Club Night 07/03/’16: Blucher – French vs Prussians

I was actually looking forwards to trying out these rules as I had obviously read so much about them on t’interweb. Matthew was the guy putting on the game which saw a French army of 2 Infantry Corps and a Cavalry Corp taking on a Prussian Army of 3 Corps. The terrain was loosely based on that of Ligny and Alex’s French chaps had to clear me away from the villages and break my army.

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My initial deployment and initial French moves. A Landwehr Regt is in the village on the French side of the stream.

The action moved along quite quickly as the first few moves were just our forces manoeuvring for position.

Matthew advanced one Corp straight towards the village in front of my line whilst moving the second infantry Corp across the stream to advance on the left hand village. Over on my right he advanced a few blinds to secure the hill. To counter this I just stayed put in the centre whilst the left hand Corp moved forwards to secure the village and I moved the right hand Corp’s 2 cavalry brigades and horse battery forwards to contest ownership of the hill – my plan here was to secure that flank and then advance the infantry from this Corp round the bend in the stream and into the French flank.

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Assault on the central village starts whilst 2nd French Corp moves on my left flank.

Matthew’s assault on the village in my centre was bravely continued for much of the game but the staunch Landwehr regiment garrisoning it held on for ages whilst being slowly whittled down – they repulsed two division sized assaults from the French and severely mauled the Division doing so whilst the French Corp battery expended all of its fire supporting the attack. The French also tried to force a crossing of the stream to either side of the village but even though my units took some damage from a long running musketry fight before the assault they saw the French off, again, whilst causing serious damage to the attackers.

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Prussians brace themselves for French assault.

On the left the French scored a slight success by winning the battle between the light cavalry brigades on the extreme flank but my chaps had the upper hand in the firefights and Matthew seemed reluctant to press home attacks here so I had successfully stymied his advance. Over on the right my Cavalry attack proved very successful, in a short fight I managed to drive off 2 brigades of dragoons and a horse battery securing that flank.

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Left flank secured and awaiting the French attack – the gunners here did some sterling work.
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My excellent Cavalry force from the right hand Corp moves up to secure the hill.

The game had reached just over the halfway point at this point when Matthew conceded the game – even though he had taken the village in the centre of my line he had taken a severe battering doing so and didn’t think he had enough infantry left to push on across the stream with only 2 fresh brigades in reserve. My left flank was well secured with my units there in relatively good health and I still had a completely uncommitted infantry force on the other flank and was about to unleash them whilst the cavalry force I had sent out ahead had taken the hill whilst driving off heavier opposition.

So my first game of Blucher was done and I must say I was quite underwhelmed by it – there was just something intangible that made me not quite dig the rules. Don’t get me wrong: they were a piece of the proverbial to pick up, there are a few good mechanics in there, they were fun to play and perfect for a club night (we finished well before finishing time) there was just something missing that made me go wow! I think maybe it was the aesthetics of the game that was bugging me, I am not saying owt against Matthew’s figures I just feel that if you are going to do the brigade/base type thing then I reckon you need to do it in 6mm so that the bases look like brigades – see here for a great example from the ‘Storm of Steel’ blog:

http://stormofsteelwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2016_03_01_archive.html

The lack of artillery is also something I have trouble with in these games – it has been the same when I have played Grande Armee and Napoleon’s Battles – don’t know why it just always bothers me! Would I play it again, yes would be the answer as it is always good to get some Napoleonic action in whatever the rules! Matthew has agreed to give my adaptation of Age of Eagles a go soon, and I’ll be happy to give his ones a whirl too so maybe we will find a set that we both like so that we can get more games in as I know Matthew is not completely convinced about Blucher too.

 

 

 

 

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Club Night 29/02/’16: FFT3, Austria 1985.

