Sunday 27 December 2020

Influential Books

A recent post on Nundanket's Blog  about influential books in our wargaming past got me to a thinking about what books really had an impact on me as a wargamer. So after a week or so of thought I have come up with the following:


Airfix magazine is obviously technically not a book, but it is the first publication that I can remember that really got me interested in modelling, WWII and wargaming. Looking at the dates of the issues that I remember very clearly (September 1969 - August 1971), this interest must have started when we moved to a new house and village around mid 1970. These issues we read over and over again and certainly had a huge impact on me as a child. When I bought the copies again in the Summer of this year, it was pure and blissful nostalgia to read them again.
Published in June 1976, these are the first historical rules that I can honestly say we played as kids. With our Airfix and Matchbox soldiers and model kits, many a happy hour was spent lining our soldiers up with the most basic scenery and playing games with whatever we had to hand. No set orders of battle, no attempts at balanced sides, but it was always the Western Desert or Normandy and D-Day.


Alongside the WWII rules I had the Airfix magazine guide to the Afrika Korps. This was poured over many times, looking at the glorious photos and the exploded drawings of the conversions from existing model kits or for ones completely scratch built. I dreamt of making the models but never had the time, the tools nor the skill, but still I dreamt. Ever since owning this book, the Akrika Korps and by extension the north African campaign, has held a special place in my heart.

Around the same time as the above books, I bought a copy of 'A Bridge Too Far' and was completely hooked by the story of Operation Market-Garden and the Red Devils holding on against all the odds. I was so captivated that this book was read more or less none stop whilst on holiday in 1975 or 1976, to the point that my parents despaired of me doing anything else whilst on the beach. This book led to a life long interest in the campaign that hasn't diminished over time.

This book on German tanks and AFVs, was bought from WH Smith's in Cambridge, again around 1975, that led to an enduring love and interest in WWII German armour. The sheer variety of the vehicles inside seemed so much more exotic than the Allied tanks, so I bought and made as many German Airfix and Matchbox kits as I could, which immediately made their way to the wargames table, carpet or lawn, depending upon the space available at the time.

Again whilst not books, these comics were loved for their superb illustrations and the exciting (at the time) stories inside and just fueled my interest in WWII. The Battle magazine came out in 1975 (you can see a theme here) and I remember vividly buying the first issue from the local newsagents and reading it straight away in the local park.
I also have to mention the 'World at War' tv series, first broadcast in late 1973 into 1974. It would be remiss of me to exclude this as it was part and parcel of all of the above that over a period of a few years, led to enduring interest in wargaming WWII, that has continued right through to today. Although I have discovered many other periods that I enjoy gaming, WWII is my first love and will always be so. 

Some of the books I still have, some have been replaced and some are on my list to buy, just for memories sake. I would love to own a copy of the WWII rules, but the prices are too high to justify purchasing them. Maybe one day I'll get lucky and stumble across a copy for a reasonable price. 

So I hope my list above might have re-kindled some memories for you as it certainly did for me whilst compiling it. Those few years in the early to mid 1970's were so formative to my wargaming interests and as I type, memories are coming back of time spent with our Airfix soldiers and kits. Happy days!


Saturday 26 December 2020

End of Year Review 2020

With the end of 2020 fast approaching, it is somewhat customary in many quarters to take a look back at the past year year, which is quite an interesting undertaking I find. So without further ado:

The Long Summer  
Well 2020 has certainly been a year to remember (or forget) for several reasons. Firstly I was made redundant towards the end of February. Whilst not a surprise it still came as a bit of a shock, but as I'd been part time for a good few years, I saw it as a blessing in disguise. No more 5.30am starts of cycling through wind and rain; no more office politics to deal with; no more difficult clients who didn't know their arse from their elbow! When the day finally came it was such a relief and I left with a big smile on my face and a sense of utter relief that I had 'retired'. The first few weeks were sheer bliss of doing what I wanted when I wanted, whether this be long overdue DIY on the house, reading a book, going for long bike rides etc. Sadly this didn't last

Within a month of 'retiring' the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic hit and we went into a national lockdown here in the UK. For my family this meant social distancing within the house for the first 6 weeks, with no physical contact allowed due to our son being on the extremely clinically vulnerable list, with me sleeping downstairs on a camp bed. Queueing outside shops became the norm in the early morning, but at least because of our son we were able to be in the fast lanes at the supermarket, which helped a lot. We also has the good fortune to be blessed with wonderful weather.

