Sunday, 25 August 2019

Over the Hill, June 1944 - I Aint Been Shot Mum

This battle is an updated version of the original which was written for an earlier version of IABSM. The ‘Big Man’ levels have been updated from the ‘D6’ method to ‘Levels’ and additional Big Men have been added in line with the more recent scenario format.

The game got off to a troubled start when I realised that I had constructed my hills the wrong way
round so had to put them on the table on a different corner to the map and adjust the terrain accordingly, but the game played well despite my ‘faux pas’.

The British were commanded by Steve and Steve and the Germans by Steve and Steve, so no problem with names and Steve got to go on every turn of the cards!

The British deployed on blinds with five real and two dummies, whilst the 12th SS had the benefit of
hidden troops so could deploy either marked on the map or by using their blinds. Their allocation was
five real and five blinds, with the number of real blinds able to deploy reduced for each hidden unit.
The 12th SS hidden deployment had their FOO in Belle Vue farm on top of the hill, with a good view
across the terrain; one Zug across the two buildings of Ferme Vallé; their three MMGs in the orchard
behind Ferme Vallé; the second Zug behind the east side of the hedge where the road turns south
towards the pond. Finally, their anti-tank team was in the corner of the field across the road from
Belle Vue. The Germans then placed their remaining blinds.

Before the game commenced the British had three ‘stonks’. They placed one of these over a dummy
blind near the pond and the other two stacked on Belle Vue. The single ‘stonk’ was ineffective whereas the double barrage on Belle Vue caused six shock on the lonely FOO who decided it was time to scarper. With the barrage over, when his card turned the German big man rushed from the orchard to Belle Vue in order that he could direct the four off-table 105s; fortunately for him the FOO left his radio behind in his frantic attempt to get out of the way of the ‘stonks’.

The start of the game favoured the British who had two blinds moves before the Germans could react.
As there were Germans hidden in Ferme Vallé looking straight down the road any British units entering on the road had to be placed on the table as automatically spotted. They decided to lead with their armour troop followed by 3rd platoon carried on the universal carriers. They had 1st platoon coming on a blind to the west of the road and 2nd platoon and the support weapons coming on between the east of the road and the hedgerow running towards the orchard.

Their first two moves with the armour showed no finesse with the tanks tearing down the road with three dice plus road bonus each time. This took the two leading tanks around the first major bend with the third waiting to turn the bend.

Unfortunately for them the next card turned was the Germans blind and they saw a great opportunity for an ambush. In an instant a panzerfaust round hurtled into the rear tank which promptly exploded killing all the crew and Captain Roughshaft who was hitching a lift. There was collateral damage to the section in the carrier behind with two being killed and the Germans in the building also lost one man.

Whilst the Germans had been waiting for the British to come in to a firing position the Cheshires’
infantry had deployed off blinds, thus giving them more cards in the deck. They managed to get a
section within 4” of the building facing north on the bend. This initiated a close assault (the first of five such engagements in this very bloody game) with one British section fighting two Germans who also had the benefit of heavy cover, ensconced as they were in this thick stone farmhouse. The result was slaughter to both sides each losing a whole section. Meanwhile the Germans were desperately trying to call in their 105s. They were successful on the fourth attempt, which probably reflects the loss of their dedicated FOO. After all this effort their barrage was ineffective.

A panzerfaust round then hit the second Sherman in the rear, the fire coming from the other Ferme
Vallé building. This Sherman also erupted causing some collateral damage to friend and foe alike. In
the meantime, a British infantry platoon managed to move through the orchard west of the road and
close assault the western-most building of Ferme Valle. Although the German section in this building
had the benefit of cover, they had suffered casualties and were carrying a lot of shock. Following
another bloody hand-to-hand combat the result was another 12th SS section eliminated.

