Monday, 20 May 2019

NorthAG, DorfstraBe...

A Sunday afternoon game of NorthAG, worth revisiting the rules after awhile, to see if they still stand-up and my opponent had been keen on a game for awhile, to run out his Royal Green Jackets battlegroup (the unit he served with).

The game itself was a 700 points, a company-sized game, and lasted 5 hours, which is long, but one player was brand new to it, and I was doubling checking rules often - and couldn’t find a few (AA missile vs helicopter, where are you!!).

This was my Russian force;
Forward Screen
Air Defence Battery           22    2    SA-9 + ‘Shilka'
Arm Recce Patrols x3        18    2    BTR-60, scout
                                           18    2    BTR-60, scout
                                           18    2    BTR-60, scout
FOO                                   12    2    Dug-in, mortar spotter
ATGM Dug-out (AT-4)      21    1    Dug-in, ambush

Vanguard
T-64B Company                320    20    x10

Main Column
Motor Rifle Platoon           44    10    3 x fire teams, 3 x AT teams, 3 x BTR-60
BG Commander                 38    4    T-64BK, senior officer
82mm mortar battery         32    0    x4 tubes, off-table

Additional Support
2 x Timed 152mm art strikes    56    0    6 guns
Timed Mi-23 air strike              15    0    2 x large bombs
Deployed smoke screen            20    0   

Reinforcement Requests
x3                                              60    0

Roughly, the BAOR where;

1 Gazelle scout helo
2 Scimitars
1 Ferret armoured car
1 Marked Minefield
1 Roadblock

Dug-in infantry platoon with attached Milan Team
Sustained fire GPMG, dug-in
FOO, dug-in

Armoured Infantry platoon in FV-432s with attached Blowpipe AA team
2 Chieftain ‘Stillbrew’ troops (3 tanks each)
Tactical Operations centre
Towed Rapier launcher with land rover

Battery of 4 Abbot SP guns (105mm) off-table
1 Counter Battery airstrike

2 reinforcement requests


The game begins with only the forward screen on the table, his dug-in platoon holding an objective, whilst my armoured recce patrols headed right, to seize the factory objective and form a screen on my right, in the woods. My AA battery awaited on ambush fire.

Th first 2 turns are just the recce phase and the scouts manoeuvred, the Scimitars reaching the road junction that would be the crux of the battle and claiming it, as my recce troops took the factory building. My ‘Shilka’ and SA-9 both fired at the Gazelle as it hugged the ground, to spot for the Abbots, and pinned it (good). My first timed 152mm arty strike was too early, smashed into the woods on the British hill, to find nothing there… oh dear.

Turn 3 and the Vanguards arrived, the first Chieftains plowing up the road to secure the objective from the Scimitars. My tanks deployed en masse. Three would be a diversion, to draw away his tank fire to the right, and they set off at full speed, heading for the ploughed field. The others massed for the main assault on my left. Unfortunately, unpinning from mortar fire, the British pulled a Gunship counter and rolled well for it, an unexpected Lynx choppered in, 8 tow missiles ready… eek! My ‘Shilka’ turned its guns on it and in a blaze of fire pinned it too. The British FOO final got his radio tuned in and call in the Abbots, but their first salvo caused only a single pinned T-64. They would continue their fire all game - the Brits with 3 spotters (Gazelle, FOO in his foxhole on the hill and skulking Ferret armoured car) and a comms re-roll when the Tac Ops track arrived, it was hard to stop them shooting (no counter-battery fire missions - lesson learnt).

Russian mortar fire was on the far hill, harassing the infantry around the objective. A lucky hit blew his Milan post sky-high, and a bit of pinning, but nothing to worry the guys in their foxholes overly.

The initial jockeying for position was over, time for the main event. My tank company rolled, unleashing HE suppressing fire and pinning a single Chieftain. The return fire was, well, wide of the mark in some poor dice rolling…

Unfortunately, it was now turn 5 and the main column could start to roll in. 3 more Chieftains, the Tac Ops track, the Ferret… suddenly it was 6 Cheiftains to 10 T-64Bs, not good odds. One T-64 also broke down and was immobilised on a special counter. So 9 vs 6… I needed more tanks, but reinforcements requests can only be made from Turn 7, so I would have to soldier on.

