Saturday 18 March 2023

Smolensk: Busy Week

 I got my Tuesday's mixed up and thought I had a game with Rob, but I didn't and Matt was looking for a game so I jumped in, it was GW's Kill Team, a lot of talk about this game recently at the club and several have it. Why not, better than a night in front of the ever diminishing lure of the magic lantern in the corner.

It is small, ten men or monsters a side on what looked like a 2'x2' board, the terrain was well painted as were the teams, I was Imperial Guard and Matt took Orcs. There were four objective markers, one in each corner for this scenario and each garnered the owner points, I halved my squad and was going to advance my left while defending my right. I quickly lost a man to a sniper but then killed a bomb thing which blew up and injured the figure next to it, a good start. My advance was slow, too slow and although I killed another guy Matt was getting victory points.

Guard sniper.

Terrible photo but these were gorgeous.

In a crazy move Matt put his leader next to my Demolition guy, I took the chance to kill this greenskin and damn the torpedoes, the mine went off. The Orc wiped away the debris of my Demolition man from his face, which was the only effect on him, my guy was toast. My assault on the other side of the map also came to naught as my dice failed me yet again and a certain kill became more than uncertain. Despite me wounding many of the enemy they got the points, and of course points make prizes, I conceded gracefully.

Sneaky Orcs.


The game, yes it was OK and Matt took me through the rules without bias and helped a couple of times with 'you sure you want to do that?' But it is not my thing, despite the lovely terrain and the well painted and inspiring figures. I can see the appeal for a club night and if you were brought up on Warhammer 40K but it is not the grand sweep of regiments and brigades or pike blocks and massed armoured cavalry which warm my blood but need a forklift to bring to the club.

Wednesday and it was a return to our Smolensk Chain of Command campaign and also a return to the village of Mikheykovo for the boys of 7th Panzer after having to abandon it earlier on 29th July. I managed to get seven support points and added one of my Resource Points to get a Panzer 38(t) and a MMG team, I also brought the Second Platoon who were nice and fresh. Matt (Crump) turned up with a BT7, HMG, 76mm Infantry Gun and entrenchments using quite a few of his remaining Resource Points. I started off with my now usual double phase and brought on my MMG, tank and one squad lining a wood on my left, the former two dominated a large empty area up to the rivulet, my tank rumbled on slowly as the wooden bridge would not bear its weight so it had to ford the stream and I did not want it to get bogged down. The Reds set up a defensive position in the scrub on the far side of the small river protected by defensive works and set about reducing the crew on my MMG and taking pot shots at the squad in the trees, although the MMG suffered the guys in the woods got off very lightly.

The first Germans turn up.

My little tank, for all the good it did.

Soviet power.

 More Russians turned up near my right flank and caused me some worry as I just couldn't get any more troops on, eventually I did and this platoon took the Soviets in the green Dacha under fire and dropped their Junior Leader, Red morale began to fail. Meanwhile I was throwing everything at the infantry gun but then turned on the mortar team who did not have entrenchments, these were wiped out and Russian morale fell again. Return fire on me was indecisive and that is putting it mildly. I turned back to the infantry gun and it slowly lost crew until a last effort wiped them out, along with the Junior Leader and attached Senior Leader. This was the end for the Russians as their morale plummeted to zero.

Russian fire base.

A second squad for the Jerries.

Reds attempt a flank move.

A good result for me but not a great game, neither of us had taken overwhelming casualties but the combination of officer hits and two teams being wiped out ensured the Russians would lose. Not very satisfying as I as the attacker had not really made an effort at an assault and did not need to as my fire wore down the enemy. The defenders could just as easily have shot me down as I attempted to move forward into the teeth of a waiting line should this have been forced. I know a mortar barrage could have helped but I find this a 'nuclear option' and avoid it if possible. There are still six turns to go and still all to play for.

With the game taking just under two hours we have decided that should it happen again we will be prepared to move to the next table to make a visit worthwhile, this should work with a little planning. I also offered to go to Matt's for our next game and let him sort something out in the Dungeon. You can read Matt's report here.

Friday and the big bash, hundreds of figures on a large table and eager to get stuck in, you cannot beat it. I had my French ready once again and Julian made up a mirror image on the opposite side, he has yet to organise a specific army, I just concentrated on Pavia and the French came first. The battlefield was fairly open with a small farm in the centre, I put a heavy cavalry presence on my right then the pike blocks extending to the centre, this wing was under the command of de Montmorency, then came the artillery and more cavalry of which half were skirmishers Giovanni de Medici led these troops. Opposite Julian had most of his cavalry on his right and less on the left, the infantry held his centre with an Italian pike block out on his left. As I looked across at the splendid array I thought I could win on the right, hold the centre and hope my left would slow up the enemy until victory was assured. As we consulted the pre-game event it transpired that my right wing cavalry were late to the field and started from the table edge rather than twelve inches in!

French on the left, Julian on the right.

The backbone of Julian's line.

The French line.

I did attack on the right but the skirmishers to my front kept evading my charges, nonetheless I quickly destroyed a heavy cavalry unit and as the victors now turned their attention on an enemy Gendarme unit I positioned the rest of my cavalry to hit the Italian pikes in the flank as one of my Landsknecht blocks advanced on them. Things looked good. On the left however my boys were making heavy weather of holding off the enemy, my artillery failed to open up and my skirmishing arquebusiers couldn't hit a barn door, then my cavalry were sent packing after a good start, I toyed with sending over one of my right flank heavy cavalry troops but decided against it. Luckily for Julian the first hazard of the day pertained to striking mercenary cavalry, he had none, the second was a fall back by his skirmishing crossbow troopers, this ended up getting them out of trouble, my eyes rolled.

