Friday, 1 December 2017

Game 58 : Shevardino

Well it is back to Napoleonics. I wanted a smallish game with a different challenge and so selected Shevardino, the day before Borodino.
Its a good game as it pitches a Corps from each side on a front that is too large for either to comfortably control and cover.
The French are based on the infantry 3 Divisions from Davout's Corps plus a Polish Division from Poniatowski. Cavalry support is provided by Davout's Light Cavalry Division and the Light Cavalry Divisions from 1st & 2nd Reserve Cavalry Corps.
The Russians are based on Borodzin's Corps, reinforced with a Jaeger Division. Sievers Cavalry Corps, less the Light Cavalry Division, is also in support.

This is the view from the left of the French line. The redoubt, in the centre of the battlefield, is in the centre of the pic. The village is Shevardino itself and, if you imagine, the Smolensk New road is off to the left on the other side of the Kolotcha stream.

The Poles and one of Davout's Divisions attacked Shevardino. This was initially held by the Russian attached Jaegers supported by the Grenadier Division. This forced the French to contest the centre with cavalry. Here you see a brave, or ignominious, charge against Russian 12pdrs. Remove one Cavalry Regiment off the table!!

Here you see the rationale for the Cavalry charge. The French are advancing against the Redoubt directly. This has the affect of pinning the Russians in the centre as the French are really trying to advance both flanks as the main attack.

Shevardino hots up. The Poles would march straight into the attack. The Russian Jaegers were to get mauled badly and driven back and forced to retire to attempt to save the Division.

The French now have control of Shevardino. The Russians have committed the Grenadier Division which has managed to get a tenuous hold on the rear part of the village. Grenadier losses are high.

The French infantry in the centre are retiring to reform after their attack was blunted by the Russian defenders. The Russians have the converged Grenadier Division in the centre and this fights the French to a standstill.

The Russians themselves are thankful for the respite as although intact, losses have been heavy. They are in no fit condition to resume fighting until they manage a period of time in reserve.

The Russian left flank faired better. Here, the Russians had an Infantry Division with a Cuirassier Division in support. The Cuirassiers managed to run amok some French light cavalry and then ride down some infantry to stall the French advance. Here you see the Cuirassiers making their way back to their own lines and relative safety.

French Formations
Losses %
Russian Formations
III Corps Davout
Krasinksi (attached)
Jaegers (attached)
Cavalry Nansouty
Panchulidzev I

The above table shows the forces involved and the losses taken. The net result was fairly historical. The French advance, from their left, could not really be stopped but in the other places progress was limited. The Russians still held but would have to withdraw as their right flank was totally compromised.

Here we all are. And it wasn't even that cold!!! Next game up is Lutzen.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Game 57 : Prokorovka, take III

This game is the last WWII game for the year. It was a continuation of the Prokorovka theme with some new twists. The major twist for this game saw the German forces based on GrossDeutschland and the appearance of a Tiger tank btn.

The Russians were based around a Russian Guard Tank Corps, a Regular Tank Corps and lots of assets. It is the first time since we started that a whole battalion of heavy German tanks had been used in a set battle.

Both armies still have superior morale ratings.

The Tiger Tanks became a bit of a behemoth. They would take the odd hit and shrug it off. The biggest draw back was if they failed morale. Other than that, if they could stand off their targets, they were lethal. If they could close, even on infantry, and were supported or the enemy infantry out of position, they were lethal. In this game, the only way to stop them was to try and strip the support troops and then tackle the Tigers. But the Russians never got the time to try this as the Germans won most of the initiative dice rolls.

Kampfgruppe Rauss advancing on the Russian Guard Tank Corps. As to the fight, it was slow going. Both sides were limited by the space in which they could manoeuvre. The Tiger tanks in the centre would eventually have an imp[act on this duel as the Russians were eventually pinched on two sides.

Desperate Russian defence in the gullies. A Tank brigade on the right of the pic is about to cease to exist!

