Monday, 29 October 2012

Some Rapid Fire on the Eastern Front

A couple of years ago and I only had a few armies to bring along to a club night, but such has been my productivity last year in particular that I'm actually now reaching the stage that I have stuff that I feel guilty I haven't got out of the cupboard in a long time.

So it was with my WW2 Eastern Front Rapidfire armies, and so I decided I'd put on a biggish participation game for all comers at the club. I referee'd and six players pulled cards from my scenario generator deck to determine forces (in the general chaos 4 players ended up on the Russian side and 2 players on the German....). We went for 4 battalions a side. The Germans were thrilled to pick an 'Elite SS panzer battalion' of shiny Panthers as their second card- all the rest were infantry battalions. The Russians just pulled infantry battalions, but I decided to even things up a bit by giving them a battalion of T34/76s as reinforcements, and they got a couple of companies of SMG armed tank riders as their other reinforcement card.

Russians who were defending rolled a lousy '1' to determine how far in they could deploy (which under my scenario rules means only one foot in). The Germans started the game by marching on the table. We used hidden movement, and the first units to be detected were the Panther battalion just as they took a ridge halfway across the board.
Overview from the Russian left wing
The Russians didn't waste any time bringing on their reinforcements, and their tank battalion with SMG armed tank riders came on from their right flank in turn 3. Next to be spotted was a German infantry battalion marching down the road into the main town on the Russian left, and a bit of accurate mortar fire took out half a company. Ben had rushed his Russian infantry battalion to try and take a smaller village on the Russian right.
T34s advance to try and stop the Panthers sweeping through the Russians who have seized a secondary village
The main 'fireworks' of the game was in the tank battle on the Russian right. The Panthers succeeded in taking out all the T34s in three or four rounds, but most of their tanks were left heavily damaged. One of the distinguishing features of the rest of the game was the very large number of '1's rolled on the combat dice. Ben's AT gun missed several times at point blank range against the Panthers, and Simon's didn't have much more luck, at an admittedly longer range, against the Panzer battalion's HQ company. Small arms fire in general seemed to miss the mark all over the place. Rarely have so many rounds been expended for so little effect, and it looked as if the Russians in particular had gone into battle without much weapons training!
Dug in across the river, the Russians make a last minute dash to try and stop the Germans taking the town
On the Russian left, the Germans pulled off a highly effective ruse of aggressively moving a hidden movement decoy base into the main town (contrary to the rules I allow decoy counters to be moved - I can't see why they shouldn't be) where they couldn't be spotted. Diggers commanding the Russian battalion on the Russian left was clearly spooked and kept his forces dug in on the other river bank, until a couple of moves before the German infantry battalion was just about to enter the town, when he and Simon, commanding the infantry battalion holding the woods in the Russian centre line, released a few companies to try to contest the town.
German infantry are already entering the town before they can stop them
It was at this point that we ran out of time. I hadn't had time to put out all the victory point markers, so instead of adding up points, I gave a marginal victory to the Germans, who had taken control of a road exit on the right, the ridge line in the centre and were contesting control of the town, while the Russians hadn't done much more than hold the bridge and grab the secondary village.

Thanks to Mac and Diggers with helping out explain the rules to the other four players who had not played Rapid Fire before, without which I don't think we would have even got as far as we did.

Personally I think I'd have brought my Russian reinforcements on the left flank (where most of the objectives were!) not the right, but if they had, the Russians probably would not have stopped the Panzer battalion smashing though the Russian centre, which they probably would have done if they had not been loading AT shells into their guns for most of the battle, and instead put some concentrated HE fire into the Russian infantry battalions. The battalion of T34s was destroyed, but they put enough 'heavy damage' markers on the Panthers to blunt their offensive.

Kadesh at SELWG

It was only on looking up how to get to Crystal Palace that I stumbled on an old South East London Wargamers website and discovered that Tony at the club had a 'double-life' and also was not just a member at the South East London Wargames Club which hosts the big SELWG show in Crystal Palace, but is actually Club Captain! This might explain how our new club which is not really on the map yet, in wargaming circles, got invited to put a game on at SELWG and I got invited along, being offered free tickets in exchange for knocking up some fliers, carting some boxes and gettting the chance to play in our demo game.

Phil at the club is a big buddy of Rob Broom, former editor of the Warhammer Historical series of books, author of  the new 'War and Conquest' rules that we play at the club, and force behind Scarab Miniatures on whose behalf we put on a game to demo the 'War and Conquest' rules. The game that we put on was Kadesh, and I have to say the beautiful 28mm Foundry Miniatures armies the guys brought out for the Egyptians and Hittites put my own efforts in 20mm in the shade. Here's some pics:
Hittite Chariots

...Hittite light chariots

Egyptian camp

Kadesh itself

Sherden warriors

Battle lines clash!
These are some other games at the show. The scenery on this ancient Brits vs. Late Roman clash was superb!
The figures in this 11th century Spanish clash were brilliantly painted

I'm not normally a great fan of 15mm, but this Napoleonic game looked really good in that scale, with masses of troops on the table

....back to our game
My main contribution to the game was to roll some appalling dice for the Egyptians which came close to losing the day for them...
...fortunately I handed back the dice to Reece who turned the battle around and won the day for the Pharaoh!
A good day out. Wished I'd brought more cash with me as there was a lot of stuff there I've been meaning to get for ages, and nice to save the postage. Bought some goodies, which I'll feature in some later blog posts, including a set of War and Conquest rules, signed by the author!