Having lost the buildings the Germans deployed their machine gun teams to fire on the farm buildings. This made the British realise that they should have used their 2” mortars to lay smoke which they promptly did. Following a further close assault by the remaining platoon of Cheshires on the second German Zug further casualties were inflicted on both sides and the 12th SS decided to disengage and withdraw.

A British victory, if somewhat a Pyrrhic one considering the high casualties.

Thank you to Steve, Steve, Steve and Steve for a very entertaining and friendly game.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Nicopolis 1396 to Swordpoint Rules

Today Chas took us to the Hungarian/French army's crusade under king Sigismund and the battle of
Nicopolis. To be fair half of the nations of Europe were represented on the day.

Swordpoint Rules from Gripping Beast

Historically the French knights arrived on the field ahead of the other forces, as they would not delay
to wait news from Sigismund's scouts. The French knights charged the Ottoman line, breaking deep
into the enemy forces, routing much of the infantry..Meeting fresh enemy, the French were enveloped
and cut down, as the Hungarians et al were too far away to be of assistance. The Ottomans pursued
into the Hungarians and their allies. A vicious struggle developed, with the arrival of a flanking force of Serbian knights in the service of the Sultan, breaking crusader resistance. Much of the army was
slaughtered in the rout.

Chas & I took the forces of Christ (I led the French contingent). Whilst "Mr Steve" was the Turkish
Sultan Bayezid the "Thunderbolt".

The field was open, with woods on either flank and as my French force arrived, the vast Ottoman
army was arrayed before it, with cavalry on either flank and a centre of massed bow and spear behind
stakes, screened by mounted horse archer skirmishers. In reserve stood Janissary spearmen and the
guard cavalry.

As my knights were eager for battle (impetuous), I deployed a screen of foot and horse crossbowmen
and spear armed infantry, with mounted Sergeants & crossbows on my left flank.

Chas's Hungarians were some way back and I was keen that he had time to deploy on my right, so a
shooting contest started with the Ottoman archers and skirmish horse. The Ottoman skirmish horse
started to suffer and moved to Chas's flank, whilst massed bow fire was gradually thinning my
crossbows (their armour being the saving grace).

My mounted sergeants and mounted crossbows gave battle to some quality Turkish horse. Despite
my lance armed charge, very little happened and a prolonged struggle developed, blocking the
advance of my supporting knights.

Meanwhile, Chas had arrived on my right and advanced a cloud of horse archers on the Ottoman
skirmish horse. With the weight of fire from enemy horse archers and foot bow, Chas had a couple of
units run, but he drove off the Ottoman skirmishers.

Sultan "Mr Steve", declined to leave the protection of his stakes and surrendered the initiative to the

Seeing his chance, Chas released his knights and fell on the Ottoman foot.

On my left a flanking force of Serbian knights, in the service of the Sultan, appeared. Fortunately I had unit of French knights in hand and they charged the Serbs, forcing them back.

Chas's knights were hampered by the stakes and some fell, but quality & the Turk's lack of armour
began to go against the Ottoman infantry and they started to break along the right flank.

Seeing the writing on the wall, as knights pursued into fresh units, "Mr Steve" conceded.

Personally I would have fought on, as there were still plenty of Turks untouched, but the eventual
result was likely to be the same.

A magnificent looking game, with 2500 points a side. It is difficult to beat the sight of high medieval
armies on a table and the Ottomans provided a colourful contrast to the opposing knights.

A fun scenario, played in good spirit and with an eye to learning the rules, rather than a straight fight.


Sunday, 11 August 2019

Hold the Bridge and Mind the Muskets - Sharp Practice II

In case you regularly follow posts about games here on the DWG Blog and you hadn't spotted it, we're running our second 'Clotted Lard' gathering at next month's September club meeting, where we will be hosting all things Lardie in the wargaming world, 'Devon-Style', which will mean a cream tea sometime in the afternoon as well as lots of great games and fun, with all proceeds from the show going to 'Combat Stress'.

