guards took Kutzdorf, prior to this Regiment Bretagne had fled the field. The 33rd Foot now retired as did the 7th Dragoons from the victorious French horse, to make matters worse French artillery fire meant the Scots had to evacuate Kutzdorf, not everything went right for the French though as a battalion of Grenadiers de France fell back leaving both lines in disarray. More fighting to come.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Day 3, food holding out, morale good.....

Strange times, trade only just dropping off in the PO then what to do the rest of the day, it didn't even seem like this when stuck on an oil platform for three weeks, of course there were a lot of other people which is the difference.

Anyway, I have ordered up a little industrial bundle from Sarissa and once that comes I shall also build the minehead wheel given to me by the bloke in the village who cuts MDF, I don't really need more buildings but the wheel or whatever it is called is a lovely kit and deserves more than being stuffed in the corner under some books. I also have some barbed wire defences to do. Oh, don't ever buy the big windmill from Sarissa, it does not really fit in a box or a shelf or anywhere and every time you move you catch the sails, nice kit just a dreadful thing to store.

My extra Russians are now done along with a little tarting up of a large barn/store, there is a sniper team in there and the other kneeling guy has a scope on his rifle so a free sniper perhaps.

I have also just received some British and German mortar/artillery figures for the extra crew members required by Chain of Command, I also spotted a nice trio of German Feldgendarmerie which I could not resist, I think these will be based for a Jump Off Point.

I am halfway through my gaggle of civilians, these are very easy to paint and won't take long to complete, they will soon be clogging roads used by invading or liberating forces or simply trying to keep out of the way, fat chance on a 6x4.

 What about actual wargaming, well with so much spare time even if I do the odd job around the place I can still set up a game. To this end I am running two small naval campaigns roping in some of the lads from the club, my son and mate Matt, the first is running along nicely and the second is about to start, I am really enjoying these. I hope to get a couple of battles from the campaigns although these may not necessarily turn up as both sides may want to avoid a fight! I have also just today set up my small Seven Year War forces at last to try out the Honours of War rules from Osprey, it may be tomorrow before I get around to actually throwing a die but it is ready to go.

For the next couple of weeks I think it will be Solo Bolt Action, fighting some scenarios from the campaign books. Although I do have another small scale campaign in my armoury from the American Civil War and a larger one if the lockdown continues.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

In Limbo

Apart from the odd lunch and a Tuesday night I may as well have been self distancing/isolating but when your choice is suddenly taken away you want it back, the choice to sit around doing nothing if I want is important, I see that now. I still get customers coming for the odd stamp and with a shopping return, nothing I suspect which is essential, however I retreat to the 'fortress' and they keep at arms length after which I sanitise my hands, counter top and door handles, from today I have decided to only open for three hours in the morning as the village is deserted and I may as well sit inside safe than sit here and wait to see what comes through the door.

My oldest son had ordered up some hand sanitiser and masks for his old folks on the front line only to fall foul of the scum that all these emergencies allow to float to the top of the pond, the site was a scam, thankfully he got his money back. Not for them "what can I do to help" but "how can I make some dough" it doesn't matter the crises up they pop. "Pssst, want some loo roll, £40 guv".

What am I doing, well I have some troops which I am taking my time to complete, some extra Soviets and a bunch of civilians, I also have a few more on the way so I can pass an hour or so of an evening before trying to find something to watch on my four or five streaming services, where's my book? I am also looking over my Eastern Front buildings with a view to 'tarting' them up. I also rescued a couple of Dark Age carts to use as dual purpose scatter.

Dark Ages
Russian Front
I had decided to try some solo games and at last give those SYW troops and rules a run out, then thought about a mini-campaign to give me a reason to fight a battle. I had a small WWI naval campaign lying about from 1987 based on the hunting of two German warships in the Mediterranean just before the declaration of war, the Goeben and Breslau, the British had to catch them but not be defeated by them, a tall order for at least a part of the British fleet. I found my three players and sent all relevant information out. As of this morning everyone is at sea and the hunt is on, I hope the players get some fun out of this, so far it has taken up most of my morning dabbling here and there and working out orders and courses which is great.