I had been contacted by a new member at the club who wanted to try out Fistful of Tows and as it had been a while since I played I was happy to oblige. Alex was bringing down a Soviet BMP Motorised Rifle Regiment and I was going to try and stop the red horde from steaming through Austria with my Austrian kampfgruppe. We didn’t use my activation/command and control rules but did add Div and Corp artillery – they are rolled for in the usual way but are harder to call in (-1 and -2 to the dice respectively), usually means that they aren’t available but can be great if they are – especially for the Soviets!

Soviet forces

  • Recon Coy
  • T-72 Btln
  • 3 x BMP-1 Infantry Btlns
  • Regt Artillery Btln
  • Divisional Artillery Regt
  • Corp Artillery Btln

Austrians

  • M60a1 Pzr Btln
  • PzrGren Btln
  • Landwehr Inf Btln
  • SK105 PzrJager Coy
  • Landwehr 85mm PaK Coy
  • M109 Btln
  • Corp 105mm Btln
  • Army M-59 mrls battery

Once again due to going through rules  and needing to check them myself (big thanks to Terry here, it is amazing what you forget if you don’t play regularly!), I again forgot to take many pictures. What is worse I forgot to take one of the whole battlefield to help with this AAR, I really do need to get a grip.

Anyway I had set the terrain out so that it had a valley running along the widest axis roughly half way in the table, a road ran across the short axis meeting the lateral road at a small town. This road junction was near one edge of the table about a foot and a half in. There were some woods and a few farms scattered about to break things up further. We diced to see where the Soviets would come in from and they came across the table along the short axis. We decided that the Russians had been tasked to control the valley, I marked my units on a map and we got to it.

Alex started by running a MR Btln along the road heading for the town where I had put my Landwehr with the AT guns deployed in the wood to its right covering the road, these opened up when Alex’s recon elements got close and then got targeted with Artillery for their efforts and were supressed. I wasn’t too bothered as I wanted to channel Alex onto the other side of the town to where a Kurassier company had the road covered, which I duly opened up with.

A second BMP Btln was coming round the left flank as well past the farms at the end of the valley. I had positioned 2 tank companies and the other Kurassier company here though so was quite confident that I’d be able to hold this sector. As soon as the BMP’s got close enough I opened up with the Kurassiers, their overwatch fire causing quite a few casualties. The Soviets replied with their BMP’s and a mixture of ATGM (both from the BMP’s and their SP ATGM platoon) and canon fire resulted in the PanzerJagers losing 2 platoons – the third did pass its formation check but withdrew behind the hill they were on to avoid any further attention.

Alex was hitting me with as much artillery as he could call up , although he had left the town alone, on all the positions that he knew I had units in which was doing a good job in supressing me. He had also brought on the remaining BMP btln across the middle of the table through a large wooded hill whilst launching the T-72 btln forwards to support the stricken BMP btln and as soon as they came into effective range I opened up with a M60 company positioned in a wood to the right of where the Kurassiers had been. This company managed to cause some damage but then suffered from a near full battalions worth of 125mm fire plus attention from the ATGM platoon and although one platoon survived unscathed it failed the formation check and legged it. With their work seemingly done here the T-72’s then moved across into the wood in the centre.

The next phase of the battle saw Alex put in an infantry attack on the town which in usual FFT style was a bloody affair, especially as the Landwehr defenders hadn’t been softened up first (actually Alex did have quite rotten luck all night calling in his artillery), and although I had lost a couple of companies they took about the same number of Soviets with them. Alex was about to put a better attack in on the left hand wood where my tanks had been – he had softened the defending Panzer Grenadiers up a bit first with artillery and BMP fire – but we had run out of time.

It was good to play FFT again, I had forgotten in the past couple of months Chain of Command madness how much I enjoyed these rules. Alex said that he liked the rules so hopefully we might get some more games in in the future, and it was a shame that we ran out of time as the game was poised at a critical point, we both had uncommitted units to throw in and I was thinking about a counter attack! Daren had sat in on the game as well as he was interested to see how they played out and he was a fan too, and we will definitely be having a bash sometime soon.

