Thursday, 7 March 2019

A Seven Years War 'Post of Honou'r AAR

Today I made way into the Cotswolds to meet up with my good friend and gaming chum Keith Flint for another SYW game, once again using his 'Post of Honour' rules. These are a work in progress, but are quite polished and give a rather good game, so well worth checking out  here.

Keith chose to play Scenario 1: Positional Defence from CS Grant's excellent 'Scenarios for Wargames'. I was very happy with this as it's one I've wanted to play for quite some time. Keith had played this recently, with the attacking Prussians gaining a relatively easy victory, so tweaked things slightly by adding an extra infantry unit to the Austrians

I didn't take any notes as I was rather absorbed by the game, but hopefully the following will give you an indea of how the game panned out;

An overview of the game, with the Austrians deployed in and around the town and redoubts. The Austrians deployed first, thus allowing the Prussians to formulate a plan of attack.

This town was one of the objectives, so I put a unit of infantry and artillery inside, with two units of infantry in reserve.

The redoubts supported by two units of infantry.

The redoubt on the left flank, another of the objectives, supported by cavalry and Croats in the woods.

The Prussians begin their advance.

The artillery began to have a plethora of targets, but which one to choose?

The Prussian left flank advances in column, supported by cavalry.

The Austrians confident in the town await for the attacks to develop.

As the Prussians close in, the Austrian infantry move round the town to meet the threat.

The Austrians move infantry towards the town on the right flank (another objective) whilst still supporting the artillery within the redoubts.

The king is dead, long live the ... replacement! Combined fire from the town and redoubts sees Frederick killed and two Prussian infantry units hors de combat. Result!

The Prussian assault on the town begins to falter.

The Prussian left flank start to take hits before they've reached their objective.

With the loss of two infantry units, the Prussian attack is losing cohesion.

The fleeing Prussian units cause hits on other units as they pass through them.

The Prussian persevere with their attacks, which sees the Austrian foced out of the town, including the loss of their artillery unit.

The fight for the town intensifies.

The Prussians and Austrians contest the town .

The Prussian right flank is pushed back, whilst the attacks in the centre continue.

Artillery and enfilading fire see the Prussian infantry pushed back in some disorder.

The Austrians move back into the town and the same time as the Prussians.

The slog continues on the Austrian right, but the Prussians are taking casualties.

The beginning of the end for the Prussians.

The Prussians, despite being in the town, are close to breaking.

The same is true here.

The Prussians simply cannot make any head way against the redoubts.

Post Game Thoughts
Despite this only being my second game with these rules, they felt very natural in their mechanics and were easy to use, but more importantly gave a good game. Keith made some notes as we played, mainly to help clarify some things of minor tweaks here and there. I'm definitely looking forward to another game with these rules. 

So as always some thoughts on the game etc:
  • The scenario worked well and the book is a great resourece for gamers. Why it hasn't be re-published I don't know. Well worth keeping an eye out for if you can find it at a reasonable price.
  • Towards the end, we both agreed that the Prussian deployment had possibly cost them the game. I won't say what we thought as it might affect any of you playing the scenario, but careful thought is required by both sides.
  • I wasn't sure whether to put the Croats in the woods or the town on the right flank, but I think the woods play to their strengths and also help anchor the left flank.
  • 28mm games are much easier to take 'photos of and you can see why this makes them a popular size for magazines.
  • Once again it was a pleasure to play with Keith's SYW armies, which are very colourful and full of character. One day i will finally get around to my 10mm forces for this conflict, but don't hold your breath!

I'm hoping to get a game in this weekend, but I'm not sure what yet. Quite a few options and I'll see what grabs me when I'm ready. After my BKCII game, I've got a small list of stuff to order from Pendraken to complete my WWII Italians. I also want to add some highlights to them as they look a bit drab with just a Delin Mud wash. Hopefully this will make them pop a bit when on the table. Until next time.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Greece 1941 - a BKCII AAR

Whilst sitting in my armchair watching the world go by and wondering what game to play next, my mind turned to the Balkans in 1941 and the Italians vs the Greeks. I've played this before and enjoyed it. So with some scribbling and sketching, I quickly came up with the following:
The Italians have broken through the Greek defences in the mountains, aided by the Germans turning the Greek flank. As a result of this, the Greeks are performing a fighting withdrawl as they leave the mountains and enter the plains. The British have sent some Vickers MkVI tanks to support them.

