My friend Jonathan lives in France and is bereft of any opponents and when I was over there last year he suggested he was thinking of setting up a Play by Email (PBEM) game and would I be interested once we had sorted out another person to join in. The idea is this:
Jonathan comes up with the scenario and sends out a map and forces involved to me and my opponent (which is Gavin, a lapsed member of the club which is good in a way as I don’t have any contact with him!)
Gavin and I send back orders of march and our orders
Jonathan fights out the battle on his table sending us updates and requests for new orders when needed which he then acts upon
It has taken a while to get things going but we have started it recently and the first moves have just happened and I’m actually quite excited by it as I like the concept and it is giving Jonathan a nice spin on solo gaming to keep his games room busy!
I’m going to just copy the scenario briefing and map for now as I don’t want to give Gavin any information than he might not know about already. I will be adding more posts as the battle moves along but it will be a few moves ‘behind’ as it were, so again and to not give Gavin any info that he might be able to use to his advantage (that is if he even visits here!), so bear with me but there will be some pics going up in the upcoming weeks once the shooting starts. Bonus points for those that recognise where this scenario is from.
Scenario Briefing: (This has been edited to prevent any precise intel for Gavin!)
Title: First contact at Kostanjevica
Date/Time: 2nd August 1985, 0730.
Forces: US Marines meet Soviet Motor Rifle troops for the first time.
Location: Yugoslavia, somewhere West of Zagreb.
Weather: Clear and dry, visibility is good with a light wind from the SW. General Background
Relations between the East/West blocs having been fraught from some time and Yugoslavia has become one of the flashpoints.
The post Tito regimes have not proven capable of keeping a lid on the nationalist aspirations of the various groupings in the years following his death in 1980.
Following a failed attempt by the pro Soviet Federal government to suppress the, pro Western, Slovenian provincial government the Committee for the Defence of Yugoslavia has called for assistance from the Warsaw Pact.
Specific Background – Soviet
The Soviet Union has once again responded to the calls for help against Western Imperialism by its fraternal brothers. Using Warsaw Pact forces based in Hungary (2 Motor Rifle Divisions) and an airborne division from the strategic reserve first Belgrade and then Zagreb have been secured and the pro-imperialist, secessionist forces forced to retreat. Soviet forces are now following up into Slovenia in order to bring the area back under the control of the legitimate federal government.
As the Commander of ******** the invasion so far has proven to be nothing more than a drive through the towns and villages of Yugoslavia, with the main issue being the number of vehicle breakdowns in the initial move to make contact with the airborne forces.
Unfortunately it seems that the Western powers are not willing to let the people of Yugoslavia make their own decisions but are determined to impose capitalism upon them as intelligence reports indicate that US forces from the Sixth Fleet have landed on the Adriatic Coast of Yugoslavia and are even now headed towards Zagreb.
Your ******* has been tasked with acting as the advance guard for ******* move West to establish contact with the invading forces and secure the area necessary for the rest of the ****** to deploy to defeat the enemy. Your command is currently approaching the town of Kostanjevica on the roads from the North and East, with the rest of ****** behind you.
Somewhat to your surprise (and annoyance) your HQ unit has arrived in Kostanjevica ahead of ********* with only your advance guard ahead to the West. Contact with the ********* has been sporadic (radio issues in the valleys of Yugoslavia?) but you are assured that they are not far behind you.
Initial reports are that elements of the USMC 26th MAU have landed at Fiume and are headed towards Zagreb on your line of march using the roads to the West and South of Kostanjevica.
The air situation is reported as favourable with Soviet, and fraternal comrades from the WP, fighter and air/ground units established in Belgrade and operating over the divisions march route providing support.
In between coughing and spluttering for the past month or so (and indeed for a few weeks before) I have been pootling away at some 6mm stuff. The majority of it has been for the good comrade Noakes, it took me ages to do a Soviet force for him as I was trying to ‘get’ drybrushing and wanted to make sure that I didn’t ruin them. I’ve been quite pleased with the results and here are some pics (models are all GHQ).
