Saturday, July 14, 2018

Talavera: The Allies & The Commanders

Continuing on with the Talavera 1809 Project, I'm happy to report 98% of the French are done.  Flocked, and organized into their respective Corps for the battle!  I broke out the Allies this afternoon, including my Spanish contingent, and based them.  Almost all of the Allied troops are unflocked but I'm happy to report at least that they are all based!

Spanish Army on the left.  British Army on the right.  Cavalry, Lights, and Artillery in the rear-center.  This is the combined, joint force under Wellesly and Cuesta.
 With my bathtubbed project, each Neil Thomas Battalion will serve duty as a full Brigade.  I'm using the OOB from the Volley & Bayonet "Road to Glory" rulebook.  One of the posts coming up, I'll highlight the various brigades and units.  For this post, I'll highlight the commanders of the various units. 
I find this really brings the battle to life on the table if I can associate the actual commanders with the miniature units on the table.

The Spanish contingent under Cuesta.  Probably about half of the units I should have but it was a small purchase.  I'm cannibalizing extra French in Bicornes, painting them white and adding another Spanish unit.

Spanish Dragoons.

The British force.  10 Brigades in all.

Cavalry missing some units.  It will have to do.

Lights, Rifles, and the artillery.  These represent light battalions or "detachments" utilized by the Army.  They are next to the Portuguese troops

The entire allied force.
 Just like during the real Peninsula War, each force has distinct advantages all its own.  The French have a slightly bigger force with 18 infantry units total.  The French have more artillery (6 batteries to the Allies' 5), and more cavalry (4 regiments to the Allies' 2).  The British have 2 rank shooting, and in NT's rules hit on a 3+.  (This is deadly.  I cannot stress enough that I have not once successfully brought home a charge against British infantry using NT's rules - but I have a plan!).Additionally, the Spanish deploy in hardened cover which will also give them a slight advantage.  The French also have the reinforcing Madrid Garrison, consisting of the Royal Guard Grenadiers.  I'm giving them almost an entire Division's worth of combat power including 2 infantry units, a heavy cavalry unit, and a battery of artillery, all of which are "elite."

And now, portraits of the commanders!

Sir Arthur Wellesly

General Gregorio Garcia de la Cuesta

General Payne, commanding the British cavalry division

Spanish Cavalry Commander - the Duke of Albuquerque

Marshall Jourdan - Army Commander

Lieutenant General Victor - French I Corps D'Armee Commander
 Missing is Lieutenant General Sebastiani - the French IV Corps D'Armee Commander!  Oops!

Desolles - Commander of the Madrid Garrison

General Latour-Maubourg the Cavalry Commander

All in all, 2 very capable and big forces (at least for my table and for a game of Neil Thomas' Napoleonics).  I'm using NT's rules as they are the simplest and probably best possible choice for a quick afternoon's game and the ability to finish a battle.  Some of you may scoff, but I've found that the NT rules combine the best mix of that "old school" feel along with the ability to move the game along quickly and come to grips.

Since the forces consist of roughly 2 NT sanctioned forces each, I'll split the table with each force covering a 3 x 3 area.  The OOB will be next up, and hopefully followed by the deployment!

I have a heck of alot of flocking to do now!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Talavera Project: Kickoff

My hiatus from WWII begins with a brief sojourn into Napoleonics for a nice and easy project - Talavera, 1809!

It was my intention to fight this battle using Volley & Bayonet a long time ago, so I have some research done into it already.  This time, I'll be using a tried and true set of rules - Mr Neil Thomas' NAPOLEONIC WARGAMING rules, which allow for a simple, easy, and BIG battle to be fought complete with all the trimmings.  I'll be using my 15mm Napoleonic troops that I've amassed over the years.

I'm no stranger to these rules at all, and have played many games of them so there shouldn't be any issue in regards to rules.  (click on the links for some back history and previous games).

Right now I'm organizing my forces into Corps, flocking the existing French and British 15mm troops, and basing the Spanish.  Many, more than half, of the troops are from my huge Napoleonic painting commission.  from 2016. It's about time I get the lot of them based and/or flocked.  

As we progress further into July, I'll delve a little into terrain preparations for the battle as well.  Since the "real thing" was fought on 28 July, I'm right on schedule!

Here are the French forces assembled for review.  2 x Corps of regular line infantry and their supporting arms, as well as a Cavalry Division and the Madrid Garrison consisting of the elite Guard troops.

2 x Full Corps, with each unit representing a Brigade sized formation.  Each Corps will have 7 Brigades, along with supporting artillery, cavalry, and a light battalion (detachment) for skirmishing.

Serious mustaches.