As part of our club contribution, games wise, Bob brought along his Napoleonic Sharp Practice collection to host a Peninsular War style action as a warm up game for next month in which I will have the pleasure of taking part.

Too Fat Lardies - Sharp Practice II

Having spent the best part of three weeks last month touring key Peninsular War battle sites about which I am currently running a series of posts on JJ's Wargames- Peninsular War Tour 2019 , I was more than happy to 'scratch the Napoleonic itch'; and Sharp Practice is a set of rules that I really want to get better acquainted with particularly after watching Rich and Nick engaging in a very amusing play-through of an AWI scenario on Lard TV, see link below.

Lard TV - Playing AWI with Sharp Practice II

I have long fostered the idea of building a new AWI collection at the 28mm Sharp Practice level of game which seems very suitable for a lot of the action that occurred in the war, not to mention the variable quality of units that really enliven these smaller battles; so I have just started that little project, more anon.

Anyway, back to our game yesterday, which saw a British Light Company tasked with holding a small fortified house full of captured French muskets close to a small river and road bridge.

Our scenario was set just after the battle of Salamanca which saw the French in full retreat looking to make good their escape and likely to be heading in the direction of our position.

The village above the river was occupied by three groups of Light Companies operating in line, supported by some rifles and skirmish light companies, whilst my command able to deploy from the small barn seen on the extreme right of picture consisted of four skirmish groups of riflemen and two of light infantry. The large house in the centre held the French muskets.

Unknown to the British commander was that a French force was on the way from the opposite direction to the battle with orders to secure the bridge to enable the Army of Portugal to make good its escape, thus the small Light Company was likely to end up as the meat within the sandwich!

On the plus side was the fact that our bold light bobs could expect support at some predetermined time from our Spanish allies, sent to help secure the position.

Looking at the table from the Salamanca side, from which we might expect to see some Spanish allies at some point

So an interesting set up with the French interested in grabbing and controlling access to the bridge and the British primarily directed to secure the French arms stash and the Spanish doing something else!

An interesting start to the game commenced with about five 'Tiffin' chits coming out the bag with hardly anybody deployed on the table, as the British were keen to just observe before opting to place troops on it.

Then one half of the table opposite the village seem to fill quite quickly with lots of French infantry supported by French dragoons and hussars, with the bulk of the French cavalry heading down the road and towards the bridge with a small detachment of dragoons riding up to the small barn to presumably ransack it of any supplies.

French troops press up to the river and come under fire from two directions

Before they could dismount a Rifle sergeant organised two groups of riflemen to line the windows and pour in some well directed surprise fire emptying a few saddles and wounding the dragoon sergeant at their head.

Suddenly we had a battle underway as more British riflemen and light company skirmishers ran forward from the village to line the river bank and pepper a unit of French grenadiers heading for one of the fords.

British skirmish light companies and riflemen contest the opposite bank

The noise of French bugles and drums could be heard across their front as the infantry and cavalry rapidly deployed to face the two threats, with a column of French dragoons charging the wall around the small barn to clear it of British riflemen who had come out in force to wipe out the small patrol off dragoons who had rashly inspected their billet.

The 'grasshoppers' evaded the charge and ran back to the cover of the building amid the olive groves as more rifle shots rang out followed up by British Light infantry issuing forth to take the column in the flank to drive them back to the opposite side of the wall.

French dragoons charge the wall lined with riflemen who evade back to their supports in the barn

The French cavalry are looking a little thin on the ground with dragoons dismounted in the lower left trying to take on the light troops opposite them

The small British light infantry force lining the river was only adding to French problems, with units turning to face the barn on their side of the river taking flank shots from the other side, with the cavalry taking the brunt of the hits and soon finding its Force Morale entering the red zone as units fell back, officers and NCO's were wounded and the occasional dispersal off table.

