Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Saturday, 23 October 2021

The Syrian Coast...a long long time ago

After a break of nearly four weeks our award-winning reporter packed his camera and moved west from Mesopotamia to the Syrian coast in the 12th century BC. The city of Ugarit...or as renamed “Bu**er-it” by Chris, was under attack my the marauding Sea Peoples lead by Goliath of Gath aka Tony. Rob acted as Tony’s deputy having bemoaned his bad luck fighting on the same side as Chris. The Hittite Governor of Carchemish aka Simon has rushed to help local King Ammurapi aka Chris. The battle was fought under the walls of Ugarit.


Chris and Tony had masterminded the deployments. Tony had seemingly “refused” his right wing, leaving quite a gap between his battle line and the walls of Ugarit. However it meant the rest of his line was a sold wall of deep warrior units with a few chariots on his left. Chris had deployed the Syrian/Hittite force across the length of the board. The lightly-armed Syrians were on the left facing Rob and the “refused” flank, while the chariots were allocated and deployed in the centre in “penny packets” between two commands. No chariot Schwerpunkt here! It was a deployment that was either inspired or catastrophically insane...


Tony immediately played his stratagem and three units and a general surged forward two boxes. How Tony!

The whole Hittite line moved forward somewhat daunted by the solid mass of bronze clad warriors charging towards them. Chris tried to move his Syrians around the refused flank but found that light troops die quite easily and even impressive-looking light chariot units only take one hit. Add to that the fact that the Hittite camp was fortified and garrisoned meant turning the flank and taking the camps was going to be a long-shot.

The Hittite stratagem to bring on a flank march unit of spearmen behind the Sea People’s left flank failed miserably when a chariot unit turned, charged it in the flank and destroyed it. Why Chris chose a slow-moving spear unit for this mission was in hindsight very strange. 

In the centre the Sea Peoples got to work with their deep units. Hittites troops died and once again the ability of deep warriors to withstand immense punishment paid dividends. The “free” hero now allocated to warriors was also a useful asset. With no manoeuvre room the elite lance-armed Hittite chariots had no choice but to charge frontally...and die. Chris’ flank attack was going nowhere...


With the Hittites down to five out of fifteen victory medals, and the Sea Peoples having lost a measly two it looked like curtains for Ugarit. However hope was restored when centre command Sea Peoples deep unit was flank charged and destroyed, quickly followed by another on their right. However the hope of a miracle was finally extinguished as yet more Sea People warriors wiped out the raw Syrian arches plus another light chariot unit. With the Syrian army destroyed the Hittite commander wisely withdrew his remaining troops from the field leaving the city of Ugarit to its grisly fate.

Believe it or not it was an enjoyable battle, if only to see Rob happy! The chit pulling certainly favoured the Sea Peoples but that was no excuse.

The battle itself proved historically accurate. Excavations of Ugarit show the destruction layer dating to circa 1190BC, and Egyptian records show that it had certainly been destroyed by 1178BC.

My challenge now is to persuade Tony to buy a New Kingdom Egyptian army which I conservatively estimate at £300...

Simon

Friday, 15 October 2021

Can Capitaine Opless save the signal tower

Another outing for our unlucky Frenchman as Capitaine Opless has been informed that a Royal Navy cutter has been sighted and is heading towards one of his signal towers. Mustering what forces he had to hand he headed off to stop the British doing some dastardly deed.


The French quickly deployed in the North with the French Dragoons deploying next to their infantry, much to the bemusement of the British as they were expecting them to head west to try and outflank the landing party.


Whilst the Royal Navy arrived in boats on the South Western shore.


It wasn’t long before the whole French force was heading towards the signal tower. Where were the British Marines, cried Rob.

The Sea Dogs continued their advance into the vines,

whilst their mates made for the signal tower.


At last the Marines arrived, but were they too late to stop the French getting to the tower?


The Naval skirmishers formed up in the vines behind the wall, halting the Voltigeurs in their tracks.


The French formed a nice line and started to pour lead into the column of Marines as they desperately attempted to form line.

