Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Florence v the Papacy (C14th-15th ish) battle

The latest To the Strongest battle to be played between club members was a late medieval battle between the forces of the city state of Florence and the army of the Papal States.  The Florentine forces were commanded by the married couple Chris and Eileen using the Early Italian Condotta lists, while the Papal Forces under the command of Simon were taken for the Later Italian Condotta lists, obviously the Papacy had got first refusal on the new Gucci kit of the C15th, but would it help them secure victory?  Only time would tell. 

With the second Papal general unexpectedly delayed the Papal forces won the scouting and so the Florentines set up with their heavy cavalry taking the centre, with crossbow men on the near flanks and light cavalry on the wings, two camps near the centre were protected by units of spearmen who adopted a defensive posture.  The army was split into two commands with Chris on the left and Eileen on the right.  The Papal army set up similarly although with more Heavy Cavalry including some with the very latest kit (Later Knight) holding the centre of their line and the right flank with a mixture of crossbowmen and a unit of pikes (the very latest thing apparently – just don’t say that in front of Alexander the Great).  Simon had split his army into three commands for greater tactical flexibility.

The first turn started predictably with the Papal force lumbering towards their opponents, The Florentine response started badly with Chris forces closing with the enemy while Eileen stalled at the first draw (1).  Memories of a recent battle where Eileen managed to draw a 1 as her first chit in five of the six turns caused groans from the Florentine command team.

The Florentine Left Flank engage the shiny Papal Knights (on the left)

The second turn saw the start of bow fire and the initial clash of the knights as the Florentine cavalry charged their foes, some damage was caused but no units were lost in the centre however both sets of Florentine light cavalry advanced across the board, on the right the Papal skirmishing crossbows were cut down by accurate bow fire while on the left the Papal and Florentine Light exchanged desultory volleys arrows to little effect.

Turn three saw the Papacy in the ascendent with a hole being torn in the Florentine centre and a column of the best Papal cavalry on their right flank starting to push through the Florentine defences.  Sadly for the Pontiff the Papal troops failed to take advantage of the breach and it was quickly sealed by Eileen’s cavalry moving to fill the gap meanwhile the flanking column was damaged by crossbow bolts.

Papal flanking column menacing the Florentine crossbowmen

Turn 4 saw little significant action in the centre with some ineffectual attacks making little headway.  The Papal attack column rallied and then was promptly disrupted again by the shooting of the raw crossbowmen facing them.

Turn 5 saw Papal heavy cavalry in the centre starting to get the worst of the deal with most units disrupted and one destroyed.  The attack column of the right made no progress and the Papal light cavalry were destroyed by their Florentine opponents.  Both Florentine Light cavalry forces advanced round their respective flanks toward the Papal camp.

Turn 6 saw the end of the battle for the Papal army.  Their centre collapsed with the rapid elimination of their remaining Heavy Cavalry leaving a massive hole in the Papal centre while the Florentine Light cavalry continued in their double envelopment to get within attack distance of their camp.  Surveying the battlefield saw Simon throw in the Papal towel and the battle was over with victory to the forces of Florence!

The Papal Centre is missing!

Overall a fun battle, well fought, with 130 points aside and completion in approximately 1 hour.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Battle of GermanTown, 1777

Last night witnessed  another of Tony’s AWI 28mm extravaganzas, the battle of Germantown, using the “Loose Files and American Scramble” rules.

Having gone to the trouble of bringing his boxes of terrain Tony decided to make the most of it.  The Americans advanced into a maze of fields and fences towards Germantown in a heavy mist.  Under “Loose Files and American Scramble” advancing in anything but a straight line across open ground is not straightforward.  This was not going to be easy for the Americans.

The Americans in the centre and right flank advanced through the fog towards the Chew House to engage what they thought was a British Regiment in front of them. After firing and causing casualties the British regiment mysteriously disappeared into the fog and re-appeared intact inside the building.