Teaching DBA...Or being taught a lesson?

It struck me that I hadn't put my older DBA armies on the table in nearly a year. Although I enjoy the War and Conquest/WAB type games, I have a lot more armies element based, and although I've started to get into Impetus, I still really like the elegant simplicity and 'clean lines' of a DBA game. Up until now it has only really been Steve at the club who is interested in DBA, but Ben mentioned he wouldn't mind giving it a go because he had painted up a 10mm Roman army which he was looking for a set of rules to play with once he had an army to match it. I offered Ben a choice of armies to bring and we went with the Republican Romans and Carthagininans, both 'double-based' armies.

The idea was to teach Ben the game, but in our first game it wasn't clear who was teaching who! We set up and I was keen to take a hill on my left flank in the middle of the table. I moved up my general's cavalry unit and swung a light horse unit that was with it wide to threaten an outflanking move. But as soon as I seized the hill Ben charged my general's element with some cavalry swinging some velite psiloi into their flank. I threw a 1, Ben a 5, even with my general's bonus and being uphill, I was toast, the unit destroyed...and I'd lost the game in the second turn!

So we set up again. This time with a coastline down the left hand side of the table, two steep hills  down the middle.
Overview of the battle

I put my cavalry on each flank, although I quickly moved them most on to my right flank, my auxiliaries and warbands lined up with the steep hills. and spear deployed to hold the middle ground. Ben put all his cavalry on his right flank, and moved some velite psiloi in to some woods to guard his left flank. His legions lined up in the centre.

I threatened his left flank with some cavalry and light horse with my general's cavalry poised to follow up, but Ben quickly refused his flank leaving an inpenetrable barrier of legions. My warbands had grabbed the hill on this flank and spear advanced slowly to fill the centre.

Battle on my right flank

It was over on the right flank, however, that the battle was decided. Some of Ben's psiloi were initially successful slowing my advance on to the hill, but this tempted Ben to move his legionaries to reinforce them. meanwhile there was a fairly free-wheeling cavalry battle on my left flank. Putting the legionaries on a steep hill, though proved a mistake, giving my auxiliaries and warband the advantage. I destroyed two elements of legionaries and his psiloi. The battle ended when, initially having been forced to flee, my light horse aided by some psiloi destroyed his cavalry element, and with four of Ben's elements destroyed, leaving his right flank in tatters, compared to three of mine I could claim victory.
Battle on my left flank where things were decided
Ben said he liked the DBA rules, a nice change from the 'buckets of dice' War and Conquest rules, with the Player Initiative Points die roll really making you think about how to move your army. He liked the look of the double-based armies, and as he was playing a PC game campaign of the Punic Wars, was intrigued by the possibilities of a DBA campaign, and said he'd definitely play it again.

Nice to have another recruit in the DBA camp at the club!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

First outing for Ancient Egyptians and Hittites...and first try out of Basic Impetus rules

I have been struggling for some time to work up the energy to finish my Hittite army to be able to match them against my Ancient Egyptians/ A couple of months ago I finally started work. Steve and I had been thinking of giving Basic Impetus rules a spin. I'd been planning a 'double-based' DBA army but when I checked the Impetus army lists I found I had everything I needed already, bar some bow armed Egyptian skirmishers which I easily solved by painting up some Libyans. So earlier than expected I got the armies on the table using my magnetic unit bases for 'double-based DBA', which are conveniently exactly right for Impetus.

It was also the first outing for my 'plain terrain' boards.

Steve set up with chariots on his flanks, light troops covering the slopes of a valley and heavy infantry and archers in the centre, backed by his general's chariots. With a lot more chariots I set up in two lines. light in front, heavy behind, with most of my infantry in front of the rocky slopes on my right, apart from a unit of skirmishing archers on my left.
It quickly became apparent that maneuvering in Impetus is not easy. and chariots are especially difficult to maneuver, a simple wheel to avoid a wood disordered my light chariots.
I didn't bother reordering them as I wanted them to send them in to pepper Steve's infantry with arrows before pulling back to get ready for a charge. This didn't prove smart, as disordered moving chariots were outshot by standing infantry bowmen.

