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.
I’ve recently started visiting some Facebook pages after resisting them for ages and apart from the odd silly comment (usually from people not reading the OP properly) it has not been too bad. The other day on one of the pages, 6mm Miniatures and Wargaming, a lovely bloke called Ricky posted that he had found (or more correctly his missus had) some A4 sized ‘Plush Foam Sheet’ that are perfect for fields whilst in a Hobbycraft shop. Upon checking out their website I saw that they do ‘Corrugated Foam’ sheets too so with my ‘Club Terrain Chap’ hat on I duly ordered some – Beige, Dark Green and Yellow ‘Plush’ and Brown ‘Corrugated’ and they arrived the next day, and they are ace: look good, great texture to the ‘plush’ ones and will drape over hills nicely and seem pretty durable to boot. Oh, and they cost 80p a sheet!!
Here’s some quick pics of what they look like with some hedges chucked on a map board:
And a link to the shop’s website if anyone is interested:
Quick apologies about taking so long posting this part but a combination of not feeling great and some PC problems have meant it has taken a while….
After a quick change of plan when we were about to set up we decided to go for a late war Soviet vs German game using the same table as the last battle. As we couldn’t decide which direction we preferred to play a dice was rolled and we ended up playing from opposite sides of the table than last time. This was going to be an encounter battle with both forces tasked with exiting off the other side of the table, classic wargame style. So after picking our forces and hatching plans we got to it.
I had at my disposal the following:
Heavy Panzer Company (Excellent)
3 x King Tiger
Recon Company (Good)
5 x Puma
StuG Company (Good)
3 x PzJgrIV
Panther Btln (Good)
2 coys @ 3 Panther
1 coy @ 4 Panther
PzIV Btln (Good)
2 coys @ 3 PxIVH
1 coy @ 4 PzIVH
Armoured PzrGren Btln (Good)
Pak 40 75mm ATG (Schlepper)
75mm Inf Gun (Truck)
3 x Coys
3 Armd PzGrens (Sdkfz 251/1)
1 MG (Sdkfz 251/17)
1 Sdkfz 251/10
1 Sdkfz 251/9 section
Motorised PzGren Btln (Good)
Pak 40 (Truck)
75mm IG (Truck)
81mm Mortar (Truck)
3 x Coys
3 Motor PzGrens (Trucks)
1 MG (Truck)
150mm & 105mm Battalions
Whilst Comrade Jonathan Elliski had:
1 x Recce Armoured Car company (Good)
4 x BA64
1 x Assault Gun Regt (Fair)
4 x SU85
1 x Hvy Tank Regt (Fair)
4 x IS2
2 x Tank brigades
1 x 76mm field gun + truck
2 x 12.7mm AA truck
3 x medium Tank battalions (all were Marginal)
8 x T34/76
4 x T34/85
1 x Inf battalion (1 was Good/1 was Fair)
6 x SMG inf stands + truck
3 x SMG stands (desant – attached to tank battalion)
3 x ATR stand + truck
1 x 45mm ATG + truck
Off table artillery was:
2 x 76mm battalions (on +1 availability)
1 x 122mm battalion
1 x 152mm battalion
I clearly had the qualitative advantage this time and was hoping that this would help negate the disparity in numbers.
I split my force into 2 roughly equal Kampfgruppe with the Armoured infantry and Panthers tasked with taking the crossroads on the left and then exploiting forwards along the road, they would be led by 3 of the Puma platoons and supported by the 155mm battalion. The truck borne Infantry supported by the assault guns and led by the remaining 2 Puma platoons would go hell for leather for the town and hold it if possible. Whilst this was happening the PzIV battalion was to head across the middle of the battlefield for the lateral road near the enemy’s startline and then exploit either left or right as the situation dictated. The Tiger company was to take position on the long ridge to the left rear of the town to cover the advance of the Pz IV’s and to act as a reserve. I had also planned to put my troops into battle over a few moves so that I could change plans if needed and also to not show my hand too early.