Unfortunately the Dragoon fire was too intense and managed to set fire to the signal tower. Oh how we laughed. Well that’s game over then.


However, cries of let’s get Capitaine Opless were heard coming from the British. Looks like the game was still on even though the British had completed their objective in burning the tower. Capitaine Opless aligned his troops next to the Voltigeurs and this was too much for the British skirmishers who were losing men rapidly...


resutling in them withdrawing in an orderly fashion.


The Voltigeurs stepped forward to chase the British off...


But they had walked in front of their own troops. Could Opless stop the conscripts from firing. Alas no.


The mob of sailors with no tower to burn charged into the French that were firing at the Marines. The fight was brief with both sides taking casualties but this did distract the French as the British decided at this point to start to withdraw.


Another unfortunate outing for Capitaine Opless who’s luck only appears to be bad, as the game was effectively over after a few turns but the British decided to play on to make a game of it.

Monday, 27 September 2021

Showdown at Singara; 344AD

An easier travel plan for our reporter this week, as he travelled from the Libyan/Egyptian border of late 1941 to the desert of Mesopotamia in Summer 344AD. This was going to be a hot one. The Sassanian King Shapur II had launched at attack on the Roman frontier seizing the fortress of Singara. The Emperor Constantius II has come in person to command his armies and restore Roman martial pride. Phil, Tony and Fred took the Sassanids, with Chris, Rob and newly recruited Tribune Barney the Romans. With both sides fielding double-armed units, both sides had a relatively low unit count and only a small number of victory medals.

The Sassanids started by seizing the ridgeline on their right flank whilst pushing aggressively forward on the left. 

The centre was curiously static. It must be a ruse.

The Romans advanced in good order, albeit a tad slower. Tony again pushed the Sassanid left forward showering Chris mighty Cataphract unit with arrows, one of which amazingly scored a hit. This seemed to un-nerve the Roman senior commander.

He was even more worried when his cavalry were also hit and died, leaving his wing exposed. Worse was to follow as Phil deployed the “lost” Stratagem and managed to bring his unit of light cavalry onto the table straight into the Roman camp area. Five coins lost and none captured for the Romans.

The Roman left and centre manfully fought on, but realised that their right was in danger of collapse and the Sassanids were in their rear area. Nasty!

Chris finally managed to deploy his “reserve” light cavalry to save the second Roman camp, but the situation on the left continued to worsen. The cataphracts were finally destroyed as were the light infantry, and the flank was turned. The sole Roman success occurred in the centre where Rob’s legionaries managed to destroy some of Fred’s cavalry which had rashly advanced into a palm grove. Cavalry fighting in broken ground is never a good idea!

The end for Julian came soon after. A unit of Auxilia was broken and Tony’s massed cavalry attacked an exposed Legionary unit.

A Sassanid victory 11-2 and a comprehensive defeat for Rome.

Simon

Friday, 24 September 2021

Return to Octerapus - The Empire Strikes Back

 To: Space Marine Strike Cruiser ‘Townsville’, base of the third company ‘Imperial Dropbears’ chapter

From: Imperial Battle Barge ‘Zeemaphrame’ commanded by Imperial Inquisitor Lord Rob.

Greetings in the Emperors name.  It has come to my attention that Heretical activity is taking place on Imperial world Octerapus with Traitor Marines having been spotted.  A unit of Deathwatch Marines dispatched to the planet are out of contact and are assumed to have been destroyed. Please urgently send a team of Marines to the planet to locate and destroy the heretics before the heresy takes root.

From ‘Townville’: Strewth Mate we’re just in the middle of something here, can’t you take care of it yourself?’

From ‘Zeemaphrame’: No we can’t.  His excellency Lord Rob is busy undergoing routine maintenance.  Planetary garrisons are already committed elsewhere. What’s so urgent you can’t help?

From ‘Townsville’:  We’re having a bar… Err We’re partaking in an ancient chapter ritual that’s totally out of the manual and shouldn’t be interrupted. [Muffled] Here Wayne watch those sausages mate, they’re starting to burn.

