Thursday, 29 December 2016

Java Sea Campaign - General Quarters

We have all had extensive experience with the General Quarters WW2 rules in 2016 and to kick off 2017 I have wanted to escalate the rules further into a more meaningful campaign.

So I am proposing to run the Java Sea campaign which will cover 4 major battles being:

1. The battle of Makassar strait beginning on the 4th Feb 1942
2. The battle of Badung strait 19th Feb 1942
3.The battle of the Java Sea Feb 27th  to 1st March 1942
4.The battle of Sundra Strait 1st March 1942

These are not going to just be 4 battles I want to include some strategic planning and movement in between each battle to spice things up.

I am hoping Ian will be able to help me make this happen as he has some good experience with Naval campaigns.

I have all the ship lists which cover the campaign but will likely need to do some work on some of these to fit them into the rules.

Ian has all the ships we require for the Japanese and I am sure that between Mark & Jon we have enough British and US ships to field the allies.

I think this would be a great campaign and could be run on consecutive Thursday nights until finish.

Please let me have your thoughts and further suggestions?

Operational Game - the German perspective.

Image result for ww2 us army

Great game yesterday, I really enjoyed the whole process.  I thought it would be well worthwhile if I put down my thinking and my opinions on the Allied attack and where the German plan failed!

Mark wanted the Germans to field units again from a Panzer Division - I arrogantly accepted the challenge and had a long hard think about the best way to use them.  The Panzer division lacks defensive anti-tank units with only one battalion of mixed stugs and pak 40s with no integral anti-tank defence amongst the infantry.  The tank battalions are very expensive and the Allies cunningly went for a minimum force to deny us a good choice of fancy troops.

However, the German infantry hit hard and have excellent mobility, therefore the plan was to field as much of the infantry component as possible, beef them up with as much support as possible and manoeuvre them into a position to attack the weakest part of the Allied attack.  If we could find the weakest line of advance, take a back table and place this force in the flank and rear of the remaining Allied attack, I reasoned we could get a draw at worse and even a possible victory - hmmmm!

We had four panzer grenadier battalions, a reinforced and mobile town garrison and a reinforced and mobile airfield defence group.  We kept the artillery battalion as a separate unit without FOOs which could support any of our battalions and act as a Pakfront in a last desperate defence.  If the Allies carpet bombed a table we would have an extra weak infantry battalion reinforeced with 2x PzIVs.  A couple of tigers and hetzers were all we could afford to bolster our force but most importantly I bought a couple of companies of recon which allowed us a greater degree of manoeuvrability on adjacent tables.  This force is pathetic but if concentrated on one table could be devastating.

The bulk of our force was in reserve or placed on 3B.  One battalion was on 2D as I thought this might be a weak line of attack and I did not expect the Allies to carpet bomb this table.  The airfied defence had been given the bulk of the AA as a trap against an Allied air attack and engineers were ready to repair any damage tot he runway.

The carpet bombing of 2B was a complete surprise and only succeeded in destroying the bridge.  We did not hold the river line as we did not want to dissipate our forces and we did want the Allies to attack across the river which would allow us to cut them off from behind and then use our off table reserves to counter attack across 3A against an enemy force on -1 firing.

It took us a while to ascertain which flank was the weaker US attacking force and Jon and Russ' initial moves and careful deployment of reserves kept us guessing.  Jon's powerful attack on the town in 1C looked like the stronger push but was the carpet bombing of 2B the real line of attack!  As Russ did not push in this direction we felt we had found our best point to launch the counter attack.  Russ' belief that he had neutralised this sector also gave us a surprise element and I was determined to mass a powerful schwerpunkt and smash onto 2A.  The sacrifice of the town garrison and careful use of the recon was my attempt to slow down Jon's advance and allow my units to manoeuvre across the face of his attack.

Meanwhile, Russ was building a bridge across the undefended river on 2A and Jon had sent a weak (it looked to us!) thrust down the left hand flank and was probing into 3B.  I agreed with Phil that it was worth holding onto the town with the garrison rather than pull it out and reinforce our attack against Russ.  We had also secured the airfield giving us an edge in air support.  So far it looked like the plan was working!

My attack on 2B was very strong and Russ' one battalion was too weak to hold the table and he was forced to commit his last reserve.  As my third battalion attacked with an entire artillery battalion in support, the US defence was disintegrating.  Successful morale rolls delayed my attack onto 1A but it had forced Jon to defend the flank of 1C and 2C with two battalions each.  This was all to plan as I hoped it would weaken his attack on 3B.  I agreed with Phil that it might be worth sending in a reinforcement for 3B as I now reckoned we could retake and hold my side of the table for 9 points and possibly hold 3B for three points and give us a win - wrong!

Our plan with the aircraft was to CAP on the hour and attack on the half hour.  As Phil launched his counter attack with tigers Jon made the decisive decision to ground attack this German threat.  I tamely took our CAP and protected the attack I was launching against Russ.  If Phil had been given the CAP the US aircraft would have been devastated (they had no protection and fighter bombers are shot down by fighters).  I'm not sure but I expect Phil and Jon can confirm that this may have been the turning point for 3B.

