Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Xmas Eve Cruel Seas

Jim had a minesweeper & 4 e-boats.  Chris had 2 Fairmiles & 3 vespers.   The Brits to win if the minesweeper was sunk.
The Germans are in the foreground. 
The fleets advance on each other.  The Germasn looking a bit more coordinated than the Brits.
 The British boats are being picked off one by one by German broadsides
 The minesweeper avoids torps by turning towards them
The Brits are entirely destroyed for the loss one e-boat.  Cruel Seas has some illogical bits, but overall not a bad set of rules with some very good bits & it provides a fun game. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Napoleonics: Prussians v. French

Mike wanted to give his Prussians a run using Hail Napoleon.
Jim's French are in the foreground.  4 infantry divisions of 5 line, light & 1 battery & a cavalry division of 2 dragoons & 2 hussars.
Mike & Chris's Pussians comprise 2 regular infantry divisions in the centre.  A cavalry division on the far flank.  A landwhr division in reserve & a mixed landwehr/hussar division on the near flank.
Map deployment resulted in the armies overlapping their enemy's left.  
The French anchored their right on the farm & advanced theire centre & left.  The Prussans puleld their left back into their farm & also advanced their left & centre. 
The French columns charged straight at the the Prussian centre.  But he attack was met by a hail of hot Prussian dice & bounced off the Prussian line infantry.  Prussian musketry then broke the central French infantry division.
 With a hole in the their centre, the French fell back to form a defensive line.
 The columns formed into line & the dragoons were moved to strengthen the centre as the Prussians slowly advanced.
A cavalry charge took out a Prussian battalion inline, but couldn't penetrate the supporting squares & fell back.  
The now outnumbered French gave ground thru the orchard but were were gradually whittled down by Prussian musketry.
The French division in the farm has now broken & it's game over for the French.

The French attempt to break the Prussian centre failed miserably when Chris had a rare run of good dice while the French seemed to fail every break test.  They gave up the attack & reformed in defence, but with a quarter of their army lost for little gain they couldn't hold off a steady Prussian advance. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Austerlitz 1805

It's was a week late for the the 214th anniversary of Austerlitz, but I only thought of setting it up on the actual anniversary & I wanted to knock up a new set of rules for the job.   To make a good simulation of a large historical battle it is necessary to use a ground scale of something like 12" = 1 km to fit the battlefield onto a practically sized wargames table.  Even at that, Austerlitz requires a 12'x6' table.  Given that scale, 6mm figs are the best choice as larger figs are way out of scale with the terrain.   I also happen to have a vast pile of 40 year old 6mm Napoleonic figs that only need a bit of base repair to get back into service.   In the 1990's we had house rules for this scale of battle in "Marathon to Mafeking" but rules have moved on a bit since then so I wrote a new set rules for large black powder era battles.  I chose Austerlitz to play test them because it was arguably Napoleon's greatest victory & it has all the elements to make it a good test bed.  This set of rules (with the working title Austerlitz Rules are a mix of my Musket Action & my old Marathon to Mafeking 6mm rules.  They are basically a simplifying edit of Musket Action, with less tactical options to sped up play, but more emphasis on grand tactics with a chain of command CIC-Corps/Division-Brigade.  The turn sequence is IGoUGo, because as much as I like the Bolt Action system, it is isn't practical for very large numbers of units.  
The initial set up is historical.  The main French army is in the foreground, Davout's Corps will be coming up in the far right hand corner.  The Allied army is on the far side.  The Allies started with each of their "columns" having historical orders. 
Pics are now from behind Allied lines:  The French are advancing on the Allied right & centre as Allied columns continue marching off across the Pratzen towards Davout.  Couriers are galloping after them to call some of them back, but the wheels of Allied command turn slow. 
Lannes & Murat are attacking Bagration on the near flank.  The Russian Guards & Lichtenstein's cavalry are moving from the centre to support Bagration.  The Allied columns on the left are still moving away as the French advance onto the Pratzen.
The Allied columns have finally got new orders.  One to continue against Davout, the others to turn back to contest the Pratzen.  The 1st column is way in the rear because it consistently failed its command test, which turned out to be good thing. 
The Allied right is now a chaotic mix of foot & horse.  The Allies are doing pretty well, but Bernadotte is coming up from the centre to support Lannes & Murat.  
The Allies are finally getting some sort a line together on the Pratzen, but a gap has formed where the French Guard cavalry has forced a column into square (denoted by blue counters).  The Guard is on the right of the French line supported by Oudinot.  Soult's big corps is facing the much weaker 1st Allied column in the foreground.
On the Allied right it was tough fight, but the French have prevailed & the remaining Allies are now retreating to save what they can.
On the Pratzen, the Austrian infantry combined superior numbers with hot dice to defeat the Imperial Guard infantry, but Soult is steamrolling the much weaker 1st column.
While the Imperial Guard & Oudinot's infantry have been broken, Soult's Corps has finished off the 1st column & is redeploying to counterattack with plenty of fresh units.  On the far left, the Russian attack on Davout is only just starting, but getting nowhere.  The Allied forces on the Pratzen are cut off from their Line of Communication by Soult.  They lose the will to fight & the French have won.

