Friday, January 20, 2017

Hail Caesar: Forcing a river crossing

Mike & Peter's Ptolemaic Egyptians are defending a wide ford against Chris' Seleucids who have a superior force.
The river is only fordable in the centre section.  The green areas are impassible swamps.  The white is sand & very difficult going. Both sides have a phalanx of 5 units.  The Egyptians also have two divisions of light bowmen, one deployed in open order on the river line, one in rear.  The Seleucids have a bow & spear armed medium infantry division & a cavalry division of 3 heavy cav & 3 horse archers. 
The battle begins with an exchange of bowfire across the river.
Loses in the firefight are about even, but an Egyptian unit has broken on their right & has been replaced from the third line.
When their front line is close to breaking the Seleucids send their phalanx across the river.  Much of the Egyptian light infantry fail to evade & their lead division is broken, but the charge does not reach the Egyptian phalanx.
The Egyptian phalanx charges the Seleucids.  The first round of combat is indecisive.  Both sides add in supports from behind, but the only visible result is on the near flank where the Egyptians fall back, but their opponents are also shaken & can't follow up.   
One Egyptian phalanx has broken (2nd from this end) & the Seleucids are trying to bring their cavalry over the river on the near flank to exploit any gaps, but the command dice are not helping.   Along the rest of the line most units of both sides are becoming shaken without decisive result.
The Egyptians have lost another phalanx at the far end, but their cavalry attack on the near flank, finally blessed with good command dice, has been halted by bow fire.
A second charge by the Seleucid cavalry has swept through the bowmen and taken out the shaken phalanx behind.  This breaks the Egyptian phalanx division and thus the Egyptian army.

It was tough battle of attrition with the river seeming to pretty well balance the disparity of numbers.  The Egyptians had the initial advantage in the phalanx fight, but failed to capitalise on it & later lucked out to lose 2 units in fair fights.  The cavalry charge only just succeded, but was decisive at the end. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bolt Action Envelopment Scenario

Steve & Mitch's Germans (FJ) v. Jim & Chris' Brits
Both sides had 1,000pts plus a tank (MkIV & a Cromwell).  We played on half the 10'x6' table so 5'x6'.  To compensate for the larger table we made the defender's zone up to the centreline rather than 12" back.  All pics taken from behind the Brits.
The Brits leave the Cromwell, 6pdr, PIAT & transports in reserve.  The Germans put all their troops in the first wave.
The 6pdr was towed down the road, & deployed facing the MkIV, but was destroyed before it could fire.  The Cromwell came on and it and the MkIV exchanged ineffective fire for the duration. 
The Germans suffered a big setback when the British barrage threw 5 for radius, caught several units in the 11" circle & threw a couple of 6's.  This delayed their advance on their left & probably lost them the game.  With the German left hurt and delayed by the artillery, the Brits were able to deal with the German attack on their left first then counterattack in the centre.
The Germans got no units over the centreline for 2 VPs & lost 5 units to 2, so a big win for the Brits. 

It's an unfortunate feature of BA that the artillery can have a big effect on a battle either way by pure luck rather than skill.  We also decided to adopt a couple of v2 house rules:
1. Revert to our V1 house rule for woods - that is using the FOW rule for woods as default.  (The v2 change to allowing seeing into woods but not through them was a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough).
2. When using dice to decide no. of hits of HE on a building, cap the hits as the number of men in the building. (Otherwise small units more vulnerable to HE in a building than out in the open, which doesn't feel right).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bull Run 1861