I tried, but the British tanks found their range and in 1 turn executed 5 T-64s, the fields strewn with burning wrecks, and first company was all but done already. My second timed arty strike hit the road junction and caused pinning and destroyed a Scimitar. The second Scimitar died to a T-64s long range shot. The two British helos, in tandem, where both struggling to get into the battle, heavily pinned by Shilka and incoming SA-9 missiles. That duel would go on all game.

On my right, the three T-64s, (the diversionary force) were now the man threat, and 3 Chieftains came after them. One was pinned by a unseen RPG shot from the woods by my recce infantry team on ambush fire… result. The others started to do their thing, and suddenly I had only one T-64 left over there too. But the diversion had done its job, drawn 3 Chieftains to them.

Turn 7, need reinforcements, and I asked for a Hind gunship… with those Chieftains to kill it carries the grunt for the job. In it came, hurrah, lining up the Chieftains at the road junction. Until, whoosh, the Rapier on ambush fire launched and rolled, 6, followed by  6… then I rolled a 1 followed by a 1 - boom! Blown out of the sky, and 2 chits for the loss… hell, this was not going well, as my best AT asset went down in a big fireball.

The Brits also requested extra aid, Airborne troops (he has 2 Pumas full of paras!). This first request was turned down - good. My next request was for extra tanks… I only had 2 left rolling from 1st company. It too was turned down… for now. I couldn’t ask for another gunship, because you can only have 1 successful request per game for any assets. In turn 9, I asked for the tanks again and they were granted, and en route, 10 more T-64s. That had the Brits worried, but he still had 6 Chieftains, all now unpinned.

My late timed air strike saw the MiG-23 streak in and bomb the road junction, pinning a tank and an FV-432, having dodged the incoming Rapier shot. Not bad for a cheap hit, and counter for ‘under air attack’ too.

Both sides had taken a lot of counters… but the Brits were ahead. A lull in the first wave of fighting, waiting for a turn (both with poor orders), then it was time for the second tank assault. Not splitting up this time… 10 T-64s piled forwards and unleashed more HE suppressing fire at the Chieftains, pinning 4 of them - yes! Unfortunately, the Lynx was now unpinned and pop-up to smash one T-64 into scrap with a TOW strike. The Abbots were also back in action, adding some pinning, from the Ferret crew on the radio.

The Brits used their last reinforcement request and boldly went for airborne support again… and passed. Drat. 2 Pumas and 8 more infantry stands inbound for anywhere on the table. My ‘Shilka’ and SA-9 would be very busy… but they just couldn’t roll well enough with multiple targets to go after. The first Puma deposited its paras for an assault on the factory objective, where my infantry were pinned from early artillery fire. There would a short close assault in the building, but the paras won it, loosing 2 stands in the process but claiming that objective, after a ’66’ destroyed my BTR-60, the last unit holding it. My infantry were too scattered to counter-attack, and my orders rolls weren’t good either. What orders I had went on the tanks, which rolled forwards and switched to AP rounds. Several hits, but no penetrations… these Chieftains are tough… and now unpinned. Their return fire was accurate again… and 3 more T-64s were wrecked.

I was close to breaking, 1 more chit would do it. That chit came when the second Puma swooped down and 4 more para stands hopped out and open fire on the objective in my deployment zone (my corner). Another ’66’ launched and found its mark, my SA-9 AA armoured car, and it destroyed. That counter broke my force… BR total 57, counters now totalling 59. Game over. This Russian attack was called off… resistance was too fierce. There was no way through to Hannover here today.

The Brits had reached 43 BR from their total of 60, so a solid win. I’d lost 13 T-64s for, err… no Chieftains… a bit embarrassing really. A good game and a good test, I have a few tweaks to make… but it played well, the objective rules again worked really well, and the reinforcement rolls (which are an optional rule as they can swing things wildly and make the game longer), I like. He had used 2, and got his Airborne platoon from them. I had use 3 and got my ill-fated Hind and 10 extra T-64s - the second wave. It wasn’t enough to win the game for me, but it put me back in the game when I looked out of it.