From ‘Zeemaphrame’: What? Look Rob is a Lord Inquisitor and he can totally order you to obey you know!  Besides we haven’t carried out a ‘purity review’ of your chapter recently if you get my drift.

From ‘Townville’:  All right mate, don’t stress yourself out, OK we’ll send a few of the boys to deal with it.  Leave it with us.  Townsville out.   Bluey get your lads together, oh and pass those prawns…

---------------------------------

With Rob busy on family business Tony stepped up to play the next game of Kill Team.  The two sides were Tony’s Tactical Space Marines vs Chris’s Heretic Space Marines giving a simplified battle as it was Tony’s first game.

The Heretic Astartes were as the previous battle, Aspiring Champion Derek the Miffed with Plasma Pistol and Power Fist, Chaos Warrior Roderick with Bolter, Chaos Warrior Tyson with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword, Chaos Warrior Tarquin with Chaos Icon, Bolt Pistol and Chainsword, Chaos Gunner Brutus with Meltagun and Chaos Heavy Gunner Steve with Heavy Bolter.

The Imperial Dropbears Space Marine Chapter fielded a Sergeant Bluey with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword, three Marines Bruce, Robo and Loco with Boltgun, Gunner Wayne ‘Barbie’ with Flamer and Heavy Gunner Chook with Missile Launcher.

Chaos won the initiative and choose not to use a Strategic Ploy, the Imperials chose Bolter Discipline enabling them to Shoot twice.  Tarquin started by Dashing to the centre objective and securing it for Khorne (1vp to Chaos).  The Imperial response was brutal as Bruce advanced then gunned down Tarquin using his two shooting actions.  Steve moved forward into a shooting position and secured the second objective (2vp for Chaos).  In response Robo leapt onto a shipping container, negating Steve’s cover and again with two shots gunned him down.   

                    Hapless 'Steve the Slaughterer' getting himself slaughtered

Tony’s decision to enact Bolter Discipline looked to be the right one.  Worried about the way things were going Brutus Dashed towards Robo and fired his Melta gun.  The effects were pretty brutal and finally Chaos had started to inflict some casualties.  Wayne moved towards Brutus and unleashed his flamer but only managed to likely injure the marine before securing the third objective (1vp for the Imperials).  Roderick moved position and managed to secure the final objective (3vp for Chaos).  Bluey dashed forward in the centre and managed to shoot Brutus with his bolt pistol inflicting enough damage to kill the injured marine.  Carnage amongst the Chaos ranks with 50% dead and it was still turn 1, admittedly their saving rolls had been rubbish.  Tyson moved up into the middle of the table and Loco jumped onto a shipping container and fired at him for no effect.  Derek dashed into range of Loco and shot him with his Plasma Pistol killing him on the spot.  Chook repositioned at the back lining up on Tyson.

Turn 2 and this time Chaos took Malicious volleys allowing them to shoot twice.  They also won initiative and started off with Bluey charging into combat with Bluey and killing him with his power fist.  He was also planning to shoot down Wayne but Tony reminded his sergeant that ‘Only is Death does duty end’.  Bluey remained in play preventing Derek from shooting an he was still within the Engagement range of the fatally wounded (but not yet expired) Marine.  The next activation saw Bluey killing the Chaos Space Marine Sergeant and securing the central objective before falling to his wounds.  Roderick opened fire at Chook and in two rounds of shooting managed to inflict only 3 wounds on Chook.  He then moved out of sight to avoid the likely counter fire.  Unfortunately Tyson was not so lucky being found to be in the Missile Launchers sights.  One Krak missile saw Tyson blown to bits leaving Roderick as the sole Chaos Marine in play.  The remaining Imperial forces repositioned and captured objectives leaving the score 4/3 to Chaos at the end of the second turn.

Turn 3 and the sole Chaos Marine was first to go.  Using Malicious volleys, he advanced into position where he could see two of his three opponents before unleashing a stream of bolter shells at Chook (unfortunately two lots of shooting saw no hits inflicted).  This time the answering shot hit the unfortunate Roderick killing him and leaving the table to the forces of the Imperium.  Victory to the Empire.

