Saturday, 16 March 2019

FotR mini-campaign, game 2

Second battle of the FotR mini-campaign, on table 2 of the campaign map. This would see US forces advancing on the east bank of the ErfundenSee reservoir, towards the dam, to open up a south-eastern route into town (and deployment for the final game when it comes). It was 400 points, using a Delaying Action scenario.

The forces came from our pre-campaign deployment, Both players have had a central pool of forces to divide up between the tabletops, with the Germans including their Defences. Once both sides had chosen where their forces would be placed, there was then a small number of additional points for things like off-table guns and counter-battery fire etc, that would be available to any force on any table. The forces I had pre-chosen to hold this winding track around the lakeshore were another of my Volkssturm platoons (I have 6 in total for the campaign), supported by both my captured 35S French Somuas and some Hitler Youth. Being a very narrow table, I hadn’t placed many defences here, just the road block, some foxholes and barbed wire. Add to this were off-table 105mm guns and a PRTP to cover the narrow width of the forest. Not much, but a lot of Panzerfausts for the tight fight on the road and in the dense forest. (we revised our ‘forest fighting’ house-rule, this time max range would be 20”, but from 10-20” would be suppressing fire only, only 0-10” could be Aimed Fire).

Coming the other way, the US had chosen this southern-most attack route for their light recon forces. A cavalry recce troops (from the Wacht am Rhein book), supported by 3 M5 light tanks, a M36 Jackson for serious hitting power and off-table 81mm mortar support. They also had a single timed 105mm barrage, so that would prove unpleasant on such a narrow table (actually when it landed it killed 1 sniper, being a bit mistimed).

With the tabletop laid out copying the map, objectives positions, (just 2, the road block and the road where it exited to the dam) and my defences and initial deployment in place, the US started, M5s leading the way.

The battle would play out in two mini-engagements, along the lake-side track and through the forests. The first US probe was up the track, and it soon turned bad for them. My other sniper, hidden behind the log roadblock, did good work pinning the M20 scout car with bullets whizzing overhead (and stopping his main mortar spotter), and when my off-table 105s unleashed the track rapidly became a mess. A M5 was knocked out, then an M8. His M16 AA half track was next, and didn’t spot my Panzerschreck team on ambush fire. It took a rocket on the nose and was destroyed. So far so good for my Volksturm, but then the ‘schreck team had an Ammo Low counter played on them and, finding that was it for their 88mm rockets, the Volkssturm decided they’d done their bit and headed back for town. My best AT weapon had just legged it! Can’t trust these Volkssturm.

In another piece of good fortune, all my reserve forces arrived at once (double 6s!). On rolled the pride of the Panzerwaffe, two 35Rs carrying the rest of my Volkssturm platoon. The Hitler Youth squad arrived too, heavily weighed down by Panzerfausts and moved off deeper into the woods.

It had been a good start for my defenders, holding both objectives and damage done, I was 2 chits to 6 up… but then it all changed.

Finally the US got some mortars firing, the M2 now unpinned, and in doing so they drew a Air Attack counter, then rolled a 5. Oh joy, another ‘Jug’ winged in, rockets ready. The USAAF was putting in a big show at Erfundensdorf and frankly, I’d like to play a game when I wasn’t under P-47 attack! But such is war, in it came, up the lake, its first rocket strike missing and blowing up some trees. It would be back.

The US attack, now a mess of wrecked vehicles on the track had stalled, and the jeeps and another M5 moved into the woods, to get off the road, 3-man recce infantry teams dismounting to avoid taking their Jeeps into battle. Here the infantry fire, mostly suppressing fire, started with my dug-in Volkssturm, who had the better of it. But that M5 wasn’t coming within Panzerfaust range, and its twin MGs would not be silenced. It was now the target of my Hitler Youth teenage tank hunters. They got close enough and fired 2 ‘fausts, and both missed! Then got pinned by returning Garand rifle fire. Then the M5 spotted them twice and unleashed .30 cal machine gun death, wiping out the kids!

