September 2022 Update

Tokhtamysch

Wow, September has been and gone! Holidays and building work reduced our meeting schedule so only three games this month and precious little done on the painting/modelling front.

Carlists

The month kicked off with a Carlist Wars game at the Bunker and for the first time in 3 years we had everyone present ๐Ÿ˜

Carlist guns

The game was fictional and involved a surprise attack by the Carlists on the Liberals camp unaware that more Liberal troops were on their way.

Government troops

The encamped troops were the ‘good’ troops being the Foreign Legion and the British Legion. Light companies were deployed forward of the position and visibility was restricted in the opening moves to simulate the dawn breaking. Once the first shots were fired (basically the Carlists running into the light troops) each battalion would dice for how many turns until it marched out from the camps. The Liberal reinforcements were pre programmed to arrive on the road emerging from the woods on the right flank but nobody knew when.

The camp and defended block house

The Carlists duly bumped into the lights and the game was on! The lights fell back and the Carlists pushed on as quick as they could but some good dice rolls saw the Government troops spilling out of their tents and forming up on the left flank and behind the blockhouse.

Carlists

In short, the Carlist attack on their right faltered in the face of the speedy deployment and eventually ground to a halt facing the tents. In the centre the Carlists did much better, sweeping away the opposition, isolating the blockhouse (which did prove to be a nuisance) and cutting the road. The left made hard work of the terrain and light opposition which meant it wasn’t in quite the best position when the reinforcements arrived.

Lancers mixing it up

When the reinforcements arrived (which was essentially the main army) the game took on a new dimension as they struggled to get off the road as it exited the woods quick enough to be in the right shape to fight. Both sides used spoiler cavalry attacks to prevent troops deploying and the cavalry even got to fight each other! The really bloody fighting was when the attack columns of both sides got stuck in around the ever expanding Government bridgehead.

The bridgehead

Ultimately the Government were able to push out from the woods, despite some serious losses – the Guards cavalry regiments were practically destroyed and move across the back of their lines.

Carlist brigade

By late afternoon (our time) we decided to call it through sheer exhaustion ๐Ÿคฃ and declared a Government victory – this was not without some debate, the Carlists rightly claimed they had split the Government forces in half by occupying the centre but as the game organiser pointed out the objective was to overrun the camps before the reinforcements properly deployed and, because of the failure on the right, they hadn’t, so victory to the Government.

Satrapal troops of Attalus

Our next game was another from the Successor project, this time the Imperial army of Perdiccas (so all the good stuff ๐Ÿ˜€) against one of the western satraps, Attalus.

the army of Perdiccas

The Imperials deployed four blocks of pike split evenly by an elephant centre with each pair combining a veteran block with a levy block; the left of the line was anchored on the Hypaspists and the right wing comprised all the companion cavalry.

Satrapal cavalry

The Satrapal forces were more numerous so overlapped their opponents but were not of the same class; they deployed with their cavalry on the right with a very clear plan of riding round the slow enemy infantry and striking the rear and/or looting the camp while the infantry, comprising two pike blocks and two hoplite blocks alternating with units of peltasts screened by psiloi, advanced to pin the opposition.

Hypaspists

Once the armies were deployed Perdiccas realised the enemy plan and set about sending his elite cavalry galloping across the rear lines in a race against time ๐Ÿ™„. Other than that both sides commenced their advance.

Satrapal cavalry try to avoid Hypaspists

The early action all took place on the Satrapal right where their cunning plan came unstuck because the Hypaspists got out in front of the pikes and basically got in the way ๐Ÿ˜. A couple of javelin volleys pinned the lead cavalry which road blocked the others and once that was sorted out the only way forward was through the Hypapists and that didn’t work out so well ๐Ÿ˜ข.

Hypaspists in action

Ultimately the action resolved itself with the Satrapal cavalry either destroyed or fleeing and Attalus dying leading his companions in an all or nothing charge against the lately arriving Imperial companions.

Siler Shields and levy

On the other flank of the Satrapal army events were more in their favour, the clash of pikes saw one of the Imperial levied pikes flee the field with their opponent in pursuit and while the Imperial veteran pikes crushed a peltast unit they soon found themselves being circled by the hoplites and remaining pike.

pike on pike action ๐Ÿคจ

The centre was a bit of a non event with the other two Imperial pike units being harassed by Satrap light cavalry for most of the game and the elephants facing off to the peltasts. Ultimately the light horse retired, which did leave the Satrap camp vulnerable but at least the peltasts killed an elephant.

dead elephant
Attalus with no troops left

The death of Attalus rather sealed it for the Satrap forces and so we called it.

the forces of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh

Our final game was a sweeping cavalry encounter featuring the C14th forces of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh an encounter facilitated by the slow repurposing of some really old figures from our Mongol, Russian and Mamluk armies of yesteryear and slogging away at a stupid metal mountain that accumulated when we had more money than sense.

Timurids

The field was mainly open with 2 low hills with a wooded valley between on one flank and a lone hill skirted by trees on the other. Both commanders occupied the hills in their deployment area with their guards. The numerically inferior but qualitifly superior Timurids deployed their allied White Sheep Turks on the right with orders to infiltrate through the wooded valley, unfortunately the Horde allied Cumans had the same order and so the battle for these commands was a disorganised exchange of arrows that finally saw the Cumans retreat.

White Shhep Turks under Quara Yusuf

The centre of the Timurid line was 2 commands of heavy cavalry screened by lights and supported by elephants, the left was a similarly formed command behind the stream. The Horde had 4 commands in the centre, one was purely skirmish horse , one was allied Russian cavalry and two were Mongol heavy cavalry – everyone except the Russians were bow armed and the Timurids were generally better armoured than the Horde.

Golden Horde

Tamerlane realised as soon as deployment was complete that his centre was in danger of being overwhelmed so he committed the Guard early and that diverted the Russian Boyars in his direction. The bow fire dissuaded the lead Boyar unit and then the hand to hand favoured the Guard – better armoured and better morale, end result was the termination of the Russian command (with extreme prejudice ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Golden Horde

The more even centre fight then saw both sides shooting bows for all they were worth and then exchanging blows. The Horde did manage a break through and one unit galloped off in pursuit of it’s opponent but overall the fight favoured the Timurids and the arrival of the force from over the stream tipped the balance; victory to the Timurids.

Birds of a feather!

In terms of stuff done, one of the guys painted up some striking pieces for the Successors project with a kind of Ptolemaic/Egyptian Pharaoh vibe. Could also be used in a fantasy setting?

We’re watching you!
Condottierre

Also another Italian Wars condottierre unit got done along with a couple of command stands, all from existing stuff that just hadn’t been got round to.

Landsknecht commanders
Desert

A few more random desert terrain clutter items got completed, suitable for any of our middle east modern skirmishes, or the Foreign Legion, desert WWII or even the Successors.

Hezbollah

Well another month over and, given the amount of time we have, fairly lean pickings in terms of games done. We had a chat about it and can’t really put our finger on the why; age, lack of enthusiasm, other stuff getting in the way, too many periods; it could be any, all or none of these, certainly we have collections that are perhaps seeing the light of day once a year – the Timurids, the GNW, Dark Age, Sikh Wars, and some that haven’t been out all year – most of the modern skirmish, the ACW, the Byzantines, 3 Musketeers. Slimming down the collections has started but then the Successors is brand new so….

Anyway, that’s it for the month. Next month is Partizan so maybe we’ll see folks there.

August 2022 Update

The summer is almost over and we’ve played in some serious heat! Only managed to get 3 games in but did manage 2 ‘away games’ so that was a plus.

Vietnamese village

First away game was with some of the local Coventry and Warwickshire crowd – Bob, Pete, JC & James in a return to Vietnam after the last awful outing with BOHICA. This time Pete put together a two pager sampling from some 80’s/90’s sets from when we all played in 20mm plus some ideas of his own.

