Wednesday 27 March 2024

OHW Scenario 14 - Static Defence or The Battle of the Lonesome Pine

I've had this scenario all prepped and ready to play for a few weeks now, but simply have not had the time to get it onto the table. Last night with the weather forecast looking grim for the next day (and by God it has been) I pulled my finger out and got the basics all set up. So all I had to do this morning was deploy both sides and I was ready to go.

As before with the OHW scenarios, I've upped the number of units, using the table from Thomas' 'Wargaming 19thC Europe', which gives a better game IMHO, but more on that later. The results were as follows:

Red - Defender
4 x Line Infantry
2 x Skirmishers
2 x Cavalry (can fight dismounted)
2 x Artillery

Blue - Attacker
4 x Line Infantry
1 x Skirmishers
3 x Cavalry (can fight dismounted)
2 x Artillery

With the plan for this years Cotswold Wargames Day game to use BPII as the ruleset, I decided to give these a run out to get au fait with them again as it's been sometime since I used them. As before I will be using the Glory Hallelujah! supplement tweaks, which work really well. So without further ado:

An overview of the table, with Red at the top, Blue the bottom. Blue just needs to be in control of either the hill or the town to win the game.

Roughly half the Red force in front of the town.

The Red Skirmishers in hedgehog defence in the wood.

The rest of the Red force on and around the Lonesome Pine Hill.

Blue's force ready to push forward towards the hill.

The Cavalry in the centre with Skirmishers covering their flank.

The end of Turn 1. The Blue force moved off smartly but having advanced so far, were unable to fire (I forgot that units in March Column get a free move even if they fail their order, so the left flank could have moved). Red reacted to the threat and opened some effective fire, a good start for them.

The Blue Skirmishers shaken & disordered.

The Cavalry having dismounted line the fences.

Disaster as combined fire sees the loss of one Red Line Infantry unit!

The end of Turn 2. Blue's left flank caught up, whislt the rest held their positions more or less. Some good shooting was offset by morale save right across the board for the Red troops! In response Red only managed to KO the Blue Skirmishers in the ploughed field.

Another unit lost so early on in the game.

The Blue left flank marches to the sound of the guns.

The end of Turn 3. Blue's left flank deployed into line as Red moved forward to pressure Blue's right flank. Neither sides shooting was anything to write home about!

Blue's left flank has deployed at the Bloody Angle as it would become known as.

The end of Turn 4. Sadly another Turn of neither side hitting the proverbial barn door.

Blue's Cavalry has moved to refuse the flank and has been disordered as a result by Red's fire.

The end of Turn 5. Neither side moved, just carrying on with the firefight, although Blue was beginnning to accumulate hits on Red, but still not enough to cause units to break.

The hits are beginning to mount on the Red troops.

The end of Turn 6. Finally the dam bursts and Red loses a Skirmisher and Line Infantry unit, giving a glimpse of hope to the Blue force that they might achieve a breakthrough. Red tries to respond but fails to do much damage to Blue.

Skirmishers in the wood break...

... as do a Line Infantry unit at the Bloody Angle.

The end of Turn 7. With time running out, Blue mounts up their Cavalry where they can and move round to the left flank in the hope they can reach the hill in time to claim victory. Shooting forces a Red Cavalry unit to retreat to reform and a charge by Blue sees the loss of a Red Line Infantry unit.

The Blue Cavalry retreat through their comrades to reform.

Blue's Line Infantry break through Red's and make a sweeping advance towards the hill.

Blue's Cavalry poised to exploit the opening made by their Line Infantry.

Red react by moving their Cavalry onto the hill to try and keep control of it.

The end of Turn 8. Blue desperately manouevre units to try and shoot Red off the hill, as the Cavalry fail to move far enough to reach it.

Blue's Line Infantry move forward to shoot at the Red troops on the hill.

The Cavalry unable to reach the hill, dismount to shoot.

Red just manage to hand onto to the hill to win the game!

End of the Game
Blue just failed at the last hurdle, but it was a bloody and Pyrhhic victory for Red, given the losses they had suffered.

