Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Friday, 18 May 2018

Sharp Practice 2

Sharp Practice 2
The War of 1812, Somewhere on the edge of Lake Erie..........

Capt Cockburn assembled his trusty marines, after landing from boats at the lake’s edge. It looked as if he might get to the bridge first, as there was no sign yet of the Americans. However, he had taken the precaution of landing his Indian scouts to the East of the river outlet, with orders to scout out and delay the Americans.

Chief Maywhomp had listened to Capt Cockburn’s instructions, but not very carefully!? He was contemptuous of these Americans, so when he saw them marching onto the field, he refused to take cover. That was a mistake, as the American light infantry rapidly deployed and started advancing fire on the Indians. Soon, two of the braves were down and Maywhomp himself was grazed by a ball in the leg. He ordered his men to run (well limp!) toward the woods to the East, but only the East-most group made it to the Safety of the trees, the remainder being gunned down by the American lights.

However, Chief Maywhomp’s revenge was not far away. He led his remaining group of braves through the wood, further to the East and as the over confident Lt. Trump led his US militia forward, the Indians let out a blood curdling War Cry and charged forward, swinging their fearsome tomahawks! This was too much for Lt. Trump’s militia, who were quickly forced back, but not before Lt. Trump was knocked unconscious. However, it was not clear who had actually landed the offending blow!?

Meanwhile the Royal Marines had won the marching race to the bridge and as the American main infantry body formed-up across the bridge on the East bank, they started to pour volley after volley into the Americans, aided by a group of British seamen, who had waded across the river and were assailing the US infantry’s left flank from the woods.

The US Light Infantry, having finally driven off the Indians, now turned on the British sailors, driving them from the woods at bayonet point. The US light infantry commander also discovered that his men could actually shoot as well and they were quickly inflicting casualties on the Royal Marines positioned on the exposed far bank, from the relative safety of the trees.

Despite the debilitating fire from the US light infantry, the Marines had driven back the centre of the US main infantry line, but there was no way they could hold the bridge from this exposed position, not without his own skirmish screen, to contain the American lights. Therefore, he decided to withdraw, after damaging the bridge as much as possible. The Americans, after reviving the unconscious Lt. Trump, took stock of the situation and reached the surprising conclusion that they had won!

Elsewhere we had a 20mm game of late WW2 Battlegroup, involving a fair amount of terrain and one side looking like they had brought a gun to knife fight! Simon rucked up with an armour heavy mix, a Tiger, Stugs, etc, with some supporting infantry, to attack what looked like a fairly built-up area! The American defenders appeared to have left the armour at home an piled in the infantry, heavily armed with bazookas and backed up by a fearsome battery of 155mm guns. The Germans consequently appeared to come off worst!

Further down the hall was a nice looking game of Congo, but I'm afraid that when the conversation turned to, "shall I bring on lions, tigers, or crocodiles, I left, fast!?

Friday, 11 May 2018

Refight of the Battle of Château de la Jumellière, 10th May 2018

Having fought an interesting game of What a Tanker, in the luxurious surroundings of Château de la Jumellière, in the Loire Valley, using 15mm tanks and some easy to transport, ‘flat pack’ 2D terrain, we decided to be lazy this week and simply repeat the exercise, but this time with 3D terrain.

So this was an “Angles” game, fought from each corner of the table. The aim of the game was to keep more friendly tanks within 12” of the objective (centre of the table) than the opponents. At the end of each turn, each side would get 1 point of each friendly tank within 12” of the objectives they had more than the opponents.

The sides were;
Germans: Panther, Stug IIIG, 2x Panzer IVH
Soviets: SU-100, SU-85, 2x T34/76

There were 6 players, so each side would bring on 3 vehicles, with one in reserve which could be used to replace the first loss.

The Soviets (Tony, Chris & Phil) elected to bring the SU-100 on in ‘overwatch’ mode, while the two T34s made a dash for the South of the village/objective. The Germans (Dave, Mal & Rob), only having the ‘fast’ Panther, set the Stug to watch the right flank of the village, the Panzer IV to watch the left flank, while the Panther dashed for the village.

After a little long range probing between the SU-100 and the Panther, the two T34s were soon mixing it up in the village with the Panther. First blood went to the Panther when Rob drilled Chris’ T34s. However, the other T34 quickly scooted round the Panther’s rear and hammered the Panther down to a single Command Die (only some good defending rolls keeping the Panther in the fight). Suffering damaged optics and a sticking turret, the Panther attempted to limp out of the North side of the village, only to fall foul of Tony’s SU-100.

After finishing the Panther, Tony’s SU-100 commenced a strange ‘cat & mouse’ gun duel with Mal’s Stug on the Northern edge of the village. Meanwhile, Dave’s Panzer IV attempted to force the South side of the village, against Phil’s surviving T34, now reinforced by the reinforcement SU-85, driven by Chris. Despite a bold and brave advance, this fight was only going one way and soon the Panzer IV was burning.

