Saturday, 17 March 2018

Blitzspiel II - The Road to St Leger

I came across this scenario on another blog and thought it would be ideal to playtest Blitzspiel as it featured a bit less kit than the last game. It features a company of the Green Howards and two troops of the Royal Dragoon Guards vs elements of the 352nd Inf Div Fusilier Battalion and Panzerjaeger Battalion as the british push inland towards Bayeux on D-day.

I ran it on a 4x4 table (800m x 800m) with the German defenders hidden. John took the British and von Gow took the Germans.

John brings on his leading platoons. This game was also an excuse to try out my new Deepcut Studios 'scrubland' game mat. I made up the ridges either side of the road using hexon tiles and laid the mat over them. It draped very well as it is quite thin. 

The British infantry tanks and infantry operating independantly. All that training in England wasted!

A Stug opens fire from behind the hedgerow, and unfortunately misses.

The Shermans make no such mistake and their return fire turns the Stug into a column of smoke. Meanwhile the British infantry press on alongside.

More Shermans roll on as the British infantry pushes on to the far hedgerow.

The German ambush is sprung! Two more Stugs open fire, brewing up the leading Sherman.

A pair of tripod MG42s lay down a devastating crossfire on the British infantry crossing their front on the other side of the valley. The new 200m beaten zone for tripod MGs was really nasty here.

The platoon suffers a several casualties and the remainder are pinned. A German rifle section emerges from behind the hedge and takes pot shots at the survivors.

The other British infantry platoon is largely pinned by long range LMG fire.

Things were looking a bit sticky at this point, however the firepower of the remaining Shermans slowly began to turn the tide. The German advance guard and tripod MGs were suppressed and the surviving Britihs infantry assaulted the hedgerow.

The other Shermans pressed on under a hail of MG fire which neutralised one tank. More Germans emerged from their hiding places.

Perhaps more importantly, both the remaining Stugs were knocked out without any further losses of Shermans. The Germans were a touch unlucky here and might have been better siting their guns with more restricted fields of fire and aiming for flank shots. Easy to be wise after the event though.

Over in the orchard, a British rifle section stalked the suppressed MG teams.

Down on the main road, one of the German rifle sections fired their brand new panzerfaust at a Sherman, egged on by the platoon commander. Only to miss completely.

We called it a day at that point. The remaining defenders were pulling out, but the British infantry had suffered a bloody nose with only their reserve platoon intact. Without effective infantry support the Shermans weren't going anywhere in the ever denser country.

The game rattled on  at a fair old pace and we got through the whole thing in an hour, which was great. It just plays much faster than Platoon Commanders War, which is what John was after. In the washup I felt that the British would have benefited from closer infantry-armour cooperation as the tanks and infantry fought virtually separate battles. John had decided to dash for Bayeux though, and so kept his tanks concentrated, which worked very well in the tank battle, but less so in mopping up the German infantry. John noted that we were thinking in terms of platoons and troops rather than worrying about the manipulation of rifle groups etc which was what he was after from the design. So all in all, very successful.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Operation Uranus

Bob Cordery has very kindly published my ancient old rules 'Operation Uranus' on his blog. They are very, very simple WW2 operational rules aimed at set piece Corps level battles, and based on Ian Drurys 'Sands of New Stanhall' WW2 island clearing game.

I think I wrote these back in 2002, and they formed the basis for my late Cambrai game (with 11 divisions in action!).

Report here: Operation Uranus The article was originally published in the Wargames Developments Journal 'The Nugget'.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Soviet silliness

Somewhat inspired by the Portable Wargame a few weeks before, I thought I'd finish up a couple of silly Russian 15mm projects that have been lying around for a while.

First up, the mighty Zis-2 57mm AT gun. Not that silly perhaps, but I always thought the barrel looked disproportionately huge. 

This is one of the PSC 76mm guns made up with a 57mm barrel. A nice simple model which looks the part and paints up well. John kindly donated this as he had a spare.

Next,  a command bus for the Russians. This was inspired by a photo I found of a command vehicle based on a Gaz AA in 1944 where the occupants had essentially built a garden shed on the back of the truck. They looked so happy with the monstrosity they'd built, I thought it deserved commemorating.

