Clotted Lard

Clotted Lard

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Battle of Pinhoe 1001 AD - Dux Bellorum

Yesterday David and I got to play the finalised version of the scenario I have been working on over recent weeks and covered in my post on JJ's Wargames - Battle of Pinhoe 1001 AD Dux Bellorum where I was looking to use the rule set Dux Bellorum to play a scenario game rather than a points based one, to recreate the local battle at Pinhoe just outside Exeter.

Dux Bellorum - A rule set I have come to like more and more each time I play them

The battle saw some 4,000 Viking raiders led by Palig Tokesen confront a hastily raised 2,000 man Fyrd army of Devon with some men from Somerset led by Theign Kola, after the raiders having landed at Exmouth marched on Exeter but were repulsed and forced to seek better sport in the neighbouring villages before being challenged by the arrival of Kola's army.

The Anglo-Saxon line forms up on the rear slope of Beacon Hill as scouts war of the approach of the Viking host

Two days prior to our club game I took the time to walk the battlefield on Beacon Hill just outside the modern day village of Pinhoe and you can read a post about that walk together with a PDF of this scenario that we played here.

JJ's Wargames, Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Pinhoe

Thus this game is the culmination of the previous three play-tests together with a walk on the likely site for the battle to confirm the terrain characteristics.

The Viking force approaches in three distinct groups with skirmishers covering the flanks

The Viking host approached the hill in three distinct groups with two units of bow armed skirmishers on each flank who attempted to take out the tree groups of Saxon skirmishers with their shooting as soon as they came into range.

The Saxon skirmishers wisely hugged the scattered woods around the hill using the cover and a few Leadership Points (LP) placed with them to protect against unfortunate hits, but waiting for any chance to rush from cover and close assault their opponents whilst replenishing their bows.

Saxon skirmishers rush out from the small woods around the hill to ambush their Viking opposites and try to reduce their threat

In these first battles between the skirmishers the Saxons managed to balance the forces to one skirmish base apiece and take three LP off the Vikings for two lost in return.

As the skirmish battle starts on the Saxon right flank the line waits in silence as the Vikings approach

The Skirmish action was however only the hors d'oeuvre to the main course of the two battle lines meeting as the three Viking groups went impetuous and charged up Beacon Hill crashing into their Saxon opposites braced up in shield wall.

Saxon slingers man the woods on the left of the line

At first it seemed as if Tokesen's historic charge would be matched by our game as the Saxon line reeled back in all but one of the clashes as they lost the first rounds of combat and were pushed back.

I, as the Saxon commander, rashly went for the Viking leader using Kola's stand of Companion warriors and adding in two supports together with three LPs to give an eleven dice attack against the Viking Leader only hitting on '6s' but still managing to miss with all eleven dice whilst taking one hit in return.

The tow hosts meet as the Vikings charge home and the first casualties, (gaps among the bases) start to appear

Needless to say the Saxon line did not charge in on the next round of combat, leaving that to the Vikings, however conceding the -2 for charging uphill as the Vikings had successfully pushed the Saxon line back in the previous round.

This time though the Saxon Companions and one base of noble shield wall focused their attacks on the Viking warriors rather than the nobles and companions and were rewarded with multiple casualties and push-backs whilst the rest of the Saxon shieldwall managed to resist the bulk of the Viking attacks and thus pushed back the original attacks.

The fist rounds of close combat with gaps in the lines and pushbacks and follow ups equally spread along it

Shieldwall means that the Saxons were only succumbing to sixes rolled by the Vikings whist the Warrior status of the Vikings meant that apart from their Companions they were succumbing to fives and sixes and the shield wall also reduced Viking attacks by two dice equaling out the reduced striking power of the lower quality Saxon shieldwall.

Thus the game produces a finely balanced struggle on the hill that should eventually turn in favour of the better quality Viking host with their extra Leadership Points but the balance of the struggle in the early contest together with our house-rule of testing the success of LP's used to save hits, needing a 4,5 or 6 to succeed, keeps things interesting for the Saxon commander looking to take as many Vikings down as he can and force them to seriously think about leaving.

