Friday, 29 October 2021

Lady Luck makes an appearance

 Club night was Bolt Action, a game which I had promised Jimi but had not got around to, he has completed his British Para platoon so was keen to use them, I offered some support weapons from my own troops and he opted for a 6 pdr anti-tank gun. I decided as they were Paras I would use a Waffen-SS platoon to get two LMG's per squad being as they would be panzergrenadiers from the 9th or 10th divisions at Arnhem, tenuous link but hey. I also gave them some heavy support with an infantry gun, two medium machine guns and a PzII Luchs, for a change I also splashed out on a sniper. I kept the game simple as this was only Jimi's second game as far as I know so we went head to head in a meeting engagement.

 I only had a Plan A and that was to use my superior firepower to cut down the Paras before they could get close and simply rack up the points as they hit the dust, even with my luck recently I should have enough dice to offset the gremlins. It became very apparent however that Lady Luck was back with me or at least had decided to dump Jimi. I got off lightly from the preparatory bombardment but Jimi suffered under the shellfire and a direct hit took out his HQ before an enemy had been seen, he also got most of his dice out first therefore I knew exactly where most of his army were and set up accordingly when German dice eventually turned up.

Sure enough the amount of firepower started to cut down the British units as they seemed to flounder forwards, some even refused to move, the British mortar missed with its first shot on my infantry gun only to have the spotter shot by my sniper rendering it basically worthless. As the game continued Jimi's luck worsened, he failed nearly every order test apart from two and he had to take a fair few. I had a few hiccups but nothing out of the ordinary. As we reached the conclusion of the game the horrendous casualties the British suffered offered no hope for Jimi and we called a halt to the slaughter as the Germans now moved forward to mop up.

So, Plan A had worked after all, I had managed to get the drop on the Paras and they never managed to counter the sheer weight of firepower coming their way or the bad luck which dogged them during the game, we all have games like that but this was particularly bad. I tried at the end to give some advice but my own Para platoon has only fought with Chain of Command so I may have been short on that, I did concur that a more rounded British Army platoon with perhaps Para back up and a lot more support choices might work better.

Fast forward to yesterday and a War and Conquest game against Charlie and his Normans, now I have no love for Normans but they are a tough army to meet with these rules. Charlie likes his cavalry and brought seven units mostly hard hitting Milites supported by some good foot, archers, skirmishers and a couple of not so good infantry. I had some household troops (Gedriht), some mounted and foot Duguth, some young warriors and Ceorls supported by skirmish archers, I also brought, yes, the Franks.

Saxons on the left, Normans on the right.



 The battlefield was fairly open with two villages on each of the flanks, I decided therefore to refuse my left and lead with the right while the centre would wait and see, I also thought my light cavalry would easily take out the enemy light cavalry as there were more of mine. The Normans put most of their cavalry on their left and some on the extreme right, between the two was marshaled the infantry. I thought the shock cavalry could be a problem while the host opposite my left could be a real threat to my weak flank.  

The Normas advance.

The cavalry charge.

The Saxons beat off the initial charges.

The battle started and the Norman cavalry all advanced very quickly, I also threw my own cavalry against the flanks while my infantry edged slowly forward on the right, I was getting ready for some charges when they wheeled towards my flank, I took advantage of this and closed to close range with the Duguth and Franks, javelins flew. I managed to get the drop on Charlie and threw in several charges, my right flank light cavalry destroyed their opposition while the left flank horsemen made a hash of things. My Duguth routed their opponents while the Franks made a meal of their melee, however although it turned into a slogging match the numbers favoured the mercenaries, but they took their time.

The Saxons get the upper hand.

Charlie now withdrew his cavalry and I followed up with the Gedriht hoping to catch some Liberi and send them packing, I did not manage this as I had to watch my flank and wait for the victorious Duguth to come up and protect the companions. I lost my left flank cavalry but the Normans did not push behind my lines, perhaps it was the waiting archers which put them off, so instead they joined the mass of troops heading for my Geoguth and Ceorls.

As the pressure mounted the Norman cavalry swept forward in several charges, none of which were successful, and they were beaten off, the Norman infantry were now charged in return while the Ceorls went into shieldwall and put themselves in harms way of the last Norman horsemen still unengaged or routing. As the enemy infantry were pushed back all along the line the Saxon light cavalry now appeared behind the Norman line sealing their fate. Charlie offered his sword.

