Tuesday 22 September 2020

Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End

Frankly I need another set of rules like I need a hole in the head! Yet once again I found myself purchasing another ruleset whilst browsing the 'net one day a week or so ago. To be fair I had considered these before, based upon some games I'd seen via the Pendraken forum, but for one reason or another I never bought them.

So why did I buy them this time around? Well some retail therapy for sure was a factor given we are more than likely entering another lockdown stage in England. Also the rules looked good on yet another reading of reviews etc, but more importantly contained 48 army lists so, if nothing else, a very useful reference book for other games like 'The Pikemen's Lament'. Also at £12 inc p&p they were good value compared to previous times I've checked.

The rather nice front cover of part of a map from 1573 by Domingo Teixeira.

The back cover with the usual brief overview of rules, contents etc.

So what do you get for your money? The easiest answer would be to check out the authors  Irregular Wars Blog here, where obviously you will find plenty of AAR's as well as some sample pages etc. For my money the rules are nice and simple, but not simplistic, with plenty of choice for the players in terms of force composition as well as a huge range of armies to choose from.

The areas I particularly like are
  • Army Composition. In short you have core units that must be in your force then you can choose 5 others from a varied list, depending upon the army. Some are guaranteed to be available, other you roll a D2, D3 or D4 to see how many are you might get per game. A nice touch so each game is different which I like to see for this sort of game.
  • The Disease and Mishaps chart. Basically once you have your force, you roll on this to see if units are late, missing, down with the pox etc at the start of the game. Some may not even arrive! So with the above, a nice amount of uncertainty reflecting the nature of the battles being fought.
  • Chance Cards. Well that pretty much says it all. At the start each player draws a number of cards that may help or hinder his army. These aren't strictly nescessary and some players don't use them but they tickle my fancy.
  • Campaign Guide. A simple gudie to running a campaign using the rules, with sample ones for Elizabethan Ulster and The Spanish Main. As I find narrative campaigns great fun, this is a nice touch as not all rules include this sort of thing. 
The only downside I would say is that you are spoilt for choice as to what you might want to game! Currently I'm looking at an English force that can campaign on the Scottish borders, in Ireland or on the West Coast of Africa. I want to get some trial games in with my wooden blocks first before ordering some new toys. I also need to decide upon a base size, with 1" squares giving a good game on a 2' x 2' table. However this size might not give me the visual look I'm after, but has the benefit of being my standard base size for most games. Plenty ot think about for sure.
Well this post is the first with the new Blogger and, famous last words, hasn't been too difficult, which is a relief. Getting used to the new icons and layout is a bit annoying, but overall it seems to work OK. This begs the questions of why give it a new look when the old one worked perfectly well as it was? the only annoying thing I've found is it is constantly saving itself which can slow things down.
Next up is my Sealion campaign game, now that the Indian Summer weather has finally gone and Autumn has arrived in true cool, cloudy and wet fashion. So hopefully more games and painting will ensue as I spend more time indoors, which will be a bit of a shock as we seemed to have had 6 months of near perfect weather here in Bristol. Anyway, enough waffling from me as I need to prepare for my game. So until next time...

Sunday 13 September 2020

Operation Sealion - Game 2 - Bouncing the Rheins

With the Taunton Stop Line comprehensively breached, the remnants of 'A' Company, 1st Battalion Somerset LDV, are in full flight from the enemy. They have bumped into 'B' Company, who were somewhat late to the previous battle, and have been amalgamated into the Company. 'B' Company is trying to perform a fighting withdrawl to the remainder of the Battalion located near a pumping station and windmill.

The 1st & 3rd Kompanies, II Battalion, 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment, have been ordered to persue the enemy and prevent them from reaching the GHQ Green Line main defensive position by the Mendip Hills.

1st Battalion Somerset LDV OOB
1 x CO (CV8)
3 x HQ (CV7)
10 x Infantry
1 x MG
1 x 3" Mortar

II Battalion, 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment
As per the previous game, but with the addition of;
1 x FAC (CV7)
1 x Bf-109

The battle was to be fought over the Somerset Levels, so was completely flat bar the small hill for the windmill. The battlefield was criss-crossed by small Rheins (think small drainage ditches) which would count as Linear Terrain.

The British LDV deployed in the centre of the table, with 'B' company forward of the main line to represent them trying to perfom a fighting withdrawl. The Fallschirmjager would begin off table and arrive using mobile deployment.