Artillery needs some thinking about, his 4 Abbots were harassing, but killed nothing. My 152mm timed strikes… well got 1 Scimitar. Need more of them really, they might have to be a bit cheaper in points. I have downgraded artillery effectiveness from BG though, to try and focus on the tank fight more.

Here are few bad snaps, busy with the game and explaining rules to a new player, so it was all a bit of rush. Still, you get the idea and hopefully and idea of the size of forces too. The board was 6 x 6… perfect for a medium ‘company-sized’ game. All models are 10mm.

DorfstraBe... Brits from top left corner, Russians from bottom right. 

Across these fields the Red Army will come.

The road and the factory objective. Road junction beyond, another objective.

 First Russians arrive...

Road block, cratered and impassible. 

 Gazelle takes up station for artillery spotting

 Abbot barrage smashed onto the hill, but doing little

 Recce BTRs rolling out to the right, somebody garden is getting wrecked.

Scimitars first to the road junction

A lucky early Lynx gunship arrives to help out. 

 As the first Chieftain troop arrives

3 T-64s head right behind the recce force, my little diversion.

 The main strike force

Just before the British tanks found their range (rolled well) and cut them to shreds 

 Like this

Main column arrives along DorfstraBe. 

 Skulking out of sight, Shilka, T-64 command tank and Sagger team (3 shots 3 misses - rubbish).

 Abbots shell the factory

 Securing the road junction objective

 Diversion right in place

Air strike hits the road junction

 2ns wave of Red armour, passing the despiriting wreckage of the first wave... not a good sign. 

 Pumas inbound with aggressive paras onbound, spoiling for a fight.

 Last infantry reinforcements roll in, too late to help out much

 Th British advance beyond the cross road, even the Carly G got a few shots off at BTRs... and missed.
 2nd Company press on into the open field, firing as they come

 Second Puma drop-off... paras jump out and '66' the SA-9... end of game.





Tuesday, 16 April 2019

HARAKIRI GULCH

A late play-test with the Pacific rules, whilst over in Ireland, in a 800 point multi-player game, 3 of us commanding the IJA (one as overall commander and support - like mortars etc, two as platoon commanders with a platoon plus attached support). The USMC, defending the ridge above Harakiri Gulch where a reinforced infantry platoon with good support in tanks and off-table 4.7” naval artillery fire, along with their own MGs, mortars, etc. They were dug-in in trenches and pits on the ridge, with 4 objectives, one in the centre on the road and three along the ridge top (left, right and centre).

As the Japanese commander it was my plan, with an attack on the right flank and a demonstration attack on our left with the recce tankettes, just to keep the Marines there occupied and slow any reinforcements moving to the assault location. The first platoon would lead, with second platoon following 2 turns behind as the second wave!. Unlucky first wave… they would face the ambush fire of the Marines on that hilltop and their destroyer’s barrages.

Having agreed the plan, we bowed respectfully, donned our harakiri headbands (improvised on the spot from pillow cases and lego) and made for the battlefield to do our duty for the Emperor.

The US Marines had deployed in defences first, with their tanks all in reserve. We played across the table, dragged our few guns and mortars into place and send the scout tankettes scooting through the bushes to be seen and launch the first suppressing fire at long range. It worked well, incoming naval artillery met our first advance, pinning a MMG team, but little else. Our mortars did, err - very little to those Marines in reinforced cover, even when hitting our PRTP. We really lacked anything with a big enough blast that could hurt the dug-in troops.

So the game developed, slowly at first. The Japanese moving up to their jump-off point, the road, in good(ish) order. Behind, the second platoon swarmed over the hill in centre, as my mortars continued to harass the hilltops with their sporadic fire. The USMC awaited the approaching IJA to emerge from the jungles below, all on ambush fire except the naval shore fire control team calling in the bombardments.

