Monday, 1 October 2018

Game 69 : France 1940, the 2nd skirmish

This was the last of the current series of WWII games involving the early French. The terrain was the same as in the first skirmish game. Intriguingly, the OBs selected by both sides were also the same as in the first game. The Germans were based on a 3 Btn Mot Regt. In support was 1 Btn of off table 105mm Hows, 1 x Coy of Pak 35 ATGs, 1 x M/C Coy and 1 x Tank Coy (2 x Pz IIIEs and 1 Pz IVE).
 
The French forces were based on 2 x Regts of Mot Infantry, each of 3 Btns. In support were 2 x 75mm off table guns, 1 x Btn of Char B1s and a Regt of Panhard ACs (it is huge, 16 ACs).
 

This game is very balanced. The French started by slowly forcing back the German flanks so that an encircling action could be attempted. The Char B1s were allotted, by Coy, to specific French Regts and this flexibility, in this instance, worked to their advantage. Pak 35s don't do very well against their flank armour even!



The main German advantage lies in the amount of support weapons that are integral to each Battalion. This can easily tip the balance in a fire fight or the process of using covering forces to aid advances.


The Germans were pressed on every side. The German armour kept a central position and "flew" from flank to flank much like an emergency fire brigade. Periodically, French ACs would present themselves as juicy targets and as a result they suffered significant casualties.


The central village was always held by the Germans. This is on the right. The village portion on the left would become a no mans land as German artillery was easily targeted on this village to ensure that the French could not ensconce themselves in the middle of the village.


A pic of the French trying to slowly close the area that the Germans controlled. The Char B1s were key to this process, their armour affording them a near invincibility and the hull gun providing effective HE support fire. But the infantry had to move very carefully. Here the Germans are relinquishing the first hedge and are moving to a second hedge line.


This is a similar situation on the opposite flank. It was this turn that saw a major French armoured effort. The Char B1s closed on both sides to engage the Germans. It got quite nasty, quite a lot of damage on the Germans, including a destroyed Pz IIIE. The Char B1s took a small number of hits, but more importantly they suffered a morale loss. One was bad enough that the Char B1s were pinned in position. As they had been engaged by the Engineer platoons, the next turn would have been critical. Then we ran out of time......................
The battle is very well balanced. We could both see that if either side were reinforced by any sort of combat Btn, then that would tip the balance for their side. It was nice to see how the game hovered on a knife's edge.


Here we are, and both still sober!! Next up we are back to Napoleonics. It looks like that I will start with Vimeiro in the Peninsular. Not long to that game.........

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Game 68 : France 1940, the main battle

This was the main battle fought over the same terrain as the last smaller battle. This would feature 4 French Divisions, all picked as desired by the French, against a 3 Regt Motorised Division of good quality. The Germans would also receive a Panzer Division as reinforcements.

The battlefield had 4 major roads all passing through a crossroads system in the middle of the villages in the centre of the terrain. The objective was to control this transport nexus by occupation in strength or the driving off table the enemy forces.

The French made their selection of troops. They chose a Motorised Infantry Division (which manoeuvred to defensive positions and then halted),  a DCR with Char Bs, a DLM which is tank heavy, with good armour and infantry support and DLC for the recce ability and relative speed.


This picture is included to show how we do hidden deployment. The grey square with the cross denotes the potential of hidden troops. If you flip the marker it has a number underneath. Under the table, 6 boards are laid out, each with 18 numbered squares.

When we deploy, hidden troops are placed onto a numbered square, we don't limit how much as it has no influence in game play. Some squares will have no troops, the classic dummy deployment.
Prior to the start of the game we have a Recce phase where we have mechanics that define how an attacker may discover the disposition of hidden troops. The process is involved, but still simple, and is best answered if a specific query is asked. It was taken from "Cornish Combat Command" an unpublished set of rules by two Cornish gentlemen.

The result above shows the deployment after the Recce phase. The French have discovered some German troops, others are still potentially hidden. Any troops that move are automatically placed on table and when spotted by enemy we use a rule that previously hidden troops are not deployed any closer to visible enemy.  


The DLM, heavy in armour, approaches the German position from the flank. The Germans in the area, including a coy of ATGs are manhandling backwards to the relative safety of cover around one of the two villages.