An overview of the table, with the FJ along the bottom edge.

The almost obligatory shot along the long road to safety.

'B' Company.

'C' company are by the windmill with 'D' Company by the pumping station.

Turn 1
The 1st Kompanie moved swiftly onto the table, pushing across a rhein and entering the wheatfield on the right flank. 3rd Kompanie likewise moved smartly forward, nearing the long grass by the windmill hill, covered by their MG and mortar.

With the enemy close, two platoons of 'B' Company made an initiative retreat towards their own lines, then the command promptly failed their command roll. This failure of command was repeated by 'C' & 'D' Company's as well as the CO. Paralysis seemed to have gripped the LDV. Not a good start to say the least.

The end of Turn 1

3rd Kompanie advance.

1st Kompanie have entered the wheatfield.

Turn 2
As 3rd Kompanie renewed their advance, the MG and a platoon of 'C' Company used opportunity fire from the windmill, but failed to cause any damage. Combined fire from III Kompanie saw the loss of the MG and a platoon suppressed. 1st Kompanie failed their command roll, but the CO got through, leading to them advancing and coming under opportunity fire from 'B' Company to their front. Some hits were registered and fire from the I Kompanie saw 'B' Company's MG and a platoon suppressed, with another platoon forced back suppressed. The FAC failed to get through to his air support and the CO tried but failed too.

'B' Company continued to make an initiative move withdrawl with units that were not suppressed, then failed their command roll, leaving them somewhat exposed. 'C' Company moved a platoon onto the hill who were suppressed by opportunity fire from 3rd Kompanie. 'D' Company held their position and the CO tried to get through to 'B' Company but failed.

The end of Turn 2.

3rd Kompanie use fire and manouevre to engage the enemy on windmill hill.

1st Kompanie are giving 'B' Company a torrid time.

'B' Company struggle to reach safety along the road, whilst 'C' Company know they are in a fight, having taken casualties already.

Turn 3
The FAC managed to get through to his Bf-109's, who on their strafing and bombing run KO'd a LDV platoon, suppressed another and gave a sprinkling of hits across a number o platoons, including 'C' Company HQ. In a impressive series of actions of combined fire, 1st Kompanie reduced 'C' Company to one platoon and 'B' Company had ceased to exist.

Having sustained such overwhelming casualties the LDV Battalion CO ordered what units that remained of his command to surrender to avoid further unnescessary loss of life.

The Bf-109 arrives.

The strafing and bombing run has lots of targets.

The end of Turn 3 and the game.

The FJ close in on the LDV.

3rd Kompanie ready to assault windmill hill if required.

1st Kompanie ready to advance after causing such devastating losses to the LDV.

The remains of 'C' Company.

'D' Company who didn't contribute to the battle.

End of Game
Well another quick and brutal win for the Fallschirmjager. I thought it would be tough for the LDV but expected them to cause the Fallschirmjager som eproblems, but alas 'twas not to be.

Post Game Thoughts
Despite another crushing win, I still enjoyed the game as being part of a campaign, it helps generate a campaign narrative. Once again BKCII gave a great game with some of the excellent BKCIV additions. So as always some thoughts on the game:
  • Against opposition such as the LDV, the Fallschirmjager are truly formidable, with excellent command & control as well as an awful lot of firepower at their disposal. As with the last game, the FJ got off to an excellent start and simply didn't let up. It didn't help the LDV that they failed all of the first Turn command rolls, something from which they never recovered.
  • It was nice to have the Bf-109 in the game, adding another dimension, but one that wasn't too powerful given that they only have 3 attacks. Still it contributed to the German victory and might make an apeearance next game.
  • For the first time I didn't use the built in AA stats for the British. To be honest I've never truly understood these as at Company level, what actual AA support was there? Whether this would work in say 1944 is another matter, but for this game it felt right.
  • I had planned on using smoke for the British in some for or other to represent their use of 2" mortars, but completely forgot. This might have helped stave off the inevitable, but we will never know. I think the rules for AFV smoke would work well as set out on p15 of BKCIV. I think there are rules for this in BKCII, but don;t have the book to hand. I need to see if the German 50mm mortars fired smoke as if they did, that could be useful for the next game.
  • With two easy wins for the FJ, their next test should be a lot tougher, as they will come up against the GHQ Green Line (or what there is off it at this stage of the invasion) and regular British Infantry Units. I expect both sides to have more support, with some artillery and air likely to feature and the outside chance of some armour. I need to go away and work up the next scenario in detail first.
Before the next game I need to get a move on with the additional FJ units required. They have been based and the bases painted, but I haven't done the uniforms etc yet. At least the British are complete for the moment. With the weather set fiar for the next week and some house work beckoning, it will be a week or two before the next campaign game will most likely be played. So until next time...

