Club Night 24/07/17: The drums, the drums!

I took part in my first ever Colonial game on Monday down at the Warlords. To be honest the ‘period’ always left me cold as I could never see the point in it really. Some seriously outnumbered Europeans boldly defending themselves against hordes of indigenous peoples (armed only with sharpened pieces of fruit and rightful indignation) but pulling through due to having far superior firepower and fantastic facial hair just didn’t do it for me. However I saw Martin’s game the other week and it looked fantastic and when he said he was putting on a bigger version I jumped at the chance as the figures were just too lovely not to!

So, here I was about to take on the Mahdi’s forces in the Sudan. The scenario was seemingly straightforward, our column had to advance across the table and secure the settlement at the far end. We could see some Mahdist types in the wadi to our front but were sure that there were more lurking in the various pieces of cover between us and our objective. The column was split into 4 commands with (from left to right) Ian taking the Dragoons, Andy the Royal Navy detachment and Royal Marines (well he is an old bootie), Mike the Highlanders and Yorks & Lancs and I had control of 3 battalions of Egyptian infantry, some skirmishers and the chainmail clad Gendarme squadron. The plan was brutally simple: the Dragoons would get free of the first wadi and then swan about looking for Mahdists, the British would boldly advance on the settlement whilst the Egyptians would have the trickier job of advancing on the guns to silence them.

Things got very sticky very quickly however as a bunch of Mahdists broke cover in the brush in front of the advancing Marines and opened fire which slowed their advance somewhat as it took a while to dispatch them, especially as the Navy’s gun jammed after 6 shots! Whilst this action was happening my brave Egyptians had advanced to the wadi and had readied themselves for the assault whilst my skirmishers tried to discomfort the lurking enemy. The Jocks to my left were attracting the attention of the Mahdi’s guns and the Cavalry on the far left seemed to be just prancing around (the first of the random event cards caused them to retire in the direction they had just come).

The Egyptians were soon across the first Wadi as the Mahdists broke as soon as the assault battalion charged whilst the British also moved forwards to take the other Wadi defenders under fire whilst the Highlanders outflanked them. The Marines seemed to be a trouble magnet though as they were attacked by bands of both Fuzzy-Wuzzies and Mahdists. These attacks were seen off with the assistance from the other battalions and soon the combined weight of shot from the Naval Detachment, Yorks & Lancs and Royal Marines soon saw the Wadi and its environs free of the enemy and they could cross over to join their allies and the Highlanders on the far side. It was about this time that the drums started up as the column once more pushed ahead.

 

At first everything was looking good, my Egyptians had advanced and  after seeing off a charge by some camel mounted fuzzies we were steeling ourselves for the attack on the first enemy gun. I had pushed my skirmishers right in front of the guns and should have started to reduce the crew by their fire if they could have hit them, unfortunately though they were awful shots and this wasn’t happening. Meanwhile, across the rest of the advance Mike’s Highlanders were advancing on the second gun and both them and the Y&L had to deal with further ambushes from the Mahdists which had disjointed their advance somewhat with the English battalion now lagging somewhat behind. This was the story for Andy’s chaps too. The Marines were still shooting and melee-ing their way forwards, racking up an impressive number of slain and routed enemies on the way, but becoming slightly separated from the Naval Detachment as they had also veered off to the left somewhat to deal with more trouble. The Cavalry meanwhile had got into a jolly hairy scrape, riding between the palms and some brush to threaten one of the enemy guns they triggered 3 separate ambushes and another Balaclava looked on the cards. Thankfully though they managed to extricate themselves from the trap with no loss. Then the drums stopped.

As soon as this happened all hell broke loose with Mahdist bands led by Emir’s appearing from all points of the compass and headed straight for us (this was the result of a random event card). Things got extremely hairy from here on in. Over on the far left the Royal Marines were girding themselves to see off yet more, fresh attackers. The Yorks and Lancs had to about face to prepare to receive attacks from the direction we had come from by a large band of Mahdists. The Navy and Highlanders were dealing with one of the guns and the forces that failed to catch the Dragoons and my brave Egyptians were surprised by two huge bands of enemy troops lead by fantastically bedecked Emirs erupting onto their right flank.

The Mahdists caught the end of one of my battalions which sacrificed one and a half companies to try and hold them long enough for the rest of the battalion to fall back and wheel to face. This is what a second battalion just about managed to do letting loose a volley before being struck by the second attacking band. A frenzied melee then ensued with the smaller Egyptian force valiantly holding off a vastly superior force long enough for their parent battalion to ready themselves, the second battalion was also holding firm and I readied the Gendarmes to make a charge into the disorganised Mahdists. At the same time another band was spied moving towards the Wadi that we had crossed earlier so a square was formed by the two battalions that were not engaged in the melee. This was none too soon as the fighting on the flank ceased with the destruction of the brave Egyptian defenders, with the charge of the Gendarmes achieving naught but delaying the inevitable briefly.

Elsewhere other desperate fighting was being conducted as the Mahdist hordes attacked although the Dragoons did manage to execute a successful charge into the rear of one band.  Although we were quietly confident of our chances there were a lot of new enemies approaching and their guns were still in operation, all of our units had been steadily losing men and I was down one whole battalion so it was a slight relief that we ran out of time!