This shows the target for the DLM. You can also see that the DLC, to the top left of the picture, is advancing swiftly to the front of the village. The DLC was reinforced, immediately, by the DCR. The DLM was reinforced by the Motorised ID but would deploy in defensive positions and play no affective part in the battle. You can also see the German initial armour moving to their right flank to impede the fast movement of the DLC with its copious numbers of ACs. The Germans have 3 Pz IIIEs and 3 Stug IIIDs as the total armour prior to the arrival of reinforcements. The Panzer Div reinforcements arrival was determined by a random method (they arrived on turn 10 if I remember).



The tanks from one of the DLM Armoured Regts attack the German ATGs in the open just before they could make their escape. The problem for the tanks is that their main gun is really designed to fight armour and not infantry style targets. The result is a lot of fire and relatively little affect. The German Pak 35 has a similar problem. It has an AP round, but as effective as a banana against French tanks. Little affect there either.


This is looking at the DLC to the top right of the pic. The DLC is quick, has ACs and other armour but is not that strong in infantry (cavalry to be precise but the French are allowed to dismount for the game, or not as they see fit). The Germans would hold the right of the village relatively easily. The DCR reinforcing the DLC was thrown out to the French left when German armour arrived and would play no part in the centre of the battlefield.


This is as the game progressed and German Panzer troops arrive. The German armour was pushing against the lead elements of the DCR. The initial engagement went badly for the French, losing a number of ACs. The German mini disaster was the downrating of the Panzer Btn when it first tested morale. Nevertheless, the French were being forced back to their starting lines.


This shows the end result in the centre, facing the DLC with the DCR to it's left flank. The French have been forced back to their starting lines and the Germans are still advancing, albeit slowly and carefully.


This is game close. The Germans have kept control of the villages and the French to their front have been checked.

This is the flank where the DLM attacked. It is now being faced by Panzer Grenadiers from the Panzer Div. More importantly out of pic to the bottom of the Panzer Btn and also 2 forward observers who are now calling in 2 Btns of German artillery support which results in being the key factor. The French are now giving ground in this sector in a slow controlled manner.

The key points from the game was that the French lacked enough infantry to assault the villages. The ATGs, even though with poor AT rounds, do eventually inflict hits on French armour. German numbers of point weapons is also a significant factor in their favour. Quality of troops always plays a significant part and this was again demonstrated. The last factor was artillery. German artillery, when directed towards stationary tanks, will eventually inflict casualties. This really hampers early war tanks who would prefer to be stationary, especially when engaging infantry. In all events, a great fun game was had along with the usual accompanying beer and good food.

 
The generals in all their splendour.
The next game will be another smaller version of the game as my opponent, Pete, was supposed to be coming to this game but couldn't make it. Ironic when it is known as "Pete's" weekend. C'est La Vie!!
 

Monday, 20 August 2018

Game 67 : France 1940, the French!


This battle was the first we have done to include French troops. It was played as an attack/defence scenario with the French attacking! It was a test game for a game later this week over the bank holiday weekend where the French will be attempting a major breakout from a secured bridge head. The Germans were based on 2 Btns of infantry, a Regimental HQ and 4 other support companies from the parent Division. The parent was Grossdeutschland Mot Regt. I played the defender, the key was to hold the central village which controlled a major road network. My supports were a Coy of ATGs, a Recce Coy, a 105mm Art Btn and a tank Coy.
The French force was based on 2 Regts from a DIM with a Btn of 75mm Art in support, plus 3 Btns from any other Division of available French (2 other ID, a DLC, a DLM, a DCR and army assets).
Graham selected tanks from the DCR and the Recce from the DLC.
 

Using French tanks takes some thought. They have a Coy structure as per the Germans, but only the HQ can issue orders. They have the option of splitting up tank Btns and assigning them to infantry formations as an inherent part of either the Btn or Regt with that commander being the originator of any orders. The pic above shows a Char Btn trying to enfilade the German position and playing cat and mouse with a German M/C Coy and a Coy of PzIIIs. A Coy of Pak 35s, nearest the Chars has managed to get hits but the smoke is from a mortar trying to blind the Char.


Panhard ACs driving hither and dither in support of French infantry. Taking the village would prove very difficult and apart from gaining a toe hold in part, the Germans would securely hold part of the village with the other part being a no mans land for both sides.


