Thursday, October 31, 2013

Maharajah 2013 Practice

Chris's Carthaginians v. Jim's Republican Romans

Maharajah 2013, our annual club championship competition is about to start.  It will be contested using Hail Caesar 720 pts armies.  As Chris is a relative newcomer to Hail Caesar I gave him a practice match this afternoon (not using my Maharajah army).
The Romans are on the left.  Two legions with Italian allies on each flank.  The Punes have Spanish infantry in the foreground, Spanish cavalry, Gauls, Citizens & elephants then African cavalry on the far flank. The camps count as a division lost in the army break test if taken.
The African horse on the far flank charged forward but was left unsupported by the refusal of the African infantry & elephants to move.  The Italians repulsed the attack with their weaker cavalry supported by skirmishers, but they too refused to advance.
On the near flank the Spanish infantry has advanced while the Italians wait for them.
In the centre the Romans have advanced while the Pune's suffer bad command dice. 
On the near flank the Italians have given ground but the Spanish have not broken through.  The Spanish cavalry have charged the legionaries but been beaten off and the Romans are now pushing the cavalry back with javelin fire.  The other legion has been charged by the Gauls.   On the far flank poor command has kept things quiet.
The Spanish & Allies on the near flank are chucking javelins at each other with little apparent effect.  The Spanish cavalry is still being pushed back, but has refused to break.  The legion v. Gaul clash is a mixed bag.  The LH warband pushed their opponents back, but the RH warband broke immediately & the legionaries made a sweeping advance to also destroy the supporting warband.  The victorious half of the legion then turned to attack the elephants in flank and to charge the supports of the victorious warband in rear.  The far flank was still a stalemate.
The near flank continues to be a stalemate.  The Spanish cavalry continue to fall back.  The Gauls have broken.  The African infantry are being rolled up by the legionaries.   The Allied infantry on the far flank have finally started to advance. The African cavalry having rallied have tried another attack, but have again been repulsed.
The African infantry have now broken.  The flanks are still stalemated.  The Spanish cavalry are in a hopeless situation.  There is nothing to stop the Romans taking the Punic camp.  The Carthaginians have conceded.  As usual we had an enjoyable fast moving Hail Caesar battle (all over in less than 2 hours).  

There has been a lot of discussion on the forums about the small Republican Roman units - some think they have an unfair advantage.  I just don't see it.  2 small legion units v. 1 standard warband was a 50/50 proposition as shown by the result here.  The small Roman units were better able to exploit success, but very few more casualties would have shaken enough of the vulnerable little units to prevent that from happening.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bolt Action: 1250 pts Tank Battle

Steve's Germans v. Jim & Chris' British

The Germans had a Panther, 2 Marders & 2 Hanomags each with an infantry section.
The Brits had a Firefly, 2 Shermans, a M5 with an infantry section, a 6 pdr with a carrier, a recon carrier & a jeep with a Piat team & the free FOO.
The objective is the road junction & bridge.  To win you had to have possession of all 3 houses that can fire at the objective.
The Germans have come on from the left.  Their infantry have occupied the two storey house on the left of the road.  They are supported by a Hanomag & 2 Hetzers. The Panther & the other infantry section are in the wood on the left.
The Brits have occupied the house over the bridge with their 6 pdr, M5 & carriers in support.  The Shermans are moving up behind the woods on their right.
For once the British artillery landed on the Germans pinning down the troops in the village.  One Marder moved left to engage the Shermans.  It was hit and immobilised.  The other Marder, pinned by the artillery kept retreating due to failed commands.   The 6 pdr engaged the Hanomag.  The Brit infantry, M5 & carriers kept firing at the occupied house.  The jeep with the Piat team drove to the German left and the Piat team entered the wood to threaten the Panther.
On the left, the Germans allowed themselves to get distracted by the Piat team.  In the centre, the Shermasn kept getting pins on the Marder, but couldn't finish it off.   The Hanomag shot up the 6pdr crew with its MMG, but was driven back by carrier fire & failed command.  The Germans in the house were too pinned down to recover as the Brits kept a relentless fire on them.  Eventually they go to 10 pins and failed morale.  The Brits then advanced unopposed through the village to fulfil the victory condition. 