Trying desperately to pull the cavalry back whilst moving the infantry forward created a target rich environment, to use more modern parlance, and the French infantry fought hard to return the firing with some success against the light companies in front of the village who were eventually forced to fall back among the buildings to get some cover to rally off the shock against their casualties.

The light troops in front of the village created a cross-fire with those in the barn that started to up the shock levels for the French

Eventually the French cavalry broke and left their infantry to take up the struggle alone, but now coming under a lot of fire from the barn as, with no cavalry threatening the area, the riflemen and light infantry were emboldened to move up to the wall and pour on the hurt.

This move forced the French infantry closest to the barn to turn and face the threat, engaging in a rather unequal firefight as the greater accuracy of the rifles started to take a toll of the French infantry out in the open, whilst the British lights were able to take full advantage of their skirmish abilities amid the cover offered by the olives and stone wall

The light troops take up the firefight with the French infantry opposite the barn, with more riflemen moving to take up position on the wall

Meanwhile events were unfolding across the river as in the place of the light companies in skirmish order on the river bank stepped forward a line of light companies who presented and started to volley fire in to the massed French ranks, as voltigeurs attempted to find away over to the opposite bank.

To add still further to French woes, the Spanish turned up, no doubt aided by all those 'Tiffin' chits earlier in the battle that helped move the clock a little quicker.

The Spanish arrived just as the battle looked won

The French high-water mark, with the skirmish light companies driven into the village and voltiguers forcing their way across, top right

By this stage of our game it was obvious that the French were getting nowhere fast and that the likelihood of them getting control of the bridge, that alone holding it for any amount of time, looked remote, and with the pub beckoning we called it a game.

The French look set to force a crossing just before three groups of light company infantry deployed from the buildings to whack the centre column with fourteen hits and then the Spanish arrived.

Thanks to Ken, John and Nathan for a fun afternoon in the Peninsula and to Bob for wheeling out the collection which I think you will agree looks very nice indeed.

I am looking forward to playing again next month.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Mithridates v Marian Romans - Hail Caesar

I volunteered to put on one of the games for our July meeting so that I could try out two of my most
recently finished armies. My Marian era Romans had been started many many years ago for some now long forgotten project (probably WRG 6th) so they just need to be brought up to full strength with some extra figures and by a bit of digging though the dead armies box to find them some Greek allies . However their main purpose was to be the opponents for the army which I have been wanting to raise for some time now but never quite got around to, a Mithridatic Pontic army. This would have to be built from scratch but fortunately there are now many more suppliers with suitable figures available than when I first thought about it and it was much easier to find their specific units instead of having to re-purpose various dodgy substitutes from other armies.

The battlefield would be set somewhere in Greece so I added in some hills to narrow the plain a little
because the Romans would be faced with their perennial problem of having lots of excellent infantry but very little cavalry. The Pontics meanwhile had the same problem most opponents have of not having enough decent infantry to face off against the Romans.

The Romans stretched out across the plain between the hills and formed into three similar sized divisions composed of a mixture of veteran and regular legionaries, their Greek allies were placed out on the right along with some light cavalry and the Gaulish cavalry were allocated to the left. The Pontics placed their three Pike phalanxes in the front line along with some Thorakitai and two of their four units of Subject archers, an odd decision I thought but one that would pay off. The bulk of their good cavalry formed the right hand division along with the horse archers and Scythed chariots; the left was composed of the Galatians, some more subject archers and anything else that was left.

The Romans as usual had to quickly win in the centre before the Pontic cavalry could turn their line so everyone was rolling for three moves straight forward every go, not that successfully as it turned out. The Gallic cavalry considering what was facing them tried to refuse for as long as possible and the Greek allies fancying their chances a bit more went looking for action.

First into the fight was the Roman right wing, a mix of Greek allies with a few Romans stiffening the
division, by stiffening I really mean running away at the first opportunity! Skirmishing and archery in Hail Caesar is more of an attempt to break up the solid opposing battle line so as to gain a slight advantage when the two lines smash into each other but there is always a teeny tiny chance that someone really important gets an arrow somewhere unpleasant.