The troops on the left slogged through the fields having to stop at fences and then continue. Just as they were about to break into open ground they were set upon by American reinforcements and the desultory fire from off table caused some confusion in the ranks as well as severely wounding the general in command of the militia.  

The Americans tried to storm Chew House but were driven off with heavy casualties and a broken regiment.  Seeing no  way of advancing into the village the  brigade halted to exchange desultory musket fire with the British defenders.  Given the American command and control limitations  and the difficulties in manoeuvering troops under these rules, there was not much option, especially given the congested area on the American left.

On the left flank the troops cleared the maze of fields and started to advance across more open ground around Germantown. Suddenly a volley of fire from a single building decimated one of the lead regiments. Not good. However the reinforcements advancing from the left flank managed to get three units into close combat range with the British light infantry in the same building .  Dice were rolled and an American victory was declared with the British fleeing from the house.

With the evening drawing on the Americans began to line up for an assault on the British camp held by Von Knyphausen’s Hessians. However it was decided to call the game a draw at this point with the Americans about to take possession of the town although Chew House was still holding out, it was about to be surrounded. This was a reasonable re-enactment in miniature of Germantown with confusion and the American focus on their inability to take Chew House.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Poland 1939, Battlegroup

This evening's game was Poland 1939, using Battlegroup.
Rather than the usual Blitzkrieg, with the 'all concurring' Germans rolling over the brave Poles, this one was to see the Poles on the counter-attack...... well almost!
The strong German picket line held the village edge and the open ground to the right of the village. Realising they likely faced stiff opposition from MG fire and artillery, the Polish rushed as many tanks as their meagre orders would allow, forward toward the village. However, only two TKS tankettes made it. The 3 Vickers tanks were burning or pinned from a devastating German artillery strike.
Sadly the two brave Polish tankettes were quickly mopped up by 3 Panzer II reinforcements, sweeping around the left flank.
The Poles then changed tack and deployed massed infantry in a near suicidal attempt to storm the village. However, once again the German guns simply pinned the Polish infantry and those that did manage to struggle through the shrapnel storm, were quickly driven back by MG34 fire from the village itself.

At this point the Polish command wisely decided to withdraw, noting that an attack on a prepared defensive position, into artillery, across a narrow front, was some advice that appeared to be missing from the tactical manual!!
Elsewhere we had a SAGA game with Normans vs Welsh, with the Welsh seemingly getting right up the Norman noses!

Further down the hall we had Jim's rather interesting looking Japanese game and across the way, John's AWI game.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Arzamene, To the Strongest

In the year of our Lord 421AD the forces of Theodosius were defeated on the plain of Arzamene…..so will read the history.

The Romans were comprehensively outscouted, so advantage now lay with the followers of Ahura Mazda.

The Sassanid left flank General then advanced with uncharacteristic boldness and soon Rob had his elephants and cavalry in action with the weaker Roman right. With TtS’s two unluckiest Generals now facing each other, someone’s luck would have to change! However, the fates now seemed aligned against Greg's Romans.

In the centre Dave's Sassanids advanced towards the massed Roman infantry. Lance vs pilum. This would not end well for someone.

On the Sassanid right their small, bearded General manoeuvred around the woods with his light cavalry and pushed his heavies forward toward Eileen's veteran superior numbers of heavy cavalry.  Interesting tactics…!?

Back on the Sassanid left, their advance continued relentlessly with the Romans being pressed back and eventually most of their forces ended up being retired off the table, leaving the heroic Clibanarii to finally succumb to a flank charge.  Demoralisation for the right wing!

Dave's Sassanids did eventually manage to punch a hole in the centre but seemed reluctant to follow up as the Legionaries maintained a frustratingly solid line elsewhere.

On the far right flank the Sassanids were starting to get the upper hand over the more aggressive Romans and were starting to outmanoeuvre and kill units. However, the small hairy Sassanid General’s gloating may be leading to marital issues, I look forward to visiting him in hospital!

