Thursday, 26 August 2021


 I have had a week of battles, the wargame one of course was at the club where Dan had set up a Seven Years War scenario between a French force which had to hold a bridge and a Prussian force which had to take the bridge.

I was the French commander and I had Jimi and David under my command, both of which were completely new to Black Powder, opposite I had Ed (newbie), Simon and BP veteran Rob who was the Prussian commander. The bridge was on my left flank and Jimi was given orders to defend the area, in the centre David was also to act defensively and be ready to support Jimi, I, with quite a large brigade was going to go forward against Rob who had less units and although Prussians I thought I could win the firefight.

I felt pretty confident as my boys leapt forward only to be halted by the fact my line battalions could not enter the wood to my front, Plan A out the window, I managed to move around the wood and got a nice line of battle set up, I sent my cavalry way out on the right to come around and charge the enemy cavalry. These beat me to it and Rob threw some dragoons at my line, I managed handily to knock them back, his infantry had also advanced into range and as I suspected I began to win the firefight.

French left, Prussians right.

Rob and I advance.

Ed moves against the French centre.

Simon moving on the bridge.

Over on my left it looked for a bit that Jimi had stopped Simon's advance on the bridge while David aggressively took on Ed in the centre, a slaughter took place here and I had to send two battalions to help out. Although Ed had some success the numbers told and his brigade was shattered and had to retreat. Jimi was now being heavily pressured by Simon who was on a roll. Just as I had got my troops organised they decided they would have a rest and just at the same time Rob fell back, frustrated I had to look on as the enemy slipped out of my clutches.

Desperate fighting in the centre.

Just before Rob's sneaky withdrawal.

 Time was getting on and Dan called a halt and a Prussian victory, Jimi and David were shattered and I took horse to Paris to lay the blame anywhere but on my brave lads who retired with their colours secure. The Prussians had lost one brigade while Simon had successfully taken the bridge and Rob had held me off. A simple yet exciting game, it was also quite remarkable how the new players took to the rules helped by umpire Dan. I am still fairly green with the rules myself but they always seem to return a good game at the club.

Other battles you ask, well the PO tried to deliver a Local Collect to me on Sunday (not for me) even though I am closed on a Sunday, I have left them in no doubt I shall not accept anything when I am closed in future no matter what rules they dream up. My next was with the Doctor, a recurring theme over the past eighteen months, my blood tests are all OK said the receptionist, what does that mean, who actually looked at them I asked and immediately realised the diabetic nurse didn't, the one who scared me six months ago. And the final battle was with the Postman last night, a ding dong with me face to face with him in the street, not a good look for an old guy.

I have primed my new troops and started painting the refugees which will also double as Jump Off Points for my French due to my lack of imagination for anything else suitable and having to get them on a 50mm round base. The LMF has taken a beating also recently, I bought some new Chain of Command patrol markers and tokens printed off by mate Stuart, I have also restocked on a couple of spray paints as they may be needed during the upcoming dark evenings. I have also just downloaded an Early War campaign in the East which requires German and Russian tank platoons, of course I could just wing it but of course I won't, I found an excellent deal on Pz 38(t)'s so three are winging their way to me, that leaves me with only a couple of Russian tanks to get. So much for slowing down.

 I was supposed to play the third game in the Gembloux Gap campaign last night but Matt's internet went down, we are wondering however if the campaign is fair to the French, it is only our third game and perhaps I will be halted this time but I do have double the support points and I can bring tanks, we will see.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

To the wire

 Be careful what you wish for, I wanted a Chain of Command game this week and we decided it would be American paratroops vs Volksgrenadiers somewhere in the Ardennes perhaps. Lists, you either like them or hate them, I like them with the caveat that they have to produce realistic forces or as near as possible even if it forces players to take troops they would rather leave in the fields.

Anyway, I knew the grenadiers would be up against it so I decided I needed firepower more than anything, so I went for the Assault platoon, two squads of assault rifles and one with two MG42's. It was now I agonised over what supports to take, I got 11 points worth and worked out several combinations before choosing, I went with firepower so took an extra squad (rifles and MG42 this time) and a Wirblewind Quad 2cm flak, I was tempted with the slightly cheaper Quad halftrack but wasn't sure how to handle it under the rules and why buy an AA tank if you don't use it. It was a risk as the armour is only slightly better than a mattress and I was sure there would be some bazookas around, but why not.

