Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Muskets & Mayhem" Small Game & Painting Progress

Mostly a catch-up day today on chores, etc around the house but I was able to also catch up a little on my painting and play a very small, very quick game of "MUSKETS & MAYHEM."

So a few pictures from my SYW game, followed by Old Glory 10mm Napoleonic French, Battlefront WWII Canadians, and finally Israeli Halftracks for BATTLEGROUP: Sinai.

The game was a Seven Years War battle between 4 Austrian "Regiments" and 3 Prussian ones.  Accompanying them on each side was 1 battery of artillery.

Turn 2.  The Prussians refuse the left.  Austrian artillery limbers to catch up!


An Austrian Regiment charges the Prussian right.  The Prussian Regiment fails its pre-charge QC and beats a hasty retreat right off the table!

Never good.  2 Prussian Regiments left facing 4 Austrian ones!  All of the units on the table are starting to rack up casualties now.

Like usual, the Hungarians get the worst of it.  Shaken with 2 stands left.  

The Prussians hold on by their fingernails

Solid Prussian volleys and lots of good dice rolling keep the marauding Austrian units at bay.  

 Okay and now onto the painting...Napoleonic French 10mm are up first
The latest French Battalion for "Napoleon at War" or whatever else I feel like playing.  (the unflocked one)

Brigade Commander.

Light Infantry progress for this battalion.  Not finished with them yet.

The Brigade in all its glory.  

The first Battalion - finished a few weeks ago
The Second Battalion WIP
 Next up?  The Canadians for my Battlegroup Overlord Authie Game (or Disposable Heroes, Bolt Action, etc)

They just need their detailing, unit patches, helmets etc, and flock

Bren Team.  Truth be told, I'm happier with my own version of British Battledress over the Vallejo BB.  Mine was a shade darker.

PIAT team

Rifle Squad.

 And now my unpainted (well they come prepainted but of course I'm going to repaint them) Israeli half tracks from POC.  These tracks are loaded up with MGs and kit from multiple sources.  These are the first Israeli vehicles I'm preparing for my upcoming Battlegroup: Sinai game.

Quality Casting Israeli trooper.  All my Israelis will be rebased individually for Battlegroup: Sinai and various other games. (Seek Out, Close With, & Destroy, Force on Force, FUBAR, etc)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

3rd Generation Warfare & NATO/Pact Cold War Data Book

Excited to see a big Lulu box plopped down on our front step this afternoon!  I ordered a copy of Nick Ayres' "3rd Generation Warfare" and it finally arrived along with the NATO and Warsaw Pact Cold War Data Book.
Rule book and the NATO / Pact Data Book

 Both are soft-cover with drool-resistant glossy covers.  The rule book is a small, "cargo pocket" sized book that is less than 100 pages and the data book is a hefty, 200+ page compendium covering most of the nations of NATO but only the Soviet Union for the Warsaw Pact.  I was actually hoping the rule book would be a little bigger but I guess this makes it easier for me to carry onto the train to read, and also makes it a more convenient size for gamers.

The rules are packed with pictures of models and figures, as well as examples of play

 Upon first glance, both are impressive and thorough.  If you secured yourself a copy of the BETA rules, then you already know most of the features of the game and I will not talk much about mechanics in this post.

Lots of tables and also background 

 The rule book itself is packed with examples of play, which is good for a half-wit like me.  I will say I should probably have bought the black and white version of the rules since there is this annoying tie-dyed background on the pages.

The NATO / Pact data book has excellent national backgrounds and Orders of Battle.  (pictures are used without permission - please don't sue me!)
 A nice thing about the first data book ( I'm assuming the NATO/Pact data book is the first in a series of supplements) is the fact that most of the NATO nations are covered in it.  This gives you the options to play Cold War Gone Hot battles ranging from Norway all the way down to Turkey and Greece in the Mediterranean and most of the countries in between.  That's alot of ground to cover and ought to keep you busy enough until Mr Ayres publishes the next supplement???