Post Game Thoughts
A funny old game for several reasons, but nice to finally get the scenario onto the table and to give BPII a run out again. Some thoughts on it all as follows:
  • Well I was certainly rusty with the rules, so good to get them out again and try to get them comfortable in my head. A lot came back to me, but not as much as when I play HoW or BKCII, the latter which feels like second nature to me now. Certainly a good case for limiting the rules you play!
  • On some other Blog posts of late, there have been quite a few games of Valour & Fortitude and how they compare to BPII. Whilst I think V&F are too short for my tastes, with key info contained in one sentence which can easily be missed, on the otherhand BPII is too wordy, often making it hard to track down that key phrase. Both have their place in our games, but whichever you like, playing them to the point you are comfortable with them negates the aforementioned 'negatives'.
  • Having upped the unit count from 6 to 10, I really should have made the table area larger and kept more units having to stay within 12" of the hill or town, as per the scenario conditions. It felt a bit cramped, plus the units by the town didn't feel out of the game due to the ranges in BPII. If I had played this using HoW, then I feel it would have felt like I could defeat one objective or the other in 'detail'. Here it felt like a normal game with a big wood in the middle of the table. Lesson hopefully learnt when using BPII.
  • With both sides unable to hit a barn door for 2-3 Turns, I must admit it got rather boring, as nothing was happening. Just one of those games where the dice rolls were poor for a lot of the time.
  • The Cavalry were fun to use and beign able to act light mobile infantry, gave a nice new dynamic to the game. They will feature in our CWD scenario for sure, so expect them to feature in more games in due course.
  • Whilst this wasn't a big game by any means, I think I will try some smaller actions to get the core mechanics of BPII under my belt, before trying something on this scale again.

In Other News
With Easter in a few days little gaming or anything related to it is highly unlikely to happen. At least there will be plenty of chocolate to be consumed! I have been making some terrain for the CWD and adding some more units to my 19thC ImagiNations forces, but have yet to paint them. Whilst checking what I had, I discovered 3 units of Infantry that I had completely forgotten that were painted maybe a year ago. They just need flags and flock and they are ready to go. But more on this another time.

Today we also learnt that our son has finally got his own flat and that it has all been signed off. All we have to do is sign the tenancy aggreement and then I have the dubious pleasure of dealing with the DWP for his Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, plus a host of other things too. At least the company who own thr property are very happy to help me with all this! So I expect that April is going to be taken up with paperwork and slowly getting the flat furnished and ready for our son to move in. After so long trying to find a place it still seems a but surreal that it has finally happened.

What this does mean is that I will get my own small wargames room, where I can leave games set up, have my own paint station etc. Like many gamers this is something I've dreamed of for years, so look forward to it taking shape. Sadly I know that a lot of time will be spend decorating the house, something that is long over due, but with just me and SWMBO, it should be a fairly quick job, famous last words!


Tuesday 26 March 2024

Blogger Issues

For some reason unbeknownst to me, Blogger has suddenly stopped sending me email notifications of replies to comments made on other peoples Blogs. In the normal scheme of things, I would make a comment, which would then appear in my email inbox: ditto replies from other Bloggers and from the Blogger themselves. But as of yesterday that all stopped. I've absolutely no idea why as there is no rhyme nor reason to it. I haven't changed anything to the best of my knowledge. One moment there were 28 spam messages waiting from Norm Smith's Blogs and then nothing.

So apologies should anyone be expecting a reply to a comment made on your Blog etc, as short of having to check them all again, I've no way of knowing if this is required of me. To say I'm a tad annoyed about the whole thing is a bit of an understatement. Hopefully it will be sorted soon, but I'm not holding me breath...

Despite this technical glitch, stuff is going on in the background wargames wise, but real life is preventing me getting any games in, despite having one ready to go as it were, which has been the case for over a week now. As SWMBO is out tonight, maybe I can get the game set up to play tomorrow...


Friday 8 March 2024

The Severn Samurai

Despite trying to wear my 'sensible hat' these past few days, I have succumbed to doing a (currently) small Samurai project, inspired by watching the current re-make of 'Shogun' on Disney+. As I think I mentioned before, my knowledge of this 'period' is rather lacking, with anything that passes for it based upon those superb Kurosawa films we used to see on the BBC. To significantly expand upon this 'knowledge', I decided to buy the following book as a good starting point:

I have a variety of these 'sourcebooks' for other periods, which have all been excellent, so this seemed a perfect starting point. At over 300 pages and packed full of detail, it will help me to get a good grounding to move forward. It was also less than the price of a second hand Osprey book!

Games wise there are plenty of options in my current rules collection, from small scales skirmish, right up to large scale battles. They are:

My preference is certainly for small scale actions using these rules, and whilst surfing the next, I came across some very useful lists on Michael Leck's Blog. You could of course use 'Lion Rampant' too.

For larger games, Warlord Games have published the following Army Lists to be used with these rules. Highly unlikely for me to be honest, but good to know should things change...

This book contains a complete set of rules for gaming the Samurai period in question, so I could use either blocks/counters, 2mm figures or simply bases from 'The Pikemen's Lament' forces, with this being the easiest option.

So looking at the sample lists on Michael Leck's Blog, I've already put in an order with Pendraken, based upon these, but with some additions so that I can field some Ikko Ikki warrior monks cum rebellious villagers etc. Having just watched the latest episode of 'Shogun', I'm now going to add some archers and mounted Samurai, to give me some more flexibilty for forces and scenarios.