   Chook takes aim at his second Heretic Marine of the day - he's had his Weetabix!


----------------------------

The game ran well now that we are starting to get the rules under our belt.  There was major rules query.  If someone is killed during a melee attack but uses ‘only in death’ to survive one more activation does the combat continue?  We decided not but we’ll have to see if an official adjudication is announced.  Beyond this the game seemed to be a easy to play although as a new player Tony initially found the rules tricky to get to grip with.  Didn’t stop him winning though.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Dust up in the Desert - Part Due

After yet another short break from action our indefatigable reporter packed his solar topee and greatcoat and headed to the Libyan/Egyptian border in November 1941. The British have launched Operation Crusader and this action sees the Brigadier Scott Cockburn’s 22nd armoured Brigade trying to wrest the Bir El Gebi crossroads from the Italian Ariete Armoured Division and their supporting Bersaglieri. Will the Italians live up to their reputation and crumble like a stale Panettone?


The British advanced cautiously onto the field with pairs of Crusaders to the north and south, and the Valentines holding the centre. The Italian plan proved more interesting, or should that be chaotic. Whilst Chris’ lone M13/40 and Tony’s L6/40 advanced to meet the Crusaders, the other M13/40, Semovente, L6/40 and “Dummy” decided to form a “target-rich environment” for British artillery in a palm grove/ Lucky there is no artillery in WAT!

Eventually the Semovente lurking in the palm grove crawled out of its lair and planted a shell into the side of a Crusader, which was finished off by Chris L6/40.

More disaster followed for the 22nd Armoured when a Valentine fell to a single shot through its frontal glacis plate. Matters evened up somewhat with an L6/40 falling to 2pdr fire, and things looked decidedly tricky for the Northern M13/40 and Southern L6/40 as British tanks manoeuvred for close-up flank shots but then failed completely to manage a “kill”. 

Indeed both of Phil’s Crusaders fell victim to the Semovente and the lucky M13/40.


With only one Crusader and a Valentine still in the fight the British called it a day and retired, leaving Bir El Gebi in the hands of the Ariete Division.

Post game I have been looking at the data for the various tanks involved. Those for the Italians seem correct. I was surprised to find the “light” L6/40 actually had thicker armour than the “medium” M13/40. My personal view is that the Valentine should have a frontal armour of 6 not 5. As an infantry tank it was well-armoured, if not as heavily as the Matilda II. Armour 5 is exactly the same as that of the Stuart and it was better armoured than that! I sense a home-brew modification coming on!

Simon


Friday, 17 September 2021

The Ravening of Octerapus - A Kill Team Story

 On Imperial Battle barge Zeemaphrame a young neophyte hurried towards the command station to meet Lord Rob, the Imperial Lord Inquisitor commanding this sector of the Imperium of Mankind.  He bowed ‘G’Day your grace I have news’. 

The Lord Inquisitor stirred amongst the many cables and conduits sustaining his ancient frame, given his vast age he looked surprisingly young. Despite this, the interruption to his nap time left him grumpy, ‘Yes what is it?' came his curt reply.

‘We have received a broadcast from the Imperial World Octerapus, they have found evidence of Heretic activity in the ruins’.

The Lord Inquisitor pondered the facts, Octerapus was a key imperial world but had recently suffered the depredations of an Ork Waargh, a Necron attack, an attempted Tau invasion and the Crimson Fists Christmas party (which had got completely out of hand).  ‘Given recent losses, I assume their own garrisons cannot handle this problem?’.

‘Nah your grace, they are too busy dealing with a Genestealer Cult outbreak.  Still you've got to laugh, don’t you agree?’

The Ancient leader considered his options.  ‘Very well, deploy the Deathwatch to root out and destroy this heresy.  Oh and Neophyte, you are far too happy for a grimdark future.  Have yourself hideously killed in a pain amplifier to restore some balance!’

------

 Another Friday game of Kill Team this time pitting Rob and his Deathwatch Veterans against Chris and his Heretical Chaos Space Marines (I think you mean alternatively loyal - Ed). 