The first Viking casualties

The other added house-rule of a variable clock rolling down the eighteen turns of an Annals Battle meant that the players could not be sure if they were fighting a nine, eighteen or thirty-six turn battle or something in between thus adding a little extra pressure to the struggle.

In the end the Saxon line succumbed on turn ten having lost five bases of shield-wall warriors including the two levies and reduced to just one LP but having in return taken out four bases of Viking warriors together with three skirmish bases and reduced the Viking force to just two LP.

The first Saxon casualties

This was a really hard fought struggle likely emulating the historical contest fought a couple of miles from where we were playing a thousand years previously and produced a really fascinating game with decision points throughout as to where to place LPs and whether to charge or fight this group or another and I really enjoyed the afternoon.

Not only that but it has been really nice to get the Saxon - Viking collection out after putting it together just a year ago and I am very keen to add to the collection in time and play more Dux Bellorum which I feel has to be one of the best sets of rules written by Dan Mersey

Thanks to David for taking me on with the Vikings and to Bob and Steve M for the earlier play-tests that have helped shape this scenario.

The PDF for the scenario can be found here:
JJ's Wargames, Battlefields in Devon - Battle of Pinhoe

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Sharply Buffed in the Eighty Years War - The Battle of Hogs-Mill Run

Sharply Buffed in the rules adaptation for Renaissance War actions using Sharp Practice II that was published in the Lardy Summer Special 2017 and written by Nick Worthington.
Too Fat Lardies - Summer Special 2017

Thank you to David for our report on the action at Hogs Mill Run

If only he’d known what was going on, he thought, as he chewed ruminatively on the bacon rasher.
He hadn’t a clue. He didn’t know who was who or what was what or what did what to whom or how
well they did it. He’d only gone into the village, past the two buxom wenches, out of idle curiosity.
And then he found he was defending the place from - well, he wasn’t quite sure, but there seemed a lot of them.

“Take command of these two units and defend the ford, I’ll defend the bridge” said the voice. Well, at least someone knew what they were doing, he thought. Just then, a crashing volley rang out from nowhere, smashing into the flank of one of his newly acquired units. Even he knew this was not ‘a good thing’. Somehow the unit survived and managed to line the river bank, where it delivered a  distinctly underwhelming volley. Another volley from somewhere saw his unit scuttling back to his command post.

He could hear firing from the bridge. Things seem to be under control there, with neat blocks of somethings with other things on their right flank pouring volleys into an enemy which was keeping a
respectful distance – unlike his flank ,where the enemy were closing on the ford with alarming rapidity.

“You take these,” said the voice.

Now ‘These’ looked much more promising. Firstly, they were mounted, secondly, they sported some
serious looking heavy armour, and thirdly, they carried things they could shoot with. Reinforcements
were also arriving near the buxom wenches. Things were decidedly looking up.

He devised a plan. His mounted lobsters would execute a glorious charge across the ford and pierce
a hole in the enemy line. He would then flood through the gap and drive the enemy from the field.
Already an enemy unit carrying pointy things had respectfully withdrawn, obviously fearing the
oncoming onslaught. He launched the charge and watched with satisfaction as the mounted lobsters
punched a hole through the enemy line.

Now was the time for decisive action, press home the advantage. He strode forward purposefully,
failing to see a sow suckling her young at his feet. He fell headlong into the pig mire.

He had imagined his first command post to be a lofty eminence, where he could look down, eagle eyed, on the field of battle. Or maybe the high tower of a luxurious chateau. Or perhaps even dare he dream, a windmill with a specially constructed gallery for him to pace up and down, arms behind his back, head bowed in deep thought. But, a pigsty, really?

