Sunday 30 June 2019

The Battle of Ohain, June 1815 - a BBB AAR.

As planned Dave and I were able to meet up for a 'what if?' continuation game of Wavre from the previous week. Dave had cobbled together a scenario where basically Grouchy and the French have been tasked with destroying the Prussians fleeing from Wavre, whilst also disrupting any reinforcements that the Allies might be sending.

For the Prussians, it was a case of saving their forces that survived Wavre and to stop any French pursuit towards the Allies flanks and rear in and around Waterloo. The Prussians knew that aid was on its way, but not what, when and where it might arrive.

So a nice challenge for both sides. Dave had brought along a colleague, Steve, who had played in his Waterloo game he put on at Northwood a few months ago. I took on the roll of the Prussians, Steve the Allies and Dave the dastardly French. Much fun and good natured banter was had through out, meaning that I took fewer pics than normal and once again no notes.

We used the map from a Volley & Bayonet scenario book as a guide to setting up the table.

An overview of the table. The French would arrive from the SW corner, the Allies on random points from the Northern or Eastern edges. The Prussians have decided to form their defensive line between the villages of Ohain and Geneval, with a stream to their front and the supporting artillery on the ridgeline to their rear.

Two French Corps arriving on the table. My first thought was that there's an awful lot of them.

In contrast there were just two Prussian Brigades with supporting artillery to stop them.

Due to failed command rolls, the French left wing has advanced forward whilst their right wing is still held up in and around the woods. This is fortunate for the Prussians as they would probably have been unable to hold off both Corps. Some re-inforcements have arrived, just one unit of Uxbridg'es Light Cavalry and some artillery.

The Prussians alter their lines slightly to face the French threat on their right flank.

A view from the French side towards the river valley and the awaiting Prussians.

The French left wing has made contact with the Prussians and a furious firefight develops, with the Prussian and Allied artillery helping hold them off.

The Prussian Brigades are under a lot of pressure from the French Corps, especially over on their right.

The French right wing is finally making contact with the Prussians.

The Prussians have lost their Jager, but the artillery support is allowing them to hold off the French.

The French finally are able to bring the full weight of their attacks to bear on the Prussians. After much fighting and some effective assaults, the Prussians are finally broken.

In the end the two French Corps simply overwhelmed the two Prussian Brigades with sheer weight of numbers. However the Prussians had held on for 7 Turns and had given several French Brigades a bloody nose, so pretty good given what they were facing.

Post Game Thoughts
Importantly we all had a great game and Steve proved to be a great chap and a good Allied player. We did tease him a bit as he wanted to charge his cavalry in at any opportunity, which wouldn't have been good, so nick-named him Lord Raglan! As always some thoughts on the game etc:
  • For a 'non-historical' scenario, the rules worked really well. This was helped by Dave coming up with a plausible scenario, but I can see these being used with some of my scenario books in place of Black Powder etc. Only time will tell if they work but it looks promising.
  • This was only Steve's second game with the rules, but it picked up the mechanics really quickly and made some good decisions on how best to place his troops etc. I think this speaks volumes about these rules and if he's down this way again I'm sure he would like to give them another run out.
  • The scenario worked well, but we all agreed that the Allied re-inforcements needed to have something arrive each Turn, rather than no re-roll if the unit was already on the table. Afterall, if the French right Wing hadn't been so tardy in leaving the woods, the battle might have been  over before it had even begun.
  • Once again the Allied artillery really helped keep the Prussian Brigades in the game. The gun line on the ridge made it hard for the French to press home their numerical advantage in terms of infantry and cavalry.
  • Never having been a fan of Napoleonics, the BBB rules have kindled an interest in this period, which I'm sure I will explore at a future date. The recently expanded Pendraken range has some really nice troops and, given my recent games with the Prussians, I'm sure they will feature too.

As we're in the BBB groove as it were, our next game will be 'The Battle of Dioran, July 1913' from the Bloody Big Balkan Battles supplement by Konstantinos Travlos and Chris Pringle. This is an easily manageable battle for a mid-week game and with relatively simple terrain. I'm really looking forward to this as it will feel very modern in comprison to all the other BBB games we have played. So until next time...