HMS Defence, hunter.
HMS Inflexible, hunter
SMS Goeben, hunted.

The campaign only lasts for a few campaign days, involves only a small number of ships and although it works best with three players and an umpire it can work with two and an umpire. The resulting battles can of course be safely fought at home. The campaign could also be adapted for any naval rules to be honest, pre-dreadnought up to WWII. I will do a full report on the campaign at a later date, however if anyone wants a copy then let me know.

Friday, 20 March 2020

The Russian 1944/45

The Germans during the war from top to bottom identified the Soviets as 'The Russian' not Russkies as I normally tend to use, but there you go, useless info, I'm full of it.

My own Eastern Front interest lies as the Russians destroy Army Group Centre in Operation Bagration through to the last desperate fighting in the streets of Berlin. Chain of Command for now seems to stop at Kursk in 1943, the Russian list in the rule book is supposed to cover late war but it doesn't, not according to official Russian sources anyway, it is generic and as such works fine. I had to look for myself, I was going with a simple Russian Rifle Platoon and I found information on such quite quickly online, but again nothing is ever simple and we all know that official organisation normally does not extend to the experience of the front line. No matter it is a start.

So for the bog standard Soviet Rifle Platoon for 1944 we have four squads, two Light and two Heavy, the make up of the platoon is as follows:-

Force Rating: Four Sections +5
(If I have got my sums right on the Chain of Command Calculator Force Ratings for Regular troops are; three sections +0, three six man sections -4, four six man sections -1, the Command stays the same.)

1 x Platoon Commander, Lieutenant or Junior Lieutenant with SMG (Senior Leader)
1 x Deputy Commander, Snr Sgt, rifle
1 x Sniper*

2 Light Infantry Sections
1 x Section Commander, Sgt or Jr Sgt, SMG (Junior Leader)
1 x Deputy Commander, Semi-automatic rifle **
1 x Rifleman, SMG
1 x LMG
1 x Assistant for LMG, Rifle ***
4 x Riflemen, Rifle

2 Heavy Rifle Sections
1 x Section Commander, Sgt or Jr Sgt, SMG (Junior Leader)
1 x Deputy Commander, Semi-automatic rifle **
1 x Rifleman, SMG
2 x LMG
2 x Assistant for LMG, Rifle ***
2 x Riflemen, Rifle

* this was reduced from 2 to 1 sometime between summer 43 and 44, only the sniper is mentioned but for wargame purposes I would count this as a two man team, I don't know if the rules handle one man teams
** this could also have been a normal rifle but several organisations give the platoons one of these so it goes to the senior rifleman.
*** this gentleman could also have been armed with SMG

A Soviet Rifle Company had a medical team, so a medic should be added to the support options in the rule book. Rifle Battalions also had access to 82mm mortars in their make up, at least in 1943 so this too should be in the support options. Another interesting aspect here is you make the Deputy Commander a Junior Leader rather than an assistant as befitting his rank.

Now for the good stuff, just as you get this into your head this was the ideal formation on paper, by the time this got to the Front there was probably only one Heavy Section, this is quite likely because like every other belligerent at this late stage of the war even the Soviets were getting short on infantry especially the way they used them. You can also find variations of this organisation online despite each of them claiming to be from the official records however the variations are fairly small and at the end of the day you have to make a decision. The above with only three sections will probably do you until the end of the war for the Rifle Platoon, there was a new organisation for 1945 which reduced the Guards and therefore more than likely the normal Rifle Platoons to six man sections, basically three rifles, one LMG with Assistant along with the section commander. There is a good chance this did not filter through before the war ended, however if you like living dangerously and have crossed the German border it's an option.

The above all pertains to Chain of Command but could easily be used with Bolt Action or any other platoon level rule set if you are an historically minded player.

