Saturday, 25 September 2021

O-Group, WWII Battalion Level Wargaming, After Action Report

Whilst Ian and I have play tested this set of “Guidelines” ourselves many times, and, also, with a few other mates, this is the first outing at our club.

We have set this game up as a multiplayer Battlegroup game so that we can show, what we hope, is the
full gamut of what it has to offer. We also tried to introduce as many different weapons and situations as
we possibly could. We thus hope to entice as many followers to O Group as we can.

The scenario came from my head and is an attack and defend situation. The British are in the process of
establishing a bridgehead over a river which is just a little bit east of somewhere a little bit to the west.
The British 1st battalion is moving into the town to the north whilst 2nd Battalion is crossing the bridge to the south. Each battalion is split into three Companies each of three platoons which have three sections each, plus MMG’s and AT sections. There are Anti-Tank guns, 6pdr and 17pdr with tows. They have been allocated three rounds of off board artillery. However, one company from each battalion is in reserve along with limited armour and can only be brought on if the situation warrants.

The Germans have been ordered to counter-attack in line with Hitler's “die for me you cowardly swine”
order. They have been allocated two rounds of off board artillery. They also have two battalions made up in a similar fashion to the British. One company from each battalion is held in reserve. They do have a significant advantage in armour. There were no constraints on when they could employ their reserves.

There are some things to understand at this point. The Battlegroup commander is responsible for the
allocation of Regimental and Divisional Artillery at battalion request. Battalion Mortars can be used at any time but not if off board artillery has been gained as they use the same FOO. They throw for initiative using the sum of the Battalion HQ orders plus the score of 2 D6. The Battlegroup orders do not come into this. The town is split up in to four Built Up Areas (BUA). A BUA is not a single building but a group. There are six other single BUA’s on the table in the form of farms.

The British “Forward Defensive Line” (FDL) is 12” on to the table and the German “Start Line” (SL) is also 12” on to the table.

There were no objectives in this game as it was all about seeing the mechanics of play to new players of
the game. The winner was the one who inflicted the most FUBARS and had control of the table at pack
up time.

Deployment Phase

First the Battlegroup Commanders dice for their level, 1 = Poor = 4 Dice, 2- 5 = Competent = 5 Dice and 6 = brilliant = 6 Dice. The results converted to 5 dice per BG commander.

Dice scores of 6 only count. The Battlegroup orders can be distributed to the Battalion commanders, if
their HQ orders are fewer than six, to influence initiative. The British threw as Defenders their dice which included 6’s (two each) allowed them to note two ambush units each. However, 1st Battalion also threw three ones which meant that the Germans had the opportunity to interdict any deployments for the first three turns. All the 2-5’s meant that they could put combat patrol (CP) markers behind the FDL.

The Germans threw as Attackers scoring one 1 each. This counts as a pre-bombardment, and
consequently the British lost one platoon each. The sixes were converted to units on table behind the SL
and the remaining were converted to CP’s, also placed behind the SL.

The Battalion commanders now threw their deployment dice. The attackers, the Germans, had ten dice,
whilst the British, as defenders, had nine. The deployment dice determine the initial setup. How any units can be deployed on table, how many ambushes can be had and much, much more.

When all deployment actions were taken the Battlegroup commanders diced again and started their
accumulation of dispersible orders, remember, only 6’s counted, to a maximum of six.

The Game

The battalion commanders then diced again, battalion orders were noted, once again a maximum of six
only allowed, and company order chits piled high. At this point the game looks easy as you tend to have
an excess. Any company orders not used in a turn are lost. Later in the game, lots of things to do but no
orders to do them with. You can use you battalion orders to supplement the company orders, but this
may influence the initiative throw. So many chances to screw things up.

The initiative was gained on turn one by the Germans and CP’s were fired out in all directions, but as no deployments can be made on moved CP’s in the same turn, the only units on the table were those from the initial deployment. So many orders left over.

The British left flank commander responded in his turn by targeting one of the German units on the edge of a wood with his Battalion mortars, managing to inflict one shock. A good start. The British commanders sent their CP’s out as well, but they were hampered by not being able to have them within 8” of an enemy CP.

The first four turn’s initiative was won by the Germans and consequently they were in the driving seat in getting units deployed and into action. Mortar fire was exchanged causing minimal damage.

Now the action was joined in earnest as deployed units exchanged fire causing shock and suppression.
Where the chuff are all the orders I want?

On the German right flank, a succession of Hesitant Company dice throws (three ones on battalion order throws) caused them to falter in their advance. Typically, as all bad workmen, the commander blamed his tools, in this case the dodgy blue dice he had been provided with. He bitchedrightly complained about them until the end of the game. Oh, for a quiet life as an umpire.

