Sunday, 13 May 2012

I Aint Been Shot Mum V3 - Neuville au Plain

I have been desperate to play a game of IABSM V3 since their recent release, but have been busy putting a Napoleonic collection together. Yesterday at the club gave me an opportunity to see the rules in action, and I thought they were great. Five of us played the game with two of us having played a couple of games previously, so it was a bit of a "hand holding" session as we all got to grips with the basics.

I selected the scenario Neuville au Plain from the All American Scenario book, by Dave Parker, which covers the Normandy battles of the 82nd Airborne Division. This particular scenario has all arms represented so gave us a chance to see the full mechanics in action.

Map of the battlefield, Germans enter on the road from the north (bottom) 
The historical battle on June 6th had 3rd Platoon, Dog Company, 505th Parachute Regiment, commanded by Lt.Turnbull, holding the village of Neuville, with a forward section placed in the farm(table centre). They had a bazooka team, a 57mm AT gun and a liberal sprinkling of machine guns to assist them in their defence. Their objective was to prevent enemy forces proceeding south down the road to St Mere Eglise.

View from the west with the farm centre table and Neuville top right
The American defenders were able to call on support from an additional platoon from Easy Company 505th.

The German forces in the area were the 1058th Grenadier Regiment from the 91st Luftlande Division and they had a full company supported by three assault guns and some medium mortars.
Table from the east with Neuville in the foreground and the roof of the chateau centre bottom
The Paras in our game took up fairly historical positions holding the orchards in front of Neuville and blocking the north/south road with the section in the farm, backed up by the 57mm ATG on the crossroads in the village to their rear. The Germans entered the table on blinds on the road from the north and being quickly spotted by the US troops proceeded to break out into the fields with two sections supported by two assault guns going to the east flank whilst one platoon supported by the StuG probed the road and the farm complex.
The north/south road seen from the German perspective. The farm on the right saw a bitter battle.
The use of blinds really adds flavour to the game with that feeling of uncertainty as both sides started to feel out each others position. The Americans being deployed in cover and hidden only deployed dummy blinds, which greatly improved their spotting efforts but left the Germans very uncertain as to what they might "bump" as they approached buildings and orchards desperately trying to spot the enemy troops.

The battle kicked off when the platoon approaching the farm in the centre bumped the airborne defenders. promptly loosing a section to the initial firefight. The Germans fell back to nearby hedgerows and called in their mortars and StuG for support in suppressing the defenders. The section commanded by Sgt Mitchum kept up a fierce fusillade throughout the game and his presence held the defenders firm.

The 57mm ATG took its opportunity to support the farm by shooting up the StuG on the road, causing damage to the vehicles gun sights and forcing it into cover
One of the Marder III assault guns supporting the Grenadiers approaching Neauville on "Hunt" orders
With the furious battle going on in the centre the main German effort focused on penetrating the US defences via the orchards in front of the village. The first section entering the trees with the MMG section in support was immediately engaged by a Para section under 2nd Lt Fonda who during the ensuing battle was killed, not before his force had pushed the German troops back to the hedge row bordering the plantation.
The German Company Commander Hauptmann Pfefferbeisser and Zug 3 leader Feldwebel Bratwurst observe the initial stages of the battle 
With both flanks of their attack pinned down in an attritional firefight, the German commander went for the direct approach by sending his third platoon across the field in front of Neuville supported by the other Marder. This was met by a fusillade of fire from the Para mortar section armed with two 30cal machine guns having lost their mortars in the drop but finding the machine guns en route to the village. They also loosed of a couple of bazooka rounds that narrowly missed the Marder, but with the losses inflicted on the German infantry and the death of their Zug Commander, this force was also forced back into cover.

With the arrival of 1st Platoon Easy Company into the defences, that stabilised American losses, we called it a game.

The Germans had lost a platoon of infantry and the American defenders, one and half sections, but the defenders were holding firm in a very strong position with all the indirect fire support and anti tank assets still available.

