Sunday 26 March 2023

WRG Rules 1925 - 1950

Wargames Research Group wargames rules form a huge part of our hobby's history, whether you like the rules or not. As far as I know we never played them as kids and fortunately for me I'd left figure wargaming come the 1980's and so missed out on the apparently dreadful and incomprehensible offerings from that decade. I even tried the latest iteration of DBA some years ago and honestly the 'Barkerese' writing put me off from the start, despite the rules looking promising. 

I know some people still play the rules, especially DBA, and I've seen Blog posts where the Infantry & Armour 1925-1950 rules are in action and seeming to offer not too bad games. My good friend Keith Flint had even been tinkering with the rules and so when he invited me over for a game to test them out with his '39 Polish Campaign troops, it was too good an opportunity to pass up to see what they were like. He kindly sent over a draft copy in advance and answered a few queries I had, so I felt reasonably prepared for the game.

The rules in question. Like many publications from this era, somewhat Spartan in their production values when compared to todays offerings.

Keith chose the scenario based upon one from one of the wargames magazines, which was set during the Napoleonic era, but transported to 1939 for our game. In essence the Germans are an advanced force tasked with clearing the woods so that the main Panzer force can follow on behind in relative safety.

Germans OOB - Elements of a Panzer Recce Battalion
Company HQ
1 x Combat Engineer platoon (trucks) + 75mm IG + MMG
1 x Kradschutzen platoon + 37mm ATG + MMG
2 x AFV recce sections each 1 x 234 6rad, 1 x 221
Mortar support (dct), 6 x 8cm mortars + MFO in 223
Panzer company to enter table move 7 or later. Should only have to drive along roads already cleared of enemy.
Poles OOB – Elements of a Cavalry Brigade
1 x Cavalry platoon + 37mm ATG + MMG
Recce section, 2 x Wz.29
Recce section x 2, each 1 x rifle group, 1 x rifle/lmg group
Tank platoon (3 x Ft-17)
Artillery support (gen) 4 x 75mm guns + AFO radio
2 mined road blocks
Poles can deploy anywhere up to 4 feet from the eastern baseline, except the Ft-17s which arrive on turn 1 via the eastern road in column on a roll of 4+. If they fail, add one to the roll on each subsequent turn.
The Germans enter the table via either of the western roads on turn 1. Germans take first turn.

The Game
I took on the role of the brave Polish defenders, which is always fun for me, but sadly didn't have any of their wonderful tankettes to play with. I took a few photos during the game but not too many as we were somewhat engrossed in the action as well as talking about the rules, what worked, what might need tweaking etc.

An overview of the table from the Polish side.

A view from the German side.

Some of Keith's wonderful Polish figures and vehicles. It's been ages since I last played with these and I must say he does have a really lovely collection.

As the Germans advance up the road, a combination of artillery, armoured cars and anti-tank guns makes short work of the German AFV's. A good start for the Poles!

The burning Litko markers do look good, but not a view that will be appearing on the next Deutsche Wochenshau newsreel!

The German infantry take their time to progress either side of the road, wary of any potential Polish troops waiting in ambush.

The Polish armoured cars turn their attention to the other road and the German armoured cars advancing along it.

About midway through the game and a view from the German side.

The Germans are strung out along the road as they cautiously approach the ford, knowing the battle is raging to their left on the other side of the woods.

Poland's strategic reserve arrives...

Dismounted kradschutzetruppen push through the woods.

A Hs 123 (wonderful model and plane) arrives over the battlefield to provide the Germans with much needed support. Sadly the Polish airforce never quite made it.

German mortars begin to take a toll on the Polish Ft-17's.

End of Game
Time was against me and I had to leave befre we reached a conclusion, but the Polish certainly had caused many more casualties than they had taken, with the German troops still some distance away from being able to clear the road blocks to allow the German panzers to move forward.