It’s a jungle out there

Basic scenario was a US patrol of several fire teams charged with occupying a local village and conducting hearts & minds to woo the locals away from the VC known to be in the area. The VC were aware of the approach of the ‘imperialists’ but reduced in numbers so would have to be sneaky – players had a series of ‘ambush points’ they could appear at during the game, take a shot and disappear, if the US moved over an ambush point it was lost and VC movement therefore reduced. Movement was I Go You Go based on initiative and restricted to one fire team per ‘go’.

US forces

It didn’t take long for the US jungle walk to be interrupted when up popped a fire team with an RPG, the round exploded in front of the lead US team killing one GI and sending the officer scampering back ๐Ÿคฃ

Maybe we should spread out?

The US split its forces, one group stayed the course on the road and the other split left into the jungle where a booby trap was triggered resulting in a man down who now needed medivac – one fire team spent the rest of the game trying to get the man back to the start line where the helicopter landing zone was deemed to be.

Still taking fire

The VC continued to pop up and at one point flanked the US – a neat little special rule from Pete was that local villagers could pop up (but look like VC) who would fire ineffectually but would cause the US to chase shadows.

Shadowy VC

Ultimately the US withdrew with 3 KIA and 1 seriously wounded, so much for hearts and minds ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

Roman Civil War

Next away game was in darkest Wales and a return trip to Lord Raglan (aka Gareth Lane) in a long delayed return trip, this time we were playing Roman Civil War – Septimus Severus v Pescennius Niger using the Soldiers of Rome rules which are a spin off of Soldiers of God rules I believe.

Niger’s eastern forces

As the visitor I was offered choice and I chose Niger, mainly because of the camelry and cataphracts. The western army of Severus was almost all infantry; legionaries, auxiliary and praetorians with a smattering of cavalry and the eastern army of Niger was heavy in cavalry – almost one entire wing, plus legionaries and auxiliaries. Both sides were divided into 3 command each (as per the rules); the Severan right was legions, auxilia and a lone unit of cavalry, the centre was the praetorians and the left legions and auxilia, Niger forces had the cavalry command on the right, the centre legions and auxilia and the left legions and auxilia plus cavalry. The rules are card driven (exclusive to the game) and similar to Dead Mans Hand in that you have permanent cards (in this case 3 – 1 for each command) and then 4 dealt cards each that are used alternately based on who has initiative; the cards allow you to do one specific thing, move, charge, melee, shoot, but also have a special event that you may use instead, shooting and melee is resolved using D6 and you can save hits.

Cavalry v Legion

The rules limit you as to what kind of battle plan you choose which in itself influences your permanent cards; I chose to hold my centre and attack with the wings, Gareth chose all out attack. This sounds fine but of course to fulfil the plan you need a run of cards and that is a frustration ๐Ÿ™„ It certainly took me a few moves to get into the rhythm of using the cards effectively and managed to throw away 2 units of camelry in the process ๐Ÿคฃ which made me think ‘this is all going to be over by lunch time!’

The afore mentioned camels throwing themselves away

In short; after my disaster with the camels the right wing redeemed itself (led by the cataphracts) and ultimately broke their opponents and headed for the enemy camp which they duly looted, the left duked it out inconsequentially but it was in the centre where victory was clinched because as Severus looked on as his praetorians slowly pushed my legions back an ignored auxilary archer unit emerged from broken ground and killed the emperor in a volley of arrows! My thanks to Gareth for gentlemanly pointing out I could do this, I had just assumed you could only shoot units ๐Ÿ˜.

Praetorians in action

I’ll admit I’m not a fan of card driven games but we had an exciting and fun game which lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. The reliance on the cards for what you can do did give some odd results, so units in melee didn’t actually fight because they didn’t have a melee card and this did mean melees dragged on longer than they should have and the stop start nature of the moving didn’t seem that realistic to me given the machine like nature of the Roman army. That said, I’d play again, just because something isn’t my thing doesn’t mean I wont play if invited to do so.

WWII

Back to our own games and the first of the month was a post Normandy action with Canadians advancing on German town held by Panzer Grenadiers and Volkstrum. Basic scenario had a full platoon of Canadians in Kangaroos supported by a troop of Shermans advancing on the allegedly undefended town, Germans have a weak Volkstrum platoon and a reinforced Panzer Grenadier squad plus a dug in Pak 40 and a Puma.

Kangaroo meets sheep

The Canadians advanced on a broad front (too broad actually), two sections advancinging right, the Shermans and platoon HQ taking up position on the central high ground and a lone section advancing on the far left.

Volkstrum under fire

After a few quiet turns the action got underway with the Shermans and the deployed mortar shelling targets as the HQ spotted them. The two sections on the right got into extended fire fights on the outskirts of the town with Volkstrum and Hitler Youth who they quickly eliminated although not before the Pak 40 took out one Kangaroo.

PAK 40

Having revealed itself the Pak 40 was picked out by the Shermans and silenced. The fighting continued into the town with the Panzer Grenadiers doing better but numbers told and they were eliminated along with their transport and the Puma.

Puma brewed up

Over on the left the lone section struggled to cross open ground and got itself shot up pretty badly but supporting fire from the Shermans saved them especially when it acidentally took out the Volkstrum HQ squad in a random shot on a building.

Heroes of the game

With the loss of all their heavy weapons and the panzer grenadiers the remaining Volkstrum fled the town and the Canadians took control. A good game, plenty of excitement.

Poles v Swedes

Next up was a large scale eastern renaissance, Poles & Imperialist v Swedes.

Massed Polish cavalry

Both sides deployed with a strong cavalry wing which in this case ended up facing each other, a weak centre and then a strong infantry wing battling to control a large hill.

Swedish & Danish cavalry

On the cavalry wing it was a bloodbath. First of all the Finnish cavalry caused some shock losses on the Poles but strong counter attacks saw them off and momentum saw the Poles smashing into the Swedes & Danes in what became a long rolling cavalry action over several moves. Ultimately the Poles prevailed and 5 regiments of enemy horse were either destroyed or fled.

Scots brigade ready for action

The battle for the hill was a see saw affair with 10 regiments of foot ultimately battling out what became a stalemate with nothing to show but some very bloodied regiments.

Danish horse

We called time when the victorious hussars started to swing around the rear of the swedes, it was a hard fought game.

Sikh irregulars

Final game of the month was a Sikh Wars game. As usual the Sikhs were defending – high ground on their left and centre with regulars (foot & guns) plus a brigade of cavalry, village on the right with irregulars.

Sikh noble cavalry

The British/EIC deployed an infantry brigade to march through a village on their left and attack the Sikh village supported by a horse brigade, the centre was two brigades of foot and the right two brigades of horse.

British & EIC infantry

On the British right the horse were held back while the guns pounded the noble cavalry forcing them off the hill enabling the British horse to sweep up and dispatch the remaining horse and turn inward on the guns.

Nobles

In the centre the British infantry slogged forward under accurate fire from the Sikh guns taking serious casualties before the rear regiments were able to get close enough to volley fire the defenders out of their position.

Cheerio!

On the British left the cavalry and infantry acted in concert and forced the Sikhs from the village and then turned in on the other flank of the hill. Sikh regulars wisely retired.

A view from the hill

And that was August. Not much done on the painting/modelling front just bits and pieces finished off. Holiday breaks coming up so September might be a bit thin but we’ll see.

See you next month.

July 2022 Update

Bicocca

A bit of a crap month for gaming, only two games done, one was the Bicocca re-fight and the other a pick up western gunfight. The reason? Well reasons really, car crash, relative hospitalised, covid, you name it Dave experienced it!

Dardenell County

I’ve already posted about Bicocca so our only other game was a pick up game set in our fictional western gunfight county. In this adventure one set of cowhands saw beef bearing their brand in the stockyards that had been rebranded and went seeking the culprits.

where are the varmints!

It was a pretty simple set up, 3 cowhands per side, average stats to start then random amendment by die rolling. The Van Hee boys started at the stockyards and the Burton boys were just coming out of the blacksmiths.