Unfortunately having painted these up my own collection now looks a bit shite so the next month or so will be spent re-doing them. This will just mean a wash and drybrush for most models but some are being stripped down to start again – I bought some 99% Rubbing Alcohol to do this with, trying it out now and will report how it goes – but all of them will be re-based as I want to start using the Baccus basing grit/sand to add some texture.
Jonathan has been living in France for a while now and has slowly but surely been converting a room in one of his outbuildings into his gaming room. He recently finished the work (all bar the roofing and installation of the skylight windows was done by him) and invited me over to spend a few days and play a couple of games. I was booking flights as soon as I had finished reading the email! So, Monday saw a bleary eyed and knackered me fresh from the Ally Pally weekend head off to Stansted for the short hop to Limoges. Jonathan met me at the airport and a couple of hours later we were at his place bang in the centre of the country in the lovely, sunny Allier department. I won’t go on about his abode too much (the memories are just too recent and raw at the moment) but will let the pictures speak for themselves, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and muddle through. I live in Peckham and have come to expect a certain level of noise and grime and I had contend with this for 5 days….
House from the gaming room
Across the courtyard to the barn
gaming room is in the top room here
View through the gate
If that wasn’t bad enough Jonathan plied me with nice beer and pastis whilst I was forced to eat lovely food, some of which didn’t even come from the supermarket but some strange place known as ‘the vegetable garden’. I know, right. Then to cap it all I was expected to actually partake in a couple of games of Fistful of TOWS in this space…
Boardgames under the table
..more, there’s terrain on the other side.
Rules, scenarios etc. on the left, models and figures in the boxes
Looking down the 10×5 foot table (IKEA Kitchen units)
A very tidy workspace
Fiction (a lot of Sci-Fi) Library
Game 1: Soviet vs Swedish 1985 (FFT3 Rules, 6mm)
As Jonathan had just finished painting up the Swedes he was keen to get them on the table for a run out. I was happy to try smiting them with some good old fashioned Soviet smityness so I got busy rummaging through the 4 or 5 boxes of Soviet kit (he’s got a LOT of stuff!) to get a force together while he set the terrain up and pretty soon we were good to go. A quick aside on the terrain: Jonathan is still getting this into shape as it were but as the room was ready he really wanted to get some games in so what we used isn’t the finished article. But, as you can see by the rest of the room I reckon it’ll be very nice once it is all done!
.. and from the other end
We decided to play across the table so each of our forces would have to cover a scale frontage of 12km (120″) with the Swedes defending and on hidden deployment. So I had plenty of room for manoeuvre as there was no way Jonathan could be everywhere with the forces he had, however, as my mission was to secure the roads exiting off of his table edge he could afford to concentrate to thwart me. To achieve my mission I had the majority of a Category 2 Motor Rifle Division, the Recce Btln and the BMP’s were obviously off doing something else! :
Tank Regiment (Quality: Fair)
Off table SP 152mm Btln
3 x Batteries
3 Tank Btlns
Motor Rifle Coy
3 Infantry + BMP-2
2 x Motor Rifle Regiments (Quality: 1 x Poor, 1 x Marginal)
Recon Coy (in 1 Regt)
Recon Coy (in 1 Regt, the poor one – a Reserve unit no doubt)
2 Jeeps (yeah, my mistake but thought it’d be fun!)
3 BTR Btlns
1 120mm Mortar + Truck
1 Sagger team + BTR-60PB
1 AGS-17 AGL + BTR-60PB
9 Infantry stands + BTR-60PB
Off table Towed 122mm Artillery Btln
Off table Divisional 152mm Art Regt (This could only be called in by the FOO or Recce stands)
3 Btlns of 3 batteries
1 BM-21 MRLS battery
2 Mil-Mi 24
To face this Jonathan had a full strength Armoured Brigade which we were both keen to see in action as they are kind of an unusual force with mixed companies, lots of jeeps, recoilless rifles and, of course, the S-Tank.
