Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Game 3 for the Palmyrans

 And so, after a well-deserved week’s R&R our dedicated war reporter ventured Eastwards to the Nile delta to witness a real TTS “ grudge match”, with the so far unbeaten Palmyrans taking one the fancied challenger, being the mid 3rd century Aurelianic Romans. 

The Romans had adopted an either inspired or tactically inept deployment, with effectively no left flank. They presumably planned to smash the Palmyran left with two forces hoping their own centre would hold.  Tony played his Strategem and advanced three units two boxes forwards. His intentions were clear….”Charge…!!!”.

Dave leading the Palmyran right advanced swiftly forwards against scant opposition. Rob’s Palmyran centre advanced more cautiously but did make the first “kill” of the game destroying a unit of Auxilia….or “auxila” as Tony insists on calling them.
Tony’s plan to overwhelm the Palmyran left got into gear slowly, but eventually did start to make progress.  All seemed to some to fruition when a disordered Cataphract unit was charged in the flank by a Legionary unit. Destruction seemed inevitable……but it wasn’t.

Back with Dave. He swiftly annihilated the Roman units protecting the main camp, but couldn’t muster to attack the camp defended by Legionaries in ORBIS. 

Rob joined in the attack and soon the Roman centre had effectively disintegrated, leaving Tony almost alone to press the attack on the Palmyran camp. All seemed to be going according to Tony’s plan except for the destruction of the rest of the Roman army. Chris master stroke was to bring on his flank-march of light cavalry and capture the 2nd Roman camp and take all the victory medals .

Victory number 3 for the mighty Palmyrans.
Next week sees out reporter remaining in the Middle East to report on an Arab-Israeli WAT game.


Friday, 4 September 2020

What A Tanker, Germany 1945

From our own correspondent….
Last night witnessed a WAT game set in  Germany 1945. Elements of an American armoured “Combat Command Buchanan” had orders to clear a German village, defended by a hastily formed armoured formation known as “Kampfgruppe Threlfall”.  Prior to the battle Herr Threlfall had written that he predicted disaster for his small command, but had gallantly refused reinforcements. O ye of little faith!.
The Americans advanced swiftly onto the table. And were soon half-way across and into the build-up area.. The Germans were slower off the blocks. Malcolm’s Stug seemed to have mechanical problems and wasn’t moving at all .Or had he lost his nerve and needed a noose and a street light? No such problem with Chris’ MkIV which rolled onto the table straight into the firing arc of Rob’s M10 .One dead Panzer.

Down to three tanks and with the Americans now across the open ground, things looked grim for the Germans, especially with two of their vehicles being turretless tank-destroyers. 

Tony however helped out rashly charging a Sherman out of cover and into a hail of cannon fire. It didn’t end well. Ditto the charge of the Stuart. Yes it managed a flank shot into the Stug, but no effect. A swift 90 degree turn and the Stug blasted the M5 into oblivion from point blank range.

The battle to the north became a game of cat-and-mouse as Phil’s Hetzer tried to survive, at one point being almost surrounded by three US vehicles. He did despatch Dave’s M4 which had been “running point” , and then with some deft manouevering escaped the clutches of the Yank armour. Even Chris got his MkIV eventually action putting paid to Rob’s lightly armoured M10 with a shot from the rear. That was  never going  to end well.

With the Yanks down to two M4s things were looking grim .  They turned disastrous when the Hetzer planted another rear shot into Rob’s Sherman.
The crew of the final Sherman decided that discretion was the better part of valour and decided to bail out and surrender. A big mistake as Chris’ bow gunner cut them down in a hail of machine gun fire . See you at Nuremburg Herr Banks!

Nest week some light relief as the British Celts try to resist the remorseless advance of Rome in a game of TtS.   


Sunday, 30 August 2020

Behind Closed Doors. Oathmark

And so, on a gloomy Saturday afternoon two consenting male adults met behind closed doors in the confines of a house in Stevenage Old Town. Their aim, to test out the Oathmark Fantasy game system, written by Joseph McCullough, the author of the popular Frostgrave skirmish game.

“Male A” had brought a Goblin horde to the table, “Male B” a re-purposed Viking army which was serving as a “Human” army. A Christian priest doubled as a “Spellcaster”.

The Humans were fielding large, deep close-combat units, the Goblins a larger number of smaller units of spear, bow, wolf-riders and an artillery piece.