With both Roman flanks in now in disarray and the centre in danger of collapse the Romans conceded the field. The Arzamene campaign was over.

It was slightly surprising that neither side played their stratagem, as both cards would have been useful in this game. However, both sides seemed intent on rummaging through the chit bags, trying to find the most inappropriate scores!

The “Even Stronger V3” 'Group Move' and Rout Test rules seemed to work, and the understanding that units cannot be rallied in a zone of control made life a little more complicated with more opportunity to exploit a success.

All players will undoubtedly be glad to hear that Simon's finger is recovering well from its impaling on a Roman cavalryman’s upright spear…..It is probably in better shape than Mr Banks nether regions, following his victorious gloating!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Another eclectic Thursday at Black Wolf

This Thursday's gaming saw a new group of players getting to grips and enjoying the 'To the Strongest' ancients rules. This makes about 70% of the club members who have tried the rules and enjoy them! John D has even started a civilized correspondence with Mr Miller about the forthcoming ECW version.

Another table appeared to be a rather low key Peter Pig game, noteworthy mainly for Pete's rather fruity language!

Then we had the "F" word game (Frostgrave)! Not only does it look strange, it also seems a bit of a throw-back to hordes of unwashed RPG / D&D players from the '70s and '80s. Rather unpleasant in today's polite gaming society. Hearing Tony say that he had a number of magical artifacts brought back really bad memories, not to mention what he was doing with his 'familiar'!!

The other two tables saw games using the Too Fat Lardies Dux Britanniarum rules. Both tables looked very nice, with Phil's superb home-made terrain on one table and my hernia-inducing Grand Manner buildings on the other. On one table we had the pluky Romano-Brits trying to stop some Irish Raiders from ransacking their church. Greg's Irish raiders gained a 4 move initial advantage, including a triple 6 roll for some cavalry, which meant that the game was played around the very door of the church! Simon's British managed to get onto the table and form a shieldwall, which kept the Irish penned in, albeit if the British levy were badly shaken by the end.

Things finally swung against the Irish raiders and a bit of cross-table coaching saw Greg's elite cavalry thrown into a slightly reckless charge against a group of British warriors, This ended badly for Greg's Irish cavalry, as well as ending his hopes of victory.

The other table saw an unusual Dux B game, raider vs raider. Phil's Picts had been expecting a peaceful trade delegation from Dave's Scotti. However, as the Picts moved out to welcome their Scotti visitors, they were set upon in a most cruel and underhanded manner!

Overall the battle was pretty even, with dice roll advantages see-sawing back and forth. In the end, the straw that broke the Pictish back, was the cloud of 8 Scotti skirmishers, inflicting loads of shock on the exposed flanks of the main Pict force. They were soon streaming back through the village, bloodied and broken. A good scrap though!

Next week may see the 1st outing of "A Handful of HOTs", a home grown version of 'A Fistful of TOWs', 1:300 Cold War.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Battlegroup, Golan Heights

Day two of fighting on the Golan. A company of Syrian T55s with infantry support push on towards the edge of the Golan plateau. Just outside a small abandoned village they spot a trio of Israeli Centurions hunkered down.

The T55s fan out. One troop starts up the road but fairly soon two smoking pyres litter the tarmac. Syrian off table heavy mortars try to provide support but something appears wrong with the radios.....

Better luck on the left flank where some of the Syrian APCs rush into an olive grove and seem to deploy with small suitcases. Very strange. The other Syrian tanks also cautiously creep round this flank.

In the distance dust clouds reveals the arrival of Israeli reinforcements.

Syrian infantry advance into the village taking several buildings. A cautious game of cat and mouse with multiple overwatch situations.

Finally the Israeli gunners try some long range shots. Pretty ineffective. The Syrian infantry with suitcases respond with what are anti/tank missiles. One tank pinned and another destroyed! The Syrian mortars finally find their radios and range in on the Israelis destroying a half track and its infantry.