I had taken 1B and the Paras on 1A were grimly holding on against my attack.  I was struggling to get my battalions to attack 2A fromn the rear and the artillery battalion was bravely deploying on our side of 2A in order to cut off the US line of supply onto 3A.  Our last reserve was thrown into 3A to hold the airfield but I am not sure we had enough strength to smash the US attack.

So, the game came to an end and I am not sure whether I had allowed Jon the opportunity to take 3B whilst I was determined to hit Russ and manoeuvre behind his forces and roll him up against the river.  Splitting our counter attack against both 3A and 3B meant that both were too weak to properly succeed in spite of Phil doing well with the troops he had been given.

The US plan was good.  The careful deployment of reserves kept us guessing and Jon's initial probe against 3B fooled me into believing that he wouldn't support it with a full blown attack whilst I was attacking at 1B.  The neutralising of 2B with carpet bombing was very clever - luckily we had different plans.  Its real success was in convincing Russ that 1B could be weakly held and that a reconnaissance in force along 1A and 2A was safe - again we were lucky!

Overall a brilliant game and I am more than happy to admit defeat against a very well thought and fought US attack.  It has definitely given me a lot to ponder and once again confirms this format as the pinnacle of our war-gaming.  Please let us all know what you think were the main dynamics of this game as we are learning so much more from these games.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Something to consider - order changes in operational games

Reading the Spearhead rule book -under changing orders the rules state:

"Order changes may be given to any battalion with an un -  suppressed BC at any time AFTER any enemy forces have been spotted. At least one platoon of an enemy fighting battalion must be spotted to meet this requirement"

So as I understand the rules as they are written in relation to our operational games and the multi table concept mean that we really should not be allowing for order changes to be made to battalions that cannot spot enemy which are perhaps as is often on a different table but wishing to influence things on a table that has enemy on it?

Maybe I am missing something here but as its written it looks like orders need to be planned before play begins and changes to orders should be as written in the rules?

Spotting distance does not extend to other tables so how does a battalion 2 or even 3 tables away react to something it cant spot?

Are we playing the rules or as written or a house rule here?

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Fall Of The Swiss!

It had to happen some time and that time was today!

Ian's French army clinched a rather strange victory against my Swiss POWR army.

It was a rather subtle and strange victory which came about as a result of me losing my baggage which dropped my army aggression to "engage" and some wichery that seemed to come from no where!

We rolled terrain for the mountains of Italy and I lost the initiative so would arrange the terrain pieces to suit. Not sure I did a sterling job but it was what it was and Ian took what was the best defensive side of the table.

My baggage was left out in the middle of the table so had "come and get me" written all over it.

Ian rolled a 20 x3 so his baggage was 60" in from the right and placed conveniently in the corner snug away in some high mountain terrain.

I had to deploy first and in all honesty I struggled to come up with a workable plan. The terrain was such it hindered my strategy so I decided to go with the standard Swiss army and left my normal "Milanese option" in the box.

With 12 pike units and 4 at 16 strength I knew I had plenty of punch. Ian deployed what was to be his main attack on the left using Gendermes and light crossbow / melee troops.

He was on me pretty quick and I had to send new orders out to react in time.

I think he took my baggage by turn 3!

I could live with that and knew that I just had to crush him on the field of battle.

Over on the right the French guns deployed perfectly and played a role in softening up some of my pike.

Ian also used his mounted crossbow very well and we both thought that these units had been most effective against the pike!

His impetuous cavalry burst through his own lines and charged my pike - the result was not good for the French. I think in the first round it was 7-1 in casualties followed by a repeat in round 2.

In one round I inflicted 10-0 and was on the 145 table. Yes the Swiss are that good!

By lunch time the french had lost 4 units out of one command and it was looking like a depressing repeat of the last 5 Swiss victories.

However as per the norm in POW the game never seems to be over even when you think it truly is.....

Ian had a unit of retainers which he slammed into one of my flanks that was already shaken.

A trick he has used many times before but with stronger Gendermes to little effect.

This time I rolled bad and routed!

Another pike unit failed it's morale as a result of the first rout and ran off.

All of a sudden I was 2 pike units down out of one command and due to the loss of my baggage dropped to On hold.

The finale blow was dealt (Ian had managed to wound 2 of my commanders with lucky * results) on turn 9 when I charged Ian's super unit of retainers in the rear with one pike and in the front with 2 and whopped 9 casualties leaving Ian with 1 strength.

Needless to say he routed but miraculously he rolled another star result and then went on to roll a 6 to kill the Swiss C in C.

Victory had been won and the Swiss although hardly touched retired from the battlefield.

The French had won the day by taking the Swiss baggage and killing the C in C.

You will take your wins however they come!

I can't say I felt cheated because Ian gambled big time by sending in a single command against all 3 of my Pike commands and did pay the price but managed to get a cheeky win, fair play!

If it had not gone this way I think the French army would of been on the receiving end of a drubbing
as there was not a great deal of stuff that could of took care of what Pike I had left.

A splendid result for the French and well earned.

As usual the rules gave us a great game and I am looking forward to another one soon!

Back to Switzerland to sharpen those pikes,.........


