Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hail Caesar : Seleucids v Romans 760 points

October's club meet saw us running three games, one of which was an "Hail Caesar" clash of Romans v Seleucids. As I took the photos but am not the expert on people with pointy sticks I have put together Steve's game report interspersed with my pictures of the battle.

Game report by Steve H, Pictures by JJ.

Wargaming with Romans is so boring, I mean picking an army is really fascinating, 90% are Legionaries, add in some light troops and a few cavalry and your done, what fun is that; and then there’s all that constant slaughtering of the enemy every time. However if you like to fight historically like I do then you have no choice but to bring them out as long as its not me that has to play them of course. Fortunately I have a very understanding opponent in Steve Huntsman at the Devon Wargames Group who indulges me by toga-ring up every time the Ancients come out.

Seleucid Pikes left centre with medium infantry

This time we agreed to pack the table with as big a force as we could muster between us without having to resort to using Zulus or panzer grenadiers (you know what I mean) and this time it would be the Seleucids turn to fight against the tedious oppressors of joy.

Seleucid Left Wing

760 points with Hail Cesar is a lot of figures so it meant I could pick all sorts of shinny toys and it took sometime before I came up with:

6 Pike
4 Medium Infantry
1 Galatian Warband
6 Various skirmishers
2 Elephants
2 Scythed Chariots
3 Light Cavalry
1 Cataphracts
3 Various Heavy Cavalry
2 Medium Cavalry
And the amazing Thracian Light Infantry with Rhompaia

Steve spent 2 minutes and picked 90% Legionaries , some Light Troops and some Cavalry.

Roman Right Wing, Illyrian Light Infantry and Spanish cavalry

I chose 3 pieces of terrain and surprisingly the Romans picked none so it was very bare, oh well, better for me and my cavalry/pikes. The plan was the usual anti-roman one, win on one wing with my superior cavalry and hope everywhere else desperately hangs on long enough for them to save the day. Steve’s was to march quickly up the table and hack huge holes in the enemy infantry before his cavalry got crushed.

Seleucid Pikes including elite Smurfs (Donnington Figures)

Quite frankly as I put out my units I had no idea were to deploy my Cataphracts, Galatians or Scythed chariots, in the end the Galatians’ anchored the join between the pikes and the medium infantry on the left wing with a unit behind to fill in after they went loopy and went looking for heads, the cataphracts and the Scythed Chariots backed up the right wing and waited for a suitable gap.

Roman Centre

As I said at the start we used every appropriate figure available so I was stuck with these disposable chariots and Cataphracts don’t really do much in Hail Caesar. My hopes were pinned on the stout hearted Pikemen and the good cavalry rather than the gimmicky stuff .

Seleucid cavalry rolling up the Roman left wing
As is normal in Hail Caesar there is always one wing that continually throws high dice for moving and this was the Left (Seleucid) and Right (Roman), the Romans I think only moved 4 times in the whole game so I  can cover what happened here over 4 hours very quickly, some cavalry got slightly scratched and the Galatians charged various Light troops and wiped out around 3 units in total. At times it could have possibly got a little tricky for the Seleucids but those Romans just don’t pick allies that can be relied on to get stuck in.

Roman Legionaries support the skirmish battle in the centre 
In the centre there were the six pike blocks and these slowly marched forward until the two centres clashed with the Romans charging in. The beauty of pikes is that they stop the +1 to hit for charging which usually sees the Romans smashing straight through if they get the jump, (no infantry counter charging, and with the -1 save for pilum first round of each combat, very nasty, and usually fatal). However the Romans needn’t have worried as they won most of the combats and two of my blocks dissolved due to low dice rolls on morale. Now this was unlucky, first I had roughly the same number of attacks, plus I had +4 save (- pilum) and I could even lose by 2 and not even take a morale roll, then I only had to roll 8 or more to survive. Of course the Romans saved most of their hits, I didn’t and then rolled low. At this rate there wouldn’t be anything for the Cavalry to save, Being a six unit division I was two units away from breaking and these two units now had Romans on their flanks . The Romans then charged the last two untouched Pikes on the right of centre as well, however this Roman division had been shot up and had previously failed a Blunder test with a 1 (retreat + everyone gets 1 hit) so this was a stalemate for a while, the last two pikes continually lost their combats and equally continually rolled 10+ to stay on the table. Even with the minus for flank and Shaken they and their supports slowly wore down the Romans until they too were mainly shaken, when once Steve saved every hit now he couldn’t save a thing.

But what’s that I see sweeping in from the flank? is it Grouchy, sorry wrong game, is it the Cavalry? no it’s the Thracian Rhomphaia.

