Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Soviet Tank Regiment

Some of my 2mm stuff was (rather blurrily) seen in action in the recent hypothetical battle north of Wolfsburg. Apart from 2mm being a decent scale to avoid my almost boundless ignorance of post WW2 equipment and organisations, it is also cheap and easy to store! There is a method to the madness however, and my stuff is organised and based to be reasonably flexible.

The primary game system I've aimed at is Tim Gows 'NATO Brigade Commander', which uses company sized bases and is aimed at roughly rgimental sized actions. However I also got enough extras to be able to do lower level actions as well as higher ones using e.g. Megablitz at one base = one battalion. The units tend to live in NBC sized chunks in their storage boxes however.

2mm Soviet Tank Regiment in its custom storage tray made out of an old kit box with stapled corners. You can fit multiple levels of these trays into one A4 box file.

Three tank battalions. For NBC Sov tank battalions usually only have two bases but I did three for each so I can either represent the individual companies or they can model three battalion regiments in higher level games. Models are the genric T64/72/80 by Irregular.

BMP battalion. A wildly optimistic unit for the early 80s when most Tank Regiments were lucky to have a single company, but handy for doing a divisional BMP regiment of three battalions. BMP models and half length infantry strips for the dismounts.

SP 122mm artillery battalion (two artillery bases and a spotter/battery CO base), again somewhat optimistic for the early 1980s. The guns have trucks based with them and a LOG marker for tracking ammo in higher level games. Models are genric lorries and 4wd 'jeep', plus cut down M109s and a heavily filed BMP to produce an MTLB.

Regimental assets, AA company (Shilkas converted from Hummels!), engineers (BTRs and infantry), HQ (BMP, T64 and HQ base) and recce company (BMPs).

The regiment configured as a Megablitz type division. Recce Bn, 3 x tank regiments, BMP regiment plus divisional artillery group and divisional assets. In this case the tank regiment BMP companies are factored in, but the BMP regiment has a battalion of T62s.

BMP regiment, logistic train and divisional artillery. The DAG includes a battalion of BM21 rocket launchers.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Ten Rounds Rapid

Triples 2013 was the first public outing of 'Ten Rounds Rapid', our participation game for this year and run by the Wargames Developments Display Team (north). In common with most of our public games, this was designed to be a fairly quick experience so as not to interfere with show shopping, but hopefully to be of some historical interest too. This particular game takes around 30 minutes to run and can accomodate from one to five players. We chose a 1914 theme for 2013 as next year is the 100th anniversary and there may be a glut of WW1 games.

WDDTN Display board and historical information about the game

The game set up. John Armatys and Mark Hides in the background.

The game is a simulation of battalion level command in the opening days of the First World War and aims to model some of the sorts of concerns and decisions a Lt Colonel commanding an infantry battalion would have to make. I have generally found that WW1 games benefit from some sort of linear grid to regulate movement and firing, in this case the zones represent areas roughly 200 yards across of 2-300 yards deep.

Overall set up from the British end. The figures are all 15mm Peter Pig.

Hordes of Germans (a full regiment in fact).

I was keen to replicate historial formations and tactics as far as possible. The British initial setup is prescribed as the pre-war firing line, supports and reserves and the game mechanisms are designed to reward the maintenance and use of this formation. The players soon got the hang of cyclng fresh reserves up to the front and pulling exhausted units out to reorganise. Those who packed everyone into the front line suffered heavy losses and/or suffered the indignity of not having any reserves to respond to German attacks.

The British defenders, each company has two platoons up front and one in support. There is a general battalion reserve of four more platoons along with the Colonel.

We do like to help players get into the spirit of things and have found over the years that funny hats are a great help. Sadly we do not possess a service cap, but we did have Brodie helmet. This was indicated to the players as a desirable object, but then they were told it wouldn't be invented for two more years yet! The Germans had a lot of shiny and smart plastic picklehaubes on display.

The umpire team intimidates the players

One of the biggest design challenges was making an interesting and enjoyable game out of defending. The aim was to get the player to focus on what was going on within their battalion and not to focus too much on the enormous hordes of Germans heading their way. So the main decisions were about keeping the line intact, management of damaged elements, fire control, movement of reserves in anticipation of threats and mounitng local counteratacks.

