Saturday 21 December 2019

Bloody Lane - Longstreet Grand Campaign Game 4

Game 4 of 9 in the Longstreet ACW campaign, with the Rebs on the advance, again, this time the random scenario was the Railway Embankment. So my brigade would have good defensive positions to hold, but with 10 stands left off-table as reinforcements, it would be a hard fight against an outnumbering enemy for the first 6-7 turns. For my reinforcements, I chose the my poor and gutted infantry units, 3 of them with just 2 stands left, so it wasn’t much to write home about even when it did arrive, still it left my best combat units up front to hold the line, and I had special task in mind for my cavalry, which would normally be the obvious choice as reinforcements.

Having set-up the tabletop terrain, it came down to the Rebs to chose whether to attack or defend, and they opted to attack. The battle would devolve into 3 separate engagements, on the right, on the left and with the main Reb attack up the centre. My defensive plan was not to be completely static. My cavalry would be on my left with orders to rush forwards take the walled paddock in front of the embankment, dismount and turn its walls into a redoubt that the Rebs would have to deal with, or it would provide enfilading fire along the line into their centre into his main attack. The rookie cavalry would be out front alone, as a forlorn hope. In the centre was my largest unit, 10 stands of recruits backed by my largest artillery battery covering the approach up the lane. On my right, my ‘old reliables’, the 22nd Ohio had the duty of holding out, backed by just a single cannon. It was weak flank, but my veteran farm-boys were the best I had to hold it.

Drums and whistles playing, on came Jonny Reb, up the slopes of the ridge to take the high ground and deploy his artillery (most howitzer) batteries, along with his artillery officer adding to their accuracy. Being out shot by the Southerns is a rare experience for the Union, my artillery has so far suffered in the campaign, a deliberate policy by the Rebs to target it and avoid me getting a big advantage here, as I have in past campaigns.

And so, battle lines drawn, in the grey-coats came, on my left there would be a protracted fight for the paddock, which the green cavalry would be driven out of, but not without inflicting equal losses and stalling any threat to that end of the line… but it was only really a feint attack by the Rebs, a side show to the main attack. Stalemate here and both happy with that result.

On the right his veteran cavalry, in column, were a flying squad as they tried an end-run, and I had to redeploy to face them. It cost me my cannon, but the Ohio boys stopped his veteran cavalry, which dismounted and fought it out in inconclusive volleys. Holding here too.

In the centre, on his attacking infantry came at speed, supported by bombardments from the ridge above, but my good cover made his artillery work hard, and with little effect. My return cannon fire was equally ineffective - but could my rookie infantry hold in their first fight? Behind them was the objective, if they were driven back, he’d have it, and that would be the battle lost. The battle would decided in the fight across the bloody lane, in the centre.

Here are some pictures of how it all panned out…

The Union centre prepares for the coming assault. 

The short line on the right. Reliable Vets with a Hero attached. Tough-nut to crack.

The Greys advance in columns, guns hauled up to the high ground. 
The railway embankment is top left.

The cavalry move out into the walled paddock on the left. Enemy just appearing ahead.

... and they dismount to fight, winning the race to the good cover. 

The Rebs appear, forming line from their marching columns. Here we stand! 

 Reb batteries in place and open fire.

The main attacking regiments en route, with incoming cannon fire landing around them, to no effect. 

With a Rebel Yell, the enemy charge with bayonets and drive the dismounted cavalrymen back from the wall and across the paddock. 

Behind the other wall, the cavalry regroup and continue to exchange volleys. Both sides are happy to hold their cover and shoot it out for the rest of the battle. The end of the sub-battle for the paddock.

Reb guns in the hilltop farmyard, firing down on my left, but the embankment saved my infantry from any losses. 

The Reb cavalry try to get round the right end, but a quick repositioning halts them. The single gun would be overrun when the cavalry dismounted to fight. 

The skirmish on the right ends in stalemate. 

Bloody Lane fills with charging Rebs, facing canister and mini-balls at short range. They storm over the embankment. But they are thrown back by heroics by my gun crews and my rookies.