Swedish Armoured Brigade (Quality: Good)
HQ com stand + truck
truck + 40mm AA gun (attached div asset)
Arm Recce Company
HQ com stand + jeep
2 x APC + inf stand
jeep with 90mm RCL
jeep + LMG stand
jeep + inf stand
HQ com stand + jeep
truck + Redeye stand
truck + towed 20mm AA gun
HQ com stand + jeep
jeep with 90mm RCL
jeep + Bantam ATGW stand
truck + inf stand
3 x Armd Battalion
HQ com stand + Pbv-302A
2 x inf stand + jeep
2 x Armd company
3 x Strv103
1 x inf stand in Pbv-302A
2 x Mech inf company
3 x (inf stand + Pbv-302A)
1 x jeep + 90mm RCL
In support this had :
1 Off table Brigade towed 105mm Artillery Btln
1 Off table Divisional towed 155mm Artillery Btln
My dice throws for the quality of my units was quite bad whilst Jonathan rolled up a bunch of Viking beserkers which meant my numerical advantage was nicely balanced by the qualitative advantage held by the Swedes. I was allowed a pre-game barrage and we agreed that I’d roll a d6 for the number of moves that it would last, I duly rolled a 1 so this was definitely a hasty attack! This had a bearing on my plan of attack (plan he says!!) as the short duration of the artillery strike and the shite quality of my troops meant any semblance of patience, finesse and subtlety would go straight out of the fenetre! Here’s what the plan was..
The left flank was to be the responsibility of the really crap Motor Rifle Regiment. Initially 2 Battalions would assault the town then survivors would be used to clear the wood on the left, the remaining Motor Rifle Battalion and the Tank Battalion would pass through the town once it was secured and attack up the road between the hills. The town would receive the attention of the Regimental Artillery Btln, a battalion of Divisional artillery and the BM-21 battery during the pre-planned strike just in case it was garrisoned.
Here I was going to commit the Tank Regiment, with the BMP company and the recon lads first of all securing the first wood then crossing diagonally over to the next one to do the same there. The far end of the first wood would be struck by the regimental artillery with a divisional battalion hitting the far one. This initial attack would be followed by 2 battalions of tanks, one to advance on the farm and one to swing round the wood to the left and head for the long ridge (the idea being to help the attack on the left). The remaining T-72 battalion was going to be held as the Divisional reserve once it entered the table.
On the right flank I was, again, going for the hammer like approach. 2 BTR battalions would advance either side of the road, one to clear the hills either side of the marsh, 1 to clear the wood. Again the remaining MR and Tank battalions would be then passed through to continue on along the road past the crossroads. The pre-game stonks here were on the wood and the hill by the crossroad. I didn’t want to commit the helicopters until I had an idea on where the Swedes were as I was wary of their Air Defence assets. So without further ado, I got the lead elements on the table once we got the initial (frankly underwhelming) initial barrages out of the way.
Over on the left the jeep recce company raced hell for leather along the road and managed to get through the town and out the other side before they got brewed up by Jeep mounted Recoiless Rifles arrayed along the little hill beyond the town, however they did manage to locate a Swedish Air Defence company before they bit the dust – sometimes ‘recce by death’ does work! Over on the right the better armoured recce lads managed to exchange fire with more Jeep/RCL types in the wood there before copping it too. In the centre the BMP assault on the wood was ready to go in. Then things started to unravel.
Left flank attack revs up
Initial attack in the centre gets moving
Right flank all ready to go
really like basing of these trees!
On the left the jeeps that ambushed my recce lads sat tight whilst an armoured infantry company burst from the wood and raced into the town. The crafty sods had dodged the initial barrage and now held the exit from the town so I’d have to winkle them out, I decided that one battalion should suffice to do that while another one swung round the right to take on the jeepy types on the hill. However, I soon realised that the combination of the better trained Swedish infantry with good LAW’s and MAW’s and backed up by the auto-cannon armed Pbv’s were absolutely too much for the semi-literate conscripts that seemed to have difficulty figuring out which way round their rifles went and pretty soon my assault company was a shambles. To add to the misery when trying to go round the left of the town to try and flank the position the remainder of the battalion came under fire from S-tanks in the wood and pretty soon burning BTR’s littered the place. There was nowt else for it but to start trying to bring artillery down on the tanks and mass the second battalion to try and take the town.
Infantry dismount as the S-tanks get ready
lovely models from H&R
Inital assault fails
I came to really dislike this lot.