Jonathan and his red horde won the initiative and took a typically bullish Soviet approach with all of his units hitting the table from the off. He had had a similar idea as me it seemed pushing a Tank Brigade down each of the cross battlefield roads, one headed for the town on my right and one headed for the crossroad on the left. His heavy tanks waddled towards the small wood in the centre but apart from them there was a huge gap between the two forces. Pretty soon our respective recce types clashed with mixed results, on the left I managed to get onto the ridge by the crossroads and cause the Soviets to duck into the wood for cover, on the right I got bounced out of the town and passed a message back to the following infantry to deploy across the road and into the woods and get ready for company! The battle now split into 2 battles on the flanks which were quite close run things.
Over on the left the Soviets quickly abandoned the road and the mass of tanks swung round the right whilst the majority of the infantry and the surviving recce holed up in the wood along the road. I managed to place 2 companies of Panthers into position along the ridge and down by the farm just in time to face this massive onslaught, whilst deploying a company of infantry into the wood on the extreme left as a back-stop position and deploying the battalion heavy weapons in the small copse. The remaining 2 Halftrack companies along with the larger Panther company were swung round towards the ridge across from the swamp to try an outflanking manoeuvre but came up against the SU-85’s Jonathan had left here. The fighting around the farm and crossroads was very intense with the awful Russian troops having a very hard time registering any hits on the defending Germans who were happily content to sit in whatever cover they could find and whittle away at the masses of tanks. I had also won the artillery duel over here too with my gunners far out performing their opposite numbers.
Puma’s take the crossroads
SU-85’s in reserve
Armoured infantry head for cover
Crossroads defences firm up
T-34 shooting gallery gets ready
Oh for some Stukas or Henschels!
On the right the Soviet infantry quickly took possession of the town and my Infantry had shaken themselves out into a line to try and stop a Soviet breakthrough, hoping to buy enough time for the PanzerJagers and Tigers to come up. Things didn’t look to go too well initially with a FUBAR with one of my barrages coming down on the chaps that called it in causing a complete company of infantry in the woods to become suppressed just as the Soviet tanks and SMG wielding tank riders hit them in a close assault. This caused a hole that looked like it would be enough for the godless Bolsheviks to exploit as the are wont to do but they came acropper through a combination of last ditch defending from the remaining infantry, a timely intervention by the company of JagdPanzer IV’s and an absolutely heroic stand by a platoon of Puma armoured cars that swatted off numerous attempts to destroy it whilst taking out T-34/76’s with gay abandon (again helped greatly by the disparity in troop quality).
but a company is hit by their own artillery
the line will hold though
How to win ze Iron Cross.
In the middle my attempt at inserting the PzIV company into the rear of the Soviets nearly came unstuck as the company of IS-2’s emerged from the wood and started knocking out platoons from long range, however after some judicial use of smoke and scarpering off as quickly as I could I managed to get the survivors out of harms way. About this time my King Tiger company had also taken up its post to cover the rear of the advancing PzIV’s and they seemed to entice the Soviet heavies onto them like giant armoured sirens, surviving a long range salvo and causing one of the Soviet behemoths to brew up in the return fire.
Panthers about to flank Su’s in the swamp
PzIV’s burn as IS-2’s emerge from the wood
To get some payback from…
… lovely King Tigers
It was at this point in proceedings that Jonathan decided that it was pointless to carry on and risking a meeting with the NKVD was better than trying to bludgeon his way forwards. By now he had lost nearly all his tanks and my PzIV’s and flanking Panther company were about to break into the rear of his survivors on the left, I wouldn’t have been able to retake the town on the right from him as my infantry over here were too weak after their heroic defence but once the Tigers had finished with his heavy tanks there was nowt stopping them from trundling into the rear of that position too. So, another great game came to an end (the amount of FUBARS rolled with our artillery during this game was amazing causing some great moments of fun!) and Jonathan’s new table was well and truly broken in. It was good to play FFT3 in a WW2 setting as I’d only done so once before and they did stand up well, showing that you don’t have to fleece gamers by bringing out rules and stats ad infinitum just to make more money (you know who I mean!), just write one good set of rules and bung all the stats you need into one edition. We did have a chat about some things that might be worth trying out in future games, such as a rolling a df10 for Quality tests as sometimes it just seems pointless trying when you’ve got shite troops and infantry will have more of a chance of sticking around too after they’ve been hit.
Again many, many thanks to Jonathan for a great weeks holiday in his lovely place it was truly fantastic. I’m already looking forward to next years trip and hopefully I will be joined by a couple of others so that we can have a some proper big games.