 A second charge overruns the guns this time, but Union reinforcements have just secured the objective behind and open volley fire. The rookies on the embankment have driven off their attackers for a second time. The casualties taken here would just break the Confederates for today. A narrow win - phew!

First win of the campaign for the blues... but again very close, I lost 11 stands to the enemy's 12... so very even. A good tactical game... with Longstreet rules again shining, allowing for the tactical nuances, and still throwing flies into the ointment to frustrate. Could easily have gone the other way today. 

That's it for this year, the ACW campaign will continue in January, reaching the midway point. Atm the Union are ahead in the campaign on Epic Points, but only 16 to 15... so all the play for...

Saturday 23 November 2019

Welcome sports fans...

It has only been, oh, 30+ years since I played this game as a school boy. We ran a school league with 14 teams when first edition came out, back in the 80s. Well, the latest edition of Blood Bowl has fallen into my hands, so I painted up the teams and have decided to play a few games with the basics. First game, rules trial, was a 0-0 bore-draw. Next game, introducing the advanced rules, was 1-0 Orcs. The 'Gouged-Eye' followed that up with 2 more wins, 2-1 and 2-0 and the humans were struggling to match the Orcs in the fight. My human team was down to 5 walking players in the 2-0 defeat. Anyway, a change of players, and I took over the Orcs for once. Payback! Err... nope!

Saturday's highlights package... and another defeat for me (first win for the humans) in a  2-0 hammering... the Orcs were terrible... never got the ball into the humans half, never looked like scoring a touchdown, fumbled it, fell over, got beat in the blocks, turned it over again and again in a pitiful display of dice rolling by me... so, it is just me. The humans scored from a fumble by my thrower in the backfield, which allowed them to walk it in. They were unlucky not to score second at the end of the first half, 1 square short of sneaking in a score when the whistle saved me. Half-time would see a turn around.

Except, after kick-off, the Orcs instantly turned it over again, and saw a huge gap torn in the line of scrimmage. His speedy catchers were through, a quick break by his thrower with the ball, a hand-off, a dodge and the catchers were gone... streaking in for a second as the Orcs just stood about dumbstruck. 2-0.

No coming back, even the on-pitch riot went the humans way... shortening the game. The humans were on the attack again and also in for third when the final whistle released me from my dice rolling torments. A wretched performance by the 'Gouged Eye' saw the old enemy, 'Reikland Reavers' take their first win. Another game I can't play! I'm feeling a bit dice-cursed atm... just cannot roll for toffee.

Anyway, it was a fun few hours. Anymore games like this though and the coach's head is on the block.. literally. Might need to get a few star players to spice it up.

 Kick-off, the Orcs are so far unbeaten, and have handed out the pain. 

Short kick-off, my Blitzers in hot pursuit. Until they all fell over! 

The humans are through the gap, a single-hand-off and the catcher makes 1 dodge and covers 10 squares to score as the Orcs stand and watch! 

End of the game, the ball is loose, but those humans are attacking my end zone again. 
It could have been 3 or 4!

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Longstreet, Game 2 - Attack along the Maytown Turnpike

Having repelled my attack on Muller's Crossing, it was now the Reb’s turn to go on the offensive, attacking up the Maytown Turnpike to secure a crossroads. The first battle in the campaign in 1962.

It was one hell of a close run thing… a slow start, our artillery failing to hit much, the Yankees staying in place as the Rebs advanced in column and deployed into lines for the frontal attack. As his second gun battery deployed on the overlooking high ground, I sent my eager, fresh, Zouave unit (first game out) into a rapid spoiling attack, to drive-off or seize those unprotected guns. They raced across the open ground at the quickstep and up the slope, about to take a round of evil canister-fire at point blank range, but the cost would be worth it. Death or Glory! If I could turn his flank here, his whole attack plan might be thrown into chaos and stalled as he had to turn to face the rampaging Zouaves. Meanwhile, his own fast flankers, his cavalry, had swiftly advanced, dismounted and begun their own distraction attack on my left, now faced up by my Pennsylvania recruits. The exchanges of fire, were, well rubbish, neither could hit much or do any damage… stalemate then. Fire and fury, for no result.

