Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday afternoon Bolt Action for retired gentlemen

Jim's Panzergrenadiers v. Chris's British infantry

1,050 points Point Defense scenario, Germans attacking.
The Germans are attacking from the left.  The 3 objectives are the crossroads and two supply dumps, one beside the road on the right, one in the wheat field on the far side.  The Brits have their Cromwell, HMG, an infantry section, Piat & HQ in the village.  There is another infantry section near each objective.  Their light and medium mortars are near the far objective.  The two Bren carriers are transporting their 4th infantry section.  The Germans have brought on a Stug and a Hanomag with infantry on the right, 2 Hanomags with an infantry and HQ on the left and an HMG in wood on the left. 
The armour are exchanging fire without effect.  On both flanks the Hanomags are providing covering fire as the panzergrens debus to attack.  The Germans on the right are suffering badly from fire from the village, but the German HMG firing down the road is returning the favour.  The Piat tried to get the Hanomag but missed and was shot up by the panzergrens.
On the right the German infantry has been decimated & pinned down, but the Brits have been destroyed completely & the Hanomag has taken the objective (the figures behind it are the dead Brits).  On the left the Brits got off the bugs only to be assaulted and destroyed as the Germans over-ran the objective.  The Cromwell went back to try & take it back, but as usual was toasted by a panzerfaust.

The Germans have 2 of 3 objective so have won.  Correction: Vehicles cannot take/hold objectives, so the Germans have only taken the far objective & the battle is a draw.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Maryland 1862 Campaign - the umpire's view

This is the campaign umpire's debriefing - by Peter Williams:
Thanks to Mark and Jim and Nick for putting in all the real work. I had the fun of watching both armies blundering around in the dark and I could make rulings about issues that cropped up, each of which I knew would upset either the ANV or the AOP. I’m happy to be corrected in my opinions below about why the generals did certain things. It was often a mystery to me.

Phase 1 from Day 1 to day 4

The opening three day turn, and the day after, went similar to the real thing. The AOP, already deployed within a couple of hexes of Washington, rested and saved force marches, then headed a bit north-west to cover both Baltimore and Washington while their cav went out to find the ANV.

The ANV began mostly south of Frederick . It split, part going to take Harpers and part heading north via Mechanicsville- a departure from what General Lee did. In my view the first major error occurred here, when the ANV cav div marched via Sharpsburg to attack Harpers. On the second attempt Harpers fell, but the consequence was the ANV cav was unable to do its main job-screen the army and go looking for the AOP so, for the rest of the campaign the ANV was in the dark about the whereabouts of the AOP.

Phase 2 from day 5 to day 7

By day 5 the AOP knew where the ANV was, but not visa versa. That day the ANV main body (apart from 4 div and the cav which together captured Harpers) had a div at Cashtown, 2 more at Gettysburg and one at Hannover. Apart from sending the Cashtown div to Gettysburg, there they stayed resting until the beginning of their march on Baltimore on day 8.  

In phase 2 the AOP was moving west through the mountains with a view to taking Sharpsburg and Williamsport, thus denying the ANV a Victory Point and, I think, assuming the ANV was about to come that way via Waynesboro. This AOP advance caught up with the ANV’s 4th div, which had participated in both Harpers battles. It was lucky to survive when the AOPs 2nd Corps caught up with it north of Sharpsburg on day 7. As a result of the battle there ANV’s 4th div retreated, shattered, across the Potomac at Williamsport and took no further part in the campaign. It had with it the extra artillery ammo captured at Harpers; the ANV was short of arty ammo and, had the battle at Baltimore gone all day that second decisive day, day 12, then I expect the rebs would have run out of artillery rounds.  

Phase 3 from day 8 to day 12

On day 8 the ANV main body commenced its march from Gettysburg via Hannover to Baltimore. I’m not sure the ANV had intended this from the start of the campaign. The AOP was in a tricky situation at this point. Having committed corps west of the mountains to deny the ANV the victory point by taking Sharpsburg and Williamsport, the AOP also felt it had to retain some troops east of the mountains just in case of an advance on Washington and Baltimore.  With hindsight a better move might have been to advance against the ANV once, by day 6, they were sure it was in the Gettysburg region.