“Male A” decided to advance on a short front with a refused left wing. The goblins were more strung out. The artillery/ballista hit the human archer unit. Carnage. With a range of 42” and positioned in a hill it could dominate the whole battlefield. This was going to be tricky. (Note 1) The Humans ploughed on towards the Goblin line as the Goblin left started to sweep round the flank. The archers took more damage and eventually fled the field. Then the human line hit the Goblins. One Goblin unit fled but more were there to take their place. Eventually the Goblins turned the human flank and the Humans departed the field in defeat.

So, what did we make of the much-vaunted Oathmark. It is a very simple set of rules. We took two hours simply because we didn’t know them. The rules are a bit frustrating in their layout, but nothing too problematic. Probably a decent set of rules for those who want to play Fantasy in the style of Warhammer or Kings of War.

That said if Osprey released “Oathmark Historical” (as with Kings of War Historical) would I play them in preference to To the Strongest. Definitely not (Note2) .


Note (1) The artillery debate was akin to the Palmyran Cataphract discussion albeit not conducted in Australian. It seemed a very powerful weapon for the points cost. That said its “power” could have been down to the limited terrain which did allow if to dominate the batttlefield .
Note (2) People may recall that Simon Miller did plan a “Fantasy” version of TtS, which indeed was intended to be released after the Ancient set. I wonder what ever happened to them. I must ask him!

Friday, 28 August 2020

Sassanids vs Palmyrans; the Grudge Re-Match

And so, on a dusty table in deepest, darkest Stevenage, the armies of Sassanid Persia and the mighty city state of Palmyra once again clashed to fight for pre-eminence of Eastern Syria.

After extensive, and sometimes acrimonious debate, the Sassanids had been given a 1 point per Cataphract unit benefit compared to last week. This had been spent upgrading some Sassanid units to veteran.

The Sassanid plan appeared to concentrate on overwhelming the wings, and hope that the infantry-based centre could hold on long enough for the wings to win the day. As befits an army lead by Chris and Tony, the Palmyran plan was less subtle…..

The early exchanges seemed to favour the servants of Ahura Mazda. Palmyran light cavalry died and gaps appeared on the extremes of the Palmyran wings. But the Sassanids held back. We now know that they hadn’t realised that one unit from the Palmyran ORBAT was missing presumed….well just missing.

The massed archers on the Palmyran left fired volley after volley into the Sassanid cavalry, who lost a unit meaning the general had to move. Not the best start to his day.

The fight on the other wing appeared more even. Units traded blows, took disorders but eventually rallied. The Sassanid plan seemed to be stalling, especially as poor chit drawing on their right flank meant they couldn’t turn the exposed Palmyran right.
The then Palmyran centre got into action and it started to grind across the centre. Even the mighty Pachyderm seemed helpless to intervene.  First one Sassanid javelin unit, then another and finally an archer unit died smashing open the Sassanid line.

To add insult to injury the “lost” Palmyran unit finally managed to appear on the Sassanid baseline, only three boxes from one of their undefended camps.

Game over.

A hard fought fight, but even “honest Simon” aka “the Supreme Being” will admit that it felt like, to use  boxing terms, a “Heavyweight vs a Cruiser of Middle Weight”. The Palmyrans are a mighty army indeed!

That said I guessed that when I first checked the list. They can also add Roman Legionaries, Auxila and Cavalry from the time when the Palmyran King Odenathus was given military command of the Roman Near East to fight the Sassanid threat.


Friday, 14 August 2020

What a Tanker in Western Ukraine

After a week-off for well deserved R&R our war reporter ventured East last night to witness an armoured clash in Western Ukraine.

The scene; a sleepy hamlet in the Ukraine May 1944.  As the mists cleared the silence was shattered by the sound of tank engines.  Chris’ T34/76 charged across the table to find cover in a wood. His SU85 was more circumspect and advanced cautiously, shielded by a farmhouse.  To their North Tony was also uncharacteristically cautious . His mighty T34/85 took up position in a wood covering the village crossroads, leaving his T34/76 to advance slowly along the Northern edge of the table.

For the Germans, Malcolm’s Stug advanced to face Chris’ T34.

The Panther and a MkIV advanced cautiously along the Northern edge of the table, with another MkIV shielding their flank.   The Stug fired three times at the T34. All misses. Less than impressive gunnery. However, feeling very exposed the T34 retired , only to find itself in the gunsight of the Panther. Result, one dead T34.

To the North Tony decided to put his “fast” attribute to good use and try to outflank the Germans .  It worked in part but the Germans turned the tables and the Panther and MKIV hunted him down. A flank shot from the MK IV put paid to another T34/76.