Both sides advance.

My left about to be crushed.

By now the pike blocks had engaged, first the Swiss of both armies then two Landsknecht pike blocks, I began to lose bases and despite at times dealing out more or equal casualties my boys simply lost heart when it came to Combat Morale, now a third Hazard caused my Old Band pike to retire. I still thought if I could engage the Italians with my remaining Landsknechts surely I could claw something back, however the long march to contact left me suffering from skirmishers and a deadly artillery piece, I was losing bases. My own artillery eventually managed one shot from all the game turns, it meant nothing and the crews were staring at heavily armoured Gendarmes within spitting distance. My Landsknechts in combat with the enemy Landsknechts now ran, the army was shattered, looking over the debacle there was no way I could recover, I handed over my sword as I joined the race to the rear.

I still have a hope of winning here.

I conceded just as my Landsknechts prepare to run.

My French have not yet managed to build up a fearsome reputation, unlike Legio XII or my Patrician Romans, my foes do not yet fear them, and don't mention the Scots in French service, my artillery seem to be of no use whatsoever and even less effective than my skirmishers. I even changed dice during the game but it was too late. We picked up on a couple of rules and have asked for help, others we forgot and remembered too late to do anything but despite this we are getting a better understanding of how they play, the period feel with the pre-game events and Hazards are a real boon for setting the scene. Well done Julian but we will be back.

I now need to do some research for the troop types I am going to use in my Imperial/Spanish army as I think the army lists in the rules might be a bit limiting in splitting them into two separate armies. I also have my middle command ranks on the painting tray for the second Imperial pike block so I need to look again at Landsknecht flags. I was thinking of getting movement trays but hit a problem in that this would bring the pikes into contact with the RUB tops as I also have a thickish non slip mat in there, time to engage the grey matter. Off the painting tray this week is the first full Imperial pike block and I am now on to the mid ranks of the second.

The first of many.


The commander of the second unit, he might need a base of his own.


  1. Another full week of gaming there George I assume the first one counts ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good idea about being ready to play the next table, CoC games can be quite brief as you have discovered. Your Imperial stuff is coming along nicely, that hat will certainly keep the sun off.

  2. The first one was enjoyable Phil, that's what counts and I have always liked pushing lovely figures around a table. Matt was very unlucky in that game, the infantry gun was having a lot of problems so the Senior leader was added to help reduce shock, and a ton of kills wiped out everyone near it, so two leaders and a support team gone. These things happen. I would like to get a bigger move on with the Imperials, I have a lot of ideas for them but I have to be patient.

  3. A lot going on George this week.kill team probably not my thing either. I strangely enjoyed our game even if as you say it was slightly unsatisfying, the figures and the terrain you have are lovely and somehow deserve a tighter contest, my fear is I’m just a rubbish commander ๐Ÿ˜€ although my dice were not very inspiring. One more thought is to reduce the impact of wounded Junior leaders as this proved a double whammy each being wounded and then killed out right. Never fear the Russians haven’t given up yet. The Italian wars looks fantastic.

    1. Thanks Matt, I would rate myself as a poor WWII commander in both CoC and BA, I am more at home in the big battle games but I do like WWII. Yesterday's IW game was pure eye candy and a pleasure to see on the table, I have more than enough troops should you wish to have a go.

  4. Interesting reports and nice pictures.
    If you have the rules I have found that TFL’s “What a Tanker!” game can be a useful filler if a Chain of Command game finishes early but you haven’t the time to set up the next table in a campaign. It can played over the same terrain usually and provides some light relief if you have some tanks to hand.

    1. Thanks, I have boxes full of tanks many of which have never seen the dust of a battlefield, but why not.

  5. Yes, poorly performing dice frequently make games unpleasant or even unbelievable at times.

    The second game was gorgeous to look at. Thanks for posting.

    1. We all have tales of dire die rolls, thankfully I am mature enough to deal with them now (I buy new ones) and they don't happen that often. Massed pike blocks is pure eye candy.

  6. Loved the CoC battlefield and get why it can be not fun when Germans just win with a gun line. What’s the campaign and where can I find it?

    1. Hi, the campaign is Smolensk 1941 and is in the Files section along with others on CoC FB page

  7. George, you continue to keep yourself well occupied on the hobby front.
    Having read Matt's CoC battle account earlier, it is good to read your perspective too. You both agree! I think Matt was surprised that he took such a pounding on the defense.

    As always, your Italian Wars table and game look fab. Is there any other period as colorful?
    I really ought to dig my collection out for a game or two. One of these days, I actually will!

    1. Can't complain Jonathan, no wait, I can, I am Scottish. Matt was unlucky and the Gods departed just at the wrong moment. I do not regret jumping into Italian Wars with two feet, and still a long way to go.

  8. Smashing looking Italian Wars armies there! Your WWII vehicles and figures deserve better rules though...As to Orcs, well, I suggest lying down in a darkened room until you feel better๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thanks David, still a long way to go. As for the rest, wait till you see this weeks report.

  9. Kill Team, CoC and IW … what a week! Make the most of it. Your plan for two games in a session is a good idea if the first is over quickly. Makes the trip worthwhile. I do that for some visitors to the ‘table.