Saturday, March 30, 2013

Battlegroup Kursk first try

Played 15mm game using Battlegroup Kursk rules we both acquired some months ago. I set-up table and we used one of the generic Meeting Engagement Scenarios with 650pts each (a Platoon sized game). Scenario allows one player (after dicing) to pick a corner to deploy from with other player deploying from opposite corner (unit arrival staggered over turns and within 20" of said corners).
We had both only briefly skimmed through the rules and we struggled to understand a few concepts early on but once stuff 'clicked' the game went along at a fair pace and was very enjoyable.

Things we liked:

Command system (you roll 2D6 at Platoon level adding 1 per Officer fielded to generate number of Orders available).
Orders themselves (essentially 2 per unit with Move & Fire, Fire & Move, Fire Twice and Move Twice main options with others for Artillery Requests, Close Assaults and Disembarking).
Battle Counter system (drawing 1 per negative 'event') and inherent Random Events.
Use of Battle Counters for Unit Rallying (you want to Rally 1D6 Pin markers you must draw 1 Counter)
Spotting, Movement, Shooting and Melee systems all slick and playable.
Artillery (in our case Mortars) easy to use and nicely effective.
Ammo rules for AFVs which negates endless blasting away 
Army lists and options therein.

Things we disliked (or more accurately struggled to understand initially):

Lack of clearly defined Line Of Sight rules (most stuff implied rather than explicit) although we used common sense/agreement to resolve issues.
German Infantry being split into a 5 man Squad and a 3 man LMG team (compared to 8 man Russian squad with inherent LMG) was bit odd as whilst it seemed more flexible it conversely takes two orders to move the 8 Germans (2 units) than one for Russian single unit.
This also seemed to make German units more brittle overall (despite being Veteran against Inexperienced) as they died quicker and therefore generated more Battle Counter draws (roughly 2.5 to 1 in our game).
No defined ground scale and 30" for Rifle range seemed rather long.

Our game was very much in the style of 'a game of two halves' as we had the aforementioned difficulties initially but once it clicked with us it turned into a slick moving game for which the QRS was mostly all was needed.

I had an Infantry Platoon (compulsory) which I fielded as PzGrenadiers with a Foot Recon patrol, an 81mm Mortar, an HMG team, a Sd233 Recon Armd Car, 3 StugIIIGs and 3....yes count them..... Tiger 1s.
The foot were all Veterans the AFVs Regulars

Stephen fielded 2 Infantry Platoons (again compulsory) an AA MG, an NKVD Command unit a Senior Command Unit, a Scout patrol with 6 T34s and 3 KV1S. Support from an off board battery of 3 82mm Mortars rounded out his force.

The Tigers are really tough (ie virtually impregnable frontally) and without the ammo rules would totally dominate especially as you can get 2 shots per turn.
With 9 Ammo however this is a less prudent option.
The off-board Russian Mortars proved very effective especially with so much open ground in Kursk area.  
I twice had chance of Air Support (Battle counter drawn) with a Stuka appearing once only to be chased off by lone AA MG (required a 6 to force an Abort which of course Stephen duly rolled).
Russian Infantry took out 2 (!!!!) Tigers in Close Assault, again pretty lucky as less likely to complete such an Assault being Inexperienced and then lucky to escape unscathed and also to get roll against my rear armour (still needed 8+ on 2D6 but rolled a 10 then 12 !!!)
German Infantry fairly melted away in face of so many Russians.
German 6 man Command Unit massacred 6 Man Russian squad in melee but only 2 left standing to face oncoming horde.
Russians lost 3 T34s and a KV to AT fire killing 1 Stug in return but Germans had 2 units out of ammo (lesson for us both is to buy Ammo Unit option).

