Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Spearhead - A Patchwork Of Panzertruppen scenario

Played a micro-armour game today using the ever excellent Spearhead rules.
Unbelievably we last played these in 2011 !!!!!!!!!
Good grief how time flies.....................................

I set up a scenario from the East Front scenario supplement entitled 'A Patchwork Of Panzertruppen' set in November 1943 on the Nogay steppe.

I took the Fascists and Stephen the Reds.
Germans have a Panzerjager Abteilung with a Company of Stugs and 2 of Marders, with a an Armoured PzGren Bttns, 2 Motorizsed PzGren Battns and an Infantry Bttn with off-table support from a 105mm Regt.
Three of my Bttns were Veteran the other 2 Regulars

The Ivans had 2 Tank Brigades with T34/76 and T70 and associated Mech Bttn and another Mech Brigade of 2 Motorized Infantry Bttns.
Ivans had a Battery of 76mm attached (which Stephen chose to bring on-table) and from mid-game he could roll for air support from Sturmoviks.
Ivans were a mix of Green and Regulars.

Scenario is a sort of meeting engagement with both sides advancing onto the table and both able to use flank marches and reserves.

Game was excellent with the short shooting/spotting ranges in SH meaning units can maneuver much more than in most WW2 sets (only FOB is similar) constrained only by their orders (same system of 'arrows' with Attack and Defend orders as Shako - same author of course)  .
I out flanked with my Armd PzGr on my right on turn 3 and forced Ivans to commit a Tank Brigade from Reserve.
The Grenadiers however had no answer to the tanks and were forced to Break Off but survived.
The Ivans as it turned out had 2 Bttns outflanking on my left and both arrived on same turn enmass (one had been delayed 2 turns) and my left flank reinforced PzGr Bttn was soon overwhelmed and broken.
My PzJager stoutly refused to change orders (anything but a 1 for Germans !!) for 2 turns and this saw the Ivans therefore achieve victory by exiting 10 mobile Platoons of my rear edge.
Ivans did have an Mech Inf Bttn routed in center.
In fact losses were pretty even but the Russian flank moves proved successful turning the game in their favour despite Stephen constantly telling me how much better the Germans are in SH, even stating this is the set Hitler would want to use as I was removing destroyed Germans :-)
Only 1 Sturmovik appeared but did destroy 2 Inf Plts with its rockets.

I have always loved SH as a great set of WW2 rules especially for 6mm kit.
Lots of abstraction with focus firmly away from technical aspects such as armour thickness etc but it just 'feels' right doing 'just what it says it does'.
Hard to believe we have neglected this so long just so much choice so little time............

Terrain set up from German side

The German force

Opening moves on my left

German Infantry Bttn arrives in center

Armoured PzGr faced by reserve Tank Brigade

Battle develops

Infantry Bttn moves to its left

PzGr breaking off trying to pull Russians onto Marder gun line

Stugs dominate central hill but refused to obey orders to march to left later

Huge Ivan force arrives on my left

German Infantry tries to intervene

Action in center

But Ivans are breaking out and PzGr Bttn evaporates

Russian Tank Brigade is routed on my right

But its too late as Ivans have achieved objective elsewhere

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Panzer Grenadier Deluxe - Stavelot scenario

Game with  Panzer Grenadier Deluxe (formerly Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier) rules.
Stephen picked the Stavelot scenario from Western scenarios book fielding his Yanks against my Germans of KG Peiper.

Tough scenario for Krauts as all cross-country movement by vehicles is subject to Bog Tests due to soft ground and the Ambleve is an unfordable river except at bridge (which is of course primary objective).
Germans do have 4 Schwimwagens but the Bog Tests make them hard to utilise effectively.

With hindsight we have come to conclusion that we are a tad sparse on the amount of fields/copses etc we use in these games as too much open terrain leads to very heavy Infantry casualties.
Artillery (of which the Yanks have copious amounts) can be deadly in PzGr especially if Infantry bunch up too much.

