Monday, 2 August 2021

The Battle of Burnt Oak - a Shadow of the Eagles trial game

Having read through the SotE rulebook over the past few days, it was time to bung some figures on the table and give things a little run out to see how the core mechanics worked. Nothing too fancy so I could concentrate on nailing the basics, so kept everything small and only used infantry, leaving artillery and cavalry for another time. I loosely based both forces around the 1809 Danube campaign, using the 'War & Campaigns' section as a guide and came up with the following:

Austrians (Red)
1 x Capable Commander
1 x Inferior Line Infantry
2 x Regular Line Infantry
1 x Regular Grenz Light Infantry

French (Blue)
1 x Superior Commander
2 x Regular Line Infantry
1 x Superior Light Infantry

Scenario
Nothing complicated at all, with the basic premise that the Austrians have formed a blocking position by the Burnt Oak and the French have been ordered to break through. The French will have +2 Initiative due to their National Characteristics and their Commander being Superior.


An overview of the table, with the French in the bottom left hand corner.

The French in company columns for speed of advance and ease of manoeuvre, with the light infantry in front as a potential skirmish screen.

The Austrian in line with the Grenzers in front of the weaker inferior line infantry.

The French won the initiative and chose to move first, with the light infantry getting a double move and changing into skirmish order to mask the line infantry's advance, which only moved once. The Austrians pushed their right flank forward one move as the Grenzers held their position to improve their shooting prospects.

The French light infantry in skirmish order.

The French light infantry took 3 hits from shooting and only managed 1 hit on the Grenzers in return. The French commander was too far away to be able to move up and try and rally hits of the light infantry.

The Austrians won the intiative and once again the Grenzers held their positions as the line infantry moved forward to try and make their weight of numbers tell early on. The French light infantry formed back into line and wheeled to the left to support the line infantry moving up to attack the Austrian right.

The French light infantry took a bit of a hammering from the Austrians, becoming weakened in the process, but managed some hits on the Austrians in return. The French commander attached himself to the light infantry in the rally phase but failed to remove any hits, which would have removed their weakened status.

The French won the initiative and chose to move first. The light infantry could not advance being weakened and didn't fancy assaulting the Austrian line, even with the support of their General.

The French line infantry on the left assaulted the Austrian right flank, surviving incoming fire on the process. Unfortunately for them they lost the combat and were forced to retreat, becoming weakened in the process, with the Austrian line infantry just managing to catch them in their pursuit, with the combat being fought in the next Turn. The French light infantry were lucky to survive due to some rather poor Austrian shooting, but managed to weaken the Austrian line infantry to their front. 

The end of the Turn with the French left flank under some pressure as the Austrian line infantry certainly have the upper hand. Both sides centres are not in the best of health and could easily crack in the next Turn.

The French once again won the initiative and the French line infantry on the right charged in against the Austrians Grenzers who held firm, but were weakened as the French closed, who took hits in return. On the French left the Austrians made short of the weakened line infantry who routed, which in turn led to the French light infantry in the centre routing too, leaving the French line infantry on the right flank the only unit still on the table! a close run thing and it could easily have been the Austrians who were fleeing the table.


Post Game Thoughts
Well that was fun, nice and quick and certainly gave me a good little introduction to the core mechanics of the game. I certainly look forward to re-reading the rules in the light of this to see if I went wrong anywhere and to gain a better understanding of the rules themselves. so in no particular order a few thoughts:

  • The French really should have been in line to start with, to potentially weaken the Austrian line before forming company columns and then going in for the assault. Still, it was all about learning so a point to remember for future games. Still they speed and manouevreability of the company columns if very useful, much more so than line, just as it should be.
  • The French being able to win the initiative more often than not due to their National Characteristic and Superior commander felt right.
  • Early on it was obvious that you need to think about where best to position your commanders, not only for their command radius but just as importantly for the use during the rally phase. Not that they managed to rally any hits in this game, but if they had, it might have made a difference for the French and to the outcome.
  • The game was very enjoyable and nothing jarred or felt wrong. The book is very well laid out so it is easy to find the rule you want during the game that may not be on the QRS. A big 'thumbs up' for this.
  • Next game I want to add in some artillery and maybe cavalry, but again will keep it small. Adding in terrain after that so as not to complicate things too much.
  • Skirmishers can make a real difference I'm sure, certainly in terms of providing skirmish screens to mask advances etc. Something I'm not used to for sure so this will be an interesting lesson to learn and certainly one pivotal to the period.
  • I certainly look forward to reading some of my Napoleonic books to gain a better understanding of the period, having played plenty of 18thC and 19thC games, but precious few Napoleonic ones. Hopefully this won't be a case of old dog and new tricks!