Scenario 7: Pursuit
As per the standard scenario in the rulebook.
First Turn counts as Dawn ( -1 CV, visibility 50cm).
Vehicles, ATGs & IGs may only cross the rivers by the bridge or fords.
Vehicles, ATGs & IGs may not cross the mountains.
Infantry may cross the rivers, counting them as Linear Obstacles for movement.
The Italian air support is to randomly roll which aircraft will target which areas (select the most likely ones) and on which Turn.

1 x CO (CV8)
3 x HQ (CV8)
1 x FAO (CV6)
1 x M/C Recce
9 x Regular Infantry
2 x MG
1 x Mortar
2 x ATG + Tow
1 x IG + Tow
6 x L3/35
3 x 75mm Artillery
1 x Cant Z Alcione Bomber
1 x Stuka

1 x Co (CV8)
2 x HQ (CV8)
9 x Regular Infantry
1 x MG
1 x Mortar
1 x ATG + Tow
1 x IG + Tow
3 x Vickers Mk VI

Table Layout
The Italians would be entering via the Northern table edge, with the Greeks deployed roughly in the middle of the table, between the bridge and the town.

Despite the blurry shot, I hope you can see the Greeks deployed amongst the rocky outcrops and the wood.

The Greek left flank.

The Italians ready for battle (or not...)

Turn 1
As dawn broke, the Italians got off to a shocking start, with their right flank Blundering (they would arrive next Turn) and the rest all failing their command rolls. Not exactly the ideal start. The Greeks didn't fare much better, with their left flank failing, but the centre and the armour starting to move back.

The end of Turn 1.

The Greeks start to move back towards the town for an orderly withdrawl.

Turn 2
The sound of engines could be heard in the distance, which heralded the arrival of the Italian bombers. They managed to avoid the flak that was thrown at them, then caused complete devastation as their payload rained down around the Greeks, destroying one tank and leaving eight units suppressed, some with 4 hits. To add insult to injury, the Italian FAO managed to call down an artillery strike, which destroyed and MG and Infantry unit as well as suppressing two others.

After such a good start, the Italian ground troops were frankly pretty poor, with only the Blundered unit from last Turn arriving automatically and the L3/35 tankettes moving on, only to Blunder, but at least they suffered no hits from the fire they received. Everyone else appeared to still be having early morning coffee.

The Greek left flank failed again and there was little else that could be commanded, as most units or HQs were suppressed.

The Italian bomber arrives, with its snazzy camo scheme...

... and leaves devastation in its wake.

The end of Turn 2.

The depleted Greek centre and armour.

The Italian ground troops finally start to arrive.

Turn 3
As the drone of the bomber disappeared, the Jericho siren of a Stuka could be heard. Once again the flak was ineffective, but the ATG &tow on the rocks managed to avoid being destroyed, but was at least suppressed. The Italian FAO was on a bit of a mission, as once again he called in his artillery, resulting in the loss of a tank, mortar unit, two infantry units and the CO suppressed. Ouch! It was only half way through Turn 2 and the Greeks were already 1 point away from their Breakpoint.

The L3/35 tankettes pushed forward, taking some hits from opportunity fire, but once again the rest of the Italian ground troops failed their command rolls. What are the chances...

The Greek left flank Blundered, leaving the HQ retreating, which was probably a wise move given all that they had suffered so far. Again, there was little, if anything, left to command as most other units were suppressed.

The Stuka arrives but fails to cause significant damage to the ATG unit.

The end of Turn 3.

Not much left of the greek centre of armour.

The beleagured Greek left flank.

Limbered up, the ATG unit doesn't fancy their chances against all those tankettes.

The L3/35s are across the bridge.

