Sunday, June 24, 2018

Road to Moscow: Variation of the Road to Damascus Scenario

We used the Road to Damascus scenario from Hail Caesar as the basis for a Napoleonic scenario.  Chris' Russians defeending v. Jim's French.  Rules: Hail Napoleon.
The Russians have an infantry brigade in the foreground village with 2 cavalry brigades & another infantry brigade coming down the road from the left.   The French have 3 smaller infnatry brigades coming down the road from the right with 2 cavalry brigades.  The French have to clear  apath through the village for their wagon train & to exist to the left.
The French sort their brigade columns out into a wall of attack columns with light infantry to the front.  The cavalry of both sides are squaring off mid table.
The french columns attack both sides of the village while they deploy artillery & skirmishers to soften up the houses.  The French dragoons are getting the upper hand over the Russian dragoons.
The Russian infantry are stubbornly defending the village, but the French are lapping around their flanks.
The Russian resistance in the village is collapsing.   The Russian dragoons are broken but the French are so badly hurt they have pulled back to rally.  The light horse of both sides are facing off ina  stalemate with a hedge between them.
 The French infantry has cleared the village & is redeploying to the right.  The Russian infantry is trying to deploy but is squeezed between the French infantry & hussars.

With half the French hussars now deployed facing the Russian battery, the Russian hussars chanced an attack through the hedge & partially broke through.   The Russian inf atry deployment was compromised by a blunder that saw their column charge straight at the French line.
The French dragoons had just enough juice in the tank to send the Russian hussars back over the hedge.   One of French infantry brigades has failed to move up, but the other two are comofrtably holding the line. 
The Russian infantry is making desperate attacks, but the 3rd French infantry brigade finally threw good command dice & came up in a rush.
The 2nd Russian infantry brigade had broken & it's all over.

In this version of the scenario, the French had the advantage of good command which helped their sound plan (based on the mistakes made 800 years previously last Tuesday) work almost flawlessly.  They swamped the village defenders before their supports could come up & had time to redeployto meet the counterattack. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Road to Damascas 1143

This is a scenario from the Hail Caesar book.  We enjoyed playing it 3 years ago & decided it was worth a re-run.  Again we modified it a bit to suit what we have.  We used our Hail King Richard rules - Hail Caesar modified for medieval.
The Damascans have a holding force of infantry in the village with a screen of horse archers in front.  A relief column is coming on the road from the far end of the table. The crusader army is coming on from the near RH corner.  To win the crusaders have to clear a passage for their baggage train through the village & through the pass halfway along the LH edge of the table by 10pm (2.5 hours playing time).
The Damascans in the village are putting up a surprisingly good fight as both sides bring more troops onto the table.

Dismounted  knights have failed to break into the village.  Dismounted Ghulams broke one unit & the other hasn't even been able to dig skirmishers in the houses.  More crusader infantry is being sent forward to join the attack on the village.  Opposing lines of cavalry have formed to the right. 
The knights have finally taken the houses, but most of the village is still in Damascan hands.  To the right of the village the leading knights have ridden down some Ghulam cavalry, but the ring of horde archers is wearing them down. The 3rd Crusader division is being slow to deploy on the right.
The knights have finally taken the centre of the village, but a pocket of resistance on the left remains On the right the Damascans have counterattacked.  The infantry of the 3rd division has been turned left & is marching to reinforce the other infantry which is running out of steam.  The knights in the centre have been forced to retire by the horse archers, but the other 2 brigades of knights have now got to the front.

On the left, horse archers pepper the crusader infantry as the Damascans form a new line with the infantry in their relief column & the Crusaders bring up fresh infantry.  The knights in the centre are being kept disordganised by bow fire.  The knights on the right has destroyed some enemy cavalry before it could deploy, but are now ringed by horse archers.  
A renewed attack by the crusader foot now engaged with the levy infantry of the relief column rather than dismounted Ghulams, but there are lot of them to hack their way though.  The 1st brigade of knights has broken.  An attempt by the 2nd brigade to break through to support the infantry has been driven back,.  The 3rd brigade is being surrounded by horse archers.  
At nightfall, the Damascans still hold part of the village though their troops there are on the verge of breaking.  The crusader foot in the centre has broken one line of levy but there is another behind it.  The knights on the right are mostly shaken & verging on breaking.  The Damascan cavalry is also badly mauled.  The crusaders may well have enough infantry left in fighting shape to clear the way though eventually, but they have failed to do so by nightfall so are defeated.

The initial stubborn defence of the village against the dismounted knights was the key to the Damascan win.  Not only did it buy time, but it led to the crusaders sending all their infantry that way leaving the knights to take on the masses of Damascan cavalry without any infantry support.  The knights did well enough against the Damascan horse when it could catch them, but without any bowmen to counter it the steady attrition of the horse archers wore them down.

It's a great scenario & nicely balanced though between two very different armies.  In our previous go at the scenario (see blog 22/09/2015) the Crusaders won in an equally desperate fight.

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.