Thursday, 27 February 2014

BPI Platoon

Well I finally got around to basing up my BPI infantry with some flock, as I wasn't happy with the plain bases. I used the same flock that comes pre-glued to railway modelling terrain sheets and simple scraped it off with a scalpel blade. I'm happy with the result, so much so that I did the same to my Junkers.

The BPI force needs another unit painting up, which will be my heavy assault team in armoured suits. Alongside these are some AFVs and Walker units, all of which are undercoated and awaiting their turn on the painting table.

Basic BPI platoon of three fire squads of five figures per squad.
Each squad has coloured shoulder pads for recognition on the wargames table.
Size comparison with Angle Barracks Junkers.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Tussle for Tessel

Following on from the first game of our Operation Epsom mini-campaign, the probing attack in and around Fontenay -le-Pesnel , we were ready for next game, this time using BKCII. The background fluff was as follows:

With the discovery of a gap in the German defences at Fontenay-le-Pesnel, the 147th Infantry Brigade of the 49th (West Riding) Division were tasked with pushing forwards to Tessel and then onto Rauray, with the objective of seizing the village and taking control of the ridge in and around the village.

Brigadier E.R. Mahony chose the 1/7th Duke of Wellingtons Regiment as the lead battalion, with limited artillery, air and armoured support in attendance. Their objective was to take control of the crossroads near to Tessel as the jump off point for the main attack on Rauray.

The Germans, taken by suprise at the gap in their defensive line, assembled a scratch Kampfgruppe with the task of delaying the British attack for as long as possible, thereby allowing Rauray to be fortified against the expected main British attack.

Scenario Details
After the Chain of Command game and the ease of the British 'victory', we both felt that Scenario 6. Exploitation would be the scenario for our game. As usual we used our standard 'house' rules which are:
  • Hidden Deployment as per CWC.
  • Auto Suppression from Artillery, Mortars and Infantry Guns.
  • Hits Stay On.
  • Random Points Modifier.
We modified the objective rules so that the British couldn't simply deploy on the flank with an HQ and 3 infantry units, thereby more or less winning the game in the first turn. Instead we gave the British the objective of being in control of the crossroads to win the game, or to break the German Kampfgruppe.

British Battlegroup 1,500 pts
1 x CO
2 x HQ (CV8)
1 x FAO
1 x Daimler Scout Recce
12 x Infantry Regulars
1 x PIAT upgrade
2 x Vickers MG
1 x 3" Mortar
1 x 6pdr AT Gun and tow
1 x 25pdr Battery
1 x 4.2" Mortar
2 x Shermans

On the random points modifier, the British were able to get the following:

1 x FAC
1 x Typhoon with bombs
Table Layout

The view towards Tessel, with the Germans deploying on the elft up to the centre of the table. The British would deploy on the right using mobile deployment.
The view from the German side of the table.
The view from the British side looking towards Tessel.
Turn 1
The British being the Attackers got the first turn and things did not go exactly to plan. In the initiative phase using Hidden Deployment, 4 blunders revealed a blank marker, the Recce unit, an HQ with infantry and tank support and the CO with the reserves who didn't even make it onto the table. After such a fiasco the Germans just sat there laughing quietly to themselves...

The British start their attack, unsure of where the Germans are...

Turn 2
Another less than spectacular performance saw the British move the Recce unit forward to try and spot the hidden markers next turn, whilst the CO moved on his reserves. At least one German unit was revealed, but were unable to attack them this turn. The rest of the units sat there unsure of where the Germans were exactly.
Once again German optics proved to be markedly superior, revealing the FAO and FAC as well as another blank marker. Not wishing to reveal themselves, the Germans just sat there watching and waiting for the British to reveal their schwerpunkt

Turn 3
The British really should have gone to Specsavers as again the fail to spot any of the German hidden markers! The Recce unit and both the FAO anf FAC move to better positions for spotting and calling in their support.

With a unit having been revealed, the Germans took the attack to the British, suppressing one infantry unit. Taking things too far the German HQ blundered with a double 12, leaving him on a CV 6 for the rest of the game! Just what the Germans didn't need.

Turn 4
Finally British patience paid off as the German CO and Panzer IV were revealed, in full view of the FAO and FAC. With such a tempting target, both were successful in calling in strikes on the spotted units, leaving them suppressed. The Shermans then opened fire, finishing off the beleagured Panxer IV, the only German armoured unit in the kampfgruppe. By the farmhouse, the German units were shot up by a mass of combined infantry, MG and mortar fire, losing 2 bases.