It wasn’t until turn 5 or 6 that things seriously kicked off, the Japanese facing the wrath of the US guns and getting pinned, or killed, in serious numbers. Our single Ha-Go light tank was KO’d by an artillery hit (not a shot fired again), but my tankettes were proving a pain at ranges the Marines couldn’t currently match. They did send a flamethrower team sneaking forwards to catch one Type 97, but the team failed to spot the tankette and was wiped out by returning MG fire next turn… one tankette was lost to accurate mortar fire from their single 81mm on the centre hill in its mortar pit. By now, on the US left, the squad was worried, the weight of the assault was coming their way. The US tanks spread out along the ridge line, 1 Sherman and 1 Stuart behind each trench line. One Sherman came down to held secure the centre objectives and see up the road, only to be hit by a Japanese booby-trap (special counter) and start to burn! Win! My tankettes traded pining shots at long range in the ‘plinking battle’, that would result in, well, zippo, for almost all game. They were doing their job though.

The crux of the battle would the hilltop assault as two Japanese platoons tried to force their way up and onwards, and casualties mounted, and many, many 3+ covers saves were passed by the Marines (but not all), slowly their ambush fire was used and they became pinned. This was our chance. Second platoon had also now arrived and took over the lead, tank hunter teams sneaking through the trees forced the US Marines comms relay team to pick up their M1 carbine and hunt them down… the first Japanese assault was repulsed as they used Fallback! to avoid heavy losses from tank MGs on ambush fire. It seems impossible to break the USMC lines, but our infantry was closer now, too close to risk those repeated 4.7” barrages.The Marines were being whittled away. Good!

In the end , the Japanese assault, repeated close assaults by our veteran ‘assault troops’ broke the line, but reinforcement Marines were arriving, shifting left from he centre, which was mostly quiet except for incoming mortars. They fought off the assault, wiped out the Japanese and got back into the trenches. The Sherman (a Zippo) rolled forwards to get into flamethrower range, hoping to immolate a pinned Japanese squad. But then I used my hidden suicide AT teams, emerging from spider holes all 3 charged the tank, 2 being killed incoming, but 1 made it and kaboom, his lunge mine destroyed the Zippo in a fireball. The US Marines were desperate now, the line was buckling and their BR total (36) was looming large, the Japanese started with 65, but had plenty to go. But they would need it as costly assaults continued. One after another the Marines fire teams found themselves at close quarters and whittled away. One single Japanese soldiers assault once, then again on a Beyond the Call of Duty test, killed 5 Marines single handed with his grenades, before being BAR’d down in turn. The bodies were really piling up.

So was our BR though, now raced up to 60, I triggered the Banzai special rule (we had a chit for this, which you need). All our remaining infantry, light mortar crews etc, charged… again! and the US looked very doomed. But a .30 cal MMG team arrived to help and set-up, it cut a swathe, as did the Stuart’s two MGs. They needed to unpin, risking taking a counter and getting a special counter instead. Lucky Uncle Sam!

In the end, the IJA broke first, a last counter for another wiped out close assaulting squad pushing us to 67… we had lost. The US Marines total was, 36, bang on their total (and I double checked it!). That last special counter had saved them. The lines had held, it had been carnage on the Japanese, not much was left standing… a few HQ squads and AT teams… 1 tankette… a 47mm AT gun and loader team. Harakiri Gulch had lived up to its name. In all, a great game, well played by all, and a desperate defence that held, just held, but oh so close…

I managed to take a few (bad) pictures in the excitement, but fellow banzai-commander Diego took far more, and his excellent report is on his blog… which I'll link too when it's up. 

Pacific is shaping up well… very happy with that game.


 The table. Japanese 1st platoon moving through the village to jump off up the hill beyond the road, the scene of carnage later in the game. 
 The demonstration force' of recce tankettes make through the jungle scrub on the other flank. 

Opposite them, the right flank of the Marine defence lines and trenches. With the open ground ahead of them, we considered and discarded the idea of a main attack here. 

