Saturday 18 December 2021


February 7th, 1944 - Japanese forces are moving south through the Mayu Hills, to cut the road (track) through the Ngayedauk Pass, the main supply and transport route for 7th Indian Division over the Mayu Hills. 7th Division have sent out strong fighting patrols to slow or prevent the Japanese progress towards this important jungle road. The longer the route down from the pass is open, the more forces will be able to reach the box defence area that is just being established. The 25th Dragoon’s M3 tanks and men of the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, are moving over the pass and down through the hills and these will be vital to the defence of the Admin Box in future days. The patrols needs to buy them time to get into the box.

This would be an attack/counter-attack scenario, played in heavy rain on a table covered in jungle, hills, fast streams, etc.

My fighting patrol was B Company, 4/8th Gurkhas, 2 fighting patrols (5 and 6 platoon), a FHQ, comms relay, FOO, off-table 3.7” mountain gun battery, a 3” mortar team and 4 scouts, 2 ‘Tiger’ patrols and 2 snipers. The force in detail:

After the initial clash of the recce elements, the game developed into two battles really, one was with 6 Platoon on the left as they pushed along the jungle track and ran into strong Japanese elements, including being shelled from a mountain gun (and loader team), hitting an PRTP with mostly harassing barrages - to be christened Whizz-Bang-Willy. 5 Platoon would move across the stream and up the very steep jungle hill (the top was an objective). They claimed this after destroying a Japanese recce patrol in a ferocious close assault (1 Tiger patrol pinned it, the others jumped them and wiped them out with bayonet and kukri). Once on the hill, they went firm on ambush fire and awaited the arrival of the enemy… who approached cautiously and, in the end, baulked at the firepower waiting if the climbed the hills slopes. It was a wary stalemate here for many turns, but I had the objective. When the PHQ arrived, slogging up the hill, they could start throwing some 3” mortar bombs down on where the Japanese were lurking too.  

Over with 6 Platoon pushing along the trail, they first ran into a hidden Japanese sniper, then infantry sections (some conscripts) which had rushed up over the ridge. A ferocious firefight followed, turn after turn, with much pinning. Many knee mortars from the ridge line had 6 Platoon well pinned down, and they took heavy losses, before pulling back with the survivors and the FOO. It had not gone well…

Behind, the Japanese were struggling to get more troops forward. My artillery and mortar were scoring pins and casualties each turn. His own commander was repeatedly refused artillery support, to hit the useful PRTP, for 7-8 turns asking and never got his guns!

With 6 platoon in trouble and pulling back, I had to do something on ‘5 Platoon Hill’. I took a bold move and gave up the ambush fire to advance, taking some rifle fire in return, but bringing the platoon’s firepower into place to shoot down the hill into the Japanese below. It proved too much, many Japanese infantry died on the hill’s lower slopes, even their stretcher-bearer team was shooting back! The Gurkhas pressed the attack down the slopes, and in 2 close assaults cut the Japanese down and forced 2 more counters on them… it was enough to break them. 5 Platoon had saved the day and secured the highest ground. But the Japanese conscripts were on the pass road, only held-up by the fire from my mountains guns.

It was excellent and very different game, with LoS restricted to just 20” and all jungle as hard cover, it was hard work. My counter draws were lucky (for once), finding four 1s and three special counters in my draws, so reaching only 24 of the 31 BR of the Gurkhas. it was closer than that though.

This was game 1 of a planned small campaign based around the ‘Admin Box’ in February ’44… my defenders have to hang-on long enough for relief to arrive (10 days away), but the Japanese will quickly run short of supplies (the Box has daily air resupply in place). We’ll use the history and the game results to develop the narrative, game-by-game. The next battle is already set for February 8th, when the Japanese launch a first dawn assault at the new box’s south-west perimeter. So an attack/defence game, with my men dug-in and backed up by the Indian mountain guns again, and maybe a tank (wow!), 25th Dragoon’s M3 Grants are my only armour. The Japanese have none… except for maybe a recce tankette - frightening. 

The trail from Ngayekdauk Pass, Brits from the bottom right, Japanese from upper left.

The other end of the trail.

Tiger patrols, 4 in all, sneaking up ahead of the main force. Here the first reaches the top of 5-Platoon Hill to claim the objective. The Japanese are coming this way.

