Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year and New Year Resolutions

I wish everyone a happy 2012.

Resolutions for 2012:
  • Paint complete units
  • Use my 10mm SYW forces to test various rules and add to them as appropriate
  • Paint my 15mm Gurkhas for Burma 1944-45 for IABSM3/Battlefront WW2
  • Paint more existing 15mm NW Europe British and German for IABSM3/Battlefront WW2 before buying any more
  • Paint existing 10mm British/Italian for Operation Compass for IABSM3/BKCII
  • Decide what to do with Napoleonics - I've got some 15mm Peninsula, sample 6mm French/Austrians and some sample 10mm French/Austrian 1809
  • Play more miniatures games than 2011 (not hard)
  • Play some RPGs

Saturday, 31 December 2011

A 2011 gaming retrospect

As this blog is very recent in origin I thought I'd take a quick look back at a year where I had a lot of plans but little execution - I blame lack of time but it may also have been inertia on my part.

Shows: I attended Call to Arms (Theale in February), Valhalla (Farnborough in January), Battle Group South (Bovington in July) and Warfare (Reading in November).   I'd thought of doing Salute, Colours and/or SELWG but these didn't happen owing to business travel or fatigue.

Apart from the painting over the Christmas holidays recorded in the earlier blog posts I painted about 30 15mm WW2 Gurkhas (which were loaned as artillery protection at the Bovington Battlefront WW2 Bishenpur game).  I also did bits and pieces on various 10mm and 15mm WW2 figures and vehicles but nothing much.

The Bishenpur game at Bovington created and run by the talented and friendly UK supporters of the Battlefront WW2 rules:

As far as miniatures games go I played in an IABSM Lard Day of the Australian assault on Italian held Tobruk in Operation Compass, did a solo game of Battlefront WW2 (A Difficult Affair - Kursk).

The table for the morning of the TFL Tobruk game:

A view of the main L of the TFL Tobruk game in progress with many of the usual suspects:

I bought a lot of rules and related publications during 2011, including Force on Force (FoF), Tomorrow's War (TW) - both from Ambush Alley Games, and IABSM3 from TF, as well as Beneath the Lily Banners 2 (BLB2) and Piquet's Field of Battle (FOB). 

I'm hopeful that FoF and TW may get played at some point in 2012 with my son.  I've been lucky with IABSM3 (as related in posts from earlier in December) both in convincing existing friends to play but also to find a willing fellow TFL Yahoo group member who lives pretty close.  

I did more roleplaying than miniatures gaming.  This was mainly a mix of home brewed games GM'd by my son and Ars Magica run by an old friend in London.

So, a year in which I hoped to do more painting and gaming than I did.  But I met a lot of good people in 2011 especially at the Bishenpur game at Bovington and the TFL game at St Albans.

I've also taken to recording all my hobby related expenditure.  In 2011 this was almost exactly £700.  Of this £193 was on miniatures rules and supplements and another £193 on miniatures (much of it remaindered 15mm Flames of War items). About £108 went on RPGs.  Only £39 was on books, £32 on magazines, £47 on travel to shows (petrol) and £22 for entry.  Paints and terrain accounted for the balance. 

I wish any readers of this blog a happy 2012.

A holiday project - Part 2

As I mentioned earlier I had decided to paint my 10mm SYW forces over the holiday period.

The Allied forces were pretty much finished yesterday - there's a bit of touch up to be done and the bases will be flocked at a later date.

The array deployed under Lt Gen von Imhoff:

The table is an old card table.  The figures are Pendraken 10mm in battalions of 24 and cavalry regiments of 12 in two squadrons.

The Hessian Prinz Friedrich Dragoons with the Hanoverian Busch Dragoons in the second line:

The Hessian Mansbach and Erbprinz Regiments:

The Hessian Haudring (later Toll) and Ysenberg Regiments, with converged Hessian grenadiers in the background:

 The Hessian infantry are in early uniforms - indeed there is debate as to whether the blue breeches were phased out before the Seven Years War - but it serves to distinguish them from the Brunswickers.  Their (speculative) colours are taken from the Kronoskaf site - again I decided to use earlier rather than later colours.

The Hanoverian 12 pounders:
 The two battalions of the Brunswick Imhoff Regiment:
 The right wing cavalry of the Hanoverian Reden and Hessian Prinz Friedrich cavalry regiments:

There is little difference in the main features of these two regiments despite being from different states. My painting isn't good enough to differentiate the pre-cast hanging standards by more than the main colour and a sense of devices.

Anyway, I've completed what I aimed to do at the start of the holidays - now to start using the small French and Allied forces to test out some rules.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

AAR of Vyazma or Bust scenario 1

Earlier this week I hosted a second game of IABSM3. This time it was scenario 1 from Too Fat Lardies (TFL) Vyazma or Bust supplement, written by Rob Avery, which is a fictional mini campaign set in autumn/fall 1941 in Russia. 