Good shooting destroyed one of my chariot units and damaged the other.
Steve moved up his infantry up but again any attempt to maneuver again just slowed things down,
I retreated my light chariots, advanced my heavy and moved my skirmishing archers into a palm grove on my right,
I turned around and rallied my light chariots and charged them into an infantry unit who destroyed them.
Our forces closed on my right flank but archery weakened one unit of heavy chariots
Steve's chariots swept out on to my left flank. but again had to stop because they were disordered.
In the infantry clash on my right Steve drove back some light infantry.
My heavy chariots lined up to charge.
I swung around my heavy spearmen, disordered again due to wheeling...
...but once rallied I could charge in...
My general's heavy chariots completely smashed a unit of Egyptian menfat heavy infantry leaving them to charge again ...straight into Steve's Pharaoh's chariot bodyguard
With the roll of an impressive 10 dice my charging general's heavy chariots scored two hits
Weakened the Pharoah retreated

A follow-up charge and they destroy the Pharoah's bodyguard!

Unfortunately this is not enough to turn the battle. Two light chariot and an infantry unit lost and my skirmishers scattered now my other heavy chariots get charged in the flank by a unit of Steve's chariots. .
....and the battle's over, despite the valiant actions of my General I've lost!
I have subsequently played a few more games of Impetus, particularly the Pike and Shot 'Impetus Baroque' version and really enjoyed it. For me, however, I was not greatly impressed in how they worked for the chariot period. I would have been much better off just lining my chariots up and charging straight in to get their Impetus bonus, but this doesn't really seem to jive with my idea of fluid light chariot tactics.

The 'plain terrain' boards livened up what would have been a dull playing cloth, it did, however show up my hills which looked a bit tatty, desert hills would have looked better, and the effect would probably have been better with more of them.

AWI at the club

In an earlier post I showed a front shots of a beautifully painted pair of American War of Independence Armies brought along by a member who had stopped coming to the former club but attracted to our new club whcih is much more based around historic wargaming.

Simon has brought the armies back to the club several times since, very much by popular demand and one night I got to play with these brilliant figures. Mac and I took the Americans facing off against an advancing line of British. The rules were 'British Grenadier', a variant of the 'General de Brigade' Napoleonic rules. Here are a few pics:
My riflemen on the left flank close in to give some fire to some Hessian mercenaries

American general's issue orders

Some American dragoons move off in front of a battery on our far left flank. A militia unit hold a blockhouse

On the right Mac commands the American line which lets loose at the  British advancing with bayonet

Skirnishers let the Britsh have a few rounds before retiring

Withering fire keeps most of the British at bay and one one unit charges homw but fails to dislodge the Yanks

Having run off some Indians my riflemen continue to snipe at the Hessians

The battle climaxed with American dragoons charging the Hessians, they were driven off, but with the  American line on the right driving back a regiment of Highlanders and holding off everything else we thought we came off the best

More Mayhem in Middle Earth

I was keen to get in another go at Lord of the Rings Battle Strategy game, and I was keen to try out a points based army in the style of the 'Legends of Middle Earth' book, I'd picked up (I understand GW have superseded this book with another set for everyone to purchase, which you need to buy to enter an 'official' tournament, but as a historic gamer rather than an die-hard Games Workshop junky, I'm quite happy to ignore GW's marketing stratagems and play with older rules.) Ben wanted to get out his dwarves again and wanted to try a really big 1,000 point game. Of my various options Moria Goblins looked the easiest to get to 1.000 points and most appropriate for taking on Dwarves. Even so over 100 Goblins only came to 500 points, so I took a Red Dragon (albeit a Ral Partha not official GW model) and a Troll to get to the points total. Ben augmented his dwarves with Saruman the White and an Eagle. We rolled up an 'Ill-met by Moonlight' scenario, and so we had two forces stumbling into each other at night in a boggy area.

I took the first pic 3 or 4 moves in as my goblins surged forwards and started to get to grips with the Dwarves. My dragon caught Ben's Eagle and managed to wound him, but he managed to escape.
My Troll and Goblin leader rushed the Dwarven King and tried to kill him but his bodyguard held us off.

Saruman the White fired a couple of Sorcerous Blasts across the marshy ground.
My goblin archers eventually managed to swamp his Crossbowmen who had been badly outshooting them, and my dragon managed to escape from being held up by dwarves charging him one at a time, tasty snacks but for quite so many points he should be killing something more valuable.
Meanwhile both my Troll and Goblin captain's had gone down fighting without scratching the Dwarf King.

On my left my warg-riders came to grief being shot down before they could get anywhere, with Ben's eagle picking off a couple. Elsewhere, apart from the Dwarven archers, my goblins were starting to suffer the attrition of fighting a much better armoured opponent, and numbers were being whittled down without making much of a dent in the Dwarvish line. My dragon gave Saruman and some unfortunate dwarves standing next to him a bit of a fright with a fiery blast and may have finished him in the next turn, but we had unfortunately run out of time.

With so many figures on the table we were still a long way off the 'break point' of 50% casualties in either army. Personally next time I'd go for a smaller points value. In my view, however, I could see the Dwarves heading for victory. Ben had used the restricted front of the marsh well. This meant I couldn't outflank him to 'swamp' his figures in the way that had proved effective in the previous game and forcing the goblins just to attack in waves, which were getting hacked down without doing much to the dwarves. Good game, though.