I'm certainly looking forward to more games of SotE and certainly some FtF games with my friends in the hopefully not too distant future. The rules have certainly kindled an interest in this period, just as HoW did for the 18thC and Bloody Big Battles did for the 19thC, which is rather nice to be honest. So time to go and do some reading and plan my next game. Until then stay safe and keep healthy!

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Eagle Has Landed

Back in April of this year, my good friend Keith Flint released his Napoleonic ruleset, 'Shadow of the Eagles'. Normally in its gestation I would have spent many a happy game playtesting these face-to-face with Keith, but for obvious reasons this was not possible due to Covid. Since their release we still haven't been able to meet up, but Keith kindly sent me an authors copy in the post, so that I can get to grips with the final version, in advance of some games, all being well, in the Autumn.

So I will give some initial impressions of the book, but first a few photos of the book and some of the pages therein:


A very nice cover by Chris Collingwood.

As you can see, the book is the same size as BPII, but less thick as it's not padded out with unnecessary verbiage.

The contents page.

James Roach has provided many fine photos of his lovely 28mm armies of the period.

The diagrams to accompany the text are concise and clear.

More artwork by Chris Collingwood.

An example of an 'Army List'.



First Impressions
Well the book is very nicely produced and a pleasure to read, as the font is not too small and the double columns across the page are well laid out. There are plenty of diagrams to accompany the text and references to other pages where relevant. For those familiar with Keith's 'Honours of War' rules, these rules have a nice similarity in concept, but are certainly not HoW with some Napoleonic rules added on. They are very much a standalone set, but reading through I felt comfortable that I would enjoy playing these.

Introduction & Notes to the Rules
Keith sets out his stall early on and again in his notes after the rules themselves. I like this in an author as it allows you to understand why they have done certain things, something which Neil Thomas has been doing for many a year and something I wish more authors of rulesets would do. Whether you agree with them is another matter entirely.

Basics & Pre-Game
As one would expect, a guide to the die etc you will need kicks things off, followed by basing suggestions for the various arms of service. I really like the 4 bases per unit approach and a similar frontage, which works for me. I will have to make a sabot base or go for some more artillery, as these have half the frontage of other units. No big deal and not sure which route I will take yet.

After this the basics of the rules are covered, which all feel right and have a nice familiarity having played many games of HoW. So nothing drastically new to learn here, which as I get older becomes more important to me, as i prefer to concentrate on core rules with similar mechanics, so that I can focus on the game rather than trying to remember different rules during a game, which I find too disruptive.

Playing 'Shadow of the Eagles'
Naturally this is the core part of the rules and I must say I found them very easy to follow and understand, with nothing standing out as confusing or unclear. Where required there are references back to other pages where relevant, which should make searching for things much quicker when playing the game.

There are some very useful examples of play at the end, which having read the rules, just help one understand them. There is also guidance on playing larger games at Corps level and above, for those that like to put on larger, possibly multi-player games. Personally I will be sticking at Division size games for the most part, as that fits in nicely with the time and space for my games these days. However Keith often puts on a 'big game' now and then which would be fun to play.

Wars and Campaigns
Essentially this section could be classed as 'Army Lists' in many books, but here they are more a guide as to how to create an Army for a game, dependent upon the period played. So no points here or proscriptive limits on troops, but enough information to create a plausible force for say the 1809 Danube Campaign. Given the huge difference in say the various French forces for said campaign, this is quite nice as you can fit your force to a specific action or go for a more generic one which feels 'right'. Personally I like this sort of approach but naturally some players may not agree with Keith's approach.

Ancien Regime to Grand Armee
I found this section on the differences in the Napoleonic period compared to the 18thC very informative as I'm a complete Nappies newbie, having only a basic knowledge of the tactics used. For many players this will be well worn territory but I think it nice to have this for players like myself.