The game was bags of fun and had moments of real tension, many thanks to Martin for putting the game on it was an absolute pleasure sir! Rules used were ‘Sands of the Sudan’ which had nice simple mechanics that were easy to pick up and the random event cards added a huge amount to the game not only in the random events but also period flavour. All the figures are from Martin’s beautiful collection and most of the terrain (bar the Wadi’s and the ruined buildings ) are his too, with most made by him too. He is thinking of taking it to a show which I think is a great idea as it would be a great participation game. I’ll definitely play another game so thank you Mr Gane for the introduction, the next one might even be reported in an appropriately Victorian style….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Club Night 17/07/17: Some CoC at last!

I got my first game of Chain of Command in ages at the club last Monday and it was good to have a change from all the FFT action I’ve been having. I was taking on Ian’s American infantry with some German Infantry so a nice even game was in the offing, which was needed for Ian as his last outing was against a JagdTiger and Elite PanzerGrenadiers and I don’t think he enjoyed it much! I also got to put a couple of my new buildings on the table too which was nice.

We decided on doing a scenario that isn’t in the rulebook but that Des and I concocted which works well as a club game. It is your classic ‘meeting engagement’ with both sides tasked to secure a road junction or cause the other side to fail morale. To generate Support Points we both rolled 2d6 and we discarded the lowest die out of the four, then added up the pips from the remaining 3 and that was what we had to play with. We ended up with 13 points and I went for a Pz IV, an Adjutant & a MMG; Ian went for another rifle squad, a HMG, a sniper and another bazooka team.

All in all the game was good fun, not much happened in the way of manoeuvre but it was an good old-fashioned toe-to-toe firefight which is a great way to spend an evening sometimes! The patrol phase ended well for both sides really with us both having JOP’s near to the buildings and with good potential to launch attacks. I had the greater morale with 10 versus Ian’s 9 so got to roll for activation first which was great as I got lucky rolling a double 6 for the first set of activations and brought on the tank and one squad, I then did it again so pushed the squad forward to the nearest house and deployed another (we then agreed that 3 times of double 6’s would be it!). The last of my activations just saw me push the infantry forwards to take up position along the hedges to cover the flank and start to clamber in the back windows of the house to cover the road whilst I deployed the Senior leader to back them up.

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Table before the patrol phase
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My lads push on to defensive positions whilst Lt Gruber shouts encouragement.

Ian’s response to these deployments was to get as many of his dudes on the table as he could as quickly as he could and he started to push forward past the house on my right with a squad to threaten my JOP that was deployed in the field by the two trees. He also lined the wall over the road from the house that I had occupied with a second squad and a third arrived over on the left to protect the JOP there from attack from my left hand section. I waited until the squad advancing by the house on the right got close enough and I brought the MMG on and let rip. 10 dice and what did I get, absolutely nothing, I rolled 6 ones!!! I should have taken this as a sign and bugged out then and there.

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The Amis move out (Valiant figures, very well painted Mr Spence!)
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Surprise, surprise….
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Oh bugger….
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All still there and not even really shocked, just a bit miffed!

Luckily for me the Pz IV waded in with its MG too and their aim was better and the Junior Leader copped it whilst I added more shock and took out a couple more of the squad. Ian countered by bringing on his M2 and got to work chewing up my MMG team, taking one out and shocking the bejeezuz out of the rest. This was a fight which I lost and before I could activate them again the M2 broke the gun team. I had deployed my last rifle section in the same place and they finished off the advancing Ami squad, breaking the rifle team and caused the BAR team to duck behind the house for cover.

Meanwhile in the centre my section in the house had started a firefight with the Yanks across the road which they started to slowly win – the HE fire from the PZ IV helping somewhat – but Ian was managing to successfully rally off shock to keep his guys in the fight albeit with mounting losses. I briefly moved my left hand section forward to threaten Ian’s right hand JOP but quickly retired them as I didn’t fancy taking on the Browning that was stationed there too.

This beast of a gun then decided the game as it started to fire on my section that had taken the SF MG42’s place and had been engaging Ian’s lads near the building on the right. For some stupid reason I didn’t lob a smoke grenade to prevent the incoming HMG fire by masking my position there and pretty soon both my Gun and rifle teams were broken and on their toes. Before I could get my Senior leader across to them though Ian had built up a CoC dice and used it to end the turn. With me losing the HMG team and a squad routing off the table on top of the breaks I had suffered my morale had dropped to 5 and I conceded.

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I did not like these gits..
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.. they did this..
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.. and this!

So, like I said no finesse really but cracking fun all the same, thanks to Ian for the game and it was good to see his lovely figures on the table and it was a pleasure to cross swords with him and to have a game of these excellent rules again.

 

 

Club Night 12/06/17: Battlefront WW2, 1940 France

I have been visiting the website of the Battlefront WW2 rules for a while now, mainly to use the fantastic Cold War TO&E’s posted there and have been intrigued by the rules too, I was wanting to try them out to see if it was worth having a go at the Cold War version. I finally got to have a go a couple of weeks ago against Philip using his lovely 10mm 1940 French and German kit. Unfortunately I wasn’t really feeling at my best and was quite half-arsed all evening which is probably why it has taken me ages to get this posted.