Germans had awful Initiative rolls (wining initiative once out of 7 turns played) and in early turns failed to activate several Platoons.
A 57mm anti-gun (Ambush Hidden) caused mayhem on my Recce units and I failed to Spot it all game (or get anywhere near close enough to auto-spot).
Hidden M10s traded blows with 2 Hetzers and 2 PzIVHs I had.
One Hetzer was unlucky as Stephen rolled a 12 (minimum Damage result) then I rolled a 2 for Morale test and Hetzer destroyed (likely abandoned).
The other Hetzer suffered a Damage and Fall Back.
However my single King Tiger (once the fecker actually activated) destroyed one M10 outright whilst the other was hit and damaged by other Hetzer and Fell Back and it also failed its Morale with 'snake eyes' and Routed off-table.
The hidden 57mm and another M10 Suppressed my PzIVs one of which later went Low on Ammo.
However my Infantry which I had split onto left and right flanks (as only place with any cover) suffered from accurate US artillery stonks (Stephen just seemed to roll 10+ for his Artillery on all but one occasion) and my Grenadiers fairly melted away as I managed to roll consistently low seeing them therefore Disperse rather than be Suppressed and Disengaged.
We both had a Force Morale of 32 so suffering a Force Morale Tests at 9 losses and Defeat at 17 losses.
I only had one turn of Force Morale Testing as the next turns losses saw my force Defeated.
Yanks had at most 4 losses (?)

I do like PzGr as it ticks a lot of WW2 boxes for me without too much complexity and has no 'WTF !!' moments like......oh let me think......BG.
Some things are minor in nature such as individual guns types having differing ranges (maybe only by 4" or so) but it makes a difference on table and in my tiny mind.

AFVs stalled on road

Volksgrenadiers advance on right

A Puma is damaged and forced back by the 57mm and a PzIV is suppressed

PzGrenadiers on left try to hug the lonely bit of cover and were later almost entirely wiped out by artillery (I lost 2 Platoon Cmdrs and a Coy HQ as well).

Tiger trundles forward at last

Volksgrenadiers decimated by Artillery

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Combat Commander: Sealion last two scenarios played

Played remaining two scenarios of Sealion Battle Pack with my Dad last night and as ever two exciting and dramatic games they were.

First had British SOE Partizan group attacking a German Column in the snow.
This one proved very close as the Germans get double points for exiting troops and the British double points for killing Germans.
Victory levels swayed and Germans were nearing surrender levels with last group dug-in in foxholes holding off British.
Time ran out for British with Germans with +2 VP so a win for the Huns.

Second scenario had Germans defending a battery of coastal guns at Dover.
Lots of British here but a tough task attacking entrenched Germans protected by minefields and owning the high ground.
British caught in open at start (No Move cards and Germans get 2 Fire cards by default) and suffered accordingly.
I did manage to turn German left flank getting in behind his lines but came a cropper on a couple of unseen minefields.
Again Time ran out too quickly for the Brits so another fun one for the Hun.

I was reticent to obtain the Sealion pack due its 'unhistorical' basis but it proved to have some interesting and fun scenarios.

Germans caught on route march by Brits

British numbers nullified by tough defences at Dover

Friday, June 14, 2019

Battlegroup - worst wargame in a long time !

Game using Battlegroup today with a scenario from the rather nice Spring Awakening (Hungary 1945) supplement (itself a supplement to the Fall Of The Reich supplement).
Stephen brought his Russians and I fielded Germans.
In Hungary 'mud-bound' rules apply with AFVs moving off road being at increased risk of breakdown in the clothing mud but this did not occur in game as not much in way of movement overall.

I had core force with some 'sexy' kit in form a of Platoon of 3 Tiger II along with a Platoon of Pioneers with off table battery of 81mm Mortars and a small force of reinforcements (in addition to core troops Germans get 100pts to spend) which i used to purchase a HMG team, a Sd 234/1 and a Squad of Veterans in addition to upgrading all my MG34 to MG42.