I would put these rules on a par with Battle Group Panzer Grenadier, I Ain't Been Shot Mum or Blitzkrieg Commander and rate them much better than Flames Of War and Rapid Fire.
I can only assume, surmise and suspect I will be buying the upcoming Normandy set :-)


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Shifting Sands: Tobruk falls to the Afrika Korps

Playing a Pbem of Shifting Sands: The Campaign for North Africa 1940-1943 board wargame via Vassal with Norman and felt I had to report (ie rub it in) success by the Afrika Korps in taking the port of Tobruk from the Englanders in Winter 1941/42 !!
At second time of asking of course (I attacked in 1941 but was repulsed) and succeded due to Luftwaffe support the timely arrival of a Panzer Battlegroup and a damn fine roll (5 with +1 for flyboys) versus a bloody poor roll (1) by Churchills lot (rolls done by Norman).
However part of reason for gloat is that I fear the success will be fleeting as British are lined up in some strength along Eygptian border ready for a concerted push west methinks.
Will be interesting to see if Norman has cards in his hand (due to Malta convoys he has a 9 card hand to my mere 6) to exploit opportunity my bold success has presented.
I love these CDG type games for just this sort of narrative produced and inherent unpredictability.

Tobruk ist gefallen

PS I really ought to note that Norman generously pointed out a game losing flaw in my previous turn when I had left Tripoli ungarrisoned which dastardly French in Chad could have entered thereby putting every single Axis unit in North Africa out of supply and subject therefore to elimination at turn end !!!! I gave him a 'free' Victory Point but still a very gentlemanly move on his part.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vassal Pbem games ongoing

Couple of screenshots from Pbem Vassal games I have onging at present.
Vassal is great way to play board style wargames over internet via Pbem.
I took a while to get used to its system but find it very enjoyable now.
Still prefer physical gameplay (I sometimes miss units in Vassal compared to real three dimensional counters) but as needs must.

Thirty Years War game by GMT just started vs Mike Ketterman from USA
Mike is Cathloics and I the 'Prods'

Protestants under Mansfeld put pressure on Elector of Saxony

Paths Of Glory by GMT also versus Mike (we are well into this one now)
Mike is Central Powers (ie the baddies) and Allies under my whims 

Shifting Sands by MMP vs Norman Johnston (ex pat Ulsterman in Merry ole England) we are nearing end of the short Sonneblumme scenario in this. Norman is leading the Allies in this one as I try to emulate Herr Rommel and his mates.

Field Of Glory v2 Early Bulgar vs Sui Chinese

Had an another evening free so Stephen and I decided to have a game and had a toss up between DBMM, FOG Ancients or FOG Renn and we plumbed for FOG again as both keen to try out differing armies with latest version.
So I decided to try a Turkish type army going with Early Bulgar in end to try out blocks of 6 Lancers as I knew Stephen was going to try a Chinese type army which always has lots of shooters, and indeed he picked Sui Chinese as opponents.
What a great game it turned out to be again with the 6 base Lancer units proving quite robust.
One did ride to its doom taking out a couple of units before being surrounded and crushed as it outrun support (Slav foot).
Mind you it was Stephens turn to have some truly awful dice rolling with him three (!!!) times roll snake eyes on Cohesion tests (I could of course not fail to cheer/shout/jeer each time !!).
We ran out of time to finish game with it hanging in balance with another two 6 block Lancer units about to engage enemy but with Sui Cataphracts also due to join fray.
Great stuff and we seem to be enjoying FOG more each timne we play. Strange the change from finding it fairly bland to enjoyable.
Compared to Dbmm it is most certainly easier to pick up/understand but both have their pluses and minuses and I would happily play either.

Only a couple of pics from set up as I got too engrossed to remember to take more.




Monday, March 18, 2013

Yet more Combat Commander

Played another two excellent and hugely enjoyable scenarios (from Normandy battlepack) with my Dad on Sunday evening.