Officers of the Regiments.

Corps Commander reviewing the brigades.  The infantry in this picture were painted by me.

An aide.

Staff officers.

Corps Artillery.  Enough batteries to support 1 x "Division" each or 3.5 Brigades of Infantry.

Light Battalion / Detachment.  Each Corps has 1

Cavalry Division.  

The Guard.

An additional Corps Battery.

An additional Corps awaits its flock.


That's all for now.  If time allows, I may be able to play a CCN Waterloo game this summer as well.  Stay tuned!  The British coming up soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Dave came over for a "festive" Independence Day battle set in the urban nightmare of Stalingrad.  We used RAPID FIRE rules with my 15mm Eastern Front troops.  Buildings are a mixture of Terrains4Games Polish MDF scenery, Novus Design Studio, and IMEX.
Germans at the Line of Departure (the Rail Line) for the attack.  This would be 3 x Rapid Fire battalions of 42 troops each, facing off against 4 x Soviet Battalions of 36 troops each.
Hard to believe you could fit a "MEGA GAME" into 4 foot squared but believe me the intensity and carnage of the fight made this feel like Stalingrad (minus the constant threat of death, lice, starvation, deprivations, and frostbite okay okay, made this feel like a Stalingrad game!).  Unlike the other day's "practice game" my Germans were fighting and dying for inches on the table!

Comrade Dave carefully plodding his defense.
 The Soviets had a single battalion holding the line of buildings in the residential and commercial areas directly in front of the German staging areas so the fight began immediately as the Germans reached their LD/jumping off points!

German 2nd Battalion going against the commercial district.  Their D-Day objective is the department store.

Hugging the Panzer III for support!
 Dave uses the fact that my spotted troops on the rail line are exposed (all open terrain still counts as soft cover thankfully, or this game would have been over at turn 2).  He uses his troops on the actual defense line to open fire at long range.  I'm taking fire from all sides and all my smoke missions fail to arrive on turn 1!

Center German Battalion (1st Battalion / 389th Regt)  Their target is the Brick Factory, but they have to breach the residential district first.  Frankly, I never thought they'd make it.

First Battalion moving up to the LD
 The "elite" Pioneer battalion on my left, the 14th Panzer Engineer Battalion, has the illustrious honor of breaching and capturing the Barrikady Factory!  To do this they've been outfitted with a flammpanzer halftrack, and a Stug33b!

 We had a rule in effect that D2 roll per battalion would regulate movement.  So 1-3 you lose 1 inch of movement.  4-6 you would lose 2" of movement.  It's a nice restriction on an extremely cluttered and uneven landscape of rubble, debris, and trenchlines.

Pioneers stepping off on their attack.  Morale is high!

1st Battalion reaches the rubble piles and is fired on immediately by Ivan.

 On the right, the 2nd Battalion's objective becomes the train station in the commercial district.  This would be a jumping off point for an assault against the department store.  They'd have to cross a ton of open space in the square.  Unfortunately it also becomes a magnet for every comrade with a rifle, AT gun, mortar, and MMG!  My lead company gets chewed up by reactive fire before they even reach the building.  The second company will make the assault!

Assaulting the Train Station

Casualties are way higher than expected moving in.  

Ivan has alot of combat power trained on the train station.  It's not going well on the right.

The 1st Battalion's attack has a little more hope of actually crossing the LD.  They'd reach the flats to their front to launch an assault.  It would be the furthest advance by the 1st Battalion all day.
 Dave's sneaky ATR teams score a light damage on my flammpanzer halftrack!  I quickly move him away.
The pioneers are advancing into the Barrikady.  To their front right is the office building.  The front left is the rubble pile.

Soviets screening their comrades.

Dave's slowly chipping away at my advance elements.  I might be able to capture a building, but can I hold it?
This is Dave's main line of resistance.  I haven't even reached them yet...

A company defending the Little Red House

A company defending the Big Red House with MMG and FO.

Pioneers advance further into the Barrikady.  The Stug33 takes out a ton of Russians but Dave keeps backfilling them into the little red house!

Pioneers reach the office building in the Barrikady.

Pioneers moving out towards the rubble pile.

1st Battalion assaulting the small flats.

2nd Battalion captures the train station!
 Turn 5 goes well for the Germans.  As well as can be expected with lots of fire coming from all directions!  Dave has a company of T-70 light tanks waiting for me behind the train station.  The Panzer III sees them off with some heavy damage.  The 2nd Battalion charges in and captures the train station....and is immediately wiped out to a man after a blistering 122mm artillery strike!
1st Battalion shakes off their earlier casualties and sends in 2 x companies of landsers to seize the flats to their front.  It's the only way to stop Ivan's remorseless hail of bullets!
 The 1st Battalion's high water mark is the small flats to their front.  They drive out the Soviet defenders, including the Battalion HQs and capture the building.  Only to be counter-attacked and wiped out by firing from the big flats to the east!  This is Stalingrad!