Ivans had a full Platoon (or maybe 2 ?) in trenches an HMG in a dug-out and 3 x 76mm ATGs in weapon pits with extra crew (possible extra shot per turn) supported by an off table battery of 76mm field guns with 2 counter battery missions.
He had a scheduled reserve of 3 x SU76 and 125pts for extra reserves which bought a Senior officer and 3 x T34s and an artillery request.

Terrain set up was fine (for all there is) and Russians deployed as expected in the central wood entrenched with minefield protecting the road.
A very open table to attack across however as are most of scenarios set in Hungary.
A dice roll for Russians scheduled their reserves to arrive on turn 4 the Germans delayed until turn 6, with a weather roll yielding Low Cloud cover but allowing possibility of air attacks.

The German deployment turned out to be the high point of their game !

It instantly developed into a deluge (dicetastic) of Russian fire to Pin the Tigers (needing a 6) and Infantry with at least one Tiger per turn Pinned (on one turn all 3 were Pinned).
In BG the issue is that Pinned equals 'rendered totally and completely unconscious' as the unit cannot move or fire and of you course must pull at least one Battle Rating chit each turn to allow 1D6 recoveries from Pinning or leave them in hors de combat mode.
This rendered my units (Infantry as well as Tigers) as essentially skipping a turn constantly and any firing they managed was nullified by the Reinforced Cover the Russians utilised as Pinning/Hit effects against them could be saved by a roll of 3+ (AFVs if Pinned get no saves).
I was quite lucky with chit pulls initially as they allowed me to attempt Beyond The Call of Duty tests and I got 3 (yes 3 !!) Air Attack counters.
Fortunately for Ivans only 1 generated a fairly ineffectual Luftwaffe strike.
The game was a uninspiring farce of get Pinned, Recover, get Pinned again and so on and so on.
It got so frustrating (ie pants) that I ended up just charging forward with 2 Tigers when I had the chance of course they then got Pinned and outflanked by arriving Soviet armour and subsequently destroyed.
The game was essentially over from turn 2 but I manfully (or masochistically) played until inevitably my Force Battle Rating (31) was exceeded by loss chits.

Maybe not the best scenario in the world (but historical) but the 'Hollywood/Warhammer' nature of BG was exposed with the emphasis clearly on the game.
The scenario is 1st of 6 in a mini-campaign with each playable twice.
This one could be replayed with Germans getting an additional further 125pts of kit but I would rather stab myself repeatedly in any orifice with a hot poker !

It often grates that an 8 man German squad requires 2 orders to move or fire (1 for Rifle Team, 1 for MG42 team) whilst a 10 man Russian squad moves or fires on a single order (the supposed flexibility of a split squad is insufficient compensation to my mind).
Whilst system does not have any firm ground scale (although seems to set at grand-skirmish level) it allows all forms of Ordinance to fire exactly the same so a 37mm fires just the same as a 75mm or an 88mm only if the weapon actually hits do the 'better' guns have greater effect.
This coupled with the Ammo rules (I get why but......) means Germans want to close range to get better hit chance rather than to stand off.
We just played that you could choose your round type but strictly speaking you should note mix of HE and AP (Tiger II gets 8 ammo a T34 has 9).
Mind you it is generally a 6 to hit anything over 20" if either moves anyway so I suppose a mute point.
After seeing the pointlessness of using HE ammo to fire on entrenched troops it was as effective to close up and use AFV MGs (no ammo limits) to try (unsuccessfully) to suppress the enemy guns.
Artillery has in my opinion (I know like assholes all have them) a rather too large range of effect (10" radius from point of aim/strike normally 15" if used to Pin only) which can potentially affect a lot of units.
My lowly Mortars get 4 dice so was usually Pinning 2-3 units (of course they saved) and any Direct Hits (on a 6...not that I got any !) would yield another 4 dice on target unit potentially causing on further 4+ but with target able to roll saves again.
On plus side rules are fast playing and fairly simple, maybe too much so for my tastes ?
They have very nice and comprehensive force lists and several really interesting scenarios but I think for me definitely way too much style over not much substance.
Panzer Grenadier a much more satisfying game and IABSM also despite its lack of clarity.
Of course despite this I will likely try them again if asked as truly a glutton for punishment.