Behind the Tigers in the centre, German infantry advance to mop up any residual resistance. The speed of the Tigers and the infantry were well suited to each other.

The other flank saw long range tank duelling. Over the period of the battle, the Germans were slowly gaining the upper hand. The far flank saw a type of "independent" battle between German recce and a Russian Brigade of tanks and infantry. There were sweeping dynamic moves by both sides and at the end of the battle they virtually ended up on the their start points, although having lost about a half of their strength,

The series of three battle has been fun and seen strength and weaknesses of both sides get exploited by both sides.
We're now going back to Napoleonics. A smaller game to begin with, we are fighting the Shevardino redoubt at Borodino. A large battlefield with restricted forces, a reinforced infantry corps for each side with cavalry support. Manoeuvring will be required by both sides and patience will be critical!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Game 56 : Prokorovka, the main game

These are pics from the larger Prokorovka game. In size it was a reinforced Das Reich Panzergrenadier Division fighting the main elements of a Russian Tank Army, based on two tank corps.  The smaller previous game set the scene and this game was just as interesting. The Russians have some discretionary points that are used to "buy" extra troops or upgrade troops to Guards status. In our rules, Guards status makes it harder to be killed and usually imparts a higher morale. When we finally decide troops factors after first contact, Guards tend to only ever better, never worse. The Germans are crack troops throughout their forces. The smaller game saw a fight to a standstill. The Russian Guard tank corps was able to hold its ground against a Regimental sized force of Germans. We were able to see the influence of being somewhat harder to kill. It really becomes a balancing act when choosing numbers or quality!!
Now to set the scene for the bigger game. The Russian chose to increase their forces with their points and included a whole Tank corps as Guards. What happened? To cut to the chase, the Germans were able to eventually exert control over both flanks and the Russians were being pushed back, but not broken. Some highlights are pictured below.

Unfortunately for me, the burning tanks are mine! Two Marders and a Pz IIIM. Killed by the Russian air force if you can merit that!! The Russians will fight all day for control of the main hill, but a late in the day surgical air strike by the Luftwaffe and the exposing of the flank would eventually force the Russians to yield the hill.

This is in the centre. This was a bit of a no mans land as both sides had tank heavy flanks. The SU 152s do a good job of scaring the German armour and progress can only be made very slowly and methodically by smoking out the enemy armour when he engages the advancing Germans. Both sides would really end the day at the same point where they started the day.

Longer angled shot showing the action from the previous pic and the action for the hill. Winning the initiative was very important tactically. We find that if both sides are "balanced" against each other overall, initiative becomes critical. It also then leads to the expected backwards and forwards unless one side is lucky enough to get a run on winning the initiative.

Action at the other end of the table where both sides contested a major river crossing all day. The river was crossable by foot troops but not by vehicles. It was here that Tiger tank "perished" under sustained AT fore from 45mm ATGs. Gaining control of one bank of the river took 2 days, gaining control of the far side saw us run out of time.

Towards the end of the duelling, the Germans begin to make steady, relentless progress onto the hill which then quickly fell under total German control. As the Germans had more flexible artillery, namely Regimental heavy weapons, the hill proved a powerful position and created a sort of exclusion zone as its height meant the all enemy troops were visible for some distance and could be engaged as desired by artillery.

Back the other flank and the fight is now across the river where German infantry are infiltrating amongst the Russian armour. It now becomes time for the Russians to retire from this before they get fixed in position and destroyed in detail by the Germans.

We all agreed it was one of the better games we had played as the forces were all good kit and both sides had their own specific advantages/disadvantages. We still look like a motly crew!!
Next game will be Prokorovka, take three! We'll see what happens in this one but I have made further "scary" changes for both sides to digest!!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Game 55 : Prokorovka revisited, small scale

This battle sees us back to the Eastern front in 1943 and Prokorovka. There is a largish game planned for the bank holiday weekend and this was a smaller playtest between myself and Graham to ensure that it would work.

