Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hail Cromwell 2

Jim's New Model v. Mike's Royalists

This was our second pike & shot era battle fought using modified Hail Caesar rules.

Both sides had 2 infantry & 1 cavalry battalia.  The New Model had better cavalry with 4 ironsides v. 4 heavy horse.  The New Model foot battalia had 1 pike & 3 shot (with 1st fire), the Royalist's 2 pike & 4 shot.  Both sides had 2 medium guns.  The New Model also had a dragoon unit.
All pics taken from behind the Royalist left.  Both sides deployed with infantry in the centre & their cavalry on their left overlapping the enemy line.
The New Model formed their cavalry into columns and marched them across the rear of their army to face the Royalist horse while their infantry formed a defensive position in the wood and the dragoons moved up into the village.   The Royalists advanced their horse while their foot blundered about.
The cavaliers have fallen back before the ironsides while their infantry struggles forward.  Parliament have moved most of their left flank battalia to reinforce the centre, leaving just one muskteer unit to support the guns on the hill.
The cavaliers were pushed back by the first charge of the ironsides, but didn't break.  In the centre both sides have formed opposing battle lines and are blasting away.  On the far flank the Royalists are attacking the forlorn flank guard on the hill.
The cavaliers have been broken and the ironsides are moving behind the Royalist left flank.  The parliament's left flank guard has been broken.  The firefight in the centre continues.
The Royalist left just managed to form hedgehog in time, but the hedgehog is all but surrounded and the Royalist right is a long way away.
The hedgehog has beaten off a pike attack, but is shaken, disordered and under fire from 2 foot and 2 cavalry units. The Parliamentary left is giving ground and buying time.
Turn after turn went by with the hedgehog living a charmed life.  The muskets & pistols consistently failed to get anywhere near the odds in hits & the hedgehog passed every break test.  Meanwhile, the Royalist right eventually lapped around the Parliamentary left and broke the Parliamentary foot battalia one after the other to snatch victory.

This was a frustrating battle for Parliament.  Yes, hedgehogs are supposed to be tough nuts, but this one held out far beyond the odds.  But despite the parliamentary frustration it was an enjoyable battle for all.  The modified Hail Casear rules worked just fine - the combination of troop type mix, appropriate unit stats and special rules is certainly sufficient to produce battles with a true pike & shot feel quite distinct from our ancient games.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Nick in Launceston

Two games of Flames of War at the club tonight.  Which was good -- because they were the only games!  Where have the others gone?  I remember when you had to get there early to get a table!!!!!

Game 1 was Nick vs Dennis.  1500 pts Cauldron mission.  As I mis-remembered what we agreed to, I bought Germans rather than Soviets, and hence we ended up with a 'blue on blue' game.  Dennis had German Grenadiers with tigers in support.  I had a StuG Batterie with pioneers in support.. 

This was a fast and furious game.  I deployed the pioneers near one objective:

Dennis turn 1: Dennis revealed his immediate ambush (4 Marders), and shot the Pioneers with the Marders and Tigers  Two stands of pioneers died.

Nick turn 1: A platoon of StuG's arrived from reserve.  They shot the Marders and killed 2.  The Pioneers moved up to assault the Tigers.  I misplayed, and the Marders managed to get in defensive fire along with the Tigers, and the assault was beaten back.

Dennis turn 2: The surviving Marders shot and destroyed my Stug Platoon.  The Tigers assaulted the Pioneers (after killing some more with machine gun shots).  But the Pioneers counterattacked and killed the Tigers.

Nick turn 3: Another platoon of StuG's arrived from reserve.  They killed the remaining Marders. I assaulted the observer who was sitting on the objective -- his one rifle shot killed a stand as I went into the assault.  While the Pioneers killed the observer, their morale then broke.

Dennis turn 3: Dennis had to take an army morale check as he had lost two platoons and only had one left.  He failed, and it was game over before Dennis even got to do anything for his turn.

The game was short and sharp.  However, both Dennis and I agreed that we prefer lower point totals -- there was room for maneuver.

Game 2 was Rob vs Shane -- US vs Panzer Lehr.  I'm not sure how it ended though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nick in Launceston

Nick vs Rob in Flames of War. Nick forgot his army, so used Shanes beautiful Panzer Lehr (which Shane had just sold to Rob).

Rob had mainly infantry, with heavy artillery and some Stuart light tanks. Nick had infantry in halftracks, with panzer IV's and Panthers.

The mission was domination -- it was the first time Ive played domination, and it was a lot of fun. To find the domination missions, look at the I95 website. In the end, hill tops and road junctions had victory points. There were 12 victory points scattered over the table, and victory went to the player who had 8 victory points on or after turn 6.

I had a sneaky plan, taking all of the low value objectives on the flank, and rushing in to take one high value objective with my recon. The plan almost worked -- just the minor detail of Rob destroying one of my flanking forces preventing world domination. Eventually a draw was agreed. All in all a fun night -- I want to play domination again!

