Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Napoleonic Naval

Five players:  Two British each with a squadron of 4 ships.  Three French each with a squadron of 3 ships.  Each squadron mainly 3rd raters with a 2nd rater leader.   British crews elite, French crews regular.  Rules: Our home made Men o' War rules.
The wind is coming towards the camera so both sides are on beam reaches.
The French 3rd squadron the 1st British squadron are passing through each other.  With both sides having started with some of their broadsides double shotted, having their first fire bonus & raking shots combined, the carnage on both sides was terrible & the lead British ship was dis-masted.
The French 3rd squadron now ran alongside the British 2nd squadron & copped more punishment - the 2nd ship being sunk.  The other 2 French squadrons are running downwind to get engaged.
The sole survivor of the 3rd French squadron breaks off as the rest of the French ships sail downwind to get in close & personal.

The two fleets have now passed through each other at close range inflicting terrible damage on each other.
The 2 British ships in the distance have broken off with high damage, 3 others have turned about & are still engaging the French, 1 is dismasted with its colour struck in the middle of the French, the other one has sunk.  5 French ships remain in action but all are badly damaged.
Both sides are content to break off the action claiming victory.
The Brits have lost 1 sunk, 1 dismasted & captured (but set fire to as it couldn't sail away), 3 so badly damaged they have broken off & 3 still in action.
The French lost 2 sunk, 4 ships so badly damaged they have broken off & 3 still in action.
Pretty much draw in fact.

This was the bloodiest Man o' War battle we've had - it was mostly point blank fire, often raking & double shotted with very little long range fire.  There was also an unusually high number of ships sunk, but this was the result of some very bad Break Test dice on both sides.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Musket Action at Good Games

7 Years War: Steve's Austrians v. Jim's Brits & German allies.

We used the figs we happened to bring along, so it's an unlikely historical match up.  The main terrain features don't show up well in the pics, but there is a ridge down the middle of the table with a gap in the middle.
Pic after turn 1.  The Austrians are on the far side.  The Austrian cavalry have advanced on turn 1 but the ridge means they cannot be fired upon by the British infantry in front of them.
On the right the Allied Germans have moved to the crest of the ridge & the Austrians have advanced to engage in a fire fight.  Both sides artillery is firing overhead from their hill tops.  Both sides are shifting reserves to their right & have light infantry in the woods left of pic.  
The Austrian cavalry charged up the hill at the British infantry & were broken. The LH British cavlry charged over the hill at the other Austrian cavalry troop & broke it, but it was in turn destroyed by infantry fire from the Austrian 2nd line.
While the fire fight goes on on the RH ridge, the French advance on their right. 
The British got the first command dice next turn & used it to charge the Austrian infantry on the end of their line.  The skirmishers evaded, they broke the line infantry & made a sweeping advance to take out the artillery behind.
The Austrians have struck back on their left, destroying the weakened British cavalry with a musket volley & taking out the British light infantry with their yegers.  And on the right, the end two Allied line coys have broken.
At the end of turn 6, the Austrians were 1 unit up in the death count (which meant a tie under BA rvictory conditions), but the battle went to a 7th turn.  In that the Austrians took out the British reserve on the right, but they lost 2 coys in their centre leaving both side equal in losses, so still a tie.   

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Bolt Action Tank War

Germans (Chris & Steve) with a bunch of MkIII's, some Panzergrenadiers & a Pak 40 v. British (Mark, Mike & Jim) with a bunch of Shermans & Cromwells & some infantry.  Tank Wars scenario with 4 objectives.
The Germans are on the left.  The objectives are on the tow hills in the foreground, the bridge & the ridge far right.  Both sides sent infantry to secure the objectives at the far end of the table
The Brits attacked on the near flank destroying the German armour there & pushing infantry forward to attack the enemy objective.  Heavily armed Panzergrenaders drove the British infantry back from the near LH objective.  On the far flank the German attack with 2 Mk III's  ran out of time before it could attack that objective.

The Brits claimed to have taken won by having 2 objectives to 1 with 1 in dispute, but video review indicates that the near LH objective was never clearly taken from the Germans (as the Panzergrens arrived within 6" in the same move as the Brits) so the objectives split 2 & 2.  But the Brits destroyed 4 tanks to nill so can still claim victory. The Brits appreciated having the best tanks on the table for a change & used them well.  The game featured much poor shooting by both sides, but was enjoyed by all - BA Tank Wars is a much better game on a big table where there's room to move & maximum range matters. 