We didn't impose a move limit on the game because of the big table (about 8x6') (and we lost count anyway), but it took less than about 2 hours.  It was a remarkably bloodless battle.  The Brits lost 1 6pdr & 1 M5.  The Germans lost 1 infantry section & had a Hetzer immobilised.  It was all about pins really.   It was a good game.  The British barrage gave them a big advantage early on & the Germans  never recovered.  The Hetzers did ok, but the Germans failed to get enough value out of their Panther & 2nd infantry section. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Afternoon Bolt Action: 1250 pts Tank Battle

Jim's Germans v. Chris's Soviets

1250 points to the BA Tank Battle pdf.  The pdf is an interim measure while Warlords write a book for BA tank company actions.  1250 pts provides enough space to have 3 or 4 tanks plus some infantry and anti-tank guns (which all have to be motorised).

The Germans had a motley lot - Tiger, Stug, Marder & Luchs with a Hanomag carrying an infantry section & a flamethrower...veteran infantry & regular vehicles.

The Soviets had a T34/85 & 3 Shermans, supported by an M5 full of infantry, a jeep with commissar, a carrier pulling a 47mm a/tank gun & another carrier with 2 anti-tank rifle teams...inexperienced vehicles & regular infantry.
The German column has rushed down the road in the foreground.  The Soviets are mostly on the other side of the big wood on the far side.  They are sending 2 tanks to their right & 2 to their left with the others going up the road.
The German infantry have occupied the house on the right, the flame team is in the other one.  Their armour is deployed in the village except the Stug in the little wood by the creek.  So far both side's fire has been ineffective.  The Luchs had some fun missing a shot at the a/tank gun before it unlimbered, then using Reece to escape behind a house when a Sherman came up.
When it came to a shoot out, it suddenly became very one sided.  The Germans had better cover, plus the Soviet armour had -1 for inexperienced.    The Tiger's power wasn't too useless either - popping a Sherman on the left, then poking the 88 round the side of a house to pop the T34/85 on the right while laughing at the 47mm trying to shoot down the road at its back end.   The Soviets didn't have much luck either - a bug delivered 2 anti-tank teams within striking distance of the vulnerable Marder, but they both missed and the Marder & Luchs mowed them down.  The Soviet infantry in the field were pinned down, then killed, by the Germans in the house supported by their Hanomag's MMG.

It was a very enjoyable game even if it go a bit one sided.  The German player naturally thinks this was just reward for his brilliant manoeuvres, but maybe he got some free kicks.  The pdf is vague on whether the National special rules apply to the selection - perhaps the Soviets should have had a free Inexperienced Infantry section. 

1250 points can provide sufficient pieces on the table to give you enough tactical options to take the game well beyond throwing dice at each other.   We both want to do it again tomorrow night.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trying Bolt Action Armour

More BA German armour arrived this morning & I utilised the rent-a-grandson facility provided by the neighbours to try out armoured warfare Bolt Action style.  A Tiger, a Stug & a Marder (825 pts) v. a Cromwell, 2 Shermans & a Firefly (915 pts).
The Firefly popped my Tiger & it was all downhill from there.  The BA rules worked fine, but it really wasn't much of a game - you need a lot more than 3 or 4 pieces a side on the table to make a good game in any system.   The upcoming Cancon BA armoured games are to be 1250 pts so there is scope for some support for the armour & thus more scope for tactics over dice rolling.  I'm not sure if that will enough to make such games more than good looking comic relief.   We'll try it out after I finish painting them.

Nick in Launceston -- Pieper's continual failure

Tried a new list with Kampfgruppe Pieper last night. I let the dice choose the list -- and they chose an interesting combination:

Kampfgruppe Peiper

Compulsory SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper HQ - 1x CinC Panzer IV J (75 pts)
- Jochen Pieper - 1x Warrior Jochen Pieper in Panther G (235 pts)

Compulsory Schwere SS-Panzer Platoon - 1x Command Konigstiger (Henschel), 3x Konigstiger (Henschel) (1180 pts)

1490 Points, 1 Platoon

That's right -- one platoon of King Tigers.