Scenarios
There are 3 scenarios that could be called Small, Medium and Large, which are useful to allow the player to get to grips with the rules without trying to refight Waterloo in their first game. This is something I advocate to new players of Blitzkreig Commander. As the rules are dedicated to the late, great and greatly missed, Stuart Asquith, the last scenario is one of his and shows how to play a manageable Corps level game as mentioned earlier.

Bibliography
A selection of books that Keith found useful when developing the rules. Given there must be thousands of books on this period, this I still found interesting, as some of them I might get and some I already have.

QRS
The last page is a double sided QRS that you could cut out if you wanted too, but aside from the heresy of doing this, Keith has put up QRS' on the website set up to support the rules.

Summary
So there you have it. I like what Keith has done in producing a set of rules that are easy to understand and make the whole Napoleonic period approachable for those players such as myself, that are not au fait with it. I'm certainly looking forward to giving these rules a run out in the next day or so and have set up a small board in anticipation of such.

I know some may find the rules on the expensive side, given that they are around the £30 mark, but you have everything you need in one book, with no need to purchase additional supplements etc, that you might need to do for say Black Powder, so worth bearing in mind. 

Keith also has set up a website and forum to actively support the rules, which is well worth checking out. For another review and an excellent one at that, check out Norm's review here on his Blog.

So I hope this may have proved useful to some of you considering these rules, which I can heartily recommend. I look forward to trying some simple games out soon with my mdf figures and working my way up to something more involved in the days and weeks to come.

Until then stay safe and keep healthy!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Dyrham Park

A few days ago my wife and I took a trip out to the National Trust's Dyrham Park, a favourite of ours as it has wonderful views and gardens to enjoy, as well as being only some 20 minues drive away from our house. The whole area around Bristol is full of history, from Iron Age hills forts onwards, which is rather nice as originally coming from the edge of the Fens, there wasn't that much visible history around. 

As you walk around the extensive parkland on the Cotswold Edge, you come to a great view of Hinton Hill fort, where the Battle of Deorham was fought. We put on a demo at Colours 2013 and quite scary to realise that that was 8 years ago. How time flies!

You can just about make out the levels of the hill fort, which is towards the top right of the photo. It extends towards the tree line in the distant left and is now bisected by a road. Despite it's age when you walk across what remains of the ramparts, they are still very impressive, even today.

On a clear day you can see towards Bristol and the Black Mountains, but the heat haze prevented this when we visited. I just love the British countryside!

My wife enjoying the view and the ridgeline to here left in the far distant if where the Battle of Lansdowne Hill was fought.



So after a nice walk we made our way down to Dyrham Park house itself. The house hadn't opened yet when we were there and we haven't seen all the house as it was having its roof restored, so most of the rooms were closed off. Something for another day.

The approach from the East. This was intended to have been more landscaped etc in the plans which can be seen in the Orangery below, but whether it was ever done I'm not sure.

The Orangery has a lovely collection of maps of the estate at various times, as well as a rather nice map of the surrounding area, showing the fields as well as a medieval strip system still in operation, which was quite unusual by then.

One of the maps showing plans for the extensive gardens.

A lovely courtyard used to grow plenty of herbs and rather tranquil too.

The spectacular Western approach to the house.

St Peter's church.

The gardens are being re-modelled to be as close as possible to one of the designs seen in the Orangery. Covid lockdown has delayed things somewhat and they have lost some shrubs, but still it is coming together nicely and should look superb in a few years time.




A nice cascading water feature into...

...the ornamental pond, rather choked with blanket weed. The team of gardeners and volunteers are doing their level best to catch up on over a years worth of jobs!


St Peter's Church is not actually part of the house and park, but is cheek by jowl with it as can be seen in the photos above. It is a lovely church and one that is open to visitors, a rare thing these days and also seemingly untouched by the iconoclasts during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth afterwards.

There is quality of craftsmen's ship everywhere you look. The font is apparently Norman.

The pulpit is beautifully carved and a joy to behold.

The approach to the altar has nice tiled floor, which looks to be Dutch. The Flemish triptych is beautiful.