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.
Right, now I’ve sorted out some technical issues I can get this post done!
Saturday saw me up and at ’em at 5 o’clock so I could get the first train to meet Daren at Tulse Hill so we could get on the road to Newbury Racecourse to attend Colours. We were putting on Daren’s cracking game centred around the fighting for Son Bridge during the Market-Garden operation in WW2 (the Arnhem campaign if anyone doesn’t know). Unusually for us we hadn’t had a chance to do a full run-through as both Dan and I were on two different Mediterranean islands when the club was last open for an all day game but we had discussed solutions to some issues in the few partial games that we had so were confident things would run smoothly.
Luckily we had no problem on the journey to the show and were in and ready to set up by half 8, even though we were down as being from SELWG (oh, the horror!!) on the organisers sheets and in the programme which caused a touch of confusion when signing in, and pretty soon the table was ready to rock and Dan and Bart arrived pretty soon after too. After Daren had finished setting the forces on the table it was time for a quick tea/coffee and obligatory bacon roll and a quick spin round the traders before the public were let in. I had a quick chat with Ian at the H&R stand about some of the planned Swedes in the pipeline (no plans for the BILL atgm but I’ve been in contact with Andy since and it might be a goer, fingers crossed for that!!) and checked out the models for the up-coming releases, there’s some very nice trucks coming soon that’ll make Warsaw Pact and ‘non-aligned’ players very happy! Then a quick visit to Pete at Baccus to get a few bits and to have a quick chat about next years Joy of 6 as there’s been talk of more than one Warlords game being taken and I wanted to check it’d be ok – apparently the more the merrier so all good there.
and some basing material.
baccus swag: Napoleonic infantry,
the Uff-Puff static grass applicator
So with everyone back from the traders we were ready to go and started the game just before the doors were open. Dan and I were in charge of both the Irish Guards advancing along the road and the US Paras dug in around the bridge, Bart was trying to stop us with Kampfgruppe Walther and was expecting some reinforcements later. Our plan was quite simple – barrel up the road as quickly as possible and by pass any tough pockets of resistance. Before we get stuck into the action though some shots of the battlefield before all the nasty shooting and stuff started! (as usual you can click on pics to make them bigger)
Dan had developed a fire plan for the first 5 moves which we thought would allow us to get past the PAK-40’s lurking in the first wood and maybe neutralise the second line of defence. We were also allowed to deploy the ‘Purple Smoke’ from the off to bring in a Tiffy strike too. Unfortunately things started to go wrong from the off. First of all the Typhoons didn’t make any impact on the waiting anti-tank gunners and neither did the application of HE from the 25pdrs, and soon a couple of armoured cars were brewed up whilst the long line of traffic behind them slowly started inching their way forwards. We decided to push the recce types forward hell for leather and they fell prey to, as Dan said, ‘A filthy Hun trick’ of being ambushed by Panzerschrecks. Bart also started calling in artillery onto the head of the column behind the Armoured cars and unfortunately for us his shooting was very precise causing the lead vehicles to become disorganised and supressed which slowed things down for the following units.
We did mange to knock one of the Pak 40’s out with an artillery strike but the other one led a charmed life and started taking out the lead Shermans. Our problems then went up a notch when we realised that we had miscalculated just how fast the Armoured Cars would be able to move and they were hit by our own guns when they lifted forward from the wood, a situation that was exacerbated when some RAF type missed his target and dropped his bombs smack on the survivors! Just to make things even nicer for the Irish Guards Bart’s artillery had a particularly effective couple of stonks in which he took out the majority of one of the infantry platoons when their carriers were knocked out. So a sticky start to say the least, so we decided it was time to get off the road.
25pdrs in support
Head of the column….
which stretches quite a way back
‘Start the Purple!’
Casualties start mounting on the road
Bugger just won’t sod off!