122mm strike against the building along with sustained firing wipes out the defenders of the train station.

The remaining combat power of the 2nd Battalion.  They would fail their morale check next turn and rout back to their start points.

Meanwhile the pioneers are killing wave after wave of Russians in the Barrikady small red house but more keep coming.  Luckily they're having better luck with the artillery and the smoke missions keep coming.


The right goes quiet...

Then the center goes quiet...
At this point, by turn 7 both 1st and 2nd line battalions rout.  Even though I can't win the game (must capture 2 of 3 objectives) I still want to see if I can capture the Barrikady.  Dave's Battalions cannot reinforce the other sectors (campaign rule) but they can SHOOT into other sectors....remember that.

The Pioneers continue their advance into the jaws of death.  LI Corps reports "modest progress" to 6th Army...

Soviet Battalion racing to fire into the Barrikady.  The screening battalion is about to test their morale and get a taste of the flamethrower company!

Note the green die - I'm tracking the bison's shots.  Only 5 for the whole game!  Use them sparingly!!
 I keep dropping smoke in front of the big red house and it's paying off.  Ivan can't shoot with a company-plus worth of troops.

Pioneers reach the rubble pile.  We've made it!  The deepest penetration of the day.

Stug targeting troops in the little red house.  He would go on to "vaporize" literally 3 stands' worth of troops (12 figures).

I re-deploy my flame troops to serve as flank guard, guarding the Barrikady from Russians.
 The flame troops save the day by flaming the Russians in the small flats to the north.  They'll think twice about putting troops in that house.  But it's ok though, they have an entire battalion's worth to the east of there!!!

flame troops stabilizing the Pioneer battalion's flank.

Say goodbye to the troops on the bottom floor of the small flats!

 Artillery falls amongs all of the troops and it looks like something out of the depths of hell!
We're going WHERE???
 Dave keeps reinforcing the small red house.  Clearly he wants to defend at the rubble pile and office building, rather than let me get up to the big red house.  He's stripped his reserves from the Barrikady foundry and moved them up.

Now you dont see them...

now you do!  Almost 200 percent turnover in the small red house!
 A "small" tank battle erupts in red square as Dave's T-70s duel with my Panzer III.  Along with the AT guns in the buildings, he finally gets the jump on me and takes it out.

A costly day.

Dave moving more troops over to the Barrikady flank.

The butcher's bill.  The first row are troops that are still in the fight (just routed).  Back 2 rows are casualties.  If we were to play Day 2, they'd be amalgamated into a single battalion.

flammpanzer redeployes to protect the barrikady flank.  The driver wonders "where the hell is 1st Battalion?  Shouldn't they be in those buildings?"

Dave's T-70 company.  

Taking heavy casualties in the factory now.  The Pioneer battalion down to 3 fully mission capable companies...

More casualties in the red house
 Dave gets lucky with shooting and wipes out more of the Pioneer battalion.  I'm down to the point where I only have the bison, flammpanzer track, and remnants of the weapons company as fit for duty and I call the game at the top of turn 9.  The end of the first day's fighting.

It's a grueling and sobering intro to Stalingrad.  For the cost of multiple battalions, I captured ever-so-briefly the train station, the small flats, the office building of the barrikady, and the rubble pile.  None of the Battalions captured their Day 1 objectives (pretty realistic results, BTW).

I did wonder if the screening battalion was too much and if the Germans should have been allowed to occupy the first row of buildings east of the rail line.  But this definitely had a meat-grinder "Stalingrad" feel to it.

I now know why they say "the bigger the game, the more Rapid Fire's strengths become apparent."  in RF terms, this was a Regiment on the German side, and 2 Regiments on the Soviet side.  Armor played merely a supporting role as well and all of the various combat and support arms were used to great effect.  This game definitely evoked a "big battle" feel where Corps was hot on your heels pushing your battalions forward, however at the sharp end the advance was brutally slow and dangerous.

All in all, a great game and well worth the effort to pull it off!  Was much fun and I am looking forward to more RAPID FIRE big battles, and other battles taking place in Stalingrad.  I do think I'm ready for a small hiatus from WWII now (needing a rest after this herculean effort to pull this game off?) and possibly switching gear into Napoleonics for a little while.  A nice "small" project to occupy my time.  Perhaps Waterloo?  Talavera?  :)

Stay tuned!