Thursday, 29 November 2018

Game 71 : Vimeiro take II

This was the second weekend of fighting Vimeiro where there were different players. Remarkably, the game went virtually the same way. Overall plans for both sides were as before and the outcome was similar.
What we are finding, more and more, is that when we plan a game where decent Commanders in Chief were present, the plans the gamers adopt are very close to those adopted historically. Read into this whatever you will!


Deployments were very similar to the first game. The British held both villages and both hills and tried to keep as much as possible out of the open ground because the French and both artillery and cavalry superiority. The above is Vimeiro hill on the British right.


The French advance into the open ground, relatively safe from enemy artillery or cavalry.


The French try to flank the British right at Vimeiro hill. The Brits were hard pressed to hold this position


The above shows the largest clash in the battle on the slopes of the Vimeiro hill. The British firepower easily unformed the attackers but the French charge impetus still allowed them to carry an advantage in the initial stages of hand to hand. The result of this combat was that both sides held morale and both sides cautiously looked at each other as they licked their wounds.

 
Play Test 3
 
 
French Formations
Losses %
British Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Soult
-
-
8
Wellington
-
-
17
Brennier
13
-
-
Acland
28
-
-
Solignac
52
-
-
Anstruther
4
-
-
Charlot
9
-
-
Hill
34
-
-
Thomieres
29
-
-
Ferguson
30
-
-
Kellerman
23
-
-
Fane
20
-
-
Bruyere
-
1
-
Bowes
14
-
-
Margaron
-
22
-
Nightingale
24
-
-
 
 
 
 
Taylor Cav Brig
-
29
-

The result was a draw, both sides running out of offensive capability.


The usual rogue's gallery. The next game is the Peninsular again, but bigger, Talavera. Until then!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Game 70 : Vimeiro 1808

This was the Battle of Vimeiro, 1808. This is a nearly all British affair fighting the French. The armies are relatively small and so both sides had ample room to manoeuvre and try different stratagems. The British are in 2 rank lines and this will confirm the working of the rules vis a vis 2 rank lines versus 3 rank lines. We also introduced the skirmish company rule. French & Brit line battalions can detach their integral light company and use it in the same way as skirmishers from dedicated light battalions. Again, I'll leave it to the reader to brief themselves on the layout of the battlefield. The British are defending, the French attacking. These battle are also fought at the Brigade level with suitable rules for Brigadiers.
 

The above is the British right flank resting on a hill with a battery in support. Two French Brigades are advancing, one of line infantry and one of light infantry which has deployed fully in open order to occupy the wooded areas that are on the extreme right of the pic.


This is the centre of the line, with Vimeiro itself. Two French brigades were in this area including the reserve Grenadiers. The village stats are somewhat inferior to European villages, defence factors are lower reflecting the type of building prevalent in the Peninsular.


This is the British left flank, also on a hill that has blended so well into the table that it is not obvious! But it is a hill. The French are advancing with two Brigades and there is a third brigade out of shot to the left of the pic that is attempting a flanking manoeuvre.


Another shot of the centre taken from the French lines. The British would hold their ground and fight their defence in front of the village.


The action escalates on the French left. The French are driving through the wood on their far left to try and enfilade the hill. The British are using firing lines to some affect and the French are advancing in columns of attack screened by their battalion skirmishers. It was nice to see the tactics being used reflected those actually used by those armies, based on how best to fight the battle rather than some response to doing what they did type approach. We can see that the rules have encouraged both sides to exploit their individual strengths.


Vimeiro comes under more pressure. A mix of columns with and without skirmish support and artillery slowly forces the British back to the village. But taking the village would be a tough nut as losses on the columns are mounting as they continue their advances.


The French on their far right begin to make progress in driving in the British left flank. But this was taking a long time, the 71st Highland battalion in open order inflicting a lot of casualties as it was forced to slowly give ground under this attack.


Back the French left where the French have "taken the hill" and continued their advance to try and finally break the British line. Here they got stopped. The firepower from the British lines and artillery support was inflicting too many casualties on the French. They decided to retire to the rear of the hill where they would gain respite from the fire. Job done, the British would re-organise their left and maintain the line.


In the centre the British are deployed with full battalions in firing lines. This would dissuade the French from a full frontal assault and this sector would then become a stalemate.


On the French far right, the flank attack had initial success. The British reinforced the gallant 71st and these fresh infantry battalions stabilised the flank. The British adopted rear slope tactics to remove the French artillery numbers advantage and this flank fell quiet as French losses had also risen to a level may a direct assault could well be fatal.


Here we all are, rogues gallery. The game was a great success. The French favoured the use of columns with skirmishers out fron supported by their artillery army and numerous cavalry. The British favoured the fire power that can be delivered by the 2 rank lines. The British also have specialist rifle companies and the combination is considerable in terms of fire power.
Both sides used the tactics best suited to their armies and this just happened to be howe they did it historically. I see it a win for the players and a big win for the rules.
The result. Typical! The French did not break the British line. Conversely the British were not strong enough to counter-attack. So both sides ended where they started. Again, for me, a great result as this reflects the majority of Peninsular actions.
As in other games, the losses were recorded and are given here.

 
Play Test 1
 
 
French Formations
Losses %
British Formations
Losses%
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Soult
-
-
0
Wellington
-
-
19
Brennier
21
-
-
Acland
18
-
-
Solignac
34
-
-
Anstruther
19
-
-
Charlot
11
-
-
Hill
24
-
-
Thomieres
31
-
-
Ferguson
27
-
-
Kellerman
27
-
-
Fane
23
-
-
Bruyere
-
7
-
Bowes
5
-
-
Margaron
-
14
-
Nightingale
0
-
-
 
 
 
 
Taylor Cav Brig
-
17
-

We actually played the game twice, the above account is for the first game. The result the second time around, even with seeing how the armies faired in the first game, was roughly the same!!
The next battle will be a repeat of Vimeiro with a different set of players. It will be intriguing to see how it plays out. Until then...........

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!!