With the CO supressed, the German HQ unit attempted to fight back but unsuprisingly failed due to his low CV. Things were not looking good for the Germans, which had a tough job to start with.

The air support arrives after the artillery have supresses the Panzer IV and CO.
The Shermans finish off the Panzer IV after more damage inflicted by the air strike.
The German right flank under severe pressure.
The British right flank with little opposition to its front.
The Shermans see the chance to advance unopposed...

Turn 5
On the right flank the British advanced from the farmhouse on a broad front towards the weak German units in the cornfield. On the left the Shermans moved off towards the Germans and assaulted the German CO, which could not withstand the assault (there's a suprise) and was destroyed.  With the CO gone the Germans lost any chance they might have had of delaying the British and Craig conceded the game.

The Shermans overrun the German CO...
... destroying it in the process.
The British advance on all fronts virtually unopposed.
The only German units between the British and Tessel.

After a somewhat shakey start by the British, things turned in their favour on Turn 4 with the combined artillery and air strike, along with the Shermans shooting, finishing off any chance the Germans had of winning the game. It was always going to tough for the Germans, but this was one of those turns where everything just came together perfectly.

As always an enjoyable game with Craig, who despite the one sided nature of the game, enjoyed himself. After all this is a narrative mini-campaign so all is not lost and it just adds another chapter to the story.

Next game info
So after a post game chat, we agreed that the next game would be a Scenario 4. Deliberate Attack, with the British pushing on towards Rauray. This time we would play down the length of the table to simulate a Battalion wide frontage and with the Germans able to field a defence in depth set up.

Points wise we used the campaign rules from the original BKC book. As a base line the Germans would start with 1,500 pts and the British 2,250 pts. When we rolled for reinforcements, the Germans got 10% and the British a whopping 50%!. So this means:

Germans 1,650 pts
British 3,375 pts

Given that the Germans would be dug-in and defending the village of Rauray on a hill, with the British having more ground to cover, we felt this shouldn't be too one sided on the points front, famous last words. Only time will tell...

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Men of Harlech

I've always liked the song 'Men of Harlech' ever since I saw the film 'Zulu' and the last iconic battle scene. In fact the whole film is superb. The film version is one of many based upon a Welsh 'air' and quite by chance I came across the following Youtube version . Whilst listening to the lyrics (below) I thought they would make a wonderful 'background' for a game of Dux Bellorum:

Lyrics written by John Guard
Verse 1
Tongues of fire on Idris flaring, 
News of foemen near declaring, 
To heroic deeds of daring,
Call you, Harlech men.
Groans of wounded peasants dying,
Wails of wives and children flying,
For the distant succour crying,
Call you, Harlech Men.
Shall the voice of wailing,
Now be unavailing,
You to rouse, who never yet
In battle's hour were failing?
This our answer, crowds down pouring,
Swift as winter torrents roaring.
Not in vain the voice imploring,
Calls on Harlech men.
Verse 2
Loud the martial pipes are sounding,
Every manly heart is bounding,
As our trusted chief surrounding,
March we, Harlech men.
Short the sleep the foe is taking;
Ere the morrow's morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
Roused by Harlech Men.
Mothers, cease your weeping,
Calm may be your sleeping,
You and yours in safety now,
The Harlech men are keeping.
Ere the sun is high in heaven,
They you fear, by panic riven,
Shall, like frightened sheep, be driven,
Far, by Harlech men.

Scenario: Dawn Attack
So suitably inspired I came up with the following background 'fluff' based upon the above and the standard scenario from the Dux Bellorum rulebook:

Sea Raider Warband 32 Pts
Hrothgar the Dane and his warband had made a successful raid on an isolated hamlet in a Welsh valley near to the coast. With night falling they decided to make camp and leave in the morning with their spoils.

1 x Foot Warrior Companions
4 x Foot Warrior Nobles
2 x Foot Ordinary Warriors
1 x Foot skirmishers (Bow)

Welsh Warband 28 Pts
Lord Derfel Cadarn and his warband had been alerted in the night by survivors of the raid. A plan of attack was quickly agreed upon and they set off in the night to arrive at the break of dawn to launch a suprise attack on the Sea Raiders whilst they were still sleeping.

1 x Foot Warrior Companions
2 x Foot Warrior Nobles
3 x Foot Ordinary Warriors
2 x Foot Skirmishers (Bow & Javelin)
+1 LP

So with the above sorted it was onto the game. I added more scenery than was required for the game purely on visual grounds. Both warbands were deployed as per the scenario rules.