First up was US vs German affair behind Omaha Beach with Germans attacking a cut-off US formation. Lots of open ground for Krauts to negotiate but they have a Radio to call-in a 75mm Battery whose primary use seems to be planting lots of smoke to mask/protect movements. Took my Dad a couple of turns to realise this before he put a Smoke stonk in om my posistions. Time Triggers came thick and fast in this one thwarting Krauts a great deal. They did come up on my weaker left flank but suffered from my on-board Medium Mortar and some high dice rolls. As Sudden Death was activated at first attempt the Yanks had a positive VP total to carry the day.

Next was a scenario covering fighting in Caen during OP Goodwood in July 1944. I had Canadians with support of some FFI types who garnered improved movement if moving with Cannucks. As this was a Night scenario this was very useful. Germans had a bunch of Conscripts at start but with several Wire entanglements. Both sides had rerserves that would appear at one of the 5 Victory Locations (determined by 'random' objective chits that come with this battlepack) So neither of us could be sure exactly where these would turn up. The initial Hun defence line looked formidable but the added move and cover of night enable me to slip a sizeable force through their lines and come up behind them. When reserves arrived I was well placed despite losing one objective building to newly placed Huns. Bit of tit for tat went on with Huns killing a couple of my units in Melee (Dad had 3 Ambush cards in his hand on one turn !) but I exacted revenge with a large fire group killing a couple of units over a couple of turns. Again Time Triggers were plentiful and as Sudden Death approached I gambled all in a melee as I knew if I won it I would force Hun to surrender but if I lost I would be only 1 unit shy of my own Surrender level and was behind on Victory Points. I had 1 Ambush in hand and as it turned out my Dad had none so I broke one Squad and then managed to win the melee (after several re-rolls due to use of Initiative Card) to force Huns to shout 'Kamerad Kamerad' and secure the win again

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Field Of Glory V2: Gauls vs Romans....Or how to lose 4 Generals whilst only fielding 3 !

Played another FOG v2 game today at Stephens.
I used my Celts as Gallic versus Stephen's Marian Romans.
Both sides fielded 11 units.
My lot comprised 4 units of Warrior Heavy Foot (3 of 10 and 1 of 8 bases) with an Armoured and an Unarmoured unit of 4 Cavalry and 2 units of 4 Light Chariots with a unit of 8 Javelinmen.
I had an Gaestati Allied Contingent of 2 units of 8 Heavy Foot of Superior ilk.
I used two Gallic Field Commanders and a Troop type Ally.
Roman had 5 Units of Legionaries (3 x 8 and 2 x 4 bases) 2 units of 4 Light Horse one with Javelin (Numidians) and other with Bows.
A unit of 8 Slingers and one of 6 Javelin armed.
A unit of 2 Elephants and one of 4 Cavalry were also deployed. Romans used 4 Troop Commanders.
They also had a compulsory Fortified Camp and used 6 sections of Field Defences.
Terrain set up worked quite well for me being mostly open however the Roman Field Works were an added difficulty aligned beside some uneven fields.
Hostilities began with Romans using Commanders to double march light troops forward to pin my stuff back.
On my left I had my Chariots and Cavalry and these faced the two Light Horse units. Inevitable game of 'chasies' ensued here.
On my right judicious use of a large unit of Slingers slowed my massed Warriors to a crawl as I tried to swing around behind the Field Works.
In the centre I had a unit of medium Cavalry in skirmish formation in attempt to counter opposing Elephants.
The Gaestati were arrrayed in centre also.
Things got of to bad start when my Cavalry failed to out distance charging Elephants and were promptly hit in rear and dispatched !
I then charged on my left with a Chariot block into a small unit of Legionaries.
We both had Commanders present. Romans narrowly won but in second melee round I lost my first General to a roll of 11 on 2d6 !!
However we then realised that the Chariots should actually have broken off from steady foot at end of preceeding turn and so my Leader was ressurrected !
As this occurred the Gaestati and Ally General were lined up and charged into two 8 base Legionary units with two Commanders.
I then used my 'ghostly' leader to join one of these units, which in hindsight was another error as only an Ally General can command Allied troops.
However this proved to be a mistake in more ways than one.
The Impact phase fighting in which each of our units rolled 8 dice each and with Generals fighting in front rank allowed us to count as Elite and therefore re-roll any 1 or 2  saw my blokes beaten to a bloody pulp as Romans rolled 8 & 6 hits to my 4 & 2 (and the sods passed both death rolls !!!)
One unit went disrupted.
But to add to my woes Stephen then rolled to kill both my Generals (I of course failed to kill his) rolling a 12 and an 11 killing both !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This meant further Cohesion tests which both Gaestati prompty failed and no with no Commanders to rally them.
My right wing was finally getting deployed as Romans swung from centre to meet them.
Damn Elephants took out a unit in a flank charge over two turns just as my CinC arrived to kill the Elephants in turn (my only success all sodding day).
But unbelieveably Stephen had another roll to kill my CinC and of course acheived the requiste 12 leaving me totally Leaderless (and with his fourth success out of four attempts !).
I was now tettering on edge of defeat which was soon acheived by his Light Infantry sacking my Camp.
A great game despite the massacre of Gallic leadership with the key combat being the Gaestati versus Legions which could have went either way but for my crap dice rolling and re-rolling.
I do find the Celt/Warband types more viable in FOG V2 and enjoyable to use and definately much less frustrating than in DBMM (such a match-up would have seen Regular Romans dance away from Warband). 