Rather surprising to see an organ of this quality in a small parish church. However the surrounding area is full of wealthy farms and houses, so maybe not so surprising afterall.

A salutary reminder of those that gave their lives in the War, at home and overseas. There is also a brass plaque with the names of those from the parish lost in both World Wars.

A spectacular tomb of George and Anne Wynter.


A lovely brass, showing a knight in his full armour.




Our aim is to visit more local areas over the Summer and possibly to share them with you too. Landsdowne Hill is definitely on the cards again, plus some in our neighbour hood as there is quite a bit with in a stone's throw of where we live.

Sadly Covid cases continue to rise where we are and don't look like slowing down at all, so maybe out plans might have to be curtailed somewhat. However the extreme heat has broken so I might even get back to some gaming related activity as SWMBO watches the Olympics! So until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Hot and Cold

The weather here in Bristol has been frankly too hot to do anything of late, due to some prolonged very hot weather that has seen the first extreme heat warning issued in the UK. Now it's nowhere near as bad as those temperatures seen in the North West of the USA and Canada, but still it's pretty hard to bear as it's in the low to mid 30's C in the bedrooms at night! Thank God a neighbour lent us a fan to help cool things down again as there has been no breeze at all to help.

So I thought I'd post some pics of our garden which after a very funny year on the weather front, is looking good but is some 2 weeks or more behind compared to normal. Fortunately we have a nice space to be able to sit outside and cool down a bit once the sun has begun to set, which has been a real God send!


The view from the patio doors, which we currently can't enjoy as we need to keep the blinds closed to help keep the house cool.

My wife wanted some Jasmine on a trellis and who am I to refuse her? The smell in the evening is delightful.

My hot border that bakes in the sun for most of the day.

The more shady border with shrubs and perennials. Still a work in progress.

Another hot border that needs some editing, but is nearly there.

To counter all this heat and in keeping with my desire to game more of early part of WWII, I bought the following book, which is rather weird to be reading in such heat given the conditions in which it was fought:




I'm only a couple of chapters in, but it is an extremely well written and readable history of a conflict I know so little about. Whether it tempts me to game it remains to be seen as as mentioned previously, the big issue is new terrain and of course troops on snow bases. I am keen to learn more on the Continuation War which is much more doable as it would only require new figures.

So hopefully the weather will break soon and some gaming related activity can return. Sadly Covid cases in our neck of the woods have hit an all time high (60% increase in one week) and hospital cases are on the rise, so little prospect of any FtF gaming for quite some time.

So until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Early WWII Wargaming

As a child my primary interest in wargaming centred around Normandy 1944 and the North African campaign, largely due to the Airfix and Matchbox figures that were available at the time. Over the years this interest has broadened into other periods, such as the SYW, ACW and mid-19thC Europe. Alongside these over the past five years or so, my interest has steadily grown in the early years of WWII, from the invasion of Poland through to Operation Barbarossa as a broad guide. My library of books on this 'period' has steadily grown too.

When I first started wargaming in 10mm, I bought plenty of 'toys' to allow me to game the invasion of France and Operation Barbarossa, but only ever completed the British, due to my gaming chums interest in the late War. Of late however my interest in early WWII has been re-kindled, to the point that I have dug out my 'toys' from the attic and have started basing and painting with the aim to game this 'period' in a meaningful way.

My initial thought is to have a core German force that is nominally based around the 2nd Panzer Division, as they fought in Poland, France, the Balkans and Russia, so a nice opportunity for a narrative to develop around each campaign. Late war they fought in Normandy which is useful but sadly not Italy, but with some artistic licence I'm sure they could make an appearance. Alongside the Germans I have the following Pendraken figures:

Norwegians
Well these have been ordered from Pendraken and I am using WWI Austrians as proxies as in 10mm and with the right paint job they should be close enough.

Belgians
I am using some WWII French as proxies and they are close enough for me once on the table. the Belgian armour is interesting but not the most exiting camo I'm afraid.

French
These are from there WWI range along side a nice mix of armour, which has some of the best camo schemes of the war!

British
These are complete bar some additional armour, so are good to go.

Italians
Complete.

Greeks
I use the British as proxies for these.

Germans
Really I've only just started on these, both infantry and AFV's, but the aim is to get enough together for some small actions soon. I do have Fallschirmjager that can be used to at a push.