The Deathwatch comprised of five Marine Veterans led by Captain Tytus Mordelai (with Plasma Pistol and Xenophase blade).  Erik Trollbane (Veteran Fighter with Power Maul and Stormshield), Lydus Markov (Veteran Warrior with Deathwatch Shotgun), John Doe (Gunner with Combi-Melta/Deathwatch Boltgun) and Raelyn Castigar (Heavy Gunner with Frag Cannon)


Against them the forces of Chaos deployed six Chaos Space Marines led by Derek the Miffed (Aspiring Champion with Plasma Pistol and Power Fist) and including Steve the Slaughterer (a Heavy Gunner with a Heavy Bolter), Brutus the Bloodletter (a Gunner with Meltagun), Roderick and Tyson (two Marine Warriors) and Tarquin (an Icon bearer with Bolt Pistol and Chainsword).


The game was Control the Killzone with four objective markers to be secured each turn for 1 Victory Point each.  To simplify matters no TacOps were used as we are still learning the rules.

The game got underway with both forces manoeuvring for position and gaining 2VP each as the objectives were secured.  Unfortunately in his haste to secure the second objective for the Deathwatch Lydus ended up in the middle of an open ruin.  Brutus stepped up to the wall and  looking through a open window saw Lydus standing in the open.  


One blast of the Meltagun and Lydus was reduced to a bubbling pool of slag. First blood to the good guys (other opinions are available – Ed).  Rob expressed his dismay in the form of massed bolter fire at the Chaos Leader, who leading from the front, had already secured an objective.  Dragonfire rounds removed the benefit of cover, but no hits were achieved. 

Frustrated Rob threw his leader at Brother Tyson, a Plasma pistol shot saw the Chaos Marine similarly melted (one all).  In response Bolter fire from Roderick saw John Doe taking 4 hits (its just a flesh wound he was heard to mutter through gritted teeth).

Turn 2 and the players remembered they had Command Points! Both sides picked Strategic Ploys which allowed 2 shots per round with Bolter weapons and Chris won initiative.  First move saw Steve looking for revenge for Tyson using the medium of Heavy Bolter shots against Captain Titus. Two loads of shooting proved too much for the Captain and after considerable discussion about how to interpret the Critical rules another Deathwatch Marine fell.  However as Rob was quick to remind him, ‘Only in Death does Duty End!’ 1 CP and the Captain survived for one more activation.  Digging deep the brave Captain managed to both kill Steve using his Plasma Pistol on supercharge, and secure an objective before falling to his wounds (two all).  Roderick was next up managing to finish off John Doe, before having a second shot at Raelyn Castigar who was hiding at the back of the Deathwatch line.  Rob spent Command Points freely declaring ‘Only in death..) once more.  John Doe got another turn before dying.  Unfortunately he only managed to lightly injure (3 wounds) the Chaos Champion before falling.  Three out of five of the Deathwatch killed with only two of the six Chaos boys taken care of.  Rob started to look nervous.  Time for the Chaos Champion to earn his pay.  Derek secured the central objective and moved towards Erik hiding behind the wall.  

A supercharged Plasma shot inflicted 10 damage on the Marine leaving him with only one remaining - ouch.  Erik responded in the only way he could, by charging.  Unfortunately even a Close Combat Specialist has his work cut out against an Aspiring Champion with a Power Fist, especially when he is already wounded.  Erik fell inflicting a further 4 points on Derek, but leaving only one Deathwatch Veteran left.  Seeing that there was no risk to him the Chaos Icon Bearer joined his boss and secured an objective into the bargain (5VP to 3 for Chaos).

Imperial hopes were fading almost as fast as Robs morale.  Raelyn took a shot at Roderick with his Frag Cannon, but failed to inflict even a single hit.  As there was no double shooting for non-bolter weapons he then made a run for an objective marker ready for next turn.  Unfortunately Brutus was waiting for him, Melta gun at the ready.  


Unfortunately for the Chaos Marine the shot went wide with no damage inflicted, Chris noted that Brutus was a ‘Veteran of the Long War’, 1 CP to repeat the shot. This time he inflicting 17 points onto the already injured Raelyn and the final Deathwatch Marine was removed from the table.  Victory to the forces of Chaos!