One of my other hobbies aside from wargaming is gardening, so I and the family were able to enjoy some outside space in a relatively safe manner. Not everyone was so lucky. Sitting outside in the evening as the sun went down, with no traffic noise to disturb us and the sound of insects in the shrubs was a soothing time that we all appreciated. As the weather lasted for the most part into Autumn, we were incredibly lucky to have such fine weather, a rare occurence in the UK and frankly I cannot remember a Summer like it in my 57 years.

Naturally face to face wargaming stopped dead and to date hasn't resumed, but luckily I was still able to enjoy my hobby as you will see. so enough waffling on from me and time to have a look at the wargaming year in more detail.

Rules Bought
It's Getting a Bit Chile by Graham Evans
Black Powder II 
Platoon Forward by Too Fat Lardies 
The Portable Colonial Wargame by Bob Cordery 
The Portable Pike and Shot Wargame by Bob Cordery
Never Mind The Billhooks by Andy Callan
Irregular War Conflict at World's End 
1914 by Great Escape Games
Libertad! SCW Supplement for BKCIV 
I had planned to limit or stop rules purchase this year, but as you can see I failed somewhat in this. At the start of the year, Dave and I were playing Black Powder and he had just bought BPII. I was retiscent about buying the book but succumbed quite quickly and boy I'm glad I did! To my mind they are an improvement on the original rules, are much better laid out and it is easier to find rules as you need them during a game. As you will see they have been the most rules played this year for a variety of reasons. I know they are not everyones cup of tea but I enjoy the games they give, especially for when playing solo.

Most of the other rules were bought for reference, retail therapy or to add to existing rulesets, such as Blitzkreig Commander. Most have only had a cursory reading and some may never get played, but they will be referenced again in the future I'm sure.

Wargaming Books Bought
Osprey Gettysburg Campaign Series book
Gettysburg by Sears
Chancellorsville by Sears
The Peninsula Campaign by Sears
La Ultima Cruzada by Bob Cordery 
Osprey Salerno 1943 (Father's Day gift)
Antietam by Sears (Father's Day gift)
Operation Sealion by P Fleming
The Battle Cry of Freedom by McPherson
Case White by Forcsyk
Nomonhan 1939 byS D Goldman
Airfix Magazine Guides 8th Army & Afrika Korps

The book purchases this year have largely been around the American Civil War and early WWII, the former to increase my limited knowledge of this conflict, the latter to add to a period I've long had an interest in.
The ACW books by Sears have been an absolute joy to read, giving me a brilliant understanding of some of the major battles of the Western theatre. Added to this has been McPhersons book on the ACW as a whole, setting it very much in the context of American history of the time and the build up to the war and the issues involved. I just wish all history books were as good as these! During lockdown they have given me untold hours of escapist pleasure and an overiding desire to game this conflict more when face-to-face gaming can resume. 

Miniatures Bought
Pendraken 19thC figures for my ImagiNations forces
Pendraken Napoleonic Peninsula War Spanish (kickstarter type)
Pendraken WWII Belgians 
Zvezda Bf-109 & Ju-88 
For once I haven't added much to my lead mountain for several reasons. Firstly being without a job meant I had to be careful with my purchases to start with, until the fallout on the finaces became evident. Secondly with plenty of time on my hands it soon became evident that I had more than enough lead to keep me occupied for a good many years at my normal painting rate. Before lockdown hit I had planned to sell stuff, but this was stopped dead as with no shows to sell stuff at and the stay at home message, this could simply wait for another day.

Miniatures Painted
Leven minature buildings
10mm Pendraken 19thC ImagiNations Grand Duchy of Ruthenia 
Italian WWII tanks 
British WWII tanks 
Fallschirmjager Assault Engineers 
Commission Figurines MDF ImagiNations 
Lion Rampant 
At the start of the year I made a conscious effort to start on two Imagi-Nations forces for games set in the mid 19thC in Europe. This was going well with the aim to get enough troops painted for some games against Dave, the with lockdown my drive evaporated. I did manage a few more units, but attention turned to spending time outside with the family to escape the confines of the house.

