Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Indian Mutiny - The Devil's Wind

Indian Mutiny at Devon Wargames
Pictures by JJ, Game Report by Mr Steve.

Scale : 28mm
Rules: The Devils Wind, Rules for Wargaming Battles from the Indian Mutiny 
Game organiser and Figures: Chas and probably someone else, I wasn't really paying attention.

Mutineers (sorry, that should read Heroic Defenders of Liberty) occupied a small village and barricaded the hell out of it 
One of the games at the October meeting was a 28mm Indian Mutiny run out using “The Devils Wind” rules; I was keen to try this set as part of my on-going search for something I can use to re-fight the Anglo-Sikh wars in 15mm.

As it was the first time most of us had used these rules two battles were arranged , first there would be a smaller skirmish style game with limited forces so that people could get to grips with movement, firing, casualties and morale etc. The longer the Mutineers could hold back the British then the more time would be earned to allow the main force to erect defences for the second game later.

Frankly not much happened in the first game and as we quickly mastered the necessary rules we moved on to the bigger bash.

In the main game the Mutineers (sorry, that should read Heroic Defenders of Liberty) occupied a small village and barricaded the hell out of it , we also had two guns which we sited in the centre of the board and some cavalry that did what all cavalry do and that’s look pretty and do nothing.

Cavalry that did what all cavalry do and that’s look pretty and do nothing
Faced with the daunting prospect of attacking a heavily defended village the Imperialist oppressors and their lackeys (sorry, that should read the British forces) moved onto the table, Their Sepoy’s were massed on our left flank, the centre although only thinly held was very artistically made up of units in lovely pastel shades and then on our right were their British regulars and other European’s forces.

The serene centre units so beautifully coordinated were now adding large dash’s of red to their ensemble through the judicious application of large cannon balls
The Sepoy’s moved into close range and proceeded to shoot it out with the defenders and not surprising lost out despite their numbers. (The Sepoys had the same ratings for both H2H and firing as the mutineers but had lower morale) I would like to say it was mainly through my skill that I flung back this attack but it was probably because I was getting a 50/50 saving throw for being in cover and they didn't. The fact they stood for so long at all was only through the assistance of a couple of “Heroic Chaps” who were tagging along, “just to help out, don’t you know, what, Pip Pip “.

The serene centre units so beautifully coordinated were now adding large dash’s of red to their ensemble through the judicious application of large cannon balls helpfully supplied by the Mutineers artillery, the peaceful and calming effect of their uniform choice didn't appear to be working but fortunately they did have a lot of “Pluck” (its what the rules call morale) so they held on. 

Sepoys with “Heroic Chaps” who were tagging along, “just to help out, don’t you know, what, Pip Pip
More successful was the British left , made up of their European units they advanced onto the flanks slowly pushing back the Mutineers , their application of Peace through Superior Firepower was proving effective but at a cost. Shooting works like this: throw to hit, then convert to a kill, and then a saving throw if any.  They may have been better shots then us but troops in the open don’t get a saving roll.

After two hours the game was over, the Sepoys were falling back, unable to shoot away their enemy and there was no point in trying, instead, to go in with the bayonet, the centre was holding but now having to stand a lot further apart to occupy the same ground, the British left was closing on the village but very thinned out and it looked unlikely they would be able to force out the indigenous population. 

We all agreed that the best option for the British would have been to have sat just outside musket range and shot us to bits with their rifles therefore forcing us to come out and advance on them, whereupon we would have been mowed down.

These rules are ideal for an evening’s game when you only have 2-3 hours available and not really suited for a club afternoon with plenty of time despite the large forces we had on the table.

So after we had packed up we had to decide what to do next as it was still only mid afternoon, we could either watch our colleagues play their games, go home and help the wife with the shopping or go to the pub.  Pint please!

My search for a decent set of Anglo-Sikh rules goes on.

Big Chain of Command

Just in the way of a side dish to Jason's AAR on this month's COC game I thought I would post my own pictures of the game, which I managed to snap in between the broadsides being swapped by Hughes & Suffren.

Lovely looking game as always


Friday, 24 October 2014

Big Chain of Command, 1944(ish)

Last month Nathan and I put on a multi-player game of Chain of Command, using the Big Game Amendments published by Two Fat Lardies recently.

German commanders await their turn
The scenario was a delaying actions with the Germans trying to slow down the advance of the American advance.  The Americans had 3 platoons, one of US Paras, one US Armoured Infantry and a platoon of 5 Shermans.  Facing them the Germans had a Panzergrenadier platoon and a platoon of 4 Tigers.  Nathan had somehow found a prototype of a Jagdtiger in July 1944 and added that as well. In Nathan's defence, he can't help it.  He suffers from that rare disease of "Tigeritis", where he has to have more Tiger tanks in his collection than the Germans produced in WW2. 

US infantry advances
The initial turns say the American infantry push up on the left,  with the Paras sweeping the right with its more open spaces.   They were relying on their superior training and experience to make up for the lack of cover.  Both US platoons had opted not to take any extra Bazookas as they had Sherman support, which proved to be a mistake.  The Germans deployed their infantry to face the American infantry, hoping the Tigers could stop the Paras.
Germans try to stop the US advance
 The sheer number of German LMGs caused some delay to the infantry advance, but supporting fire from the 30cals, mortar and a couple of Shermans meant the German infantry were suffering loses of their own and soon had to fall back.

The Tigers made an appearance and their heavy fire soon drove the Paras into cover, with their shortage of Bazookas making it hard for them to cause any worries for the Tigers.