A fellow TFL Yahoo group member (Paul) came over and we used my 1941 Germans and Soviets for the purpose.  I'd forgotten that they could really do with some sprucing up - this may happen soon if we return to Barbarossa.

The eclectic mix of forces involved meant there was a lot of learning for us to do as we worked out how various unit types worked as well as found out some of the new things in IABSM3.  

The table set up for the game - the far long edge is North:

 An impediment to play:

I commanded the German motorised company which was part of a thrust that had penetrated Soviet defences and whose orders were to advance from the south edge of the table and to clear the road of any enemy and prevent any enemy from being able to fire on it.  For this purpose I had a 3-section veteran platoon in halftracks and a 3-section truck mounted platoon.  I also had a support platoon with 3 MMG and 2 8cm mortars as well as a flamethrower and a CHQ with a rifle section, all with trucks.  In support I had a platoon of 4 Panzers, one IIIH with a 5cm Kwk and three IIIF with 3.7cm Kwk guns.  Air support from the Luftwaffe in the form of a Stuka was available.  There were five Big Men.

Paul's Soviets had a composite unit under a captain with a strong rifle platoon of 4 10-man sections with a support unit of a lone MMG and single 82mm mortar, with two other Big Men.   There was also a sniper and a commissar.  Remnants of a Soviet tank division contributed 4 45mm AT guns, a KV-1 and three T-26 tanks.   Uncertain of where an attack would come from the Soviets were in scrapes allowing some cover.

The going was bad penalising off road movement for wheeled vehicles and all movement on the hills.
The German advance planned to put its armoured weight on the right (east) flank with least woods that might hide enemy infantry or guns, take the village by the stream and then swing west to eliminate enemy units from the flank while the 2nd platoon pinned the enemy on the left.  I chose to dismount most of the lorry borne units before they arrived (even on blinds) as I felt they would do more harm than good.

On the basis that I needed to push forward quickly to reduce the chance of the Soviet's changing position I advanced under blinds rather further than I'd expected which meant a lot of my troops were spotted (and therefore deployed on the table) rather closer to the enemy than expected.   This was particularly the case with 2nd platoon on the left which arrived on top of the hill and the lead section was promptly shot to pieces.

The lead section of German 2nd platoon is suppressed and falls back from shock having been shattered by two Soviet sections in the nearby woods:

Meanwhile the advance on the centre right had been rudely awakened by AT guns firing on the half tracks and panzers.   This caused the German mechanised infantry to veer right to get out of the line of fire.

 A German 1st platoon half track is immobilised in the centre.

The Germans then lost their lead (and best) tank to a Soviet AT gun - luckily Lt von Posen escaped and managed to take over another tank - this would prove important.

On the left after a stand off we deided to test the close assault rules by having the German 2nd platoon assault the Soviet sections in the woods.  I knew this was likely to be disadvantageous (if we hadn't been testing various rules I'd have organised mortars etc to try to pin/suppress the Soviets first).  The results were predictably painful for the Germans.

German 2nd platoon demonstrates why attacking Russians in woods is a bad idea - their left hand section has ceased to exist from close assault.


Later on Paul decided to test the Human Wave card and the remaining Soviets rushed the remaining German section effectively eliminating 2nd platoon as a fighting force.   Thereafter the German MGs on halftracks were all that restrained these Soviets from intervening elsewhere.

Back on the right the Germans spotting over the ridge line realised there was an enemy section at the base and a brave Panzer III charged them, throwing them back to the houses before, in concert with infantry on the ridge, destroying them with MG fire.  However its moment of triumph was shortlived as a KV-1 (accompanied by a T-26) emerged from the woods to the west and destroyed it with a flank shot.     Two other T-26s emerged from the village and challenged the German right.   The German response was to focus the panzers on these, hoping the KV didn't move too fast.

Soviet armour has paralysed the German advance (flanking fire hasn't helped) but one T-26 has already fallen to a Panzer III and an infantry section with accompanying AT rifle have crossed the stream to try to work to flank the remaining right hand T-26 - the destroyed tank markers are Paul's Litko markers. 

The superior German command skills (a Panzer Big Man commanding the remainder of the platoon, Armoured bonus card and Dynamic Leader card) enabled the panzers to outmanoeuvre the Soviet tankers with one Panzer III getting into the village (which was unaffected both by an attempt by a heroic Soviet officer on his own to disable it and by an AT gun a long way down the road). The T-26s were knocked out for no loss and the KV-1 flanked to damage it - finally the German flamethrower panicked the KV crew who bailed out, leaving the Germans with two functioning panzers and most of their forces absent 2nd platoon. 