I got to the club early and set up the terrain, basically some houses around a crossroads with clumps of woods, crops and small rises, Rob won the toss and chose the side nearest the crossroads, we were fighting a delaying action so I had to get a unit into the American end zone. I know nothing about Paratrooper lists but Rob had two squads of Paras, two mortars, scouts and of course a bazooka team along with two Senior leaders if I remember correctly, he told me later that if he had taken the three squad list it would have handed me loads more support points so his force was a trade off.

I was not allowed free moves so Rob managed to push forward and keep me well back, but I managed well enough and only one Jump Off Point was no good to me. I started by getting a double phase and pushed a squad forward on my left flank through some woods (not that keen as they only went one inch on their second move) and one into a large building facing the crossroads. Rob wasted no time in putting his squads into the two houses at the crossroads, with his mortars behind them, then the rain of fire started and despite being in hard cover I began to lose men and gather shock while the Yanks seemed impervious to my return fire. I also had a shock when Rob threw six command dice and other things elite troops were good for expanded my knowledge of the rules, drat. Within an hour I felt like phoning the missus and telling her to put the kettle on things looked that bad, so drastic times called for drastic action and I brought the panzer on, I tried to keep it away from any American deployment points but forgot about Ambush, I had also wanted to use my troops to protect it but could never quite manage it. Anyway, for now it opened up with a roar and at last the enemy began to hit the dust, things began to look slightly better, as I managed to get a squad within shooting distance of the building on my left and fired with the assault rifles, a whopping 24 dice at that range, but I never managed more than six hits with all that firepower. I threw everything at that house but the pendulum swung again and I lost the squad in my house along with their leader, my morale fell, I brought on my remaining squads, one to re-man the house and the other to also advance on my left with the first squad. To make matters worse I now lost the Wirblewind to a sneaky ambush, the tank didn't even make an effort and up it went in smoke, I was down to four command dice.

 But all was not lost, at last my fire on the white house began to tell as I now had three squads firing at it, leaders went down and teams were wiped out, American morale fell to two shortly to be joined by mine falling to two, Rob needed to end the phase as I had two broken teams at the rear of my lines but the elusive die which would enable this did not turn up, thankfully neither did mine as I eyed a nearby JOP, take that and win the game I thought, forgetting that if I did end the turn it would also ruin my own chances of winning. No matter as the clock ticked down my rifle grenadiers eventually turned up having sat out the whole battle off table, there, just at the back of the American lines on a hill, was a Senior leader running from my victorious boys on the left as they took the white house, get him! The poor man was blown apart as the grenades were on target and this broke American morale.

 A good game and a few times each side looked like winning, I was very disappointed in my die rolling especially as I had put so much effort into getting as much firepower onto the enemy as I could, I should also have pushed my guys on the left up further as that would have left Rob no room for his ambush, but a lesson learned. I was also left thinking elite troops are way overpowered, at one point Rob was throwing six command dice to my four, if fighting against three elite squads you would have to up the force morale or the game could end pretty quick before the normal troops could dent the elites. I must look into this on the forum and see how others feel about it.

Nothing much else happening, I built and did a bit of weathering on my new bridge, I have not decided yet whether to leave the surface of the road grey or texture it.

  Stuart has run off a couple of sets of markers on his 3D printers for Chain of Command and 'O' Group, I was very impressed with the ones he had painted, yellow on green, and ordered up a few sets for CoC. He also offered club members to print patrol markers of our own design, I set too and did some divisional signs for my forces, I could not find anything suitable for the French so just used an armoured tactical sign for them. It might take me a little time to paint them up as I have civilians/refugees and another squad of French to paint as well. I am also very busy with maps.


Cold War gets hot.


Saturday, 14 August 2021

Gembloux Gap 2: Noirmont

 The culvert game, the whole point I built my two culverts a few weeks ago in the hope I would get here, so last night Matt and I settled down to our second game after 3rd Panzer took the village of Perbais. Here at Noirmont the French defenders had to blow two culverts to slow down the panzers as they cut a swathe through Belgium, in game terms if the Poilu's were successful they would cut the German turns for victory down from ten to eight, so quite a bit at stake for both sides.

Due to losses two of my squads were down to eight men and one to nine, so this time I took an extra squad for support along with an MG34 on a tripod and my very successful last time 75mm infantry gun. Matt had a new platoon but not many support points so took an extra demolition squad and a Panhard armoured car. My plan was to make the southern culvert untenable by dropping as much lead as possible on anyone near it thus preventing the French from taking two turns from me. Matt of course wanted to blow both and retire.