Details are going to be sketchy I’m afraid but here goes. As the exercise was simply to get used to the rules – Philip had only had the one or two games of them himself as they were new – the scenario was nice and straightforward. My French force was counter attacking the invading Boche and needed to secure a village, they were trying to stop me. To do this I had a Battalion of Char B’s, a few R-35’s and a Dragon Portee Battalion in Lorraine carriers. The German’s had a Panzer Battalion with a mix of Mk. 1, 2, 3 and 4’s and an Infantry Battalion.

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Kick-off. French nearest camera.

I duly advanced on the village whist pushing my nippier R-35’s towards the round wood on the right which Philip started to move round with nearly all of his tanks. I started to trundle some Char B’s across to assist the lighter tanks in fending this threat off as well as placing my mighty 25mm ATG to help out as well. My infantry did manage to assault the Germans in the edge of the village and in the adjacent wood but due to me not supressing them sufficiently before launching my attacks they all failed whilst suffering quite bad casualties. I did manage to thwart the Panzer attack though although neither side lost too many vehicles, the toughness of the mighty Char B’s was a deciding factor.

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En avant! Infantry move out…
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… supported by these chaps.
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Filthy boche get moving too.

The rules were quite enjoyable to play, nice and straightforward mechanics with some nice touches, you only needed a few turns to get your head round the basics and we started to get into the swing of things very quickly. I quite liked the cards that had vehicle and infantry stats on but reckoned a data sheet would be easy to knock up – just not as pretty! Although we didn’t reach a definite conclusion to the game with a couple more under our belts I reckon we would have done, this was probably not helped by me feeling crap too.

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I really like the camo on these.
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Germans in the trees attract la Furia Francais
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Lovely limber model, came to a sticky end unfortunately.

Many thanks to Philip in putting the game on, he is a worse rules tinkerer than me and said that he hadn’t find anything yet that he wanted to change which is high praise for the rules indeed. I’d definitely be happy to give them another whirl soon and if I really like them might invest to be able to try out the Cold War version. I’m really trying hard to resist all of the lovely 15mm Cold War kit available these days, however these seem like a good set to use for that scale so it might just give me the final push into taking the plunge.

 

Club Night 05/06/17: More FFT3 action

First of all, very sorry for not posting this any sooner but I’ve had a bit of a rough week or so, been feeling down and shite so haven’t had the urge to post owt. Hopefully this has passed now, London is basking in glorious sunshine and it is hard to feel down when that happens aint it!

Righty-o, to the game. It was supposed to be a one to one game between me and Alex so his Soviets were going to be coming up against my Austrians (who need to get on the table again really) but Dan and Daren were without a game so I said to them to join in with us. Unfortunately this meant using different forces as I didn’t think my Soviet kit was right for the second player on their side (OCD kicking in here I think). So, it was back to the Poles against the Lithuanians.

Edit: As requested here are links to TO&E’s, the Polish one doesn’t reflect 100% what was on table but was nearly there.

https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/lithuanian-army/

https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/polish-armoured-cavalry-division/

I set up the terrain loosely based on a quick look on Google Earth of a piece of Lithuanian countryside and as Dan arrived first he got the plucky Lithuanian defenders. I ran him through his forces and he got to marking his positions on a map. Daren and Alex were given their armour heavy force consisting of an Armoured Regiment and an Armoured Cavalry Regiment, so lots of tanks which I thought would enable them to punch through the defence. The scenario was simple, the Poles had to exit off the opposite table edge, the Lithuanians had to stop them. This time though the attack was coming in along the wider axis of the table which meant that the Lithuanians would be spread out and also unable to have any depth to their defence.

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Battlefield from the Polish lines, not much in the way of cover.

The Poles came on with the Armoured Regt under Daren on the left-centre and the Armd Cav under Alex on the right from the stream to the wood on the table edge. They began speculatively shelling the big wood in the centre between the roads and the hills between their start line and the Lithuanians table edge but all to no effect. The first Lithuanian barrage in reply saw some of Daren’s tanks become supressed and this resulted in each of his companies spreading out to their maximum cohesion distances – the first artillery strike managed to cover all 3 platoons of a company so it was good to see someone taking measures to prevent this happening again. Daren shrugged off this slight setback quickly though and he soon had a company of PT-78’s on overwatch on the small hill in the centre. Alex was continuing to advance cautiously along the right flank, expecting an ambush from the trees there he had dismounted his infantry and was combing the wood for any nasty surprises whilst slowly advancing his Scorpion-90’s as well.

Dan was contenting himself with shelling the advancing Poles, again supressing some of Daren’s tanks on the hill but not doing much else to hinder the Polish advance, to be fair he was having problems calling up enough batteries to do any more damage. Then Alex and Daren did something that I’ve never seen before and I was quietly pleased that they did – they had 5 Command Pips to spend and decided to use 4 of them on a counter battery strike, this thus stripped Dan of a third of his available artillery in one stroke. They then gained another 4 Pips in the next initiative roll and did the same again so Dan was down to one Artillery battalion and was beginning to look a bit glum!