Romans right wing shocks Seleucids by actually going forwards!
On the Right things were very different, the Romans (actually Gallic/Galatians) bravely advanced and then equally bravely started throwing 9’s for moving just as those nasty heavy cavalry got in range (can toy soldiers bottle go?). The Seleucids cunningly didn’t fail a throw irrespective of how many times in a turn they went for it and each cavalry fight was horribly one sided . Once the first unit got wiped out then it was sweeping advances and flank attacks until the Galatian warband that had made the big mistake of joining the wrong side saw not only cavalry on their flank but some sort of cart, and is that knives? surely not, what idiot would stick knives on a cart, why the risk assessment form alone would take a month to fill out and then there are all the training days on top. All this was two moves away so the Romans throw for orders and predictably throw 9 . The Seleucids didn’t.

Galatians go looking for heads
  In three moves there was no Roman Left wing.

When in trouble throw a 10 for morale
Meanwhile in a tranquil leafy glade there were some Thracian’s busy showing each other their Rhomphaia and seeing who had the biggest one, however out in front they could see a large group of hairy Galatians heading their way and for a moment this wasn’t looking like what they had signed up for,

 “ They promised me 90% of them would be Romans, all shiny and crunchy like“

but just as it looked like they may have to get dead un-happy about being dead, suddenly the Galatians weren’t there anymore; they could see some of their Cavalry and is that a cart with Knives on? (no it wasn’t as scythed chariots are taken off after one round of combat).

Only one thing to do now as the boss had ridden up and was watching and that was to charge the now exposed Roman Legionary flank fighting the nearest Pike block, and this is what they did, again, and again and again, until they were shaken but by then there wasn’t that many Romans left.

Goodbye to the last Roman cavalry unit
Steve pulled his second supporting line of Romans out to face off the now victorious Cavalry wing but it was neither strong enough or numerous enough, loses were too high and first one division went under 50% and then the next one as well. The Pikes hung on and for one nasty moment just before the Thracians broke the Roman Centre left division I was suddenly reaching for the rulebook as all of my pikes had become shaken and I was in trouble, however as usual I didn’t know the rule correctly.

If over 50% of your division is broken or all of your units are shaken then you must retire that division. However if in combat then you stay until either you win the round and therefore cannot follow up or the enemy choose not to advance if you fall back (basically break off in some way). My pikes were stalemated and of course I beat the morale roll required for drawn shaken units.

That big gap used to have pikemen in it!

Look behind you!!
A Seleucid victory through determined throwing of 10+.

Men with big choppers make mincemeat of Romans
This is my seventh or eighth game and I am still getting rules wrong, this time I closed up skirmishers to fight hand to hand, No, only Light troops can do this, and I learnt that even if you fail your Evade order then you still get one move and not just stay stationary.

Close up and personal
Will these Seleucids never break?
Thanks to Steve Huntsman for a good game.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Rhodesian Insurgency - Force on Force

One of the three games played at the last club meeting was a "Force on Force" Rhodesian security forces vs Insurgents game put on by Chas, and I managed to get a few photos of his game whilst running my own.

As always Chas's modern terrain really captures the feel of these small wars

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bas de Ranville 1944 - Battlegroup Overlord

Continuing with our testing of Battlegroup Overlord and our series of games pitting the 6th British Airborne up against the German defenders on and after D Day in the Orne Bridgehead, yesterday it was the turn of 21st Panzer Division to make their debut using this rule set. As the designer of this scenario I will discuss my thoughts further on JJ's Wargames

So, being tasked with pulling one of the games together for this month's club meeting, I turned to another of the Too Fat Lardies scenarios looking at 6th Airborne's capture and holding of the Orne Bridgehead, Bas de Ranville, where 12th Para were tasked with fending off a probe in force from 21st Panzer Division on the 7th of June.

Members of 12th Para inspecting their handy-work on a 21st Panzer Becker conversion
The map from the Lardy scenario with my additions of three "objective" buildings 
A 105mm SP gun of the type supporting 21st Panzer Division
21st Panzer Division Order of Battle
6th Airborne Division Order of Battle
Our interpretation of the map
The three roads leading off to the north were a potential source of British reinforcements
So to our battle. The 12th Paras hunkered down in their dug outs as the rumble of "vehicles" approached from the south. That could only mean Germans, and with 21st Panzer close by, probably Germans with tanks. It was good to know that two six pounder guns were in place amongst the hedges together with a PIAT team and, if all else failed, the trusty Gammon bombs were on hand.