Wednesday 2 September 2020

Operation Sealion - Game 1 - Die Brücke

Campaign Background*
With the 'Miracle of Dunkirk' just finished and troops still fighting in France, Britain was in a very weak position, with limited resources with which to resist any German invasion. Hitler had been persuaded that to strike as soon as possible would give the German forces the best opportunity to defeat Britan and take here out of the war. Afterall he had said he didn't want to fight a war on two fronts, so with his mind turning towards Russia, this seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

With the usual superb German planning, Operation Seelowe soon became a reality, albeit  a plan without significant risks. To land successfully they would have to gain air superiority as well as limiting the Royal Navy's ability to intervene as the landings were underway. Targeting the airfields and mining the shipping lanes got under way almost at once. With the invasion set fo 13th July, the efforts were ramped up, starting on 8th July with Adlertag, which saw the Luftwaffe concentrate their attacks on the South East of England.

The British High command still thought the invasion would come in Eastern England with it's good beaches and excellent tank country. As a result their forces were thinly spread with a central reserve to the North of London, with the aim of using it to deliver a counter-attack once the actual invasion place was known.

Monitoring of German communications, along with air surveillance, led the British High Command to give the 'Cromwell' warning on the 12th July, meaning invasion was imminent. Troops all along the South East and East coast stood to, awaiting developments. In the early hours of the 13th, Fallschirmjager were seen landing as well as shipping crossing the channel. Church bells were rung to give warning that the invasion was underway.

* For a plausible background read, I highly recommend Kenneth Macksey's 'Invasion'.

GHQ Green Line Diversionary Attacks
With Heeresgruppe 'A' leading the main assault, Heeresgruppe 'C' was tasked with leading diversionary attacks on the West country, by land, sea and air. Their target was Bristol and to break through the GHQ Green Line that was part of General Ironsides defence in depth strategy. Unfortunately the Green Line had only started being constructed less than a month ago and was a defensive line more in name than practice.

On 'S-Day' +1, the 1st Fallschirmjager Division lead the way, with landings across the West Country, supported by elements of the 22nd Luftlande Division, with the 6th Infantry Division and 10th Pz Division arriving by sea on 'S-Day' +2.

Background Fluff for Scenario
A & B Company's of the 1st Battalion Somerset LDV have been tasked with guarding bridge. A Company is deployed in trenches by the bridge with B Company in reserve in the nearby village. As dawn breaks, they can hear planes flying overhead towards Bristol, but these don't sound like bombers and they are flying too low. They stand to in their trenches and peer through the mist that is rising from the river, but can't see anything.

The 1st & 3rd Kompanies of the II Battalion, 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment have been tasked with taking the bridge by assault. Their plan is to land either side of the bridge and take the defenders by surprise, securing the bridge before re-inforcements can arrive.
1st Battalion Somerset LDV OOB
1 x HQ (CV 7)
3 x Green Infantry (dug in)
1 x MG (dug in)
1 x HQ off table in reserve (CV 7)
3 x Green infantry off table in reserve

II Battalion, 3rd Fallschirmjager Regt, 1st Fallschirmjager Division OOB
1 x CO (CV 10)
2 x HQ (CV 9)
6 x Fallschirmjager
2 x MG's
2 x Mortars 

  • The early morning mist is 10cm either side of the river. Units are only visible if they are on the edge of the mist. The mist will lift at the start of Turn 2 on a 4+, Turn 3 on a 3+ etc.
  • The Fallschirmjager start with one Kompanie to the South of the river. The other Kompanie will arrive on Turn 2 on a 4+, Turn 3 on a 3+ etc. They arrive on the North side of the river and randomly roll with table edge they will arrive on.
  • The LDV reserve company will arrive on Turn 3 on a 4+, Turn 4 on a 3+ etc. They arrive via their own table edge along the road.

'A' Company, Somerset LDV are deployed North of the river in their trenches, covering the approaches to the bridge. The 1st Kompanie, II Battalion is along the Southern table edge and will arrive using mobile deployment.