The final scene on the right:

However there were still three Soviet AT guns in various places and some infantry so although Paul thought the Germans would eke out a minor (and pyrrhic) victory in the end, I'm not so sure.

I forgot to mention the German air support.  There's a good reason for this - it appeared once and its bombing run ended up dropping 10 inches off target in the woods.  The Luftwaffe will be receiving a complaint.  Mind you the German mortars only fired ranging shots when they had a target as they seemed to fall short a lot.   Next game we'll hopefully test the indirect fire rules more fully.

In summary a good game, we learned a lot and had fun.

Monday, 19 December 2011

A holiday project - Part 1

One of the things I've decided to do for the Christmas and New Year holidays is to progress my small 10mm SYW Allied and French forces so that I can solo test a few rule sets in January.  I based up my 10mm SYW  over the summer and undercoated them, then painting most of 2 battalions of French.  Then it all stalled.

My painting tends to be of the 'get in on the table' quality - basically I'm not very good at it.  If I can tell the unit while playing that's good enough for me.  They are also more in 'The Wargame' style so not designed to be realistic in terms of basing etc.   The combination of my eyes and lack of dexterity mean that lace etc is impressionistic and I've also avoided doing buttons.

Over the weekend and this morning I finished painting the French (not yet varnished and there may be some touching up to do).  For now the infantry standards are paper (Warflag and self made) while I work out what to do longer term.

The French:  Lt General St German leads the French advance guard

The French force consists of two two battalion regiments (Provence and D'Eu), a battalion of Grenadiers de France, three two squadron regiments of cavalerie leger (Conde, Rochefaucault, Du Roi) and two squadrons of dragoons (Orleans) plus a battery of two 8 pounders.  All figures are Pendraken.  Bases are all 25mm/1 inch wide (20mm deep for infantry, 25mm for cavalry.  Brigadiers/MdC are on UK 1 pence pieces and the General and his aide on a 2 pence piece.  Infantry are in 24 man battalions and cavalry in 6 figure squadrons.

Provence with the lead battalion of D'Eu in the background:

 D'Eu with the Grenadiers de France behind, followed by the Orleans dragoons:

The Artillery and the General (the barrels are bronze but the flash seems to have affected them):

Conde, Rochefoucault (both in grey-white) and Du Roi (blue coats):

In due course there will be limbers for the 8pdrs.  I've also got a foreign battalion (may be painted either Reding (Swiss) or La Marck (German)) and some supply wagons on order.

The Allies may take a bit longer :-)  Hopefully I'll be able to post part 2 with the Allied forces around the New Year.

The rule sets I intend to test out include:
  • Field of Battle
  • Classic Piquet Cartouche (closely related to the above)
  • Minden Rose
  • Maurice Lite
  • Black Powder

Friday, 16 December 2011

AAR The Action at Grise Farm 27 August 1944

This was our inaugural game of I Ain't Been Shot Mum 3, played on 11 December 2011.  I designed the scenario and refereed having played a reasonable amount of the previous edition.

The 6' x 4' table looking North, Grise Farm in the centre rear


Major Tuke’s A Company 7 Somerset Light Infantry was under orders to sweep northwards through part of the Foret de Vernon following the crossing of the Seine two days before.  General Thomas no less believed that the enemy were withdrawing but there might be pockets of resistance ahead so the company, reduced by losses in Normandy to two rifle platoons and a string company HQ, moved carefully through the heavy woods – poor going for infantry and impassable to vehicles.

At the end of the sweep they were to dig in where the northerly track they were following crossed a track to a local chateau at a farm.  The company had passed many little tracks and the Major, new out from England [a Big Man II], was becoming concerned until the scouts from the lead sections of 7 Platoon brought back news there was a farm ahead. 

The British advance on Blinds - the Germans remain concealed  

On the other side of the cross track and a stream stood a stoutly built farmhouse and outbuildings with a small orchard, then lighter woods closed in again around the northbound track.   The farmhouse had been recently occupied by Feldwebel Langer from 6.kompanie of Grenadier-Regiment -149 as forward security for his company.   The feldwebel, a veteran of Russia [a Class III Big Man], had  placed one of his two rifle sections in the farmhouse and one in the adjoining orchard.  Out to the east flank the attached MMG team with Obergefreiter Reiner were in a tangled coppice angled to fire in defilade across the front of the orchard and farmhouse.   The forward observer Gefreiter Michael  for the company mortars was also in the farm while an attached sniper was wandering around somewhere.