As it happened, by the end of day 8 the ANV had advanced towards Baltimore to 1410, two hexes east of Hannover, while the Union still had three corps in the Sharpsburg - Williamsport region west of the mountains and another three on the east side at Jefferson, Frederick and Ridgeville. Unfortunately the two easternmost AOP corps, closest to Baltimore, were also the two worst.

The AOP had cav watching the head of the ANV column from Hannover all the way to Baltimore, so on day 9 the AOP knew enough to respond to the ANV’s march. The reason the ANV was unable to do anything about Union cav watching it was its own cav were still coming in from Harpers by a roundabout route, only rejoining the ANV main force on the first day of the battle of Baltimore. Around this time the AOP requested extra troops from the Washington garrison and, as this was what really happened in 1862 (but they arrived just too late for the battle of Antietam) Lincoln released 4 C class stands which I called 7th Union Corps. They fought at Baltimore.

On the approach to Baltimore both generals ran up against, complained about, and had to work out how to make most effective use of the road movement bonus rule- there are only so many corps (Union) or divisions (ANV) that can get the road movement bonus on any day in any road hex. The ANV solution was to rest alternate divs off road while others marched through, which resulted in a slower advance than would have occurred if two roads were used. The AOP solution was to use two roads out of Frederick, one to Elkridge and the other to Westminster.

The battle which resulted at Baltimore on days 11 and 12 went the way it did, perhaps, because the AOP spent one day too long waiting to be sure that the ANV advance was not a feint. The AOP was also preparing a trap and at the end of day 12, the final day, they had a large force in the ANV rear: their cav was at Cockeytown and they had an infantry corps each at Manchester and Westminster. Had Baltimore held, or had the AOP response been executed one day earlier, then the ANV, which was outnumbered by the AOP almost 2-1, would probably have been cornered and eliminated day 14 or 15 somewhere north-west of Baltimore.


The AOP handled the campaign better for the first two of the three phases, but not in the third phase, the march on Baltimore.

I’m surprised the ANV won as they misused their cav, so had little idea of where the AOP was, other than having some indication that a lot of it was, by day 7, west of the mountains. I think the ANV only came up with a real plan on day 8, but they did manage to get to the decisive point firstest with the mostest, and that is what counted in the end.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Battle of Baltimore Day 2

At nightfall on day 1 the Rebs had gained a toehold in the NW corner of the city.  Overnight the 5 Reb divisions regrouped.  The city was still defended by V Corps and the militia still held the forts on the SW half of the city.  The Union I Corps had forced march overnight and was crossing the Patapsco bridge at dawn in a desperate attempt to join the defence of the city.
The brave Union commander leans on his crutches and ponders his options.  I Corps has just crossed the bridge on the far side.  The Reb cavalry is about to cross the 2nd creek to try and intercept them.  The Reb 1st Divison is about to cross the first creek while the other 3 Reb divisons line up their brigades to attack the city.
In the foreground the Union I Corps has had to deploy to face the Reb cavalry (road column is the one infantry formation that cavalry can ride down in this era.  Between the creeks the Reb 1st division has broken a hole through the militia line.   On the far side the Union V Corps is putting up a stirling defence.  The Rebs are losing a lot of casualties, but the numbers are on their side.
With the city looking about to fall, I Corps had to take a risk and part of it has marched down the road in road column.  Reb cavalry has charged the column & although the cavalry charge is beaten off, the infantry had to deploy and was further delayed.  Meanwhile the Reb's 1st division has broken into the city and is already formed up to face I Corps if it gets past the cavalry.
After a gallant fight, V Corps has finally broken.  They inflicted heavy casualties, but there were just too many Rebs.  The city fathers surrender the city.  I Corps retires back down the Washington road.  The Reb cavalry is too badly hurt to stop them, but they had done their job.

This result ends the campaign as the Rebs have fulfilled a condition for a major victory - taking Baltimore.  In this campaign, General Lee got his army past McClelland, won a race to Baltimore and then took it before enough Union troops could arrive to defend it. 