Sunday 23 June 2019

3 days, 3 Games - Day 3, Post of Honour SYW

Day Three of my mini-gaming marathon saw me off to visit my good friend and gaming chum Keith Flint in the Cotswolds village of North Leach. Happy to play anything, Keith opted for some SYW action using his in development rules, Post of Honour, which I've played before. Keith had done some tweaks since we last played, but essentially the rules were the same. As always I chose to play the Austrians. Keith had hoped to have a curtain across the table to give us some hidden delpoyment, but simply ran out of time, so we went with alternative units instead. Again no notes were made but the 'photos should suffice in giving a flavour of the action.

Both sides drawn up for action, with the Austrians on the left. Having rolled for commanders, all of mine were Dithering, whilst Keith had Dashing bar one Ditherer. Not the best start I must say. I chose to anchor my right flank on the woods, with my cavalry supported but tow units of Croats. My left was more vulnerable, but put some Hussars there to act as a speed bump to the expected Prussian cavalry onslaught. Keith put his Dithering commanders Brigade in the town, with the rest of the infantry in the centre and his cavalry on ither flank. 

The Prussians and their Dithering commander in the town.

Early on the Prussian cavalry on my right flank attacked in force, including catching the Croats in the open, who managed to evade back into the woods. Somehow all of my units survived, despite being outclassed, which surprised both of us.

The Prussians advance out of the town to threaten my left flank.

Both side cavalry retired to lick their wounds.

The Croats giving the Prussian cavalry a whiff of shot.

With my right flank safe for the moment and left flank refused, my centre advanced with the grenadiers leading the way.

The grenadiers advancing.

A Mexican stand off on my left flank.

A view from the Prussian side.

The battle hots up in the centre, whilst my right flank advances.

With the Prussian cavalry in a bad way and withdrawing, my Croats and Dragoons advance to try and turn the Prussian flank.

The Dithering commander leads his brave Grenadiers into action.

Somehow the Hussars survived a charge by the Prussian Dragoons, ably supported by the infantry.

The Prussian centre and left flank is under a lot of pressure.

The Austrians in a position to turn the Prussian flank.

The Prussian centre has collapsed.

The Austrian left flank has redressed its ranks to meet the troops coming up from the town, albeit too late to influence the outcome of the battle.

Post Game Thoughts
As always it was great to play with Keith's 28mm figures which have a real charm to them. The SYW continues to give nice games and is certainly one of my favourite periods to play. As for the game itself, some thoughts below:

  • The Post of Honour rules continue to work well and Keith made notes as we played. During the game some queries came up in certain situations, but we went with what would be the most obvious outcome etc. Afterall any set of rules cannot cover every eventuality, so at bit of common sense is required. 
  • To our surprise the Austrians played well despite having Dithering commanders across the board. In contrast the Prussian Dithering commander struggled to get out of the town for a couple of Turns, which allowed the Austrians to ignore any threat to their left flank until towards the end of the game.
  • The Austrian cavalry and croats certainly were the stars of the show as they managed to hold off the Prussian cavalry attacks against the odds. With my flanks thus secure, I was able to concentrate on attacking the Prussian centre, which won me the game.
  • Post game Keith agreed that he shoud have put a token force in the town, concentrated his infantry in the centre and had all of his cavalry on one flank. This would have proved a tough force to face and I would have struggled to secure my flanks.
So my mini-gaming marathon came to an end and what a great way to finish it off. I really enjoyed all of the games and thanks to Dave, Mark and Keith for being such great opponents.
Now I need to re-focus my attention to painting some forces for the Cotswold Wargaming Day in a couple of months time. More details to follow by I need to get quite a bit done, which given my speed of output, will be a challenge. However a deadline always focuses the mind! So until next time...