He got slowly to his feet, a stabbing pain in his ankle. He could see that ‘bad things’ had happened.
The mounted lobsters were nowhere to be seen, the enemy unit carrying pointy things had somehow crossed the ford and were wreaking havoc. Where were the reinforcements? Being delayed by the buxom wenches, no doubt.

“Army moral broken,” said the voice, gleefully. “I’m off.”

He had to admit it, he’d been pretty inept. He’d lost everything. Well, not quite he thought, tossing
another pork chop into the sizzling pan.

My thanks to Bob, Nathan and Mr Steve for participating in an entertaining and enjoyable game and
particularly to Colin, who set up the scenario and provided the beautiful figures and terrain. A pleasure and privilege to use.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Cruel Seas

Chas promised to give us a full blooded run out of Warlord's new offering "Cruel Seas". This is a
naval set of rules, together with a 1:300 range of small craft, from the forces that fought out actions
in places like the English Channel, the Mediterranean, Far East etc.

Our scenario took place in the North Sea, pitching Vosper 73 MTB's and Fairmile MGBs against
S-Boats (E-Boats if you prefer) and a small German convoy of coasters, armed trawlers etc.
The year was 1942 and the Germans were intent on moving heavy water from Norway, along the
coast to Germany, for use in their nuclear programme. The British Force consisted of a mix of MTBs
and MGBs, with orders to take out the freighters at all costs.

Bill and I flew the flag for the Royal Navy, whilst John and Chas played the Kriegsmarine forces.

After a quick conflab, Bill took half our force to strike at the head of the convoy, whilst I had the balance of our craft, ready to exploit any gaps in the convoy's escorts that Bill created. On the other side John took the fast craft escort, whilst Chas took all the slower vessels, such as cargo ships, trawlers and mine sweepers.

As soon as the convoy appeared, Bill launched a full blooded attack, firing a wide spread of torpedoes. As the fish were away, a vicious gun battle developed between the S-Boats and MTBs/MGBs. A Vosper and an S-Boat soon joined Davey Jones.

The convoy turned in an attempt to "comb" all the torpedoes they could, but four or five found their mark. At this point we tested for duds and all bar one was, with the remaining torpedo causing moderate damage to one cargo vessel.

The S-Boats and the heavy guns on the slow escorts were taking their toll on the British squadron,
with several more vessels being sunk, whilst the rest sought to turn to deliver another torpedo attack.

At this point I brought the other half of our forces onto the scene, together with our lone Blenheim bomber.

The Blenheim successfully strafed most of the convoy's larger vessels and turned for another run.
Bill's forces lost further craft and an S-Boat went down to the weight of concentrated fire.

In this melee things became confused and one of my MTBs rammed my Fairmile, causing major
damage to both.

A further spread of torpedoes was launched at the convoy, as another MTB was sunk.

The fire of the minesweeper and armed trawlers was now finding its mark, but the Blenheim hit the
trawler with an airburst bomb, crippling the boat.

Several torpedoes hit home and all were duds. This was the British high water mark and the few British vessels capable, put the pedal to the metal and headed home.

It looked like the Germans were a step nearer developing a nuclear weapon.

A good game, played in a friendly manner. We had some queries regarding the rules, despite the errata and had to use "house rules" to cover the situation.

The rules give a good game, although a few areas caused me to draw breath (a torpedo can't sink an
undamaged mine sweeper - really ?), but they are not insurmountable.

All in all a fun game, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Many thanks to Chas for giving us the chance to play and painting a large number of vessels over the
past few weeks. The models are very nice and although I think 1:600 suits the game better, I can see
why Warlord have gone for the much more attractive 1:300 scale.


Monday, 14 January 2019

France 1940 - Chain of Command

The new year kicked off with a very good start when Jason offered to bring along his very fine collection of 28mm WWII 1940 France collection for my first game of Chain of Command in 2019; this following having missed the chance of playing Nathan's Battle of the Bulge themed scenario back in November.