ACs can be very useful as their speed can allow them to switch areas very quickly. Obviously they are vulnerable to ATGs but against infantry only they can be deadly, even if the infantry are in cover.


The cat and mouse game with the Chars lasted all day, both sides relying on winning the turn initiative to force the opponent into actions that they would then try to  exploit. It was tough going.



The Chars failed a Btn test when the commander took a hit. Didn't knock him out, but it did relieve the immediate danger. As a result, the French infantry attack was driven off quickly, the attacker suffering heavily. But this didn't dissuade the French from attacking.


The Chars go back into action with a fresh infantry assault and the ACs also in support. The French armour is difficult to knock out, but the French infantry eventually ran out of puff and the assault was called off. An excellent game.
We also used the variable morale system and factor/hit system. Both sides started with the same base morale. We can readily see the difficulties with both sides and advantages that each side has that they need to exploit. But I'm staying stum for now as the bigger game is this Thursday and I don't want to tell the French how to do it. It will be difficult enough!


Graham didn't want to go home!! Or he might be thinking its the way to stop me shooting the French!! A great weekend and the bigger game should be just as intriguing.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Game 66 : The Apple Orchard, Russia 1812

This battle is a "what if" scenario designed by Graham. It is based on the Battle of the Alma during the Crimean War. Graham tells us that "Alma" in Russian, means "Apple", hence the name.

The terrain is taken directly from the battle, so the intrepid readers will be left to explore the books to look at the battlefield. In essence, it is a line of hills, filled with orchards, with a stream to its front. In front of this are two villages. Amongst the Orchards are two steep hills that rise higher than the orchards and the Russians have artillery emplacements on both.

The Russian army has two corps of all arms. One corps starts deployed, one corps arrives as reinforcements. The "French Army" also has two corps, deployed around a single road which goes through the villages, over the stream and orchards, and continues through the hills onto a plateau.

The Russians hope to halt the advance. The French have to force the road.


Attacks are launched, by both sides, into the villages. The importance of control of the villages is easy to see and whoever can achieve this will have a distinct tactical and strategic advantage.



The village combats continue unabated all day. There is attack followed by counter-attack and still the control of both villages hangs in the balance. Eventually, the Russians gain control of the upper village, but the fighting for the lower village remains fierce.


The fighting in the lower village now involves the Russian reserve corps and refitted troops who again launch attacks. Losses mount but the outcome is still unclear.


Both sides have now exhausted themselves on the lower village. The upper village is in Russian control. At this point the game was called. It was a draw, favouring the Russians who performed better than they did historically.

 
 
 
 
French Formations
Losses %
Russian Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
VI Corps Louve
-
-
20
III Corps Avdeeva
-
-
0
Rochie
1(5)
-
13(50)
Zherensky
5(23)
-
0(17)
Dejardin
3
-
38
Peltovok
26
-
23
Dehaut
6
-
0
Soudzal
3
-
17
Majorn
-
0
-
Poltva
-
15
33
 
 
 
 
Vukassovich
-
17
0
Wrede
-
-
3
 
 
 
 
Lefebre
15
-
-
V Corps Alexis
-
-
0
Jankers
47
-
13(22)
Schustekh
6
7
50
Coloier
0
-
6
Reuss
0
-
-
Wollwarth
0(13)
-
3(6)
Kottulinsky
0
-
10
Hus
-
4(35)
0(25)
 
 
 
 

The casualty table is above. 30% losses equates to a formation being combat ineffective. The brackets indicate losses before the troops went to reserve status to regather strength. This was a battle where formations would retire, refit and then advance to renew combat. This system works very well and encourages the use of reserves at various levels to allow fresh troops to be rotated in the battle line.


Usual reprobates. Graham, the designer, is standing top left. A great little game and there will be more of them in the future.
The next game is back to WWII. It is early war involving the French army for the first time. New challenges for all. Enjoy!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Games 64 & 65 : Albuera takes 3 & 4

I think we have exhausted Albuera as a useful test bed for Peninsular battles. In conclusion, we have found no unexpected funnies or had any really odd results. The 2 rank line for the Portuguese and Brits works very well. Not unsurprisingly, the length of a British Line Btn, in line, is what needs to be managed by both sides.
The Light Infantry amendment where we now deploy intrinsic skirmishers has worked very well.  I've added a few piccies from games 3 & 4. Game 3 was a variation on a theme where the French main assault was directed from their right flank.
You will also see the French artillery massed into a single area. This was a result of the terrain with the stream and also the Allies realising that reverse slope tactics was the best way to nullify the French artillery superiority as this arm was larger than the Allied artillery arm.