Creeping through the jungle... towards another objective on the central ridge.

Japanese set-up a AT gun... having hauled it up the ridge from the ford, it fired once all game... on ambush fire (white smoke shows this).

3" mortar team are set-up and ready for a very busy day. The tropical rain will keep the barrel cool.

Next Japanese gun in place, 75mm mountain type... with a PRTP to aim for, a loader team, and using harassing fire, it was busy... but didn't hit much. Quickly dubbed 'whizz-bang-willy'. 'Here comes whizz-bang-willy again, he's wasting his 50 yen on those shots!'

Japanese use a nullah to approach 5 Platoon Hill, the Gurkhas are already in top on ambush fire...waiting, bayonets fixed.

Hidden sniper is revealed and opens fire to pin down the approach of 6 Platoon along the trail.

Soon backed up by the first infantry to make it over the ridge.

Crossing the stream under accurate 3.7" gun fire, pinned in the ford.

The CO watches on and tries, at least 7-8 times, to get his divisional fire support to hit the PRTP. No dice (well, many dice, none 4+).

5 Platoon Hill saw heavy fighting in the end, after a long stand-off. Ayo Gurkhali! 

More Japanese infantry conscripts, pinned by mortar fire as the cross the stream's torrent, running down from the Mayu Hills.

The Company CO and his comms team and 1 stubborn mule (for the radio)... little fire marks an objective.

6 Platoon on the trail, not much left... and the FOO, saving their bacon...

End of the game, the Gurkhas have won it, but the trail has enemy troops on it. The 25th Dragoons will have to blast them out of the way. At the rear-right, 5 Platoon Hill...

Monday 13 December 2021


For this Fall of the Reich game, we decided to use the map from the scenario but select our own 750 point forces, a chance to use some models that need a bit of tabletop time. I rarely get to play Germans, but I’d face the tough prospect of holding the village as the red tide surged towards Berlin. Gotterdammerung awaits!

I selected my 750 points force, 2 platoons of poor infantry, a Panzer IV platoon in reserve, a few bits a pieces and, something I’d rarely do, one big beast (the biggest beast), just because this model is 15 years old and only seen one battle. Time to dust it off and give it go.

Backs to Berlin     15     +D6

Volksgrenadier Platoon     85     7-i    officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts     15            

Feldkanone 295/1(r)     18     1-i     3 crew, 76mmL30 (4/4+, AP 5/3)

Volkssturm Platoon     71     5-i    officer, mortar spotter
3 pzfausts     15

Pz IV H Platoon     160     9-v    officer, mortar spotter

Foxholes - 20 men     20     0
Command Bunker - 4 men     30     3-r    senior officer, mortar spotter,
1 Minefield     20      0

120mm mortar battery      72     0    off-table

Sniper + observer      15     1-v    sniper-scout

SdKfz 250/9      26     1-r    scout, mortar spotter

Jagdtiger       162      5-e    + panzer ace

SdKfz 251/17       18     1-r     AA

Supply Truck      8      1-i

750 pts    34+D6(4) BR    4 officers, 2 scouts

The Russians went with 2 platoons of basic infantry, mostly tank riding on 3 T-34 platoons. They’d be supported by a battery of 3 120mm mortars (on table), an infantry gun and a timed air strike from a Sturmovik. They had also maxed out on recce: 2 jeep teams (as extra mortar spotters), 2 snipers, a patrol in a White scout car and a Valentine (VIII) tank. They’d out scout the Germans then… they also took 2 PRTPs, cunning, one on each end of the village would mean they hit it every turn if needed.

It wouldn’t be, as, suspecting the village would be heavily targeted (fearfully by Katyusha strikes), I placed most of my forces outside of it. To the left, the Volkssturm platoon, dug-in, with the old Tsarist M1902/30 gun behind them and the command bunker to call in mortar fire. To the right, most of the Volksgrenadier platoon. The village had just the sniper, an MG team and a reserve MG team (soon waiting to move where needed on reserve move).

This deployment directly countered the Russia plan of attack, which was to split into two forces to go round the village, to the north and south, and not assault the houses. Tanks and infantry evenly divided, whilst the mortars hit the village and kept it well pinned down. First, was to get the mortar spotter jeep teams in place so he had the entire tabletop under observation… those 120’s would play merry-hell, I had no line of sight to them and couldn’t counter them.