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

ACW battle

Pics of Thursdays American Civil War clash. Union troops trying to push Confederate defenders out of a rail head.
 Union forces shift to the right to take the entrenchments head on. One of the Union generals wrongly identifies that a yellow unit strength marker is a crack unit (its not, its actually a please don't shoot us, we will run away marker). RED-CRACK BLUE-VETERAN  GREEN-GREEN YELLOW-IRREGULARS (Militia etc)
 Its support having failed an order to move forward a Union brigade finds itself isolated and within canister range on the banks of the small stream
 41 Fire Points later the brigade is annihilated

 A full Union corps (minus a dead brigade) form up in front of the rebel entrenchments. In the woods beyond a solitary understrength division pushes through the undergrowth.

 Meanwhile Confederate reserves begin to arrive and the Union corps falls back under artillery fire
It was his plan, honest Guv

 As the Union division appears on its flank the Confederate general no longer threatened to his front is able to shift his brigades to meet the new attack.

The Union corps shift back to the left to try its luck through the woods and its artillery combined with the other battery on the road finally start to cause casualties among the entrenched Rebels
 But its too late. The wind has gone out of the UNION sails.
In hindsight this battle proved to be a good learning experience for me as an umpire. My plan for Larger scenarios has always been to make them Victory Point driven and I was going to make this based purely on casualties and victory locations. For large historical scenarios with lots of stands (we are talking hundreds) that would work as either side can afford to make a mistake and still be able to recover from it. For smaller scenarios of the kind we have been playing on a Thursday however that's not the case and having reviewed this scenario, had I placed VPs on locations on the board and then given the Union an option to call up Army level artillery support at a VP cost, that would have given the Union generals the option of trying their luck with the forces they had available on the table or calling up reinforcements. Having done that however they would have to employ them positively to ensure a victory or lose on VPs. It guarantees both sides get a game and the scenario might play out differently each time. Had I given Ian the option of instead of rolling for reinforcements,  paying VPs for them instead, that again may have created a different outcome if Ian decided he could hold out with the forces he already had at his disposal. This method works for Sid Meiers Gettysburg so can't see why I cant make it work for us.  This scenario did proved one thing, dug in troops ,no matter what the era are an absolute bugger to shift!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

acw scenery tiles

My metal bases arrived from Ian Carbutt yesterday and so further to our discussion on Thursday night about improving the look of our games I decided to have ago at creating the first of my building tiles. The first incorporated the flex farm base from total battle miniatures which I stuck down and then blended into the stand before painting and flocking and adding a tree and some accessories from perfect six. I still have some coloured flower bushes to add which I have on order. This tile will be used as a small village or collection of farms.

The second is a town/city sector. The roads through the town are a minimum of 20mm wide giving me the ability to place the Perfect Six barricade sets into the roads to indicate if a town has been fortified.I can also then place some of the stands from an occupying brigade behind those barricades to show that the town is defended. I just need to add a few small accessories and a few small bushes to break up the lines a little. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Additional Rebel Ships

I was rather taken by the new Armada game on Thursday night so much so I decided to go looking for some bargains online.

The ships for these rules are by now means what I would call "fairly priced" in fact I would go as far as saying they are a rip off and I would never pay full price for them.

Luckily enough the Brimstage shop has a 20% sale on at the moment so I popped on up and purchased another Nebulon Frigate plus the MC80 heavy cruiser and a Mk2 assault frigate.

I assembled these together with my Rebel fighter expansion pack and am now on my way to building a nice fleet to use against Mark and his dodgy star destroyers.

It will be interesting to see how a 400 point game plays using these much bigger and powerful Rebel ships.

Complete Rebel Fleet now with A,B and Y wing squadrons added.

MC30 heavy cruiser - can hold its own against the Imperial Star Destroyers.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

I wish i was in Broughton, away, away

So time to slip on my blue jacket and don my kepi as we head to the western theatre in the American civil war.
Russ took on the rebs defending a rail station with what turned out to be 7 brigades and plenty of artillery batteries.
My Corps of 4 brigades came down the wooded lanes whilst Ian's Corps was supposed to flank the rebs by coming down the rail line.
1st corps coming in from the right, I know where the rebs are but not their strength

2nd division on the road waiting to deploy

Reb cavalry tried to slow the union deployment but were caught and destroyed

Rebs redeploying to their left as the union 2nd division swings that way

2 union batteries on the dirt road made units in the open uncomfortable

Union cavalry tried to flank the rebs left and got caught in a pocket between 2 reb brigades
Rebs started to apply more pressure and 2 union brigades were spent.
with no sign of the union 2nd corps, the boys in blue stated to pull back to a more defendable position.
Cheers Jon, nice game

Thursday, 17 November 2016

6mm Earthworks (Improved Defences) ACW

A lot of the scenarios I have for Fire and Fury require what is referred to as improved defences. Having shopped around a bit from various 6mm websites I decided that since I'm creating my own earth fort I might as well use the same materials to make my own improved defences. Making my own will allow me to create any shape to suite any scenario. Unlike my earth fort I won't be casting these as I rather like the random shape that the DAS clay and building sand have created with each length.