Saturday, 18 August 2018

Black Hawk Down - Force on Force, Day of the Rangers


Today Chas took us back to his time in General Aidid's militia. Specifically the events surrounding the downing of an American Black Hawk and the attempts by the "Yankee Dogs", to rescue the captured aircrew and destroy the secret 1990's technology onboard the helicopter (think something considerably less capable than the phone in your pocket and you won't be far wrong).


Bob & Steve H took the part of the local defence forces (or paid gunmen hyped up on drugs, depending on your view point) and myself, Charlie & Mark were the foreign aggressors (or heroic forces of freedom).


Mark commanded four CIA Operators who were watching the building where the aircrew were being held and a squad of Delta Force soldiers, who would carry out the rescue operation. Charlie & I each had a column of three Humvees, entering town on parallel roads. Each convoy consisted of a stick of Rangers in two gun Humvees (mounting 50 cals) and an unarmed Cargo Humvee. Our task was to pick up the rescue team and the hostages.


The game opened with the CIA Operators calling in 2 "Little Bird" helicopters and the Delta teams fast roping from them onto the roof of the target building. Needless to say, this generated considerable interest among the locals.

With militia taking up firing positions, the CIA men gave effective covering fire and dropped a number of fighters. Despite this, a Little Bird was hit and had to head for base, but not before the Delta teams made it to the roof.


With the sound of firing, Ranger Command signalled the Humvee columns to head into town. My column had not gone far, before local gunmen were spotted. "Targets left 200 metres, engaging"
screamed the gunners and the 50 cals gave them the good news, suppressing the mob, as RPGs fired
wildly at the vehicles.

Charlie's column was making better progress, suppressing targets as they appeared and one Ranger team debussed in front of a compound. The breaching charges set, they waited for the bang and nothing happened. "What the ****. I thought you were a demolition expert ?" the team leader shouted.


With Delta teams on the roof, the guards in the target building pushed the hostages in front of them into the street. In the confusion, no Delta or CIA man had a clear shot and the hostages were hustled off into an alley.

With the prisoners on the move, a fire fight developed between Delta troops and Somalia militia. When a technical mounting an HMG joined in, a Little Bird joined the party and its minigun spoke and settled the argument.


The Delta teams set off in pursuit of the aircrew, as the CIA Operators blew up the wreck of the crashed Black Hawk.

Meanwhile my convoy was in some difficulty. The 50 cals on the Humvees were firing in long bursts at targets all over the place. A technical joined in the fire at my vehicles, as RPG rounds and continuous small arms fire, made further progress unwise. Then an RPG round blew off one of the 50 cal mounts and the other gun Humvee had a tyre shot to shreds. The writing was on the wall and the drivers slung their machines into reverse. Racing backwards. we were pursued by the jeers of militia men.


Charlie's convoy found its passage blocked by a crowd of women, children and livestock. Not wanting to appear on the Six O'clock news mowing down civilians, they were forced to debus and make their way on foot, whilst a gun Humvee was sent over rough terrain to try and intercept the group containing the hostages.

With the Deltas firing and moving, they were now in sight of the group containing the hostages. Despite concentrated Somali fire, the Deltas strode down the street firing as they went, killing or routing militia groups as they progressed. With clear shots on the guards, four short bursts of fire settled the matter and the hostages scuttled behind their Delta shield.


It turned out Charlie's cargo Humvee was driven by a suicide jockey. He casually used reckless speed to dodge HMG & small arms fire as he went, arriving behind the Delta team right on cue. The hostages were bundled into their "battle taxi" and out of town, under the covering fire of the returning Little Birds.


A fast paced game, played to "Force on Force", using the "Day of the Rangers" supplement.

Many thanks to Chas for putting on the game and Mark, Charlie, Bob and Steve H for playing it in some style.

Now, where can you get parts for a Humvee round here?

Vince

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Hold the Pass - Augustus to Aurelian


So for those watching the progress of my new collection of figures on JJ's Wargames Dacian Wars based around Emperor Trajan's war in Dacia, the long awaited first game was played at the club yesterday with the units, less a few, created so far.

The game also gave a chance to get reacquainted with Augustus to Aurelian (AtoA), Phil Hendry's rules, together with a scenario entitled 'Hold the Pass' from the Warlord Games, 'Rome's Dacian Wars' scenario book.