As Summer drew to a close I turned my attention back to my wooden blocks after discussions with a fellow Blogger and for some reason my mind drifted to my mdf figures that I had bought a few years back for some planned Napleonic gaming. Very quickly I was taken with this as a project and once I had got the hand of painting smaller 2D shapes, they flew off the painting table, to the point that I had two sices with which to fight smallish battles on my normal 4' x 4' table.

Terrain Made
ACW sweet corn fields
Scratch built hills
Commission Figurines trenches 
Scratch built pillboxes
Not much was done on the terrain front, other than add bits and pieces as I needed them for my games, as really I have enough terrain. However I still enjoy making 'stuff' and will continue to do so as and when required.

BKCII campaign
ACW campaign 
PBEM campaign 
OHW Scenarios 
Lion Rampant 
Campaigns were one of my aims this year and I certainly hit or exceeded my targets on this front. Even with lockdown, I was able to carry on campaigns, either solo such as my Operation Sealion one using BKCII, or PBEM Imagi-Nations with Keith and Dave. Both gave me great pleasure and given the current nature of the Covid-19 situation, campaigns of this type will I'm sure feature heavily next year.

Games Played
Black Powder II - 18
Ancient & Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas - 4
The Portable Wargame - 1 
Never  Mind The Billhooks - 3
Rebels & Patriots - 1 
The year got off to a good start with my usual mid-week games with Dave and then after a bit of a break during the early days of lockdown, carried on via a variety of campaigns and latterly my OHW scenario play throughs. BPII and BKCII were the most played as you can see. I had planned on some Honours of War games, which sadly didn't happen as I was in a BPII groove for the campaigns. Next year the aim is to certainly play HoW much more and again in a

Wargames Shows Attended
None due to the Covid restrictions closing most of the shows this year, which won't come as a complete surprise.

End of Year Thoughts 
Given all that this year has thrown at us, it hasn't turned out too badly from a purely gaming perspective. So as is my wont, a few thoughts in no particular order on this year and maybe some plans for next year:
Wargaming as a hobby in general really helped during lockdown, as I was able to carry on playing more or less as normal. Of course with FtF gaming I missed the banter and general chat that goes with it as well as meeting my friends on a regular basis. However as most of my games are solo friendly, the games themselves could carry on. Also the researching and planning games took on an increased importance along with reading of my history books as already mentioned. 

The reading of existing Blogs I follow as well as finding new ones has been a constant source of pleasure and encouragement this year. It has been good to share thoughts and ideas with other Bloggers and to now they face the same issues as myself in terms of falling visitors, comments etc. I hope to discover more next year and in the future as they have been my virtual magazine for that wargaming 'hit' that I'm sure we all need.
I started to re-assess the periods that I play last year and during the lockdown I focussed on this a lot more, as I had the time to think it through properly. In short my aim is to create Imagi-Nations forces for the 17thC, 18th and mid-19thC Europe, that may be linked in terms of the Nations involved etc. I realised that I really didn't need four Armies for the SYW and that two would work perfectly well. I know this may be viewed as heresy in certain quarters but it works for me. With WWII I want to concentrate on more forces for '39 - '41 and possibly 'follow' a unit from the invasion of Poland, through France, maybe detouring into England and then onto Russia. I certainly won't achieve all of this next year, but it will give me focus.

The size of my Armies will by and large reduce to around 12 units per side with some additional options thrown in for good measure. As most of my games are played on a 4' x 4' table or smaller, this size works perfectly for my normal mid-week games of solo outings. I've realised that I honestly don't need bigger Armies than these and the smaller forces are easier to focus upon when trying to paint them up. For me the games have become more important than the figures, which I still do enjoy painting when the muse is upon me. Maybe this is a reaction to some 33 years in the design industry as a modelmaker, as painting the figures could seem like a busmen's holiday at times.