Even though we allowed a bit of latitude in what the Allies could do, the simulation demonstrated clearly how bad the historical Allied plan was.  Too many of their troops were not able to be used effectively.

As the first play test of a set of rules always does, the game showed up a few items forgotten & some opportunities for improvement.  But they did the job in getting a big battle fought & decided by 10 pm.

These rules include details of how to convert an historical OOB into a wargame OOB where the units (which are brigades of 1800 infantry or 800 cavalry or 12 guns) are in scale with the terrain.  It is striking in this simulation how spread out the battlefield of Austerlitz was & how small a proportion of the space is covered by figures. 

Monday, December 09, 2019

Southern Offensive Bolt Action Tournament

This was a one day 3 round event with 1,100 pt lists hosted by Good Games Battle Axe.  There were 5 good looking tables for 10 players. All games were Axis v. Allied.
I took my usual veteran Grenadiers.  Chris took Soviets.
The first round was Double Envelopment.  My opponents were British with lots of small vet units.  I like this scenario as there is more than 1 way to win.  I gained a lot of VPs by killing off Brits & some for getting units into enemy deployment zone, but I couldn't stop 2 bugs transporting small squads over my base line, & the end result was an entertaining draw.
Round 2 was Key Positions with 5 objectives.  My opponent had a Romanian horde which made excellent targets for my MG42's.  Despite huge losses  the Romanians snuck a unit round my left flank to dispute an objective at the end turn 6.  At the stage it would have been a draw, but dice gave us a turn 7 & the offending squad was mown down to give the Germans a decisive victory.
Round 3 was a Meeting Engagement against an Indian force.  It started badly when one of my big infantry squads was destroyed by the British Bombardment on turn 1 & the ARVE blew up another unit in the house with one shot.  A duel between a Marder & an armoured car also did  not go well.  The Marder hit the Armoured car 4 times, immombilising it & setting it on fire without destroying it.  But the car rallied & popped the Marder the first time it got to shoot.   The Germans managed 2 VPs - the immobilised armoured car was finally destroyed by mortar fire & the MG42's mowed down some infantry.  But a Gurka charge loaded with special rules was unstopable, giving the Indians 4VPs & a decisive win.

My contribution to the Axis cause was 1 win, 1 draw & 1 loss, but I still came last Axis in what was a clear Axis win overall.  Chris had no luck, but avoided the Allied wooden spoon.  The only chnage to my list from last time was a Marder instead of a MkIII.  In game 1 the Marder was popped by a 6pdr in 1 shot before it could do anything.  In game 2, it survived & did good work blasting Romanian hordes.  In game 3 it hit every time it shot, but then didn't kill. A MkIII would have done the same in each case, so the change made no difference.