Russians
I've just started basing these and forming up units to see what I have as I bought these years ago and can't remember my plans for them.

Polish
Still in their packs but I have a complete force for when it's their turn to be based etc.

In terms of the campaigns to be fought, the following are all on my list:

Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) 1939
A passing interest in this Russo-Japanese conflict that could make for a nice little campaign at some point in the future. The biggest issue is the lack of the Japanese tank used in this conflict, unless Pithead miniatures make one of I can find a 3D printed one. Not high on my list of priorities for sure.

Poland 1939
Very much high up on the list to game. A nice mix of units on offer to both sides, with armoured trains a bonus too.

Norway 1940
This has been on my radar for some time and last week I took the plunge and ordered some troops from Pendraken. Plenty of options with French and British involvement too. One issue is the snowy terrain for certain actions, but something that can easily be addressed I'm sure. Also I would love to have a Neubahrfahrzeug tank for the Germans, but will have to check Pithead or 3D print options.

France 1940
It goes without saying really, with so many options for campaign, given that I have Belgians, British and French to play with against the Germans. Also plenty of 'what if's?' to be explored, such as Phoney War invasions of Germany, or if the French airforce had bombed and strafed the Germans in the Ardennes. Also for something a bit left field, the Italian invasion of France towards the end of the campaign.

Operation Sealion
Need I say more?

The Balkans
I've gamed this on and off over the years, with the Littoral area being of most interest to me, with the Italians often having a tough time against the Greeks. I'm now leaning towards the latter stages when the Germans got involved, as it's not something I've gamed bfore, so could be fun.

Operation Barbarossa
Like France 1940, so many options it's hard to know where to start. I have all the toys so just need to paint the troops, as with most of the above! I'm also keen to learn more about the Finnish involvement in this, so need to search for some good books on the subject.

Western Desert
Rather low down on the list as I simply have no terrain for it, nor figures, so a complete start from scratch project. Due to the type of actions fought, I might go down the 6mm route for this to give a sense of the immense open desert that the battles were fought over. Very much low down on my list but would be nice to do some day.

So there we have it. I'm certainly not short of choices to keep me entertained as the nights draw in. Fortunately I have plenty of reading and reference material for the above, so quite easy to get inspiration for actions and/or campaigns, with the latter very much favoured. 

Hopefully I will be able to post some updates soon, but until then, stay safe and keep healthy.

Painting A Little & Often

For countless years my painting used to be done in the evening after everyone had eaten and the kitchen became free, which was the best place for me to paint. However as I got older and the family grew up, there was less free time available for me to sit down and get out the brushes and paint. Not being a fast painter at the best of times, things got even slower than before. Then with Covid and the national lockdown coupled with retiring, evenings became family time and my painting virtually stopped dead in its tracks. I used to enjoy my hour or so of painting after work, which was some valuable 'me time', especially after a stressful day, which was quite often in my old job. But I simply couldn't find the time nor the motivation to paint whilst in lockdown. 

Then recently for some reason it occurred to me that the kitchen was quiet and free in the mornings once breakfast was out of the way and my wife had gone to work. The light would not be a consistent as in the evening, due to the early morning sun shining in, but not a big issue easily overcome by drawing down the blinds. So I thought I'd give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to achieve, helped in no small part by not being tired at the end of the day!

So whilst the iron was hot I have been able to paint up a load of early WWII German Panzers, which like many things have been on my 'to-do' list for too many years to mention. Not the most exiting AFV's to paint but very, very quick due to the dark grey colour scheme. No three tone camo to worry about here! So far I have managed to paint up enough for a Panzer Regiment for BKCII, which is more than enough for most of my games. Also I have found this new 'free time' is good for doing other gaming related activity, such as basing figures, terrain making etc. I've been spending about an hour each morning, which is enough to achieve visible results, which is nice, as you can see yourself making progress each day. The old adage of 'a little and often' is very true!

I aim to carry on in the vein moving forward, but due to it being Summer (allegedly), it will be variable as I tend spend as much time outdoors as I can, plus with the schools breaking up for the holidays soon, the 'free time' will lessen somewhat. When Autumn approaches and the schools go back, then the aim is to carry on as of late.