We managed to eliminate the pesky infantry and their nasty anti-tank weapons and the last surviving PAK-40 finally succumbed but only after being shot at by a whole troop of Cromwells! However it had taken about 4 moves to get past the wood along the road and the Cromwells that were now free to go round the other side were having problems with the boggy ground (we had to dice for each model more than 4″ off the road and not in fields to see if the bogged down for a move) which slowed them down somewhat. Once past the wood however meant that we were now in range of the 2 Panthers deployed along the left hand road and they soon started taking out vehicles with gay abandon. So, we got the Purple smoke out again and trusted in the RAF to sort them out. Unfortunately we didn’t account for the German ack-ack boys who were on fine form, the first mission saw the Tiffy’s manage to miss both of the Panthers albeit unscathed but the second pair off the cab-rank weren’t as lucky, one copping a hit from an 88 that caused it to explode whilst the other was badly damaged by the Quad 20mm that was accompanying the Panthers. The Yanks by the bridge did have some success though with their mortars and artillery making short work of the quad 20mm halftrack and 88 that were posted on the other side of the river. The only other notable success was the taking out of a Marder around the hamlet but at the cost of a couple of Shermans.
This won’t end well for the Typhoons..
.. look cool though!
Traffic snarled up at the rear of the column
Yanks taking out jerry AA units
view from the rear, Cromwells just going round the right of the wood.
Not happy to sit in the edge of the field that he was in waiting for more attention from the Brylcream Boys, Bart decided to attack the head of the column with his Panthers and they set off for the junction merrily dispatching more British tanks whilst laughing off all attempts to take them out. We did manage to supress them and their accompanying AA once but that was as close as we got to a victory all day where they were concerned, even repeated strafes from the RAF didn’t work, and pretty soon the area around the road junction was a terrible scene littered with burning vehicles. The right hook around the wood by the Cromwells didn’t fare any better with a StuG and a Marder soon taking out half their number for the loss of the Marder. Luckily for us time was running out at this point and we decided to call it a day, with Daren declaring a victory for the Germans. For the loss of 2 Marders, 2 PAK-40’s, an ’88’, a Halftrack mounted quad 20mm and a few infantry teams Bart had destroyed: 6 Armoured Cars, a Platoon of half tracks plus their infantry, a Typhoon (and badly damaged another), and 20 odd tanks – we were running very short of knocked out markers by the end!
To be fair the dice gods were with Bart for most of the day but it did show just how difficult it must have been in real life, once the road was blocked it slowed the advance to a crawl not to mention ‘suppressed’ and ‘disorganised’ vehicles also slowing things down. It was lucky for us that the Germans were limited to only 4 rounds of artillery fire as it would have been so much worse for us if they had more. We spent some time discussing ways that we could improve things and are all keen to get the game on at a club Big Game Saturday to really get stuck into it and are thinking of maybe taking it up to Joy of 6 next year.
Apart from the playing of the game it was really cool to see the interest in the game, we had people around the table nearly all day long and some were coming back throughout the day to check on the progress of the advance (or lack thereof!). It was also great that we solicited as many quotes from ‘A Bridge Too Far’ from people, racking up 8 ‘this is the wide bit’ during the course of the day, it was a major inspiration obviously. It was genuinely nice to engage with everyone, (thanks for introducing yourself Greg by the way!), with people saying nice things about the game, models and terrain and thankfully we didn’t have any rivet counting annoyances this year!
Of course big thanks go out to the chaps who made it a great day out as usual and a good humoured game played in the right spirit, although Dan did look a bit twitchy at one point after yet another of Barts dead eye dice rolls! Special thanks must go to Daren for all his brilliant work in making the terrain and for coming up with the scenario as well as letting us use his terrific models. Mind you I did the Purple Smoke so, you know….
Just like last year an intrepid band from the South London Warlords are heading off to put on a display game at Colours tomorrow (we when I say intrepid I mean me, Dan, Daren and Bart). Again like last year we will be using Daren’s lovely 6mm kit and his spiffing terrain to try and recreate the action around Son bridge during Operation Market-Garden.
Unfortunately I was away on hols for the final dress rehearsal so haven’t got my usual teaser photo’s but will post what I do have, rest assured Daren has come up trumps again with the terrain. Both the village of Son and its bridge are brilliant and done with the usual level of meticulous detail we’ve come to expect from the good Bombardier (he’s just a massive show off really!!). Anyway, as usual, please stop by and say hello if you are around – the organisers have put us down in the programme as being from SELWG (oh the sacrilege!!) but we’ll be sporting our spiffing new club attire and should have a ruddy great big SLW banner up as well so it’ll be hard to miss us.
Again apologies for the lack of numbers but here are the teasers, full report and pics Sunday or Monday.