Post Game Thoughts
As always it was great to see Keith again, to catch up and to have a FtF game after so long! I must say I do enjoy playing the Polish Campaign and I suppose I really should try and get my own figures at least based and primed, given that I now have enough painted Germans for them to fight. Just another thing to add to the list! So a few thoughts from the game etc:
  • Initially I thought that the Poles would have a really tough time stopping the Germans. The early artillery strikes on the German column that KO'd their AFV's made it a tough ask for the German left flank, which never really got going after that.
  • As Keith pointed out he had doubled the movement rates in his 'update' to the rules, but even so it took a long time for the infantry to get into action. I doubt the Poles would have had much to worry about if the original rates were used, as the German advance would have been glacial!
  • Using say BKC I think we would have reached a conclusion or at least come close to one after 8 Turns, which is what we managed to play. As with any rules, you need to get quite a few games under you belt to know what will make for a 'good scenario'. There was nothing wrong with this one for sure, but their is undoubtedly a learning curve to be had with these rules.
  • I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well the rules played and hats off to Keith for making them much more accessible. He kindly loaned me a copy of the original rules and even after playing a game, I still struggled to understand and follow the rules as written
  • It's been many years since I've played 1:1 WWII rules, but these did feel as good as any I've played in the past. They certainly gave a game that felt right and plausible in the action and its outcomes. I certainly am looking forward to trying these rules again and may even give them a go using my 10mm figures.

And In Other News
Well Spring is upon us and even though the weather has been very hit and miss, I've been spending more time outdoors in the garden, but sadly not out on the bike nor on local walks. Hopefully the weather will steelt down soon so I can do the latter.

I have been in quite a good painting groove of late, working on my mid-19thC ImagiNations German force, which has been a real pleasure. I need to finish some Light Infantry and Artillery and then I will have enough for some Rebels & Patriots type or BPII. In a window in the weather I did manage to prime up a load of WWII German stuff and need to crack on with these too for my France 1940 Campaign. 

This Campaign hasn't kicked off yet as I simply haven't found a suitable time to actually get everything set up due to the usual demands of family life. I'm not sure when this might finally get onto the table but soon all being well.

Dave and I are putting on another game the Cotswold Wargames Day and this will be set in India during the middle of the 18thC. Still early days but forces are being worked upon and figure ranges being consulted. I need to find my existing 18thC box of figures to see what I have and what I need to order. I'm certainly looking forward to starting this project as it will be rather different from the norm and certainly exotic and colourful!


Thursday 9 March 2023

OHW Scenario 13 - Escape

I've had this scenario prepared for quite sometime now, but just didn't feel in the mood to play it, given I was devoting most of my time to the France 1940 Campaign. However the weather put pay to any priming of troops for the campaign and with the weather set poor for at least a week, it seemed a good opportunity to get some games in.

We had about 2" of snow overnight which was not bad, but not too far away they had 6" - 8" on the tops of the Mendips. Far too cold for priming unfortunately.

Blue OOB
3 x Line Infantry
1 x Light Infantry
2 x Cavalry

3 x Line Infantry
2 x Light Infantry
1 x Artillery

Scenario Objectives
The Blue Force is returning after raiding Red territory, but is faced by a Red blocking force on the road. Blue is unaware the other Red units are close by.
Blue Force to exit 3 Units off the table.
Blue Force can only exit via the road at the Southern table edge.

The Game
As is my usual practice I got everything set up the night before so that I could make a leisurely start once the morning chores were out of the way. I had no fixed Turn limit in mind, but a maximum of 8 Turns felt right. I'll let the captioned photos tell the story of the game.

An overview of the baord, with the lone Red Light Infantry blocking the road.

Another Red Light Infantry unit would be able to arrive on Turn 6.

The Red flanking force to arrive on Turn 2, but with a Dithering commander. Fortunately I attached the CO before rolling for commander quality.

The other Red flanking force to arrive on Turn 4, but with a Dashing commander.

The Blue right flank had a Dashing commander, whilst the Centre was Dependable, but with the CO would count as Dashing.

The Blue left flank composed of their Cavalry and with a Dashing commander too.

The end of Turn 1. The Blue force didn't move too quickly, despite having Dashing commanders all round. The Red Light Infantry held their position.

The Blue Cavalry acting as flank protection whilst the Centre moved down the road.

On the right the Blue Light Infantry moved to screen the woods as they advanced.

The end of Turn 2. The Blue force moved more swiftly this Turn, forcing the Red Light Infantry to move towards the Cavalry to try and block a quick and easy escape route. The Red flank force appeared over the hill, but its shooting failed to hit its mark.

The Red Light Infantry feeling like King Cnut trying to stem the tide.

The Blue troops in the Centre get a surprise as shots whizz over and around them.

The end of Turn 3. The Blue Force deploys one Line Infantry unit to meet the threat to its flank, whilst all other units push forward as quickly as they can. The Red Light Infantry wisely retreat back to the road, trading space for time.