The scenario depicts a likely small battle between a Roman supply column trying to make its way forward through one of the many Dacian mountain passes and running up against a Dacian blocking force intent on preventing the supplies reaching the front.


The Dacian force consisted of four warbands, one capwearer, one falx and two others randomised between lowlanders and regulars.

Alongside the heavy infantry, were two units of javelin and archer skirmishers and two 'scorpio' bolt shooters.



The Dacian stats table above shows the factors the players work with during the game referring to each column as required, starting with unit Size (L) large (M) medium, (S) small and (T) tiny, Movement in inches, Combat Dice showing the number of d10 to roll in hand to hand, Combat Attack factor indicating the column to be used on the combat/shooting table, similarly the same for Shooting and Shooting Attack factors for use in missile attacks, the Outlook factor indicating the number of hits the unit can take before becoming shaken and finally the Rating used to indicate the units likelihood of passing a reaction test, with the number needed to be rolled equal to or less than with 2d6 before additional factors.

Note from the above that Scorpio crews aren't exactly designed to engage in hand to hand combat!

The Combat and Shooting table on which the relevant factor is used to find the column
against the armour class for the target. This generates a number to hit scored with a d10 roll equal to
 or less than the number. Additional factors can shift the column used either right or left

For comparison you can see the Roman force stats sheet for a force consisting of two cohorts of legionaries, one hardened veteran, two cohorts of auxiliaries randomly rolled for quality but with one turning up as hardened veteran.

This infantry core was accompanied by one archer and one slinger skirmish unit, one ala each of auxiliary cavalry, Praetorian cavalry and Numidian light cavalry, escorting two supply wagons.

The Romans were randomly tested for their experience levels with all the units testing as regular, except the auxiliary cavalry which were rated as 'Untried' and the Praetorian's who rated as 'Pseudo' awarded to guard units better suited to parade duties in Rome rather than being on the field of battle as an elite fighting force.

Also worth noting that the Numidian's only ever rate as regular or hardened veterans.


As you can see from the pictures of the table, the Dacian force is arrayed at one end of it, holding higher ground either side of the road pass and have built a barricade across the road.

The Romans are approaching from the other end escorting their wagons, intent on breaking through the block.

The armies organised into their respective divisions the game commences

Both sides organised themselves around two divisions under a commander with a senior commander in charge. The commanders were diced for to randomly determine their abilities.

The scenario has a time limit of about seven to eight turns for the Romans to get or be deemed to having got their wagons off the table for a major victory or to have broken the Dacian force but with their wagons on the table for a minor victory, and this definitely puts some pressure on the Romans to get on with it. Any other result would be a Dacian major victory.

One of the aspects I most like about AtoA is that unit activation is by chit/card draw and thus variable with commanders able to have a limited influence over that process with the use of 'Carpe Diem' chits used to grab the initiative when required.

However the turn phase is also governed by the revealing of the Meridiatio chits of which their are two and with the second drawn indicating the end of the turn. This means game turns can be long or short with all or some units getting to activate.

To add yet more uncertainty I randomised when the game would end so putting plenty of pressure into the scenario for both sides to either look to hang on or press as hard and as rapidly as possible to get a favourable result.

The Romans advance with bright red order markers next to command bases and darker red pilum markers next to the legionary cohorts

Throwing a certain amount of caution to the winds given the time constraints, the Roman force barrelled on down the road using march movement to close on the Dacian position within about two complete turns.

The pilum marker is used to indicate when the legionaries have used their specialist javelins

With one Roman division on their left composed of the cavalry plus a unit of skirmish archers, the Praetorian cavalry, led the way and closed on the Dacian right division ahead of the supporting legionaries and auxiliary infantry.

The Dacian warbands sport yellow counters to record their 'brave warrior' count, two each, allowing the unit to get an extra combat dice by deploying a berserker into the Roman ranks - In time I will replace the counters with more suitable individual figures.

Meanwhile as the Romans methodically approached, the Dacians contented themselves to plying their ranks with scorpio bolts and greeting their arrival at their line with additional arrows and javelins.

The Dacian line was well supplied with missile troops

The Praetorian cavalry were a little annoyed with the greeting they received from the Dacian skirmish screen and quickly drove it in with a charge, only to be met my two yelling bands of Dacian warriors crashing into their line from the ridge above.

En mass, the Dacian infantry appear very intimidating

However, palace guards they may have been, but they still bore the title Praetorian and were determined to live up to it, taking enough hits to cause them to go shaken but surviving the reaction test that followed the melee to remain in the fight for another turn.