This year has been very much one of focussing on core rulesets that I enjoy and that give me at least a good and challenging game. This also means that I've come to 'know' the rules very well and so can focus on the game itself and what I want to do. I suppose I used to try and find the perfect ruleset and this year with the time that lockdown has given me for reflection, I've realised that this will never happen. So for me Honours of War, Black Powder II and Blitzkreig Commander II tick all the boxes and will continue to do so.

The painting of my Imagi-Nations and MDF figures has given me plenty of time to come up with a good but fairly quick table top gaming standard that I'm happy with. Due to my previous job I would always try to paint them to a very high standard, but this year I realised that it wasn't nescessary. when on the table as long as they looked OK that was fine, as the game was the important thing to me. My mdf figures look like normal 3D 6mm figures at a distance and the little mistakes that are there aren't visible. This has been a refreshing approach and one that I wish to carry forward into 2021 and beyond.

Basing figures and one what size bases is one of those perennial problems for the wargamer. This year I settled upon 1" square bases that meant that I could play all of my favourite rulesets with this size, but also from skirmish games such as Rebels & Patriots through to Bloody Big Battles, all with the same units. This has the added bonus of meaning less storage space for a variety of figures and aslo less painting time, both of which are at a premium for me, so I see it as a win win situation!

Over the past few years I have bought quite a few scenario books, but have never really used them. Of late I have been delving into them for inpsiration and have recently been enjoying playing through the scenarios from the One Hour Wargames book. This is something I want to do more of next year and beyond, along with playing more campaigns, probably incorporating the scenarios into these.
As mentioned earlier, I've realised that my lead mountain is too big and seriously needs reducing once the lockdown eases. So the aim is, famous last words, to buy only minatures that will augment existing ranges or armies that I have. Whether this happens of course remains to be seen!
It would be nice to think that life in 2021 returns to some level of normality, so that FtF gaming can continue and that we can meet up at shows etc.One can but hope. At least if this doesn't happen I can carry on as 'normal' as I did this year and focus on my plans as outlined above. As always I'd love to hear what you think, whether good or bad, and hope my waffling on has given you food for thought in some shape or form. So until next time...

Thursday 24 December 2020

OHW Scenario 4: The Battle for the Grunberg

After me last AAR, fellow Blogger Jonathan Freitag put his hand up and said if I wanted more 'volunteers' to take on the part of one of the Generals for my OHW scenario refights, he was happy to take part, poor thing. To give Dave and Keith a break from my efforts at army control, I asked Norm if he fancied a go as well and fortunately he was keen too!
So after a flurry of e-mails, we were ready to go and I managed to sneak the game in before Xmas Eve, which was rather nice. Essentially the game is Scenario 4: Take the High Ground, but tweaked once again with unit strengths from Wargaming 19thC Europe as per the previous games. Both players were given a background brief and their OOB, unknown to the other player of course, and they came back with their orders and maps for guides to deployment, movement etc:
Background (Jonathan)
You are have been tasked with taking an important hill, that is guarded by 3 Red units of unknown composition. You expect there to be more Red units in the vicinity as reinforcements, but you do not know where or in what strength.
5 x Line Infantry
1 x Skirmishers
1 x Cavalry
3 x Artillery
Note you may divide your force into as many Commands as you see fit.
Your units start the game off table and can enter via any point along your table edge, as shown on the map. As the Attacker your Blue force takes the first Turn.
Red Background (Norm)
You are expecting the Blue force to attack you from the South. You have placed a small force guarding an important hill, with the main force encamped off table a short distance away. The small force consists of 3 units of your choosing from your OOB.
6 x Line Infantry
1 x Skirmishers
1 x Cavalry
2 x Artillery
Note you may divide your force into as many Commands as you see fit.
3 Units begin the game deployed on the hill.
7 Units arrive at any point on your table edge (as shown on the map) at the start of your Turn 2, subject to successful command rolls.
The Blue force goes first as they are the Attacker.

To be in control of the hill after 8 Turns.