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Polish advance spreads out

While this was going on the Poles were still grinding forwards and soon the whoosh of ATGM was heard as Dan started to engage at long range with his Cavalry Squadron’s VAB/MILAN. Obviously trying to keep the Poles at arms length he also opened up with a Chieftain company in the central woods too, making good use of the mighty range on their 120mm guns. Daren started to take casualties in his tank platoons from KO’s and failed quality checks and started to move to the left across the stream to get out of the LOS of the Chieftains, whilst bringing in a big MRLS strike to try to neutralise the threat that they posed – which did result in suppressing some of them. Unfortunately for Daren his potential left hook come to naught as he ran into Dan’s TOW platoon and one of the infantry VAB/MILAN platoons stationed in the wood on that side of the stream which started to score more hits on his units.

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Over on the Polish right though things were going quite a bit better. Suffering from a combination of some effective artillery strikes and the attention of Polish tank fire Dan’s Cavalry Squadron was beginning to suffer with the MILAN vehicle being lost as well as one of his VBC-90 platoons. Indeed it looked as if the Poles were about to break through over there and Dan was worried enough that he started to move his reserve Chieftain company out from behind the big wood to counter this threat (which did however suffer casualties from another MRLS strike) although if the Poles won the initiative in the next turn he might be too late to prevent this from happening. It was then that his luck changed and for only the second time in the game he won initiative and did so with a mighty 5 pip advantage. It was time for drastic action so he decided to call in an airstrike.

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Lithuanian Cavalry Squadron before they suffer payback.

His good luck with the dice held and he rolled up a Jaguar flight with a great load of Heavy Cluster Bombs and Heavy Rockets (basically the best he could have gotten) and his brave pilots managed to dodge the superior Polish air cover and AD defences to unleash their ordinance on the tightly packed units of Alex’s Armoured Cavalry. After the dust had settled from the devastating strike the Polish commanders decided that enough was enough and they conceded the game. Daren’s force had suffered about 40% losses and couldn’t get to grips with the Lithuanians facing them whilst Alex’s command was still reeling from the Jag attack and didn’t feel confident in making it off the table before the Chieftains intervened.

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Boom! Lithuanian Jaguar flight saves the day.

So all in all a quite satisfactory game, it really could have gone either way. Although Daren’s unit had taken a beating Alex’s lads were within a whisker of winning the game, if they had made it to the Lithuanian table edge I was going to say that they would have to pull out. Dan was quick to admit that he was lucky in calling in the airstrike when he did, also that he rolled up the Jaguars and not the L-39 Albatross’. The chaps seemed to enjoy it so that was good too and thanks to them for making it a pleasant experience as usual.

 

Club Game, 29/05/17: FFT3, Battle of Miestą Sankryžos

We had access to the hall that the club meets in for the whole day on Monday so there was a chance to have a proper big game of FFT3. Alan was keen to dust his forces off for a game and Bill wanted to try the rules out so the game was on – unfortunately Des who was slated for a command too couldn’t make it on the day so it would be the 3 of us (once Bill had finished with his Dystopian Wars game!).

Alan would be bringing the 14me DLB so a decent sized force for an all day game with French Divisions being in between a ‘standard’ division and a brigade in size. To counter this force I would be bringing the majority of an alt-history Polish Mechanised Division. This gave about the same number of tank bases each although the French outgunned the Poles by dint of their 105mm armed AMX-10P’s and plethora of Milan atgm.

The opposing forces were as follows:

  • 14me DLB (Conscript)
    • Armoured Regt (AMX-30 & AMX-10P)
    • Light Armoured Regiment (AMX-10RC & VAB/Milan)
    • Mechanised Regiment (AMX-10P & AMX-30)
    • Motorised Infantry Regiment (VAB)
  • 5th Mechanised Division (Conscript)
    • Armoured Regt (Vickers mk.3 & 4k-7fa)
    • Mechanised Infantry Regt (Grizzly, ERC-90 & Vickers mk.1)
    • Cavalry Regt (Cougar/76 &/30, ERC-90 & Grizzly)

Both forces had Jaguar aircraft in support, with the French having Gazelle helos armed with HOT and the Poles Mangusta armed with ZT.3 atgm and 20mm Cannon available too.

The scenario was a classic wargamer friendly meeting engagement: The French had intervened in the Polish invasion of Lithuania (see last game) and the 14 DBL was tasked with finding and stopping the advance of the Polish 5th Mechanised Division as it moved north around the west of Kaunas. We diced to see what table edge we came in on and ended up thus:

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From the Polish side: Miestą Sankryžos is the large town where the roads meet. Villages of Pilkas at the far end and Raudonas nearest, Dvaras to the right.  The darker green lines are streams.

We would be starting the battle with some forces arriving on the table on the first move (1 Regt for the Poles and 2 for the French) and all subsequent units had to be paid for from Command Pips won during initiative rolls. Alan chose to start by bringing his Armoured and Light Armoured Regiments on first, I went with the Cavalry Regiment. Luckily for me I won the initiative for the kick off and belted my column of vehicles down the road, the plan being to get the infantry component into the town along with a company of Cougars whilst another Cougar company and an ERC-90 company fanned out to the left of the town, taking the hill there (‘the Pimple’) to enable observation of the French deployment. The remaining VBC and Cougar companies would be held at the edge of Raudonas Wood on ‘my’ side of the stream as a reserve. The idea was to hold the French up as long as possible and bring on the Mech infantry next to shore up the defence where needed, then counter with the Armoured Regiment once the French had hopefully been softened up.