The Red Light Infantry hope they can hang on long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

The Blue Line Infantry unit take incoming fire but managed to rally a hit off to maintain reasonable combat effectiveness.

The end of Turn 4. The Blue Force continues to push forward to try and close with the Red Light Infantry blocking their escape route. As Red reinforcements arrive, the Blue Line Infantry in the Centre begin a fighting withdrawal.

Enemies to the right of me...

... enemies to the left.

Neither side can gain a decisive advantage, despite some good shooting.

Can the Red Line Infantry march quickly enough to prevent the Blue Force from escaping?

The end of Turn 5. The Blue Force closed in for what it hoped would be the kill on the Red Light Infantry, whilst the Blue Line Infantry continued their fighting withdrawal as the Red troops pushed forwad to help the beleagured unit on the road. 

Some how the Red Light Infantry just held on.

The Blue Line Infantry continue to hold back the Red Line Infantry.

Turn 6 and Der Hexenkessel. As the Blue Cavalry charges the Red Light Infantry, who manage to turn to face, the Red Light Infantry arrive to surprise the Blue Force. The fighting is confused with no real space for manouevre for the Blue Force as the Red Force closes in.

Can the Blue Cavalry sweep away the Red Light Infantry>

The Red Light Infantry appear in the flank of the Blue Line Infantry as Blue Light Infantry move to cover the Red Line Infantry who are advancing in Line.

The end of Turn 6. The Blue Cavalry make short work of the Red Light Infantry, opening up an avenue of retreat at last. The Red Infantry cannot quite get enough hits to force the Blue troops to rout, although one Blue Line Infantry unit does have to retreat to reform.

The Blue Line Infantry from the Centre that have been delaying the Red Force finally have to retreat to reform.

The road is now open, but can Blue take advantage of it?

The Red Light Infantry just fail to cause the Blue Line Infantry to fall back to reform.

The Red Force still pushing on hoping to stop the Blue Force.

End of Game
A close run thing but on Turn 7 Blue managed to extracate 3 units from the tightening noose and thereby gain victory, but most likely a Pyrrhic one at that.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that pretty much came down to the wire, something that I didn't expect around Turn 3, when I thought it was going to be a walk in the park for the Blue Force. How wrong one can be! It was great to get Honours of War onto the table after so long and as alway sit provided a very enjoyable game. As always some post-game thoughts in no particular order:
  • The random allocation of commander quality worked well and I prefer this to knowing in advance what they will be like. This also greatly adds to the fun of solo play.
  • As both sides had an above average amount of Dashing commanders, their faster movement on Admirable or Inspiring command rolls certainly helped the game move along at a fair old lick and neither side was too slow compared to the other. If say Blue had lots of Dithering and red Dashing, then it would have been a very different game.
  • The 2' x 2' table was a perfect size for HoW with its smaller movement compared to BPII. I deliberately wanted this more steady movement as I felt the generous movements rates of BPII would have unbalanced the game.
  • Once again the 3 base units helped give just enough space on the small table for some movement and manoeuvering.
  • Limiting the exit for the Blue Force to the road only gave the Red Force a fighting chance. If it had been anywhere along the Southern edge, then the Red Cavalry could have escaped very easily and likewise enough of the Blue Infantry. 
  • I could have had the Red Light Infantry move back early on to the road edge, but I wanted them to try and keep the Blue Force 'bottled up' for the Red flanking force that arrived on Turn 2 to have a chance to start making its presence felt. I think this approach worked well but could have been better if the Red shooting had been more effective at the start.
  • The Blue Cavalry could have charged the Red Light Infantry early on and would probably have either forced them to flee back of routed them in close combat. Either way they might have been able to clear the road sooner for the Blue Force.

This has been one of the better scenarios I've played, possibly due to the above that gave a good and balanced game. I think there is plenty of replay value in it to see how things might unfold taking the points above into account.

I don't have any other games planned just yet, but most likely another OHW scenario might make it to the table or a generic bigger scale one, depending upon time and motivation. I hope to get some more painting in, but this is most likely going to be on my mid-19thC ImagiNations troops given my priming issues due to the weather.


Tuesday 7 March 2023

Books, Bugs & Butterflies

With the weather forecast to take a turn for the worse, I thought I'd do a bit of an update on what's been going on here since my last post. A real mish mash of stuff which I hope might contain something of interest for you.