On the hill, in the glorious (foolhardy) Zouave attack, it was neither death or glory. His canister blasts killed, err… nothing, misses all round! My bayonet charge killed, err, nothing, being thrown back by a determine defence of the guns. My Zouaves withdrew, almost unharmed. So much for that. Stalemate again.

In the centre, around the crossroads the main attack was now on, 3 Reb infantry units against 2 Union ones, but mine were veterans, and I sent my mobile reserve (the cavalry) to join them, dismounting to fight (fire) on the crossroads itself. On the right, my Ohio boys put up a hell of fight for the cornfield, skirmish fire and bayonet- work saw off the Rebs, bloody work for both sides, but I’d just come out on top. On the left, my New York vets were hammering volleys from behind the rail-fencing into the Rebs in the open, and their more accurate fire was whittling the enemy down. In the centre, directly up the road, my dismounted cavalry found themselves hard pressed by rebel-yelling southerns, and driven back with losses. The objective had fallen - no!. But the Rebs had paid a high price. Still, on casualties inflicted it was very close. My dismounted cavalry had to try and retake the lost objective and so charged back in, sabres and pistols in hand. Only for find the last Rebs waiting  ‘like a stonewall’. Driven-off, the poor cavalry were decimated, this was not the glorious role of the cavalryman! That loss was enough for the Rebs to edge it. A very marginal win for Johny Reb in a close, tense fight, and again so much fun. These rules are so good, ever game a winner!! I love the dynamic, the ebb and flow, the unpredictability.

It’s 2-0 on wins to the Rebs in the campaign, but there’s a long way to go yet. New Yankee guns will start to claw it back. A big delivery of factory-new parrot gun has just arrived.

A few phone snaps of the action's highlights along the turnpike.

Death or Glory! My newly finished Zouaves about to get their baptism of canister fire storming the hill. Then it missed, and then my charge whiffed too...  just when you think you have him, you don't. Damn those cards (and dice).

The Turnpike. dismounted cavalry have the centre, Ohio to the left in the cornfield, New York to the right, Rebs just approaching, not in range yet.  Steady boys! 

 The far left, my boys deploying in a refused flank to meet the cavalry end-run. Guns have turned 180 to cover the rear, as that cavalry was moving so fast in column I thought it might run right round me. It didn't they stopped and dismounted to attack on foot, in an inconclusive firefight of ineptness from both sides. 

New Yorker's muskets leveled at Rebs in the open, my veterans gave Johny Reb a bloody nose here, but it didn't save the day. Exposed Position cards helped, and seemed about right too...

Saturday 9 November 2019

Longstreet, Muller's Crossing

Game 1 of a new Longstreet Grand Campaign, 9 battles to play... a new brigade to command. The first fight, in 1861, was a river crossing scenario with my Union boys attacking and the Rebs awaiting across the Creek.

After a long break, this was a reminder of what a great set of rules these are... a top game of tactical decisions and hard card choices, my refused right flank and echelon left attack started well and saw my boys in blue race to threaten three of the creek's fords... all looked good, everything was in place... the Rebs were worried (but not that worried)... and the dice, well they can go the hell... my volley shooting was less than convincing, my eager recruits stalled and then were not so eager to et stick in with cold steel. The return fire took its toll, his artillery out shot my own and in the end, even though a quick bayonet charge by the New York boys in the centre carried 1 ford, it wasn't enough, the attrition wore me down too fast... and Colonel Dupont ordered the retreat, leaving the field to Jonny Reb.

So we are off... and I'm looking forward to it all, the last 2 campaigns were great fun and we stand at 1 win for the Rebs, 1 for the Yankees, so this is a bit of a decider.

Failed to take any pictures, but here is an oldie, and my brigade roster for game 2, in 2 weeks time, the first battle of 1862 will see my brigade on the defensive, this time holding an important crossroads. Let hope I can roll a 4+ more often than 1 in 4 times! (Ah, blame the dice!).