Maps and Orders
The basic map sent to each player.
Blue Orders
Divide Blue into three commands:
Advance Guard (Lt Col von Starkloff) - 2x INF, 1xCAV, 1xSK
Artillery (Major Krupp) - 3xART
Main Strike force (Lt Col von  Reitzenstein) - 3xINF
  • Advance Guard is to enter the board with CAV and INF pushing down the road.  CAV screens INF advance fire from enemy hill positions.  SK recce woods.  Advance Guard to either interdict enemy reinforcements or support main assault against hill. If hard-pressed Advanced Guard CAV and SK to fall back to behind woods to uncover Blue guns and 2xINF to uncover guns by moving toward the hill in support of main assault.
  • Artillery is to open up against enemy positions on hill on first turn and continue firing.  The main assault will not attack until the enemy hill positions are either suppressed or showing signs of suppression.  Keep bombarding hill until main assault is within assault distance.  Keep bombarding hill targets while attack goes in, if possible.  If hill taken by Blue, move 1xART onto hill while the other two guns fill the gap between the east side of the hill and the woods. 
  • Main assault INF to attack enemy position on hill once enemy suppressed by bombardment but begin advance no later than Turn 3.  If successful in assault, take up defensive positions on hill to secure objective.
The map received from Jonathan.

Red Orders
The army Commander is Lt. General Von Hardenberg.

Brigade A commanded by Major Von Puffendorf
Consists 2 x Line infantry and 1 x artillery.
They will start in position on the hill with artillery to the centre and flanked by the infantry. They will assume a defensive posture and fire at every oppportunity.

Brigade B commanded by Lt. Colonel de la Porte
Consists 1 x line inf, 1 x skirmisher inf, 1 x artillery.
They will arrive on the left via the road area. Their job is to form a line and screen off the woods and to protect my left flank of the hill. The skirmishers will be on the far left and the artillery on the right of this line, so that artillery fire can be used against the wood if necessary, but their main function will be to fire ahead to protect the gap between the woods and the hill. I don’t want the brigade to enter the woods unless it becomes absolutely necessary or advantageous and even then, only the skirmishers should go in.

Brigade C commanded by Major General Ernst Frederick von Reden.
Consists 1 x line infantry and the cavalry
They will arrive on the right (as per the map I am sending you). The infantry will lead in line, followed by the cavalry for support. They will take up position in that form on my right, between the hill and the table edge. The infantry are expected to keep the enemy at bay by constant fire. The cavalry initiative I will leave to you.

Brigade D commanded by Prince von Anhalt.
Consists of 2 x line infantry
They will form the reserve. They enter play from point D (per map) directly behind the hill. They will advance to the rear of the hill and hold until their intervention is needed. Their primary concern will be in the direct defence of the hill, but if drawn to deal with a crisis to either flank may do so only if absolutely necessary. They may need to relieve the ‘A’ Brigade on the hill as a fresh unit, if ‘A’ needs to retire to recover strength, at which point ‘A’ Brigade would become the reserve.

Overall intentions - the only thing that matters is holding the hill, so a defensive stance to that end is expected. I doubt that I will need to be rolling for many orders, but if I do, my preference is to roll for individual units rather than giving a brigade order. The commanders will be expected at every opportunity to use the Rally Around Me order once units suffer more than 1 casualty. Keeping units in the field up to strength is a command priority.
The map received from Norm.

With the detailed maps and orders, it was easy to set the troops out in the respective positions, as can be seen below:

An overview of the table, with the Blue force laigned along the Southern edge.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard.

Major Krupp's artillery.

Von Reitzenstein's main strike force.

Major von Puttendorf and his units on the hill awaiting the expected attack.
Turn 1
(Blue) Von Starkloff's advanced guard on the right advanced swiftly as per their orders, with the cavalry screening the infantry flank, as the skirmishers pushed on into the woods and the infantry along the road, reaching parallel to the hill. Major Krupp's artillery arrived and deployed along a stone wall facing the hill, as Von Reitzenberg's infantry moved on to the left, halting outside musket range.

(Red) Major von Puttendorf seeing the threat to his left, tried to order a unit to turn to offer a refused flank, but the order failed to be followed. The artillery opened up on the infantry to the front, but failed to hit, whilst the infantry managed to score a hit on Krupp's artillery.

The end of Turn 1.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard in an excellent position already.