The last of the Norman cavalry in trouble.

A good game and at the beginning I was a bit worried about my left as there were a lot of Normans opposite it, however I had a good feeling that my large infantry units could fend off the mounted shock charges although I would not bet the house on it. The wheel the enemy made was a mistake and allowed me to take the initiative and the cavalry never recovered despite putting up a tremendous fight. Cavalry armies in real life did well, however in wargames they seem to struggle, we played some amendments to try and make them more dangerous and it works to an extent but you can never count on Lady Luck.

Next week at Chez Anderson it is Seven Years War against Rob and I am looking forward to getting these guys back on the table. I have decided to go to FIASCO in Leeds on Sunday as I have some Last Valley tree's to pick up and perhaps have a look at some nice games. I don't really need anything and will just be looking for something interesting, maybe terrain or scatter wise.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Castles and cash

 We had a break in Welsh Wales last weekend, specifically the village of Harlech, on the way we visited Conwy to again tour its magnificent castle, the next day we made for Caernarfon and the second imposing castle which like it's builder reminds me of the walls of Constantinople. Harlech castle was a mere few hundred yards from where we were staying. Wales I am informed is the most fortified country on the planet, while I am not sure of this it must have the largest number of beautiful castles all in the one place. Despite the castles the highlight of the weekend for me was a visit to a Slate Mine and the tour run by "Badger" a talkative, ex Royal Marine. We took the opportunity to climb a rather steep incline to get out of the mine rather than take the normal route, I was going to do it anyway but as the Memsahib had already expressed her intent to make the climb I thought I would go along to protect her.






So back to the club last night as I had missed it last week due to a cold, Bolt Action and an 800 point game as the Germans kicked off Operation Barbarossa. I was the Russians and chose four infantry squads, a BT-7 tank, a BT-10 armoured car, an MMG and HMG along with an Ampulomet anti-tank mortar. Duncan who was the Germans sent in a list with four small squads, one veteran, two medium mortars and a Panzer III. Now being an experienced player I thought this was going to be a walk in the park for my Soviets as it was a strange list to bring to a battlefield in 1941.

Duncan being the Germans was the attacker and had to take a village which I would defend, I only showed half my forces and kept half in reserve, it soon became evident that Duncan was going to go all out and attack my left flank. I made for a large wood there and decided to hold it or die in the attempt, but I was not taking the German attack seriously. I had warned against taking two mortars but Duncan was insistent, to my horror they never missed a target once and he hit first time every time, I lost my HQ and HMG very quickly while other defenders took serious casualties. I felt compelled now to bring on my armour.

NKVD Border Guards


Beware the mortars

Achtung Panzer!

 The BA-10 I kept out of LOS from the Panzer III and began to take on the defenders of a small nearby wood, the crew's accuracy was astoundingly bad, the BT-7 I sent to the right and pushed my troops there to swarm the German left. Before this happened I also lost the Ampuloment but not before it helped to wipe out the German veterans, I was a bit shocked by my losses up to this point but as there was no chance now that the Germans would get any of the objectives I decided to damn the torpedoes and throw everything I had at the Jerries, in essence I now became the attacker while Duncan got bogged down. In the last turn all the vehicles fired on each other and none got a hit.

For the attack scenario the attacker needs more points it should not be an equal point game, and with the Soviet free squad (which I also do not agree with) Duncan was heavily outnumbered due to his choices. We ran into a couple of Bolt Action stupidities but overall it passed an entertaining club night. I have another BA game next week, Germans (me) against British Para's which I was supposed to play a week or so ago.

I have just about finished the Blood Bowl team and come to the conclusion that despite all the fancy tips and video 'how to's" I will not be painting a lot of fantasy after these, it is just not my thing so I shall admire from afar. I am also more than a bit cheesed off with my Army Painter brushes which have been pretty rubbish, I switched from Winsor and Newton as I had got a couple of bad brushes from them and at that price I could not afford useless brushes. But my foray away from these has not proved successful, so I might go back, depends on how my Citadel synthetic brushes work out, so far so good.

My French figures arrived from the far side of the Pond at last and they are very nice and should work if I ever field French engineers again otherwise they will simply be extra men. These are now officially my most expensive wargame figures and a lesson to me to be more careful with my dosh in the future.