So until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Breaching The Trasimene Line - Italy 1944 - Post Game Thoughts

Well that in the end was a very enjoyable series of games that certainly lived up to expectations from my point of view. So to cap things off to a nice week of gaming, as promised some post game thoughts in no particular order:
  • Being able to leave the table set up nearly all week was an incredible luxury as far as I'm concerned. It meant that nothing felt rushed and the whole experience was a nice and gentle pace. I had time to play bits of the game as and when I wanted, as well as think about things on various levels, such what assets might be available to either side after Day One, where and when to move units etc. This is something I want to do more of, subject to gaining 'Brownie Points' from SWMBO. Oh for my own dedicated games room!
  • Due to the room still being used by the family, I kept the table against the wall which meant I had a rather one dimensional view of the game. In future I will try and move it away from the wall when playing, so I can get a better view of things from both sides positions, which not only give a better perspective on things, but might affect certain decisions based upon the view available. 
  • I've been playing BKCII since they were published and they are still my favourite WWII rules. Familiarity hopefully hasn't bred contempt, but I feel I'm at a point where my knowledge allows me to set up games and scenarios by second nature, without having to think too hard. Also the game flows nicely as I know the rules are rarely have to look anything up. There is a lot to be said from finding a set of rules you like and sticking with them, which I've started to do over recent years. No more chopping and changing from one ruleset to another and then trying to remember which rules apply to which set (famous last words!).
  • With BKCII (and BKCIV) it is all about combined arms operations to allow you to achieve your objectives. Obviously this is historically accurate and the rules certainly encourage you to do this. If you don't it is very hard to achieve said objectives, which is good IMHO. 
  • Dug-In troops and troops in Stone Buildings are damned hard to shift as one would expect. As with the above, you need to combine your arms to winkle out these troops. Knowing how many troops to have dug-in, how many stone BUAs etc is something that is hard to get right, as too much and it is nigh  impossible for the attackers to win. You also need to know what sort of numerical or materiel advantage to give the attackers to balance that defensive position of the defenders. Again knowledge of the rules certainly helps in achieving this balance. With this being a series of linked games, I had the luxury of adding units to either side as I deemed fit if I thought they were warranted based on the above, such as the Churchill AVRE Petard being given to the British when requested by the CO. A bit of flexibility to give a good game is not to be sneezed at.
  • The British decision to use smoke to mask the Tiger I and Pak 40 really helped the British cause. If the requests had failed to go through, then the Tiger and Pak may have had a field day, halting the British advance before it had really got going. Then we would have had a Day Three and replacement units and most likely some scheduled assets as the higher command realised that this was needed to overcome the Axis positions.
  • The use of the early morning mist felt right and helped in game terms to give the British a good start out of sight of the Tiger and Pak front. This is something I enjoy using in my games, no matter the period. On recent walks on the local hills looking down in to the Avon river valley and the amount of mist/fog there in the early morning, and you realise that it would actually make it hard for both sides to maintain C&C, spot the enemy etc. In my game I had a -1 to command rolls, 30cm visibility and -1 to hit when inside the mist/fog. I though this worked well and can be tweaked as required.
  • Having the air support arrive at a variable time felt right in terms of the scenario and certainly made things a tad tense for the British. If they Desert Air Force chaps had arrived an hour or so later, then the British might have already been in rather dire straits.
  • I enjoyed starting things off with the British Recce units probing forward, with the battle then developing from thereon. I've done this before in some games and will continue to do so as and when appropriate.
  • With the 145h Tank Brigade having mixed squadrons gave a good game and a nice mix of tanks to play with. The Churchills are really, really tough but lack that good AP firepower. In contrast the Shermans are great support tanks but a real 'Tommy Cookers', as shown by a rather good turn of shooting by the Tiger I and Pak 40. If the British hadn't had the Churchills, I think it would have been a very tough ask for the British.
  • The British certainly needed the close support tanks as in the Churchill V CS and the Churchill AVRE, although the latter didn't get to take part. Ditto the WASP carrier. Hammering away with 6 pdr's and 75mm guns isn't going to do much damage to thick stone walls.
  • The concept of the defence in depth worked well and gave me the game I wanted, so was very pleased with that. I could have placed the Axis positions a bit better but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Having access all round the table might have helped improve this.
  • I pondered long and hard as to whether to open fire with the Axis mortars earlier than I did on the advancing 'B' company when in the open. I decided not to as I thought the Axis CO wouldn't want to reveal them to British artillery fire, when he at that point still had a good defence in depth. So I played the scenario as it were rather than the game, in the sense that they should have opened fire and would probably finished off 'B' company a turn or two earlier. The Axis CO wasn't to know that the British actually had limited artillery support, so the decision felt right to me.
  • The Tiger I is a very, very tough opponent, with its good armour and great gun when dug-in with a commanding field of view. Without the smoke to mask it I'm sure it would have devastated the British armour. Again it shows that you need to use combined arms to overcome such a tough opponent.
  • Using only one minefield felt right considering this was a stopping position before the main line of resistance. However the did leave a gap which the British were able to exploit to great effect, turning the Axis left flank with relative ease. I should have positioned it so as to block that gap, funneling the British closer to the bridge and the killing ground dominated by the Tiger I and Pak front. Let's hope I learn my lesson.
  • Playing this solo meant I could tweak things here and there that suited me and my 'house rules' without having to explain every situation or decision to an opponent. Not having to cross the 'T's' and dot the 'I's' was nice as I could just concentrate on the broad game rather than the nitty gritty.
  • I didn't position the Pz IV well and with hindsight shouldn't have moved it, as it was is an OK position and would also have meant that 'C' company couldn't have moved towards the Axis mortar positions quite so easily.
  • As with the above, I failed to use the 6 pdr ATG at all, when it could have helped shoot the tanks onto their objectives. After all that's what it was there for.
  • To finish things off, I highly recommend anyone getting and reading the Gooderson book to get an great overview of what both sides had to do when fighting in the Italian theatre. It certainly helped me with things such as the limited artillery support for the British and the use of airpower as an adjunct to this. I will certainly continue to use this book for reference in years to come.
And so it ends. I hope you have enjoyed following the action and have stuck with the long AARs, which I broke up into more easily digestible chunks to facilitate this. I certainly enjoyed myself and hope to do similar games in the future, but on a 6' x 4' board, which is need to get as my old one is no longer usable. Although I enjoy my 4' x 4' games, the extra space allows for a greater variety of scenarios or ideas to be tried out.