The Germans moved first and got a double phase, I was very happy and sent two squads racing towards the southern culvert, for some daft reason I did not put my infantry gun on my left but put it on my right where it could not target the culvert, I did however put the MMG on my left. The French duly turned up and set to blowing up the westerly culvert, the easy one, a full squad then took up a position on the road out of LOS of my advancing schutzen. Despite putting the artillery in the wrong place they took a shot at the rifle grenade team and wiped it out leaving the Junior Leader to wander aimlessly in the rear for the rest of the game, my morale climbed. We now had a bit of a Mexican stand off, can you say that now, anyway I got my two squads into a position on overwatch waiting for a chance to rush the defenders, one I would put in the house while the other took the punishment on the way in, the result I hoped would favour my boys when they retaliated. I then could not get the command dice I needed so brought on a Senior Leader to help but Matt then got a double phase and punished me, eventually wiping out my squad in the open and leaving my Junior Leader to wander on his own, my morale fell.

 I now woke up and sent a flanking squad along on my right and let my MMG loose on the Frenchies who had now managed to get a second squad up to cover the second team of engineers as they ran for the southern culvert, in the background a large explosion put paid to the westerly crossing, with the Panhard only just making it off the culvert as it went up. Sacre Bleu!

 Just as things were looking very good for Matt, I managed to end the turn and get another phase, I rushed the house, threw grenades and opened up on the French cowering behind it, this was a great success and with oodles of shock the Group de Combat routed, French morale was now looking dodgy, but could they win enough time to get the second lot of explosives to blow. Sadly for France it was a no, the German fire now swept the French lines and again morale plummeted as men ran for the rear, Matt was forced to retire sans culvert as they say.

  A very tight game this time, despite my good luck during the opening phases the tide turned against me and things looked extremely worrying, then the pendulum swung back and the French suffered a catastrophic round which prompted Matt to withdraw. I have another CoC game on Tuesday at the club against Rob's US Paras in the Ardennes with my Volksgrenadiers, this will be a hard fight for me I think.

At the club this week I took Wings of War for a quick throw down game, there were four of us and the idea was that a British two seater had to photograph a target behind German lines and return with some decent photographs which would lead to a second mission with an artillery spotter over the target to ensure its destruction. The two seater in both cases would have three Scouts for an escort, the Germans would have four Scouts in an effort to take down the Recce and Spotter planes. The forces were chosen at random, I got two Albatross DVa and Simon a Fokker DVII and a Pfalz DIII, Dan got the two seater RE8 along with a Sopwith Camel and Rob got two Camels.

 The priority for Simon and I was obviously the Recce aircraft in the first game and in this we failed miserably, in the maelstrom of the dogfight we had to spend more time trying not to collide with each other than firing at the enemy, we lost three Scouts and when the RE8 got back to base with barely a scratch his photographic efforts proved successful so the next one up was the artillery spotter.

 As the RFC closed with us things again took a wrong turn for me, one unlucky Albatross very quickly spun earthward while the other put up a bit of a better fight, Simon also managed to last longer than I did. Once again the dogfight proved very confusing and several times gun jams saved the life of the RE8 as our Scouts closed in. It was all in vain however as once again we fell prey to the RFC. A couple of exciting games but very one sided as Lady Luck favoured the British, I was particularly unlucky and rubbish, I don't think the RFC lost one plane in both games, an unusual occurrence for this great littlegame.

What else, well I have at last finished my latest kit, a British truck from Rubicon, nothing fancy just a plain troop carrier and a very nice model it is too. On the cards are a bunch of Refugees from 1st Corps as I do not have Jump Off Points for my French and thought some little groups of refugees would work, they can also double up in other games when not being used as JOP's. I think I shall also add a few more leaders to my WWII forces, for some reason I seemed to keep losing them in the midst of yesterdays battle despite having them all sorted before we began.

 So, some thought now on what supports I can bring to Tuesday night's game.

Monday, 9 August 2021

Thunderbolts Are Go

Mark arrived from Grantham down south sharp and early on Sunday at 0830 managing 2.5 hours on quiet roads, he normally brings Normans and Spartans, the former I face with my Patrician Romans and the latter with my Seleucids, the first matching is a good game while the second is a very hard struggle due to the rules favouring Hoplite armies, in my humble opinion anyway. Mark had just bought the Early Imperial Romans he had brought so I met them with my EIR, Legio XII "Thunderbolts" one of my favourite armies.