The campaign has been a very interesting exercise & good fun for all.  The campaigning was done by email, the battles were all fought at Camp Cromwell using our house variant of Hail Caesar for ACW.  The small battles used 15mm figs, the large battles were done with 6mm figs.
Those involved were:
Campaign umpire: Peter Williams - by email from Canberra.
Battle umpire: Jim Gandy.
Confederates:  CIC Nick Bowler (by email).  Battlefield commanders: Mike Nash & Barrie Macdonald.
Union: CIC Mark Oakford.  Battlefield commanders Steve Jendrich & Chris Arthur.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ACW Campaign: Battle of Baltimore

On day 11 of the campaign Lee has arrived at the gates of Baltimore.   The Union's VI Corps of 9 units of raw troops with 2 batteries, plus VII Corps of 4 units of trained infantry sent from the Washington garrison have hastily dug in in front of the city.  14 units of militia with 6 half batteries occupy rudimentary defences on the edge of the city.  1 cavalry brigade guards the flank of the advance force.

Lee's 1st division of 8 veteran inf & 2 batteries plus his 5th division of 5 veteran infantry & 2 batteries have come onto the table on turn 8 of a 24 turn day.
The 1st division deployed to their left to form up for the attack.  The 5th division moved up on their right beside the creek. 
The Union cavalry advanced and dismounted to fire across the creek at the Reb 5th div's flank.  Two infantry units turned to face the cavalry and broke them, but the cavalry had disrupted the division's advance.  The 1st division attacked the right of the Union line and soon broke through and rolled up the Union VI Corps which then broke.  The Reb's 3rd division of 6 veteran infantry & 2 batteries has also come up and has deployed behind the 1st division.
The Union VI Corps on the left of the line withdrew towards the city as the Reb 5th division resumed its advance and their 1st division moved to their right to make room for the 3rd division to advance onto the left flank of the Reb line.  The Rebs' 4th division has also arrived and is marching down the road.  The Union's V Corps has also arrived on the table - off shot to the left.  It has 8 trained infantry units and 2 batteries marching down the Washington road
The rebs are attacking the NW corner of the city with their 1st & 3rd divisions while the 2nd & 5th are preparing to attack on their right.  The militia line is mostly broken, but the VII Corps has redeployed as a second line in the NW corner of the town and Union V Corps column has entered the town. The Reb cavalry division has arrived on the table, but is kept in reserve.
 The Union commander on the right ponders his options.
By nightfall the Rebs have taken the entire militia line north of the creek and broken the Union VII Corps to gain a toehold in the NW corner of the city.  But the Union V Corps has held a line within the city.  The Union has lost VI & VII Corps and all the militia north of the creek.  The Rebs have had 5 units break, but no divisions have been broken.

The result leaves the campaign still in the balance.   The Union have just 1 Corps left to hold the city.  Their broken corps will not be fit to fight until the day after tomorrow.  The Rebs will outnumber the defenders in the morning, but their divisions will be weakened by fatigue and the losses of the first day's fighting and they fear the arrival of more Union Corps.

The Rebs have the option of claiming some victory points, breaking off, and trying to get back to Virginia past McClelland's much larger army to claim a minor victory in the campaign, or keep on going to try and take Baltimore to claim a major political victory before the Union arrive in force.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Muskets & Tomahawks at Barrie's

We tried out a new scenario that John's been developing called Trading Post.  There are 3 victory criteria.  1) Burning the trading post or not.  2) Capturing the goods, or not. 3)  Killing 2/3 of the enemy army.  The defender has 1/3 of their force off table at the start, to come on when the dice decide, plus some civilians to carry or guard the goods. 

Game 1: Jim's French Canadians attacking Rusty's British
 John's scenario allowed the defenders to choose a table edge for their troops to deploy within 8" of at the start while the attackers could start either 8" in from the far edge, or on the side edges (but at least 1 unit on each edge). the 2 storey building is the trading post, with a wagon ready to be loaded up to cart the goods away. The British troops are on the left.
The French are lined up on the right with 1 unit of Indians on the far edge.
The British got a Civilian card early and began loading the wagon.  Then the French Regulars advanced down the road and in 1 volley made the civilians run away. The Canadian Militia dvanced through the woods and poured deadly fire at the British Regulars on the road, who promptly ran away.
The Brits conceded before we'd got halfway through the first turn.