His bad fortune was not mirrored on their left as they reached their consolidation point and over the next couple of turns managed to deploy the 3rd company.

Under intense pressure, and with suppressed units all over the place a British divisional artillery request
was made to try and ease the situation. He gets a Medium Battery. Next throw for accuracy. What’s that
he’s thrown? A double one. Oh, poop he say’s (well close) as this is a Danger Close and the total of three D6 towards the nearest friendly unit means he hits his own platoon, causing one stand to be removed.

I should note here so that I don’t get comments saying I am wrong. As a House Rule Ian and I decided
that British 6 and 17 Pdr AT guns would get two rounds of APDS giving a +2 on firing, this would include any vehicles mounted with one of these guns, i.e. the Firefly. All towed AT guns were also restricted to two rounds of HE. Tanks were not affected by these HE restrictions.

Armoured vehicles were now deployed by both sides to help their attacks with direct HE Fire Support.

A Panzer IV H appeared on the British right flank and was targeted by a British Towed 17pdr firing APDS. The result was inevitable, and the German tank brewed on the spot. Boyed by his success and seeing suppressed units in front of him the British commander brought on his Churchill and opened fire with HE. The next turn, much to the consternation of the German commander, he discovered that this was not an ordinary tank but a Flamethrower (Crocodile). Casualties were inflicted, but eventually the Churchill was overpowered by Jagdpanzer IV’s and was destroyed. The British right flank was beginning to crumble under the pressure of the German advance.

On the German right despite his initial hesitancy, the advance continued. Stug III’s appeared to give fire
support and the weight of numbers started to take effect. The British brought on a Cromwell with a 95mm Howitzer to try and help his beleaguered troops, but this tank was quickly despatched by the Stug’s AT fire. Those German 75mm long guns are lethal.

Weight of numbers of the Germans now told on both flanks. The Pub was calling. So Ian and I called a
German victory and we packed up and went to the pub. Well Bob and I did.

There were three people playing this set of rules who had never played them before and one who had played twice. The overall impression was very positive, and I think that they will be playing them again.

I would like to thank Ian who co-umpired, very essential with so many newbies, Bob and moaningthe very polite Jason, our Germans and Nathan and Chris, our British.

The terrain cloth was by Tiny Wargames. The figures and vehicles came from all over the place, and I can’t remember where now. Building by Hovels and a company which is no longer in being. Trees mainly from Buffers of Axminster and the walls and hedges from ebay. The BUA’s I made from bits and bobs I had lying around. I made them generic so they can be used for other eras.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Clotted Lard 2021 - We're Back!

After all the disappointment of not being able to stage Clotted Lard in 2020, it was great to be back up and running this weekend for Clotted Lard 2021.

We had an excellent turn out of club members and fellow Lard enthusiasts from around the country for our celebration of all things Lard and a display of ten games using the rule sets Sharp Practice, Chain of Command, I Aint Been Shot Mum, Bag the Hun, Dux Britanniarum and Kiss Me Hardy, with conflict on sea, air and land, ranging across the ages from Homeric Greece, to post WWII.

With the venue arranged on Friday night and early Saturday morning everything was ready to welcome our guests and club members, and the day's games were quickly up and running from 09.30 with a break for lunch at 12.30 before an afternoon of another round of games, prior to the usual gathering for pre-dinner drinks, banter and a well earned curry.

Clotted Lard 2021

As with previous shows, I spent part of the day circulating with the camera to capture the different games on show together with a little video clip to try and show what the atmosphere is like in the rooms when everyone is happily playing, before I had to get ready to run my own game of Kiss me Hardy in the afternoon session.

Happy wargamers celebrating our hobby in support of charity, doing what we enjoy most, chatting and wargaming with great rules.

So in no particular order I present the games from Clotted Lard 2021, and would like to thank everyone involved in this year's Clotted Lard for helping to get the show back on the road.

'Badges? We don't need no Stinking Badges' Sharp Practice II, Filibusters in 1850's Mexico (28mm) - Colin Murray

Colin has a strong track record of turning out really interesting themes for his games, together with really lovely terrain and figures that capture the look of the era he is representing whether it is his 16th century Eight Years War, Dutch-Spanish collection or his 19th century Afghan War collection and this years game was up there with his best, taking the players to 1850's Mexico, for his Sharp Practice 'Filibusters' game.

Heroic Daring Do during the Trojan Wars, 'Sacker of Cities' a variation of Dux Britanniarum (28mm) - Chas Carter

As with Colin, the club can always rely on Chas to come up with an interesting theme for his games as illustrated here with his Homeric collection of figures and terrain designed around a variation of Dux Britanniarum that allows for the intricacies of the age of heroic warfare with Hector, Paris, Ajax and Achilles gracing the table, issuing challenges and trying to avoid the odd ankle shot.