It was a well organised event & as always played in good spirit.  The lads had made a big effort to match the standard of terrain set by our Devonport Conrades.  The next BA event will be in Devonport in March.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Last Practice for Southern Offensive Bolt Action

Jim's Germans v. Chris' Soviets in our lost practice game before Sunday's Southern Offensive Bolt Action tournament.  Demolition Scenario 1,100 pts
Both sides have an objective tucked behind the farmhouse on the opposite side of the table. The Germans are attacking from the near side of the table.
It was one of those games where nothing went right for one side. The T34 was popped by the Marder on its first shot.  The ZIZ was blown up by mortar fire on the first round.  The Soviet infantry melted away before the Grenadiers advance down left side of the table, their last unit breaking as the Germans took the objective. Chris's only consolation was the hope that he'd used up all his bad luck & is owed some 6's on Sunday. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

AWI using Hail Napoleon

After playing Musket Action for some weeks we decided to re-fight last week's Musket Action battle using Hail Napoleon, so we could compare the two sets of rules better.
This week the French & Continental Allies are on the left with Jim & Chris while Mark Commands the Brits on the right. 
The Allies have advanced only to form a sound defensive line, clearly showing their intention to defend.  The Brits have accepted the challenge & are making a general advance.
On the Allied left flank the Indians attacked the woodsmen & the Hessians attacked the Militia.  Both attacks have been beaten off.  The Brits are still advancing in the centre.
On the Allied right the woodsmen are slugging it our with British Light Infantry in the orchard while the British Grenadiers engage the Militia in the farm yard.
The British Vets advance has slowed as they help out the Hessians on the their left who are under pressure from the Militia in the woods to their front & woodsmen on their other flank.   The Brit cavalry is being moved to the centre.
Under a renewed attack by Hessians & British Vets the Militia on the left look about to break.  But the detachment to their right has weakened the British infantry's attack on the French & it is not going well.
On the left the Militia have been beaten.  In the centre the British infantry has been beaten off.  On the right, the woodsmen in the orchard have broken the Light Infantry, & though the Grenadier's firepower has forced one Militia unit to withdraw from the farmyard, another has taken its place & the Grenadiers are under pressure. 
The Brit's last chance was to charge the French with their cavalry.  One unit did break through, but the other was repulsed & the isolated cavalry was shot down by the remaining infantry & the British infantry finished off by musket & artillery fire.

Now to compare the two battles with different rules:

Result:  The Brits won attacking with Musket Action, the Allies won defending with Hail Napoleon.  But this was due to the winner's better strategy in both cases.  There were no claims of outrageous bad luck by the loser in either case

Time: The HN battle was finished about 3/4 of an hour faster than the MA.  But last week in MA the Brits attacked in a slow methodical manner whereas this week they pretty well went straight at the  enemy.  But I suspect that the IGoUGo of HN is inherently a bit faster.

Ease of Play:  Both sets are equally easy to play, requiring little looking up of the QRS.  But HN does require frequent reference to the large Break Test table posted on the wall.

Enjoyment:  Both sets are fun to play with a nice balance of skill against uncertainty of the dice making for an interesting & exciting game.

Activation & Manouvre:  The activation system in MA feels less frustrating than HN's.  The manoeuvre speeds are similar.  The MA test has 6's good, whereas I have always hated the Warlords' Activation Test making 1's good & 6's bad.

Combat:  The combat systems are very similar, so equally easy to use & give similar results.

Casualties:  HN uses counters to record casualties, MA removes figs. Both have their pros & cons.  My system of mounting individual figs on washers with magnetic movement trays makes casualty removal easy, but there is more pack up time required.

Conclusion:  I like them both, but I wrote them both, so I would wouldn't I?  I think MA is definitely better for small actions.  HN may still be better for large actions because the IGoUGo is inherently a bit faster.