Game 2: Jim's French Canadians attacking Rusty's British take 2
John modified the deployment rules to make all the attackers come on 8" in from the opposite table edge from the defenders.
 The British civilians are frantically loading up the wagons as the French advance with Indians on their left, Regulars in the centre & Militia on the right.
 On the left, the 2 French Indian units have overwhelmed a ranger unit in the woods, then 1 has engaged the Brit regs on the road with their bows while the other has set fire to the trading post.  On the right, the Canadian Militia & Regulars have blown away Indians defending the village and are advancing through it. 
The French Indians have forced the Brit Regulars back with their bow fire from the woods.  The fire in the trading post is spreading.  The Canadian Militia have slaughtered the civilians trying to drive the wagons away.
The British Regulars on the left have been routed by bowfire.  The Militia was forced back behind the houses by the British reinforcements coming up the road, but they have redeployed and have destroyed the Brit Indians in the field.   At this stage, the Brits had lost more than 2/3 of their army and the trade goods had been captured, so the French had 2 VP's and the battle was over.

Game 3: Leigh's French attacking Barrie's British
In this game, the French managed to set fire to the trading post, but the British managed to get the goods away.  Neither side lost more than 2/3 of their forces, so both sides got 1 VP & it was declared a draw.
The 3 games gave John some good pointers on how to refine his scenario.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nick in Launceston - Axis hold the line at Cassino

The axis forces held the line at Cassino last night. Mainly because the allied players failed to show! The three axis players talked smack while waiting, and then went home to paint for next week!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ACW 1862 Campaign

We were going to fight a campaign battle tonight, but Stonewall Jackson reported in sick and the Rebs asked for a postponement.  It looks too good a battle to use up short handed so the gods agreed.  So tonight the Union prepared their position ready for the Rebs when they show up.  (Then we fought a Bolt Action on the other table).

So far I have been unable to put reports about the campaign itself on the blog.  I could only describe the battles because the campaign involves hidden movement and it was impossible to report on the strategic situation without revealing forbidden intelligence to the players. 

The campaign is based on Lee's 1862 invasion of Maryland - the Antietam campaign.  We have two  umpires.  Peter Williams in Canberra designed & set up the campaign and is generally running it by email.  I am setting up and umpiring the battles here in Hobart using our Hail Mr Lincoln variant of Hail Caesar.  The first 3 battles were small ones and were fought using 15mm figs.  The large battle we are about to fight will use 6mm figs. There are 4 players on each side – all are taking part in strategic decision making by email, those who could can turn up on the night fight the battles.  These have been described on the blog as they happened.

The Union force comprised 7 Corps of varying size & quality, plus garrisons at Harpers Ferry, Baltimore and Washington.  The field army started in an area just west of Washington.  The Confederate army comprised 6 divisions of various sizes and quality and started in an area just east of Harpers Ferry.

The campaign has a 15 campaign day time limit.  The Confederates can win a decisive victory by taking either Baltimore or Washington, or win a minor victory by gaining 3 Victory Points.  Victory Points can be won by taking Harpers Ferry, by raiding deep into Maryland, by winning a major battle or by bombarding Baltimore or Washington for 24 hours.  VPs would be lost by losing a major battle.

The map has a hex grid, each hex about 8km.  Standard move rates are 2 hexes a day for foot, 4 for cavalry.  Forced marching is allowed, but can cause units to lose stamina.  There are restrictions on how many troops can use a single road. All movement was hidden from the enemy with intelligence gained from spies and contact at the umpire’s discretion.  Battlefields are set up using historical maps of the area where available, or failing that using Google Earth as a guide.

At the start of the campaign, the Confederates crossed into Maryland and split into two groups.  One infantry division and the cavalry division moved west to Harpers Ferry, the rest went north towards Gettysburg.  The Union army in scattered Corps marched generally west towards Harpers Ferry.

The attack on Harpers Ferry was repulsed at first, but a renewed attack with Confederate reinforcements the next day took the town.  Some of the Rebs garrisoned the town, the rest headed northwest to try to join the main force.  This force was caught on the road by a Union Corps almost twice their size forced marching up behind them.   The Rebs deployed behind Antietam Creek (on the edge of the historic battlefield) and managed to hold off the Union attack until nightfall.  They then made their escape back over the Potomac via Williamsport.