I will probably go to the FIASCO show in Leeds at the end of the month, I was very impressed with all the photos from the recent Partizan show in Newark and have a hankering to brave the outside world to perhaps see some at Leeds.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

St. Nazaire

On March 28, 1942 British forces made a large raid on the harbour of St. Nazaire in France in order to put the large dry dock there out of commission, this was the only dock capable of taking the battleship Tirpitz or other large German warships and the loss would force them to return to home waters for repairs and hopefully be sunk by the Royal Navy on trying such a journey. The game was set up by Little Wars TV and shown on their YouTube channel, I decided to give it a try as it looked interesting and with a little effort I could manage to set the table up.


I only needed a couple of factory type buildings which I managed to get fairly cheap from eBay and some polystyrene sheets which again I found online for a decent price, they are normally used for packing boxes. I set them up and cut them out, I had to knock a foot off the back end as the original table was 8x6 while mine could take 8x5 but as things turned out this was not a problem.

 The big day came yesterday and hit a snag as one player couldn't make it, so I was left to command the German garrison and the reinforcements while Matt and Dan took the raiders, it was going to be interesting. The British have two major objectives which must be destroyed, the Pump House and Winding Hut, lesser objectives are two AA positions, the Officers Quarters and a nearby ammunition train (this substituted for the U-Boat in the basin which I had to dispense with), the commandos need four objectives for an outright win.

The British organised their forces and Matt took his teams to attack the main objectives, Dan would land on the other side of the harbour and cause as much mayhem as he could and attempt to draw the German reinforcements away from Matt. To begin with I had four small patrols roaming the area and a couple of MMG's set up on the eastern half with what I hoped were decent fields of fire. The commandos duly arrived and marched inland, Matt cautiously keeping out of the line of sight of the nearby 20mm AA gun between the two sides of the harbour, I now found that my MMG's did not have the range on the large table to bring Matt under fire nor did the AA have a clear shot. I did have two patrols in this area and the brave but scared conscripts who never expected to be under fire on the French coast moved to meet the raiders. Dan meanwhile pushed his men forward as fast as they could go and they huddled around the Cafe and the wall surrounding it while inching towards the Officers Quarters.

Matt's Commandos come ashore.

Dan's men rush forward.

The garrison attempt to stall the British.

The Winding Hut fell first after the Commandos had dealt with the AA gun on top of the building, they then engaged the two small patrols and wiped them out, Matt was now pushing further into the harbour while a demolition team made for the Pump House. Dan was now being engaged by the 88mm AA gun along with the 20mm and an MMG team, sadly however these guys had spent too much time enjoying the delights of an easy posting and were completely ineffective in their return fire. The German reinforcements were now turning up albeit it slowly and I sent one squad along to counter Matt with another two close behind them, the last two I kept on the west side with the intention of stopping Dan getting the Officers Quarters. The 88 crew were despatched and although I at last got a few good hits on the raiders here my own men were dropping like flies.

The useless 88.

The MMG crew hiding on the roof.

More of Matt's men arrive.

Dan taking moving on the Officers Quarters.

The regulars at last turn up despite losing a truck.

 In the east the British took a very aggressive stance and I was quite surprised by this being a shooty guy myself and I ended up on the back foot here while the Pump House was set with explosives, and the Winding Hut was ready to blow. With time getting on and only two turns left it was clear the British would get the two major objectives and the Officers Quarters, not four but near enough with the Germans in complete disarray. 

Trouble for the 88 crew.

Dan's command team.

The more than useless 20mm AA.

More Commandos move forward.

Survivors from the truck.

 On discussing the game later it became obvious that with the Demolition Teams only being able to move six inches the Ammo Train target and probably the 20mm AA gun could not be reached in the time available, it could also be a stretch for the second force of raiders to get to the 88mm. The game therefore needs to go to 10 turns rather than 8 or the Demo teams move as normal or a maximum of 9 inches if they Run, penalising them at Advance speed is a bit too harsh. The 88mm team had been cut down but the point is it has to be destroyed so I think this must remain the criteria for this target, again could the ammo train be blown up by weight of fire, no, as this is being substituted for the U-Boat and must be blown up with a demo charge. I hindered the 20mm AA gun somewhat by putting a large oil tank down as scatter, this drastically cut the LOS to Matt's team from that gun, having played the video again I shall look a bit closer at what terrain is actually in that area. Also in the video the charges are deemed to go off, I suspect these just explode in the move after they are laid and once the Demo team moves out of the way.