Easy Company under Lt Stewart go firm in Neuville effectively ending any further German attacks
The 57mm AT gun that won its duel with the StuG on the Cherbourg Road
Sgt Mitchum's heroic defence of the farm under 81mm mortar attack with three shocks and a pin to contend with

Lt Turnbull's defenders in the centre of Neuville covering the orchards and fields to their front
We felt the game really captured the command and control difficulties that this kind of battle generated. Unlike other WWII games I have played, you can't make "swooping" moves across open terrain in front of enemy troops without getting badly shot up. You actually have to adopt the tactics of the day by attempting to pin with part of your force whist manoeuvring with the other and keeping your leaders close and in touch to keep events under control. It was also notable that as the game went on commanders started to sacrifice some of their fire to save an action to take cover making their troops a harder target to the inevitable return fire.

The play of the game is greatly enhanced by the Fire Table that IABSM uses. This chart not only resolves fire combat but sorts out the morale results all in one go, "brilliant"!! This means reduced die rolling, less checking and more gaming. In addition any potential casualties are resolved simply using a d6 (1,2 = no hit, 3,4 = shock, 5,6 = dead) which means you can learn to resolve combats really quickly. I am looking at other rules I use far more critically now as I am starting to feel life is too short to be wasted on numerous checks and lists of factors.

The game really roles along and even though you are using cards to determine activity we squeezed in 12 moves of play in an afternoon of gaming, and most of us hadn't played the rules before.

Congratulations to Too Fat Lardies for a great update to their original rules, I think I will be playing a lot of IABSM in future.

Thanks to Ian, Steve M., Jason and Nathan for a fun game


Club Games in May (Fire&Fury, SAGA)

Despite a very sunny day (not ideal war gaming weather) May's club meeting saw a great turn out with three games played by 12-15 members. As I was involved in the IABSM game I can only top line the others but have included some pictures that show the high standard of games we play in the club (no "silver surfers" here). The two other games featured forces in combat using the SAGA rules which are all the rage at the moment, and a set of rules I am looking forward to having a go with some time soon.

The other was very nice set up from the American Civil War using Fire and Fury Regimental rules which I know are very playable and give a a fun game.

Enjoy some "war gamers porn"

SAGA Spearchuckers and Donkey Wallopers

Regimental Fire & Fury

Next club meeting in June will feature American War of Independence using "Maurice" and War in Rhodesia using "Force on Force". See you then


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Legionary 2012 - Exeter Show

Hi all,
I thought I would post a few photos of the games run by members of the club at yesterdays Exeter Legionary show and some thoughts on some models I picked up yesterday.

Rules Cover

Club members ran two games at the show, with Nathan getting out out his lovely collection of 28mm Sudan figures and running the game using "A Good Dusting" rule set, and Gus and Jason running 15mm Canadians vs Germans in Normandy using IABSM3 rules.

I took the role as the plucky British CO randomly selecting two brigades to begin the game and then rolling to bring on my reserves with the Sudanese headed up by Jack the Mad Mahdi himself doing the same.

Things didn't go well for the Brits with their first two brigades being the Cavalry and Camels, which meant that the Camel Corps had to "go firm" in the dhobi surrounding it with boxes and mealy bags, whilst the cavalry stayed mobile attempting to charge in from the rear or flanks to hold things up. The British needed heavy infantry support and quick!!

The set up - British deployed to the left up to the wadi lower right
The "Fuzzis" mass in the wadi, preparing to assault
The fanatics lead the way in the front ranks
17th Lancers, Hussars and Bengal Lancers prepare to try and stem the attack
The threat to the British left
Needless to say Jack wasn't going to sit around waiting for the Imperial British infidels to get their act together and so started to move in for the assault en mass.

Here they come
When the British finally managed to get their reserves moving, things went from bad to worse.
First my infantry couldn't hit a thing and with limited ammo supplies I didn't have enough to waste.
Then the beach master down on the banks of the Nile got the disembarkation roster the wrong way round with the supply column, followed by the Egyptian brigade arriving on turns two and three!!