At this stage the Union had much better intelligence than the Rebs as they had used their cavalry in a scouting role while the Rebs had used their cavalry’s mobility to speed up their concentration around Harpers Ferry.  The main Rebel army had moved to a position near Gettysburg & then rested up and the Union knew this, but the Rebs were generally ignorant of the Union positions. 

After a period of masterly inactivity, Lee suddenly started marching east towards Baltimore.  The Union then realised they had got a bit over-obsessed with Harpers Ferry and started moving back east to intercept him.   Our next battle is to fought outside Baltimore.
The city is on a broad peninsular on Patapsco Bay defended by some basic fortifications.  It has a sizable garrison of 3rd rate troops in the earthworks around the perimeter of the city.  Two small Union army Corps have thrown up hasty entrenchments forward of the city facing the Cockeystown Rd running north towards the camera - the direction that Lee's army is expected to appear from on turn 8 of a 24 turn day - day 11 of the campaign.  (The thin tape represents a railway).
Both sides know the other has reinforcements marching towards Baltimore, but doesn't know when they will arrive.  If Lee can storm the city and take it, Lincoln and McClelland will be so discredited that the Confederacy will win the war.  If he either bombards the city for a day, or gets a foothold in the city, and then gets back to Virginia past McClellan's army the Rebels will be able to claim a minor victory. 

Bolt Action

Steve's Germans v. Mark's Brits.

The Germans were veterans with 3 infantry squads, some support weapons & a Stug.  The Brits were regulars with 4 infantry squads, some support weapons & a Cromwell.  The Mission was Point Defence with the Brits defending.
The Brits have 3 objectives to defend on the left side of the table.  The Germans have 6 or 7 turns to take 2 to win, 1 to draw.
The Germans had a big set back when the Cromwell popped the Stug.  Fire from the HMG on the hill & advancing infantry has destroyed the defenders of the objective in left hand corner, but there is another Brit squad just off shot.  German infantry is advancing behind the hedges on the far flank while their mortars are softening up the defence.

The German attack through the centre is petering out but they had a good chance of salvaging a draw on the far flank.  The infantry there charged the heavily pinned defenders & should have beaten them, but for once Steve's dreaded Lehr dice failed him and the attack failed.  But not before the Cromwell was once again made "toast" by a panzerschrek.  The victorious infantry did not survive the next mortar round either, but it was still game over with no objectives taken & thus a British victory. 

This mission seems to be hard to win for the attacker, but I suspect that's because we're beginners & it's harder to attack than defend when you're unsure of what you're doing.  Still a good game though.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Muskets & Tomahawks at Barrie's

Jim's French Canadians v. Barrie & Mike's British

470 points. 
French Objective "Engagement" = to destroy 2/3 of the enemy.
British objective "Protection" = to preserve at least half of the civilians in the village.
The British deployed first. Their 2 Provincial close order infantry units are in reserve.  Their 2 Indian units are on their right of the village (left in pic) & their 2 rifle armed Ranger units are on their left of it. They also have civilians in 2 of the houses (RH & rear in pic).
The 2 French Regular units are right of centre, their 2 Militia units left of centre & they have Indians on both flanks.
 On the left the Brit Indians engaged the Militia & Indians in a firefight.  In the centre the Rangers shot up the French regs which advanced anyway.  On the right, the French Indians attacked & destroyed 1 ranger unit in the RH wood then turned left and drove the 2nd ranger unit back.
The fire fight on the left continued with the French militia getting the worst of it.   The French regs on the left were driven back by the civilians fire.  The British Provincials have come on from reserve in the right rear.  The 2nd French reg unit fell back behind the fence ready for them.  The Indians have advanced on the remaining Rangers.
 The French Indians have finished off the Rangers in the centre.  The French regs have stormed the 2 storey building killing & capturing a bunch of civilians.
On the left the Brits pulled an Indian unit back to meet the French Indians moving across their rear, but a combined attack by both French Indian units supported by fire from the Militia pouted both the British Indian units & killed a few more civilians as well.