With their skirmish screen forward, the Dacians cause early casualties with long range bolt shooting scorpios

As the Praetorian's held their ground the Numidians and auxiliary archers cleared the skirmishers from the Dacian extreme right flank whilst the auxiliary cavalry moved up in support.

Fortunately for the guard, the infantry were only a move away from supporting them on the other side of the road, and sure enough, in the next turn the cohort of veteran auxiliary infantry charged forward with a volley of javelins to hit one of the warbands fighting the guard and thus relieve the pressure on them.

In the next round of combat both Dacian warbands were shaken and pushed back but the Praetorian resolve gave way as they fell back through the auxiliary cavalry.

The Roman cavalry on the left of the road lead the Roman assault on the pass

Both opposing divisions were now teetering on morale failure with halve of their units close to being shaken or driven from the field thus forcing the remainder to retire.

Another round of melee saw that situation arise and both divisions were forced to break off leaving the weaker of the two Dacian forces to face off against the Roman infantry desperately trying to engage before the game time expired.

The Roman supply train follow in the wake of the troops

The first cohort of legionaries lived up to their billing hitting with both their pila and gladius strikes to leave the opposing Dacian warband reeling with four hits but not before returning the compliment with three hits of their own on the much smaller Roman unit causing both to go shaken, but seeing the Roman unit win the combat and push the Dacians back.

The Dacian field warbands of around a thousand men in each

With the game time allowed closing in on just one turn remaining and with all the 'Carpe Diem' chits thrown into the draw bag, both sides went at it for one more desperate round with the Roman infantry looking to break the opposing Dacians and grab a minor victory whilst their opponents grimly looked to hang on.

The Praetorian Guard cavalry are counter-charged by two Dacian warbands

Their simply wasn't enough time for the Roman infantry to bring their full force to bear which would probably have seen them victorious in another turn or two, time they did not get.

The Roman infantry, under heavy bolt shooting, press on towards the Dacian ridge line

So victory to the Dacians with the pass held and Trajan no doubt cursing over his delayed resupplies likely forcing the campaign to a close and his army into a winter quarters to await the spring.

Thanks to Steve L, Mr Steve, Mike and Nathan for a fun game using the new collection and to Nick for a resupply of tufts and flowers to garnish yet more bases and indeed the newest unit to join the collection, the Praetorian Guard cavalry, finished off that morning.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Sharply Buffed - Eighty Years War


At the July meeting Colin dug out his very pretty Dutch Revolt 28 mm collection and ran a Dutch v
Spanish game. "Sharply Buffed" rules were used in this 80 Years War clash.

The rules adaptation was published in the Lardy Summer Special 2017 and go by the name Sharply Buffed, written by Nick Worthington.
Too Fat Lardies - Summer Special 2017

Colin's report and more pictures can be found here on his blog - The Leadpile

Chas & I took the Spanish, out to capture and re-dedicate a church the Dutch had defiled with their
heinous religion. A little visit from the "Inquisition" was on the cards.


Standing against this foreign interference were the very protestant Dutch, in the person of Bob &
Ian.

The game opened with some long range musketry from both sides. The Spanish "loose shot" rushed
to take positions in an orchard on our right and settled down to give the good news to the
approaching Dutch pike block.


On our left our musketeers were caught by a very aggressive move by gendarmes and remembered
an important appointment elsewhere. The supporting pike block turned left and mullered the
gendarmes. Honours even.


Meanwhile mounted arquebusiers and our loose shot were making life uncomfortable for a Dutch
pike unit and our left exchanged fire with the Dutch shot on our left.


Fired up, our victorious pike moved up to charge the Dutch line. A face full of shot hurt and then the
hand to hand made things worse and back they came. As Chas cheerfully observed, "that went
well.".

By now the centre Dutch pike were shot to pieces and went home, whilst their other pike unit on
their left, was struggling through the streets of the town.


A fresh tercio moved up and engaged the Dutch halberds on our left. A short fight later and the
Dutch fell back.


With skirmishers and swordsmen waiting for the Dutch pike to offer their flank and the Dutch right
in trouble, Ian and Bob conceded.


A good game, which could have gone either way. The rules worked well and were picked up quickly
by all the players.

Many thanks to Bob, Ian and Chas for playing to the spirit of the rules.

Vince