Now Rob thought this would run right over his US infantry. He was sure it would be a short game. And it was:
Turn 1 -- advanced.
Turn 2 -- lost a King Tiger to heavy artillery. Killed a stand of infantry
Turn 3 -- went in for assault. King Tiger and command Panzer IV J bailed, so assault stops.
Turn 4 -- Heavy artillery killed another King Tiger. Platoon broke and ran. Infantry assaulted and killed CinC Panzer IV J
Turn 5 -- Pieper failed morale and ran.

On the other tables, there was an interesting FOW game using the domination scenario from I95. There was a game of hordes with big robot thingys. And there was a massive zombie game (not pictured)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Visting the Bunker Rats

Tonight I made a trip to Kingston to see what was going on at the Bunker Rat's bunker.
There were 3 Flames of War battles going on in the inner bunker and another 1 in the outer bunker.
Unusually, there was also a Medieval game in progress.  Carl put on a demo Field of Glory battle with John & Barrie fighting Wars of the Roses.   To a Hail Caesar fanboy FOG looks as exciting as watching grass grow.  Not my cup of tea.  But good to see some diversity in the Bunker.

Thursday Afternoon: Bolt Action Eastern Front

Jim's Germans v. Chris' Russians

I modified Doon Hill again to make a Bolt Action battlefield.  The objective is an observation bunker looking out over the Black Sea.  Both sides started by their units being put down and moving off from a line 24" away from the bunker in turn 1.  The Russians are on the right.
The Germans have 3 infantry sections on the hill with med mortars & MMG support on the slope & a Stug on the flat.  All are vets.
The Russians have 5 infantry sections, med mortars, mmg, light anti-tank, ATR & T34.   2 inf sections are Regs, the rest Inexperienced.
The Russians got first blood when their mortar ranged in on the grenadiers on the slope first time & in 2 turns destroyed the whole section.  The Stug got some revenge by popping the T34.
The centre German infantry section reached the bunker first & occupied it.  The lead Russian infantry section was destroyed by the MMG & infantry fire, but it had covered the advance of the Russian regular SMG section to within striking distance of the bunker.
The SMG section charged the bunker defended by the German's assault section mostly armed with assault rifle.  So with both sides getting double dice it was a massacre.  Only one German survived.
The German HQ joined the survivor in the bunker as the  3rd grenadier section moved up through the wood ont he right of the bunker and took out the Russian MMG.
The Russians threw another infantry section at the bunker, destroying the defenders and taking it.  The 3rd grenadiers than counterattacked the Russian survivors in the bunker, but the attack failed leaving the Russians in control.  
meanwhile the other Russian infantry advancing up the hill from the road had destroyed the German MMG & mortar leaving the Stug as the last Germans on the table. 
That was turn 6 & Chris had won his first try at Bolt Action.

It was a quick and dirty little battle - our first on the Russian front.  The Germans were hard to kill, but it only took the odd lucky spell for the Russians to really hurt them.   The Russians died like flies, but there was always more of them.  Chris's tactic of sending the recruits in first to take the casualties then attack with the reg SMG's won the day - the SMG's didn't take the bunker, but they weakened the defence so the third wave could. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lake Trasimene