I think I might have had too much Austrian kit to be fair, maybe losing the extra Kurassier or AT gun company and maybe also the Landies might have balanced things up a wee bit. I had added them as the Austrians are hamstrung somewhat by their lack of missiles, which is actually what makes them such an interesting Cold War force, also they had a hugely inferior amount of artillery – maybe if we do this again I’ll try it out.

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Club Night 22/02/’16: Big CoC again!

I was putting this game on and we were inducting Philip into the joys of Chain of Command unfortunately I spent a lot of the game dealing with rules queries so only managed to take 2 photos all night! I’d like to thank Dan at this point – he didn’t have a game on but hearing that we were playing Chain of Command and having just bought the rules he sat in as he wanted to see them in action, he was invaluable all night as he helped me out by checking things in the rulebook when needed – hat doffed with many thanks sir!

The scenario was the flank attack one out of the rulebook with the Germans attacking with 2 platoons of infantry and the Brits were defending with one platoon. As I was supplying the Germans and I just hadn’t managed to paint up enough figures the German platoons were each made up of 2 x ‘normal’ Heer sections and 1 section with 2 3-man LMG teams (I figured the unit was suffering a bit so had reorganised with scrounged weapons), they also had a ‘shreck team each and 1 Senior Leader. I had also offered Mike (the British player) the choice of either a ‘free’ 6 pdr or a Vickers to bolster his standard platoon.

As both German commanders were newer players (Daren only had a few games under his belt and Philip was completely new) I let them each take control of one ‘set’ of patrol markers so that they got an idea of how to do it. Mike was very aggressive with his markers deciding to get things pinned down early, however having to deal with the markers coming from two directions was quite tricky and he ended up with his JoP’s in a sort of line from the middle of the board and 2 of them outside of the village, he did have the extra one to add as per the scenario as well which helped a lot as it was a free deployment.

To help get the game finished in time I had not made the table larger for the extra platoon as I felt that as it was really a training game for Philip it would help with getting the ‘action’ started quicker and might mean that we finish the game.

For supports the German’s went with a PzIV, a 81mm FOO, an adjutant, a pre-game barrage and a Demolition Pionier team. Mike decided on taking the free Vickers and chose a Churchill, a sniper medic and an extra PIAT team, he also started with a CoC dice. Both sides didn’t do too well in the morale rolls though Mike and Philip both getting 8 and Daren a whopping 9! The Germans allocated the PzIV to Philip who was entering on the flank and Daren took the FOO and the Pioniere.

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German objective, Daren’s first section have taken fire from the Vickers. Phil’s chaps are in the wood on the left towards the end of the table. Dan looks on.

 

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Philip’s lads can just be seen lurking in the wood on the right. Mike’s exposed JoP’s in the fields can be seen.

The smaller table worked a treat as firing commenced straight from the off! Daren’s first section that deployed into the field in front of the village took fire from Mike’s Vickers in the bombed house upper storey and suffered some shock. Mike also deployed a section into the bombed out terrace on the edge of the square to counter Philip’s move through and round the wood over there and started dishing out a few casualties and some shock. The Germans fired back and started putting the shock and casualties back on the Brits.

While this was going on Daren had the FOO get on the blower and called in a barrage on the house where the Vickers was firing from and true to his Royal Artillery past called it in bang on the nose. The barrage did its job well, taking out the Vickers in short order but just being short of the section on the flank keeping Philips lads in check – they had gutted one section so much that they had been withdrawn into the wood and did nowt else for the rest of the game. This section had been reinforced with the sniper but he must have got his sights from a fairground as he was pretty rubbish all night and didn’t do hardly any damage.

The tanks had also showed up, the PzIV creeping down the flank road looking for targets and the Churchill just managing to squeeze past the barrage to move to the flank of the village to help against Philips lads, who were going for a wide outflanking move to get round the back of the village. Some tank on tank action duly started but only resulted in some shock and the Churchill being forced back into the village – although I think the Germans lost their driver (I can’t remember, I’ll check tonight at the club!).