After a chat and a cuppa we set up, the armies were 3,000 points and we fought on an 8'x5' table, having played Mark's army when Mike Jordan owned it I guessed at what was coming and no surprise to me he had three cohorts of Legionaries and one of Auxiliaries, supported by two large auxiliary archer units, slingers, bolt shooters, cavalry and cataphracts. I went for a change, I normally use auxiliary cohorts but this time took three legionary cohorts and two cohorts of 'recruits', one archer unit, slingers, horse archers, cataphracts and my favoured Lanciari.


Twelfth ready.

Thunderbolts on the left.

Mark was a bit hesitant with his centre and led with his right flank, I went forward to meet it hoping all that firepower (the cataphracts of both armies had taken bows as well as the kitchen sink) would kill his cavalry and then I could mop up the archers. My own infantry I pushed forward, I knew I had a good chance of taking out his Auxiliary Cohort and then I would see what happened, I played cautiously on my right. Within the first arrows being fired Mark's cataphracts had routed and carried the archers with them, I made a mistake and moved my Lanciari too close to the enemy cavalry and only running through the wood saved them, thankfully they rallied and then took their revenge on their tormentors and put them to flight. The enemy routers had rallied but I now hit the Auxiliary Cohort and sent it packing, my other troops now engaged all along the line, I cannot recall now what happened on the my right, but nothing that happened there had any affect on the outcome of the battle.

Mark's bad morale begins.

The Twelfth advances.

The Lanciari get their revenge.

A titanic struggle.

 As the main lines hacked at each other the Thunderbolts got the upper hand and soon Mark's army was left with only one battle formation still fighting and the rest routing, Mark offered his sword. As he had come a long way for a game and this one had ended so quickly we decided to have another. My boys had not really tried very hard and only the fact I could re-roll my kill dice in the first round saved me as three times I got nothing as the troops went in, Mark on the other hand had some very bad morale throws which did not help his game.

We quickly had a bite of lunch and reset the game, this time Mark put all his firepower on his right and the cavalry on his left, I put my winning combination on my left again with my firepower on my right. My plan was to push my left protecting the cataphracts and then charge through the Lanciari and ride down one of the archer units, the infantry again would advance in line while the right would try and kill off the enemy cavalry. It all sounded good but there was a flaw, instead of pushing left with the main battle line I pushed right and this turned out to be a mistake. Before I could get the cataphracts into charge reach their protection ran away, they then suffered from the massed archers, I won the initiative for the next turn and charged them in, again they suffered the arrows of misfortune and failed their charge by one! What was wrong with my boys, no one was making an effort, had the first battle been too easy. Before long I had no left flank, the Lanciari did come back but they were only delaying their demise. In the centre meanwhile once again the lines had clashed. 

The Twelfth again on the left.

This time instead of sweeping away the enemy Auxiliaries they stood toe to toe with Cohort I, brave men, this held up my plan to roll up the enemy line, I now had a perfectly good cohort sitting doing nothing because it could not get in to the fight. For a short time my attack looked good, but then it all went pear shaped. Again the right flank had a little battle all on its own, they had seen off the enemy slingers and Auxiliary cavalry but then spent far too much time trying to catch Mark's cataphracts.

Mark comes forward this time.

Enemy cataphracts fatally attract my right.

Cohors I about to run, one more turn grrrr.

Mark victorious on his right.

 We were stopping the game at 1600 hrs so that Mark could get a decent run south, and as we looked over the field of battle I had to admit that it would take a miracle for me to get a win, I had three battle units left and mark had five, one in a very precarious position but nonetheless it was a mountain the Twelfth could not climb. 

I made a couple of mistakes in that game which, married to the loss of the Lanciari and then the loss of my left flank and the stand of Mark's Auxiliaries put me on course for a defeat. Mark once again was not helped by some terrible morale dice but his men came through.

And there we have it, an excellent days gaming and plenty of excitement for the both of us and a good result of 1-1. 

Although I have been very busy gaming and mapping I did manage to finish my little SdKfz 10/4 and what a lovely little kit it was (along with the 2cm Flak). I have a British Bedford truck to paint now but I seem to have learned patience so it is still waiting to be primed. I also got a new bridge from Warbases as I am not keen on the one I have, also if and when I get to playing the Smolensk mini campaign I will need two bridges, I have built that but again got no further.