The Data Book organizes its sections into National Background, OOB for popular units you would encounter on a modern battlefield, and unit composition to form combat teams and units to game with ranging from higher headquarters all the way down to infantry platoons and sections.

The back of the Data Book (T-80 not included)

I was also pleasantly surprised to find Quick Reference Sheets in the back of the data book.  Those are much appreciated because there are many tables you must reference during the course of a full turn.  There are also helpful appendices that will help with game play located in the back of the data book.

Overall, I'm pleased with the initial impression I've gotten.  Mr Ayres has published what looks to be a thorough account of WWIII combat and I'm looking forward to my first game.  What I like the most about the rules and first supplement is the fact that everything you need for a wide range of games is right in these two books.  If you are content with the European theater of WW3, then these two books are likely all you'll ever need.  This is one of the strong-suits of games like Fistful of TOWS III and Coldwar Commander,

Oh and per David's request, here is the link:!rules/galleryPage

Monday, May 11, 2015

Battlegroup: 'NAM! Air Assault Part Two ENDGAME!

I concluded the Battlegroup: Vietnam game I had planned on playing for all these months with satisfactory results!  (If you have not read part I, read the post previous to this one for some background).

US Forces fought off a determined NVA assault as they left the Landing Zone (LZ), battleing for key terrain next to the road (high ground and a forest which the US forces were using in the defense).  If the first NVA assault succeeded, the US forces who had already moved out would be cut off from their LZ and subsequent reinforcements.  So part one ended with a US tactical shift after the defeat of the first major NVA push.  That battle resulted in the loss of an entire NVA infantry platoon, as well as about an entire US squad.
US Forces are Charlie Mike and the lead fireteam reaches "the blue line"
The US forces re-orient themselves on the cache locations on the other side of the creek and moved out, only to receive direct small arms fire in a "classic L-shaped ambush" from around the culvert and bridge area.
An NVA squad pushes hard across the road into the woods for a counter-attack!  

Sharp fighting breaks out at the creek between an NVA squad (right) and a US Fireteam (left).  The US team takes 2 casualties during the engagement.

the blue bead means the NVA have completed an order this turn.

 "Uncommon valor was a common virtue" today as the lead US lead fireteam took heavy fire with 2 men down along the creek side.  The 2 remaining men stayed with their wounded/dead and returned such a hellish fusilade that the NVA squad beat a hasty retreat!  Reinforcements eventually showed up and finally the UH-1C gunship arrived at the scene to pepper the far bank and those pesky ambush positions.

US lead team in contact fighting for its life!  The return fire from these Soldiers, and the fire from the fireteam in the background was enough to drive off the NVA squad permanently., earning the team leader and rifleman a Silver Star.

US Platoon leader on the scene calling for the Huey Hog!

The NVA at the other cache site.

US Forces finally moving off the key terrain east of the LZ and moving towards the blue line.

US Forces moving out!

A lone US team guards the flank.  2 WIA with them.  They go on overwatch.

NVA casualties from the first assault 

NVA Forces in a firefight

"UGLY Two One is on-station - understand you have some work for me"  You can see US forces moving out in the left of the picture.

Need you to suppress enemy infantry in the treeline next to the road east of the culvert.

NVA forces beat a hasty retreat after their Battle Rating comes up.
 The loss of that one squad proved too much for the NVA and they reached their breakpoint of 18, ending the game.  That was a little disappointing as I really wanted to game the US sweep through the forests to find the caches, but without any resistance, the US force is unlikely to meet any more NVA troopers during the search operation.  This battle has ended!


Excellent game.  As I've stated on many occasions, the Battlegroup system handles modern combat very well.  The uncertainty of the amount of orders you'll receive pretty much guarantees that you will not be able to move all the units you want to move.  You have to really think about what you want to push forward because they might be out there on their own without much support for a turn or two.  Can you afford that?

I was lucky that the US had such a good Battle Rating (21) and that they were primarily on the defensive for most of the game.  The NVA player launched counterattacks at every opportunity and that got him used up pretty quick. So there's a word to the wise...