We're going on to Richmond... it should take about 5 years. 

Sunday 27 October 2019

Gaslands, first game

An evening’s intro to Gaslands Refuelled… we played just a basic loop around the table, to get the hang of the basics of templates, skip dice and shooting, etc. It was fun, but I need to re-read as it all seemed rather random. We all had great difficultly in just keeping our vehicles going forwards. Two slid right off the table! So, whilst I like the basic ideas, it does seem like ‘hazards’ build up very fast, and controlling them is at the heart of the game. I’d say, as it stands, you just end up rather too much at the whim of the dice. We did not use the ‘Push-It’ advanced rule though, for re-rolls on the skid dice… and so next time we will, but that adds hazards too… every car in this race wiped out at least once, one did it 3 times (and never got to the first gate). The start line is bit like carnage, and you’d hope that doesn’t happen every time. A lot of skidding, collisions and wipe outs to resolve make the game slow at the start…

But, it was fun, we haven;t got into the campaign side of the game yet, if we really like it we will. Here are a few pictures of the carnage.

We have three teams, and cars made for previous games of Outrider (another car wars game that was a little unsatisfactory, now ditched). The Green Machine - mercenaries, Los Diablos - bandits and, the Law - cops. In this first race, the Green Machine dominated, finishing first and second, with the the Law along way back in third. Both my Los Diablos cars failed to finish, my buggy was wrecked and the truck slid off the table…

Playing on a 4 x 4, ready for the off. No firing until a vehicle is through the first gate (marker by rocks). 

Early leaders, my buggy skidding to a halt after driving through the shed - oops! That green truck then rammed it and wreck it!  

Still at the start line, these three can't get disentangled. Multiple wipe outs!

The Law's leader tries a tight turn and slides clean off the table... what does happen in the rules (couldn't find it)? We just said they were out if the race. My truck did the same thing a turn later...

Sunday 6 October 2019

Surrounded at Trybukha, BG: Barbarossa

This scenario was a re-hash of the Surrounded at Komosolyets scenario from the BG: Kursk book. We’d use the terrain, deployment, special rules etc, but pick our own 600 points forces. The Russians (me) would still be defending, the last knot of Mechanised Group Kynradov, with the a Panzer Division attacking from the three deployment zones.

Knowing the lay-out etc, up front allows for some more pre-battle planning (which I like). So I picked my Mechanised force to defend (a bit odd, but hey, needs must). I’d turn Trybukha in to a redoubt, using improvised barricades to give my infantry cheap hard cover. This outer defence, mostly using ambush fire, would have the support weapons, spotters for the mortars (my main artillery support) etc, with a second reserve platoon in the buildings and ready to move to take-over the defences when the first platoon’s squads were whittled away.  Also, the BA-10 armoured car would act as a reserve SP AT gun, able to move into position anywhere that looked most threatened by his tanks. Rather than just be entirely static and hold on, I also planned a counter-attack, got to really, as pure static defence gets a bit dull.  6 BT-7s would wait on reserve move. The plan here was to send them on a marauding breakout, to disrupt the panzers, I’d just throw them away with abandon, each going on a fast rampage to try and target soft-skins and other easier chits, it was a suicide mission, but it would be fun and hopefully stop the panzers careful orchestrated attack.

This was my force;

Remnants of Mechanised Group Kynradov

FHQ                22    3    Mortar Spotter
3 men

MC Dispatch        12    0    Dispatches

MRP 1            58    5     1 x 3, 4 x 8 men
Maxim MG Team        18    1
AT Rifle Team        14    1
47mm AT gun        18    1   
76.2mm Inf Gun        19    1

Reserve MRP         47    5    1 x 3, 4 x 8 men, Auxiliary

BT-7 Platoon        137    12    x 6 (1 extra)

FOO Team            16    1    2 men + car, arty spotter+

Hvy Mortar Battery        78    2    2 x 120mm
+ 2 loader teams

6 x Improvised Barricades    30    0    4+ cover save (36”)