With 2 tanks down and Rob in the replacement Panzer IV yet to get into the fight (you have to some roll 1s or 6s Rob!!), the objective points were racking-up too fast in favour of the Soviets and the Germans decided to call it a day, yielding the field to the glorious Red Army! 

Friday, 20 April 2018

What a Tanker II

Down at Black Wolf last night, what was going on?

First off, Tony and Dave played a nice looking “Maximilian Adventure” Sharpe Practice 2 game.  I understand Tony’s Mexican peasants gave Dave’s Frenchies a good stuffing. So what’s not to like!!

Across the way was a game of the new To the Strongest ECW variant. Again a nice looking game in 15mm. Strange how players used to a melee hitting on a 6, get thrown by looking for an 8, even if you get 2 goes. The probability is better, but it doesn't seem that way!

Elsewhere we had “What a Tanker”, this time in 20mm.  A Sherman troop including a Firefly vs a Tiger 1 and Panzer MkIV.  We used a bit more terrain than last week, which did produce a more tactically challenging game. On the Allied left, Malcolm's M4 tackled Chris’ Panzer IV, while Simon and Phil went Tiger hunting! A real (big) cat and mouse game!?
Malcolm and Chris stalked each other around a wood on the Allied left, but eventually “killed” Chris' Mk IV, after driving it back by a series of flanking moves and non-penetrating hits.

In the centre, Phil's Firefly was stalking Rob's Tiger frontally, while Simon's M4 tried to work around the Tiger's flank. Rob's command rolls were not great and the Tiger consequently was unable to get a good shot in. After Simon's M4 started to work its way around the Tiger's flank, Rob started to pull the Tiger back. To keep the Tiger distracted, the Firefly popped out and planted a series of non-penetrating hits on the Tiger, but in reply, Rob's Tiger landed a telling blow on Phil’s Firefly, brewing it up.

The two remaining 75mm Shermans kept up a brave fight, sniping at the Tiger's flanks and rear, but were never able to land a decent hit. The laws of probability are rather against a 75mm armed Sherman killing a Tiger even from the rear, well not against Rob's armour rolls! Not quite Kelly's heroes!

Friday, 13 April 2018

What a Tanker and Legion Come to Black Wolf

Well, lets face it, "What a Tanker (WAT)” was never going to be Greg’s cup of tea! Too much “friction”! WAT is not deep intellectual stuff, but once you get the flow of the rules, it has the potential to be a fun quick game that lets you get those nice tank models on the table. Some immediate lessons from last night's game;
1)      Don’t give players more than 1 tank – probably run a “king of the hill system” where knocked-out vehicles are replaced as reinforcements.
2)      Only play cross-wise on the table when there is at least 3 pieces of obscuration, otherwise the game just settles into a static slug-fest (thanks Chris!)

A brief summary of the WAT game, involving an M5 Stuart, 2 Shermans and a Cromwell VI, against a Tiger I, a Panzer IV and Stug III;

On the allied right flank Phil’s M5 Stuart failed in it’s attempt to scoot behind the woods and was brewed-up by Chris’s Pzr IV almost immediately. On the allied left flank, Dave’s two Shermans made heavy work over Tony’s single Stug III. Quickly the lead Sherman being reduced to 1 Command dice and then a burning wreck.

Dave’s remaining Sherman then decided to try it’s luck against Greg’s Tiger, that had lumbered into the centre of the table. However, Tony’s uncanny dice rolling allowed him to slip his Stug around a wood and plug a 75mm round into the exposed flank of the Sherman, leaving that too burning.

In the centre of the table, the Tiger was getting a slow start (Greg and command dice don’t get on!). It was being tackled by Phil’s Churchill VI, but the Churchill’s 75mm rounds were pinning off the Tiger’s thick hide. However, one round did damage the optics on the Tiger’s turret, further frustrating the killing power of this ‘king of the battlefield’.

But, by then Chris’s Pzr IV then turned up on the Churchill’s right flank, forcing it to turn to face this hopefully easier threat. The Churchill and Pzr IV then indulged in a short range duel. Well actually the Churchill’s gunner was rummaging around in the base of the turret, looking for an AP round! In the meantime Chris’s Pzr VI landed 3 rounds onto the Churchill’s thick armour and while unable to penetrate, it did force the Churchill’s driver to start backing up. At this point, the absence of any radio chatter on the allied net caused the Churchill to decide now was a good time to disengage!

Tony sporting his kill rings....shame it was only a trial game!

Across the way, we had Rob and Fred with the latest Star Wars "Legion" out for a trial game.

Fred's preliminary thoughts on Legion;
- The game looked great. Lots of nice painting from Rob.
- The shape and structure of any new game will take a while to emerge during the first run-out or two, but in truth the paraphernalia, mechanics and symbology of the game seemed a little  bewildering.
- the closest approximation appears to be Mantic’s Warpath.  A similar alternate activation system with each unit having two actions, with a cluster of special modifiers and extras depending on command cards (equivalent to the command dice in Warpath).
- Appears to have no rules for overwatch / opportunity fire.
- Melee rules not tried, but it is compressed game due to the 3' wide table, where game play will be in the form of firefights with units getting hammered before they get to close combat. Manoeuvre may also be very limited.