Burton boys

Although it should have been a simple shoot out at the stockyards Dave made it all complicated by going commando (no, not that commando!) and sneaking off round buildings in what became a bad interpretation of Open Range.

Van Hee hands

In what became ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’ the Van Hee trio were trailing around asking civilians where the other guys had gone. Eventually the Van Hee’s cornered ‘Two Gun’ Brookes at the stockyards and literally filled him with lead while the other two Burton hands fled across the street.

duly ‘filled with lead’

Out back of the Telegraph Office scores were settled with the Burton boys firing from the cover of an abandoned shack and a half built building; in the shoot out at the building Adolphous ‘the Gent’ Rogers was laid low with a serious wound but his assailant was then put down by Van Hee firing as he came out of the back door of the Telegraph Office, out back of the Office Billy Blue went down with a shotgun blast in the leg but when ‘Shotgun Bob’ walked over to finish him off with the other barrel at close range Billy recovered enough to put a bullet in Bob’s head – shouldn’t have gloated Bob!

Successors

In other news, three pike blocks and the Hypaspists were based up for the Successors project which has made a big difference; a couple more pike units to go and the commanders and this project will be done.

OT-62’s

On the 10mm front got some APC’s done for the Iran Iraq project, might do a separate blog post on this.

Iraqi infantry deployed

Also went along to the Devizes show, Attack. This is one of those shows that has been around forever but I’ve never been, mainly because it’s a bit of a hack from Coventry. However, the stars aligned and I went down for the Sunday and it was a fine day out, very much in a late 70’s style (which is no bad thing) and if I hadn’t had other reasons to be there it might have been a bit ordinary but I did some shopping, did some chatting and came away pretty pleased with the day. Well done the organisers.

dried river bed from Attack

So that’s it, let’s hope August is a bit better!

Bicocca Refought; April 27th 1522

initial layout

“What shall we do next?”

“I dunno, Italian Wars?”

“OK, I’ll find a refight”

the manor house and the park

And so a refight of Bicocca was born, narrowly missing the 500 year anniversary. This is the battle that is anecdotally used as an illustration of what a liability Swiss mercenaries were, for it is here that they demanded a battle be fought or they would go home!

the imperialists camped out

The history is as follows. In the campaign season of 1521 the French under Odet de Foix, the Marshal Lautrec, were expelled from the Duchy of Milan by the Imperialists under Prosper Colonna. In the spring of 1522 Lautrec was reinforced by 16,000 Swiss and resumed the offensive, taking Novarra and besieging Pavia; Colonna took up a strong position at Certosa which Lautrec decided against attacking, opting instead to starve Colonna out. Great strategy but then the Swiss went and spoilt it by demanding their back pay (there was none๐Ÿ˜ฎ) or battle the next day, the reasoning being that loot would be to hand after a victory. Lautrec had no choice but to agree and march on the Imperialists who had now moved to the fortified park of Bicocca where they was joined by Francesco Sforza of Milan with reinforcements.

French deployment

The French deployed with 8,000 Swiss front and centre screened by some 3,000 Italian foot arquebusiers & 300 mounted arquebusiers under Giovanni del Medici (the ‘Black Bands’), the Duke of Montmorency notionally commanded the Swiss. Behind this were the French guns being dragged forward and behind them some 6,000 crossbowmen under Pedro Navarro flanked by companies of Gendarmes & Archers under such luminaries as, the Chevalier Bayard, the Duke of Lescun, and the Duke of Ponteformy. Out on the right flank was a mercenary condottiere force under the Duke of Urbino representing Venice.

the mighty Swiss

Inside the park the Imperialists sat and waited. The park was bounded by high walls with an entrance over a bridge in the eastern wall which was covered by Sforza’s contingent from the outside of the park and the west nestled against a marsh, but the most daunting aspect of the position was the sunken road that ran in front of the park directly opposite the French line of advance. The Imperialists lined the wall overlooking the sunken road with Spanish arquebusiers and artillery and behind them some 2,000 Spanish pike and around 8,000 Landsknechts under Georg von Frundsberg; the back of the park had several hundred Spanish & Italian men at arms under Antonio de Leyva in case there were any break throughs. Out in front of the road were around 1,000 Spanish Genitors detailed to be a nuisance.

Medici’s Black Band

The original French plan called for Medici to clear away the Genitors which would allow the artillery to move close enough to deploy and batter down the ramparts, engineers under Navarro would then fill the ditches and the Swiss would attack. Out on the flanks, Urbino would turn the Spanish left (they obviously didn’t know about the marsh or had no time to scout forward) and Lescun would lead the Gendarme companies in an attack that would drive off Sforza and break into the camp via the gate. None of this went well at all ๐Ÿ˜ง; as soon as the Genitors were driven off the Swiss ignored Monmorency’s order to halt and continued on to the Imperialist position where they came under artillery fire and then sustained harquebus fire which caused heavy casualties but being Swiss they just shrugged it off. At the sunken road the impossibility of the task became apparent, once they had jumped down into the road the Swiss found that the height to the Imperialists above them was as tall as their pikes! So with all formation lost (the famous Swiss column was no use here) the Swiss floundered around at the mercy of the enemy arquebusiers and the few that did gain a foothold were soon thrown back. After about an hour of this the Swiss gave up and marched back leaving half their number behind, dead or wounded. Elsewhere, Urbino made a half hearted attempt at the marsh and then gave up but Lescun did actually managed to get over the bridge and into the camp but de Leyva showed him the exit.

Lescun and the Gendarmes

How to refight a battle that shouldn’t actually have been fought? Firstly did we have the numbers? This is a big battle and even at the 1:50 ratio we use in our rules it was still going to be a stretch, so rather than beat ourselves up about it we went for representation by block. We had 4 Swiss pike columns so that was our base line; the Spanish colunellas we easily matched and our 4 Landsknecht blocks matched the Swiss, the Gendarmes/Archers were an exact match to the numbers along with Medici’s Black Band and the Italian and Spanish cavalry, the various supporting cast crossbowmen and pikemen (French and Italian) were slightly under represented but they did nothing in the real battle and did nothing in the game! The big task was the park of Bicocca; the size we just built around the deployment of the Imperialist force which in itself was based on the contemporary maps that are available but a sunken road on a 2D table is a challenge; after a bit of thought we opted for sections of Last Valley road with a wall running along one side (the Imperialist) and a hedge the other thus guaranteeing cover and advantage of ground for the Imperialist arquebusiers and ‘double disorder’ for the advancing Swiss. Our next problem was the Swiss; no self respecting wargamer is going to do what they did (well we would because its history so why wouldn’t we?) so we amended the command rules slightly so that the Swiss would be forced to advance unless the general used command points to actively stop them – in the rules each commander has command points reflecting his historical performance (or at least our interpretation of such) and uses these to move his troops but Gendarmes need points to NOT move (reflecting their lack of discipline) so we just widened this category to include the Swiss – Monmorency was a 2 so even if he did spend his points at least 2 Swiss would be on the move and then co-ordination would really be lost!

Genitors face off to the arquebusiers

So how went the refight? The early moves were much like the real thing, just a bit less well co-ordinated. In the centre the Swiss trundled forward as Medici took on the Genitors which took a while longer than history, this wasn’t due to the Genitors being particularly effective (they weren’t) but due to the fire coming from the park which at one point halted the foot arquebusiers who the Swiss just marched right through ๐Ÿ˜‚. Eventually the Genitors were cleared out and Medici headed his force towards the left side of the park (seen from the French side) to try and keep the defenders occupied while the Swiss attacked on the right.

Impressive?

On the French right, Urbino decided to use his points to get his crossbowmen forward to maybe shoot the Swiss attack in by clearing the Imperial skirmishers out from where they had jumped into the sunken road which they were using as a trench (sneaky!) – in the long run this kind of worked in that the skirmishers in front of the manor house were eliminated but it didn’t do much to help the Swiss. On the French left, Lescun duly advanced but Sforza decided to come and meet him and use his crossbowmen to wear down the Gendarmes – it took a while for Sforza to convince his mercenaries to get moving and their firepower wasn’t that effective but they did managed to kill Ponteformy which stopped his company (rules note, no Captain, no move).