So what next? I'm not sure really as I have a lot to do on the house and hope to get some units painted ready for some FtF games as and when they can safely resume. Nothing is planned yet but it will not be WWII as I've had a nice few games this week and want something different going forward. so until next time stay safe and keep healthy.

Breaching the Trasimene Line - Italy 1944 - Day Two 11.00am to 1.00pm

Day Two continued...


Positions at 11.00am onwards. With 'B' company taking a battering on the left wing, the CO was relieved to hear that his air support was on its way, but wouldn't arrive until sometime after 1.00pm. Would he be able to hold on until then, considering he still faced well dug-in troops and the Tiger I and Pak 40 that had already made their mark. to try to buy time he ordered his FAO to bring down smoke and once again it arrived and obscured the view from the Axis guns on the hilltop.

'A' company and the Shermans of 2nd squadron continued to provide fire support to the Churchills and 'D' company as they moved across the river. Another Pak 35/36 was KO'd as well as the dug-in 20mm AA gun. Only the Pak 38 was offering any meaningful opposition to the 2nd squadron tanks, but this soon ended after it failed to hit anything and was KO'd by massed opportunity fire. The way was no open on the British right flank if they could move enough troops forward in time before the Axis troops could respond.

As the 1st squadron Churchills moved forward into the orchard, they came under fire from the Pz IV and dug-in Stug III. Both sides took hits as the blazed away, with one Churchill becoming suppressed. 'B' company came under murderous mortar fire and ceased to exist, with only the attached MG unit left.

With 'C' company closing in on the dug-in mortar units, the Axis CO had limited options at his disposal to deal with the British advances across the river. He ordered a platoon of FJ infantry to move to support the mortars, but could do little else whilst his other units were masked by smoke.

The 2nd squadron Churchills have little in front of them that they can see, other than the units they know are in the hilltop town.