Major Krupp's artillery ready to bombard the hill.
Turn 2
(Blue) Von Starkloff ordered his skirmishers to push forward to the end of the wood to cover any advances down the road, whilst his infantry aligned to enfilade the infantry on the hill. However the shooting was rather poor and any hits caused were saved. As von Reitzenstein's main strike force held position, Major Krupp's artillery opened fire to great effect, causing one of von Puttendorf's infantry to become Shaken & Disordered, but they passed their break test with consummate ease, obviously being made of stern stuff.

(Red) Hearing gun fire in the distance, the reserves began arriving across the board. Lt Col de la Porte moved along the road and deployed into line to face von Starkloff's advanced guard that were threatening the hill. Major von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt, with Lt General von Hardenberg in tow, moved on in column of march to try and reinforce the hill as quickly as possible. Sadly von Puttendorf's infantry and artillery's shooting was ineffective, other than scaring any wildlife in the vicinity of the shooting.

The end of Turn 2.

De la Porte's force (top) arrive and deploy ready to engage von Starkloff's advanced guard.

Von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt march on to the sound of guns to re-inforce the positions on the hill.
Turn 3
(Blue) With the hill still holding out, von Reitzenstein moved his infantry off as per his orders, supported by Major Krupp's guns. Whilst the infantry musketry was rather disappointing, the artillery managed to cause von Puttendorf's already battered infantry unit to break and flee the table. Seeing the enemy appear along the road, von Starkloff moved an infantry unit to meet the threat. Again despite being in a great position to inflict damage upon the enemy, the shooting was rather poor, with only the skirmishers in the woods able to do any hurt and minimal at that.

(Red) von Reden moved his infantry to the fence line, supported by the cavalry, on the right flank to help protect the position on the hill, whilst Prinz von Anhalt arrived at the foot of the hill with his reserves, but was unable to deploy them into line. Lt Col de la Porte on the left flank had a fit of the nerves and failed to send any orders out. Somewhat frustratingly for Lt General von Hardenberg, the shooting from his whole force laft a lot to be desired, with only one hit caused, as the shooting that did hit home was saved.

One of von Puttendorf's infantry breaks after sustained artillery bombardment.

The end of Turn 3.

Von Reitzenstein's infantry move off to assault the hill.

Ineffective shooting from both sides leaves the positions largely unchanged.

Von Reden deploys along the fence (bottom) supported by the cavalry whilst Prinz von Anhalt and his reserves arrive but are still in column.

Lt Col de la Porte failure of nerve means he is unable to advance forward to put pressure on von Starkloff's advanced guard.
Turn 4
(Blue) Lt Kuster, a dashing but rather rash cavalry officer, sees an opportunity for glory and charges into the infantry of Prinz von Anhalt that are still in column. Despite causing mayhem and destruction, the infantry somehow manage to survive and are driven back in disorder and are shaken to boot. Lt Kuster, pleased with his work, opts to hold his position. With the cavalry charge and the loss on an infantry unit on the hill, von Starkloff orders an infantry unit onto the hill to reinforce success. The rest of his advance guard cause hits on de la Porte's troops, but not enough to cause discomfort.

Major Krupp's artillery with counter battery fire destroy the artillery supporting von Puttendorf on the hill, as von Reitzenstein's men move slowly towards the hill and manage to make the remaining infantry unit of von Puttendorf's command to become shaken.

(Red) von Puttendorf seeing how serious the situation is, rally's a hit off the infantry to help stabilise the situation. Prinz von Anhalt moves his infantry into line to face Lt Kuster's cavalry and a ripple of musket fire sees the cavalry disordered and shaken. Von Reden sends his cavalry under the command of Lt Brunisch to support the infantry reserves, whilst his infantry manage to hit von Reitzenstein infantry in the cornfield. 

On the left de la Porte once again lacks the nerve to move his troops, but his artillery moves forward on its own intiative to provide fire support to von Puttendorf's troops as well as those of de la Porte. At least his troops do manage to do some damage against von Starkloff's advanced guard infantry on the road.

Lt Kuster and his cavalry charge in, with von Starkloff's infantry arriving on the hill as von Puttendorf's artillery are destroyed.

The end of Turn 4.