But, it's Star Wars!

Friday, 30 March 2018

29th March - Operation Compass

This week saw the return of Battle Group, 1940 Western Desert style. After the previous 850 point British vs Afrika Korps bash, this was a much more modest affair, with 350 points of Chris' finest Italians vs Phil's plucky Brits.
The Italians won the initiative and rapidly rushed a platoon of infantry in trucks, into the objective, a small village and watering hole.
The Brits responded by pushing a pair of Vickers Mk VIs up to the village, to keep the Italian infantry heads down.

Meanwhile, both sides were pushing armour up the road toward the village. The Italians opened fire first, quickly scoring some non-penetrating hits on the A10s. This resulted in a strange ping-pong of "Beyond Call of Duty" exchanges,  with the Italians coming off the worst.

Eventually even more British A10s rolled up (my......these things are cheap!) and this firefight was only going one way! In the end two A10s were left burning against two brewed-up M13/40s and two abandoned.

Back at the village, a 3rd Mk VI had joined the party, hosing the village with HMG fire. Despite losing one tankette to Italian mortar fire, the Mk VIs succeeded in clearing one side of the village of Italian infantry, as well as killing the Italian CO and tipping the Italian Battle Rating over the top.
I must say that I prefer these smaller Battle Group games, especially where there is some room for manoeuvre.
Elsewhere we had a game of 15mm Pike & Shotte and a very nice looking 15mm Crusades game (sorry missed which rules).

Over near the Kitchen, Colin and Brian were playing Bolt Action 2. But hang-on, aren't those lizards!? Yes, they were! Harry Turtledove's "The Race" had arrived! The adaptation of the rules and game seemed to be going well, but it was a good job that Simon was not here to see such a sight!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Battlegroup Tobruk

Battlegroup Tobruk.

Set in 1941, the game saw a British attack column attempting to force its way up toward Tobruk, from the South, while an Afrika Korps armoured column moved to intercept from the North East.

The Germans (Simon) went first and moved a pair of Pak 50s to cover the likely exit route from the village, located at the centre of the table, while deploying a platoon of Panzer IIIs onto the hill overlooking the village.

The British (Tony) then deployed a platoon of Honeys rapidly up the road, into cover to the West of the village, while a single Matilda II lumbered up the road, to commence a rather one sided face-off with the Pzr IIIs (11s to penetrate!!). The British also moved a platoon of Mk Vis up behind a hill to the SW of the village, ready to make a dash toward Tobruk, once the Germans were neutralised.

Both sides then indulged in series of fairly ineffectual artillery "stonks", while working other armour assets into positions in and around the village. The Germans were progressively getting the worst of the exchanges, with at least five Pzr IIIs left burning. Then disaster struck for the British. The lead Matilda in the village struck a mine and brewed up, while a Stuka arrived overhead. Its first pass leaving the 3 Vickers Mk VIs burning, as well as a Bren Carrier.

Emboldened, The Germans pushed a platoon of Pzr IIs around the British right flank, but these quickly left burning by accurate fire from a pair of A10s.
So, the game ended with quite a few German tanks burning, but still holding a position over-looking the road. The British had not suffered as many losses, but thanks to the Stuka, were no longer in a positon to force the road. Hence, a draw was called.

So Battlegroup "Desert" remains a bit of an unknown for us. Perhaps we need try again with the "dust" and British "unreliable" rules, or maybe a tweak or two to the armour stats?

Across the way, we had a Batman game.

Very pretty, this was declared an interesting game, suitable for a small number of figures per side, with Rob's excellent terrain offering a really good impression of Gotham City.
The game was said to play well and gave the feel of the films, with Batman diving moving and wheeling around the board, taking-out the "concerned citizen's militia" like the masked vigilante thug that Batman is.  Fortunately Harley Quinn was on hand to slow him down with some sage words of psychological advice and a gentle tap with her baseball bat.
At the end of the game it looked like Batman was still going to easily achieve his victory conditions of abducting a young female botanist (presumably that's what happens when you live in a big house with only your elderly valet for company!). In the end, the game was considered to be a victory for the good guys, who had successfully defended their homes and places of business from the raging psychopath and his GCPD minions, but on the flip-side, they did hand Batman a bit of a beating which might make them think twice before messing with them again, so perhaps not clear victory.
Overall, a good feel to the game, but perhaps bogged down a little with many special character rules. However this might become easier with familiarity.

Down near the kitchen, there was a 15mm ACW, using the Too Fat Lardies rules offering. Opposite was a Peter Pig "Hammerin' Iron", 1/600 ACW naval game. Another eclectic night at Black Wolf.