Things started to go down hill, the P-47 came round again, and targeted an 35R on the road, 5” rockets smashing it to bit like a sledgehammer to crack a peanut! Next order, the M36 lined up the other 35R, needed a 6 to hit, and did. Ouch! 90mm AP smashed the other 35R into a burning scrap! No more armour. Then, more MG fire from a recce jeep broke my Volsksturm squad who ran - cowards! That left the roadblock objective held by a single sniper. An M8 advanced up the trial, but the snipers ambush fire pinned it. Phew… but my defence line was crumbling. The P-47 would back strafing with its many MGs next turn and all I had was infantry… poor infantry. US mortars also got going again, spotted by the recce troops HQ. In my turn the only unit not pinned was my Forward HQ and his Kubelwagen at the back. Great! Just unpin then. 

In the end, I couldn’t save the day. My Volkssturm had to abandon their foxholes to get a last ‘faust shot at that M5, counter-attacking. he must be close to breaking. The Panzerfaust hit - yes! Then glanced off - what! The M5 survived and then hosed down my squad, breaking it. And that counter was enough, my force was broken and the US had won again. A very narrow one this time, by just 3 BR points, but task Force McLynn had open he forest track into town. Damn those Jabos! 

Some photos of the evenings actions, we played for 2.5 hours, including a tea/loo break, so a quick game. Here are some shots of the board and action.

 The battlefield, US from the left, Germans from the right

 The forests

 The winding lakeside road

 The German end of the track

 German CO and his transport, calling in the 'tank' reserves

 At the roadblock and barbed wire. Sniper lurking. 

Volkssturm in foxholes in the forest

First up the road, M5 and M16, pinned

 Volkssturm squad on the move to the roadblock

 All German reinforcements arrive at once, R35sandn tank riding Volkssturm

Under mortar fire

Ah! Here we go again. USAAF in bound. 


 German artillery hits home on the road.

 Panzerschreck team take-out the M16 as it rounds the corner

Then immediately run! Out of rockets.

The wrecks on the road back-up. M36 Jackson on the way next. 

35R sneaks up the hillock to get a crafty shot at the M36, and regrets the return fire. 

 Both 35Rs gone in 2 orders

 as the M8s arrive to press for the roadblock. Ahead is an inferno. 

 Recce jeep adding its MG firepower in the woods, where the last of Volkssturm are out-shot and forced to surrender or run.

Victory fly-past, the P-47 has wreaked havoc again. 

In the campaign this means, in the final battle for town the US will have deployments zones in the south-west and south-east corners of the table. On to game 3, the attack through the Eisenwald along a foresters track, enough of the lakeside battles. I have some better armour deployed here and better defences, so lets hope for a win… my losing streak goes on.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Soldiers of God, CAMPAIGN GAME 5


In our Soldiers of God mini-campaign the crusader’s advance has reached Homs itself, the Emir’s army (me) heavily defeated in the Orontes valley it would be a scratch force to hold the city walls as the enemy set their siege and began preparing their war engines, including building a siege tower. Homs was in peril, the bloodthirsty enemy would show no mercy in sacking the city and looting it. The Emir has sent a messenger for aid, and a relief army was on the way, but first the garrison had to hold out long enough. After a month of building (and painting) work (literally), the Franks of Lord Andrus de Renard were ready to assault the walls. They chose the city’s eastern walls, at the Gate A-Dayr. As dawn broke they stood arrayed for the assault, behind them their trebuchet and mangonels had ranged in. Almost all his units carried siege ladders. It would be a bloody day…

… it would be disastrous day. Good grief, talk about deserted by cards and dice, the traitors! I could not buy a half decent dice roll when I needed one, all my defensive plans failed, I lost melees I shouldn’t have, my multiple burning oil and Naffatun attacks did very little (and on average should have massacred something). The defenders on the walls crumbled, his siege tower was pushed up, refused to topple despite many hits from my war engines and unleashed his fanatic Knights Hospitaller onto the walls to wreak carnage. His own trebuchet eventual smashed down the gate and his mounted men-at-arms charged in through it, another Naffatun attack rolled a 1 and did zippo. The gate fell, the men on the walls routed or were massacred and my defenders did embarrassingly little damage as Homs fell to the Crusader’s sacking and looting… they’d all be going home rich.