Dave designed the scenario for our re-fight of Bull Run using 28mm figs & Hail Mr Lincoln rules.  Seve, Nick, & Dave commanded the Rebs, Mike Chris & Jim, the Union.  Mark umpired.
At the start the Confederates have a few troops on Henry Hill in the centre of the table & the Union some guns on Matthews Hill on the far lef - following the fighting earlier in the day.  Both sides have columns coming up, Union from the left, Rebs from the right.
The Rebs are moving up to support the troops on Henry Hill.  The Union's lead division has deployed to attack the hill.  Rebel cavalry has come on on the right, Union cavalry in the foreground.
While everyone else is still marching or deploying, Chris throws the lead Union division at Henry Hill & over-runs the Rebel artillery on the crest.
Chris has been driven back off the crest by a Rebel counterattack, but Mike is now supporting his left & Jim his right. 
With the last Union division still on the road off shot, the Rebels have the numbers on the table, but the Union advance has left them insufficient room to deploy effectively to use their numbers.  4 Union while the Zouaves are moving up on their left flank.
There is a general firefight along the crest of Henry Hill with both sides feeding in reserves to replace the fallen and hold the line. Steve extends his left into the wood to counter the Zouaves.
Union pressure is still making it hard for the Rebels to use their numbers on the narrow front.
It's hot work on Henry Hill.
On the right, the cavalry are fighting their own irrelevant little war. On the left the last Union division is finally deploying.
Mike is falling back on the far flank, but the Zouaves have cleared the wood and are wrapping around the Rebel left.
Mike's division has fallen back behind the fresh division.  Chris' lead division has broken in the centre, but reserves are there to fill the gap while Jim's divisions now outflank the Rebel left.
The Rebs put in some desperate counterattacks, but to no avail as Union batteries pound their right and their left is outflanked.
As night falls the Rebels retreat.   They still have 3 of 5 divisions unbroken, but all with heavy losses.  The Union have lost only one division & still have a lot of fresh troops.

Last Friday Dave fought the scenario with peter College using Peter's 15mm figs.  On that occasion the Rebels held onto Henry Hill & won the battle.

Sunday Bolt Action

The table was already set up for this Tuesday's Bull Run so we added a bit extra stuff for our Sunday Bolt Action.  We played two games simultaneously.

Steve's FJ's v. Sean's US
Steve & Sean fought scenario 2: Meeting Engagement.  Having been fully engaged in my own battle, I regret the only detail can provide is that the US won.

Matthew's Germans v. Jim's Brits
This was scenario 8: Manhunt with the Brits defending.

The battle was gregarious affair with all the troops in two tight bunches.  We found out that the corner of the table can be a very dangerous place when the Confused Battle rule applies.  But the highlight of the battle was in the centre.  The Panther moved up creating mayhem with 3MMGs & a big gun, but the Bren carrier dashed up the road & deposited the PIAT team on the Panthers flank.  The result was an immobilised Pussy - not a bad result for the Germans as it was already in a good place.  Next turn the Germans got the first two command dice out of the bag.  The veteran PIAT team took a shirtload of fire from the tank & a panzergrenadier platoon, but got away with just losing the loader.  When it got to shoot it only managed superficial damage, but it was enough - another immobilsation so the crew bailed out.  After that defeat was inevitable for the Reich despite the Brits losing their commandos in an ill-advised close combat.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Diadochi campaign: naval battle at Rhodes

The campaign has come to a naval battle at Rhodes between Ptolemy & the allied fleets of Antigonus & Perdiccas.  Ptolemy (PeterC) is in Hobart & the others, PeterW & Ian are in Canberra.  The battle was fought at Camp Cromwell with Jim & Chris standing in for the Canberrans.
Ptolemy's fleet (on the top right) both outnumbers the allies, but is also better quality.   The allies protected their flanks with islands. PeterW's fleet is in in the lead for the allies.
The first clash did not go well for the allies when two sixes by Ptolemy sunk their largest ship.
 The second lines join in.
Peter's fleet is soon reduced to below half strength and fail morale.  The two survivors sail on away from the action leaving their allies to their fate.
The last allied ship tied to break thru.  It sunk an Egyptian ship on the way, but was too damaged to escape pursuit.  A crushing victory for Ptolomy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Napoleonic 28mm battle

We recycled the Cedar Mtn battlefield for a Napoleonic battle - French v. Austrians.  Each side had 3 divisions, 1 cavalry of 6 units, 2 infantry of 6 units plus 1 gun.  One Austrian inf div included 2 grenadiers & had an additional 2 small grenz units. The French were command rating 9, the Austrians 8.  The Austrians deployed Jim's cavalry on the left, Dave's inf div in the centre & Steve's (larger) inf div on the right.   The French deployed Mike's cavalry on their right, Chris' inf in the centre & Mark's inf on their left.  Renfrey assisted Mike with dice rolling and drink waiting.
Initial deployment: The French are on the far side of the table.
The Austrians advance to the front of the cornfields. 
The French advance their centre & right while Mark supports Chris' left flank.  The Austrian cavalry counterattack.
In the centre Dave gives ground, but holds on.  The cavalry fight is swirling about with both sides having mixed fortunes. 
The French commanders.
The Austrians.
Dave continues to give ground, but is making it hard work for Chris' div.  The two cavalry divs have both had losses and have drawn back to regroup.
 Chris's div continues to push Dave's back.
Mike's cavalry renews the attack.  Steve has sent his grenadiers to support Mike & Chris' infantry has run out steam - only 1 unit broken, but most of the rest shaken. 
The Austrian cavalry has finally been broken, but the French cavalry are on half strength with high casualties & Chris has called off the infantry attack in the centre to avoid being broken.  With time up, both sides are happy to declare victory & let the other side do the same.