2 x sniper hideouts        30    0    3+ cover, sniper-scout

Inf foot patrol            22    2    8 men, scout, (border guards)

BA-10 armoured car        28    1    scout

37mm AA gun + tow        40    1   

1 x 2nd Priority Request    10    0    4+

Totals: 599 pts, 36 BR, 0 officers, 4 scouts
Command Chaos (+D3), Comms breakdown (4+)

The German Panzergruppe was based around a strong kradschurten platoon, a Pz II platoon support by a  Pz III, a Pz IV and a StuG. With them were 50mm AT guns, a 75mm infantry gun, a single 105mm light howitzer deployed for direct fire, various HMG teams, a supply truck, and a pioneer squad in SdKfz 251/1, ready for a lighting ‘break-in’ close assault when my weak point was well pinned. Also, a single timed Stuka strike (knew that must come) and a single timed 105 arty strike. My greatest fear, of a PRTP in the centre of my redoubt being hit every turn by off-table mortars or, worse, 105s didn’t happen - phew! German artillery support was a bit weak.

For once I out-scouted the Germans (I set out to do that, because, well, I always seem to lose these days). I also had the only objective in the centre of the farm. 8 Russian units were waiting on ambush fire as the Germans rolled in on Turn 1. They attacked from the left and right, with their centre being his support-fire group, of spotters, the 105mm gun and a HMG. On the left was the main panzer force, with some infantry support and a 50mm AT gun and light mortar. On the right, the attack was led by a StuG and a Pz II with some infantry and the 75mm infantry gun.  This was more of probe I think, to draw attention and fire away from the panzers

Things started well for the Germans, their air strike (avoiding the already pinned 37mm flak, as it had been pinned down by incoming MG fire), bombing destroyed a BT-7 and pinned another. Their 105mm timed strike on the woods wrecked my 47mm AT gun with a direct hit. The incoming was thicken and pinning mounting as the panzers cautiously moved up. My lurking ambushing AT rifle scored an early kill, KOing his 222 armoured car, a rare kill for me.

My heavy mortars struggled with ‘communications breakdown’, even with 2 spotters in place, one looking left, one right, I only got off about 3-4 salvos in the entire game. They had been my main IDF support, but they did very little really. I still had the priority request and dispatch rider-combo up my sleeve though. Orders, orders, where have all the Orders gone? I rolled terribly, a total of 5, 5, 6 and 7 in the first 4 turns (on 2D6+1D3). So my defence did little, a few ambush shots, pinned an MG team with the infantry gun, pinned a kradschutzen squad with a sniper (good work). No orders to get my reserve units onto reserve move either, that could be a problem. Having lost the AT gun in the woods, and with the StuG and Pz II raking the wood-line and whittling away the only rifle squad, I decided to move the BA-10 to support and take on that armour. Only for a stray 105mm shell to deviate and hit it, KOing it before it had fired a shot.

One BT-7 sneaked up to get some AT shots at the panzers (otherwise I had little to face them), and a fluke shot and penetration (finally a good roll, an 11) killed his Pz IV. That 47mm gun is a worthy bit of kit in 1941. The German light mortar was doing amazing work, rolling 5+s to pin my riflemen and AT rifle team almost every turn. My left looked weak, if the panzers came I had little to hold them. The Germans were still getting set through, MGs into position to support the push, and his orders rolls were not much better than mine… a cautious start.

Overall, on counters taken, I had a narrow advantage, but I was already halfway through my 36 points. I needed orders to fight back, and finally got some, a good roll - at last. So, I unleashed my arty request and got a battery of 152mm guns, targeted by the FOO from behind his barricade on the right-wing attack, they caused a lot of pinning (no direct hits though). Still, with the orders to use and sent 3 BT-7s racing through the woods in the first counter attack - go! The enemy was very heavily pinned, so right on the bombardment's heels came the speeding tanks. On the left, my BT-7 scored a second kill, getting his Pz III too - this guy was a real hero. In return, I’d lost the 37mm AA to raking MG fire at long range in some dire hard cover saving throws and morale test (run away!). No AA cover left, hopefully the Luftwaffe wouldn’t show up.