Given that following that game we had a few requests for more information on the orders of battle and the scenario I thought I would head that off right from the start by reproducing the excellent orbat sheets that Jason produced; which as you can see from the pictures also allowed our troops to be laid out in their respective commands ready for deployment onto the table.

As you can see we had an attacking force of German infantry and Pioneers supported by tanks attempting to force a river crossing and drive their armour off the other side of the table heading for the French coast.

Note the radio truck and two multi figure command groups served as German jump off points

To save on drawing maps the picture below shows our table with the river to the right with the first German elements having deployed near the road bridge and further along at the ford which has a minefield blocking the latter and tank obstacles and wire on the former.

To frustrate the dastardly 'Boche' plans of European domination our heroes took the form of a hastily formed group of British and French infantry supported by some British tanks including one rather formidable Matilda II.

Their task was to prevent the Germans driving through their position and off the opposite table edge whilst also defending a disguised British command bunker, no doubt full of decrypted German signals traffic that might have alerted the enemy to a successful breach of their unbreakable enigma code.

As with the Germans, various trucks and multi-figure command groups served as jump-off points.

One of the really clever parts of the Chain of Command design is the 'cat and mouse' process of laying patrol markers as both sides attempted to get control of key areas of terrain in preparation for deploying their forces, whilst also attempting to stop the enemy from doing the same.

German infantry get into cover ready to protect the pioneers advancing over the bridge

For the Germans the game was very much about pushing over the river and securing key points of cover to facilitate the advance of the German Pioneers and to cover their work parties as they set about demolishing and destroying allied blocks to the German tank force.

Likewise at the ford the first German elements attempt to make the best use of the cover around the position

For the allies a very similar but conversely different plan developed as they sought to get their defending infantry into the best forward cover and batter the German infantry elements before they could feed their armour across to join the battle.

The first allied elements were quickly deploying along hedgerows opposite the German crossing points

Thus the game developed into a ferocious exchange of small arms fire interspersed with the odd bit of mortar and infantry gun high explosive as the sides sought to dominate the two river crossings while German Pioneers quickly disposed of one of the mine-fields on the ford and broke down much of the tank delaying obstacles on the bridge.

Soon British small arms fire was zipping across the fields towards the German troops

The removal of just a part of the minefield at the ford only allowed enough room for the diminutive Panzer I to cross in support of the infantry, but the deployment of the German HMG on tripod together with a section of Pioneers and infantry quickly drove the French infantry off the opposite hedge line.

However the arrival of a British Vickers VIB tank stabilised the allied flank especially when the PaK 36 missed a golden opportunity of taking out the British tank.

Amid smoke rounds and small arms fire the German tanks move towards the bridge

The battle for the bridge saw the German armour advance slowly through the partially destroyed road block and start to drive through the infantry delaying wire entanglements, drawing copious fire from the large shop facing the river, which turned out to be a British command bunker in disguise.

The Germans out in the field and exposed to fire from the British bunker deploy smoke

Despite a hosing down by German small arms, HE and tank rounds causing seemingly endless casualties and gathered shock markers the resistance from the building never ceased demonstrated by endless rounds of return fire that stymied attempts by the German infantry to press further forward.

As the building around the bunker catches fire, the first British tank can be seen approaching along the road behind the building

In the end the arrival of further British armoured elements signalled that the allies had won the race to dominate this particular part of the front line and that German attempts to press on would have to be directed to other parts of the allied positions.

I really like the way Chain of Command models WWII combat at the platoon level and know that more games would increase that enjoyment as I became more familiar with the nuances that the rules offer the junior commander from the various nations.

Sadly with my own focus directed more towards the sandal clad spear and shield eras of history at the moment I don't play quite as often as I would like, so have to grab my occasional WWII fix with very nice games like this one.

Thank you to Jason for the pleasure of playing with his very nice collection of toys and to John, Steve M, Stephen H, Ian and Chris for a very enjoyable game to kick off the club new year.