Maharajah Final 2012: Replay

Steve's Sassanids v. Jim's Pontic army

After the epic draw 3 weeks ago we faced up again with the same armies.
The Sassanids are on the left.  heavy infantry in the centre, cavalry on each wing and light infantry behind the cavalry on the near flank.  The Pontic army has 2 infantry divs in the centre & cavalry on each wing.
The combat opened with a blunder charge of the Sassanid cavalry on the near flank which made a mess of the Pontic light horse.  The remainder of the Pontic army is moving forward in not particularly good order.
The battle is taking form now with the Pontic heavy cavalry attacking and getting the upper hand on both flanks.
On both flanks the Pontic cavalry got on top, but just couldn't get the command dice to finish the enemy off.  In the centre the Pontic infantry, a mix of Imitation legionaries and light bowmen almost broke through the Sassanid foot, but not quite.
The tide turned in the centre and the left Pontic infantry division broke, leaving the other one with a hanging flank.
On this flank, with better command dice the Sassanid cavalry rallied faster than the Ponts and with the help of some foot bowmen, they now had the advantage.  But on the far flank the Sassanid cavalry have finally broken.  In the centre, the Pontic infantry have retreated, trying to hold on unit the cavalry can come to the rescue.
On the near flank the Pontic cavalry have galloped behind the ridge to escape the hail of arrows and regroup.    In the centre the Pontic foot are hanging on under heavy bow fire still waiting for the cavalry to come to their rescue.
The Pontic foot has finally broken under the bowfire.  But their cavalry on the far flank finally got back into the action riding down the Sassanid infantry's flank guard and breaking their heavy infantry division.

Now both sides had lost 2 of 4 divisions, it was after 11 & the umpire had to go home, so the battle was declared a draw.   So we will have to have a third grand final!  Once again the two veteran generals slugged each other to a standstill with move and countermove.  The Hail Caesar dice gods are cruel beasts, but they usually seem to even up in the end...runs of good HTH dice being countered by runs of bad command dice, etc.   Once again a draw seemed a fair result.

It was agreed that the players would be allowed to raise new armies for the 3rd try at getting a result.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hail Cromwell: Using Hail Caesar for pike & shot

Mike's Covernanters v. Steve's New Model Army:
A pike & shot era battle fought using Hail Caesar rules

Followers of this blog will know we have been using both Hail Caesar and Pike & Shotte.  The 2 systems are very alike, and we find that similarity both a blessing and curse.  It's easy to pick up one after playing the other, but when you flip from one to the other and back again, it is very easy to get confused where they differ.  I have always had the view that war didn't change much because of the musket - the big change was the bayonet, that Renaissance warfare was more like ancient warfare than war after 1700.  The bayonet caused the change from deep formations and separate shock & missile troops to linear formations of uniformly armed troops.   In most cases where they differ, we prefer the HC system so why not use HC for the pike & shot era.

It took less than a page to write out a Hail Cromwell addendum to Hail Caesar.  The main issues are:
1) Troop characteristics - making a table of ECW troop types with characteristics compatible with HC (with higher numbers of dice than P&S to balance higher stamina).
2) Shooting - use 4+ to hit normally, 3+ for close range as in P&S to reflect more firepower.
3) Modifying the disorder test for shooting.
4) Using the P&S "Useful Rules" and other rules specific to the period like Hedgehog where appropriate.
The Scots are on the left with 1 cavalry division on their right, then 3 infantry divisions each of 2 pike & 3 shot plus 3 guns.  The New Model has 2 infantry divisions of 1 pike & 3 shot with 2 guns plus cuirassiers on the left and horse on their right.  In the first turn the NM cavalry has advanced.
The NM left advances.  Their horse has swung left towards the centre, but the foot on the right has not advanced in support.
The battle has split into two.  The NM horse on the far flank has been left exposed and is being pasted by musket fire.  The NM infantry on the near flank as advanced too boldly and under pressure from foot and horse.
The far flank has sorted out into a clean line, but the NM horse has been mortally weakened by musket fire and is falling back leaving the NM foot outnumbered.
On the near flank the NM infnatry is in hedgehog and under pressure from pistol & musket.  Their cuirassiers tried to get around the flank, but were headed off by Scots pikes.
On the far flank the NM foot are on the verge of breaking, but their pikes are counterattacking anyway and driving the Scots back.
The pikes held off the first attack, but the second charge on the flank actually broke the pikes (the 3+ save can be a powerful thing).  The Scots foot on this flank were broken, but surprisingly, the Scots horse stopped the follow up (with ab it of help from NM blunders).  Meanwhile the NM foot continued to pass Break Tests under the Scots caracole.
The near flank has ended a stalemate as the Scots horse withdraw to let their artillery fire at the hedgehog.
On the far flank the NM pike counterattack put a scare into the Scots, but 1 unit can only do so much.  Finally both surviving foot units were shaken and the division was broken.  The Scots musketeers then advanced & finished off the NM horse to break the NM army with 2 of 4 divisions broken.