A Centurion within the village finally gets a shot on a T55. A hit but only a pin. The morale tests gets a successful call of duty. Two AP shells both score "6" and the "8" die roll despatches it. Inshallah!

As night falls the Israelis pull back with their battle-rating badly depleted.....

A good game and nice to see the 15mm Arab-Israeli stuff on the table. I must admit I always recall Golan as mainly armour not infantry but what the hell. I think a few more tweaks to the rules/stats but nearly there. If I can crack 1:300 rules I may still do 1973 in that scale.

On other fronts.....
Good to see TtS in use on another table and they seemed to be enjoying it. I hear Mr Miller has just re-written the Polybian list making the Roman legionaries "harder". Must check that out!

Tony ran his game of "Sharpe Malpractice" ( thanks to Greg for that one), which I understand saw Chris' American rebels give Rob's gallant Brits a sound thrashing. Chris enjoys thrashings.....nuff said!

Finally "Hammerin' Iron" 1/600 ACW naval. Totally forgotten that I have a bespoke mat and two complete fleets for this. Must dig it out some time.....

So, on Partizan on Sunday. Simon.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Hill 112 - Battlegroup Game

Report and Pictures by Fred.

At the beginning of June, we ran our annual Summer WW2 big game at my local club. We use the Battlegroup system for our larger-scale events. This year we opted for a points based, expanded version of the Hill 112 scenario from the Kampfgruppe Normandy rule book, which I have been itching to play for years. The standard scenario is 6 x 8 longitudinally but I went for a 12 x 6 set up with less depth but far greater width as it was a multi-player game and I wanted to bring the two sides together from the off, with each having the ability to manoeuvre and get down the flanks.

Various objectives were identified on the table - the cross roads, tactically important woods and, at the rear, the hillocks. The actual hill was apparently more of a steadily rising and surprisingly wide open plain. The British were attacking from the left edge in this photo, the Germans deployed in depth on the right. The British had 1,200 points from the Overlord Armoured list, 500 points of which were reinforcements coming on to the board from Turn 3. The Germans also had 1,200 points drawn from the HJ / 12th SS Panzer Division List from the new Rule Book. 500 points constituted reinforcements starting from Turn 4.

As a further twist, and unbeknown to their opponents, each side had a Secret Rule. The British benefited from Escalation, which represented HQ seeing a gap appear in the German line and feeding an additional 200 points into the attack. The Germans benefited from the Cut off the Head Special Rule. This represented the decision of OKW to assign 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions to reinforce the flanks of Hill 112 and launch counterattacks. In game terms, I permitted the Germans to hold back reinforcements and, from Turn 7 onwards, launch them into the British flanks from the sides of the table. In the real battle, the British learned of the German intentions via Ultra communications interceptions. In our battle, they were not so lucky.

As per Warwick's scenario notes, the battlefield was strewn with a few knocked out British vehicles from an earlier attack.

I organised and umpired the game which meant I didn't have to worry about lugging a force to / from the Club and could relax a bit. Here is a pic of four of the six players before the festivities commenced.

The Germans deployed first and opted to field infantry and AT guns in dug in positions across the width of the board, supported by Panzer IV's in covered, ambush positions.

As was often reported during the Normandy campaign, the Panzer IV's proved to be surprisingly effective in this game.

The British decided to avoid the teeth of the German defence and attempted to outflank it by concentrating the bulk of their force on the far left.

Initially, the attack made good progress. However, those smouldering Shermans from the earlier attack were a portent of what was to follow.

The British decision to concentrate down one flank seemed to backfire a bit as it enabled the Panzer IV's to "corner" their spearhead in a small area of the table where their tanks were vulnerable not only to the Germans' L48 75mm calibre tank guns but also well-placed off-board artillery fire.

The Panzer IV's used the cover of hedges and woodland to manoeuvre into good firing positions.