Swiss skirmishers in the road

But it was the centre that mattered. The Swiss skirmishers soaked up most of the Imperialist fire and frankly it wasn’t that good (sometimes the dice gods just don’t smile on you) but one Swiss column lost its captain and so was stood waiting for Montmorency to come over and appoint a new captain (rules note, replacement captains have to be appointed by a command figure joining the unit). Eventually however the Imperial skirmishers were cleared out of the road and the Swiss started to climb in.

Cry Havoc!

Despite their disorder two of the Swiss ‘charged’ their opponents at the wall. One column overran the guns it was facing and ploughed on into the park, the other was stopped briefly by one of the Spanish harquebus colunellas but then they routed with heavy losses. The problem for the Imperial player in this was when and how to commit his pike although in these two examples it didn’t matter too much, the Swiss who overran the guns then ran straight into Frundsberg’s veteran Landsknechts who held and then inexorably pushed the Swiss back into the road and the other ran into von Sickingen’s Landsknechts who scattered with the loss of their captain after a couple of rounds of melee.

Landsknechts hold firm

The other two Swiss were a little tardy, one was the one that had to wait for Montmorency but once it had it’s new captain it too was over the wall and into Frundsbergs block – normally this would have finished the Landsknechts but the lack of ranks the Swiss could count plus their disorder and the fact that they hit Frundsberg as he was pushing back the other column meant that his momentum trumped their ‘charge’ and they were stopped. The 4th block had taken the more serious losses from fire and so as it assaulted the walls it had already lost supporting ranks and was held at the wall for two embarrassing turns of melee by a harquebus colunella; once they had seen off the the arquebusiers they were then charged by one of the Spanish pike colunellas and held.

Frundsberg’s boys

The pike blocks were now locked in combat; both sides tried to use their forlorn hopes to turn the tide but they largely cancelled each other out (the rules allow bases of halberdiers/sword & buckler men to issue out from the blocks). The deciding moment was when the 2nd Spanish colunella managed to align itself on the flank of the Swiss that had seen off von Sickingen, there was no need to fight that out, those Swiss were done and knew it and so fell back. It was over for the Swiss, so near but so far.

Fight!

We could have played it on for several more turns but the result was always going to be the same, the Swiss, disordered and lacking effective supporting ranks, had just not been able to punch an immediate hole and follow on.

On the flanks it was all a bit of a non event; Urbino performed much as history and was defeated by the terrain, Lescun actually did worse than history, being held by Sforza long enough for him to be unable to make any difference.

Spanish & Landsknechts

The performance of the Swiss in actually getting into the park was pleasing given the historical impossibility of it happening and we had some tense moments as we rolled for the pike melee’s. All in all a good scrap and a lesson in what not to do either historically or in recreation ๐Ÿ˜Š

June 2022 Update

Afghanistan

Family holidays and house moves derailed hobby time a bit but still managed to get some games in.

Galatians v Hoplites

First up was another Successors game in the steadily expanding project. The game went well, which means the rules played out with no major glitches, and we enjoyed the day. High points were the much vaunted Galatians failing to charge – oh how I laughed ๐Ÿ˜…, elephants dying and the Silver Shields ploughing through their opponents.

Lobositz

Next was our day game of re-fighting Lobositz using our SYW collections. I’ve already posted a blog on the actual game so wont bore people with another battle report, suffice to say we had a hell of a game and history was reversed.

Raiders!

As a change of pace, and because we were unable to do day games due to Dave’s shift pattern, we opted for a dark age skirmish game with one group of Vikings raiding another.

Raiders are ashore

Just having a couple of bands apiece was a nice change and a bit of a challenge. The rules were our own and we added in a couple of ‘add ons’ like guard dogs scenting the invaders and whether they barked or attacked to spice the game up.

“avenge me!”

Overall it played well and lots of fun was had. Despite the surprise of the early dawn attack the dogs did bark (a lot!) and the attackers were sent packing with heavy losses although the settlement was going to need a new sub leader.

Taliban

Another skirmish game was next, this time a return to Afghanistan, which we hadn’t gamed for a while.

US column

Our basic scenario was a US marines column called in to escort a pair of Taliban prisoners who had been snatched by a special forces team. The idea was that the prisoners had important intel but bad weather had grounded the helicopters so the SF team were waiting at a deserted wadi for transport. The Taliban were about (otherwise it wouldn’t be a game!) and their 3 groups were given several start point options on the board before knowing what direction the convoy would come from.

Taliban use a dry river bed

The Taliban chose a dry river bed that led to the wadi from the south, a set of ancient ruins on a hill to the south east, a clump of rocky scrub to the north east and a medieval tower to the north of the scrub where they deployed their mortar. The convoy came on from the east which put it between two enemy groups.

“mortars!”

As the convoy roared on the Taliban opened up with the mortar and missed the lead Humvee but this revealed their position and the Cougar opened up with the auto grenade launcher and took out the mortar and it’s team.

Cougar

General firing then erupted as the two eastern Taliban groups tried to stop the Humvees and the lead Humvee crashed off the road – we realised afterwards we had made the Humvees too vulnerable, classing them as the soft skins of the earlier part of the invasion rather than the later better armoured versions.

Cougar hit by multiple RPG rounds

The game then developed into a running firefight as the marines exited the vehicles to return fire and got the remaining Humvee to the extraction point. The SF operator watching the wadi spotted the Taliban there and shot them up enough to suppress them but the Cougar was disabled by RPG fire. However the bad weather lifted and the marine lieutenant managed to get an Apache on line which made mincemeat of the south eastern Taliban as they crossed the open ground from the ruins. The americans might just pull this off.

Taliban

At the wadi the prisoners were bundled into the Humvee and headed out but as the SF operators waved it off and faded into the country the one remaining Taliban group zeroed in and blew up the Humvee killing the prisoners and crew. Total disaster!

Disaster

We had a bit of a post game review after as the game had seemed a bit one sided. The rules are Spectre Operations V2 which we’ve grown to like and feel familiar with but sometimes (like the Humvees) we do make rookie errors; the problem we agreed was in the scenario, a dozen marines against around thirty Taliban was always going to be a stretch especially as the marines were confined to the moving metal boxes, I think we just got excited about getting this collection back on the table after a long absence ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Ethiopians WWII

Our final game of the month was an exercise in expediency; I had just come back off holiday so no time to organise something, but the desert mat from the last game was still out so Dave was detailed to bring round his Western Desert WWII Italians & LRDG.

LRDG

The game was simple enough, an Italian supply convoy comprising a fuel truck and two lorries of supplies guarded by two Ethiopian squads escorted by a couple of tankettes and two armoured lorries carrying an Italian squad, had to enter by the eastern road and exit by the north western road. Three troops of LRDG started the game in ambush positions, objective; don’t let the supplies get through.

Ethiopians and Italian HQ

The game played well and was quite exciting. As the column entered the table, 3rd troop opened fire and disabled one truck but the return fire from the Italians in the armoured lorries downed the British Bren gunner. The Ethiopians also debussed and engaged in a lively small arms fight with 3rd troop.

Italians

The column quickly became a confused ants nest as 1st troop charged out from concealment in their Bren gun carriers and the Italians and Ethiopians got out of their vehicles to return fire to their north and south.

Bren gun carriers

The charge of the Bren gun carriers wasn’t quite the success the British player had been hoping for; helped by the sustained smg fire of the two Italian officers who sprang from their kubelwagen, the Italians stopped the carriers and 1st troop ended up ‘circling the wagons’ ๐Ÿ˜…

Tankettes – cute๐Ÿ˜

As the two firefights raged on the tankettes finally arrived (better late than never) and were directed towards the positions of 3rd troop who quickly succumbed to the weight of heavy machine gun fire and with most of the troop down wounded, surrendered.