My most favourable phase of game............prior to deployment of any troops

Russian right with Minefield centered on road (5" radius from MDF chit)

King on my left note PINs on 1 and Infantry

Russian Maginot line in woods

German casualties and chits accumulating

German mortar pre-registered point of aim on wood edge (blue chit)

Inching forwards.........................

SU76 Battery arrives (a T70 doing stand-in duty)

T34s just visible top center support Maginovski line

Monday, June 10, 2019

Combat Commander: Sealion two more scenarios played

Couple more scenarios from Sealion Battle Pack played with my Dad.

Honours even as I won first and Dad second.

As ever superb experience with this excellent system.
Excitement, frustration (where are those damn Move cards !!??) in equal measure with a great narrative generated.

Great stuff and one of the best value for money games I have bought due to sheer replay value and very much a 'go to' game.

British attacking a German HQ area. Thinly defended and easily outflanked as Dusk falls (an increasing level of LOS Hindrance as game progresses)

US friends try, but fail, to retake an RAF base. Very little cover and breezes kept blowing away US smoke !

Saturday, June 08, 2019

General D'Armee - Gilly 1815 scenario

Game today at Stephens using GDA rules and the first scenario from the 1815 supplement, Gilly.
This scenario depicts first serious encounter after Napoleon maneuvered near Chareloi in June 1815 coming up against a Prussian blocking force at village of Gilly.
An interesting scenario and one which legitimately has Napoleon actually in charge on the field !
I of course used my Prussians against Stephens French.
Been a while since we used GDA (November 2018) but we got into the flow of the Command ADC system and turn sequence pretty quickly.
Couple of usual queries over the wording (actually lack thereof at times) of some stuff with multiple targets being main query today as in unsure if when a unit fires it can or must target/effect all units in its 'beaten zone' (indeed we may have discussed this before !).
We ruled volley fire is indeed split but not 100% clear.
Fun game with French Cavalry stymied by the stream (the could only cross in Column at the bridge or singular ford) although with hindsight we realised that the Empress Dragoons could have crossed and changed formation in one turn.
As it was the French sort of refused their left allowing one of my Brigades to advance across the stream and for my Reserve Landwehr Brigade to redeploy to my right.
Central French Brigade was under Infantry Assault orders from start of scenario but never really defined its target and so sort of languished on its side of waterway.
But French Artillery did some damage to the large unit of Prussian Musketeers in the village.
French did try one assault on this weakened unit but retired once faced by reinforcing 2nd large unit.
However in GDA units cannot be driven back by shooting as such when assaulting a built up area so always at least a chance to oust defenders which we thought was better than the 'fortresses' in OTH.
Game not finished (too much waffling as ever) but whilst French were weakened one of my Brigades was Faltering (I had rallied 2 previous Falters with uncharacteristic rolls of 6) with a unit Dispersed and had lost a battery of guns.
However debatable if the French could carry the position in 4 turns remaining (10 turn scenario possibly extended one turn per broken Prussian Brigade)
GDA have a lot going for them generating a game that feels to us quite Napoleonic and is fun system to play just some definition/clarity lacking.

Prussian right with ford visible (placed by French)

Prussian centre with unit in village (compulsory) and impassable marsh areas (placed by Prussians)

Prussian left with Landwehr Brigade in Reserve

French main strength on my right

Action develops in centre as Skirmishers engage

Mounted Brigades look acroos stream at each other.

French Attack Columns forming

And advance as Prussian deploy to counter

Landwehr Cavalry suffer from French Guns.

Prussians under Pirch forge across stream as Landwehr starts to redeploy from Reserve