Tally Ho!

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Christmas painting part 1

In preparation for our next major campaign (1815 Napoleonic's), I've been busy painting some British and Prussian troops donated to the club by Stuart the Elder. Progress has been pretty quick over the Christmas break so I've got two battalions done so far with another half completed. Look-out for the campaign rules soon.

British line

British command group

Prussian line

Prussian command group

Thursday 22 December 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front - final battle

As this is our last game before Christmas we decide this was a good point to complete the campaign by moving into the urban assault phase. So this week would see the Axis forces attacking into the ruins of the town held by the Russians. The terrain was a devastated town with a large factory at one end. So very close terrain indeed.

View from the eastern end, with the factory in the far distance

Another view from the same end

The front of the factory
Given the closeness of the terrain both sides loaded-up on infantry units and flamethrowers. For the first time in the campaign the Russians fielded an SMG platoon. Both sides focused on the eastern-end of the table and so the factory was largely ignored during the patrol phase. This ended with the Russians concentrated in the eastern end with the Axis in a shallow arc around them, controlling most of the table.

The action was concentrated around two parts of the table. The first was the western-most of the Russian jump-off points which was vulnerable to the Axis units deploying first and the second was an oil storage facility which the Russians chose as a strong point. Both sides deployed in reasonable force and began to fire away. 

Finns deploy to threaten the oil storge

The Russian defenders of the oil store

Russians occupy the roofs

Germans threatening the Russian jump-off point

At the oil storage depot the Russians fielded an SMG section supported by a flamethrower and senior leader. The Finns established base-of-fire and advanced with a second section supported by their own flamethrower. With the Russians out numbered 2-1, and under sniper fire, they eventually succumbed to the superior Finns and so lost control of the oil store. 

Finnish flamethrower torches the Russians 
Finns outflank the Russians

The Russian flamethrower opens-up

Finns capture the oil depot

At the western-most Russian jump-off point both sides built-up their forces seeing the tactical importance of the position. Initially the Russians again suffered from being out numbered and outshot, so they deployed a rifle squad to launch an assault.  Following some debate though this squad did not attack the well-emplaced Germans and instead took shelter in an near-by building. This left the Russians near the jump-off point exposed and so with grim inevitability they eventually routed away from the building. 

Russians on the defensive
Germans advancing
There then followed something of a cascade failure for the Russians - over the series of a couple of phases they lost a couple of squads, two jump-off points, and a senior leader. This was enough to cause them to rout, thus leaving the Axis forces in firm control of the factory area.

Finnish commanders moving forward 

Panzerscrekt covers the road

Russians lurking in the rubble

Reflections on the Campaign

This has been one of the longer campaigns we've fought recently, having played over about 4 months and 11 games.

I think we certainly took the hard road with the CoC game by pitting Russians against Elite Germans and Finns. The Germans especially are a tough-nut for the Russians having about twice the fire-power and half the chance of being hit. The reinforcements compensate to some extent but the simple measure of increasing the size of the Russian forces would have limited effect as they would be hard to motivate.

Lessons learnt:
1. Make the terrain much denser than you think it should be.
2. Make the Germans Regular to make them a bit less awesome.
3. Add an additional senior officer for the Russians so they can use their large force.
4. Go for lots of infantry if you are Russian - they have the same firepower as most support options (e.g. maxims) but are a lot tougher to kill.
5.  Remove the Finns "I win button" patrol-phase special rule.
6. Learn the patrol-phase tactics - its the killer bit
7. Do nt deploy too early - troops off table are safe and can threaten several areas at once.
8. Do ambush, especially with flamethrowers!         

The final count was I think 8-3 to the Axis, with the Russians doing best when the Germans had limited time to capture an objective.

Our next campaign is Dacian Wars but we will return to 28mm WWII next year, possibly with different rules. It does look really nice after all!

Saturday 10 December 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Camapign - week 10

Having successfully blunted the Soviet advance in the last battle the Axis forces once again resumed their advance towards the town that is the objective of the whole campaign. A victory in this game would place them on the outskirts of the town ready to launch a decisive thrust.

For this battle Hauptmann Grau had summoned up a Tiger I which absorbed most of the reinforcement points available to him. The Finns fielded a Pak38 and a maxim. The Russians went with a KV-1 and a couple of flame throwers.

Battle field from the Russian side

Battlefield from the planned Finnish deployment 

Once again the Patrol Phase favoured the Axis forces with the Russians largely pinned around the church and the surrounding fields. So the Axis deployed in force with the Finns occupying the woods and fields on the flank of the church and the Germans in the centre. The Russians responded by lining the hedges around the church and deploying much of the infantry into the corn fields in front of the church.

Finns deploy into the fields

A view from the Russian defenders

Russians deploy in strength
The Axis troops were able to take a heavy tool of the church's defenders as they caught them in a crossfire from both the Finnish and German positions. The Finns increased the pressure by deploying their whole platoon against flank of the church and the Tiger finally made its appearance  

Hauptmann Grau's Tiger deploys  
The Finnish platoon applies pressure

Russians shelter from the lead storm in the church 
At this point the Axis units seemed to have the advantage with their infantry bringing lots of fire into the Russian infantry and the Tiger slowly rumbling forward.