In the centre the infantry dismounted from their BMP’s and advanced into the wood where they were comprehensibly beaten by the rock hard Swedish recce company, who eventually did succumb but only after some danger-close artillery was called in to help convince the survivors to sod off out of it. Then things got even worse as the T-72 company executing the left hook round the wood was shot up by a S-tank company lurking in the swamp in front of the long hill they were aiming for. The high rate of fire of the Swedish tanks (we had bumped them to ROF 3 as we reckoned the auto-loader wasn’t the same as the Soviet one) and the low quality of the Sovs soon saw them reduced to a couple of platoons through either KO’s or quality failure bug-outs and the survivors reckoned that facing the repercussions of retreating were much more favourable than continuing on to certain death so left the field. There was some success in the centre though (actually perhaps the best all day for me!) when I managed to call in a heavy artillery strike on some tanks that had fired on the second T-72’s as they advanced on the farm. These Swedes were holed up in the wood and just didn’t like the stonking they got, 2 platoons retiring due to Quality check failures and the remaining one failing the formation check and also buggering off.
BMP and Recce coy’s fight to the death in the wood
About my biggest success of the day!
Over on the right the slightly better quality of the attacking infantry and the fact that I was able to gang up on the defenders by more than 1 to 1 odds that the attack on the wood actually managed to eventually succeed and it was cleared after a tough fight, I only had 1 infantry stand and 5 BTR’s left out of 9 each at the end of it. The battalion on the left of the road was slowed up considerably by crossing the marsh but some good artillery shoots forced the Swedes holding the hill beyond the marsh to re-locate to the farmyard where they attracted more artillery attention. With my initial assaults foundering it was time to get the remainder of my Regiments on the field as well as the choppers. I had suffered the loss of one complete T-72 battalion and BMP company whilst one BTR battalion was just about wiped out and about to break whilst another was gutted and combat ineffective, in return I had managed to force a S-tank company to leave the field – not a good return in anybody’s book!
All too soon the initial assault battalion attacking the town on the left broke when it lost another platoon trying to take out a recoilless rifle jeep but the second battalion was now ready to get stuck in and managed to take advantage of the few casualties the Swedes had suffered during the initial attack along and the support of cannon fire from the Mi-24 and made enough headway that Jonathan disengaged the remnants of the defending company and retired back to his line in the wood. I had started a sustained heavy barrage on the Swedish tanks in the treeline beyond the town and this coupled with the threat from the Hinds saw them relocate also. I planned to hold the town with the remnants of the 2nd Battalion, push the newly arrived 3rd Btln into the wood where the tanks had just left and use the T-55 battalion to attack the S-tanks in the swamp as they refused to succumb to Swatter fire from the Infantry support company.
In the centre the remaining two T-72 battalions started a duel with the remaining S-tanks in the wood past the farm whilst moving up to take the farm and hence getting out of the line of sight of the deadly Swedish vehicles, this wasn’t going well for the lead unit who suffered about 50% losses against one platoon lost for the Swedes (the S-tank has a modifier for being in cover that makes them devilishly difficult to deal with!).
Hind arrives to help out
2nd Btln gets ready to attack
Chopper fire helps out
1st Battalion legs it
S-tanks sneaking off
Over on the right I had managed to scare off a company that was holding the crossroads and it relocated for to the woods at the rear, and slowly started to grind through the mech infantry company defending the fields behind the newly liberated wood by stonking the crap out of them with artillery. I also planned to use the other Hind flight to take them out and would have done too as their first rocket strike was quite successful, unfortunately once I closed the range to engage the Pbv’s with my auto-cannon Jonathan opened up on it with a Bofors which managed to scare the chopper off! It was about this time that Jonathan brought on his 3rd Armoured battalion forcing me to deploy the T-55 battalion on this side along the ridge by the road to cover the flank of my troops here.
Right hand attack from Swedish lines
3rd BTR Btln girds loins for the assault
Jonathan’s reserves show up.