Alan started off by advancing half of his AMX-30 regiment along the road towards Miestą Sankryžos with 2 companies advancing towards the small ridge to the left of Pilkas (as you look at the above photo) with the AMX-10RC’s advancing to take position along the large L-shaped hill on the right. I feel Alan made a bit of a mistake here as the wheeled Armoured Cars might have made use of their greater road movement and managed to get to Miestą Sankryžos before me which would have really put me on the back foot. However, as I had secured the town I was feeling quite happy as it would, hopefully, take Alan some effort to winkle me out of it.

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French armour arrives..
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.. with their lovely AMX-10RC’s on the opposite flank

First blood went to the French when they took out a Cougar platoon that was on ‘the Pimple’ trying to get eyes on the advancing enemy and Alan decided to spend the Command Pips that he had just won on bringing on his AMX-10P Regiment too so I was now quite outnumbered but not too disheartened. I could have countered this straight away by bringing on another unit myself but I decided to spend my saved Pips on an airstrike as the sight of the French armour arrayed along the road from Pilkas was just too much of a temptation. So the call went in and a Jaguar flight duly arrived belting along the road and dropping its load of iron and cluster bombs on the foremost AMX-30 company. The effect of this strike was amazing, I managed to eliminate the whole company by a mixture of KO’s and failed quality tests but it did come at the price of the brave airmen as I rolled a SNAFU that resulted in my flight being shot down after their run. I had also managed to take out a MILAN armed Jeep company with Rarden fire from the village at this time too so things were looking rosy!

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The next stage in the battle saw the fight to take control of Miestą Sankryžos which seemed at one point seemed to be drawing in every French unit on the table. Alan was determined to take the town and started to pound it with artillery whilst moving his Mech infantry forwards to take it from one direction whilst he also advanced from another with his AMX-10 armoured cars. His tank Regiment was used to clear ‘the Pimple’ which was achieved quickly and resulted in the loss of one of the Polish Cougar companies as I left them in place too long. I withdrew the 2 surviving platoons of the ERC-90 company back to the safety of Raudonas Wood and redeployed them to cover the left flank as I was worried about a French advance there. The remaining Cougar and ERC-90 companies were deployed to the stream from their reserve position in the wood to engage the French Armour from its cover for as long as possible.

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Polish Cavalry before losing ‘the Pimple’ and withdrawing
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Polish Cavalry await the French along the stream.

The actual fight for the town was over quicker than I had hoped but it had wasted a bit of time which helped me as Alan continued to keep the initiative preventing me from gaining the pips needed to bring on my other units, indeed I was starting to wish that I had had done so earlier when I had the chance instead of making the air attack. Luckily for me my brave lads in the companies along the stream, helped by a savage MRLS barrage, were holding their own against the French armour (I was continually lucky with my saving throws and Alan was having awful luck passing quality tests). Alan was also having a terrible time sorting out his units involved in the fight for Miestą Sankryžos, being unable to clear his suppressions, and this helped me no end as I knew my luck in holding the stream couldn’t last forever. Indeed just as it looked as if the French were finally ready to launch an assault on the stream I finally wrested back the initiative and by a 4 pip margin too which meant I could release both my other units which could hopefully save the day.

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Bill was now ready to join in at this stage so he took command of the Armoured Regiment and I took the Mechanised Infantry and a mass of Polish units now moved into view behind Raudonas, armour on the left and infantry to the right and both advancing quickly. This new threat seemed to upset the French as they now seemed to decide to go on the defensive even though they had started to whittle down my defending Cavalry units. The Poles now kept the initiative and brought on a Mangusta attack helicopter flight to further add to the pressure as it sat to the rear of our position looking for targets. Bill had wasted no time in advancing his tanks towards the confluence of the two streams in front and to the left of Raudonas Wood. He started to engage the French tanks whilst pushing forward one of his Mech Infantry companies forwards to outflank the French position on the hill covering the extreme left flank, again aided by a massive MRLS barrage that virtually wiped out the AMX-30 company there.

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I had moved my Mech infantry to the hill to the right of Raudonas Wood and placed my ATGM and VBC-90’s there hoping to engage the French across the stream. I pushed my tank company towards the bridge between Miestą Sankryžos and Dvaras looking to engage the French armoured cars stationed there. The infantry was split with 2 companies heading into Radonas wood to relieve the Cavalry holding out there and the remaining two companies heading for wood near Dvaras to go on a long right hook around the French flank. Alan did manage to inflict some damage on me, taking out  the tanks and armoured cars but elsewhere things weren’t going so well.

Even with his newly arrived VAB mounted infantry regiment taking up a defensive position along the low ridge by Pilkas it looked as if his right flank was about to be turned and Bill’s tanks would soon be free to exploit in the French rear. With his losses to the other Regiments and with the Poles starting to move around his left too Alan decided that enough was enough and before his position turned into a ‘sac de mort’ we called the game as a, albeit narrow, Polish victory.

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Things could have gone much differently though, the heroic (and seriously jammy at times!) sacrificial stand of the Polish Cavalry along the stream really knackered the French plan as did their problems getting the units sorted out after winning the town. In the end I gained enough time to finally win back initiative to enable me to bring my other units into the fray which tipped the balance at last to the Polish favour. It was a tough fight all round and many thanks to Alan and Bill for taking part, I hope that they enjoyed it too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Club Night 22/05/17: FFT3, Poles this time.