The Danes were camped to the North of the old Roman road, unaware of the threat coming down from the Welsh hills towards them...
Hrothgar surrounded by his loyal Nobles and men.
Derfel cadarn with his standard 'Idris' and warband about to burst forth onto the unsuspecting Danes.
Welsh 7LPs vs Danes 1LP. The Welsh move to a man to avenge theit kinsmen whilst the Danes start to form a battleline after being roused from their mead induced slumber.
Welsh 7LPs vs Danes 2LPs. The Welsh rashly send forward their Javelin men to induce a charge by the Danes, which ends not unsuprisingly in the demise of the skirmishers.
The Welsh continue their resolute advance whilst the Danes are a bit sluggish still in getting formed up. The archers on both sides were somewhat ineffective.
The Welsh feel confident in the face of a ragged Danish battleline.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 3LPs. Once again the archers are ineffective but battle is joined. The Danish right flank is somewhat reluctant to join the fray...
The Welsh get the better of the combats, pushing the Danes back in two places. On the Welsh right flank a Danish unit stubbornly matches the Welsh blow-for-blow (one of the crucial areas of the battle it would turn out).
The Welsh and Danes locked in combat.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 4LPs. The archers finally find their range and cause some loss of cohesion. Once again the Welsh win the battles and cause further push backs, apart from the lone stubborn Danish unit on the right flank! On the Danish right flank two units once again refused to join the fray (another crucial area of the game).
The fighting breaks up into a confused melee as the battlelines are broken up as a result of units being forced back. Lord Derfel Cadarn moves to protect his left flank.
Welsh 6LPs vs Danes 5LPs. The Welsh archers see of their Danish counterparts, whilst the battle takes its bloody toll as the Danes lose 1 x Noble Warrior unit and the Welsh 1 x Ordinary Warrior unit.
The lone Danish unit continues to hold up the Welsh right flank, but at last the Danish right flank swings into action.
Welsh 5LPs vs Danes 3LPs. The Weslh archers cause 3 points of Cohseion on a unit of Danish Ordinary Warrios who promptly roll a Double 1 to enter the fray! The battle continues its bloody slaughter as the Danes lose 1 xOrdinary and 1 x Warrior unit to the Welsh's 1 x Ordinary unit.
The battle lines start to thin as the loses mount on both sides.
Finally the stubborn Danish unit is no more. At this point the Welsh start to feel confident as the Danes are close to breakpoint.
Welsh 4LPs vs Danes 1LP. The Welsh move in for the kill and finish off another unit of Danish Ordinary Warriors. This puts them on a Rout test which all of the remaining units pass with ease!
With the Danish left flank turned surely it is only a matter of time before they are defeated?
Welsh 4LPs vs Danes 0LPs. The fighting now reached fever pitch with the Welsh and Danes losing a Noble Warrior unit each. This put the Welsh on a rout test as well...
... which the Welsh promptly failed but the Danes once again passed! So by some miracle the Danes snatched victory, albeit a Pyrrhic one, from the jaws of defeat. So the Welsh were unable to avenge their kinsmen but the Danes had too few men left to carry off their spoils of war (the Gloucester Old Spot pigs to make Danish bacon).

Once again another cracking solo game of Dux Bellorum. I really enjoyed this game which I set up the night before and played in the morning, so it wasn't too rushed. So a few thoughts from the game:

  • The Welsh would have benefited from some cavalry so that they could get some attacks in quickly whilst the Danes were still half-asleep and trying to form a battleline. Fortunately I have some on the painting bench and some fresh lead that has just arrived from Pendraken, so this will be rectified on the not too distant future I hope.
  • Having that extra LP from the off was very useful for the Welsh, especially with the Danes only starting off with 1LP, which increases each turn by 1LP.
  • The high number of Noble units in the Danish warband meant that they were a hard nut to crack in combat.
  • The stubborn unit of Danish Ordinary Warriors really slowed up the Welsh right flank, preventing them from joining the fray at an earlier stage. This was offset by the Danish right flank being somewhat timid about entering the action until the very end.
  • The Welsh sacrificed their javelin skirmishers too quickly and should have held them back so that they could have at least contributed some missile shooting before combat was joined. Lesson hopefully learnt!
Now that I have got the 'Age of Arthur' sourcebook, my plan is to come up with a mini-campaign using some of their scenarios combined with the ones from the Dux Bellorum rulebook. Also I want to come up with a bit more historical background information for each warband, as well as add in a few more units, mainly on the Welsh side. But as always finding the time is the difficult part, but I'm very much in the Dark Ages groove at present so hopefully it will not be too long before things get going on the campaign and painting front.