I'm in two minds about adding sashimono banners to the figures, as they seem to not have been used in smaller actions, but they do really help add to the look of the period, so may use them for the leader only. 

I've also pondered using some of the ECW troops for a bit of a 'what if?', where the Dutch East Indies Company, the East India Company and Portugese/Spanish had some troops being used by both sides. Not historically accurate as far as I can tell, but it could be fun. I've also remembered that I have a ship model somewhere that could make a nice piece on the coast for part of a campaign, battle and storyline etc.


Saturday 2 March 2024

Arnhem 'Tiger' Route - Post Campaign Thoughts

So with the campaign drawing to a sudden and rather bloody end earlier this evening, as mentioned I thought I'd jot down some thoughts in no particular order, based upon the three games so far.

I really noticed the lack of heavy weapons that the British had, compared to the Germans, even compared to Krafft's Training Battalion. Now I know it's pretty hard to find out exactly what Krafft had to hand, but even with the reduced support weapons I gave the Germans, the British were still out-gunned. Although the British had better stats for the Paras, only having one MG & 3" Mortar did not compare favourably with the Germans, who had double that amount.

Now this has not normally been a big issue for the British in other games, as they rely heavily upon artillery and air support as they did historically, so at least can achieve parity with the Germans and their mortars etc. However here only only having limited artillery support and no air support really impacted on their ability to prosecute attacks, especially against BUA's.

German Mortars
As in the historical battle, the British did suffer mightily at the hands of the 81mm mortars, which could just bring down an overwhelming amount of firepower at times, something that the British really didn't have an answer to. Keeping them back until the third scenario was right and anything earlier might have led to an even shorter campaign.

Fastest With The Mostest
The British have no options other than to keeping pushing forward as fast as they possibly can. With no artillery or mortar support early on, they simply have to keep probing and hope to outflank any German positions they come across. As we saw, this naturally carries risks, as it exposes you to enemy fire and if you take casualties early on, it's pretty dmaned hard to recover because you simply do not have any reserves. Even giving the British 'D' Company as a 'bonus', they had already pretty much shot their bolt in terms of maintaining an offensive stance due to previous losses.

2nd Kompanie
One could argue that with the sterling performance of 2nd Kompanie in the first two games, the British had lost any chance they realistically had and were on the back foot from then on. To have a chance it felt that they had to overcome the 2nd Kompanie quickly and with minimal loss, to allow them to push on and prevent the Germans forming defensive positions to the rear. 2nd Kompanie certainly managed to replicate the 'hit & run' tactics that kept the British off balance from the off, allowing them to maintain control of the engagements that followed after the first.

This worked well in all the games, whether it be from the HQ's representing to Company 2" mortars, or the British artillery in game three. I think I got the balance right in terms of its usage and it's something I want to carry forward into other games.

This helped the Germans as they could keep falling back to good positions with decent fields of fire as well as BUA's, whereas the British couldn't take time to make and plan an attack, but almost fight straight from the line of march. As was seen historically, when the Germans had to attack against the British, even with overwhleming firepower, it took a long time and at great cost to all involved.

Apparently Freddie Gough asked for some tanks to be included in the first drop, which might have helped his Recce Squadrons push forward as in the first few hours, the Germans would have had very limited equipment with which to stop them. However the lack of any decent HE shells might have limited the actual usefullness of the tanks, but psychologically they might have been more effective.

Solo vs FtF
As a campaign as it stands, I feel it would not be fun for FtF games, certainly for the British player. As a solo one it was more interesting as it didn't matter to me either way what happened, as I let the narrative evolve after each game and based around the scenarios from the magazine. Maybe if the British had had a better start, it might have been more challenging, but I struggle to see how.

The Scenarios
It was interesting to try and scale the scenarios up from Platoon to Battalion level, but I'm not sure how well they worked. It certainly felt right and historical in terms of outcomes, but if I were to do this again, I would use them more as a basic framework from to work on, rather than as something to follow closely. 

What If?
Anyone interested in the Market-Garden Campaign should really read 'Operation Market-Garden, The Campaign For the Low Countries, Autumn 1944: Seventy Years On' in the Wolverhampton Military Studies Series, published by Helion. Having re-read some of the articles last week, you really do get the feel that the plan was more or less doomed to fail from the start. However in looking at all the issues involved, it does give you a good basis from which to form a plausible 'What if?' campaign, which I think would make for a more challenging, interesting and enjoyable campaign. Again whether it would have worked is naturally open to debate and would rely upon some form of boardgame or map to factor in XXX Corps etc, but it would be fun to do: maybe one day...