Japanese 2nd platoon arrive and swarm up over the centre hill.  Their second wave attack was to be in the centre, but they attacked the wrong hill! Instead mingling with 1st platoon on our right. A characterful bit of misreading of the plan. Still, it almost worked.

Plinking away, a tankette harasses a Stuart and Sherman from its cover.  I couldn't pin, they could hit... stalemate, so I'll take that.

The jump-off for the assault up the hill on the USMCs left. 1st Platoon just awaited a turn with good orders roll and charged! Drawing the ambush fire was painful but necessary to get the others a free run. Useful here were 2 spider holes with hidden LMG teams, which popped up in the jungles to lend their suppressing fire support.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Erfundensdorf, Game 3.

Still campaign turn 1, but the third game of the morning’s advance. Table 3 is through the Eisenwald forest, west of town, along a forester’s track, where the trees meets the farm fields that surround the town itself. The Germans have a blocking force in place (defending again), with the US Task Force Hallas of CCA, 3rd Armoured attacking.

Before the start of the campaign both players used a master list of core forces to pick battlegroups for each US route of the advance and German defensive area. The master ‘core’ list was long, over 3,000 points, and some of those forces had to be designated as the reserves, which can be drawn on later in the campaign (if needed), but can’t be used in Turn 1 (you have to have something left to fight tomorrow, even if in the campaign, there is no actual tomorrow). For the Germans these are the forces either still in town itself (no doubt hiding from US shelling) or en-route as extra reinforcements - a unit designated as ‘Panzer Ersatz Kompanie 12’, or Stossgruppe Schulz, mostly trainees from the Paderborn tank training ground (but with the Panthers). That force doesn’t arrive, via Table 5, until campaign turn 2 (the afternoon). If the US forces can breakthrough to table 5 in the first turn (via table 4) they can attempt to incept the arriving reinforcements in a meeting engagement. If not, then Stossgruppe Schulz will make it into town and be able to either counter-attack or help defend the town in the big final battle (turn 3 of the campaign, the evening).

In this game, the US forces of Task Force Hallas were pre-chosen up to 700 points, and any points not chosen could be used for adding off-table artillery support, via any method of calling on the guns they liked. In the end, the US player just spent all 700 points on the following attacking force from his core list, using another one of his six armoured infantry platoons (this time mounted), some Sherman platoons from the full battalion he has to call upon and his battery of Calliope rocket launchers (he only has 1 of them thankfully) and added a supply truck.

My defenders, elements of Kampfgruppe Idlemann, are holding the line in a Defence Line scenario. Infantry is from Fallshirmjager Training Battalion ‘Richter’ (sub-ordinate to Kampfgruppe Idelmann), one of three FJ platoons in the core lists (and one was already all but destroyed in game 1). Added to this from the core are 2 of my Panzer IVs (I have 3 in all), but at last some proper tanks. The pre-deployed defences are barricades (log piles), a gun-pit, some foxholes and my command bunker (on the edge of town). With a few points leftover from the core stuff, I added an off-table battery of 81mm mortars and a single timed Nebelwerfer strike (duel of the MRLs). Time to get it on (and try to win one).

Victory for the US would open up a deployment zone west of town in the final game. If I won, then I could chose to counter-attack here, if I had the forces in campaign turn 3, or just be content that that side of the town was blocked off and I wouldn’t have to face Task Force Hallas and their Calliopes again.

The battle itself was an attritional affair. My FJ dug-in and holding tight, mostly on ambush fire awaiting targets for their Panzerfausts (there were very few for the MG-42 teams). An initial rush by the US for the HQ bunker gained ground, but when my Pz IVs arrived, ‘112’ knocked out the Sherman and my FJ mopped up the few US infantry pinned by the bunker. That objective was saved and secured. Meanwhile, the US moved up through the trees, and my mortar support fire failed to show up, failing 3 comms test in a row (and about 6 in the game)! The Calliope battery moved to the woods edge on my left (we decided they couldn’t shoot from under the trees), and the FOO tank was on the road trying to get a clear line of sight to the main defence line without being targeted by the PAK-40, dug-in on my right. The PAK awaited on ambush fire, and when tanks appeared at the tree line, opened fire, with 3 shots from its loader team - and subsequently failed every spot roll!