The next action on the left was the deciding one of the day. Things seemed to pick up as I had managed to knock out two of the ‘Swamp tanks’, even though the third platoon refused to quit I was confident that a mass of T-55 attention would finally see him off, but in the woods disaster lurked. I launched my 3rd BTR battalion at the space vacated by the retreating S-tanks and backed them up with the Hind but the lead company ran smack into another mech infantry company that were craftily held back from the edge of the wood behind where the tanks were originally. This company and another company positioned along the treeline to the right completely decimated my attacking units and in short order my last untouched infantry unit on this side of the battlefield was in tatters and broke, routing from the field.
With the arrival of the full strength Swedish battalion in the centre, which was already knocking out T-55’s over on the right with dead-eye long range fire, I decided that enough was enough and threw in the towel. Jonathan said he wasn’t planning on counter attacking anyway so we reckoned that I’d have just about held the town but that I’d probably fall back to the wood on the right whilst maintaining my position on the ridge. My only intact units were the 3rd BTR battalion here and the reserve T-72 battalion in the centre whilst Jonathan had quite a lot of kit left. I had only managed to knock out 2 S-tanks, 1 Pbv-302 and a Jeep/recoilless all bleeding day and hadn’t managed to cause many more quality losses either and had lost 1 1/2 T-72 btlns, about 3 1/2 BTR battalions plus the recce and BMP companies as well. So the Swedes had held the Soviet attack and secured a victory!
All in all, and even with the shiteyness of my troops, it was a great game and a good one to christen Jonathan’s table I reckon, and I think it would have been pretty bad form to beat him anyway!! We decided to leave the terrain as it was and go WW2 for the next game, stayed tuned for the write up sometime this week.
I really need to get back into the swing of posting, been thinking of a bit of a change to a couple of things and will get started once I’m caught up with these Club Night posts. Anyway as I had just finished off painting my new T-64 Regiment and it had been a while since the Austrians had a run out I decided to get them both on the table. Comrade Noakesavitch would be leading the mighty Red Army as usual and I would be taking over Kampfgruppe Grüber to try and stop their advance. Dan’s orders were to take the road junction at the end of the table to enable the advance on Vienna to continue.
Before we started Dan and I had a quick conversation about recce and how we both don’t like the usual ‘recce by death’ that usually happens so we cobbled together something on the fly. As my forces recce element was a couple platoons of Jeeps with MG’s I said that they would have fallen back before the heavier Soviet recce element and hence Dan could place his platoons anywhere up to the line of terrain features (hills/fields) in front of the stream (the dark green line) that bisected the table. This was near enough to my forward positions without initiating close combat but close enough to maybe ‘spot’ something or get a sound contact. Dan then rolled against his QC rating to see if he spotted anything, he didn’t definitely spot anything but he was aware of a couple of my positions – we will be working on this for future games.
Dan’s Tank Regt comprised the following, rated as Conscript (-1 to hit and Quality of 4):
1 HQ stand
1 ACRV FOO
1 SA-13 Gopher
2 recon BRDM-2
3 Tank Btlns
1 Cmnd BMP-2
2 SP Vasliek 82mm Mortars
1 AGS-17 30mm AGL (BMP-1)
1 AT-7 Saxhorn atgm team (BMP-1)
9 Inf (BMP-2)
(Off table) Regt Art Btln – 3 x sp 122mm
(Off table) 2 Div Art Btlns – 3 x sp 152mm
(Off table) 3 MRLS units
The valiant Austrian ‘Kampfgruppe Grüber’ consisted of the following, rated as ‘Regular’ (Quality 4):
1 HQ Stand
2 recon Jeeps/MG
1 M42 Duster
1 Gr81 sp81mm Mortar
3 Sk-105 Kurassier
2 x Panzer Coys
2 x Panzer-Grenadier Coys
3 PzGren (4k4f mg)
1 PzGren/Bill atgm (4k4f 20mm)
(Off table) Bgde Art Btln – 3 x sp155mm
(Off table) Corp Art Btln – 3 x towed 105mm
(Off table) 1 MRLS unit
I could also call on another Kampfgruppe of the same composition (minus the Jagdpanzer company and off table supports) as a reserve.