'Arrows & Tomahawks' Bag the Hun, RAF vs Regia Aeronautica, WWII Western Desert - Andy Crow

Bag the Hun is a popular set of air-warfare rules and, having a large collection of Battle of Britain British and German types in 1:300th scale and with our own local Exeter based Spitfire in the air this week doing barrel rolls over Exmouth on Battle of Britain day, it was great to see Andy Crow's nicely turned out Western Desert collection of fighters wheeling over a suitably dressed table, as the players tried to devise ways of getting on each others elusive 'six', and with the Italians flying 'Vics' against the latest RAF tactic of 'finger fours'.

'BATT Force' Chain of Command, SAS & Gendarmerie against the Adoo, Mirbat 1972 (28mm) - Jason Ralls & Nathan Goodyear

Jason and Nathan came up with a great theme for their Chain of Command game recreating the dramatic battle at Mirbat in 1972 during which nine SAS soldiers alongside fifty-five Balochi and local Gendarmerie fighters held off an attack by two to three-hundred Adoo guerrilla fighters, during which British-Fijian Sergeant Talalasi Labalaba was mentioned in dispatches for continuing to fire the single 25-pounder gun single-handed at one stage, after being seriously wounded and later shot dead in the neck, prompting calls for and a later campaign to see his bravery recognised posthumously with the Victoria Cross.

'The Leeward Line', Kiss Me Hardy, Collingwood's column at Trafalgar 1805 (1:700th) - JJ

My own efforts this year and last, during the enforced lockdown painting marathon, has focussed on all things age-of-sail naval, with a large collection of Napoleonic 1:700th ships from Warlord Games built to facilitate a future playing of Trafalgar and with a small part of the collection out on the table using Kiss me Hardy and the attack by the leading elements of Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's leeward column at the battle.

It was great fun testing this scale of model for Kiss Me Hardy.

My set-up for our game, with Collingwood's HMS Royal Sovereign (16) leading the charge against the Combined Fleet squadron led by Spanish Admiral Alava in the Santisima Trinidad (17)

'Somewhere in the Ardennes' Chain of Command WWII Battle of the Bulge (28mm) - Jeff Davies & Geoff Bond

There is something really compelling and very attractive about a well turned out snowy landscape as a backdrop for a battle and Jeff Davies and Geoff Bond produced this really stunning example for their Chain of Command Bulge set-too with German infantry supported by a single Panzer IV having a hard time in the snow against well dug in American defenders and their M8 armoured car.

'Emergency' Chain of Command, Royal Marines vs Communist Terrorists, Malaya 1950 (28mm) Stephen Luscombe

I think one of the best things about Lardy games is that I am always amazed at the variety of themes their rule sets generate and it was really nice to see this rendition of Malaya 1951 by Stephen Luscombe as an example of that variety, again using Chain of Command, and showing that the idea of using dog handlers to sniff out ambushes and improvised explosive devices is nothing new.

I reckon Stephen will be happy if he never has to create another model palm/rubber tree group ever again!

'Fighting at Stonne', I Aint Been Shot Mum, France 1940 (15mm) - Phil Turner & Jenny Owens

Phil and Jenny have supported Clotted Lard right from the get-go and have graced the show with some lovely games in that time with Jenny's ability to create a glorious table around their chosen theme and this year it was around a favourite set of rules for me, I Aint Been Shot Mum, that I played to destruction a few years ago with my Normandy collection of 15mm figures but here recreating the famous battle for Stonne in the May of 1940.

The fighting in this table-top engagement focussed around the main street as French recon elements clashed with the German armoured spearhead before French armour and each sides infantry joined the fray amid the maze of houses, back yards and streets.

'Up among the Pandies' Sharp Practice II, Indian Mutiny (28mm) - Simon Walker

The Indian Mutiny is a popular theme for Sharp Practice and one we have had feature in our own club games, and seeing Simon Walker's rendition helps to explain why, with a glorious mix of uniformed regulars and native irregulars amid exotic Indian buildings and suitably attired British ladies and their servants attempting to get away amid the exchanges of musketry.

'A Matter of Some Urgency' Sharp Practice II, American War of Independence (28mm) - Jim Ibbotson

I am in the process of building my own AWI Mohawk Valley collection of 28mm figures for Sharp Practice and so it was a pleasure to see the modelling talent of  Jim Ibbotson and his own AWI rendition of the Queen's Rangers plus Indians taking on a collection of American militiamen on a lovely table that has given me plenty of ideas for my own games.

As always, everyone had a great day's wargaming and much fun was had by all.

Once again thanks to all involved and here's looking forward to next year.