2nd troop

Where were 2nd troop in all this mayhem I hear you ask? Well they were dicking around in the wadi or “finding a suitable firing position” as the British player asserted ๐Ÿ˜‚ although this was of no use to the beleaguered 1st & 3rd troops.

Fuel truck ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Back at the main fight the Italian Captain came up with a cunning plan to escort the fuel truck out of the firefight in his kubelwagen and leaving the troops to cover him thus saving the fuel and his reputation! Unfortunately 2nd troop had finally found their “suitable firing position” and in a fusillade of fire knocked out the truck.

Ethiopians take the high ground

Unfortunately for the LRDG platoon as a whole though things weren’t going too well; 3rd troop were being escorted back to the trucks by one of the Ethiopian squads, thus freeing the tankettes for further duties, while the other Ethiopian squad climbed the high ground that overlooked 1st troop and began to fire down into the already reduced troop. Added to this the Italian lieutenant, who had stayed behind with his men while the captain bravely tried to fulfil the mission (well that’s what the official report said ๐Ÿ™„), had rallied the squad and were advancing on 1st troop.

Lieutenant rallies the men

At that point we called it. Yes the fuel truck was stopped (but not destroyed) and so was one of the supply trucks but all the Italians were still in the game and two of the LRDG were not so we rationalised that 2nd troop would fall back while the Italians repaired the vehicles and carried on. So nearly a success.

Games Expo

In other news, I went to Games Expo early in the month. This was my 4th visit after a pause in 2020 & 2021 and was great fun. By no stretch of the imagination can this be called a wargames show, yes people like, Bad Squiddo, Black Scorpion, Iron Gate, Rubicon, Second Thunder and Crooked Dice are there and obviously Games Workshop, but that is a drop in an ocean of around 400 exhibitors and you can almost taste the enthusiasm . The main offerings are in the realms of board gaming, collectable card gaming and the myriad of versions of ‘role playing games’, but that doesn’t make it unattractive to the wargamer with a broad view of the hobby. Every year I’ve been I’ve played a wide variety of sample games and enjoyed every one of them but except for one have never played them again but this is a big part of the event, many of the exhibitors have games running to market their product which you can just rock up to and take part or in some cases wait to take part, and it’s such fun. There are also a significant number of stands selling ‘clutter’ mainly for the RPG/fantasy skirmish market but every time I’ve been I’ve picked up stuff that I can use in ‘proper’ wargaming and if the the fantasy end of wargaming is your thing (Frostgrave and the suchlike) then there is a whole load of 3D printed figures out there for fledgling games that can easily be utilised as well as barbarian types for Viking skirmish games. What did strike me this year was the shear volume of 3D printed models in all scales and how that is going to revolutionise our small corner of the gaming hobby, the days of metal casts is nearing its end.

Clutter

On the painting/modelling front it’s been a lean month; various items of clutter that have been sitting in boxes for years have got done, so more stuff to hide behind.

stagecoach

A little bit of extra was added to the gunfight collection

oasis

And some 10mm terrain was done for the Iran Iraq project which is now involving me in trying to understand the difference between a tank battalion and a tank regiment (or a company, or a troop, or a squadron ๐Ÿคฏ) and how many tanks there are in each and how that scales down using Cold War Commander.

That’s it for now, July should see an Iraqi tank battalion done and some more Successors based up, oh and the Devizes Show – first time ever!

Lobositz Refought

Frederick, Seydlitz & Zeiten

Despite the much much fawning over the greatness of Frederick The Great this is one of those battles where the greatness is not so evident.

Lots of generals!

In brief, the campaigning season of 1756 kicked off with Frederick crossing into Saxony with the intention of knocking said state out of the alliance of states ranged against him. At the same time an Austrian army under Field Marshal von Browne was marching through Bohemia with the intent of keeping the Saxons on side. On October 1st the Prussian advance guard caught sight of what they thought was the Austrian rear guard deployed around the town of Lobositz and the Prussian main army hurried forward.

Early deployment

In fact the Austrian rear guard was the main army which von Browne had deployed in and around the town making good use of the terrain which created a funnel through which the Prussians must advance. On the Austrian right the slopes of the Lobosch Hill were defended by a strong force of Croats and regular musketeers under Lacy, the centre comprised the town, defended by more musketeers and a sunken road in which were hidden a line of more Croats and Grenadiers supported by cavalry, the left was the main army hidden behind the marshy stream known as the Morellen Bach; out in front on the valley floor was a brigade of cavalry screening the Austrian deployments from the Prussians. As best we can tell from the sources, von Browne’s plan was to fight a holding action that would give him time to march the main army across the River Elbe behind Lobositz and join up with the Saxons.

The Prussian plan, such as it was, seems to have been to arrogantly power on forward and drive the Austrians from the town!

Croats

The battle, in brief, consisted of an early morning artillery duel which inflicted some serious losses on the static Prussian infantry and some losses on the Austrian cavalry manoeuvring on the plain. Battle proper started with the Prussian left wing infantry under Bevern ascending the Lobosch and engaging in what turned out to be a day long musketry duel with Lacy which finally turned in favour of the Prussians. On the valley floor Kyau’s cavalry brigade, which included the Garde du Corps and the Gendarmes, galloped confidently forward and got their arses handed to them by the hidden guns and muskets. The remnants joined the main cavalry body and the whole lot then attacked without orders! half of them got into the sunken road but where seen off by a counter attack by Austrian cuirassiers and the other half ended up stuck in the Morellen Bach where they were easily shot down. After the cavalry debacle Frederick left the battle (again!) leaving Ferdinand of Brunswick to direct the main infantry attack which eventually convinced the Austrians to relinquish the now burning town in the late afternoon. Frederick claimed victory by dint of the fact that he was master of the field (even though he personally wasn’t there!) although von Browne had in fact achieved his aim, the main army marched successfully behind Lobositz and across the Elbe. Losses were about even.

Bevern’s infantry foreground, main cavalry body behind

For our refight we mainly relied on Christopher Duffy’s ‘Frederick The Great. A Military Life.’ plus a couple of articles of refights from ‘Battle’ (Charles Grant on matters military) and ‘Practical Wargamer’ (Paul Stevenson’s ‘A Bohemian Rhapsody In Fifteen’). Using Duffy’s map we had enough battalions and regiments to match the numbers although not necessarily the specific units – we didn’t have the Garde du Corps or Gendarmes for example and we reckoned that as long as we had enough Austrian units to line the Morellen Bach that would be enough as most of the main Austrian body took no part in the battle. Regarding the terrain we had a large ridge section that stood in for the Lobosch rather well, the marshy stream was no problem nor was the town itself and the nearby villages of Wellhotta and Sullowitz; the sunken road we created using our TYW siege line pieces.

Prussian cuirassiers

Recreating the ad hoc affair of the battle was more of a challenge and after some thought we opted for everything to be deployed as was and put narrative proscriptions on the players, so, Kyau’s cavalry had to attack straight forward, Bevern had to attack up the Lobosch, the Prussian main body couldn’t advance until Kyau’s cavalry retreated or broke, and all the Austrian commands had to hold unless a personal message was received from von Browne. this asked a lot of the players but actually worked rather well. We also overrode the rules regarding artillery arcs and firing overhead for the Austrian guns so that the effect of the opening cannonade could be felt.

Bevern’s command

Playing the game was a long one (but we had all day ๐Ÿ˜€) and at the end we were tired but pleased.

Bevern

In the opening turns, Bevern slogged his way up the Lobosch while the artillery duel took place – in typical wargamers fashion both sides ignored counter battery and tried instead to wear down opposition units; the Austrian guns were better at this ๐Ÿ˜.

The opening cavalry clash

The first real action took place on the valley floor where the Prussian cavalry did better, at first, than their historical counter parts, seeing off a dragoon regiment in the first clash of swords and then having a series of swirling melees, retreats and reforming with the Austrian hussars who proved remarkably resilient – helped no doubt by the support fire of the entrenched Croats.