Where were the Guards and Highlanders when you needed them. The cavalry were mashed trying vainly to hold up the Fuzzys and the Camel Corps fought like demons to hold the stronghold with able support provided by two Naval brigade Gatling guns fired from the Nile flotilla to my rear.

However the Egyptians were never going to resist long enough in the open despite forming a firm square with guns in support and when they started to break the end was in site for this British punitive expedition.

I had been truly seen off. Thanks to Nathan, Jack and young Charlie for a very entertaining days gaming.

The Egyptian brigade is met by a furious assault
The Camel Corps and Indian brigade fight desperately to hold the stronghold
And there's more!!!

scary when they're up close and personal
The Egyptians up against it
The other game on show was a chance to see IABSM version 3 in action with Gus getting out his lovely Normandy collection and running an adapted FOW scenario from the Totalize mini campaign available on the Battlefront site.

There are several members of the club who love the uncertainty and "friction" that card play games generate and IABSM is a great example of the genre when playing WWII. I will be running a game next weekend to play the new set myself for the first time, so I kept an eye on Gus and Jason's game during the day. The Canadians got the worst of a well entrenched German defence, that had plenty of machine gun and AT support. The Canadian Infantry's ranks were thinned by very effective MG42 fire and the German infantry were hard to spot.

The rules require a certain number of markers to indicate suppressions, pins, shock and orders for armoured units and we are working out how best to indicate those events without cluttering the table and loosing the aesthetics of the game.

I will add more thoughts on these rules as I play them myself but first impressions are these rules give an exciting game with all the confusion and difficulty you read about actual WWII commanders experiencing. The test being who can best control and mitigate the effects of chaos and the plan falling apart on first contact with the enemy.

Rules cover

German Rear Guard
All round defence
The Canadians prepare to assault
Canadian Infantry follow their armour
In between playing games and chatting to visitors to the show, I had a chance to wander round the traders and pick up some useful stuff. Two particular purchases are worth mentioning.

The first is that I got a chance to meet with and chat to Mark Jenkins who owns MJ Figures. I spotted Mark's business on the net when I saw his 15mm range of Falklands figures highlighted. I have always thought about collecting a range to re fight this campaign and was keen to see his figures "in the flesh". The range has grown to include vehicles and rapier missile batteries and I was very tempted by them. The he pointed out his 20mm range and I have to say it was love at first site.

The detail and poses of the first sets of British look great and the detail of the weapons particularly that classic shape of the SLR rifles has been modelled beautifully on this range. Mark is planning to offer the full range of British and Argentine infantry supported by the vehicles that were used including the Argentinian amphibious landing vehicles and a farm tractor with trailer used by British troops to move supplies.

MJ Figures 20mm Falklands Range

Needless to say I am going to put a collection of these guys together, using the IABSM supplement for the Falklands War. I'll have to get working on reproducing the British DPM cammo pattern to try and do these figures justice, more anon.

The other purchase I made yesterday was from the Dreamhole Scenics stand who attracted my eye with a very nice range of 15mm WWII Normandy buildings. However it was part of their main 28mm Ancients scenics range that really caught my eye.

My project this year is to sort out my Napoleonic 18mm collection of figures into a better modelled collection. This involves a certain amount of repainting, re basing and model additions. I am focusing on the Peninsular first and then will add to my 1813-14 Prussians and Russians.

I am planning to do a scenario to cover all of Wellington's principle battles using scenarios that capture the main events of each of them. One main action requires boats, the Battle of Oporto where British troops launched a river assault crossing using wine barges to transport their infantry.

I have been scouring the web trying to find suitable figures and model boats to do this in 18mm. Imagine my pleasure when I saw these 28mm resin Viking fishing boats from Dream Holme, which with the minimal addition of a central mast and some AB seated infantry and naval boat crews should do just the job.
Viking fishing boat from Dreamholme Scenics
Oporto Port Barge
I love it when a plan comes together,

More on the blog next weekend with a report on the games played at the club