Mike wanted to have a go with his Carthaginians & when I began setting up the table I realised that I could easily make last week's Dunbar table into a Lake Trasimene.  The curve in the shore isn't historically correct, but it allowed the road to be longer - effectively giving us a bigger battlefield without changing the strategic or tactical situation.  The Romans have more points than the Carthaginians which gave them a chance of beating their strategic disadvantage.  Mike & Chris commanded the Carthos.  Jim & Steve the Romans.
The Roman army is on the road in a long column - 2 legions in the centre and an Allied division front and rear (marching towards the camera).  The Carthos were allowed to deploy anywhere  on the hill but at least 12" from the road & had the first move (when the fog lifted).
On the far left the Punic cavalry didn't charge home but pinned the end of the column while Gauls swept down off the hill smashing a gap in the Roman column. 
On the right the Carthaginian charge of Spanish & citizens wasn't quite as successful.  The leading Allied & Roman divisions lost units, but prevented a breakthrough.
The Romans in the center that had not been attacked in the initial ambush tried to redeploy and attack the flanks of the Carthaginians.  The Roman commanders had a difference of opinion about which was the best way to cut their way out.  Jim as Gaius Flaminus pulled rank and ordered the centre Legion to the left.  The surviving half of the rear legion (on the left) attacked the flank of the Gauls & destroyed one warband, but the next one had time to turn and charge the Romans breaking the Legion.  Meanwhile the Punic cavalry drove the Allied rearguard from the field.  On the right Steve's Allies put up some stout resistance as the lead Legion counterattacked.
The centre legion despite (or because of) the presence of Gaius Flaminius (Command rating 7) himself was too slow in moving to counterattack the Gauls.  The triari charged ahead but were left unsupported & were wiped out when the hastasi & principes blundered.
On the right, Steve's Allies & legion were finally overwhelmed leaving Flaminius & the remains of the centre Legion trapped.  

It was a tough ask for the Romans, made tougher by the Carthaginian players' dirty tactics of googling Hannibal's plan and adopting it.  But it was still an interesting game.  In retrospect the Romans probably should have sent the centre legion to the right rather than the left - the right nearly held off the Cartho left as it was - if they had had a bit of help they probably would have broken out giving the Romans some claim to have at least avoided total catastrophe.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nick in Launceston - New Player

A new player in the area put a post up on the club forum. They couldnt get to the club meets, so we put on a game at GUF (the new store in Launceston) for him.

His army was a beautifully painted set of PSC Panthers, plus some plasic FOW infantry. I had a Sherman horde. We rolled for scenario, and got surrounded. Which wasnt that fair, as the poor Panthers had shots onto their weak rear armour from the start. Pretty soon all that was left of his force was some infantry on each objective. Rather than waiting, I did a hurried assault (at Rob's advice), that resulted in a lot of burning Shermans. But US strenght of numbers won out in the end!

Nick in Launceston -- Pieper's Demise

OK -- you would have thought that Kampfgruppe Pieper, with King Tigers and Panthers, would have run roughshod over a US Cavalry Company with armoured cars and light tanks. But it was not to be. One Panther died to a side shot by an armoured car that snuck around to the rear. Pieper died to a hellcat. And then the green horde rushed the objective!

On other tables there was a game of Force on Force by Daniel and Dennis, and another FOW game with Rob and Starn

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bolt Action At Barrie's

Jim's Kiwis v. Barrie's Germans

We played the Demolition scenario from the rulebook.  Each side has an objective and wins by having a unit in contact with it at the end of a turn.  Delving into barrier's drawers for objectives, we selected a roast pig on a spit for the German objective and a flock of sheep for the Allied objective - naturally I declared that my Commonwealth troops were  Kiwis.  Both sides start with up to half their units on table, the rest in reserve to come on from turn 2.
 The German objective is in the field on the far side defended by a 6pdr, a mortar & a HMG.  One Kiwi infantry section is advancing on each flank and two in the centre.  The Kiwi's objective is just on the right hand edge of the pic.  A grenadier section & a Stug have come on in the foreground, another grenadier section has occupied the big house, the other is on the right flank.he near flank.

The Kiwis have rushed onto the objective with a Bren carrier.   It withstood shots from 2 fausts, a schreck  & the Stug, but was taken out by the German command team charging it from behind the house.  On the left the grenadiers & Stug have destroyed the advanced Kiwi infantry.  The grenadiers are advancing down the flank, the Stug has turned right to help defend the objective.  Tired of being smashed by Allied artillery regardless of which side I'm on, I decided to use the artillery for smoke this time.  It would have covered the attack on the objective beautifully...except I threw a 1 and the Germans got to place it where they wanted.
After the bug was destroyed on the objective, the Kiwis charged 3 infantry sections and the HQ at it.  The Germans destroyed 2 sections & the HQ, but one survived to hold the objective and win the battle.  