What can I moan about, well the inexperienced garrison were very easy to kill but I did not use my brain here and threw them at the enemy instead of holding them back until the regulars could reinforce them. My MMG's were badly placed and just to rub salt into the wound their shooting was abysmal, even the 20mm and 88mm when able to target Dan's men failed miserably, the latter getting only one hit before the crew died.

I will tweak the game and get another sorted because despite my miserable performance it was really good fun and a big thanks to Matt and Dan for coming along.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021


 Winter is certainly on the way, wet, dark and miserable again last night. I picked up Duncan first last night as he asked to come along to the club and he only lives five minutes away. Dan had offered a Seven Years War game so Duncan was going to be under my command as the French tried to win back the bridge they had lost a few weeks ago. You remember, the one where I had performed brilliantly only to be let down by my subordinates but managed to report back to Versailles first.

This time Duncan had the left and Ian the right, I took the centre with the intention of supporting either flank depending on where success lay. Duncan grasped the bull by the horns and set his brigade off at a sharp pace against the Prussian right only to be ambushed by some light troops hidden in a wood, no problem we thought as artillery was nearby and I turned one of my battalions to take out the skirmishers. The rest of my forces went forward but more cautiously than Duncan's. Ian failed the first of many of his command rolls and stood by watching the battle unfold.

My boys confidently approach the enemy centre.

Ian's shy brigade.

 Duncan was determined to force the enemy flank but managed to lose a cavalry squadron and an infantry battalion during the first clashes, no matter a counterattack by more cavalry forced the enemy back and they suffered from musketry, things looked good. Sadly the annoying troops in the wood would not break despite the amount of lead going their way. Duncan was now in a position to force the enemy flank and seeing this I ventured forward against the Prussian centre in support, Ian was crawling forward on my right. My opening volleys crashed out and as the smoke cleared hardly a hair on Prussian heads had been injured, a dreadful opening for my boys. To make matters worse a furious cavalry charge destroyed one of my battalions and upset my careful advance.

The French left stalls.

The troublesome light troops.

Things start to go wrong for the French centre.

Duncan now stalled just as he needed to close while the Prussians now managed to form a solid defensive line to our front, one of my battalions fled as did another of Duncan's, the crises had been reached. The French left again failed to go forward and I threw my forward battalions at the enemy hoping to cause a breach in their line. The peacock Grenadiers failed miserably and were routed, the line troops who had gone in alongside showed them how a charge should be performed and sent their opponents fleeing but in the face of the opposition decided wisely to retire after their efforts. Ian had now advance into musket range and managed to get off a few volleys, Dan opposite him fell back on the objective, night fell and the battle was over.

The Duc d'Ecosse's reputation was in tatters, although Duncan had suffered his brigade was still looking good and hanging on, Ian was untouched as his men had refused to engage the enemy while my brigade had broken and were even now looking for a way off the battlefield. The Prussian right and centre had been tested but had not been found wanting and managed to recover each time it looked like the French only needed that one push, that one good die roll, that one piece of luck. My own die rolling was dreadful, especially for shooting, that first volley which was supposed to clear the way for me was a damp squib and I did not recover. Almost a full turnout for the club, elsewhere there was Chain of Command, Blood Bowl and Age of Sigmar

Things are still quiet here and the painting of my Blood Bowl team has not progressed very far this week. I did manage to order up another half dozen of the excellent trees from Last Valley, I now have all the 28mm trees I shall ever need. The four French Gaddis Games figures which in a moment of madness I ordered from the US have now after five weeks arrived in Canada from whence my mate will post them out to me. I wanted these for engineers but they have become so expensive I shall never put them in harms way.

Map projects continue to be heaped upon me and I have half a dozen in various stages of completion awaiting editors and authors comments or the final touches for the typesetter. This morning I start on partisan operations in Yugoslavia during WWII, a complex set and a challenge from the information sent to me.

Transylvania 16C


Cold War

 The attack on St. Nazaire is now close, all leave has been cancelled and briefings are being prepared.