Deployment complete, the Russian attackers took the first turn and the recce rolled on.

The Russian took their time to get set for the pushes left and right, getting the mortars on and set-up, snipers traded fire in a sniper duel and one of his was killed by a stray mortar round. As the Russian held back and built up their reinforcements each turn, we traded mortar fire and the German tanks also arrived, including the Jagdtiger which moved up through the village(on roads), the mortars would need to be lucky to effect it. The vital supply truck was another matter though, it lurked well back, wary of the mortaring. As the Jagdtiger arrived and rumbled up, a Sturmovik dived in to bomb the village, braving the 20mm ambush fire on my 251/17 (missed). To drop its bombs and, err, do very little, 1 pin was all from the bombing run.  

The German tanks moved on to get some long range shots at the T-34s, one scored a hit and pinned a T-34 (glance). To the south the infantry were engaged in a fire-fight across the fields, with much pinning holding the Russians back, thanks to MG-42 fire raking the hedges. But the return fire was heavy too… stalemate here for now, but the Russian numbers would surely tell in the end.

A stroke of luck in the village, the 120mm mortar barrage (at a PRTP) causes a hit on the Jagdtiger, no damage but the resulting morale test is a ‘beyond the call of duty test’, it is elite (panzer ace) and so moves up and opened fire, hitting a T-34… and rolling a 3 for AP… glance, pinned it (argh!). Still it’s in position now, with many T-34 targets to aim for.

The Russians continue to manoeuvre left and right, and bomb the village, but are continually hindered by pinning. The Volkssturm’s machine gun team are doing good work, until pinned down themselves and the German sniper is killed by a mortar impact through the roof they were hiding in. The Russian are forced to take 2 counters to unpin, in preparation for the big push to come.

The Germans know it’s coming and, rolling well for orders, give them hell to hold them bank. The Jagtiger scores hit on the White scout car and it vapourised… T-34s are scattering to avoid its narrow arc of fire. The Panzer IVs score a hit and another pin (another damn glance, I cannot roll AP today). The Volksgrenadier infantry and machine guns do more pinning and stall the push to the south for another turn. Outnumbered 2 to ,1 they are putting up a hell of a fight. T-34 return fire hits and KO’d a Panzer IV, whilst others rake the hedges with MGs and pin my men down. The Jagdtiger fires, misses, then pulls back and the ammo truck is forced to risk the mortar fire to re-arm it. The trucks get pinned in the incoming barrage of 120mm bombs… but a BtCoD counter means it unpins and rearms the Jagdtiger (under heavy mortar fire - heroics indeed). Bombed up, the Jagdtiger turns around and heads back into the fight.

The Russian push to the north is on, infantry jump from the tanks and advance at my line of Volkssturm in their foxholes. They use their single panzerfaust, hit, and … glance again (god damn it!). Still, a pinned tank. The Russian fire whittles the Volkssturm down. But they give as a good as they get. Another T-34 speeds across the field, and another panzerfausts is launched on ambush fire, killing it – at last! The red infantry assault the line of foxholes and overrun one Volkssturm squad. Behind, the Tsarist M1902 gun has opened fire as an improvised AT gun, and proved predictably woeful…

The pressure is mounting, the Russian rain of 120mm mortars continues, with two direct hits and wipes out another machine gun team and Volkssturm’s Platoon HQ team, hiding in the clock tower. Those counters push my BR to the limit. One more turn, but can I break the Russians?

The Jagdtiger does its best, lines up 2 T-34s, hits both and turns them both into burning scrap… those two counters are… not enough (one sees my 120mm mortar battery off-table run out ammo - great!). My Panzer IVs are now low on ammo, one fires it’s last AP round, misses, and reverses back to find the ammo truck. Lacking any tank support, my infantry to the south are suddenly entirely pinned down. 12 men have held off most of a Russian platoon and two T-34s all game, but now the Russians are coming across the field, intent on getting close assaults in against my pinned troops. I just have to unpin… and that counter, a 4, breaks the Germans’ BR of 38… game over. Fallback!