A nice little battle this one.  The comparison with COC goes on.  Barrie prefers COC, but doesn't mind BA, I prefer BA, but don't mind playing COC.   Despite a few annoyances, the simplicity of BA wins it for me.   But it's nice that the same armies can be used for both.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday Arvo Bolt Action

Jim's Germans v. Mark's British

Mark flexed the afternoon off for a game of Bolt Action.  We made up our own scenario.  Either side winning by either taking the village or destroying more than half the enemy's units.  The Brits came in within 24" of the far corner, the Germans within 14" of the near corner.
The Germans got to the church first, putting 2 sections of infantry, HQ and their Panzerschreck in there.  There Stuh moved down the road to the crossroad, but declined to take part in a shootout with the Cromwell plus a 6pdr.  It's behind the church shooting up tommies advancing on the village.
The Brits have taken the house by the bridge.
On turn 3 the British artillery barrage landed on the church.  It took out the Panzerschrek team & the Stug & pinned down 2 infantry sections & HQ.  That pretty well stuffed the Germans.   While the Tommies in the house by the bridge were blasted out by mortar fire & the infantry section working around their right of the village was destroyed by fire from the church the British attack on their left destroyed the Germans behind the ploughed field and concentrated fire destroyed one of the infantry sections in the church. This caused the Germans to fail morale.

Bolt action is east to play and good fun.  My main criticism is that too often one lucky artillery barrage can decide a game.  Usually artillery is pretty ineffective, but this time the British artillery crippled me.  And I also lost the last time I played against Mark because of the British artillery - and I was British that time! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dunbar 1650: Hail Cromwell !

The scenario was based on Dunbar 1650 where Cromwell was all but cut off from England by Leslie's army on Doon Hill close to the North Sea.  In the real thing Cromwell made a night march to outflank the Scots and roll them up from their right.   In this scenario both sides were allowed night marches but each division's march was subject to a roll so they might move all, 3/4. 1/2 1/4 or none of the proposed distance.  The rules are Hail Cromwell = Hail Caesar house ruled to extend it to ECW.
Mike & David commanded the Scots.  Jim, Steve & Mark commanded the English.
The English troops started deployed this side of Spott Burn.  A cavalry and a shotte division have marched up the road in the night.  A piek & shotte division and a small cavalry division are covering the baggage train.

The Scots have moved forward overnight, but not so far as to get themselves over-exposed as in the real thing.
The English horse on the far flank have advanced to the foot of the hill to pin down the Scots there and hold the road open.  The shotte have deployed in front of the road.  The rear guard is making an advance to pin the Scot's left.
On the far flank the Scots cavalry attacked to try and close the road, but after initial success, they were stopped by the English horse.  In the centre the highlanders smashed a hole through the English musketeers.  Fortunately for the English the Scots pikes were making heavy work of moving on the hill and had been left behind.
The English rear guard has advanced onto the hill as the baggage train moves slowly along the road. 
The English rearguard's advance has shuddered to a halt as highlanders charge down the hill at them.  In the centre, the highlanders are withdrawing to the hill - saved from Cromwell's cavalry counterattack by lousy command dice (and he's a 9!).  Mark's horse is mopping up the Scots horse on the hill on the far flank,  but the pikes behind them make any further English progress there unlikely.
Steve's rearguard was pushed back but eventually saw the Scots off.   His foot I now starting its withdrawal while his horse is facing off the Scots lancers.  Cromwell's horse is holding the road open.
Steve's horse has pushed the lancer's back.  Both the Scot's flanking forces have now broken so even though they still have their two large centre divisions with small only losses, the Scots fail the army break test we use:  For armies with 4 divisions, they break if they lose 3 or if they lose 2 before the enemy lose any.  3 of 4 English divisions are on the verge of breaking, but it's the Scots who fail first.