Turn 4
The Italian FAO once again caused misery and mayhem for the Greeks, as he switched his target to their left flank, suppressing three infantry units, the IG, MG unit and HQ. Things really look bleak for the Greeks now. The Italian ground troops are a pretty rum bunch, as once again they fail their command rolls. At least the tankettes attack, but fail to finish of the ATG amongst the rocks.

From bad to worse for the Greeks, as with their left flank suppressed, the centre HQ Blunders, leaving their CO on -2CV for this Turn and the next! What can one say...

The end of Turn 4

The suppressed Greek left flank.

A pretty hopeless situation on the Greek right flank.

End of the Game
The inevitable happened at the start of the Turn 5, with the ATG in the rocks destroyed by fire from the tankettes, which put the Greeks on their breakpoint, which the CO promptly failed. Frankly it was only a matter of time given the casualties they suffered in Turns 2 & 3.

Post Game Thoughts
Well, what can one say after a game like that? I'm not sure really, but I'll try:
  • I can't remember a game with so many Blunders and failed command rolls, alongside such devastating artillery and air support. Sometimes the die rolls just create these bizarre games.
  • Despite it being somewhat one sided, I did enjoy it, as it was an interesting scenario and I do enjoy playing the Italians, as I love their armour and aircraft. I did think it would be a tough call for the Italians, but how wrong I was. I might try and replay this scenario in the future just to see how it compares with this game.
  • The Italian bomber and off board artillery really were the stars of the show. They simply knocked the stuffing out of the Greeks in two Turns, from which they were never able to recover.
  • The Italian ground troops in contrast were shocking and they never fired a single shot!
  • The random target and turn selection worked well and this is something I've used before. For solo games it's always tricky with pre-planned strikes, but this seems to work sell enough for me.

So what's next? Well Adam and I are trying to get a mini-campaign underway, once we are able to meet up that is. I'm hoping it will be loosely based around the Allied invasion of Sicily, so that I can use some more of my Italian armour. This will also spur me on to actually paint said armour.

I'm also continuing with my Portable Wargames stuff and have a board in progress, but the figures haven't seen any progress of late due to the usual factors. So until next time...

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Cotswold Wargaming Day 2019

I'm pleased to say that my chum Keith Flint has kindly decided to organise another Cotswold Wargaming Day this year. Details can be found on his Blog:

I and others who attended last year thought the show was a great success. The venue is great as there was plenty of room and the whole day was very relaxing and full of good natured banter. What more could you want from a games show?

This year I have volunteered to put on some games from Bob Cordery's 'The Portable Wargame' stable. Certainly there will be some mid 19thC Imagin-Nations gaming, possibly even some Napoleonics. I'm awaiting delivery of his 'Gridded Naval Battles' so there could even be some little ships to push around, which could be fun. More details will appear on my Blog in due course.

I hope to see some of you there and maybe even cross swords on the day.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Brief Encounter - A Portable Wargame AAR

Earlier in the week I set up another small Portable Wargame, nominally set in the mid 19thC. I chose a fairly simple scenario, with both sides advancing towards the objective of a small town on a main road. For this game I wanted to try the card activation system as set out in the book, plus some random force selection, using the one created by Neil Thomas in his excellent 'Wargaming 19thC Europe 1815 - 1878'. The forces created were as follows:

6 x Line Infantry (1 x Elite, 1 x Poor)
1 x Skirmishers (Rifles)
1 x Cavalry
2 x Rifled Field Artillery

4 x Infantry (1 x Elite)
1 x Skirmishers (Rifles)
3 x Cavalry (1 x Poor)
2 x Rifled Field Artillery

I allowed each force to have one Elite unit and one Poor unit, purely decided by my whims and nothing else.

With everything set up, I managed to find some time for the game whilst SWMBO was out for an hour or so in the evening. The following will hopefully give an idea of how the battle unfolded.

The Red force decided to concentrate its artillery either side of the road, with a stronger right wing, with the weaker left wing hoping that the woods would help protect their flank. The Blue force put their artillery more towards their flanks, with a cavalry heavy right wing, with which they hoped they might be able to turn the Red's flank.