An overview of the 2' x 2' table.

A view from the German side towards the bridge shrouded in mist.

'A' Company dug-in.

A view along the river from the East.

The view from the LDV trenches.

Turn 1
The 1st Kompanie arrived and moved swiftly towards the river bank, with the mortar deploying and the MG moving into the top of the barn to get a good field of fire once the mist lifted.

'A' Company could hear muffled movement across the river and the mooing of cows, but could not see the enemy, if indeed it was them. So they simply held their positions and listened intently for any sounds of the enemy.

The end of Turn 1.

The 1st Kompanie along the river bank, hidden by the mist.

A view along the road towards the bridge and the LDV positions.

Turn 2
The mist failed to lift and the 3rd Kompanie arrived on the right flank of the LDV and quietly moved into position and set up fire positions ready to attack the enemy. The 1st Kompanie moved to either side of the bridge to aid the 3rd Kompanie's attacks when the mist lifted.

One platoon of 'A' company spotted enemy movement to their right flank and raised the alarm. One platoon turned about face in their trenches but couldn't see the enemy due to the mist. Another platoon left their trench to move into the gardens of the house, but opportunity fire from the 3rd Kompanie suppressed them before they could reach safety.

The end of Turn 2.

The 1st Kompanie move to the left of the bridge, ready to support the 3rd Kompanie.

The 3rd Kompanie arrive and attack the LDV as they leave their trenches.

Turn 3
As the mist finally cleared, the 3rd Kompanie continued with their attacks on the two platoons from the pervious Turn. As the attacks were going in, one platoon moved towards the farmhouse to secure the 3rd Kompanie flank as well as putting pressure on the LDV positions. The 1st Kompanie joined in the attack, leading to the LDV losing one platoon and another close to breaking. The rest of 'A' Company opportunity fired back but missed. In response the 'A' Company MG came under intense fire, but although being hit was not suppressed.

With 'A' Company under heavy attack, 'B' Company failed to materialise, leaving 'A' company in a precarious position, who proceeded to fail their command roll.

The end of Turn 3.

1st Kompanie in a strong position by the bridge.

The LDV right flank has all but disappeared.

3rd Kompanie in a strong psotion and their is little to stop them moving to take the Northern end of the bridge.

'A' Company, somerset LDV are under extreme pressure and could do with 'B' Company coming to their aid.

Turn 4
3rd Kompanie continued to maintain their attacks, leading to the loss of another LDV platoon and to them securing the farmouse position. In combination with 1st Kompanie, combined fire saw the loss of the 'A' Company MG.

With little hope of halting the German advance, even with the arrival of 'B' Company, the remaining 'A' Company platoon beat a hasty retreat leaving the Fallschirmjager on control of the bridge.

The end of Turn 4.

The way across the bridge is open.

The last LDV platoon wisely retreats to fight another day.

End of Game
With an emphtatic victory, the 1st & 3rd Kompanies set about securing the bridge and preparing for follow up attacks on the retreating LDV. The LDV is some disarray would have to quickly sort things out before more attacks come their way.

Post Game Thoughts
Well a quick and exciting game of BKCII. I really enjoyed that and it was nice to be able to kick the campaign off. As always, some post game thoughts:
  • The Fallschirmjager pretty much had a perfect game. Their higher CV's and firepower really showed and they were on the front foot from the start and simply didn't let up. You could say it was too one sided but for me, it felt historically right, with elite well armed troops up against poorly armed reservists. Also being part of a campaign, it didn't matter in terms of this result as it's all about the narrative and the campaign as a whole.
  • The arrival of the 3rd Kompanie at the earlist opportunity and the non-arrival of 'B' Company contributed to the emphatic win for the Germans. If 'B' Company had arrived, I think the result would have been the same but maybe they could have inflicted important losses on the Fallschirmjager.
  • The early morning mist rules worked nicely and I have used them before and will certainly do so again where appropriate.
  • It was nice to have a small infantry only action and on a 2' x 2' table. I love having armour on the table but this sort of action gives a new set of challenges. Also being part of a campaign you are painfully aware of  the impact of each infantry platoon that is lost, especially for the Germans hwo may struggle to get re-inforcements.
I have a rough idea of what the next scenario will be, but need to have a bit of a think as well as finish off painting up some extra units and command bases. With my wife back at work and the weather a bit iffy the next few days, I should hopefully get these done soon, if I maintain my focus and drive. So until next time...