The British front line

Germans approaching
The inital German wave started deployed in the area of operations, subsquent actviites were governed by cards played against each company area. Black was good for the Germans, red for the British, and they controlled things like waves moving up and macheingun and artillery strikes, The whole battle area was assumed to be under fire the whole time, the strikes represented particularly concentrated barrages.

The first German wave approaches the British front with supports move up from reserve. The German company on the far right has been held up en route (probably pinned by fire) while the centre right company benefits from some scrub and bushes which provide concealment.

Combat results affect the entire area, so bunching up results in much heavier casualties, however some bunching is necessary to develop sufficient combat power. British losses are determined partly by how much they fire, the number of dice they throw increases their chance of adverse results, either from casualties as the men are more exposed or from running low on amunition so fire discipline is important. Successful commanders did not fire at poor targets. At close range the British have the option to rapid fire, which doubles their fire effect but doubles their ammunition expenditure too. Rapid fire from two fresh platoons however gives a 96.825% chance of at least pinning all enemy units to their front, the risk of running low on ammo is probably preferable to being overrun by lots of angry Germans.

After lots of rapid fire there are suddenly less Germans, but one intrepid soul assaults the British front line

Over the course of the weekend we ran the game around eighteen times and although there were occasions when the Germans broke into the front line, they were often ejected by a spirited bayonet charge and it was only one one occasion that they broke through into the support area and the British were forced to withdraw. Average losses were around three platoons, the bloodiest comander lost ten(!) and the most successful managed to drive off the Germans without losing any. Two Lt Colonels were killed leading heroic bayonet charges.

Tim runs a game

The Norfolk Regiment display the spoils of victory

Two of the Durham Pals supervise operations

The game seemed to be well recieved, as usual a fair degree of umpire input was needed to keep things moving along so we ran it on a rota. One player commented that this game required a bit more thought than some of our other offerings, and we has some repeat players so  some of them must have enjoyed it! The game was enlivened by having some members of the Durham Pals re-enactment group at the show.

I'll do a proper writeup for the WD Journal (The Nugget) later in the summer, including the rules, but first it is going to Partisan in a few weeks and then COW.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Triples 2013

Most of the membership of Sheffield Wargames Society turned out once again to help out with Triples 2013, our annual wargames show. This was held over two days at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

This year the car park wasn't being dug up, so unloading for traders on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning was very smooth. We had a good turnout of traders (I only saw one empty stand this year)  and first impressions were that the headcount was up this year.

There was a fair amount of pre-show publicity this year, including articles in the local press and an interview with Radio Sheffield (very) early on Saturday morning.

I was mainly involved in runing the Wargames Developments Display Team (north) game, Ten Rounds Rapid, which I'll cover in a seperate report. I did manage a spot of shopping two, mostly pre-ordered or pre-planned stuff including yet more 15mm WW2 Russian armour, more Kallistra hexes and a pile more stuff from Irregular including 2mm Cold War and further expansions for my 6mm IWI/APW/FPW armies. The unplanned items included a brace of Stug III Ds, some lorries (you can never have too many), a brass measuring stick in 1" increments and an amusing 'probability dice' from Magister Militum which I will no doubt find a use for.

General photo dump below, some commented. Sadly my pictures of the British Legion Funny Little wars game were too blurry to be of any use.

The calm before the storm, main hall on Saturday morning before most of the tradrers arrive.

Tim supervises proceedings, supported by Stephen Thomas's 1/35th scale flyer.

Main hall

Radio controlled tanks, these were a big hit.

Beautiful 6mm hoplites.

Paddle steamers on the Nile


RC tanks in action, they used a MILES laser system to shoot

Competition tables, these ran over both days

I was rather taken with these 30mm flats.

Bellona trees too, real old school.

A massive Napoleonic game

The Ilkley Lads prize winning Italian Wars game

Ten Rounds Rapid in progress

RC tanks fight around the ruins

Tim presides over the awards presentation in his capacity as club chairman.
The highly improbable probability dice

Measuring rod

It unscrews into shorter sections