This was a "Squad" sized battle, so it was tough on some turns to get all the orders to move the entire force where I really needed it to go.  The small teams that did get the orders, were fighting for their lives until "the Cavalry" (quite literally since these were 1st Air Cavalry troopers) showed up.

Speaking of Cavalry, let's talk about helicopters:

The helicopter gunship supporting the operation went through some metamorphosis during the game.  At first, I treated the chopper like a separate maneuver unit, able to fly around and blast things at will.  Well, from my own experiences, Air-Ground coordination is huge and friendly fire is and was always a huge issue.  Even today in a counter-insurgency environment, our AH's don't just go around blasting everything in sight.  So I restricted the gunship use to the following rules:

A ground spotter - leadership or the Forward Observer - must always have LOS to the gunship target, and a successful request for fire must be adjudicated.  This ensures that you don't have this helo tearing ass around the battlefield, shooting everything in its path.  There is at least some air-ground coordination required!  This makes its use much more restricted and in my humble opinion, realistic.

On Modern Weapons:
The modern weapon systems integrate very well with Battlegroup.  Assault rifles, recoilless rifles, RPGs, and even helicopters were able to operate without too much brain power (always a good thing) and Battlegroup has sufficient rules to accommodate these "new" weapons without having to change much.

I did notice that the hellish US LMG teams were constantly targeted by the NVA and with 2-man teams, this makes for a very short lived career on the tabletop.  In fact the US losses amounted to 2 x M60 teams, and 1 US fireteam in all.  (isn't there a quote out there about the life expectancy of a US M60 gunner during a firefight?  Or was that a second lieutenant?)  So maybe your squad's M60 teams should have 3 Soldiers in them.

The US Artillery was very disappointing, as was the NVA 82mm battery on standby.  While I only spent the points for 2nd Priority request, ostensibly both fire support units were on standby supporting the operation.  The only successful 82mm call resulted in a wild spotting round and cancellation of the mission, while the US 105mm heavy stuff never even arrived.

Here's what needs some work: the United States has always been on the cutting edge of Artillery "customer support" and the US trains most of its leadership and even soldiers on the call for fire.  Thus, the call for fire should be streamlined from the WW2 procedures and made somewhat easier given the distributed training and the much-improved communications.  (failing the commo test should really be a one time or two time deal for western armies if you're fighting past 1960).  Not even speaking to accuracy here.  I'm okay with the spotting round and Fire For Effect procedures, but the CFF should be a little easier.  I will work on that for subsequent versions.

Special Rules:
Paul OG and I have emailed back and forth about some of the US and NVA special rules and there are many!  Some of the rules I used in this game made the game very interesting, without making any one side too potent or dangerous.

Masters of Camouflage:  NVA player in terrain (not in the open) always counts his cover saves as 1 better.
US Call for Fire: All leaders, including Squad Leaders could call for Artillery or Helicopter Gunship support.

Ambush Placement: This worked well, although since the US player didn't arrive where the NVA player though he would have, it was moot.  More thought needs to be put into this rule, as I believe it is necessary for any Vietnam game if playing the NVA or VC, however it needs to be expensive as a squad popping up where you didn't expect them is a pretty big deal in Battlegroup.

Mines / Wires / Booby Traps: The US player as a matter of rule emplaced claymore mines on the defensive.  There should be a rule for this making claymores really, really lethal.  While this was a fairly mobile battle, I think some of my next battles could feature the famous (or infamous) claymore.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Battlegroup: 'NAM! Air Assault Part One

I played the first 6 turns of a platoon-sized air assault in the I Corps Tactical Zone in Vietnam around 1969 timeframe using the Battlegroup series rules and some of my own modern modifications.

The American mission was to disembark the helicopters at their Landing Zone (LZ) and push to a large wooded area to search for NVA weapons caches.  The Americans were facing a reinforced company although they didn't know it at the time of their landing.  The NVA launched heavy attacks into the flank of the American advance and vicious firefights have broken out along the dirt roadway as an NVA platoon crashes into the advancing American platoon.
NVA Scout Section keeping an eye out for the "sky soldiers"
 The US player rolls "ok" and rolls a 4, or 2 full squads (4 fireteams) on the first go.  He opts to take 1 LMG section with those squads instead of the B team for some added firepower!
Meanwhile a UH-1C fires some 2.75" rockets into suspected enemy positions to "make it rain"  Cool picture!