As the game went on the American infantry were decimating the German troops, but there was no effect on any of the Tigers.  The mortar FO called in a barrage, which shocked the crew of one Tiger for a little while, but nothing could touch the Jagdtiger. 

Two Tigers appear
When we called it an end the German infantry were down to one squad at about 50% with the CO commanding them directly.  Their force morale was shakey, but they were still holding.  The Tigers were undamaged and had only lost a couple of force morale points due to the infantry losses.  The US Armoured infantry were holed up in cover, trying to stay out of sight of the Tigers while the Paras were a bit shakey, but still fairly combat effective while skulking in the woods.  The Shermans had lost one tank and, despite concentrated fire on one of the Tigers, had failed to kill any of the enemy tanks.

What the heck is that?
Everybody seemed to enjoy the game, but we did come up with an issue for tank platoons with no supporting infantry being able to still advance against enemy infantry.  That and the strange 1944 Jagdtiger.  ;-)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Battle of Providien 12th April 1782

Yesterday gave me the opportunity of giving my Suffren & Hughes collection of ships a run out as we played through the Battle of Providien. This game follows on from the Battle of Sadras, 17th February 1782 which we played back in February last year.

Map of the battle from Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Magazine 

As with the Sadras game I was using the "Eight Bells" app on the Ipad to moderate the game together with the ideas on signalling to the fleet covered in "Kiss Me Hardy" both covered in the previous post. I took further inspiration from fellow DWG member Eoghan Kelly and his great article "Indian Ocean Frolics" covering this and the other battles in the campaign published in "Wargames Soldiers & Strategy" magazine issue 63 which is available as a PDF from Karwansary at £3.90

Wargames Soldiers & Strategy Magazine Issue 63

Suffren's line, on the left, closes on the British line, with the white breakers top right indicating the proximity of the reef.

The Battle of Providien came about after Admiral Hughes' fleet was spotted by Suffren escorting transports and supply ships. Several days followed with the British successfully avoiding action as they made progress towards their base at Trincomalee, Ceylon, modern day Sri Lanka.

Le Vengeur, 64 guns, a third rate copper hulled former East Indiaman, commander Captain M. de Forbin 

However Suffren was not to be denied his battle and the two fleets came to action off the coast of the island close to Providien which gives its name to the battle. As at the Battle of Sadras, Admiral Suffren had the wind gauge, but both commanders were painfully aware that the wind was blowing on shore and the low water reef line was a reminder to both commanders of the risks of grounding.

The battle commences as the French fall into line and open fire with chain shot at British rigging
As the French fleet closed on the British, Suffren signalled his ships to load chain and shoot for the rigging. In the game I gave the French two signal cards in the deck with just one to the British. This reflected the command ability enjoyed by Suffren compared to Hughes. A simple order could be sent to the fleet on the turn of these cards.

The two fleets assume their positions with signalling frigates left and right
Because of the command superiority of the French admiral, their ships opened fire before the British admiral was able to signal his fleet to do the same. The British commander decided to rely on his better trained crews to fire ball at the French hulls, and both sides settled down to pummelling each other at close to musket range.

HMS Superb 74 guns, centre, Hughes' flagship, catches fire under attack from L'Orient 74, Capt. Dupas de la Manceliere
With the variable movement rates generated by Eight Bells, both fleets struggled to maintain their lines, and with ever increasing damage to rigging and masts, plus shot up wheels, rudders and the occasional fire to be extinguished, various ships occasionally started to fall out and drift down wind towards the reef.

L'Orient, centre, was a fast ship, and her speed forced her out of line, coming into musket range as she worked her way along the British line
Eventually a gap appeared in the French line and with the British ships signalled early in the battle to increase sail to "All Plain", The British were able to get slightly ahead and turn the French line at its head. Both commanders signalled "Fire as she bears" and both sides got stuck in at close quarters.

Hughes signalled his line to turn the French and the battle became close and furious at the head of each line. The reef waited the badly damaged.
With the British slowing due to damaged masts and rigging, the French changed to round shot at the hull, but the continual pounding from the British had caused much damage to their ships and crews and French fire was struggling to damage the British ships, With the heads of the lines coming to grips Le Flammand was grappled and boarded by the Monarca. When the British got onto the French upper deck they found only the dead and the dying, following the terrible pounding suffered under the British cannon. The lower deck was also quickly taken and the 64 gunner was taken as a prize.

The Superb is now well alight as her crew attempt to fight the fire and the French
Both forces were very badly shot up and keen to break contact from each other and the ever threatening reef. As our game came to a close we tested for repair of remaining damage. A small fire had broken out on the British flagship, Superb, requiring a 4, 5 or 6 to extinguish it. Failing to do so caused the fire to increase in intensity requiring a 5 or 6 to extinguish. Needless to say the fire became a raging inferno requiring a 6 to extinguish. As the two fleets pulled apart in the failing light, the sea was lit up as the British flagship exploded.

Thus our game ended with what looked like a marginal win for the British with their capture of Le Flammand, being eclipsed by the loss of their commander and his 74 gun flagship, C'est la guerre.

Thanks to Tom, Steve H, Steve L and Ian for a very entertaining afternoon in the Indian Ocean, with much fun had by all. The Eight Bells app whist providing a fast fun alternative to dice and record keeping is showing its need for an update as it seems to lock up occasionally on ISOS 8, which was a bit frustrating, but didn't stop the game.