Freidersdorf has fallen, the red tide has swept over it. In the end, the Russians still had 13 BR left, so a solid win, but he did draw 5 special counters in the game (no aircraft though, thankfully, as he had a VVS officer lurking at the bank). Still, if a few of them had been numbers, it would have been very close. The Russian had their own bad luck though (4 times rally counters drawn and rolled a 1!). My inexperienced infantry had put up a good fight, the best the Third Reich can hope for in 1945. I had killed 3 T-34s and lost just 1 Pz-IV, the Jagdtiger did well, 3 kills and it should have been more but for some unlucky dice (missed twice needing 3+ both times!, and scored a glancing hit with that massive damn gun!). The Russians should have paid more, but AP rolls that glanced and pinned 4 times cost too! Still, it was a fun run out for the Jagdtiger and a really good game. Time for tea and a re-cap.

The reds are very tough in 1945… they roll on for Berlin…


Russian approach, to the south of the village

Tsarist Model 1902/30 gun, now part of the Volksgrenadier's defence as an ad hoc AT gun. Covering north of town.

Volksgrenadier advance to the road and hedge to meet the Russian infantry.

Reserve squad and 251/17, the AA defence.

First Russian recce, White scout car and Valentine.

Russians deploy their 120mm mortar battery in close support.
First T-34s arrive, all carry tank riders.

VVS swoops in through 20mm flak fire, to bomb the rear of the village.

Bombs away... but mostly misses...

The mighty Jagdtiger arrives in the village.

and Panzer IV support...

German mortar fire starts up.

and the Jagdtiger is quickly in position to engage the lead T-34s.

Return fire KO's a Pz-IV from long range, unlucky.

North of town, the last of Volkssturm (in foxholes) pinned down and about to be overrun.

Having been re-armed under the mortar rain, the Jagdtiger now blocks the main road into town and scores 2 T-34 kills.

Then another T-34 gets a panzerfaust and brews-up.

More T-34s burst into the field to the south, and the Volksgrenadier cannot stop them. With Russians breaking through to the north and south, its time to fall back towards Berlin... what is German for 'run away!'?

Monday 15 November 2021

Along Am Thiesenberg, with Battlegroup NorthAG

Continuing our gaming ramble through ‘larger’ games with armies and rules we just enjoy, but maybe don't use enough, this was a 1,000 point game of NorthAG (it’s been a while).

Here is the Russian force I selected for my 1,000 pts.

I found a spot on Google Earth that looked likely for a good game, and one that I knew I could recreate(ish) with my terrain collection. We used the standard scenario from the game. 

British end of the table, the Aue river and the woods which would become a very hot-spot.

Russian end, the small farm and open fields either side of Am Thiesenberg.

 It turned into a helluva scrap… the early turns saw the Russian smoke screen in effect, for 6 turns, which limit a lot of fire (but not the dug-in British Chieftains), but they only score a single kill at long range on one of the recce tanks. My battle plan was to stage my attack in two ‘phases’. The first would be a rush to get the second objective required by the ‘Advance and Hold’ special rule. The second would be press on from their with the Reinforcement Requests (more tanks and infantry), to take Objective 3. It didn’t work out much like that, but it still made for a close game. The British had spent heavily on their Forward Screen, with dug-in infantry and Chieftains, a Scimitar recce troop, a Gazelle (give him the Scout benefits and spotting for off-table Abbots). We both also had Combat Air Patrols up, and the jets were the first to engage. The Harrier’s sidewinders failed to drive off my ‘Flogger’, but returning air-to-air missiles also failed to chase away the Harrier… which (no doubt by some slick, low-speed VTOL manoeuvring), then did engage and drive away the Flogger (maybe he just ran out of missiles)… so the British had the air superiority for now. That would have an effect later in the game, as 2 Gunship counter for my Russians both failed to show because of the patrolling Harrier, and I had no AA (high) weapons to target it with (note for future games). Nice work from the RAF today…

Initial action. Blue (Brits) A - dug-in infantry and Chieftains. B - FV-432 platoon, Scimitars and Chieftains advance. C- HQ. Red (Russian) A Tank Platoon and BTR infantry attack. B Tank Platoon supporting fire. C Tank Platoon, BRDM-2 mortar spotter and guided weapon carriers in static positions.


CAP on station...

CAP on station...

Dogfight! 1983 style, but not at that range obviously...