Summing Up
Despite all of the above, or maybe because of it, from a solo perspective I really enjoyed all of the games and felt that I learnt a lot about the challenges faced by both sides. It also gave me ideas and pointers for future campaigns which, as I hope you have seen here, make you think about the wider picture and when to hold and fight on, or whether to withdraw to live to fight another day is the better option.

So I hope you enjoyed the three games and my summing up and hopefully I the lessons learned can be taken forward to my Normandy campaign later in the year...


Arnhem 'Tiger' Route - The Bilderburg Hotel

Things went slightly better for the British last game, so before we kick off again, a quick update on how things stand:

The German 2nd Kompanie was happy to see SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Krafft and the rest of the Battalion, based in hasty positions around the Bilderburg Hotel. With access to their heavy weapons in the form of 81mm and 120mm Mortars, the Germans could feel confident that they might be able to hold up the British advance. Unbeknown to them, some reinforcements from the 9th SS-Pz Division were on their way to provide much needed support.

For Lt-Col Fitch and his 3rd Battalion, things were certianly not going to plan, but at least they were still pushing forward along the Utrechtsweg. However his Companies were depleted, by fortunately another Company that had lost its way came under his command at a most opportune moment.

So onto the game:

An overview of the table, with the British arriving from the North, with the Germans deployed around both road junctions and to the flanks.

2nd Kompanie on the left flank, in a place of relative safety.

SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Krafft deployed to move to where he might be needed most.

4th Kompanie deployed to cover the roads, with one Platoon held back in reserve.

9th Kompanie covering the right flank.

Possible German reinforcements.

'A' Company with the Battalion 6pdr ATG on the right flank. Lacking transport a local farmer is helping them out. Asked his name, he said: "I am Groot".

'B' Company to the right, 'C' Company to the left.

'D' Company, having got lost, have come under command.

The end of Turn 1. The British got off to a good start, with all Companies moving forward. 'C' Company came under fire from 4th Kompanie and their supporting Mortars, whilst 'D' Company crossed the road and reached the fence line.

4th Kompanie come under fire from 'C' Company, but weathering the storm of fire, return the favour with interest, due to their supporting Mortars.

The view from 'C' Company.

'D' Company push forward unobserved by the Germans.

The end of Turn 2. The British FAO manages to bring down smoke on 4th Kompanie, but it cannot cover all of their positions. 'A' Company fails to mve forward, but 'B' Company moves up alongside 'C' Company, who have pushed a Platoon across the road to threaten the 4th Kompanie flank. 'D' Company moves forward into the woods where 9th Kompanie are deployed and start to engage them.

Smoke obscures some of 4th Kompanie.

One Platoon of 'C' Company threatens 4th Kompanies flank.

Not an outbreak of measles, but the after effects of German shooting and Mortar fire. 'B' & 'C' Company both lose a platoon each, with others taking heavy casualties.

'D' Company enters the wood and engages 9th Kompanie, but they fail to shoot effectively, allowing 9th Kompanie to turn to meet the threat.

2nd Kompanie looking towards 'B' Company's position, where their accurate shooting caused plenty of casualties.

The end of Turn 3. With most of 'B' & 'C' Company suppressed, there was little they could do, whilst 'A' Company slowly moved forward. 'D' Company continued to engage 9th Kompanie, but again to little effect. 

'A' Company continue to advance, whilst the FAO tries to explain the blue-on-blue incident that caused the loss of the remaining Platoon of 'B' Company.

4th Kompanie continue to resist, despite 'C' Company's best efforts.

'C' Company lose another Platoon to Mortar fire.

Despite overwhelming firepower, 'D' Company cannot gain fire superiority over 9th Kompanie.

End of the Game
With 'B' Company gone and 'A' & 'C' Companies down to effectively one Platoon between them, in reality the 3rd Battalion had ceased to exist. Only 'D' Company had any offensive potential, but even if they had overcome 9th Kompanie, they would struggle to regain the Utrechtsweg, having to cross open ground and the BUA's occupied by 2nd & 4th Kompanies. 

So at this point I called the game as there was little reason to play another Turn, given the above and the fact that 9th SS-Panzer Division reinforcements were on their way.

Post Game Thoughts
Well it all started so well for the British and then suddenly it all went so wrong! Normally I would give a few musings on the game at this point, but there seems little need to, given it was pretty obvious what happened and what went wrong for the British and what went right for the Germans. I will however do a post-campaign wash up which will include a few points from this game. Hopefully I'll do this in a day or so whilst everything is fresh in my mind.

What Next?
Ideally some painting, a mix of WWII British for my planned Normandy campaign as well as some 19thC ImagiNations additions for our planned Cotwswold Wargames Day game, but more on that in another post when things are more firmed up. Games wise maybe some Black Powder II for something different, given it's been 18thC & 20thC so far this year. Time to get thinking on some scenarios etc...