This was a trounsing. I just didn’t get the action cards, and when I did, rolled badly (I’m starting to think there are no 6s on my dice). I was also under the weather myself - to make more excuses. The lurgy was setting-in, so my defence might not have been as determined as usual. The Emir was not feeling well today… but still, the Crusaders have now decisively won the campaign, 4 victories to 1.

 The A-Dayr gate and city walls.

 Our battlefield

Inside the walls,  a last stand of local Ahdath militia was deployed to fight for the houses (and mosque) if the enemy broke in. 

My war engines on one of the gate towers

Inside the A-Dayr gate. 

 Lines of Array, as the Franks deploy for the assault. Siege tower is scratch built. 

My defenders at the gate.

The Frank's trebuchet, guarded by monks!! 
They just came to see God's will triumph over the infidels. Prayers answered today.

The siege encampment, at the back.

The last of the Ghulam (dismounted) on the walls.

 The siege ladders close in, yellow dice are disorder on the units, from my rather feeble archery.

Siege tower reaches the wall and disgorges the Knights Hospitaller, who massacred my Ghulam in a display of inept melee skills.

The gate is gone. My black-clad fanatics prepare to die for Allah, holding it. 
Ahdath militia in support. 

In come the mounted men-at-arms.

 Enemy at the gate... and streaming up the ladders.

We have decided, given that this game was a bit of a disaster for me, we’ll play a 6th game in the campaign, as the relief army arrives too late. Unwilling to allow that new force to harry his men and their loot all the way back to Tripoli, the confident Crusaders are going to come out and face the relief force in final large open battle before the walls of the city. A chance for a little payback for Allah’s forces, a face saving (if pyrrhic) victory. Back to basics for this one… horse archers and cavalry, hit ‘em where it hurts (then run off).

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Erfundensdorf Campaign - Game 1

Fall of the Reich remains one my favourite Battlegroup periods for gaming, I just like the ‘backs to the wall’ feel of the German lists. This is a short campaign, of maybe 5-6 games, set over 1 day, as Combat Command A, US 3rd Armoured Division, attack to surround and capture the town of Erfundensdorf, part of their advance to help seal the Ruhr Pocket.

The campaign works as a series of morning, afternoon and then evening battles, with the earlier battles deciding from which direction US forces will be able to deploy and attack the German defenders in the big final game, to take the town itself. The first game, table 1, would be a push from the south via the reservoir’s lake-side forest trail, at the See-Hotel.

The campaign map. 6 tables to fight over. 

The German defenders, that’s me, would be an ad-hoc kampfgruppe of various parts, including Fallschirmjager cadets of ‘Ersatz Battalion Richter’, the local Volkssturm ‘Erfundensdorf’ and reinforcements arriving from the Paderborn tank training school, Stossgruppe Schutz (my armoured reserve arriving in the afternoon via table 5).

We played out the first morning game, a 500 point affair using the End of the Rat Race scenario. Here are the two lists for the game.

Battlefield 1- Lakeside road and the Seehotel
The forest road running west to east along the edge of the lake, from Fahrhaus to Erfundendorf via the resort Seehotel on the lakeside. North of the road is wooded, the edge of the Eisenwald.

500 points Attack/Defence scenario - End of the Rat Race

US Forces - Taskforce James in March Column order

Aerial Observer Plane                71
1 M4A3E2 Jumbo (75mm)            66
Armoured Infantry Platoon (dismounted)    136
M4 Tank Platoon (3) (all 75mm)        140
2 x 105mm guns (off table)            90

503 pts, 30 BR, 3 officers, 0 scouts

German Forces - Elements of Kampfgruppe Idlemann
1 Minefield                    20
10” Barbed wire                10
10 Foxholes                    10
Roadblock                    free

Volkssturm Platoon            71
+ 3 Pzfausts                    15

FJ Platoon (Atypical)            115       
+ 4 x Pzfausts                20   
+ 3 x MG-42s                12
+ Pzschreck Team                23

1 StuG III G                    45
1 StuH 42 G                    45
2 120mm mortars (off-table)        72
1 supply truck                8
20mm Flak on medium truck        32

498 pts, 27 BR, 2 officers, 0 scouts   

The US started as they meant to go on, their Piper Cub calling in 105mm artillery around the hotel, and braving incoming 20mm cannon fire from my flak truck, failing to roll any 5+’s (another theme of the game). The Piper Cub never failed a coms check all game, I counted 8 in a row!