So how did using HC affect the battle?   Tactically it worked out very much the same as if we'd used Pike & Shotte, but as both players and the umpire are more practiced with HC than P&S it was a whole lot easier to play with much less looking up of the rules.   We think the experiment was a great success and will continue with it.   We liked our revised disorder test under shooting so much we intend to try it with ancient HC as well.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Barrie's Sunday School: Bolt Action

Steve & Barrie's Germans v. Jim & John's Brits

Points Defense Scenario on 6" square table.  The Brits won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to defend.
The Brits defended 3 objectives from the front left edge of the table- placing 2 infantry sections in the front of the 2 woods, their HMG near the objective in the centre wood and keeping their 3rd infantry section, Cromwell & HQ in reserve.   The Germans advanced 2 infantry sections down the RHS and 1 infantry section and HQ down the centre.

The Brits used their artillery to delay the advance and kept their deployed troops hidden and reserves off table until the enemy got up close.  The 2 infantry sections deployed at the start were over-run by the Germans, but they took enough with them that the reserves were able to hold the objectives and win the battle.

One of Bolt Action's faults is that the scenarios don't specify a table size and don't have any rules to deal with variation in table size but clearly this has a great influence on the balance.  We made the game 8 or 9 turns as the 6' depth clearly made it too hard for the attackers to get to the objectives.  Even so, it seemed a difficult task for the Germans in this case - though maybe the Brits made it look that way by a sound defense.  So clear was the victory that the Cromwell survived a battle intact for the first time.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Somewhere near Arnhem ....

Nick vs Rob, 1750 pts Flames of War. Rob has US paratroops. Nick had a Stug Batterie.

The table was covered in woods. Perfect terrain for the paratroops. The mission was hasty attack -- which seemed appropriate for the situation -- the Stug batterie desperately trying to attack the paratroops in an uncoordinated fashion.

Nick had a secret weapon.  A King Tiger.  Which, since the paratroops had no tanks, was an absolute waste of points.  And the King Tiger was eventually destroyed by the Allied airpower!  But Nick had a second secret weapon -- a StuH 42 platoon, which was devastatingly effective.

For the paratroops, using the woods was as much a liability as an advantage.  By positioning the StuH 42's so that only bazooka teams were in range, Nick steadily ate away at the US infantry until they had to retreat deep into their woods.  At that point Nick moved to concentrate on one objective, and the game was soon over.  But not without loss -- not only did the King Tiger die, so did the pioneers that lead the assault onto the paratroops -- but they did enough damage that the Germans tanks only had to run over a command stand with one bazooka.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Pike & Shotte

Steve & Mike's Royalists v. Jim & Mark's Parliamentarians

Both armies had 2 infantry divs of 2 pike & 4 shotte & 2 cavalry divs of 4 horse with each player commanding 1 of each, cavalry on the flanks.  Steve's infantry was strengthened by 2 light guns, Mike's with 2 commanded shotte.  Jim & Mark's infantry each had 1 light gun & their cavalry a dragoon.   Steve faced Jim on the Royalist right (nearest camera).  We decided to have an open battlefield this time.
Both sides advanced their lefts by fits & starts.  The battle opened on the far flank where the Royalist cavalry charge stopped short & they were counterattacked and driven back.  The Royalist foot came up to support their horse and Mark was unable to exploit his advantage.
On the near flank, the Royalist horse sat on a ridge while the Parliamentarians slowly advanced.  The parliamentary foot went forward, blundered back & then advanced again.  The Royalist foot blundered 3 turns in a row moving sideways and back around the village.
The Parliamentarians took advantage of the Royalist foot's indecision to concentrate musket fire on the enemy cavalry.
After their opponents were weakened with shotte the Parliamentary horse charged.  But the Royalist foot finally got moving and counterattacked the Parliamentary foot.  One Parliamentary pike unit broke, but with the help of the gun, the musketeers held the line.
Steve's horse broke.  He tried to strike with his foot before the parliamentary horse could be reorganised.
But the Parliament's foot held on and when the cavalry arrived the Royalist division was doomed.

Meanwhile on the other flank nothing much seemed to have happened.
Mike was getting the upper hand, but both Mark's divisions were still holding on.   Our rule for 4 division battles is that an army breaks if it loses 2 divisions and the other side has lost none (3 otherwise).  Thus the battle was declared a win for Parliament.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Nick in Launceston

Nick vs Rob. Flames of war, 1500 points, mid war. Rob's US infantry vs Nick's Panzer Pioneers.

The scenario was dust up. To cut a long story short, Nick had a Tiger, and wherever that Tiger went, Rob's Stuarts didnt go! Eventually the Stuarts and a US infantry platoon were fighting against a unit of Panzer Pioneers and Panzer Grenadiers over an objective. The Pioneers went down hard -- finally using a flame thrower that was the last team standing other than the command team to try to force the US infantry into a morale check. They passed, and Nick conceded when he had one command pioneer team facing about 5 US infantry teams and 5 Stuarts. On the other flank, the German Tiger killed the US artillery, but the Panzer Pioneers and the Tiger melted away when faced with US infantry dug in in woods. A 4-3 to Rob, and a particularly bloody game for the Germans -- at the end Nick had one platoon consisting of two half-tracks, one platoon of two Nebelwerfers and command, and one platoon consiting of just the command team. Reminiscient of the Russian Front!