Austrian cuirassiers

Despite overrunning the Austrian battery the Prussian cavalry were eventually seen off with serious losses – all three were at 50% by the end of the action when the Austrian cuirassiers joined the fight, but this was the signal for the main Prussian body to advance.

Bevern v Lacy

Over on the Lobosch it had taken Bevern some time to get there but when he did we had some spectacular musketry which rolled on for several turns and was really quite tense!

Fighting for the Lobosch

The wargames version of the Bevern/Lacy fight however went somewhat differently to the history; Bevern consistently outshot Lacy and punched several holes in his line which he was able to exploit by advancing into and turning onto the flanks of now exposed battalions. Eventually Lacy’s brigade gave up the fight and retreated for the Elbe.

Lacy’s command starts to falter

The retreat of Lacy now exposed Lobositz itself and Bevern was ultimately able to drive some of the defenders out. Well done Bevern.

Don’t they look gorgeous!

Back on the valley floor the Prussian juggernaut ground forward and this time the infantry line led the way and the cavalry followed filing out from its regimental column into line of battle behind the steady infantry.

Steady

This solid wide line, supported by cavalry, meant that the reserve Austrian cavalry and the remnants of the first line had no means of turning the Prussians and so came front on and in a swift volley all along the line were sent packing in a distinct change to the history.

“message from the field marshal sire”

Having seen how things were likely to play out the Austrian player had sent a message to the brigade behind the Morellen Bach to advance but it was going to be too late, the going was slow and by the time the brigade started out the cavalry had already been shot up.

“all is lost”

A crucial point was now reached. Lacy was in retreat and the Lobositz defenders were starting to be winkled out of the town – although no fires were started despite the best efforts of the Prussian howitzers! The Austrian cavalry were done and although the Croats were very comfortable behind the sunken road they weren’t going to trade shots very evenly with the Prussian foot and committing the Austrians from behind the Morellen Bach wasn’t going to have much of an effect.

Goodbye Lobositz

So, we took stock of where we were. The key factor was that elements of Bevern’s command were now behind Lobositz so, from an historical standpoint, could dispute the crossing of the Elbe. Measuring up how long it would take the Austrian main body brigade to get across the marsh compared to the Prussian line getting into range of the Croats it was clear the Prussians were going to be shooting up (๐Ÿ™„) the Croats before the Austrians could mount a saving attack, even if they could fight their way through the main body of Prussian cavalry.

On to the Elbe!

It was over for the Austrians, von Browne would have to retreat rather than cross the Elbe and join the Saxons – historical note, the perfidious Saxon elites took the money and capitulated to the Prussians anyway ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.

Prussian line

So, a more decisive Prussian victory than history (and Frederick didn’t leave the field ๐Ÿ˜€) and a very enjoyable game. The rules played well and although it was long we enjoyed ourselves all day and that I guess is what it’s all about ๐Ÿ˜Š

Hussars

See you next time. Until then, enjoy your gaming.

May 2022 Update

Partizan

A busy month, we got 7 games in and attended Partizan so pretty pleased with ourselves ๐Ÿ˜€

Indochina

First up was two games set in Indochina; the first was using the new Mourir Pour L’Indochine rules, which didn’t prove to be too successful (see previous blog) and the second using adaptations of our own WWII rules. It was a shame the commercial rules didn’t work for us as it would have saved a whole lot of work but on the upside it has spurred me on to write a ‘proper’ set rather than notes tucked into various pages of the WWII rules ๐Ÿ˜‚

Silver Shields

Next we had another playthrough of our, in progress, ancients rules for the Successors project; the game was an enjoyable clash between a Eumenid army and an Antigonid featuring rampaging elephants, dying elephants and pushes of pike and the rules are playing well, which is pleasing.

Carlist lancers

Mid way through the month we had a dry run of our Carlist game for Partizan which made us rethink a couple of our assumptions about the game; the biggest assumption of course was that we’d have time to play the game through on the day ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ

Panzerschreck damage

Post Partizan we ‘relaxed’ into a WWII skirmish, Americans in France advancing on an ‘undefended’ bridge by a small hamlet. Needless to say the hamlet was defended (1 squad plus an augmented HQ squad) and the platoon of GI’s (3 squads + HQ + weapons) struggled to make progress.

Motorised column

In fact the game was a classic example of not concentrating and could have been used as a training video ๐Ÿ˜ƒ The American player roared up the road with his column not taking any time to reconnoitre the bocage or probe the hamlet buildings their side of the bridge. Result? A Panzerschreck took out the lead half track and it remained a burning wreck for the rest of the game, effectively blocking the road; the squad inside it rendered useless – by game end half had succumbed to their wounds and the other half were grateful for the fall of night.

HQ squad deploys

After that wake up call the rest of the platoon got their other vehicles off the road where they could and debussed trying to get around both flanks of the hamlet. The Panzerschreck team were disposed of (a bit late!) and the American player skilfully used the command Dodge as mobile cover for the HQ squad while the 2nd half track used it’s .50 cal to give support fire for its squad.

“Let’s go!”

However, the Germans had utilised their meagre resources well; a machine gun team hidden in a wrecked Sd.Kfz. 251 cut down a number of the HQ squad until it was itself silenced and a Panzerfaust brewed up the Dodge. An emplaced heavy machine swept the main road and forced the GI’s off into a mine field – where none of the mines exploded!๐Ÿ˜ž and a sniper took down the .50 cal gunner.

“where did that grenade come from?”

By nightfall the GI’s were up to the hamlet buildings but the defenders were still securely in place so we judged the Americans would fall back and call for armour support. We did have a vague plan to play out that scenario but reckoned a game with a Sherman pounding various buildings wouldn’t be much fun.

“who wants to stick their head out first?”

The upside to the game was that we got to use the two new Grand Manner resins we bought and painted up.

All is quiet

Our next foray was a French Indian Wars adventure which we haven’t done for well over a year. This particular game was a raid by a couple of bands of Indian tribesmen on a settlement just as the local trader turns up and a trio of frontiersmen (and their dog) stop by to exchange news.

Trader John

The Indian bands did a good job of getting close to the settlement but good old Blue, the faithful hound, sniffs a change in the wind and alerts his masters – lots of barking (actually a random die roll set against distance). Now we had a game ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

splashing across the stream

The first casualty was poor old Blue with an arrow in the throat ๐Ÿ˜ข and then the action kicked off. The Indians took some early losses to fire from the frontiersmen as the settlers scattered for their cabins but three frontiersmen against around eight braves was a tall order.

first casualty

The fight then became increasingly desperate; Trader John was dropped by the cooking fire and was quickly followed by Ma & Pa Adams as the Indians moved into the settlement, hatchets ready.

death in the wilderness

A couple of more losses to the settlers saw them fail their morale and lock themselves away in their cabins saving the last musket ball for themselves. The frontiersmen got stuck in with musket butts and hatchets and gave a good account of themselves but it was going to be a close run thing.

up close and personal

With the death of their leader one of the Indian bands broke for the trees but the frontiersmen were now down to two and the other Indian band was unhurt so with a heavy heart they faded away, the cries of the victorious Indians ringing in their ears and over that the single musket shots telling them the fate of the remaining settlers ๐Ÿ˜ง

M113’s

Our final game of the month was a 6mm Arab Israeli game. One of our occasional players blew the dust off his long buried away collection and bought it over to trial the recently released Cold War Commander V2 which I picked up at Partizan. We have no plan to do 6mm or Arab Israeli but we have been toying with the idea of doing the 80’s Iran Iraq war in 10mm, hence the buying of the rules.

Centurions

We played a very basic game to get a handle on the rules and that worked well with no problems being experienced. I did learn that Centurions completely out class T54’s!

Iranian Chieftain & Iraqi T72

With all this gaming going on did any project work get done? Well yes. The main distraction was the proposed 10mm Iran Iraq project; a lot of reading of the Helion books and the Cold War Commander rules, then some actual models purchased from Red3 and painted up – my first go at this scale. Once we’ve made a bit of progress I’ll do a separate blog post on it.