The battle for the hill is hotting up with troops and fighting raging on and around it.

De la Porte's artillery in the ploughed field move up to the wall to enfilade von Starkloff's troops, if all goes well that is.
Turn 5
(Blue) With limited targets, one of Major Krupp's guns limber up to support the attack on the hill as per his orders. Unfortunately von Reitzenstein fails to move his troops forward when the hill is ripe for the taking, especially as combined fire sees the demise of the last of von Puttendorf's command, leaving the hill open! Von Starkloff's infantry on the hill move below the crestline to get out of view of de la Porte's artillery, with the musketry failing to cause any damage once again.

(Red) De la Porte's nerve failed yet again and he was unable to command anything, with his troops shooting yet again dismal, with even the artillery completely missing troops in line in the open. With the situation on the hill a tad serious, von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt managed to move troops onto the hill, but below the crest, to avoid Major Krupp's murderous guns.

With Lt Kuster's cavalry in an exposed position, Lt Brunisch ordered the charge to try and stabilise the situation behind the hill. Lt Kuster's cavalry moved to evade the charge but were caught and ridden down, with Lt Brunisch ordering his cavalry back to help protect the positions on the hill.

The failure of von Reitzenstein's infantry to advance allows von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt to move troops onto the hill. An opportunity missed.

Von Starkloff's infantry on the road manage to avoid the effects of de la Porte's troops shooting.

Lt General von Hardenberg's looks on as his force manages to retake part of the hill.

Lt Brunisch's cavalry having retired to help protect the left flank of the hill.
Turn 6
(Blue) Von Reitzenstein finally moves his troops forward and the gain the foot of the hill, with one unit in reserve, as von Starkloff's infantry on the hill move in support. A shocking round of shooting, despite having the numbers and close range, sees only one hit and a disorder caused on the enemy! Once again von Starkloff's advanced gaurd does little damage to de la Porte's troops, but Major Krupps' artillery comes to the rescue and with superb shooting destroys de la Porte's artillery in the ploughed field.

(Red) Finally de la Porte is goaded into action, moving his infantry and skirmshers into the ploughed field to help reinforce the positions on the hill that are under extreme pressure, with some shooting disordering von Starkloff's infantry on the road. As Prinz von Anhalt's infantry that were charged in column have recoved, they are ordered forward towards the hill to provide a mobile reserve. The shooting on the hill was sadly rather ineffective, despite the close range,  only causing a hit and disorder. Lt Brunisch's cavalry moved back towards the right flank with the aim of possibly exploiting an open flank if it presented itself.

The end of Turn 6.

Major Krupp's gun line have moved to gain a better field of fire.

De la Porte's infantry finally move and manage to cause hits and disorder on Von Starkloff's infantry.

The infantry have lined up and blazed away at each other, but to little effect.

A view along the line.
Turn 7
(Blue) With little movement, other than von Reitzenberg moving his reserve to the left at the foot of the hill to try and cover his flank, it was a case of simply shooting at the enemy. The enemy in the form of von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt, took an awful lot of hits, but saved them all, with only one unit being disordered. Obviously these troops are rather stubborn and made of stern stuff!

(Red) De la Porte managed to rally a hit of his infantry in the ploughed field, but again his troops couldn't hit the proverbial barn door in the form of von Starkloff's infantry in the open!. At least on the hill von Reden and Prinz von Anhalt troops did cause hits and disorder, but it could have been better. Lt Brunisch carried on moving his cavalry round to the right flank to keep open the option of attack any open flank that presented itself.

The end of Turn 7

Von Starkloff's troops once again dodge the bullets of de la Porte's infantry.

Both sides once again fail to cause any significant damage on the enemy.
Turn 8
(Blue) Von Starkloff's advanced guard finally managed to get a good round of shooting in, with combined fire from the infantry, skirmishers and Majr Krupp's gun seeing de la Porte's infantry and skirmishers in the ploughed field become shaken and disordered. Fortunatly for de la Porte, his troops didn't need to make a break test, as the fire wasn't quite enough to force one.

Von Reitzenstein failed to get an order through to his reserve at the foot of the hill to move to cover his left flank, but his infantry on the hill managed to cause one of Prinz von Anhalts infantry to become shaken and disordered.