British infantry crept forward behind the Armoured spearhead.

Whilst their tanks started to take hits at a fast rate.

There was some British success. One of the German ATG emplacements was knocked out by artillery fire.

But the German tanks continued to mete out punishment.

SS Panzer Grenadiers stealthily picked their way forward.

More British armour fell victim to the Panzers' fire.

In an attempt to draw attention away from the main attack, the British played their Escalation chip and sent a platoon of Shermans down the middle of the board to attack the critical cross-roads junction.

British luck did not improve. We were using my D12 ammunition system rather than the standard rules and two Shermans failed their ammo test after each firing twice.

The British had barely got beyond the first cluster of buildings on the left.

In the centre, another Panzer IV took on the Sherman reinforcements and immediately drew first blood.

British infantry was pinned under German mortar fire.

Both the out of ammo Shermans and the supply truck re-arming them were then hit with a salvo of direct hits from the German off-board mortars.

British luck couldn't get much worse and the tide started to turn in their favour as German tanks took hits back.

Although they had excelled themselves so far, the German morale was quite brittle compared to the British and their BR was getting gradually chipped away. Off-board artillery pounded the German defensive positions and the British drew Jabo counters which were successfully rolled for. The Hanomag command vehicle in the foreground led a charmed life as it drew the attention of the British artillery spotters. Consternation creased the brows of the German players.

In the centre, British units made progress towards the strategically important road junction. A long debate took place between the German players over whether, where and when to use their flanking Special Rule by bringing on their final reserves - a platoon of Panthers! Wary of the Jabo threat, they decided to hold off and trust in the Panzer IV's to hold out for the time being.

However, the Germans were starting to suffer ammunition issues of their own.

In a dramatic moment of game play, one Cromwell burst through the German line and reached this patch of woodland in front of the central hillock before hitting a minefield. Two opposing tanks burned away next to each other.

Behind them, the British continued to push forward.

On the left, they were finally making good progress. The young HJ fanatics braced themselves in their trenches as the British armour continued to roll towards them.

An overhead spotting plane captured the carnage in front of the hill top.

The German problems with ammunition supply were now critical.

Instinctively, the Germans reacted in the only way they knew how, by throwing their Grenadiers forward to hold the cross roads. In doing so, they took a pounding from the advancing British troops and their supporting 25 pounders. The German BR was disappearing at an alarming rate.

An intensive firefight erupted as the British pushed forward towards the German positions near the cross roads.

At that precise point, the Panthers were at last thrown into the fray. With their flank exposed, the British players were perplexed to say the least! And yet at this critical moment, the Panthers missed their shots.

Then a halftrack went up in flames as it approached the cross roads courtesy of a panzerfaust as German infantry fought tenaciously to hold this objective.

On the far left, another Panzer IV blew up, leaving a gap in the German defence. The Panthers had been concentrated on the other side.

The woods in front of the central hill top saw bitter fighting between opposing infantry squads as the Grenadiers launched a furious counterattack.

Another British halftrack charged through the gap left by the knocked out Panzer IV and seized another hillock, securing this objective.

A British spotter plane took another overhead photo showing the general mayhem at the end of Turn 10.

We called it quits at that point, by which time the evening was upon us after a long day of intense and exciting game play. The pivotal moment had been the German decision to hold back the Panthers until the very last moment, due to the threat of Jabos, by which point they could not really affect the outcome. That said, the Panzer IV's really had done their job for them, excelling in the "penny packet" defensive role and giving the British armour a hard time all day.

The Germans were very close to breaking - only 2 off their their BR of 52. However, not only had they held the key point on Hill 112, they had counter-attacked frontally and seized control of a number of tactical objectives. The British were still 20 points off their BR by the end, but I felt that the combination of a very bloody nose and the ground held by the Germans merited calling the game a hard-fought and meritorious draw.

A final pic of the two sides at game end. A great day.