The first slicks land

US troops on the LZ begin their advance off the LZ.  It seems to take forever and the men all have an inkling they're being watched...

Move out people!!

The chopper crew notices what looks like 2 people in the paddies.  They check it out and the NVA scouts open fire on the helo!  A fatal mistake!
  As US forces start out, they receive reports from the gunship of NVA scouts engaged on the opposite side of the road as well as some HMG fire from the woods to the north.  Not a good omen - that hilltop is where the US forces are headed!

NVA Air Defense section, a 12.7mm on a small hilltop opens fire on the Huey.  

Let's get in the war fellas!

NVA squad on the other side of the creek takes up ambush positions!
 The forces are building up on both sides now as NVA units move into their battle positions.  They never expected the Americans this far into the boonies!

US Forces fan out and begin the advance.  The squad on the far left is about to take fire from the rubble pile and the woods to the left of it!
 The NVA forces on the American side of the creek begin to engage the American forces now as their carefully timed ambush is sprung.  2 squads of NVA reinforcements are sprinting through the woods and jungle behind them to assist, along with some broken-down support weapons.  An entire platoon attack would certainly have been more dramatic!  But the NVA goes in with what they have on hand.
A squad full of NVA troops opens fire on the US troops across the road

2 Casualties later.  This fight is on!

NVA reinforcements.

The US troopers take up position in the treeline and engage the NVA.  It's a knife-fight and at this distance, it's hard to miss.  The squad's B Team is non-mission capable at this point.  Get that dustoff here now!
 The US comes out on top of this firefight but there's more NVA coming out of the woods.  This fight is just getting started!

THe US forces call for gunship support and a MG run gets 2 more NVA.

Another NVA squad moves into position for the attack!  An officer grabs his pistol and whistle and gives 2 sharp pips.  The squad reacts instantly and charges the Americans on the small hill.

Private Jones and Private Fenstermacher fire their M60 until the barrel glows red.

Their parent squad moves up to support.  There's no shortage of targets.

An NVA forward observer crawls up to the riverbank to call in battalion mortars.  The spotting round lands wild and unobserved!  Drat!  

remember that NVA AAA section?  Yes theyre still there.  They fire a wild burst at the Huey and clip him again, but still no real damage.

The remaining NVA on the American side of the creek form up for an assault!  

An NVA squad pops out of the treeline and sprints straight at the American squad in the palm grove.  

The NVA platoon pushes on through the rice paddies to assault the Americans

Meanwhile an American squad begins searching for caches in the woods.  "No joy here sir."

American forces push on and defeat the second and third wave of the NVA assault.  But there's still much work to do.

The American battle line


This hard core NVA fighter with the RPD would pass morale check after morale check and exact a heavy toll on the American M60 sections, eventually taking both out.  Jones and Fenstermacher would both receive posthumous Bronze Stars for their heroic defense of "the little hill"

The NVA bring up their platoon support weapon and try to pin down the Americans.  The first few shots go wild.

NVA squad preparing to ambush the Americans
Thoughts on Battlegroup: 'Nam

Well if you made it this far I congratulate you on your tenacity!  I love the Battlegroup family of rules and it's only fitting that I "shaped" it to play some of my favorite periods in history, like the Vietnam war, which I believe it is well suited for.  This game captured all the excitement and fast-movement that you'd expect from a stand up eyeball to eyeball battle during the Vietnam war.  The infantry rules from BGK handled themselves very well and while I was fearful of excessive casualties, the terrain saves really have mitigated excessive casualties.

That said, the human wave assaults from the NVA took a horrible toll on them and 1 platoon is already non-mission capable.  The next round will see the Americans  cross "the blue line" and attempt to locate and destroy those cache sites unless the NVA can stop them!  Tune in tomorrow!