The Ref force got an early run on the cards, managing to push forward in almost a straight line. The Blue force had to make do with some patchy turns, but managed to get their Elite infantry into the town, which they hoped would be able to hold out whilst the rest of their force moved up.

The Red force managed to get some fire superiority going, which led to the loss of a Blue force artillery unit as well as pushing the Elite Blue infantry unit back towards the rear of the town. The Blue force was having more luck with their cavalry, slowing pushing the Red force's left wing back, but both sides die rolls in close combat were pretty poor.

The Blue force was struggling under the combined weight of artillery fire, which caused their centre to move towards their left wing to seek some shelter behind the town. Both Blue cavalry units kept up the pressure on the flanks, but their hits were pushing them towards their Exhaustion Point.

In the end the Blue force were unable to inflict enough hits on the Red force before they reached their Exhaustion Point, leaving them unable to prosecute their attacks. Also they had several units close to breaking, so wisely decided to make an orderly retreat from the table, which Red allowed them to do as they consolidated their postion.

Well that was another highly enjoyable game, which gave plenty of interesting decisions to make as the game progressed. For the most part both sides were tied on taking hits, but once Red got the advantage on Blue, they didn't let go. So it could have gone either way which was nice.

Post Game Thoughts
My usual post match musings in no particular order:
  • I really enjoyed using Neil Thomas' random force table, which gave a nice subtle difference to both sids forces. I will certainly use this again and will probably create my own variant, with based one upon Prussia, the other Austria.
  • I think 10 units a side is about as much as my board size can handle, without it becoming over crowded and static. 8 units might be ideal as it allows for a little bit more manoeuvre, but might result in a too quick game. Some more play testing required on this one. 
  • In all of the game so far, close combat has taken ages to resolve, mainly due to some really poor die rolling by both sides. I might tweak things a bit to speed things up, but will hang fire until I've got more games under my belt. 
  • Skirmishers will be a requirement for future games and these will be based upon the rifle armed infantry as per the rulebook. I think I will penalise them slightly in close combat and make them ignore terrain penalties, other than rivers etc. Again testing required on this.
  • Artillery needs some rules for canister. I think the Napoleonic book has some rules on this so will check. If not, some bonuses to die rolls or results at say 2 squares range to reflect the effects of a whiff of grapeshot. 
  • The game lasted about 45 minutes tops, which was perfect for this evenings game. It didn't feel too quick or too simple, but would be nice to play against an opponent to see what, if any, difference this would make. 
  • The card activation sequence I really liked as it gave a nice feeling of command and control issues for both sides to deal with. I will certainly be using this sytem in future games. 
  • I have the Napleonic version of these rules and hope to have a more detailed read through of them soon, to see if there is anything I can use with the original rules. I have some Commission Figures mdf Napoleonic figures painted up, plus some other somewhere amongst my lead mountain. I need to dig these out to see if there is enough to make 2 forces, which if I'm lucky there might be. 
  • Previously I wondered whether to go down the square or hex route. After some games I am firmly  in the square camp. The game play is simple to work out and I prefer the visual look.
So my next task it to put together two painted forces plus some bespoke terrain to really get things going. Given the small nature of the forces required, this shouldn't be too much of a challenge, even for a slow painter like myself. Famous last words of course!
Other things on the gaming front include setting up a small BKCII  campaign to be played with Adam as and when time allows for us to meet up. Normandy is easy to do, but I'm drawn to sicily again, purely so I can use my Italians and some of their hopelessly outdated kit. A glutton for punishment springs to mind.
I have also ordered a copy of Bob's Gridded Naval Rules which should arrive any day now. I've never really been taken with naval wargames, but these look like they will float my boat, if you'll excuse the pun. They can also be combined with the Portable Wargames rules for some combined actions, which always gives a nice look and challenge. There is also the temptation of scratch building your own fleet, which fits in rather nicely with my Imagi-Nations ideas of the protaganists having a shared border along a lake, similar in size to those that you see in Austria. 
Lots to do so until next time.