Two books arrived this weekend just gone and absolute crackers they are too. 

I've really enjoyed all of Dalrymple's books and so far this is an absolute cracker. It was bought for some background info for some form of planned Honourable East India Company based games. Still early days but you realise how little of this period you were taught in school. For example I didn't realise that the 'Boston Tea Party' belonged to the HEIC and that the 'Colonists' were worried that the HEIC might expand there operations to America! Certainly that last part piqued my interest for some 'what if?' games were they did land troops there, but that's for another time...

I've been a big fan of Dan Mersey's rules ever since I helped play test 'Lion Rampant' and some of the other titles too in his catalogue. I pondered about getting these but one evening whilst surfing the 'net, I came across a new copy for a price that was too good to refuse. The production values are superb as you would expect from an Osprey book. I've only skimmed it so far but am very impressed with what I've seen.

I've never really been a fan of classic SciFi films and games, but have grown to love the HG Wells and Steam Punk milieu over the years. When 'In Her Majesty's Name' came out I bought the rules, loved the background but frankly the games were a disappointment. Shame as they promised so much. The same happened with another set of rules which for the life of me I cannot remember! But having bought Xenos Rampant I popped into the attic to dig out the figures I still had from those times.

Some 'classic?' GW plastic kits bought for 'IHMN' and never used. A bit on the large side for 10mm but would work even if a bit of a squeeze. I've always loved the 'Dreadnought?' on the left and will definitely used that in some shape or form.

I amassed a load of 6mm figures for skirmish games (mad I know at this 'scale') that did get used, but then like so many projects simply got sidelined. Looking at them now I wonder how the hell did I paint them and add highlights? I sure as hell couldn't do that now?

A good sized 15mm Platoon or Company for the ruleset that I cannot remember the name of. Demo'd at a show and then not used since. I had fun painting them but this futuristic look doesn't float my boat anymore.

I will probably use the 6mm figures to get some trial games in at some point just to get a hang of the rules. Ultimately my aim is some form of Victorian SciFi in the future but I have plenty of other stuff in the queue as it is.

Butterflies & 18thC India
The 'Anarchy' book above has certainly whetted my appetite for some games set in India between the HEIC and one of the many States and their Allies that they fought. I'm in full 'Butterfly' mode at present and I'm certainly having lots of fun thinking of what figures to use etc, but currently am very much in research mode. To this end I dug out the following:

Rescued from my 'to sell' pile as I hadn't remembered that it contains quite a bit of info on India (unsurprisingly) but in the period I'm exploring. I thought it only covered Victorian conflicts!

Not the best Black Powder supplement to be honest, but it does have a very useful basic set of stats for the HEIC and their Opponents.

As with many of my rules, bought somewhat on a whim. Whilst it doesn't cover the 18thC per se, there is some useful info and some good ideas that could fit into a campaign.

France 1940
Unusually for me, despite the above distractions of the 'Wargames Butterlfy', I'm managing to maintain a pretty good focus on getting stuff prepped and painted for the forthcoming campaign. I now have enough for the first scenario, which I hope to play by the weekend.

The M/C & Sidecar form the HQ for the Recce force which will be supported by these Armoured Cars. I must say painting Panzer grey at this scale is tricky to get tight, as you don't want them to be too light. I think I've found a good compromise which works well on the table.

Trucks and Pz 38's awaiting priming, which won't happen for a while as the weather is too cold.

A mix of Artillery, AA, Support Units and Half-Tracks again awaiting priming and grit on some bases. All will be required later on in the campaign.

My focus has been on getting troops etc ready, but I do need to make some barricades and a few decorative items for the table. Given the cold weather we are forecast these should jump to the fore in the next day or two.

You might well wonder why I have put a picture of an ASDA flannel under Terrain? Well it cost me the bargain price of £0.70 and it looks a good colour for some Summer crops in a field. I need to do an experiment to see whether I need to drybrush it to add higlights, leave it as is (once cut to size) or base it as per my other fields. I'm hoping it will look good but if not I've not exactly wasted too much money!

An In Other News
My good friend Keith Flint has recently announced the date for this years Cotswold Wargaming Day . All being well Dave and I will be putting on another game. Currently we are looking at something set in 18thC India which could be fun, hence my current research frenzy. Updates will surely follow and I hope to see some of you there this year?