Wargaming in Hertfordshire

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.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Operation Martlet (Probe into Fontenay) - Chain of Command

This engagement was the first scenario in the Too Fat Lardies Operation Marlet pint sized campaign for Chain of Command. The engagement saw a platoon of British infantry from the 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers pitted against a platoon of German panzergrenadiers from the 26th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment, supported by a Panzer IV.

The initial patrol phase went well for both sides with the British managing to get a foothold in the house and walled garden on the western edge of the table. The Germans started in the main farmhouse building in the centre of their lines and also behind the Calvary to the east of the farmhouse.

The British deployed their first section in the walled garden and immediately started throwing smoke grenades to provide cover.

In retaliation the Germans deployed two MG42 teams in the ruined farmhouse.

The Germans remained transfixed by the mystical moving wall of smoke and were only brought back to reality when a Vickers team appeared in the open directly in front of their position. The Germans quickly reacted and fire from both MG42s quickly neutralised the threat. The parting comment from the British platoon commander was “at least they don’t count towards my platoon loses as they were only a support”.

The British slowly marched their troops towards the German lines under cover of seemingly endless smoke. The Germans decided at this point to move a jump off point into the orchard behind the ruined farmhouse and deploy a section of SS in the hedgerow, hoping to ambush the British as they moved into the open.

The British deployed a second Vickers team but this time thought that putting it in cover would be a better idea. With nothing else to shoot at the MG teams in the farmhouse opened up on it and caused significant shock. However the Vickers responded in kind and slightly wounded one of the MG loaders.

To add extra firepower to the prospective ambush the Germans now deployed their dug in Panzer IV but as soon as it appeared a PIAT team tried to destroy it in ambush.. However it was not to be and there were grumblings of “Barn Door” and “Mattress Springs” heard in the British lines.
The British managed to roll a double move and with the Germans not on overwatch a mad dash was made for the German baseline.

The game ended at this point as the British had managed to get at least one team off the German baseline.

The fate of the poor German FOO, who only managed to crawl out his funk hole after the action was over, is unknown. Terrain and Brits from Dave's collection (figures FAA) and the Germans were supplied by Simon (figures from Britannia Miniatures).