3 Days, 3 Games - Day 2, Italian Invasion of Greece 1940

For Day Two of my mini-gaming marathon, I had the pleasure of the company of Mark Fry, the lead author on BKCIV. We had met all to briefly at our local table top sale a few months ago and, given that we both lived in Bristol, agreed to meet up to get a game or two in. So after an exhange of e-mails a date was agreed and Mark chose to play the Italian Invasion of Greece in 1940

Now readers of my Blog will know that this is a period of the war that interests me and that I have gamed on and off in the past. This time I had the opportunity to try out a mini-campaign, which as you know I'm a big fan of. Mark kindly let me sort things out my end and so broadly I came up with the following:

Operation G - 'what if?'
Il Duce has, for once, been decisive in his decision to launch a partial attack on Greece. Following provocative attacks by the Italians on Greek shipping from the sea and the air, they crossed the Albanian border in the middle of August 1940. The Littoral Group has been given the task off advancing along the coast and seizing crossings over the Kalamas river, thus giving a spring board for further advances into Greece, with the ultimate objective of the port of Igoumenitsa. With the port in Greek hands, seaborne forces can be landed to push further into the Greek mainland.

The Greeks have been expecting an attack, but their main forces are in the Pindus and Macedonian sectors, fearing a joint attack from Italy and Bulgaria. However, intelligence reports suggest that Bulgaria is distinctly luke warm to the idea, so they are in the process of re-distributing their forces to meet only an Italian attack from Albania.

1 x CO (CV8)
1 x HQ (CV8)
1 x HQ (CV7)
9 x Regular Infantry
2 x MG
1 x Mortar
4 x L3/35 Tankettes 

1 x CO (CV8)
1 x HQ (CV8)
6 x Militia Infantry (representing Border Guards and Police units)
2 x ATR upgrades
1 x MG
1 x Mortar 
1 x 37mm ATG

The Greeks are classed as Stubborn and therefore roll one less dice when rolling for fallback when suppressed.
The Greeks can Dig-In, either in the Initiative phase, meaning they are hit on a 5+ from direct fire.

Mark chose to play the Greeks and deployed first. The game was scheduled to last 8 Turns, with the Italians going first and using Mobile Deployment. I didn't take any nots as we were chatting away during the game, but hopefully the following 'photos will give you an idea of how the game went.

The view of the table, with the Greek deployment in the bottom left hand third of the table. The river is classed as impassable at this point, as are the rocky hills to vehicles or AFVs. The Greeks have wisely chosen to form a blocking position where the terrain forms a natural bottle neck.

The Greeks troops spread out in their defensive positions, with the ATG in the orchard by the road. The mortar has been set up on the hill to give it a good field of fire.

Despite their low CVs, the Italians make good progress onto the table, with only the CO failing to show. However they immediately come under fire from the Greek mortar.

The Italians seek cover in the vineyards, with the aim of drinking their way through Greece.

The Italian advance coninues apace, with the CO arriving in his battle bus. Having revealed its position, the Greek mortar comes under sustained fire from the Italians and is soon destroyed. An early blow for the Greeks which deprives then of any indirect fire.

The Italian wine tour continues in safety as they are out of range of any of the Greek wepaons.

Given their low CVs, the Italians are advancing with alacrity, especially the Tankettes, which are threatening the Greek flank. The Greeks open fire with their ATR, managing to inflict one hit.

A view from the Greek positions on the plain.

The Greek view from the hill.

The Italians have managed to turn the Greek flank and combined fire has seen the Greek losses mount. With their position untenable, the Greeks wisely with draw. But they have slowed down the Italian advance long enough for a better defensive postion to be prepared in the rear.

The Greek view as their left flank crumbles.

The view from the Italian positions.

Post Game Thoughts
That was an enjoyable game that moved alon at a fair old pace. The Greeks managed to hold on until the end of Turn 7, so didn't do too badly at all. However the Italians suffered no losses, so are still in the driving seat, with the momentum certainly with them. As always some thoughts on the game etc:

  • One of the pleasures of wargaming is the chance to chat with liked minded fellows about our wonderful hobby. This was certainly the case with Mark and we spent a large amount of time chatting about BKCIV, its development, plans going forward and out gaming background etc. Certainly all very convivial and enjoyable.
  • The Italians certainly had some steady die rolls on the command front, with the odd Double 1 thrown in for good measure. I was worried that they might not get across the table in time, but for this game I needn't have worried. How my luck will hold out for next game only the Olympian Gods know!
  • Mark's die rolling at critical times was really unlucky. As he said his troops couldn't hit a barn door, which allowed the Italians to continue with their advance. 
  • The loss of the Greek mortar early on certainly hampered the Greek defence. Post game we agreed that he would have been better keeping it out of sight and using the troops on the hill to spot for it. This would have certainly impacted on the Italian troops and their advance across the open terrain. 
  • Playing the game as part of a mini-campaign means that Mark's efforts were not in vain. It will certainly be a tougher ask to secure a contested river crossing, but both sides will have more assets available, which means a chance to get my Italian planes out once again.