Essentially I just added a 6mm extension piece to the edges of the rear bed of a Zvezda Gaz AA truck, plonked on the tilt and made up a window and rear door from plastic card. It looks rather more professional than its real life counterpart! I'm sure the HQ chaps will welcome the ride.

Next, that triumph of socialist labour efforts (helped by a spot of spying on the Vickers Independant), the T-35 Land Battleship. 

This is a truly monstrous model. I did have go at doing the radio array but it just fell to bits. Well, it was an optional extra anyway. I left it fairly plain (the supplied decals also fell to bits!) but I'm pleased with the weathering on the side panels, which is a mixture of mud and dust.

It has no less than five moveable turrets, which lets it shoot in all sorts of directions at once. Lack of central fire control must  have made that an interesting experience in real life.

None of your Battlefront or Zvezda rubbish here. This is a proper Premo model, with the instructions in Russian. Which makes them a bit hard to read, so it is a good job there weren't too many parts.

Finally, I thought the chaps could do with some encouragement in the battle to defend the motherland from fascist oppression. I knocked up this chap with a megaphone to bellow out suitably comradely messages of inspiration. Well, I blame Enemy at the Gates.

He is a PSC 'pointing and shouting' Russian officer with a megaphone made up out of scrap plastic.

I rather enjoyed making all of those, and most of them will hopefully be gracing a gaming table in the weeks to come. I've even found a decent scenario to use the T35.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Simplicity in Practice. Squared and 1866'd

I've already converted Neil Thomas's Nineteenth Century rules for squares, so I thought  may as well do the same treatment for his Simplicity in Practice rules, and do an APW/FPW variant as well.

I tried it at the club using my 6mm APW figures and my ancient old gridded carpet tiles, originaly set up for Minischlacht. The scenario was one of may favourites, Nachod from the Six Weeks War. Von Steinmetz leads his Prussian Corps over the mountains and into an Austrian Corps in a classic encounter battle.

The Prussians are coming in from the top right. The Austrians assembling along the road from the left.

Nasty Austrian Jagers ambush the Prussian artillery (it really shouldn't be at the front of the column!).

The Austrians line up to assault the Wenzelberg, they key feature of the battle,

It is all very unpleasant with casualties galore. Steinmetz lurks in the courtyard.

Prussian infantry poised to counterattack the Austrian flanks while some Austrian cavalry put in an appearance.

The Prussians manage to drive the assault off.

I've played this scenario many times before with a range of various rules, but this was all a bit scrappy and unsatisfactory. The roads in particular were just confusing and got in the way. I don't like games at this level which bother with road movement, and coupled with the NT style turn restrictions and grids it was too confusing and gamey. 

The combat system worked OK and using a grid instead of big unit bases worked alright, but the whole thing just didn't gell. So, back to the drawing board with that one, but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Not Corunna

John wanted to try out his Brown Bess Napoleonic rules as an alternative to Neil Thomas. The scenario was a CS Grant one, which involved a force trying  to hold off the enemy before evacuating by ship. Grant was most insistent that this was not Corunna, when it clearly was.

Tim and Gaham played the French beasts, myself and Jerry, the plucky Brits.

Corunna Harbour, the British rearguard arrayed around it.

The wicked French. Thousands of them. 

The Black Watch held the point of honour on the left flank. 

Those scruffy riflemen engaged the voltigeurs. 

And dished out a surprising amount of damage. 

The Black Watch faced off half a French division  supported by cavalry.  Ooer. 

But at the last moment, broke contact and slipped away, having calculated that the rough hill would stop the cavalry overrunning them. 

The British formed their final defensive bastion around the harbour.

As the French pushed forwards, the rifles fell back. 

Over in the west, Sir John Moore was wounded while rallying the line! A spot in Westminster cathedral beckons. 

But as the French pushed home their advantage, they were shattered by close range artillery fire. 

The Foot Guards took their place in the line as the rifles retired. 

Rear elements started to make their way to the harbour, including the wounded general as the sun began to fall. 

A massed French attack by the best part of two divisions was held. 

As was the final French attack in the west although the line was on the verge of breaking. 