Another week and another FFT3 game. This time I was playing Mat who has played quite a few games at the club but had all been in multi-player games so this was a chance for him to have more space and units to play with. As they seem to be on such a roll I figured that the Lithuanians deserved another run out, this time they’d be facing off against a couple of Polish Regiments. I set out the terrain and we diced for which side of the table the attacking poles would come on from. Mat wanted to defend, which I was quite happy with as I wanted to have a go with the Poles as it has been a while, so I dispatched him to his side and he got to it working out his positions (we always have hidden deployment if defending). Which he deployed thus:

PolLith def
Red are Cavalry teams, Lt Blue are Tank Companies, Dark Blue are Infantry Companies. Orange is Bgde HQ and AD. Armd Btln Infantry Company held off table as reserve.

The Lithuanians had their Armoured Brigade on table whose TO&E can be found here if you are interested: https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/lithuanian-army/

The Poles would be attacking with an Armoured Cavalry Regiment which had the following units:

  • Regtl HQ
    • Cmnd Sultan
    • 1 Blowpipe team
    • 4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
    • Striker
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 3 x Scorpion-90’s
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 3 x PT-78m (Vickers Mk.3)
  • 2 x Sqdns
    • 2 x Infantry
    • 1 x Infantry with BILL atgm
    • 3 x Stormer/20

followed by an Armoured Regiment of:

  • Rgtl HQ
    • Cmnd 4k 7fa
    • Blowpipe team
    • 4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
    • Striker
  • 4 x Coys
    • 3 x PT-78m
  • 2 x Coys
    • 2 x Infantry
    • 1 x Infantry/BILL
    • 3 x 4k 7fa/20mm

They would be supported by quite a bit of artillery: 2 battalions of 155mm and 3 APR-21 MRLS batteries. There would be AD defence in the shape of a platoon of SP quad 25mm adg and helicopter support from a Mangusta armed with ZT-3 ATGM.

Each of the forces would be able to call on air support in the shape of Jaguars and L-39’s for the Lithuanians and Jaguars and Alpha Jets for the Poles these would be rolled for, with the greater chance for the Jags turning up for both sides, the planes also had random loads. Both forces were rated as ‘Regular’ so differences in quality wouldn’t be an issue.

I planned to do a phased advance along the right of the table as I wanted to give the town a wide berth, I figured it would be crawling with infantry and I know just how hard they are to extract from buildings in FFT. The long ridge in front of the village (farm looking building) would also probably be manned so I wanted to bound forward to this whilst pushing a Scorpion and Infantry company through the woods on the extreme right to get some eyes on the hills to the rear of the Lithuanians position and cause any units on the ridge to fall back once outflanked. Once I had consolidated a line roughly from the hill between the two BUA’s along the ridge and into the wood I would bring the Armoured Regiment on along the road as by then I should have a good idea of where the enemy was and could act accordingly.

Like all good plans (!) it of course went completely tits up as soon as I made contact with the enemy. I managed to move onto the table without any problem, the right hook force headed for the trees and didn’t trigger any fire. In the centre of the push, the other Scorpion squadron and the Regimental HQ took up positions along the hill to the left of the right flank force. To their immediate left a PT-78 company advanced on the ridge whilst the remaining tanks and infantry squadrons advanced to the left of the road. I had also done well in the initiative roll and had 5 command pips banked for use as soon as the action started.

The peace didn’t last long though and soon an artillery barrage fell on the Scorpions and Striker arrayed on the crest of their hill. This didn’t do much damage but did supress a couple of platoons and this shock completely threw the whole battalion and coupled with some effective Lithuanian EW the advance halted for a period (I failed my activation and had to halt for a move). Being stuck in place allowed more accurate artillery fire to fall and more suppression, this time on the Scorpions on the right. The first shock of contact was quickly shaken off though and the Poles started moving again, although having failed to shake off the accrued suppression, it was a tentative advance. All of a sudden a flash appeared on the ridge to the front and MILAN missiles flew towards the slowly advancing tanks in the centre which, although they didn’t destroy anything, caused one platoon to drop out of the battle after failing a quality test.

Unfortunately for me Mat then grabbed the initiative which meant he could get another round of firing off before I could reply. This was even more effective than the first round as the VAB/Milan chaps got their eye in and soon another of the tank platoons was gone, this time brewing up a platoon from the second tank company which had just taken up post along the ridgeline of the hill near the bend in the road. Then the Lithuanian VBC-90 joined in and their excellent 90mm guns dispatched another platoon from the first tank company, the surviving platoon of which then decided that any further action on their behalf was useless and withdrew from the field. I was down a whole company of tanks and hadn’t even engaged the enemy yet! I did get some payback though as the Striker dispatched the VAB/Milan platoon with some overwatch fire although my return tank fire from the surviving tanks on the armoured cars failed to do any damage but did suppress them.

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Mat sensibly decided to withdraw the remnants of the Cavalry team from the ridge which allowed me to advance the Scorpions and Strikers toward the now unoccupied height. Whilst this was going on his gunners continued to play havoc with their accurate and concentrated fire suppressing my remaining tank platoons which waited in place for news from the advancing light tanks. As this was happening my right flank force had reached the edge of the wood. I debussed the infantry and having failed to spot any enemy forces from there pushed the Scorpions forward. This went very badly. All of a sudden the hill behind the village lit up as a company of Chieftains opened up with predictable results – 120mm sabot vs aluminium armour = burning Scorpions.