'D' company move across the river as 'A' company join them, but the latter come under mortar fire and have a platoon suppressed (red die).

The Sherman flail has move up under the cover of the smoke to begin to try and clear the mined ford.

With 'B' company gone the 1st squadron Shermans move off the hill and into the 'shadow' of the orchard to support the moves by 2nd squadron the other side of the bridge.

The Churchills, Pz IV and Stug III knock the living daylights out of each other.

'C' company close in on the dug-in mortars by the FJ platoon arrives just in time to provide much needed support.

The Axis defences by the bridge have been breached with them falling back towards their next lines of defence. However there is little protection to their left flank which is wide open.

Positions at Midday onwards. The Sherman flail cleared the ford of mines which opened up another way across the river that avoided the narrow bridge. Knowing that air support is on the way soon to target the hilltop town, the CO orders his FAO to target the FJ troops in the open in front of the town. The artillery once again is bang on target, suppressing a FJ platoon as well as its HQ and more importantly the CO!

'A' and 'D' company continue to advance towards the orchard, but the 2nd squadron tanks come under fire from the Tiger I and Pak 40, with a Sherman suppressed. As 'C' company attack the dug-in mortars, which continue to fire regardless of the threat, the 1st squadron Churchills KO the Pz IV in the open, but then command confusion sees them advance forward into the open with one becoming suppressed.

With the Axis CO suppressed, the 2nd kompanie HQ ordered the mortars to keep on firing, leading to them KO'ing the remaining platoons of 'A' company, but they took suppression in return. The Tiger I and Pak 40 then had a field day as the KO's two Shermans from 2nd squadron and one Churchill from 1st squadron and another one suppressed. With the tide having been against them for so long, could things finally be turning in their favour?

The Churchills of 2nd squadron line up ready to attack, with 'D' company now on close support.

As the Sherman flail clears the ford, other Shermans live up to their nickname of 'Ronsons'.

Despite KO'ing the Pz IV, the 1st squadron Churchills have taking a pasting.

'C' company struggle to KO the dug-in mortars in the closely wooded and rocky terrain.

Two platoons from 2nd kompanie have been rushed forward to the houses on the hilltop to cover the exposed left flank.

The Tiger I and Pak 40 have wreaked havoc and it may be the high water point of the British attack.

The British infantry casualties begin to mount.

However the Axis casualty list is growing ever longer.

In the distance comes the distinctive sound of Rolls Royce Merlin engines and soon the RAF comes into view and not a moment too late from a British point of view.

Just after 1.00pm, the Avro Lancaster makes its approach run...

... and 'Tail End Charlie' has a great view of the suppressed Tiger I and Pak 40. Well done chaps!

As the Hurricane begins its strafing run, combined Ack-Ack forces it to abort.

Position at 1.00pm onwards. Following on from the successful bombing raid, the FAO, not to be outdone, once again calls in his artillery, leading to a FJ platoon being KO'd and the Axis CO suppressed yet again. To add insult to injury the Honey Recce unit that had moved across the bridge, assaulted the exposed FJ HQ and destroyed it in a command overrun.

As 'D' company and the Churchills of 2nd squadron advanced towards the hilltop town, they managed to suppress one of the newly newly arrived FJ platoons from 2nd kompanie. The Sherman flail managed to KO the Pak 40 and the Churchill V CS KO'd the dug-in Stug III.

With few units left and many suppressed, any chance of effective Axis resistance evaporated and those units that could, retreated, leaving the field of battle to the bloodied but unbowed British.

'D' company and the 2nd squadron Churchill close in on the hilltop town.

The right side of the bridge is firmly in British hands, with little Axis opposition to the fore.

Burning tanks litter the field of battle.

The Tiger I suppressed and unable to offer any meaningful resistance, as it has limited support.

The FJ mortars fired to the very end, despite 'C' copmany's best efforts.

The platoons of 2nd kompanie suppressed and unable to fight back.

It's been a costly battle for both sides.

The British losses (there should be another Sherman and Churchill here)

The Axis losses (there should be a Stug III here too)


With that the British has seized their objective, but at some cost, but the defence had cost the Axis dearly too.

I hope you have enjoyed these battles and AARs and if so, I will put up some post game thoughts in another post. Until then, stay safe and keep healthy!