At club we call this throwing a double Land or double one in normal speak and so the Legionary unit seeing a bunch of soft squishy levy archers sitting in the Battle line just waiting to be slaughtered couldn’t charge in fast enough. The archers with limited options available to them decided to stand and fire as their charge response and then got ready to lie down in neat bloody piles but rather fortuitously for them someone really important got an arrow somewhere very unpleasant and when the Romans threw for their shooting morale promptly legged it off the table on a roll of double one.

The remaining legionary unit slugged it out with their perennial opponents, a barbarian warband and over time got the worst of it. The Greek Thorikitai allies did the best they could but their Illyrian and Thracian Light infantry friends were just too easy to kill and the Pontics were winning this section of the battle. This division didn’t break but was teetering on the edge by the end of play.

In the centre the Romans faced off against the three pike blocks and eventually managed to break all three but unfortunately not quickly enough and in doing so were badly damaged in the process. The first pike unit was soon taken off when they rolled a ‘break if shaken ‘result allowing the Romans a sweeping advance into the flank of another phalanx but the others toughed it out even after being hit in the flank. Alongside them the subject archers also took longer than expected to be defeated and in some cases even driving the Romans back.

Saving/armour throws where not one of the Romans best achievements all day despite the odd freakish result which gave them momentary hope, I think having seventeen dice rolled against you and still winning the round without receiving any casualties would cheer anyone up. But by the time the last pike unit was removed this centre division was in need of serious recovery time before looking at taking any further action, however now was not the best time to hear what appeared to be 5000 people banging two coconut shells together coming from their left flank.

Over on the Roman left things had not gone very well, the Gaulish cavalry could do very little about the two units of horse archers annoying them with arrows and although not that deadly, casualties were starting to slowly mount up, eventually they charged them away and continued on into the Agema cavalry who taught them not to do such a silly thing ever again.

Although the Pontic right wing had only been moving forward slowly due to the hindrance of the slow moving Sarmatian cataphracts it had now finally arrived to a point where the two scythed chariots could be unleashed. Being Ferocious they only need to pass their command roll to get three automatic charge moves, which they did. The first one hurtled towards the Roman front line who calmly parted ranks to let it pass safely through, un-deterred the second one thundered down onto the same unit who this time …. did exactly the same thing. With that moment of excitement over it was time for the cavalry to get stuck in and get down to some proper fighting.

The three heavy cavalry units picked their targets and charged. This initial charge swung the fighting in the Pontics favour and it didn’t take many rounds before the legionaries on this flank were broken and the damage inflicted in return wasn’t heavy enough to prevent the Pontic cavalry from starting to look for their next victims.

With their left hand division broken, the centre with most of their units nearly all shaken and the right hand division giving ground rapidly, the Romans conceded despite having six of their initial nine legionary units still on the table.

This game was quite interesting in how it played out, the good quality Pontic heavy cavalry was decisive and the Pike phalanxes managed to hold the Romans for just long enough for this to take place. The scythed chariots were as usual useless (try and find a nice warband as a target) and the Romans ‘other’ troops were their normal weak link. Neither side used much in the way of support for their front line but we did have the most sweeping attacks I have ever seen in one game and for once no Blunders.

At the DWG we do have a few minor house rules for Hail Caesar, the variations will depend on who is organising the game so in my case, I don’t allow slingers to support from the rear, Pikes cannot receive any rear support and all combat in the front line is simultaneous, so you start from the left or right (we are an equal directionist club) and then work your way along the line but you cannot count support from anyone who is fighting alongside if they have also been in combat that turn.

Figures are mainly 15mm Donnington with some Forged in Battle and a few Xyston
Terrain Mat: Tiny Wargames
Rules: Hail Caesar by Warlord games

This has been a Mr Steve Production