Timurids

In other news, another unit of Timurids were completed along with some civilian additions to the western gunfight and the stagecoach was finished. Some more vehicles for the Syrian moderns adventure were also finished off.

Generally a pretty successful month, let’s hope June is as productive ๐Ÿ˜

Carlists Go To Partizan

So, Partizan May 2022 dawned and what fun it was! Not the first Partizan post Covid but normality could certainly be said to have been restored ๐Ÿ™‚

We took along our re-fight of Arquijas, fought on December 12th 1834, in which the government tried to force a river crossing using a single bridge whilst sending a flanking force on a long journey into the rear of the enemy.

In short, the main force battered itself to a standstill trying to cross the bridge as did a parallel force which had found a ford just down from the bridge and eventually called off the attack. The flanking force duly arrived, fought its way through a detachment sent to delay them and then found that it was facing the whole Carlist army! Naturally, withdrawal was seen as the most appropriate action ๐Ÿ™„

But before narrating our re-fight, what of the show? Well the first thing I noted was the sheer volume of people, it was packed! and remained busy virtually all day which was very different to October ’21 when numbers tailed off significantly not long after lunch.

The upside of all these people was that we got to see and speak to a whole load of people we hadn’t seen for a very long time, in a couple of cases, years. The wargaming glitterati were out in force, I saw Henry Hyde and Big Lee taking photo’s of the game at various points but never got the chance to chat, although did manage to get in two very long chats with Alec Brown and Phil Olley at separate times, made all the more enjoyable for not having seen them for so long.

The downside of the numbers was that we spent a lot more time talking than we did playing! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ Not that this was a bad thing; we chatted with people we didn’t know about the period and gaming it, we met up with a number of our Twitter followers which is always great – excellent chat with Charlies aka Fred Worthingham, and we got to see gamers we’ve played with over the years but hadn’t see for a long time which was really nice. At the end of it all though we were both knackered and had a serious conversation on the way home about how much longer we could continue; two is a lonely number and Covid has taken its toll on the group.

Games and trade wise we really didn’t get to see much, glued to the game as we were. In terms of games there were some cracking efforts on display and those that caught my eye in my one quick tour of the venue were, the Cold War Commander game (mainly because I’ve just bought the rules for a proposed Iran Iraq project), the Grimsby ACW game complete with ironclads, the League of Augsburg naval game, the Midguard dark age game, the Ian Smith tribute game with the huge galleons, the Derby guys early C18th game with Ottomans – a bit unusual, and then my memory turned to mush ๐Ÿ˜†

In terms of trade there was enough range to cater for most tastes, it’s never going to be Salute and doesn’t try to be, if I’d had time I’m sure I would have spent up but my haul was very measly indeed.

But what about the game, absolutely nobody asked ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Well we stuck to the historical prototype with me moaning about how I didn’t see why my flanking force had to march all the way down the table and then round the back of the table (figuratively) to get back on the table ๐Ÿ˜ However, history was very much reversed; the government forces fought their way across the bridge and the ford making far more inroads that their historical ancestors and then in the final hour (when we were knackered) the flanking force arrived on the hills and advanced down sweeping all before it – clearly my genius command skills at work ๐Ÿค”

As with any event, successful or otherwise, there will always be some niggles and this Partizan was no exception. The biggest issue is the catering, come lunchtime the queue was horrendous and I confess to simply giving up, even getting a coffee was a drama; the outlet just can’t cope, maybe a couple of vans outside might relieve the stress? On the subject of coffee, allegedly the traders and gamers get a pack containing coffee vouchers, the free figure and raffle entries; well not us and not the last one either, now I’m pretty sure they were allocated so that leads to a rather uncomfortable conclusion…..

A final point, why can Hammerhead drum up enough trade to fill the second hall but Partizan can’t? It’s perplexing.

Overall though a great day and we look forward to October!

Mourir Pour L’Indochine

Ready for action

Wargaming French Indochina has always been a bit of a goal of mine ever since reading Bernard Fall’s ‘Hell In A Very Small Place’ back in the 80’s. Fast forward to more recent times and the release of the Red Star Miniatures period specific range, which soon became the Empress Miniatures range, and messing about with conversions of US marines became a thing of the past. A pretty sizeable force of several platoons was assembled over time and we have happily gamed the period using amendments to our WWII rules ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ but the idea that someone might publish a period specific set was always tantalizing. So having got hold of a pdf of Shawn Taylor’s ‘Mourir Pour L’Indochine’ courtesy of our good friend Gareth Lane and had it printed we thought we’d give it a go.

All’s quiet

Rather than go through each and every section of the 120 pages – yes you read that right ๐Ÿ˜ฎ we’ve opted to discuss the rules based on our play through of the first introductory scenario. Now, before we go any further, we need to be clear that our experience is based on playing the ISK level game, which covers forces from the single squad level up to a couple of platoons where one individually based figure represents one man; the rules also cover company level games, SK+, where the single figure represents a fire team of 3 men. So, our scenario featured a Viet Minh Local Force team tasked with blowing a bridge near a hamlet on the south end of the board before the approaching Foreign Legion patrol spotted and stopped them; the team comprised a command element, a 3 man demolition team, a sniper and a 4 man rifle team, the demo team could deploy in the hamlet near the bridge or some (far away) hills – why? the rest, anywhere they liked. The Foreign Legion force was a weak platoon comprising, a HQ element of Lieutenant & Sergeant and two rifle squads of, a sergeant, two 3 man rifle teams and an Automatic Rifle team of 2 men led by a Corporal; the French entered from the north of the board on the road that led to the bridge with the HQ & 1 squad on the road and the other squad in the grass on one side of the road or other. All the separate elements are referred to as Fire Teams (FT) in the rules.

Foreign Legion

The sequence of play is, I Go, You Go, and the first to go is usually decided by the scenario with the aggressor going first, although the Viet Minh player has the option of passing on going first – there is a confusion of words here regarding who goes first, on page 26 it says “Often it will be the player on the Offensive” but on page 28 it says “The Viet Minh, unless ……….., will always have the choice of going first or passing the first side sequence to the French” We went with the French going first as they were moving forward. Whoever’s go it is then chooses a unit to activate – a unit is a squad and that squad will contain it’s various sub elements, and there is the familiar choice of things that can be done, move, shoot, rally, ambush, assault, etc, most of which can only be done once. The opposing player then chooses a squad, and so on until all units have been activated – it is important to note here that a unit can also be the HQ element of 2 men, or the lone sniper or the squad sergeant, which did feel a bit odd.

More Legion

Before we get to movement it is worth saying there is a whole command & control facet to the rules that the author makes a great play about, wherein different levels of command have a specific span of control of units and that this is critical to fire control and rallying – in our experience it made absolutely no difference and wasn’t even anything as simple as ‘troops out of span cannot move or fire’, it was literally four pages of nothing.

Welcome to the jungle

There are 3 types of movement, Route March (the fastest), Tactical March and Fire & Movement (most battle effective) and each type has a specific way of deploying the figures, so in Route March “the members of a FT must be in base to base contact and each FT can be no more than 2″ from the next closest FT”, in Tactical March “the members of a FT must be 1/2″ to 1″apart and each FT can be no closer than 2″ from the next closest FT”, in Fire & Movement “the members of a FT must be in base to base contact and each FT can be no more than 2″ from the next closest FT”, Hold on! Isn’t Route and Fire & Move the same? We presumed this was a typo and so played with the figures spread out a bit. The key element to this is that the March variants carry penalties for shooting but you can whizz along the table with bonuses if Veteran, although Elites don’t get a bonus ๐Ÿค” Nice idea but a bit long winded, there are also several caveats about whether a march is forced or whether a unit is unreliable or rolling for a random +/- on the movement rate which don’t add much of value really. The key distraction as players was ‘why have I got all these nice individually based figures (as required by the rules and what you would expect in a skirmish/small action game) when they spend most of their time bunched up and where there is separation it’s really something of nothing?’ Much easier to plonk the fire teams in movement trays, plenty of them about – I hate movement trays for skirmishing.