With the Vickers taken care of Daren then shifted the barrage to the left a bit so that it was covering the section that was causing Philip grief and it started to whittle away at them adding shock and causing casualties which unfortunately for Mike included hits on both Junior and Senior Leaders causing wounds but also hits on his morale. Mike did manage to end the turn to stop the barrage but Daren was successful in getting the barrage back and started walking over to the flank again.

Whilst Mike and Philip had been having their ding-dong over on the flank Daren had been advancing on Mike’s furthest JoP. Mike duly deployed a section there when Daren was just across the road from it and caused quite a few casualties with his initial volley taking out a MG42 team in one go, unfortunately Daren then brought up his section with the 2 LMG’s and started to tear chunks out of Mike’s section and soon had wiped them out with Mike rolling pretty badly for the morale hit.

There was some PIAT and Panzershreck action going on over on the flank and again I can’t remember what happened with them – really sorry! – and I think that the Churchill finally copped it from the PzIV. Mike’s brave lads in the ruined terrace finally succumbed to the barrage and with his morale hitting one due to having to roll for leader casualties too, he decided to bug out and the game was over.

All in all I think it was an enjoyable game, the action got going quickly and even though the Brits were on a sticky wicket from the off I think they put up a good show – they certainly made the Jerries pay for their victory. Most importantly Philip got his first game under his belt and really enjoyed it and thought the rules were great, Dan did too and he wasn’t even playing! Daren reckons he has got the hang of them well now so all good with ‘the spreading of the lard’. Again the barrage was a great weapon to use, although if Daren had failed to call it in the second time the game would have definitely been different. I’m actually hoping to do this scenario again to see what a different choice of support options for the Brits does, I reckon mortar support would be a great help….

 

 

Club Night 15/02/16: Big CoC, Germany ’44

Right I have to pull my finger out as I have a rather largish backlog of games to report on – damn you ‘Operational Art of War’ – I knew I shouldn’t have loaded you again!

This game was put on by Ian and saw us try out Big CoC for the first time.

Myself and Daren were in command of a British Sherman troop and Infantry Platoon respectively and were tasked with clearing a village of a couple of platoons of Germans. We did really well in the patrol phase and managed to keep one of the German platoons JoP’s quite a bit further back than where they wanted to be, although the other one was safely ensconced in the village whilst our infantry platoon had a great positions for starting the attack.

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The British Objective, a ruined village in France. German JoP just visible in field to the right, one is behind the Coke can, two more in the village.

To be honest not much really happened of any note in the game, and my memory of it is a bit on the hazy side, apologies. I pushed my tanks forwards to start taking on the German infantry that fired at the infantry advancing through the field on the left as they were taking some serious fire from the houses on that side of the village. I ended up losing one tank to a Panzerschreck ambush then Daren called in the mortars to neutralise the infantry there which probably saved the infantry section as they were suffering quite badly.

I then started to move my tanks over to the right flank to try and help out there where we were slowly moving the rest of the infantry up to try and take the JoP in the field. Mike eventually deployed one of his sections there once we got too close and some volleys were exchanged but then we ran out of time.

We all agreed that taking on Big CoC was definitely wasn’t anything to worry about, as long as you treat it the same as regular CoC and relax you will slip easily into the groove and get suck in with no problems (what?).

Seriously though, the occasions when one of us got double 6’s didn’t slow things down at all really as the lack of actions that they cause means that sometimes the next set of dice can be used before your partner has moved all of his units – especially if you only have 3 tanks and he has a full platoon and supports!! We also again saw the effectiveness of off table mortars, to be fair the Germans did try and end the turn but Daren had a CoC dice built up quickly and managed to negate it. Here’s the few other piccies I took before my phone ran out of juice.

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