Alarmed by the BT’s reckless headlong charge, he was forced to use Tactical Co-ordination, but then his pinned StuG, now unpinned, only to miss its close range shot. He also took 2 counters to unpin, and rolled two 1s. 7 BR lost for that… the dice were in fickle mood.

My BT-7 rampage continued, the first killing the Pz II with a point-blank side shot, another raking his supply truck with MG fire into flaming ruins. One BT-7 then broke down, being unreliable, and a second was hit at short range by the infantry gun’s HE shell. You know you’re tank armour is paper-thin when an LG18 can knock you out! One left, but it continued to maraud, hit his SdKfz 251/3 forward HQ vehicle, and glanced off, needing a 4+ I rolled a 3! Good grief. Anyway, the threat from the right was broken, he was now fire-fighting, not attacking.

On the left, I threw my last 2 BT’s into a similar mad attack, one dueled with his Pz II, both repeatedly unable to penetrate the other’s front armour, the other BT when searching easier targets, machine gunning an MG team to death as it sped through the corn. The Germans attacks had both stalled, so the pioneers were called up, there 251/1 on reserve move raced for an direct assault. But, my waiting infantry gun (this was the battle where infantry guns were actually good), hit the Hanomag and pinned it, ending that swift move. With a BT-7 then bearing down on it, the pioneers jumped out. No lightning strike from them. Danger averted. 

In the village, were my infantry had been whittled away, I moved up two reserve squads from the buildings to fill the gaps, and for once, the auxiliaries followed orders and got into the hard cover. Then, as I thought I had it won, the Luftwaffe arrived, another Stuka dived in, and it hammered the village centre, but only with more pinning. Still, most of my infantry now had their heads down. I figured it was close… I had 4 BR left, so 1 chit might end it for my defence. But when the last BT on my right machine gunned his kradschutzen squad, the counter he took broke him. The Germans pulled back, the cornfields burning with the fires from KO’d panzers and BT-7s. My ‘redoubt’ had held out. His BR was broken on 42, I had 4 left on 32 from 36. Phew! Inform STAVKA, were are holding at Trybukna! They shall not pass!

Top game again, a real blast, with some dire dice on both sides. My plan had just worked, after almost being scuppered early by command chaos and communications breakdown. In all, that 600 point-game last 4 hours… a longer game than normal, but we both had so few orders to use. Oh, and 5 times in the game the Germans unpinned and rolled a 1… I felt for him. It became a  running joke.

Here are some shots of the action.

Mortars and BT lines, behind Trybukna farm

Infantry in the woods, behind rock and log barricades

The log walls of the redoubt

More BTs heading left through the farm

 AA on ambush fire, awaiting he Luftwaffe. They'll be coming. 

 In reserve, the border guard squad and BA-10 mobile AT gun. 

 105 barrage hits the woods on turn 2

 and here they are! No AA fire, gun was pinned. BT-7 paid the price down below.

Direct hit... 

 On my right, StuG and Pz II lead on across the ripe cornfields

Incoming, one of just a few mortar barrages

The 120mm mortar-men and their loader teams. Not the impact I hoped for.

BT sneaks an early AT shot in, and scores a Pz IV kill! 

 Pinning building up in the redoubt

StuG shells the tree line 

BT-7s charge through the trees - Stal! Stal! Stal!  Death of glory - but mostly death!

 and on, behind the 152mm barrage, the enemy, already well pinned are sitting ducks! 
Still coming, soft targets ahead - make hay whilst the sun shines (obviously). 

StuG gets back in the action, spins on the spot, and... boom, miss. 

Close-quarters carnage in the cornfield

Infantry gun chipping in with its aid... 1 gunner left and he scored a kill.

 On the other flank, Pz III takes aim at a BT-7.

 PzII wreck by the main road (victim of a mines strike counter)

 The main panzer attack smoulders... a hard fight, but the Russians held on.