Meanwhile 7 Platoon was spotted moving alongside the northern track with two sections in file either side of the road.  Initial bursts of fire were relatively ineffective at long range and the platoon manoeuvred to throw one section left and one right but throwing the right section out of the woods in an effort to advance to covering brush along the stream.   A few casualties  - including from the sniper - and shock quickly drove them back behind a rise (where they remained troubled by mortars for most of the rest of the game).
Finally Major Tuke managed to call in supporting 25pdrs which banged away at the farm for the rest of the game bemoaning its strong construction. 

Meanwhile, with German attention focused on 7 Platoon, 8 Platoon thrust forward on the eastern flank and bounded [still on Blinds] across the open ground to close assault the coppice occupied by the MMG (which angled to fire in defilade had no arc of fire).  A savage hand to hand struggle wiped out the MMG crew but caused quite a few British casualties.  Fire from the farmhouse at those who had not completely got into cover also whittled numbers down.  However the platoon was still strong enough to  flank the German held orchard and to drive its depleted defenders back into the farm (where it and the occupying section spent a lot of time pinned from 25 pdrs).  

Although there were indications of movement to the west [two pretty obvious blinds] nothing much had happened.  British 8 Platoon on the east - and their CHQ behind them – were rudely surprised by the arrival of two full German platoons through the woods as the rest of Leutnant Heiminger’s company, tasked as part of KG Schrader to drive South-East, appeared to the south as the platoon was oriented north south to attack the farm .  Heavy firing at close ranges caused heavy casualties in the light woods before the Germans closed.  At about this time Major Tuke called for reinforcements which in some ways was well timed as his 38 Set was knocked out shortly thereafter severing his communication with battalion HQ and with the artillery support.

The remnants of 8 Platoon under attack - CHQ on the right of the picture

8 Platoon was no match for two full strength German platoons (Feldwebels Brecht and Gottfried)  in the open woods and the sections were quickly reduced to small pockets of survivors – some of whom resisted being made prisoners quite effectively.  CHQ was assaulted and repelled one assault but was finally overrun after Major Tuke made a run for it alone (there was some discussion about whether he’d be popular with HQ for surviving that debacle).  

Meanwhile, 7 Platoon, still in reasonably good shape but with dispersed sections, sent its westerly section with the 2” and PIAT to flank the farm via a low ridge which offered some protection.   In many ways this was too little too late and did not have a Big Man with them.  However, the section stopped to exchange fire with the farm defenders from behind a ruined wall.  They were then unable to stop a German CHQ MG team from setting up on the ridge.  The emplaced MMG then drove them back into the woods with heavy casualties [and shock].  Meanwhile the Pazerschreck teams also with the German CHQ moved to cover the exit from the southern woods just as a troop of Shermans from 4/7DG arrived (with a platoon from D Company) to lend A Company much needed fire support.   At long range one ‘schreck team engaged the lead Sherman but missed and had its loader killed by an HE shell in return.

The Shermans arrive

Here we drew to a close.   The Germans would not advance with enemy armour and more enemy infantry appearing.  The Shermans were wary about advancing in the face of ‘schrecks and presumably fausts with too few infantry to mount a successful assault. 

The players claim to have enjoyed themselves and we are looking forward to another game.

We played in 20mm lengthways on a 6’ x 4’ board with a lot of woods, small rises and brush to reduce lines of sight.   Things we did wrong/differently:
-          We should have reduced the cover of the farm by one level for the 25 pdrs which would then have been more effective (as would the German mortars).
-          I decided not to apply the +2 for firing where another unit is within 2” where the other unit was just a 2-man weapons team
-          I  missed that the British blinds should have been at a lesser penalty moving in the woods (didn’t have much effect)
-          We used Mortar bonus for the off-table German mortars which felt a bit odd to me.

The scenario was based on the operations of the real A Company 7 SLI on 27 August 1944.  However the names of the officers and NCOs used in the game are fictitious.

{Sources: Assault Crossing, Ken Ford p141-3, p148-151, p188-189; The Story of the Seventh Battalion Somerset Light Infantry June 1944 – May 1945 p62-63; The 43rd Wessex Division at War 1944-1945 p107-108}

I modified the historical events to give the British a bit more of a fighting chance.  I rated the British CO as a Big Man II given he was clearly inexperienced.  The Platoon commanders were III.  Given the strong efforts shown by the single German company from a not very well thought of unit I rated the CO and 1st Platoon commanders as III and the others as II.  The landsers were also rated as good regulars to reflect their staying power on the day.  I had a Hesitant Troops for the British (which paused 7 Platoon quite a bit) and Mortar bonus, MG bonus and Tank Killers for the Germans.  Both sides had Rally as a kindness.  The German CO had dynamic leader but only used it once as he came on late.  The German player had access to the translation of the real operational orders his counterpart received.

Hopefully this is of interest.