The Brits have failed to meet their victory condition as more than half of the civilians have been killed or captured.  The French have met theirs having destroyed more than 2/3 of the enemy troops.  Most the damage was caused by the Indians on the right flank who destroyed 2 Ranger & 1 Indian unit plus several civilians.  The British thought them to be lucky, the French thought them to be well handled.

As I mentioned last week, I have made up an improved summary sheet to replace the sadly inadequate one provided in the book.  I have also made up an index of sub-headings which makes it easy to find what you want to know in the book (maybe it's the translation from the French, but things are often not where you expect them to be).  With the new QRS & the Index on opposite sides of an A4 sheet, the game was so much easier for relative newbies to play.  We found another thing to add to the summary sheet today so I'll update it shortly.   You can get a pdf copy here:

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Bolt Action

Steve's German Vets v. Jim's British Regulars

1,000 pts Top Secret Scenario:  The scenario has an objective at the centre of the table that has to be carried back to your table edge to win.   Steve supplied a very cute Frauline Helga in leather coat and miniskirt to be the objective.
All pics taken from the British side.  The objective is on the crossroad.  The Germans have rushed their Puma up to it, but only infantry can carry it away.  "Toast" the Cromwell has had a shot at it and only pinned it.  Both sides are setting up their long range weapons while advancing infantry towards the objective.
The Germans got to the objective first with their HQ, but Brit infantry assaulted and took it back.  The Puma survived fire from 6pdr & Cromwell, but was pinned down and unable to help the infantry.   
The objective changed hand two more times, but the Brits had more sections and ended up in control of her at the end of turn 4.   They now had to get her to the edge of the table to win.
The Brits passed the vital command test to start the withdrawal only because they had the commander in the adjacent.  They then converged units around her that the Germans couldn't prevent them getting her away.   The Cromwell had advanced to cover them and finally popped the Puma.  The Germans moved up 2 Panzerfausts but missed and for the first time the Cromwell finished a battle without being toasted.   It was a very entertaining & enjoyable little battle.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Muskets & Tomahawks at Barrie's

With 6 players we divided one of Barrie's big tables into three 6'x4' battlefields for 3 separate one-on-one battles.  The match-ups were as follows (French player listed first).
John v. Rusty.
Jim v. Steve.
Leigh v. Barrie.
Your reporter was all wrapped up in his own game so that's all you get reported.
The British drew the Slaughter Objective - they had to slaughter the civilians in the village.  The French drew Scouting - they had to get troops into every  2' square of the table.  The pics are taken from behind the French.  Above is late in the 1st turn after all have done some advancing.  The Brits have Regular infantry on their left & centre, Grenadiers on the right and Indians in the wood between the Regulars.  The French have their Regulars in the clear ground, Militia in the centre 1 Indian unit on their right & two Indian units on the left.  The civilians have been roused out of the tavern.
The motley selection of cooks, barmaids, whores and reprobates selected from Barrie's collection flee from the British.
Some hot shooting by the Canadian Militia routed the British Regulars in the centre, but the Brit Indians & Grenadiers have since driven the Militia back.  The French Indians are sneaking down the left flank, the French Regs & Indians pushing forward on their right.
On the left, the Grenadiers have moved left and destroyed the Indians on that flank, but not before they scouted all squares on that side. On the right, the French Militia & Regs destroyed the enemy Indians and cleared the way for their own Indians to scout all the squares on that flank.   The civilians have escaped unharmed.  Their rescuers are hoping for some gratitude in the tavern tonight.

We have started work on a more comprehensive summary sheet to replace the sadly inadequate one in the book.  We tried the 1st draft today & it certainly made things easier, and identified scope for further improvement.  

Friday, August 02, 2013

Nick in Launceston - Infantry Aces

We have started an infantry aces campaign in Launceston. Last night was the first night -- still time for anyone who wants to join in.

And I must say, it was FUN. Much more fun that I would have anticipated. I may be biased because I won two games -- though on my second game my Fallschirmjager force was reduced to the Command team for one platoon and the CinC - all other troops had been killed. However, I managed to hold an objective, so got the victory!

Another highlight was the beautiful terrain Shane put together!