Fallschirmj√§ger advance on the enemy 

The Finns look well set

Grau's Tiger looking for a target
With the Axis units largely committed the Russians decided the launch a counter-attack in an attempt to secure their lines and beat back the enemy from the church. The Soviet infantry focused on the leading Fallschirmj√§ger section in a combined infantry and flamethrower attack that blunted their advance, also causing the Tiger to lurk at its entry point.

On the Russian left the KV-1 lumbered onto the table and decided on the unusual coarse of launching an unsupported armoured assault into the heart of the Finnish position. Despite being subject to a fusillade of AT and Panzerscrekt fire the Russian monster threw back a Finnish squad and threatened the flank of their position.    

Burn them - burm them all!

Rumble runble....

KV-1 begins its advance

KV-1 assaults accompanied by a Wargames point from comrade Bosski
With darkness drawing close both sides seem to have stabilised their positions. In the centre little side was able to make progress and on the flank although the KV-1 had made a dent it was an unsupported one. So a draw was declared.

Russian centre

Finnish Pak-38 lines up a target


Sunday 4 December 2016

Open Combat Skirmish Rules - Test Game

Image result for open combat
This weekend we christened my brothers new Wargames room with a test game of some new skirmish rules he bought at Attack'16, back in the heady days of summer. The rules themselves are fairly generic and so would suite all periods from Ancients through the beginning of the Renaissance period.

I think its fair to say the author is aiming for something heroic in nature rather than completely bog-standard chaps fighting and there is certainly plenty of Fantasy examples given in the rules themselves.

My brother's intent is to use them for the mythical Trojan Wars, so very much in tune with the heroic style the rules seem to favour

The Rules

The rules are very simple and straight forward with the basics grasped after a few turns of play. You control small bands of figures (we used 5 each) and take alternate turns. You move alternatively, with all your troops having 2 actions each (shoot, move, fight etc). Each figures completes their actions in turn but if you attempt something complex (e.g. combat) and fail (usually rolling 1 on D6)then your turn ends early.

Troops each have a set of characterises;  SPEED (movement), ATTACK (fight/shoot), DEFEND (armour etc), FORTITUDE (hit points), and MIND (morale). Combat is very simple; if your ATK is less than or equal to the enemy DEF you roll 1D6 to attack. If ATK is greater but not double you roll 2D6. Finally if ATK is more than double DEF you roll 3D6. There are some factors that modify both ATK or DEF. Having rolled your dice you chose the result you like and then apply the affects to the enemy which are usually nothing, wounds or pushbacks. Mostly you will chose to wound but there are times a push-back might be better.

Certain troops or weapons give you additional abilities for example a spear means you can attack from 1" away or a large shield can be used to bash people back. So a lot of the tactics are choosing your activation order and making the most of your special abilities.

The Game  

For this game we pitted Achilles, Ajax, and Hector against each other, all trying to escort sheep to the temple in the centre of the table and sacrifice them to win the favour of the gods. There is a special golden sheep in the temple worth extra points.

The table from Ajax end

The table from Achilles end
All three of us adopted a fairly similar strategy of grabbing the nearest sheep and then making for the temple in the hopes of grabbing the golden sheep to win the game

Hector moves forward. The swordsmen have weak armour but a high attack 

Ajax with his heavily armed spearmen. slow but well protected

Achilles - average troops but he is a fearsome fighter 

Ajax poses by a chariot
The early moves saw Hector and Ajax square-up near the temple while Achilles moved forward under cover of his archers fire. Hector and Ajax became embroiled in a shoving-match to the north of the main temple with neither side able to inflict much damage.
Achilles heroically herds sheep 

Ajax approaches in the distance

Battle is joined with Hectors skirmisher attacked by Ajax
The tussle ebbed and flowed a little and we learnt and important lesson - if you are pushed back into an opponent / impenetrable terrain then you lose a hit instead, so careful positioning can cause the enemy problems. Luckily a large shield enables you to resist the wound so heavy spearmen are fairly safe from this.  
Achilles secures the temple

Hector and Ajax slug it out
With his opponents distracted Achilles was able to get his sheep to the temple and risked also capturing the golden sheep. Ajax and Hector reacted quickly launching a combined attack on the temple. Although it caused few hits it did push Achilles and his men back. This was aided by Achilles archer throwing a dreaded double-1 when he was the first figure activated, meaning a turn was missed a critical point. Had Achilles missed a chance to win the favour of the gods? 

A scrum forms in the temple

Achilles tries to hold the centre ground

This is where the importance of the push-back rules came to the fore. Through some careful choice of activation sequence Achilles was able to push-back his enemies in such a way that he could sacrifice both his sheep and the golden sheep to take an unassailable lead. The Archer was especially useful as it fired into the backs of Achilles enemies.

The great man himself was accumulating wounds rapidly though, as the became target of Ajax and Hector's attacks. Fortunately he was able outrun their heavy spearmen and escape the field.   

MVP = the sniping archer who cleared the way so the sacrifices could be made

The Verdict

The whole game took about 2 hours but we played at a leisurely pace and had to learn the rules as went. It certainly produced a fun game and the key points were quickly remembered. What we probably did nt do was make as much use as we might of the various special abilities.

The key will be choosing interesting scenarios to give the battle some context as the combat rules are pretty straight forward. We would a also perhaps want to reduce the FORTITUDE a little if we were playing with larger numbers of figures as its relatively hard to kill well-protected troops.