This was the massed French artillery. The only other detached artillery were the horse batteries accompanying the cavalry. The other reason to mass the artillery was to shorten the French line as they do not have the luxury of sheer numbers over the Allies.


Close action on the French right where their main assault was made. French Dragoons were in action against British Heavies and Guard Heavies. The result of the initial contacts were bloody draws, but the French had the numbers to keep pressing. The Infantry advance in columns to exploit the Cavalry action and fall upon the Portuguese.


Some time later the Dragoons were ready to go again, this time supported by the Vistula Lancers. These were faced by the rallied British cavalry, but numbers were going increasingly in the French favour.
It was at about this point that this game was called. The Allies would be driven back from the village itself and forced to retire down the escape road.


This picky has been included to show the Portuguese deployed in full lines. French Infantry with skirmishers deployed are advancing upon them. The Portuguese are in turn supported by a GKL Light Btn deployed in full open order. The Btn in the mid ground is a single unit. The Btn in the foreground is in a 4 rank line. The highlight of British firing lines were 2 volleys given by British Fusiliers to advancing French Dragoons. The first volley took 20% of the Dragoons out of their saddles. The 2nd volley put the Regiment into the 3rd bracket, non combat worthy for all intents and purposes.


This is included as it shows the Spanish Division of Zayas in full assault mode. The Division was the best in the Spanish army and included the Guard and Irish units.


I've included the casualty tables again. The French did well but 2 Divisions are getting close to the critical loss limit of 30%. The Portuguese suffered in this battle although they did get to withdraw out of the line and start to return stragglers. Latour's Light cavalry also suffered quite badly. I've not included the 4th game losses as we never really finished it. One highlight was the entire loss of a KGL Light Btn which rolled 3 for morale when in fully extended  open order. Oops!!

 
Play Test 3
 
 
French Formations
Losses %
Spanish Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Soult
-
-
6
Beresford
-
-
9
Godinot (1st Brig)
9
-
-
Stewart (1st Brig)
0
-
25
Godinot (2nd Brig)
6
-
-
Stewart (2nd Brig)
13
-
-
Girard (1st Brig)
4
-
-
Stewart (3rd Brig)
25
-
-
Girard (2nd Brig)
9
-
-
Stewart (KGL Lt Brig)
45
-
-
Werle (1st Brig)
18
-
-
Cole (1st Brig)
0
-
0
Werle (2nd Brig)
18
-
-
Cole (2nd Brig)
13
-
-
Gazan (1st Brig)
21
-
-
Cole (3rd Brig)
12
-
-
Gazan (2nd Brig)
14
-
-
Hamilton (1st Brig)
5
-
19
Grenadiers
10
-
-
Hamilton (2nd Brig)
38
-
-
Latour (1st Brig)
-
-
1
Hamilton (Ind 3rd Brig)
46
-
0
Latour (2nd Brig)
-
24
-
Port Cav Brig
-
60
-
Latour (3rd Brig)
-
8
-
Lumley (1st Brig)
-
17
-
Latour (4th Brig)
-
61
-
Lumley (2nd Brig)
-
28
-
 
 
 
 
Blake
-
-
28
 
 
 
 
Lardizabal
10
-
-
 
 
 
 
Zayas
8
-
-
 
 
 
 
Ballasteros
10
-
-
 
 
 
 
Loy
-
19
-
 
 
 
 
Espana
26
-
6
 
 
 
 
Villemur
-
24
-


Game over, off to the pub again! The Brits work fine, but handling the units in full line takes some working out. I'm sat down as I was plying the other 2 and had to run up and down the aisle to play the game (well, walk briskly!)
Next up we are back off to Russia. This is a game, a what if set in 1812, based on actual actions that occurred in the Crimea campaign and has been designed by Graham, sat on the left above. We'll see what that has in store for us!!