The Calliopes roared into action and, well, beyond a bit of pinning, had little effect on the FJ in foxholes. Phew! My own timed Nebelwerfer strike was similar in effect, a bit of pinning on tanks, but no direct hits! Not a banker then.

The US sat off, blazing HE and MG fire into my defenders trying to get them well pinned, with M3s loaded with infantry ready to go when their chance came. My Panzers fire, missed and, with the few hits, glanced off! Good grief. For once no US fighter bombers showed (although 2 counters were drawn, neither dived in). The tank duel just used up ammo, with only 1 casualty, the FOO’s tank on the road being knocked out by ’112’ again, it as fighting this war on its own.

The US had a supply truck in the woods, rearmed the Calliope and then the tanks rolled in to collect more shells. I strengthen my line my FJ pioneer squad, dashing up the road in their truck, which was then destroyed by a 75mm HE shell before it could get away again. The attrition was favouring the US, one of my Panzer IVs had been immobilised by an AP hit and was now also out of ammo. The PAK scored a kill, on an M3 half track, but it wasn’t enough. With his tanks re-armed he finally (after turns of waiting) attacked. Those Detroit-engines roared and the M3s advanced, Shermans adding HE shells to help keep my FJ heads down. A second Calliope strike, well placed, caused havoc and more pinning. A HE shell destroyed the Pak-40 (another 1 rolled for a cover save!). One Sherman was hit in the flank by a Panzerfaust from my pioneers, and his leading M3 suffered the same fate, his pinned infantry dismounting to then be flayed by MG-42 fire, but not wiped out.

Both sides counter stacks had raced up, and my break-point was approaching. Another turn in the assault saw his PHQ half track race up and wipe out my FJ platoon HQ, trapped in the open having been pinned by Calliope rockets. Pintle-mounted .50 cal fire broke them and my battle group… the US were still 12 points away, so another solid win. Crickey! If something doesn't improve soon someone's going to get shot for dereliction of duty!

My FJ platoons had suffered half losses, as had his armoured infantry, both my Panzer IVs would have to be abandoned (both had been immobilised by the end). 3 Shermans were wrecks, but theer are plenty more where they came from. Task Force Hallas had forced its route into town… I’m started to look very surrounded.

On to game 4… can I actually stop the US in any game?


Table 3, Eisenwald Forest, foresters track and farm fields west of town.  US attacking left to right.

HQ bunker's view across the fields and barbed wire.  My main mortar spotter, his radio blew 6 from 10 comms checks... and no re-roll either!

 US probe force, following the trail.

FJ outpost watching the track, MG-42 team and Panzerschreck team.  
Log-piles are 'improved barricades'

View from the US table end.

First US probe, takes out the Pzschreck team and pins the MG before making for the bunker in a lightning 'coup de main', that almost came off. 

 Calliope and FOO tank move up to the wood line

 Resupply truck open for business in the woods just behind.

 Foxholes of my veteran FJ, awaiting on ambush fire. 

Dug-in PAK-40 and loader team with long fields of fire. 

 My first Pz IV arrives from town.

Calliope impact, doing surprisingly small damage. 

US tanks open fire at long range, a lot of AP was wasted and bounced-off,  something you can do it you know the supply truck isn't far away.

The rush for the bunker ends, Sherman KO'd, MG team now low on ammo and pinned. 

Pioneers arrive from reserve, dismount just before their truck is vapourised by 75mm HE. 

 112, my star tank, duel with 2 distant Shermans, and getting repeated pinned by glancing hits. 
Good Krupp steel! Not so tough crew. 

 Meanwhile '113' is immobilised in the fields. Calliope impact ahead.

US attack on my front lien overwhelms them, but not without losses. I can't help but think, the PAK crew running cost me dear here, but then, whilst it was active, the US were not going to rush me. HQ half-track's .50 cal did the final damage.