So I was down another company but at least I had found some of the enemy armour. I still didn’t want to bring on my other Regiment yet so spent some of my saved Command Pips to release my helicopter support and my Mangusta entered the fray keeping near my starting position so as to try and avoid being fired on by enemy Air Defence assets. This meant that I was just out of range of the Chieftains so would have to risk moving forward to engage them. I did manage to do so with the Striker platoon that had now arrived at the ridgeline in front of the village which suppressed a platoon. The escorting Scorpion-90’s engaged the VBC-90 now ensconced in the village and a duel started which the Poles won quickly.

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Then, remarkably, the Chieftains started rolling forwards, looking to re-take the ridgeline and maybe to prevent another strike from massed MRLS, which had done nowt but suppressed a platoon but might be worse next time round. Unfortunately for them I let loose with a plethora of missiles and spoilt their day completely. Over on the right the infantry in the woods let fly with a BILL whose top attack ability brewed one platoon, the Striker had a pop from the ridge which caused another platoon to fail a QC test and lastly the Mangusta was now in range so it had a go with it’s ZT-3 also brewing up its target. The surviving Chieftain platoon saw the futility in carrying on and left the field at this point. So things suddenly looked up for this side of the battlefield, if I could neutralise the village then I could push forward with the remainder of the Regiment as I guessed there were no more tanks on this side of the battlefield.

I decided that the best way to do this was from the air so called in an airstrike, whilst taking the village under artillery fire too that only supressed the defenders. Unfortunately for me the only aircraft available was a flight of Alpha Jets (all I had to do was roll 1-5 on a d6 for a lovely Jag chock full of ordinance but no) who failed to make any impact. This was down to both the small load they carried and the attention of the Lithuanian Air Defence assets. On a positive note I now knew the location of these which was meant I could move the Mangusta safely.

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I had started to move the surviving tanks and infantry forwards to the ridge whilst screening the town with smoke – I had wanted to do this earlier but had a bugger of a time getting any available artillery, those bleeding Lithuanian EW boys again – and decided it was time to bring on the Armoured Regiment. With them strung out along the road heading into town Mat decided it was time to call in an airstrike of his own and, luckily for me, also failed to call up a Jaguar flight but his L-39 did more damage than my strike suppressing the two lead platoons and then banking to have a go at my helicopter with his guns next. Unfortunately we had run out of time at this point and had to stop playing but I conceded to a defeat.

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L-39 strike on the head of the Tank column

Although we didn’t fight to a finish we both enjoyed the game, it had the lot – helicopters, air strikes, counter battery fire due to the SNAFU chart, and lots of tanks going bang! My advance on the right was much too cautious after reaching the ridge, I was reticent to get the surviving tanks moving before smoking the town to prevent any further loss from any nastiness lurking there I also should have waited to have the tanks and Striker platoon on the ridge in an overwatch position before moving the Scorpions out of the wood on the right. Mat admitted that reason that the Chieftains from the hill advanced was to clear the ridge and take on the surviving tanks before moving across to deal with my new Regiment once it arrived. This was going to be running into quite a bit of missile and tank fire as I was planning on swinging left of the town and right into his ‘kill sack’ so probably best we ended when we did.

Another good thing about this game was that the house rules had finally worked properly, they got a good testing and Mat liked them as well so I think I’ll stick with using them from now on as they have had good feedback from all that have used them so far. I’ve yet another game slated for Monday and this time more time to develop the battle as we have access to the club all day so looking forwards to that.

 

 

 

 

 

Club Night 15/05/17: FFT3, Once more into….

I had a game of FFT3 booked in for this week against Alex who hadn’t played for quite a while and was keen to get another game in. He told me that he would be bringing a Soviet Tank Regiment along so I figured why not take the survivors from the Lithuanian force from last weeks game and see how they did against the follow on force. Obvious really if you think about it and I was really keen to have a go with them as I had just painted them! We would be just using the vanilla rules this time round and wouldn’t be using any air assets.

My much reduced Battle Group consisted of the following:

  • Tank Coy:
    • 4 Chieftain mk.13
  • Armoured Inf Coy:
    • 3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands + 4 Stormer 20’s
  • Mech Inf Coy:
    • 3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands (dug in, no vehicles)
  • Cav Combat team 1:
    • Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI + Inf stand dug in
  • Cav Combat team 2:
    • Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI, Inf stand dug-in + VAB-Milan
  • VAB-Milan platoon
  • TOW platoon (1 ton LR transport)
  • 2 x SP 155mm batts (off table)
  • 2 x 5.5″ gun batts (off table)
  • 2 x 155mm batts (off table)

Not big in numbers but it definitely had some punch with the mix of 120mm & 90mm guns and Milan and TOW atgm. I probably wouldn’t be able to completely halt the oncoming tide of armour but I’d at least be able to exact a hefty toll on the attackers and maybe might be able to pull off another victory like last week.