The leading Sherman Jumbo trundled up the road, and pushed into the trees, machine guns blazing to in my Fallschirmjager screen that was spread-out through the trees, (some in foxholes). Their infantry followed, in skirmish line through the trees, advancing to contact and then using their fire superiority to cause a lot of pinning… my MG-42s just couldn’t get going to return fire. Finally his tanks arrived, two up the road, one through the trees, which encountered my Fallschirmjager, was pinned by a 105mm HE shell from my StuH, which had come forwards to engage, and when hit by a Panzerfaust (which glanced off), the crew fled, abandoning the tank.. a small victory.

Meanwhile, at the hotel, my FJ platoon HQ was shelling the road with 120mm mortar fire, causing some pinning and destroying a US .30 cal MG team. It was an uneven battle through, incoming 105 shells raining in, with a direct hit on my MG team in a foxhole, blowing them all up (terrible cover saves), and pinning my flak truck. Which was unfortunate for him, because when the US unpinned, then pulled an Air Attack counter - and then rolled a 6… incoming P-47 with rockets, racing low over the lake. Achtung Jabos!

My reinforcements had started to arrive, my StuG and the Volkssturm platoon. The StuG was instantly the P-47’s target with rockets, and first victim - kaboom!, not a shot fired by my best armour. It wasn’t looking good.

The US kept up the pressure, his tanks machine gunning up the trees, and one rushed the minefield along the road. Taking a hit (strength 1) it rolled clean through the explosion and opened up on the Volkssturm squad rushing to hold the road block, an objective. In a furious blast of MG fire 8 Volkssturm were wiped out on the road, their bodies piling up. Ouch!

The P-47 was coming back around, when my flak scored 2 hits, 2 damage and pinned it. The P-47 was shot full of 20mm holes… good work.

In the woods, the infantry fire fight was being won by the US, there 60mm mortar adding some pinning as one squad of FJ cadets broke and ran. My Panzerschreck got a clean shot at the Jumbo, only to see his rocket glance of the front glacis!! That doesn’t happen often! Return MG fire killed the ‘schrek team… and my BR was not looking good.

The P-47, now unpinned again, came round again, skimming the lake. Again my flak hammered and in an uncharacteristic display of good, dice, 2 more hits and 2 more damage points, the P-47 was shot down! It nosed into the lake in a huge splash and that's 2 counters for the US player.

It wasn’t enough though, more 105mm shelling at the hotel and my second FJ squad being wiped out was enough to see my defenders over their BR total. The Volkssturm and FJ survivors retreated back towards town. The US had reached only 20 from 30 BR… so a solid win. They had their objective and the route into town from the south was secure. We’ll do it all again, on the other side of the lake in game 2, where a US recon troop is probing the south-eastern route to town and looking to capture the reservoir’s dam. My Volkssturm will be trying to put up a better fight next time (with some better dice, I might burn these ones!).

Here are a few shots of the action, and our campaign map. 

US recce armoured car hits a mine on the road and starts the battle. 

Roadblock  and MG team in foxhole

 The battlefield, a narrow fight


Here they come, the US armour as arrived

Jumbo leads the way through incoming mortar fire.

Piper Cub spotter, a pain in the butt... flak truck below, trying to hit it. 

StuG arrives along the road at the hotel, lining up the distant Shermans

Oh.. great... Jabo inbound hot!

P-47, armed with 8 5" rockets

Buzzing the hotel

US armoured infantry (leaving their half racks behind) to advance on foot through the woods. Pinned. 

Shermans stack up on the track

Back in the hotel grounds, my resupply Maultier arrives and makes bee-line, risking incoming 105 fire, for my StuH. 

No more StuG, hit by 2 5" rockets.

One brave Sherman rushes the minefield and survives. 

My flak truck blasts the P-47 out of sky on its second pass.  Hurrah!

Maultier meets StuH to re-arm in the trees. 

 Volkssturm continue to be pounded by arty fire in the hotel grounds. This would be second line of defence, but their morale gave out before the US advance reached them. Time to go!