Back on the ground, my first advance was cautious, trying to avoid execution by waiting Chieftain gunnery. My T-64Bs, moved up, got onto Ambush fire and awaited the smoke to clear, to return fire with a fusillade of ATGMs (all missed, in fact, not one ATGM from either side hit all game, the Brits fired 13 Milan and Swingfire shots, all missed. The Russians returned with at least various 15 ATGMs too, all missed! - very expensive shooting that!).

The arrival of my first Motor Rifle BTR-mounted platoon saw it rush Objective 2, through incoming, but ineffective, 105mm shelling called in by the Gazelle. My infantry dismounted and took the objective, but coming the other way his FV-432 platoon had also dismounted and a heavy infantry fire-fight started in the woods. The Brits got the upper hand, removing 3 Russian infantry stands (grr - 1s) and a BTR with a ’66’ hit… but fast behind my first platoon, my second arrived, again through 105 fire (this time its ground radar guided shots destroyed a BTR and all its passengers with a direct hit, 3 counters, that hurt!). But my infantry hung on, got the Brits pinned down too, used their Grail MANPAD against the lurking Gazelle (popping up behind the trees) and missed… as had my SA-13 several times… I cannot hit that damn helicopter! One Scimitar was KO’d by an RPG shot, but the game became a long range duel of ATGMs and mostly suppressing fire from the tank, with an close quarters infantry brawl in the woods, which was a stalemate, although the Brits were outnumbered. There attached sustained fire GPMG did excellent pinning work.

Overhead, the RAF turned up again with a Jaguar strike on the rearward farm, which ran the gauntlet of SA-13 missiles and Shilak fire, took a hit, rolled a 6 to jink through it, and got its bombs away. Pinning was all it caused, but the RAF were on-it today!

The Brits had a slim lead on counters, but not by much as we broke for lunch… so far the Russian had lost just two tanks, the Brits one (an engine fire from a Breakdown). 

Recce tanks watch over the fields towards the British lines.

They push on... and first loss of the game, a Chieftain scores a direct hit...

The lead company start to deploy, 3 platoons of three (left, right and centre) and the bosses tank just back, centre rear. Warned by the loss of the recce tank, they move up slowly and load ATGMs...

British dug-in positions, white smoke marks unit on Ambush Fire (so, yeah, all of them).

Move up! A T-64B is pinned by a glancing hit... platoon is accompanied by a BRDM-2 mortar spotter.

Scimitar reaches the road junction (objective marked by a KO'd FV-432).

First British HQ track rolls up to Aue... to aid the battle from the west bank with all that signals-stuff...

First MRP's BTRs race across the fields for the woods, ball of smoke is to remind us - there is smoke!

Left flank tank platoon stand off at long-range and wait for the smoke to clear to engage with ATGMs... they fired them all, and missed with them all... this was always just a base of fire, not an advance. Missiles gone, they reverted to HE harassment. 

Chieftains support the FV-432s on their way to the woods... the lead one broke down and had to be abandoned - a troubled day for the RTR...
Rapier battery and the Red Caps deploy at the rear... but the AA wasn't ready to engage the incoming SU-25 (so, yeah, when you have one job to do!).

One brave fly-boy, the Jaguar makes its dash through incoming, get its bombs away and then hits the afterburners...

Back to it after a tea break, with the Russians calling up more infantry reinforcements to get through that wood… but the electronic warfare unit of the Brit’s tactical command meant the order wasn’t received, so no extra motor rifle infantry to help out. Meanwhile, the Brits had called-up some engineers, to try and recover another broken down Chieftain (damn that Leyland engine), then more infantry for the same job, to reinforce in the woods. His second platoon was a reserve unit, in Saxon APCs (we quickly made up the stats, so 0 armour all-round!). They arrived under heavy fire from ATGMs (missing) and 120mm mortars but made it through unscathed, speeding along the road behind the wood.