While looking around the internet I came upon this strange picture, a PzIV with what looks like severe shell damage to the turret and something very strange stuck to the gun, any ideas?

A couple of links Calculator

While I am doing my normal and keeping away from people I now have a bunch of WWII civilians and extra bits and pieces for the Germans, British and Russians to see me through the emergency, I also have tentative plans for a small industrial complex nipping away at me. If this is not enough will I have to start a new period?

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

To the skies and beyond

With the current madness prevailing I wasn't sure the club would be open last night but yes, nine brave souls weathered the storm and turned up, we meet in a local school so perhaps our days are numbered but in the meanwhile it is mayhem as normal. I have been playing Coronovirus Bingo this morning, between 0730 and 0900 I heard or read UK death tolls of 500,000, 300,000, 20,000 or 12,000, actual deaths as of typing 71. God help us if we are ever hit with a real killer, although we will have the cleanest bums if panic buying is anything to go by.

Right, on a happier note Simon and I played Wings of War, the first scenario had the French, two Spad XIII's and a Breguet 14, on a mission to pick up a spy while two Fokker DVIII's and a DVII tried to stop them. As the first bullets flew one of the DVIII's caught fire, a fine start, however he and his wingman ignored the Spads as best they could and concentrated on the two seater, the DVII found himself on the outskirts of the dogfight. The Breguet managed to land close to the spy and as he jumped in quickly turned and began to take off again, the Fokkers were still on him though and the Spad's were missing the mark on his hunters. As the two seater climbed to gain height it was all over and he crashed in a ball of flame in no-man's land. One for the Hun.

Fokker DVIII's and Breguet 14.

DVII from Jasta 18

French two-seater


Our second scenario involved the RFC and a damaged bomber trying to make it to British lines, this plane was attacked by two DVIII's who were then bounced by a British Ace in the superb Sopwith Snipe, in the first run of the game the poor bomber took two very high damage cards which ensured his early demise before the Ace could properly interfere to save him. We set this game aside and changed some of the rules for the second try. This time the Fokker's got on the bombers tail but in turn were jumped by the Ace, it turned into a race between the Germans downing the bomber or the Ace downing the two Fokkers. In the end we had misjudged again and found that the DH4 was just as fast as the German Scouts, which meant that with some manouvering to put off the Snipe the Germans fell behind and only managed to loose off long range shots. The bomber only just crossed the line damaged and on fire but he made it while both Germans planes hit the deck, the Germans had taken very severe damage from the beginning and of course one had been on fire as well which didn't help. One for the Allies. We called a halt then and headed home, as for next week, we will see.

The spy gets picked up.

In flames again as the DH4 tries to escape.

I have rescued some more scatter terrain from my Dark Age collection this time, two carts to be precise, which in order to turn into possible Eastern Front peasant wagons will only need the addition of an old mattress and a table and chairs which I have lying about. They are pulled by oxen I think but if you get that close to point it out then you are already involved a game so might be more worried about that T34 or Tiger coming your way. I am also hoping to get some of those extra artillery figures I ordered up today and maybe a civilian or two.

(Spoiler alert) I managed to watch the latest Terminator film the other night, and although I fought off the feeling of Deja Vu I enjoyed its senseless violence and set piece mayhem. Yes the three main characters were all strong women, who like me you will never meet in your lifetime, while the only man was a robot, but what really got to me was when the super soldieress, is that right, spat out the words "you don't give birth to a man, you are the leader." All Skynet or Legion as it is now has to do is drop a few spiders.......

The village has a COBRA meeting tonight in the village hall with the idea of assisting old people who have been ordered to self quarantine for their own good. I have already done my bit by assisting one old dear this morning by collecting her card and delivering her money to her. This not only goes against my reputation but shows how unfit I am as the small walk took its toll, despite me feeling 25, OK 30 in my brain I am only three years from being confined to my Casa.