The Scots must fear they are being outflanked and retire onto the hill letting the English get away.  15 of the 20 English units will get away (exactly 75%) and they have saved the baggage, so under the scenario rules they have salvaged a draw by the skin of their teeth.  But it was a moral victory for the Scots who did so much better than in the real thing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Operation Cromwell IV

Operation Cromwell IV was the 4th annual Flames of War tournament run by Camp Cromwell at the church hall in Cromwell St over the weekend 12-13 October.   As has become traditional, it was a teams competition with teams of 2 or more playing on 8x6' tables - double normal FOW size.  This time it was Normandy themed with all armies 2,500 points from the Earth & Steel or Turning Tide books and all Allies v. Germans.  Camp Cromwell & the Launceston Gaming Club has 1 team on each side, the Kingston Bunker Rats 2 teams on each side.  There were 4 tables each with a specific scenario designed for it.  Each team played each enemy team once, each game on a different table / scenario.

The Scenarios were:

Hit The Beach:   Based on the FOW Mission in D-Day.  The Allies will be provided with landing craft, air & naval support, engineers & funnies to add to their lists.  The Germans may swap platoons for fortifications up to the same points value - as in Earth & Steel.  If the Germans have any King Tigers, Jagdpanthers or Panthers, these must be traded for fortifications in this scenario as they were not available on June 6.  This is to be worked out beforehand with a copy of the calculations for checking so as not to delay the start of the battle.

Bocage:   The Allies have to grind their way through the bocage.

Rommel Strikes Back:  Bad weather has grounded the Allied air forces.  Rommel sees the chance to take back a row of hills that dominates the area.  He gives his forces in the sector additional assets & orders them to re-take the high ground.  In this scenario, the Allies can use counters to mark location of platoons out of sight of the enemy (with dummies to confuse the enemy further).
Falaise Gap:  The Germans are deployed in the Falaise gap and have to keep it open for their comrades still in the pocket.   The two Allied coys deploy one at each end of the table & have orders to close the gap.

FOW Victory Points were not used - generally Victory Points were gained by taking ground with 6 V counters marked 1, 2 or 3 placed on significant terrain features.  The missions were generally unsymmetrical and not necessarily balanced, but there were separate prizes for best Allied & Best German team, so while playing against the enemy teams you were really competing with the others on your side.
The Inglorious Bastards from Launceston Hit The Beach defended by Meyer's Marauders from Kingston.
Shaving Ryan's Privates from Kingston v. Kampfgruppe Kromwell in the Bocage.
Messines' Ridges from Launceston move their Tigers forward in Rommel's Fight Back v. Cromwell's Ironsides. 
The Justice League from Kingston try to close the Falaise Gap defended by 21st Panzer from Kingston.
The Justice League receive their Medal of Honour awards for Best Allied Team from the TO watched by some of the 21st Panzer - winners of the Iron Cross for Best German Team.  The Kingston Bunker Rats won the World Domination Award for best club.
Final results:
1. The Justice League, Richard & Twisty, KBR, 11 VPs.
2. Inglorious Bastards, Rob & Shane, LGC, 9 VPs.
3. Cromwell's Ironsides,  Rich, mark & Jim, CC, 8 VPs.
4. Shaving Ryan's Privates, Griggsy & Gazza, KBR, 4 VPs.
1. 21st Panzer, Smithy, Mark, Mat & Carl, KBR, 36 VPs.
2. Meyer's Marauders, John & Rusty, KBR, 34 VPs.
3. Mezzine's Ridges, Nick & Declan, LGC, 32 VPs.
4. Kampgruppe Kromwell, Steve & Nick, CC, 26 VPs.
There is an obvious difference in scores between the Allies & the Germans.  The scenarios turned out to be not as well balanced as play testing indicated beforehand - maybe because the German teams did a lot better in picking lists that we did for the playtests.  Or maybe they were just better at being Bad Guys than us.  3 of 4 teams had Tiger platoons that the Allied teams struggled to deal with.  But the difference in scores between all the Allied teams and the difference in scores between all the German Teams were quite small, indicating the close nature of the competition - which went right down to the last grabs for ground in the last round of games.