Unknown to the Airborne commander one of his six pounders was damaged in the lift and would only reveal that issue when either gun attempted to fire. The umpire die roll would reveal this problem, but not in ear shot of the Germans. As far as they were concerned they still had two guns to contend with until they knew different. This worked very well and the damaged gun remained in situ providing a clear deterrent until cleared in the initial attack.

The British had the support of two six pounders, or so they thought!
All the defenders started well dug in counting as "hard cover" for saving
As the German entered the field to the south of town they prepped the hedges to their front with copious amounts of MG42 fire, forcing the Paras back towards the buildings. As the attack was being lead and directed by the German commander who called on his OP to bring down mortar fire the British sniper opened fire.

All the sections were armed with Gammon bombs and had a single PIAT team
As the rumble of 21st Panzer vehicles came closer the defenders waited in ambush
The sniper was on his game and his first shot took out the mortar OP forcing the German platoon commanders to take over the radio. Within minutes the German company commander lay slumped over the side of his APC as the sniper located his head above the lip of the open topped half track.

The sniper lair. This chap was particularly effective until silenced by a well placed 105mm shell
With a layer of command and control removed the German junior commanders took control urging the men to close in on the first hedge-line to get cover and regroup for the final assault on the "Tommies".

The first Panzer Grenadiers move into the fields south of Ranville supported by off table mortars
(note the OP nearest to camera)
At the midway stage the German force had suffered in its approach across the fields, but the British force smaller, initially, in numbers, had also burnt morale in having to maintain their defence by continually removing pins suffered under the weight of German machine gun and mortar fire.

The line of advance looked long and thin, it was about to get thinner
After the first exchange of fire the MG42's had cleared the first hedgerow forcing the defenders back
With the first hedgerow cleared and firing slackened, the armour came forward to lend its support
Aware of how deadly the sniping was from the British, the German force commander set about dealing with this threat by sniping back at suspected buildings with SP 105mm shells. Eventually the HE rounds found their target and the sniper was dead.
The CO's APC led the advance, brassing up the village with its pintal MG42
A knocked out six pounder left as a marker for the first line of defence
As the MG42's poured in their fire the Paras were forced to keep their heads down
The battle had reached a critical stage. The German force was battered but by no means out, and the British force was having to move and react to German threats in areas they were no longer in control of. This movement in the village was threatened by the ever growing mortar and HE fire that the German commander was able to call on. The MG42 was also becoming an ever increasing threat as the Germans attempted to smother known strong points in machine gun fire.

The British were, however, Veteran, which enabled them to avoid more of the pinning effects of the German fire, and the hard cover was also reducing their casualty count. These two factors, coupled with the fact that two fresh sections had arrived, marching to the sound of the guns, and had bolstered the British defence.

As the Germans closed in on the outskirts of Ranville they continued to take casualties
With limited HE the SP guns were forced to choose their targets with care
The Normandy stone buildings proved to be formidable cover for a veteran force of British Paras
The Para's CO oversees his defences from the centre of the village
The defenders covering the central orchard in the village
With one last hurrah, the Germans assailed the defences with their mortars and HE. Three sections of Paras were pinned in this maelstrom of fire and the German commander moved in on the back of this preparation, close assaulting a Para section holding the central orchard in front of the Para HQ. The British defenders were killed to a man and the Germans consolidated on the position.

The Germans were glad of the cover offered by the first hedgerow as they attempted to infiltrate further
The fighting was getting close up and personal and as the German 2IC directed fire from the machine gun on his APC a sudden strike from a PIAT bomb turned his battle taxi into a funeral pyre.

The British firepower was deadly and casualties continued to mount
No quarter asked, none given, the battle became a final slugging match with Bren and MG42 fire ripping through windows and hedges with men falling left, right and centre. The morale chit draw was becoming regular and with the advantage in class lying with the British our game ended with the German force four points away from break point and the British still with twenty points in the "bank".

In response to British sniping, German mortar rounds started to take a toll on the defenders
With their MG42 HMG covering the road into town in an attempt to restrict movement the Panzer Grenadiers closed in behind their mortar fire
The 105mm SP thickened the fire support
As the Paras fell back into the village reserves started to arrive at the CO's HQ
With a close in assault following up the mortars the Panzergrenadiers cleared the central orchard - was it enough?
The Germans had thrown the proverbial "kitchen sink" at Ranville but as in the real affair, the Orne Bridgehead was a tough nut to crack and the defences held.

Thanks to Ian, Jack, Charlie, Steve and Nathan for a very entertaining afternoons war gaming. Next month we will be rolling out "Chain of Command".