So there we have it. Day Two done and dusted and a very enjoyable one it was too. Next game is some SYW shenigans with Keith Flint using his Post of Honour rules, which I'm really looking forward to. So until next time...

Thursday 20 June 2019

3 Days, 3 Games - Day 1, Wavre 1815

Wargaming has taken a back seat over the past few weeks, due to holidays and the usual work and family pressures. However with those behind me, it was time to resume hostilities as it were. As Dave's birthday falls on the anniversary of Waterloo, we have tried to have some form of Napoleonic bash as close to this date as possible. This year I mentioned Wavre, having recently read Chandler's excellent history of the Hundred Days Campaign.

As always, Dave did a great job of providing the background info to allow me to set up the table etc, this time using Bloody Big Battles as our ruleset, so the terrain was nice and simple. However the best laid plans and all that saw things a bit rushed due to work, but I managed to get something thrown together as you will see.

Then the day of the game dawned and it quickly became clear that I would have to cancel our game due to a project at work taken up all of my time. Sadly I mailed Dave to say I couldn't make it, but the courier got way laid as when I arrived home Dave was already there! So given he had made the journey over, it was a case of game on. A change is as good as a rest as they say and after a brief chat, I soon found a second wind and got into the swing of things, even though I wasn't the sharpest tool in the box at times during the game. Dave kindly set things up and, being the Prussian player, I didn't really have much thinking to do in terms of deployment, which was perfect. 

No notes were made, but hopefully the following pics will give you an idea of how things unfolded:

The overall table, with the Prussians on the right and with Wavre roughly in the centre of the table.

The French arriving, but have to negotiate the woods which will hamper their movement.

A view from the French side looking down into the Dyle valley.

The French left flank was rather slow to get going, allowing the Prussians in and around Limale to get the first shots in.

The French right flank debouching from the woods.

The French arrive at Wavre, but are struggling to get units deployed to bring weight of fire to bear.

Things hot up at Limale, with the Prussians taking casualties.

At Limale, the Prussians have lost a Brigade but are putting up a stiff fight againt overwhelming numbers.

The French view of the attack on Wavre.

The French view of the attack on Limale.

The Prussians have been forced to bring a Brigade from the Bierge Mill to strengthen the position at Wavre.

The Prussian guns that helped stop two French assaults on Limale, but in the end it fell to the French on the final turn.

The French positioned to move over the Dyle at Limale and therefore threaten the Prussian lines of communication.

End of Game Thoughts
Well given that it was all a bit rushed on my part, that was an extremely enjoyable game and a great way to unwind after a very long and hectic day at work. To top it off the England women's team won as well, so we kept stopping to watch the goals. So all-in-all a great evening. As always a few thoughts on the game:

  • I hadn't played Bloody Big Battles for probably a couple of years, but within a turn and ably helped by Dave, it all came back to me. They really are a great set of rules and bar checking on Low Ammo in the book, we only had to refer to the QRS.
  • I must say I've never really been a fan of Napoleonics for a variety of reasons, but using these rules I did enjoy the game and they felt right, giving a good historical feel to the game. I look forward to exploring this period more with these rules. 
  • Not having dug out my 'scenery' for BBB for quite some time, it made me realise that I still need to finish quite a bit of stuff of for these rules. However I have lots of other projects on the go (more of which another time) so this will have to wait.
  • 6mm works really well for this set of rules and, even though I have loads of 10mm Pendraken figures bought for various projects, I am really tempted to get a couple of Commission Figurines mdf armies. Again this will have to wait, but I may by some for future use.

In the end of great evenings gaming and a perfect way to start 3 days of gaming. My next game is with Mark Fry, lead author of BKCIV, where we will be playing the Italian Invasion of Greece in 1941. Lots to do for this so I'd better get my skates on. Until next time...