Monday, June 04, 2018

Musket Action in Zulu Land

We experimented in taking Musket Action into a Colonial War period.  Both sides ca 1,350 pts.
A British column approaches a Zulu kraal with orders to destroy it to teach the Zulus a lesson.

The column has crossed the river & is deploying with dismounted colonial infantry checking both the flanks & discovering that it's not going to be as easy as they thought as Zulu appear everywhere.
The British prepare for the onslaught.
Zulu charges from both flanks are mown down by Martini Henry fire or cavalry countercharges - all except for the attack on the left of the Norden gun. 
Another wave of Zulu attacks takes out another British coy & the Norden gun.   The Brits when they do lose it matters so much more. 
Another British coy has gone down & both sides are on their last legs.
Both sides are down to 3 units each, but 1 on 1 the Brits should win & do.  Another volley of Martni Henry fire & a another cavalry charge finish the Zulus.

The battle ended a bit farcically with the last 2 units of each side fighting it out.  A bit more thought on scenario victory conditions could have avoided that.  Bolt Action doesn't have an army break test to prevent battles degenerating into a fight between the last survivors, but the 6 or 7 turn limit usually means that the battle is decided before that happens.  As this scenario required a long approach march, a turn limit wasn't applied, but in hindsight a break test could have been appropriate for this scenario.  The period specific rules we added for the occasion worked pretty well, though with that experience we can see some room for improvement.  In this game the Zulus died in droves in frontal attacks - it looks like a bit more subtlety in their tactics could make it very difficult for the Brits.,

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fort Donelson 1862

In Feburary 1862 Grant with 24,000 men bottled up 16,000 Rebs in Fort Donelson.  The Rebs tried to break out at dawn on February 15.
The perimeter of the CSA position has an abatis which we rate as a hard cover defended obstacle.  The CSA army is massed at the south end near the town of Dover ready to attempt their dawn breakout.  A thin line (Buckner's brigade) defends the perimeter on the western side.
The blue creeks & the river are uncrossable.
The Union has McClernand's division to the south, Smith's division on the north end & Lew Wallace's division in the centre.  Grant is having a meeting with his admiral & is not present when the battle starts.  The riverboats unsuccessfully attacked the fort the day before - the boat is decoration, not part of the scenario.
Union: Mark, Nick & Mitch.
CSA: Chris & JohnS.
Rules: Hail Mr Lincoln (modified Hail Caesar).
The first CSA brigade (Pillow's) has rushed forward & thrown itself at the Union line.
The first Reb attack has bounced back, but worse still for the Rebs, Floyd's brigade has failed to move for 2 turns & is still inside the perimeter.
Forrests' cavalry has been committed to help hold the line until Floyd's brigade comes up.  McClernand is counterattacking on his left.  Lew Wallace & Smith have defend orders & are reluctant to move to help without orders from Grant.
Pillow's brigade has broken & McClernand's counterattack is squeezing the CSA breakout into a pocket.
At 8pm (after about an hour's play) Grant arrived on the table & immediately gave Smith orders to attack.
Forrest's shaken cavalry is falling back into the perimeter as Floyd fights on.
Buckner's thin line is holding off Smith's attack.  Lew Wallace has now also advanced.  Floyd is retiring back behind the perimeter. 
Smith is still making no progress on the near flank, but Lew Wallace has broken through on his right.  Floyd has retired into the town while McClernand regroups his successful, but battered brigades.  
The weight of numbers has finally taken its toll on Buckner's men & gaps have appeared in his line.  McClernand & Wallace are now getting troops across the abatis to the south.  It is 10pm & thus nightfall.  The CSA breakout has been thwarted & the Union have taken most of the defensive line.

In the morning our plastic Grant can repeat the real Grant's reply to the Reb's plea for terms.  "No terms except for unconditional & immediate surrender can be accepted.  I propose to move immediately against your works." 