The forces involved are the best forces both sides can provide. Troops quality is good and the equipment is good.
The Russians are based on the 1st Tank Army and the Germans are based on Das Reich Panzergrenadier Division, albeit the latter is really a tank formation.

There are lots of choices to be made by both sides before the game starts regards choice of "extras". The aim of the battle is strategic control of the battlefield or the defeat of opposing forces. Both sides have an air component and artillery support.

The battle we fought was a lot smaller but it included a lot of the flavour that is expected in the bigger game. More importantly, Graham and I thought it worked out well and bodes well for the larger conflict.

I won't expand on "who won" or the detail of what happened as we don't want to give away clues prior to the actual bigger game. The pics selected were fewer in number and the explanations are somewhat devoid of detail to keep the fog of war in place.

This pic is just to show that the Russian air force (VVS) does exist! It actually shot down a Stuka being escorted by an Fw 190 (which did shoot down a fighter and damage a second one)

Russian JSU 152s plodding (literally) over the battlefield. They have some naughty 152mm guns and excellent frontal armour. But they must be stationary to shoot. So lots of manoeuvring Germans.

Russian & German infantry contesting the "field" areas. The battlefield still has a lot of visibility cover for infantry, able to sneak up on unsuspecting armour.

Action in our centre with Russian infantry regrouping. There was a lot of backwards and forwards by both sides but I won't say who ended up where.

Troops from both sides fail morale! An eastern front stand off. We played over 2 full days and got a result that we thought was sensible. Both sides had their portion of luck at times and the winning of initiative at the start of a turn played a significant part towards who held the tactical initiative. Needless to say it changed hands many times. I think we played 18 turns, so we were going at a good pace.
The next game will the full version for this set up and will be the next report. Until then!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Game 54 : Weisseritz to Grossgarten : Dresden the Centre : take II

This battle is a second playtest for the centre section of the large Dresden game coming up early next year. The reason for extensive play testing is obvious, it irons out wrinkles in game design and game play. This game was very useful as it demonstrated how massed attacks could work if done with enough planning, but also that they could be thwarted by equally good defensive planning.

The other difference is that the pics come mostly from the camera of Neil, he only took a couple of hundred!! Neil, as any of you know, runs a painting service from the near shores of Bangladesh. An awful lot of the figures on view were painted by his team.

The pics are in no particular order, but they do give a different flavour, especially the high angle shots.

This is a shot from the far south east of the battlefield which is the allied right. The Grossgarten can be seen in front of Brian as he works out how to seize the feature.

This is from the northwest with the city of Dresden in the immediate foreground. Outside the city are the outskirts. The hedges represent Chevau de frisse, a special "terrain feature" for this battle.

A close up of new troops who have just joined the swelling ranks of Allies. These are Prussian line battalions. The Guards and Grenadiers are not far behind.

The high angle shot is of the Grossgarten. It is huge, as it was historically. Roughly two Divisions per side will fit in the feature to contest it. It is played as a garden, not unforming troops, but restricting visibility. Cavalry and artillery are only allowed to enter if they are attempting to use the road network and even then they are not allowed to deploy into a combat formation.

The Russians have committed two Divisions to the Grossgarten, the French have committed one Young Guard Division inside and another one outside.

Massed Austrian columns move across the centre to attack the Lunettes and outlying outskirt villages.

A swirling view of the battle raging in and around the Grossgarten. This battle would rage for most of the day.

Austrians assault the first village on their left flank near the Weisseritz stream. It was garrisoned by French Marines, not an easy force to eject.

An Austrian column hits the central Lunette nr.3 Fighting was fierce but eventually the French were driven back. We had a new rules that retreat was not allowed from a Lunette. Morale failure of retreat or rout resulted in the troops dispersing.

A longer shot showing the Austrian columns in the main front line attacking as large battering rams. It didn't always work!! I've added a couple of pics from my camera, it uses a tripod so I can get my usual close down type pics

This shows three Austrian columns about to assault targets to their front. Even if they succeed, they have to deal with the French reserves who are in the heart of the outskirts and still having good lines of communication.