Before we started Alex informed me that he had brought a BMP Regiment instead of a Tank Regiment so my morale went up immediately, I might just be able to deal with the onslaught after all! However he still had a massive superiority in Artillery and his force was still quite large:

  • Regtl base:
    • 2 Brdm-3
    • 2 Vasilek 81mmM
    • Recon Brdm-2 + BMP-R
  • Tank Btln:
    • 9 T-72
  • 3 Motor Rifle Btlns:
    • 9 Inf stands (3 with AT-7 atgm) + 9 BMP-1’s
  • Off table Artillery
    • SP 122mm Btln (4 batts)
    • 2 x SP 152mm Btlns (4 batts)
    • 2 x BM-21 MRLS batts (6 units each)

 

Vilnius 2nd battle
Lithuanian Deployment: Red – Tanks, Orange – Amd Inf, Lt Blue – Mech Inf, Purple – VAB/Milan, Pink – TOW & Violet – Cav teams.

So we got to it with Alex bringing on a MR Btln down the road and another over on the left, so exactly the same approach as the chaps last week. Alex had rolled up only one turn of pre-game barrage and it only suppressed one infantry stand which was lucky. I decided that I’d open up as soon as possible but waited for the road column to get past the farm before unleashing with a combination of TOW, 90mm gunfire and 20mm autocannon. I managed to take out a couple of platoons of BMP’s and suffer only suppression in return fire, the second round of firing having some effect too even with being supressed and the Soviets started to lose platoons. Alex shrugged this off though and stating that he was going to do it the Soviet way didn’t pause to return fire and continued to barrel up the road before turning right and heading for the wood.

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There was another Battalion of  BMP’s following along the road and these were tasked to take out the Cavalry that had been tackling their comrades in front and pretty soon massed ATGM fire and artillery strikes had caused the end of the plucky VAB and VBC-90 platoons but not before they had virtually destroyed the lead battalion with only 5 platoons making it to the safety of the wood. With the end of the Cavalry on the hill (which I had left in place for a move too long) I decided to withdraw the TOW platoon and they duly mounted up onto their 1-ton Land Rovers and started to pick their way slowly through the trees. Unfortunately for them they were caught by the advance of the vengeful BMP’s and we decided that they were captured. there was one last bit of action in this wood though as the dug-in infantry platoon took out another BMP before being forced to quit the field in the return fire.

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The action in the centre now paused for a bit as Alex consolidated his position in the wood by the road and brought his T-74 battalion forwards. On the flanks things got hotter, much hotter. Whilst the fight for the central position had been going on the BMP’s on the left had been advancing through the wood seeking out the Lithuanian forces and after clearing the trees Alex pushed them forwards to take post on the hill in front of the stream. This meant that they ran smack into the infantry company entrenched there. A quick and brutal close combat ensued with 3 BMP platoons soon knocked out whilst the infantry only lost their weapons platoon. Retribution was swift however with the surviving platoons of AIFV’s letting loose with their 73mm guns which forced all 3 Lithuanian platoons to fail QC checks clearing the way for the advance to continue.

Over on the right the survivors of the first Motor Rifle Battalion that had reached the wood were making their way out the other end when they ran into the second Cavalry combat team and the combination of close combat with the dug-in infantry, 90mm guns of the Armoured cars and MILAN fire soon saw them reduced to a solitary platoon which promptly failed their formation test and left the battle. With their work done the Cavalry team began to withdraw but suffered the loss of the VAB/Milan platoon when a retaliatory Soviet artillery barrage rained down on the hill hitting them as they withdrew. So all in all at this point I was quite happy with how things were going, I had suffered some casualties yes but I had taken out a whole battalion caused casualties on two others and still had my Chieftains uncommitted. Alex still had the numbers to finish the job though and so the fight moved into its final act.

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Whilst the quick flurry of action had been taking place on the flanks Alex had brought his tanks forwards and had sent them into the wood, I had taken them under fire with the VAB-Milan platoon posted at the end of the wooded ridge in the rear of my position and soon a couple of tanks were burning, however retaliation was swift and the huge weight of return 125mm fire soon saw the anti-tank unit to quit the field. Alex was busy debussing his infantry in the wood, he had failed to save any from all of the ones hit so far and wanted to use their AT-7’s against my tanks once he located them, and slowly moved to the edge of the wood. At the same time the battalion on the left had recovered from their fight on the hill and surged forward to the stream which was the queue for the Chieftains to open up. I decided to split the fire of each platoon to try and maximise the damage and hopefully cause a formation check, it nearly worked but one platoon somehow survived and the battalion was still in the fight.

With the Chieftains now located Alex bravely pushed his infantry out of the wood to the stream covered by the BMP’s and newly arrived T-72’s. The combined fire from the various ATGM, tank guns and a massive MRLS strike supressed the Chieftains who gamely returned fire resulting in more BMP’s bursting into flames but the writing was on the wall and when one of the Lithuanian tanks brewed up after the next massive onslaught of Soviet fire I decided that it was time to pull out and leave the field to the very much battered Soviets whilst I still had some forces left.

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It was a cracking game that really did go down to the wire, for the loss of 4 platoons KO’d, 1 captured and 5 that quit the field I had eliminated a battalion of BMP’s, totally gutted another and inflicted casualties on the remaining one and the tank battalion so very much of a Pyrrhic victory for the Soviets. Alex was a great opponent and enjoyed the battle too and I look forward to playing him again. Next week will see some more FFT action as I try and get an even better handle on the rules and this time it will be the turn of the Poles to have a crack at the Lithuanians who are now firm favourites of mine.