The Su85 took damage and was soon reduced to two dice and reduced speed. Ouch! He was also being stalked by the Stug and a MKIV. Things were looking decidedly “sticky” for the Red Army.

However Tony’s T34/85 finally scored a Russian “kill” when it planed a shell into the rear of a MKIV.  “Boom”. One very dead tank.

Chris fared less well. His SU tried to escape but fell to another rear shot, this time from Malcolm’s Stug.

Tony valiantly fought on.  He damaged the other MKIV which wisely retired from the fray, but was unable to stop Rob’s Panther again going “fast” to close to short range. Result, one dead T35/85.

A fairly fast and furious game . Lesson learnt. Flank shots are good, rear shots are excellent!      

Next week a return to the deserts of Mesopotamia for a TTS game featuring Sassanids and Palmyrans.


Friday, 31 July 2020

Off the coast of Buenos Aires

After a gap of one week normal service is resumed with the weekly “match report”.

Last night saw a “Black Seas” game set during the abortive British attempt to “liberate” Argentina in 1806.  The scenario saw the Spanish Viceroy trying to flee taking his gold reserves and the British flotilla trying to stop him.

The British sailed on to the board from the south-west corner with Malcolm heading East and Phil North-East to intercept the Spanish convoy.  The Spanish entered from the North-west with an objective to sail across the table. Almost immediately disaster struck the British as Phil’s Brig collided with his frigate. Damage to both and a distinct lack of manoueverability next turn. Dave and Tony sailed across them pouring desultory fire into the hapless British, heading for the protection of Rob’s frigate which entered the table further on.

Phil managed to get a semblance of control and gamely attacked before his brig and frigate sailed out of sight behind the island.

That left two schooners and a brig to face a large merchantman, two brigs and a frigate. Things looked dicey but this was the Royal Navy!

Through some deft seamanship the British did manage to catch Tony and eventually force his brig into striking its colours. But the Viceroy sailed on.  Mal then tried our first ever boarding action, only to find that you can’t board a ship under “full sails”.  A defect in my scenario!

From then on the British couldn’t really win. Dave’s merchantmen was really too strong to take the necessary damage, and speed didn’t seem to be an issue. Phil made a valiant attempt to return to the fray but the game was over when Rob’s frigate blew him up from short-range !

A few lessons learnt for me….

Although the sides had even points the British were heavily outgunned. The schooners only have two light cannon per vessel vs a Brig’s four  heavies, and the extra ship numbers never seem to tip the balance. Indeed too many ships can prove an issue.  Next time I will introduce “crew quality” as this is the 2nd time the Spanish have won.

Anyway next week sees a return to the fields of Normandy in the summer of 1944 for “What a Tanker”.


Friday, 17 July 2020

What a Tanker, stumble to Arras...

So, last night saw a WAT 1940 game loosely set during the British counter-attack at Arras on May 21st.

Phil, Tony and Malcolm took command of the Jerries. Dave, Chris and Rob led the Brits. Greg watched in disbelief.....

As they were outnumbered the Nazi swine made haste to form a defensive line in the various woods and hedgerows.

The British armour clanked onto the table at less than breakneck speed. Blitzkrieg this was not.

Dave took the south with his A13 and A9, Chris the centre with a similar force and Rob the North with his solitary Matilda II.

Visibility was difficult due to the close terrain, but shots began to be traded. A lucky 2pdr strike on Tony’s Panzerjager I saw three hits and no saves. First blood to the British and one very sulky Tony.

After this the battle settled into a game of cat and mouse. The Germans sniping at the British from the woods, and the British finding it frustratingly difficult to locate targets.

The sole exception were the adventures of Malcolm in the North. Here, a lone Pz38(T) charged the Matilda only to find itself outnumbered . A “fast” tank vs a “slow” tank was an interesting contact. Jerry poured cannon fire into the flank and rear of the Matilda but with 7 defence dice boy that Infantry tank was a tough nut to crack.


With the Germans holding their line Chris decided to charge forward. Result, one dead A9 and an exposed A13.

By nearly 22.00 it was clear that the British counter-attack had not broken through, and the Supreme Being awarded the game to the German defenders.

In hindsight it was a frustrating evening for everyone concerned. Shooting had been pretty woeful and the guns and armour fairly well matched.

Next week, a return to the 4th century BC Chersonese for a Thracian-Athenian TTS re-match.