I included this pic to give a fell of the action across nearly the whole length we were fighting. It looks like a wall of infantry! Good planning was required to get cavalry into useful positions in this sector.

The height of the battle in the Grossgarten. Numbers would eventually tell and the French Young Division very sensibly successfully retired before being consumed by attrition. It would get to refit but the Russians held the Grossgarten. 
Brian is bemoaning the fact that he didn't have both Young Guard Divisions in the Grossgarten. He is already planning how to wrestle control away from the Russians.
The usual rogues gallery of players. Even the weather was good!! The next offering will be a series of WII battles, all based on Prokorovka at Kursk, ranging from "encounter battles" to a more serious effort with a Russian Tank Army. Until then!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Game 53 : Weisseritz to Grossgarten : Dresden the Centre

This is another play test of Dresden, fighting from the Weisseritz stream to French left past the Grossgarten. This was a large battle, where sledgehammers were the order of the day!

The above is a view, towards Dresden, from the south west. Imagine you are on the Allied lines, then march along the Weisseritz towards Dresden and there you go. The City walls are shown and behind the city is the Elbe River.

The battle was also unique in that the French had anticipated a battle and had built "Lunettes" to the south which would be facing the Allied lines. There were 5 in total and this game had all of them deployed. Each Lunette had a 12pdr battery within it and the positions were, relatively speaking, heavily fortified. This is reflected in the special rules for the Lunettes

The Grossgarten is a huge feature. Simply put, it was a series of gardens, surrounded by wall, that was over a mile long on each side. This feature would literally gobble up 4 divisions of infantry at a time, that's 40 btns in this game!

The attack, from the Allied lines, from there left which lines the Weisseritz, a secure flank. The village being attacked is the most easily accessible in the French lines with only 1 Lunette really able to offer support fire. You see why I said it was a game of sledgehammers. The above is a small one!!

This is the same action viewed from the French lines, effectively looking south west.

The game was played twice and the above shows the Grossgarten just about to be cleared by 2 Young Guard divisions of 20 btns. The Russian occupiers retired as opposed to be routed out of the feature.

The French attacked from their left, assaulting the extended right flank of the Allies towards a feature called the Landgraben. A big ditch really, but a breakwater to charging troops, especially cavalry

The French secure the Grossgarten and the Allies, Russian line and Guard reform before counter-attacking.

Guard Polish Lancers about to unleash themselves upon some unfortunate Prussian squares. The first square would buckle easily, the second square bounced the Lancers!! Who says it is easy to break squares. This is an ironical comment as some players are convinced breaking squares is too easy with these rules. Try telling that to the Guard Polish Lancers (Morale 8 so there is no mistake).

This is the second game at the Grossgarten where 40 btns are about to thrash around for control of the feature. Why is it important? To the French, control denies about a third of the front to the Allies and funnels any assaults on the city in the centre. Allied control sees the avenues of attack on the city significantly increased and spreads the French defenders more thinly, probably forcing the committing of any central reserves.

This is a sledgehammer of Austrians, plumb in the centre, attacking the central Lunettes.

This is another sledgehammer of Austrians, advancing to the right of the Division above.

This shows a Russian sledgehammer, a Jaeger Division of all things, advancing to the right of the Division above with the Grossgarten to its right. Russians contest the Grossgarten so you can see how control of the Grossgarten allows an avenue of attack on the city.

Round one assaults in the Grossgarten have been resolved. Both sides reform. Ding, ding, round two is about to start. Then we were knackered and sat in the sun and drank beer!!!, well I did the others drank tea!!! Great fun as usual.

Myself and Paul played together whilst our realistic Austrian counterparts, Herbert & Franz, were our opponents. The next game is a repeat play test of roughly the same sector with some slight adjustments to rules and OB restrictions based on our play test experience. Look out for the next instalment of sledgehammers!!