Viet Minh demo team head for the bridge

Shooting is always a fun part of any wargame and we managed to get a reasonable amount of this in, the VM sniper had a pot, one of the Legion squads sent him scampering for cover, the VM fire team and the other Legion squad mixed it up and we even had an Assault, but more of that later ๐Ÿ˜ฒ The basic concept of the shooting revolves around the FT which is arbitrarily set at 3 figures armed the same – I would dispute the historical evidence for this but as a mechanic it’s fine, but once again, ‘why am I deploying individual figures when all I need is a multi base of 3?’ So, a FT is worth 1 x D10, it ‘sights’ the target – basically visibility is pretty much the whole table unless something big is in the way or you are in the various versions of grass/jungle where sightlines are reduced – I liked this but it took us ages to find, shooting is on page 32 and the terrain modifiers on page 55 ๐Ÿ˜ค Anyway, the D10 is rolled and modified according to what the shooter is doing and what the target is doing plus any terrain modifications and basically a 7+ is needed to get some kind of result although a natural 10 is a kill.

Shooting

The effect of a hit is to give ‘Resilience Points’ to the squad, to find the meaning of these RP’s you have to chase down page 48 but once you have RP’s then, depending on experience level, you halt, find cover, go to ground, become pinned, flee, surrender. Based on this you can see that fire teams aren’t that effective especially given the random spread of a D10 and that roll takes no account of the shooters experience, so a Veteran FT shoots the same as a Green one it’s just that a Green squad like RP’s less than a Veteran. When it comes to the AR team they roll 4 x D10 and an LMG team rolls 6 x D10, which in both cases is a massive disparity – I genuinely don’t believe a BAR is 4 times as effective as a 3 man rifle team armed with SLR’s, but anyway the random nature of the roll means the BAR can miss completely – we did!

Just a couple of more things on shooting. The ranges are whopping – 60″ for a rifle team, so given this is a skirmish game on something like 4’x4′ or 5’x5′ it’s kind of pointless, just regulate things like smg’s and similar. When a unit is fired at it can immediately return fire if the shots were from a previously unknown target which is kind of fun and it seemed to us that if they hadn’t been activated yet then they could fire again in their turn (we think?). The accumulated RP’s give an enforced result, like seek cover, but it wasn’t clear whether that was immediate, after it had done any return fire or in it’s next activation; we opted for immediately after any return fire and that seemed to work given that not every fire fight elicited return fire.

The only two things left to discuss that we experienced are, Rallying and Assault. The Assault action is meant to replicate those desperate charges you read about from Dien Binh Phu where a small group of legionnaires clear a trench with smg’s & grenades or VM cadres hurl themselves against the wire. As a mechanism it works quite well; you have to be fairly close to start with then move up to throw grenades (if you have them), take fire from the defenders and then get stuck in – the RP’s from grenades and defenders fire are rolled up in the final result and hoorah each figure rolls a dice, highest counts. The overall effect is quite bloody and someone loses, this was innovative and a good representation of the historical evidence. An interesting result of the VM losing an Assault was that they could fade back into the jungle and rally at some pre determined point after x turns, another good representation. There doesn’t seem to be a use for grenades anywhere else in the rules which seems a bit remiss but maybe we missed that.

Bridge blown in a win for the Viet Minh

The rallying aspect of the rules is the getting rid of the RP’s which can be done by in two ways. The unit can ‘self rally’ where it simply discards x number of RP’s depending on it’s experience providing it hasn’t taken anymore that turn and didn’t move and it can also Rally as an action which is where the command span comes into affect and a D6 rolled worth of RP’s is removed. All very simple and nothing to complain about.

Demo team congratulates itself

So what of the scenario? Well, there was no way the French were going to stop the bridge getting blown, the demo team start pretty close to the bridge and once the charge was planted all they had to do was move away and bang! there was no mechanism for dicing to see if it exploded and nothing in the various sections on mines and booby traps in the main rules, but it served its purpose.

The rules do come with a QRS but it runs to 5 sheets so not very user friendly and suffers from trying to pack too much in, there is nothing wrong with saying “for napalm accuracy see page….” also a couple of tables were at variance with the main rules.

But what of the rules themselves? Now I really, really wanted to like these but when I asked Dave what he thought, his response was “I was so bored”, which is not good. We have play tested a fair number of rules over the years, including my own, and I don’t think I’ve ever had that response before. For me, the kinetic energy you expect from a set of skirmish/small unit action rules was sadly missing, even allowing for the unfamiliarity of a new set. They are certainly exhaustive and maybe that is part of the problem, there is just too much going on, too many things to look up and too may things to do for no appreciable gain, I certainly couldn’t envisage a game of a more than a platoon a side and certainly wouldn’t want to run a multi player game with them. Yes there are definitely some innovative ideas in there and probably some we missed because we didn’t call up air support or artillery

As is de rigor these days the rules contain TO&E’s for the various combatants but I did think these were a bit selective, so yes we have French Infantry Platoon organisation who let’s face it weren’t in too many actions but no Foreign Legion, no Foreign Legion Paratroopers, No Vietnamese Paratroopers, No Colonial Paratroopers, no Moroccans, no Algerians, no Senegalese, I can only assume you are meant to use the standard infantry platoon organisation or paratrooper organisation and assign a morale level you think appropriate. The scenarios are pretty much a standard requirement these days as well and yes they are there, personally I’d rather do an historical set up or my own version based on the general nature of events.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment, which is a shame, Shawn Taylor has clearly put a lot of work in and I know from my own experience what a ball ache that can be but the rules just didn’t do it for us so for now we will continue as we are with maybe a couple of ‘borrowed’ ideas ๐Ÿ˜

April 2022 Roundup

Tamerlane.

A bit of a disappointing month gaming wise and in terms of projects done – I blame the distraction of helping decorate my sons new flat and Dave being a bit shook up after a car accident (all good now).

Our first game was the continuation and wrap up of our epic Carlist game; the scenario worked, the rules played well, and we got two afternoons out of it so less frequent packing away ๐Ÿ˜€. It also whetted our appetite for Partizan in May where we’ll be doing a Carlist refight.
Hoochville

Next up was an away game of Vietnam using the BOHICA rules; dear oh dear what a disappointment ๐Ÿ˜’, the rules were really rather bad, confused incoherent and definitely nothing to do with Vietnam. The day was fine, seeing guys we haven’t seen for a month, beer, food and a laugh, so not a complete write off.

“hey you in the jail”

Next home game was another gunfight game where we had another episode from our Dardenell County campaign and made a final decision on the rules we’ll use. After years away from the ‘western gunfight’ genre it’s been really nice to back into it and fun has been had painting figures and collecting buildings. What we need now is general clutter, wagons, civilians, horses, all the accoutrements of your average film set ๐Ÿ˜ƒ.

spear won land

Final game of the month was one from our, oh so slow, Successors project ๐Ÿคจ. Still bereft of pikes we put together an Achaean League v Middle Imperial Seleucid (pretty sure the Seleucids didn’t refer to themselves as that ๐Ÿคฃ), mainly because the hoplites we do have could make up the bulk of the League while the many Xystophoroi cavalry we have plus the freshly painted Galatians could justifiably bulk out a Seleucid army.

who doesn’t love an elephant?

The game played well and the rules seem to be giving us what we want in terms of a reasonable representation of warfare of the period and understandable mechanisms. No major ‘oh my god!’ moments but a bit of tidying round the edges still needs to be done; the acid test will be when we have sufficient numbers of pikes done and can go classical pike v pike.

In terms of getting things done it’s all been a bit miserable; there are some more Timurids in progress but the only things that got done were a stage coach and building for the gunfight game – need to give myself a good talking to!

the irony of building a half finished building

That’s it I’m afraid, enjoy your gaming.