Fort Donelson was the first of the three times U.S. Grant captured a Confederate army.  In our scenario the Union actually did better than the original.  In the real deal about 3,000 Rebs managed to cut their way out, but none got away in our battle.  This was due to our McClernand (Mark) being much more aggressive in defense, plus bad command dice for Floyd's brigade which left Pillow out on a limb for too long.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Napoleonic Musket Action

We tried out Musket Action in the Napoleonic era with a lot of cavalry for a change.
Chris' French are on the left, Jim's Austrians on the right.  Objectives are the bridge & the road junction.  The french have 2 guns & 4 chassers a cheval on the far flank.  The Austeians have 3 hussars & 3 dragoons on their right.
The Astrans advance theri cavalry. The French advance their infnatry.
Th Austrian cavalry attack has had mixed fortunes.  The French guns stopped their opponents with fire & the chasseurs beat off the charge of the dragoons.  But on the left, the Austrian hussars in the second line broke through & are threatening the guns in flank.
In the cavalry fight, the French lost their guns, but the chasseurs have done well & still have 2 troops to face 2 troops of Austrian horse.  On the near flank the infantry are exchanging volleys at long range.
The French infantry are getting on top in the fire fight & are now adcancing.
The French cavalry have successfully counterattacked on the far flank & are about to take both objectives.
The Austrian infantry is collapsing under the French musketry.

The Austrians planned to use their superior numbers to win the cavalry fight, then attack the French infantry in flank to support their outnumbered infantry.  The plan fell apart when the French chasseurs won almost all the cavalry melees by just 1 hit even when at a disadvantage.  The winner takes all close combat system makes cavalry fights in Musket Action a risky business. With infantry you can choose a slower & steadier alternative to close combat in a musket duel, but that option isn't available to the cavalry so cavalry action is brutal and short.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Musket Action Playtest at Camp Cromwell

French & Indian Wars

The British are on the near side, the French & Canadians on the far side.  The two buildings beside the road are objectives.  Holding both wins the game, otherwise it can be won by killing 2 more units than you lost. 
Deployment unit by unit as command dice are drawn placed in 12" deployment zone.

 Both sides advance to get within musket range.
On the near flank the British light infantry have advanced through the orchard to meet the Canadian militia.  In the centre the French infantry is pushing forward with support from the light artillery.  Right of centre the British cavalry has charged the French infantry coy on the end of their line & broke it.  The cavalry then used their consolidation move to face the flank of the grenadiers.  The Indians of each side are negating each other with ineffective fire in cover on the far flank. 
The French got the vital first command dice on turn 3 & the grenadiers got into square before the cavalry could charge their flank.  But the square was then decimated by British artillery & musket fire.
On the near flank the weight of numbers of the Canadian militia had counted & the British light infantry has been driven back into the churchyard.   The French are also getting on top left of centre.  Their grenadiers have been broken by fire & now the French dragoons are covering the French left. 
The British centre is still holding on, but looking shaky.
The Canadian militia are wrapping around the  British left flank.  The British grenadiers have broken on the right of the church.  The British right is advancing but the dragoons are dodging their balls.
The British left has collapsed.  The Canadian militia have taken the church.  The dragoons have prevented the Brits from attacking the other objective.  There was no turn 7.  The Brits have lost 7 units to 6, but the 2 objectives held make it a French victory.

Musket Action Playtest at Good games

French & Indian War:

John's British are on the far side, Jim's French & Canadians on the near side.  The scenario is a mix of No Mans Land & Key Positions.  The church & the farmhouse on the right are objectives - holding both wins the game, otherwise if one side has broken 2 more enemy than they have lost, they win.
By turn 3 the battle is taking shape.   On the left the Brits have lost their cavalry in an impetuous charge at Indians in a hedge.   Losses are heavy on both sides in the firefight in the centre.  The British light infantry are getting the upper hand v. the Canadian militia on the far flank.
Both sides have advanced their grenadiers on their left of centre.
The French dragoons charge down the road.
The French dragoons have continued down the road towards the church though there was some opinion that they should have turned left & help take out the British grenadiers who celebrated by destroying the French infantry to their front with a withering volley.  On the right the British light infantry are lapping around the French flank.  On the left centre the French grenadiers & Indians are wrapping around the British flank.  
The French dragoons dismounted & took the church, but their good work was undone by the British grenadiers taking the farmhouse.  This meant that the result came down to casualties.  The French would have won, but an unnecessary attack by their Indians on the left lucked out & that loss made the battle a draw.