(Red) Risking losing the hill in the dying moments of the game, Prinz von Anhalts battered troops made a disorderly retreat and were replaced by a fresh unit, thereby stabilising the situation. The shooting across the hill was poor and so von Reitzenstein's troops remained on the hill. With de la Porte's troops disordered and shaken, they were unable to move and their shooting was predictably ineffective.

With von Reitzenstein unable to cover his flank due to the failed order, Lt Brunisch and his cavalry saw an opportunity and, spurring their horses on, charged forward towards Major Krupp's gun line, catching them in the flank and destroying two guns in the final action of the game!

The end of Turn 8.

Lt Brunisch's cavalry catch Major Krupp's gun in the open, leading to them being overrun and destroyed.

Von Starkloff's advanced guard manage to gain the upper hand against de la Porte's troops, but too late to affect the outcome of the game.

The battle for the hill rages, with neither side able to gain the upper hand.

Lt General von Hardenberg's troops have amaged to defend the hill, but have no real reserves left, except a shaken and disordered unit.

De la Porte's command at the end, that had been poorly led and largely ineffective throughout the game.

End of the Game
So with the hill still being contested at the end, neither side could claim a clear victory. The Blue force had finally gained a strong position, but a Turn or two too late to affect the outcome. In the end the Blue force lost its cavalry and two guns, with Red having lost two infantry and tow artillery.

Post Game Thoughts
Wow, what a game that was! I really enjoyed it and both Norm and Jonathan's orders were easy to follow and both sides had chances throughout the game, but neither side could quite capitalise on their opportunities. So as aways some post game thought in no particualr order:
  • The scenario provided a much more challenging game than I thought it would, as on paper it looks deceptively simple. I think this was down to the orders from Norm and Jonathan that gave the game that extra edge. 
  • Major Krupp's guns gave the Blue force an excellent start and early on I thought it would be a walk over for them, but it shows you how wrong you can be and how games can ebb and flow over relatively few Turns.
  • The Red troops stubborn resistance on the hill throughout certainly kept them in the game, as they did manage to save an awful lot of hits when it really mattered. A die roll differently here and there and they would have been blown away.
  • I don't know what it is with me and skirmishers as, during most of my recent game, they have been largely ineffective on the shooting front, but in fairness have managed to secure flanks and tie down troops.
  • Normally I don't expect much from the cavalry in this period (mid 19thC Europe) but in this game they certainly had their moments, with Lt Kuster's charge into the infantry column that could have changed the game, tthrough to Lt Brunisch's destruction of Lt Kuster's command and the final 'von Bredow's' type death ride at the end. Certainly cinematic and very memorable.
  • Both sides shooting was ineffective for much of the game, leading to the lines of troops shooting it out for possession of the hill towards the end. There were opportunities throughout the game for one volley here or there to make a real difference. When it did happen, it seemed that the enemy was always able to make thos all important saves.
  • At times both side suffered from poor command rolls, most notably Lt Col de la Porte, whose inactivity early on really hampered the Red forces ability to defend the hill. Also von Reitzenstein's failure to get an order through to his reserves in the last turn to protect his flank, allowed Lt Brunishc's charge to take place.
  • I thought that BPII with the GH! supplement rules worked really well once again and i'm now very comfortable with these. Admittedly they are not everyones cup of tea, but I like them and their inherent command and control and the nuances they bring to the game.
  • I'm really enjoying playing orders from other players as it brings another dimension to the game. At various points I might have done some things differently, but with orders to follow I stuck with them, which I found very enjoyable. I hope to carry on with this in 2021 and given our current lcokdown situation, I think this will carry on for quite sometime, subject to willing participants of course!
Once again a big 'Thankyou!' to Norm and Jonathan for taking the time to create their orders and allowing me to carry them out on the table. With Dave and Keith as well I'm lucky in having fellow gamers who are willing to do this for me. Let's hope this carries on into the New Year as already mentioned.
So all that remains is to wish you all a very 'Merry Xmas!' and I hope that you are able to celebrate in some shape or form with your nearest and dearest. Stay safe and keep healthy!