Monday, January 02, 2017

My 69th birthday at Cedar Mtn

On New Years Day afternoon we celebrated my 69th birthday at Cedar Mtn where in 1862 Stonewall Jackson fought Nathanial Banks.  I based the scenario on the excellent blog on the battle by Jeff Berry at   I simplified the OOB by making the command divisions pairs of brigades of 4 or 6 units.  The paper OOB has Jackson outnumbering Banks by about 2:1, but Jackson forced march to the battle in searing temperatures and his units suffered considerable attrition.  How much is unknown, but I reduced the Confederate infantry by about one third to represent this.  This made the wargame scenario look like a fair fight and the historical result more understandable.  All divisions have a Command Rating of 8.
The Union are on the right of the pics.  Mark commands the Union right - 2 inf divs in the woods & a cav unit in reserve.  Jim commands their left - 2 inf divs & 7 guns in the corn fields.
Steve commands the Reb's left with 1 inf div in the woods, Chris has 2 inf divs & 2 guns in the centre, Mike has an inf div & 2 guns on Cedar Mtn on their right.  Another inf div is still on the road & will arrive sometime in the first 4 turns as the dice decree.
The pic is taken after the Union's first turn.  A general advance was attempted, but the command dice only allowed Mark to advance his LH division.
The Union right continued its advance through the woods while their centre advanced to near the forward edge of the cornfield.  The Confederate left redeployed in the woods to receive the attack.  Their centre advanced slowly.  Their right blundered about getting nowhere.
On the far flank Mark continues his advance through the woods.  In the centre the Union artillery is in action.  In their rear, the Union cavalry is being moved to the left. Steve waits for Mark near the table edge in the woods.  Chris has pulled back his left after copping some accurate artillery fire.  The Rebel reserve has arrived behind his centre.  In the foreground Mike's force has moved forward off Cedar Mtn.
On the far flank Mark has got to grips with Steve in the woods.  His intitial charge was a failure, but he has 2:1 odds in his favour & the attack continues.  Chris has moved his LH division to support Steve.  Jim has began an advance in the centre to support Mark.  The Union cavalry have dismounted and occupied the house at the end of their line.  The Rebel right has advanced enough to start a firefight with the Union left, but poor command dice have prevented them closing in.
There's a hot fight going on in the woods on the Union right.
Union artillery & poor command dice are making the Rebel attack on the near flank slow going.  Jim's attack in the open ground right of centre has hit home and the Rebel left is in big trouble. 
The Rebel left has collapsed with both divisions there breaking.  Chris' RH division has been reduced to half strength by Union fire and has been withdrawn before it broke.  The large Rebel reserve division has taken its place in the line with part of it turned left to face the victorious Union right.  The Union left has taken some losses & been forced back, but this large division is holding on in the cornfield. 
When time was called at beer o'clock the Confederates had lost 2 divisions out of 5 with another reduced to half strength.  The Union have lost only a few units & no divisions and clearly have the upper hand.  We took a pleasant walk in the warm summer rain to Knoppie's for the post mortum & some birthday Moo Brew.

In the historical battle Banks attacked first but the Confederate line held and they then counterattacked driving him back, but at nightfall Banks still held his initial position & he withdrew in good order overnight having achieved the Union's strategic aim of delaying Jackson.  Both sides claimed victory.  In our battle both Bank's attack and his defence were rather better handled & while the Confederates weren't broken it was pretty clearly a Union victory.  The allowance for attrition made in the Reb OOB certainly made the wargame a fair fight & a great game.  Given the historical result, it looks like it may not be far off the mark historically as well - in explaining how Banks could do as well as he did given the paper OOBs and his known level of incompetence.