At that night fell and the battle ended allowing the British to claim the glory of yet victory achieved by running away in boats from the enemy.

The rules worked very well in the main, although there was a bit of weirdness about melee and the way some of the fire calculations worked out. The attritional effects on morale, combat effectiveness and the ability to rally worked very well, and local influence of leaders was well modelled. I was inspired to dig out Minischlacht and consider whether I could turn it into something as slick. 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Tsars Legions

Regular readers may recall I had a slight eBay accident last year, as my search for some WW1 15mm Russian figures that I didn't have to paint myself yielded instead a 15mm WW1 French Army...C'est magnifique. Although I don't usually let myself be distracted by impulse buys, that one worked out OK in the end.

Anway, after Xmas I decided I was in need of a new years sales wargames treat, so resumed my search for Russians once more. This time it turned up a ton of suitable stuff which was duly assessed and ordered (I was aiming for enough figures for two Infantry Corps and two cavalry divisions for OP14).

After rebasing the lot, I ended up with a fair bit of kit and few spares left over. Some of the figures needed some TLC, especially the cavalry which by and large I had to completely repaint. But not the horses. I hate painting horses.

The infantry en masse, leaders, MGs and engineers to the fore, plus a lonely FOO. 

There was a load of these rather splendid chaps. Make of very, very bendy metal with huge hats, Pavlov Grenadiers no doubt. They even have white rifle slings! Minifigs maybe, or Essex? Just needed their boots repainting. 

This next lot are a bit more dubious, seemingly Peter Pig chaps in greatcoats. Only a bit of minor repainting needed of their rifles and strange brown boots.

This lot look rather more raggedy. Well, the figures were sold as 'WW1/RCW', so I guess these were some sort of RCW types. I painted their puttees black so they look like sapogi boots. They have smaller hats than the Pavlovs, perhaps they just took the wire stiffeners out, and I suspect rather more typical of WW1 Russians. 

Oh dear. This lot don't even have proper boots or puttees. I guess they are PP RCW militia, and they will do for militia types. They are WW1 Russians, lucky to even have rifles, and from a distance, I really don't care that much. 

I bought a few Putilovs as support, one of which has the recuperator on upside down. Perhaps it is a howitzer? As I don't particularly care (see above) most of the Russian artillery support may well end up bearing a suspicious resemblance do British 18pdrs, 4.5" howitzers and 6" guns. They are all guys in flat hats, brown uniforms and equipped with green guns after all.

There were quite a few officers provided, plenty to make up a few decent command stands. The gunners also yielded some useful figures wielding tools, so I made up some engineer stands. Mustn't neglect the combat support arms as they have a vital role to play.

Unfortunately the vendor couldn't find the flat hatted WW1 Russian  Cavalry he'd listed, so he sent some Cossacks instead. These guys are rather fun and will do for WW2 as well. A moderate amount of repainting of clothes (I hesitate to call them 'uniforms'), webbing, hats, rifles and flesh was undertaken. They also got a proper officer in a flat hat and blue trousers. 

Eagle eye readers may have noticed a big red flag in the first picture. Not very Tsarist, but useful nonetheless. I based this up as an HQ element with a flat hatted officer who will do very nicely for RCW Red Cavalry or a WW2 command element. I filed down the flag bearers Budvinovka into a Ushanka/Cossack hat (if you don't look to closely). 

It turned out that apart from the Cossacks, the rest of the cavalry were Budennys Red Cavalry in light grey greatcoats and Budvinovkas. Not much use for WW1 or WW2. After some slightly grumpy eBay exchanges, the seller kindly sent me way more figures than I'd paid for to compensate, and after a bit of head scratching, I repainted them in dark brown greatcoats and filed their hats down into Ushanka/Cossack Hats. 

This worked out rather well, and as unexpected bonus I now have enough cavalry for three entire WW1 divisions, as well as a complete WW2 cavalry division at my preferred scale (and a full pre-war Cavalry Corps for higher level games). It is also a whole load of horses I don't have to paint. Good result all round!

So there we have it, Russians sir, thousands of them. Hopefully coming to a wargames table near you soon. One thing slightly bothering me is that they could do with some Austrians to fight...