The decisive match-up just prior to lines clashing

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Combat Commander another two Normandy encounters

Another couple of scenarios of this super game played with my Dad tonight using couple of scenarios from the Normandy Battle Pack.

First up was scenario covering attack during the early hours of D-Day atn Benouville Bridge by British Airbourne troops. This was our first Night scenario (easily handled by Hinderance system) and associated use of Starshells. British 'land' around a specficied two hexes with very little flexibilty. Germans have greater choice but essentially set-up in a trench line at one end around a Pillbox housing an Infantry Gun. My Brits approached the first hex of trench line but were undone by timely arrival of German Hero who rallied a unit and then stubbornly refused to die !! I could draw no Advance cards to get into melee with the sod. We both received re-inforcements but the game ended on second Sudden Death opportunity with Brits well behind on points.

Second scenario was behind Omaha Beach later on D-Day with a counter-attack by Krauts against Yanks. Both could acheive victory by exiting units for double points. However both sides unsurprisingly block each others route to such exit hexes. Yanks had some really good luck in this game (aided by their higher Broken Morale values) with 4 Sniper Actions taking out 2 Kraut Squads and gaining support from a 105mm battery which played merry hell with the Germans as I pulled in numerous Artillery Request cards to use with my 3 Leaders. Dad did manage to engage me in a melee in one of few houses on the map but I had just drawn in 3 Ambush cards and wiped out the assaulters including Command value 2 leader. This was swiftly followed by an Artillery strike on a hex with 3 Broken German units who also died taking Kraut losses beyond their Surrender level.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

First looks at couple of new games.......

Couple of board wargames have arrived in last week or so that I have only managed to get some quality time with today.

Jolly nice this one looks.
I used to love the Area/Impulse games that started out with 'Storm Over Arnhem' and this one uses a version of that system.
Map is gorgeous and counters also very nice but good looks do not a good game make. However the rules seem straight forward and fairly short and no obvious problems.
Of course any game that includes 36th Ulster Division has to be good !!  

This one a very nice gift from a mate, for services rendered, and another with quality components, being a deluxe edition block game with nice mounted mapboard.
Took rather a while to sticker all the blocks (as stickers required on both sides) but they do have an appealing look.
Managed to play a solo run through of initial scenario.
Very slick and simple system that plays very quickly.
Certainly not to depth of Dbmm/FOG game but nice system with cards all the same and a quick fix type 'game in a box'.

So many games obtained in last year that I had to re-jig storage again as fast running out of room in my Wargame room !
Bulk of purchases from GMT with a decent smattering of MMP & Compass Games with one or two other publishers.

Of course that did not bloody stop me bidding on EBay for this and winning same....................................................................................