My plan was to try and slow the advance down by placing a PzGren company in the central village near the stream and to keep the rest of my force back so as to hopefully prevent it all being destroyed too quickly then to counter-attack once my reserve showed up. Dan did a classic Soviet attack, the Motor Rifle battalion was dispatched straight up the road headed for the central village with a Tank battalion advancing on each flank with the third in reserve. He also started laying down a sustained barrage on the village which immediately caused suppressions on the defending PanzerGrenadiers. Due to his earlier recce he also brought fire down on the hedgeline to the left of the village and suppressed some of the APC’s there (these were from the lads holding the village).
These bombardments continued for a while as the Soviets moved up to the stream, all the time keeping the garrison of the village suppressed whilst Dan prepared for the assault. I, on the other hand, was having trouble calling my artillery in at all – damn that Soviet jamming of my radio nets! To make things worse Dan was consistently winning the initiative and was slowly accruing a hefty amount of command pips even though he was spending some on keeping his artillery going. Then things got even tougher for the PanzerGrenadiers when a massive MRLS barrage landed on the village taking out one platoon and supressing the rest which allowed the assault that followed to succeed at the first rush, albeit at the cost of one Motor Rifle platoon.
Whilst this was going on in the centre the Soviet tanks on the flanks had reached the stream and those on my left got busy trying to brew up the APC’s stuck by the hedge due to being constantly suppressed by artillery, with two platoons soon ko’d and one having legged it due to failing its Quality check the last survivor also made for the rear. This whole side of the battlefield was now only defended by the Panzer company situated at the hill to the rear. Over on my right flank Dan had pushed one of his recce platoons forward along the stream to recce my positions and I was forced to try and take it out with a SK105 platoon as I wanted to keep the tanks here hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately I missed with the first attempt due to the plucky BRDM-2 crews taking advantage of the cover afforded by the streams trees and bushes (bloody saving throws!). The Soviet recce types then duly located my Panzers on the ridge and got off a report to HQ.
I was now expecting to be on the receiving end of some artillery attention whilst waiting for the mass of T-64’s advancing on the stream to surge forward to take on the M60’s but Dan had other ideas and used some of his Command Pips to call in an airstrike. He then rolled very well for the load carried by the SU-25 (mind you nearly every load carried by one of these will spoil your day!) and pretty soon I was on the receiving end of masses of cluster bombs and other general nastiness that destroyed one of the 2 targeted Patton’s whilst causing the other to fail a quality test. This convinced the remaining platoon to also re-locate in a rearward direction, bugger.
Things were now officially ‘somewhat sticky’ for the Austrians, I still could not wrest initiative from Dan and had only managed to accrue 1 measly Command Pip which was not enough to get my reserves into action and my force was down nearly 50% of its initial strength. So, what to do: I decided to re-deploy the PanzerJager company towards the centre to replace the missing Panzer company and hoped to win the initiative and then release my reserves otherwise I was onto a hiding. Whilst I started moving the Kurassiers the Soviet Tank battalion that was advancing on my right had made it to the stream and the recce platoon here moved across the stream where it was taken out by a Bill ATGM from the PanzerGrenadiers in the wood there. I also managed to supress some tank platoons when I actually managed to call in all of my M109 batteries at last.
Over on the other flank Dan had crossed the stream to the left of the village and here too I managed to score a partial success with my artillery calling in a strike from the Army MRLS battery which succeeded in suppressing the whole battalion and causing so much confusion that it caused them to halt for a turn to sort themselves out, this was however, very much a last hurrah (indeed a first hurrah really!). My hopes in calling forth my reserve was dashed again as Dan retained the initiative and as the ominous form of a Hind helicopter had also entered the field by this time I decided enough was enough and gave the order to withdraw to preserve what was left of my force for the future.
As usual it was a cracking game with Dan, who is always a pleasure to play against, he used his artillery to maximum effect supressing my lads in the village constantly then unleashing a massive final blow with his rockets before the assault went in – textbook stuff really. He also used his command pips well, allowing his artillery to keep firing and keeping enough in reserve to unleash his air support when needed. I did suffer from not gaining initiative apart from once but that was sort of satisfying as it means that the new initiative rules work, sometimes it just aint your day. I do actually sometimes like it when that happens as it adds to the challenge, although having said that I will be getting the Austrian MANPAD bases done soon to help out against Soviet airpower in future ‘cos those Frogfoot’s are beasts!