That wasn’t a healthy place to be either, as my timed SU-25 air strike arrived, fast and low, to bomb the road junction. The Harrier CAP failed to get it, and the Rapier team wasn’t on Ambush Fire (lacking of orders, it had been forgotten), so they were caught with their pants down! Bombs away, and 2 parked FV-432s were left wrecked as the Frogfoot screamed away. Following that, I had already requested Airborne Support and an air-mobile infantry platoon choppered in… landing behind the woods and instantly dismounting and attacking. 2 Saxons were left wrecked by RPG fire and the British infantry were caught in the open and heavily pinned. Then, the Mi-8 helo had a ‘Breakdown’ counter played on it and, obviously having taken too much fire inbound, it was now stuck on the ground, immobilised and a very sitting duck (time for the pilots to abandon ship I think).

Our reinforcements had pushed up both our Break Ratings, and the game would have been over, but no, it went on. Into turns 11 and 12, and my second wave of T-64 armour arrived, using Company Orders to advance and lay down a barrage of HE, which again had the Brits heavily pinned, especially their tanks, which were struggling to get off shots and outnumbered. The recovery vehicle had arrived but failed to fix anything. It was now in the line of Russian tank fire (unhappy REME!).

Both side’s stacks of BR counters were large, both players counting furiously. The loss of a couple of Russian tanks as they pushed forwards cost me more counters and by turn 13 my total was on 75 from a BR 75… oh dear, next counter would end it. That next counter came as the airborne infantry lost a stand to small arms fire in their bold attack, but the counter was a 1, which saw another Chieftain (the 3rd) breakdown and the crew abandon it. His 2 counters (NATO force preservation in effect) just might break him… I hoped, but no, one was a gunship counter, finally a Lynx was inbound (it was desperately needed with 15 Russian tanks on the table)… the Brits had reach 82 from their 85 BR total… so, so close. But they had hung on to win a very close encounter, even if taking more BR damage.

Great game, all elements of the game were fully in play, with specialist units, air strikes, AA-missiles, helos, electronic warfare (I loved the turn that halved his Orders, that was very unpleasant for the Brits). Timed arty strikes (mine were slightly disappointing, but did cause some pinning and one was blocked by an counter-battery air strike - the RAF at it again!). There was a surprise helo infantry assault and ambush of his Saxons, turn after turn of a close range infantry firefight in the woods, with RPGs and 66s flying (he got 2 BTRs with his 66s, but missed 4 times as well, more training on 66s required). All in all, very happy with our 4.5 hours of gaming, a battle just as I envisioned it when writing the game. 

A very marginal British win, 1 or 2 more counters was all it would have taken (maybe just 1 ATGM hit - somewhere, anywhere). In the the end, the reinforcements were vital… getting the third infantry platoon would have kept me in the fight another turn, which is all I needed. Still, a memorable game…

Blue. A - Dug-in defence at objective 4, under ATGM and mortar fire. B - HQ. C - Chieftains, mostly broken down or pinned under HE fire. D - Infantry platoon in woods, heavily engaged. Red. A - MRP attacks into woods. B Tank supporting fire and second tank company advance. C - static position, firing a lot, hitting not much! D- Mi-8 landing and infantry attack towards the road.

What is Russian for 'Out! Out! Out!'? Urrah!, the motor infantry platoon charge into the woods.


They attack into the woods and take the objective (marked by 105 gun), but at a cost. 2 BTRs KO'd by 66s... the Grail team lurks at the rear, trying to hit the damn Gazelle...

REME on the job... but no joy... 'you just can't get the parts these days!'

Russian HQ at the farm, Shilka on Ambush fire... but the Gazelle wisely stayed out of range. Fresh tanks moving up, HE loaded...

Second tank company arrives and lay down a hail of HE... keep those deadly Chieftains suppressed!

Mi-8 inbound... full of Russian airborne troops, but where to go?.

SU-25's bombs impact behind the wood, FV-432s are KO'd or pinned.

SU-25, fast and low, avoiding the Harrier's patrol, and the expected Rapier missiles. It's a real mess down there...

Second MRP in BTRs follows the first, one is catastrophically hit by a radar guided 105mm Abbot shell. Another takes a Chieftain's 120mm hit and turns into instant scrap-metal... 

Reinforcing platoon in Saxons speed up the road, to behind the woods, ready to join that fight, they think!
120mm mortar shelling brackets the dug-in infantry and their MILAN post (oh, and three Chieftain tanks).

Russian airborne troops set-down and attack the woods from behind, catching the Saxon column in a hail of RPG shots. Behind them, their ride has just broken down! No more thwoppa-thwhoppa!