 

Another game of Kill Team, another chance to whinge about Games Workshops rule writing style.  Both players found the interpretation of weapon Critical effects ‘challenging’, resorting to working out the various options before deciding on which one made sense.  As noted previously once you’ve figured them out, the rules work well, and are fairly straight-forward, but they are expressed in ways that do not make them clear (Rob’s shiny new QRS helped significantly).  Despite this a third game is planned for next week, with Genestealer Cults taking on the Adeptus Mechanicus (assuming Rob’s not dog sitting).

Thursday, 9 September 2021

1945 - The Fall of the Reich

 From STAVKA to 17th Heavy Tank Regiment    

Good news comrades, the Nazi's are broken and retreating.  We are now in German territory and the war is close to its end.  All you have to do is advance into the next village and secure it for follow on units to move through and continue the advance.  Resistance is expected to be negligible. Za Stalina - onwards to victory!


9/9/21 With most of 'the chaps' away on holiday or attending other clubs (the traitors will be purged) gamers are short on the ground.  As such the plan was for Comrade Commissar Dave to lead his men Comrade Fred and Comrade Greg against an umpire controlled enemy.  Sadly as the game grew closer work demands claimed both Greg and then Fred.  Comrade Cadet Barney was hastily recruited in their place.  There is no manpower shortage in the Red Army!

Initial reconnaissance saw no Germans on the table.  Both T34/85 advanced cautiously along the north of the battlefield, reinforcements were promised - eventually.  


Midway up the table Dave managed to spot the first German blind, surely it would just be a group of villagers out for a picnic?  Nope it was a Stug lurking for the unwary 

Both T34/85 turned to engage and a slugging match ensued.  Plenty of hits were achieved but the shells just didn't want to go through the armour.  Fortunately the German armourers seemed to have gone to the same supplier.

With the battle in danger of stalling Comrade Commissar Dave led the way by advancing into the attack.  The Stug was forced back.  Dave advanced again with victory in his sights.  Wait a minute whats that on the flank?


The T34/85 was a superb combat vehicle, well armed and armoured with excellent cross country mobility, it was arguably the tank which secured victory for the Soviet army.  However parking one with its flank towards a King Tiger was only going to end one way.  Scratch one T34/85.  


Comrade Commissar Dave was seen running to the baseline to commandeer the next T34/85 to enter the fray.  Meanwhile Comrade Cadet Barney faced the Stug and King Tiger alone, plus a German blind advancing from the rear through the woods.  Spinning his T34/85 around Comrade Cadet Barney headed into the woods to seek out the lurker behind him and definitely not to hide from the King Tiger on his flank.  A group of German charcoal burners scattered before him.  Comrade Dave in his shiny new tank entered the table near the south and chanced a long shot into the flank of the Stug.  Hit.  Sadly Stug armour is not as strong a it could be and the once mighty Stug was reduced to wreckage.


Continuing his advance up the table Dave managed to draw a bead on the final German blind,  The mobile field kitchen decided discretion was the batter part of valour and ran away.  With only one German tank against two mighty T34/85's surely the game was in the bag for the Russians.  Shame its a King Tiger though.   Both Russian vehicles start playing 'drive behind the German' in an attempt to get in a rear shot.  The King Tiger refused to co-operate and got a flank shot on the Comrade Cadet.  Another dead T34/85 and the centre of the table starts to look like a scrap yard of dead armoured vehicles.  


A fourth T34/85 arrives at the baseline and Comrade Commissar Dave continues to circle his prey.  The fourth T34 races up the table to try and keep the pressure on the King Tiger but CC Dave finally manages to get behind the monster and to put a shot into its rear.  Kampfgruppe Commander Chris is initially scathing about his efforts, but wait don't 3's count for a rear shot? They do and there are a lot, 12 armour dice are rolled and only two saves are made - not enough and the King Tiger is finally knocked out.  


With only two burning T34/85 on the table losses are deemed to be acceptable in exchange for both a Stug and King Tiger.  Victory to the forces of the Rodina!